Who should be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017?
I actually have five members I would elect into the Hall of Fame this year! That includes a legendary player who is on the ballot for the very first year and two with their last chance on getting in.
The former Astros' first baseman was knocking on the door in 2016 receiving over 71% of the vote, and with that momentum he should find his way in this year. His 449 home runs and career .297 batting average are not too shabby. Oh yeah, not to mention his four all star appearances, gold glove award, multiple silver slugger awards, rookie of the year, and MVP award. #Lock
At one point, Hoffman was the all time saves leader in Major League Baseball history. That was eventually trumped by future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. However, being considered the second greatest closer of all time should be enough to earn him his induction with only his second year on the ballot. He had 601 saves between the Padres, Marlins, and Brewers. His seven all star appearances do not hurt his case.
Just like Bagwell, in 2016 Raines was knocking on the door with over 69% of the vote. In his tenth and final year on the ballot, I believe voters will finally give him his past due. Raines had 2,605 hits, a career .294 batting average, and 808 stolen bases during his time with seven different teams, most recognizably the Montreal Expos. "The Rock" was a seven time all- star (including winning the AS MVP award in 1987), was the 1986 NL batting champion, and was on three championship teams.
I am one of the few that recognizes the contributions of Lee Smith. I think he is a long, long, long shot to get in on his final year on the ballot (his 15th year as he got grandfathered in after they changed the tenure to only 10 years on the ballot). However, I think he is deserving. He only received 34.1% of the ballot last year, so hence why I called him a long shot to get in. However, before Trevor Hoffman became the all time saves leader and eventually the second greatest closer of all time, someone had to be the all time leader in saves right? That man was Lee Smith. I feel that when you leave the game being the all- time leader in the most significant statistic for your position, that should be merit for a Hall of Fame induction. Lee Smith ended his career with 478 saves which eventually got shattered by Hoffman and Rivera. The fact that Hoffman and Rivera are near election (Hoffman this year for example) have certainly hurt Smith's chances. Lee Smith was a seven time all star and led the league in saves four different seasons (Hoffman only did that twice and Rivera did it only three times). You may not get the majority vote, but you have mine Lee!
I think the stand out of this class is ultimately the member who is making his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot! Even as a life long Philadelphia Phillies fan, I always enjoyed watching Vladimir Guerrero. I always felt that no matter what you threw at Vlad, he had a good shot of putting it in play. Like Bagwell, he ended with 449 home runs but also added a .318 career batting average and 2,590 hits. He won the American League MVP award in 2004 with the Angels and also adds nine all- star appearances and eight silver slugger awards. Who would have thought the Hall could welcome two former Expos in 2017.
I still think that 5-7 more players on the ballot will make it to the Hall of Fame in the coming years. However, these are my five for 2017. Who would you vote for on the ballot?
Stay tuned in February for Tim's 10 Year Anniversary in Sports Media!