BBWAA set the bar but ultimately hurt Bagwell and Raines
By Rob Soria
The BBWAA spoke loud and clear on Wednesday afternoon, electing no one to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996. While many view this as a message sent to the like of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, it ultimately did more to harm the chances of Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell to get into the Hall of Fame.
Edmonton - January 9, 2013 - The Baseball Writers' Association of America spoke loud and clear on Wednesday afternoon, as they collectively elected no one to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996.
They not only left out all-time greats like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for obvious reasons, but also failed to enshrine first timers Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza.
Add to that the continued lack of support for holdovers Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Jack Morris and Tim Raines, many baseball fans were left scratching their heads. With a ballot loaded with so much elite level talent, how could not one find their way into Cooperstown?
Obviously, in the opinion of the majority of voters, the doubt surrounding the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and their apparent connection to the use of performance enhancing drugs, was enough to earn them a combined total of just 637 votes.
This coming from a group that includes four of the top twelve home run hitters of all-time and a pitcher that many consider to be the best of his generation and one of the very best the game has ever seen. All that being said, I completely understand why the members of the BBWAA decided to not give any of these players their support. You don't have to like but you surely can understand why.
As far as Biggio and Piazza go, the same sort of rule applies. The fact neither made it in on their first kick at the can, is no real shock. Both were great players that had hall of fame careers but many voters feel there is a distinction between a "First Ballot" Hall of Famer and everyone else that finds their way into Cooperstown. Again, whether you agree with it or not, is frankly irrelevant, but the reasoning behind having that mindset is understandable.
Which brings me to that next group of players, whom have all been on the ballot for a minimum of three years and in most cases, far longer. While Bagwell (+3.6%) and Raines (+3.5%) saw the greatest increase among the holdovers that have a legitimate shot at eventually being voted into the Hall of Fame, neither made huge inroads.
Many felt this would be the year Morris would get over that 75% hurdle, instead the former Detroit Tigers ace saw his 2012 total of 66.6% grow marginally to 67.7%. Leaving the workhorse one final shot at gaining enshrinement in 2014, unfortunately for him, he could be in tough.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina will all make their first appearance on the ballot next year.and while the first three have a great shot of making it on their first try, do not be surprised if Maddux ends up being the only one of the group that ultimately earns himself a plaque in 2014.
With the 2015 ballot features Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, followed by a 2016 class that is headlined by Ken Griffey Jr, and Trevor Hoffman, when exactly will the time come for Mr. Bagwell and Mr.Raines.
Come 2017, Smith will be looking at his fifteenth and final try at gaining enshrinement, Raines will be making his tenth appearance and Bagwell will see his name on the ballot for a seventh straight time. Depending on what voters decide to do with Bonds and Clemens over the next three years, this appears to be the earliest that the Houston Astros first baseman and Montreal Expos left fielder could find themselves finally included into baseball's hallowed grounds.
Perhaps it's just me but in my mind, there is something desperately wrong with this picture.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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