First of all, let me say congratulations to the class of 2017. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez are all worthy and deserve this honor. I want to focus on these three for the time being, then I will come back in a later post and talk about those that did not make it in.
Bagwell joins his fellow “Killer Bees” companion Craig Biggio. While there were others that joined these two in the rotating Killer Bees, these two were the constant force for the Astros for many years. Bagwell had some great years in Houston, but 1994 really stands out.
Even though the season was cut short, Bagwell did some amazing things in just 110 games. That year he was an all-star, Silver Slugger winner, Gold Glove winner, and the National League MVP. In those 110 games, Bagwell scored 104 runs, drove in 116, slugged .750, and had an OPS of 1.201. Not to mention the 39 home runs and while you are at it 15 stolen bases.
With 449 home runs and a lifetime .297 hitter, he was one of the most feared sluggers through the 90s. Bagwell fell just 15 votes shy of induction in 2016, but his 7th time was a charm. If you go back and look through the previous six years of voting, there was a steady climb for Bagwell. He started out with just over 41% of the vote in his first try, then slowly started creeping up. He mixed in a few years with big 15% or more jumps in the voting till finally getting in this year.
One of the best lead off hitters of all-time was elected in his final year of eligibility by the writers association, and it is well deserved. A 7-time all-star and 3-time World Series champ, Raines set the table for some of the best teams in the game.
For four straight years in the early 80s Raines led the National League in stolen bases, and stole 70+ in six straight years. He ranks 5th all-time in stolen bases and ranks as one of the best all-time in stolen base percentage. But one thing that stands out to me when looking at his stats are that he walked 1330 times and struck out only 966. For a lead off hitter that is exactly what you want. Raines had a lifetime .385 OBP.
Ivan Pudge Rodriguez
Pudge Rodriguez was one of the best catchers to ever play the game, and he becomes only the second catcher of all-time to be elected on the first ballot. The 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, and 1999 American League MVP was one of the most exciting players to watch both in the batter’s box and on defense.
Making his Major League debut at only age 19, Pudge quickly established himself as a defensive force. He threw out 45% of would be thieves on the bases and led the league seven times in throwing out runners.
While he was known for his defense perhaps first and foremost, Rodriguez was quite the hitter as well. A lifetime .296 hitter, which is more impressive when you realize he didn’t walk much, slugged 572 doubles and 311 home runs over his 21 year career.
All three players are definitely well deserving of this honor. Tomorrow I want to get into those that didn’t make and where they are headed. As always please give us your thoughts either here or on social media somewhere.