Former Astros' Jeff Bagwell on the verge of Hall of Fame induction

Bagwell drew 86.2 per cent and Raines got 86 per cent. Rodriguez had 76 per cent - he received four more votes than the necessary 332 of 442 (75 per cent). Gary Sheffield received 13.3 percent of the vote. Relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman fell just short, with 74%, as did outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who got 71.7%. In 2150 games and 9431 plate appearances, Bagwell batted.297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs, 202 stolen bases, 1529 RBIs and 1517 runs scored.

Ties to PED use kept Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out for the fifth year, but both gathered more votes than last year and moved closer to election.

This year, Bonds was on 63.2 percent of the 234 ballots obtained by Ryan Thibodaux and posted on his Hall of Fame vote-tracker, and Clemens was on 62.4 percent. It was a monster year, but Bagwell was no one-hit wonder. Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski hold the Hall of Fame's record for most seasons (17) as teammates while playing for just one team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Former New York Times writer Murray Chass drew ire for submitting a blank ballot as protest, which still counts as a vote. Bagwell is one of just 11 players ever to combine at least 440 career home runs with 200 stolen bases.

Bagwell didn't have the longevity of Hall candidates like Rodriguez and Raines (he was only 36 in his last full season), but his peak years were incredibly dominant. Canseco identified Rodriguez as a player who used performance-enhancing drugs, with Canseco writing that he personally injected the catcher nicknamed Pudge. He was a face of the franchise with fellow Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.

The Boston Red Sox certainly never envisioned that kind of output when they sent Bagwell, a fourth-round pick who never hit more than four homers in the minors, to the Astros in a 1990 trade for journeyman reliever Larry Andersen. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1994 and Rookie of the Year in 1991. Smith was grandfathered in when the Hall of Fame reduced the number of years of eligibility from 15 to 10. He also prevented an incredible 46 percent of stolen base attempts against him in his career (661 of 1447), leading the league in caught-stealing percentage on nine occasions (including a ridiculous 60 percent mark in 2001). In addition to Rodriguez and Guerrero, third baseman Chipper Jones and first baseman Jim Thome - two candidates considered likely first-ballot entries - will be eligible. He threw out 46 percent of base stealers over the course of his career and won the American League MVP award in 1999. Come Wednesday night, we will be rooting for another achievement to add to Bagwell's impressive resume: Hall of Fame.



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