Red Sox alums fall short of 2017 baseball Hall of Fame induction


A number of former Boston Red Sox players received Hall of Fame votes, but the majority fell short of gathering enough to remain on the ballot.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome three new members in the Class of 2017, none of whom ever played for the Boston Red Sox.

The list is highlighted by first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who received the strongest support on the ballot with 86.2 percent of the vote. The longtime Houston Astro was once a promising young prospect in the Red Sox farm system, only to be dealt in one of the worst trades in franchise history before ever getting the chance to suit up for the big league team.

Bagwell will be joined by outfielder Tim Raines and catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Raines received 86 percent of the vote, up 16.2 percent from 2016, in his final year of eligibility. Pudge Rodriguez just made the cut, coming in at 76 percent.

Induction into the Hall of Fame requires at least 75 percent of the vote from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Several former Red Sox players received votes, but none came particularly close to that benchmark.

Roger Clemens came the closest among those that have played in Boston. The Rocket received 54.1 percent, showing progress that indicates voters may be softening their stance on candidates linked to performance enhancing drugs.

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On the other hand, voters were far less forgiving when it came to Manny Ramirez, who received only 23.8 percent. Manny is clearly worthy based on his numbers alone, as one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation. So why the gap between the number of writers willing to vote for others with tainted legacies, but not Ramirez? In some cases it may be as simple as the fact that this is his first year on the ballot, so some may have skipped over him knowing he’d have plenty of other chances to get in another year. When you’re limited to voting for only ten players, sometimes you have to make those tough calls.

It’s also likely that many writers view Manny a bit differently than other PED offenders because he got caught cheating – twice. Guys like Clemens and Barry Bonds are almost certainly guilty as well, but they never failed a drug test that resulted in a suspension. They were allegedly cheating back in the days when Major League Baseball turned a blind eye to the steroid problem, whereas Ramirez was caught after strict drug testing policies were put in place.

Then there’s Curt Schilling, who continues to lose votes with each controversial tweet. Despite being one of the most dominant postseason pitchers in history, the three time World Series champion actually lost 7.3 percent of the votes he had last year to drop to 45 percent. If you want to get in the Hall of Fame it’s probably not a great idea to anger the media members that determine the results. Schilling’s post-career implosion amid a series of social media rants remains one of the biggest hot button topics among voters.

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Does anyone still remember that Billy Wagner once pitched for the Red Sox? Probably not, since he only managed to stay healthy for 13 2/3 innings during his lone season in Boston back in 2009. Wagner joins Schilling as the only candidate to trend backwards, losing one vote to drop slightly to 10.2 percent.

Wagner may fair better once Trevor Hoffman (74 percent) gets in, just in case there is some unofficial limit to how many closers you can vote for. Wagner owns a better career ERA, FIP, WHIP, K/9 and K/BB ratio, but doesn’t have Hoffman’s longevity, thereby falling short in the highly overrated Save statistic that is fueling Hoffman’s candidacy.

Candidates must receive a least five percent of the vote in order to remain on the ballot next year and unfortunately there are quite a few players with ties to the Red Sox that will no longer be eligible.

Jason Varitek (0.5 percent) and Tim Wakefield (0.2 percent) are both deserving members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, but both fell well short of Cooperstown. Their contributions to this franchise have made them beloved icons in Boston, but neither have the numbers to make it to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Fans that recall Edgar Renteria‘s train wreck season in Boston will wonder how he managed to garner the same percentage as Varitek, but it’s safe to say the organization won’t be honoring the former shortstop the way they have with the Captain and his knuckleball tossing teammate.

Orlando Cabrera, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron and Freddy Sanchez were all shutout on the ballot. Given how crowded the field has become due to so many players tainted by PEDs being left in limbo for the past several years, there simply wasn’t room to spare a vote for those long-shot candidates.

The Red Sox last had one of their former players inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, when Pedro Martinez was the headliner. John Smoltz was also part of the Class of ’15, and while he obviously was enshrined with an Atlanta Braves cap, he did spend a brief stint in Boston.

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Perhaps the former Red Sox legends that remain on the ballot will make more progress next year. With David Ortiz now retired, it won’t be long before he gets his shot to be called to the Hall. Red Sox fans may not have a candidate to celebrate this year, but they very likely will in the not too distant future.