Each year, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America gets a few things right – and quite a bit wrong – when it votes to elect new members to the Hall of Fame.
This year, three players were inducted: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez. The BBWAA certainly was correct in choosing these three players to be immortalized.
Bagwell was an offensive powerhouse for the majority of his career. A lifelong member of the Houston Astros, Bagwell ended his 15-year career with a .297 average and 449 home runs. His career .948 OPS is 22nd best all- time, ranking ahead of fellow Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Add to this resumé the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and 1994 NL MVP, and Bagwell was a clear choice for the Hall.
Raines finished his career as one of the best leadoff hitters of all-time. While he was a career .294 hitter, Raines really made his mark known on the basepaths. Not only is he one of five players in the history of baseball to have 800 stolen bases, but his 84.7 stolen base percentage is the best among those who swiped more than 400 bags. Raines certainly belongs in the Hall as one of the best baserunners the game has ever seen.
Few catchers dominated both sides of the ball like Rodriguez did. He has more hits than any other catcher in baseball with 2,844; add to that a .296 average and 311 home runs, and Pudge has some impressive offensive stats. He also has 13 Gold Gloves, another record among catchers. He made the all-star team 14 times in his 20-year career and also took home the 1999 AL MVP. Rodriguez did have ties to performance-enhancing drugs. Jose Canseco claims in his 2005 book Juiced that Rodriguez doped. However, Canseco is not the most reliable source and Rodriguez was not listed in the Mitchell Report in 2007, so most writers were able to overlook the claims. Accusations aside, Rodriguez definitely earned a spot in the Hall as one of the best catchers to ever step on a diamond.
While the BBWAA did well in voting these three players in, it has made plenty of mistakes. Raines and Bagwell were forced to wait until their 10th and seventh years, respectively, before making it into the Hall; with their stats and accomplishments, those two should have been elected years ago. The fact that it took nearly a decade to induct them is inexcusable.
In addition, the BBWAA left many deserving players off the ballot this year. Trevor Hoffman received 74 percent of the vote, 1 percent shy of the threshold necessary for induction. Hoffman has the second-most saves of all time with 601 and joins Mariano Rivera as the only two players with more than 600 career saves. Add to this a 2.87 ERA and Hoffman seems like a surefire candidate. However, he missed out on immortalization by just five votes.
Vladimir Guerrero also missed induction by a small amount, finishing with 71.7 percent of the vote. His offensive numbers are certainly enough to put him in the Hall – 449 home runs, a .318 average and a .931 OPS made him a standout player on offense throughout his 16-year career. He also took home the 2004 AL MVP, made nine all-star appearances and won eight Silver Slugger awards. Yet, these numbers were not good enough for the BBWAA to elect Guerrero on his first ballot.
Perhaps the most egregious omission from the Hall of Fame is Curt Schilling. The former pitcher is certainly a polarizing figure due to his aggressive personality both in-person and online. However, Schilling was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball over his 20-year career. He amassed 3,116 strikeouts and has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio among members of the 3,000 strikeout club. Despite his success, Schilling received just 45 percent of the vote this year and has never received more than 60 percent. The voters must consider his accomplishments instead of his off-the-field persona when filling out their ballots.
The BBWAA did well this year inducting three very deserving candidates. However, some writers must be a bit more logical when they decide on who they want to vote into the Hall in the coming years.
Matt Lapolla is a broadcasting major from Union, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.