It’s official; Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez are going to join baseball’s Immortals. There’s so much writing about vote totals and percentages and other irrelevant numbers that it’s very easy to lose sight of the honorees.
So, without further ado, a brief recapitulation of their greatness:
Jeff Bagwell spent all of his fifteen year career with the Houston Astros. With teammate (and fellow Hall-of-Famer) Craig Biggio, he formed the “Killer B’s” that helped the Astros make it to the playoffs six times between 1997 and 2005. Rookie of the Year in 1991, MVP in 1994, and a four-time All-Star, he slugged thirty or more home runs for eight straight years.
If you’ve got ten minutes, a fan has put together a highlight reel:
Tim Raines was always in the shadow of other players, and moved around a lot (23 years with six teams), making it easy for him to be overlooked. His career pretty much paralleled those of Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson. Sure, Gwynn got a lot more base hits than Raines…..but when you add in walks, Raines got on base a lot more. If you do the advanced mathematics to calculate something called “Runs Created” (if the object of baseball is to score runs, then you want players who “create runs”), Gwynn and Raines’ figures are essentially identical.
Oh, sure, Henderson stole more bases than anyone….but no one had a better success ratio at base stealing than Raines.
Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola have the call on the end of what would become known as the “Tim Raines Game” (Montreal at NY Mets, 5/2/87)
There wasn’t really any question as to whether or not Ivan Rodriguez would make it into Cooperstown. A fourteen time All-Star and the AL MVP in 1999, he’s one of the best hitting catchers of all time.
But if there’s one thing he was known for, it was that you did not run on him:
Of course, that begs the question: Could Rodriguez throw out Raines? Someone should ask them at the ceremony this August.
UPDATE: I’ve been told that Tim Raines tried to steal on Ivan Rodriguez four times. He succeeded on all four.
All three are quite deserving of the honor, but it really is about time Tim Raines got in the HOF. Even though I’ve heard him by some called the second greatest leadoff hitter ever behind Henderson (something I agree with), it seems to me that he was a vastly underrated ballplayer, which is mirrored by how long it took for Raines to make it to the Hall in Cooperstown.