Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, while Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman fell just short of the 75 percent threshold required in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Bagwell got 86.2 percent of the vote, and Raines got 86 percent. Rodriguez got 76 percent, receiving four more votes than the necessary 332 of 442.
“I don’t even know how I’m supposed to react,” Bagwell said on a conference call following the announcement. “It’s been a whirlwind. I could not be more excited.”
Hoffman was five votes short, and Guerrero was 15 short.
Barry Bonds (53.8 percent) and Roger Clemens (54.1 percent) continued to gain ground in the voting but also fell short of election. Clemens received 45.2 percent of the vote a year ago, while Bonds received 44.3 percent.
Edgar Martinez was next after Guerrero at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens, Bonds, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.
This year’s ballot marks only the seventh time since 1955 that the Hall has welcomed a new class of three members or more. But it has happened three times in the past four years.
In 2014, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas went into Cooperstown as a group. The following year, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio entered the Hall of Fame.
Bagwell won Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards during 15 seasons with the Houston Astros, from 1991 through 2005. He made four All-Star teams and won three Silver Slugger awards and hit 449 home runs before an arthritic right shoulder forced him to retire at age 37.
Bagwell recorded two 30-homer, 30-steal seasons, making him the only first baseman to be part of that club. He ranks 38th in MLB history with 79.6 wins above replacement and 39th overall with a .540 career slugging percentage.
Although Bagwell struggled to gain traction for several years on the ballot because of steroid speculation, he made significant strides over the past two elections. After falling just short of induction with 71.6 percent of the vote a year ago, Bagwell joined Biggio, his fellow “Killer B,” as a Hall of Fame member in his seventh appearance on the ballot.
During the conference call, Bagwell talked about his excitement about joining Biggio, his longtime Houston teammate, in Cooperstown. Bagwell and Biggio played together in an MLB-record 2,029 games while with the Astros.
“When we went to the Hall of Fame [in 2015], the Astros had changed their colors back to orange again,” Bagwell said. “To see all those people there in Cooperstown wearing orange and walking down the street, it was certainly fun. I was so proud of Craig. He was just a super player who deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. To be there for him was amazing.”
Raines, a seven-time All-Star outfielder with the Montreal Expos in the 1980s, is considered by many to be the second greatest leadoff hitter in MLB history behind Rickey Henderson. He ranks fifth in history behind Henderson, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton and Ty Cobb with 808 stolen bases, and his 84.7 percent success rate is the best ever among players with at least 400 career attempts.
Raines also played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Florida Marlins and Baltimore Orioles during a career that spanned 23 seasons.
Raines first appeared on the ballot with only 24.3 percent of the vote in 2008, but steadily gained momentum in recent years and made it over the top in his final year on the ballot.
“I can’t say it was difficult for the first six years,” Raines said in an interview with MLB Network. “I didn’t really have the votes to consider thinking, ‘Next year, I could get in.’ The last two years has been the telling time. Each year, as the votes go up, you kind of wonder, ‘Am I going to get enough?’
“I’m a happy young man. I don’t even think about what happened the last nine years. I’m kind of looking forward to this point on. I got what I was looking for.”
Rodriguez the only first-timer on this year’s ballot to reach Cooperstown, made 14 All-Star teams and won 13 Gold Glove Awards during a 21-year career with the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and four other clubs. He is the career leader among catchers with 2,844 hits, 1,354 runs, 572 doubles and 2,543 games played.
“From day one, I loved the game of baseball and I took a lot of pride every single day and I was a winner,” Rodriguez said. “That’s probably the bottom line from all of this. I appreciate being in the Hall of Fame because of the hard work I did through my whole career. To be so durable for so many years and play 120-125 games a year, it tells you that if you’re strong mentally and physically, you can play this game for a long time.”
Rodriguez joins Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar as the fourth Puerto Rico native in Cooperstown. He also joins Johnny Bench as only the second catcher to make the Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot.
“It means a lot,” Rodriguez said. “Johnny Bench was my favorite player growing up. I can’t wait to see him in July on the same stage when I make my speech. It’s a dream come true.”
Like Bagwell and Mike Piazza, a 2016 inductee, Rodriguez has struggled to overcome PED speculation. While Rodriguez never failed a drug test during his career and was not named in the Mitchell Report on PED use, Jose Canseco said in his 2005 book “Juiced” that he personally injected Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez with steroids and human growth hormone when they were teammates with the Rangers.
Rodriguez also aroused suspicion during a 2009 interview when he was asked if he had tested positive for PEDs during MLB’s 2003 survey testing, and he replied, “Only God knows.”
Canseco fired off a series of tweets in which he called out the “hypocrisy” of the Hall of Fame voting, writing, “How it’s not Mark McGwire Sammy Sosa Roger Clemens Rafael palmeiro not in the Hall of Fame that is a travesty.”
Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both of whom were elected last month by a veterans committee.
The weekend festivities will also feature the presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award to Claire Smith for writers and the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award to Bill King for broadcasting excellence.
Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel will be among the first-time candidates next year.