Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman look good for 2017

Two holdovers make strides on ballot; newcomer has strong debut

January 7th, 2016

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza have claimed their immortal place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame after overwhelming voting totals on the 2016 ballot.

But long before they're even sized for their suits for induction ceremonies this summer, fans and pundits will be looking toward next year.

Griffey sets Hall vote mark; Piazza also elected

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman and others turned in impressive showings in the 2016 balloting and look to be in good shape for '17 and beyond.

:: 2016 Hall of Fame ballot results ::

"I think one of the takeaways is that three guys [Bagwell, Raines and Hoffman] are on the cusp based on historical precedent," said Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated writer and Hall of Fame expert. "And next year, there's a danger that one of them could get squeezed out. But if it happens, I think it might be Hoffman, who has plenty of time to get in. Raines has an urgency about his candidacy in his last year. Bagwell is so close, and I don't think people want to see a guy fall a few votes short."

Then again, the first-time appearance on the 2017 ballot of viable candidates including Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Jorge Posada could complicate things from a math perspective.

Regardless, here's how the best of the rest of Wednesday's Cooperstown undercard fared and how their chances look going forward:

Jeff Bagwell

2016 percentage: 71.6

2015 percentage: 55.7

Get ready for a party next year, Mr. Bagwell. A nice 15.9 percent jump is one thing. Then there's this nugget: In the past half century, 16 of 17 players to gain at least 70 percent of the vote one year earned election the next eligible year. Only Jim Bunning, who received 74.2 percent of the vote in 1988, didn't make it the following year. Also, every player other than Jack Morris who has ever gotten 66.8 percent of the vote has eventually gotten in, either by the initial Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) or the later Expansion Era Committee vote, and Morris will have his case heard by the Expansion Era Committee next year, when he could very well get the call.

Outlook: It would be stunning if Bagwell didn't get in in 2017.

Tim Raines

2016 percentage: 69.8

2015 percentage: 55.0

Raines has only one year of BBWAA eligibility left, but he just about qualifies for the 16-of-17 rule and exceeds the 66.8 percent rule, so those are huge positives. There's also more to look forward to for the growing group of writers in his corner in 2017. This year, Alan Trammell fell off the ballot after his final unsuccessful year, but he gained 15.8 percent, possibly because it was his final year. Anything close to that kind of increase for Raines will get him in easily.

Outlook: Looking like it'll be worth the long wait for Rock.

:: Griffey, Piazza make Hall of Fame ::

Trevor Hoffman

2016 percentage: 67.3

2015 percentage: Not yet on ballot

It was an outstanding ballot debut for the man with 601 career saves, which ranks second in history to the great Mariano Rivera. Hoffman started off about 10 percent stronger than Piazza, and if it doesn't happen next year, it won't be long after that.

"While the news today wasn't the news I was hoping for, I am humbled and honored to have been on the ballot and in the conversation with players of this caliber," Hoffman said in a statement released by his longtime team, the San Diego Padres. "If and when the day comes that I receive the ultimate honor in our game, I look forward to sharing it with my family, friends, teammates, the Padres organization and, most importantly, the fans."

Outlook: All systems go, and probably sooner than later.

Curt Schilling

2016 percentage: 52.3

2015 percentage: 39.2

Schilling made a sizable leap in percentage points, gaining 13.1 percent of the vote to get over the 50 percent barrier, another historically significant milestone when the Expansion Era Committee is also taken into consideration. He has six years of eligibility left, too. These are all very good signs.

Outlook: It might take two or three more years, but it's looking good.

Roger Clemens

2016 percentage: 45.2

2015 percentage: 37.5

The 7.7 percent climb is promising for a guy with one of the greatest statistical resumes of all time but whose candidacy has suffered because of his association with claims of performance-enhancing drug use. Still, Clemens has to gain 30 percent, and that's a tall order, especially with only six years of eligibility remaining.

Outlook: Increasingly hopeful as voters skew younger.

Barry Bonds

2016 percentage: 44.3

2015 percentage: 36.8

One thing that's been reliable over the past four years: If you voted for Clemens, you probably voted for Bonds, the all-time and single-season MLB home run king whose only obstacle to election has been the same PED association as Clemens. It's an understandable coupling, so the positive sign for Clemens this year means Bonds supporters are in the same hopeful boat.

"We're seeing a softening on the stance, and more big-name writers might be considering changing votes for Clemens and Bonds over the next few years," Jaffe said. "I think they're probably at least a few years away, but I do think it will eventually happen, even if it takes to Year 10."

Outlook: See Clemens.

Edgar Martinez

2016 percentage: 43.4

2015 percentage: 27.0

Martinez did very well in gaining 16.4 percentage points from 2015 to '16, which indicates that fewer voters were blocked by the major argument against his candidacy: that most of his career came as a designated hitter. Still, Martinez has a long way to go and only three years to do it.

"For me, I am really encouraged, and thankful, in the increase of votes," Martinez said Wednesday. "I certainly didn't expect to be elected today, but it is always a little disappointing when it becomes official. Although, I'm so happy for [former Mariners teammate] Ken [Griffey Jr.], that makes it a little easier."

Outlook: Renewed promise, but needs to keep up momentum

Mike Mussina

2016 percentage: 43.0

2015 percentage: 24.6

Mussina's body of work is best appreciated by a younger voting base, since he fell 30 wins short of the 300 mark that so many voters demanded of pitchers for so long. That explains how Mussina pulled off the biggest statistical bump (18.4 percent) of any candidate in 2016. He's got seven years left in his candidacy, so things are suddenly looking a lot better for "Moose" than they did last year.

Outlook: Strong case for optimism moving forward.