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First call to Hall? Pudge awaits ballot results

Former Rangers catcher considered among the best to ever play his position
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Those who played with Ivan Rodriguez or against him have little doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre called Rodriguez "the greatest catcher" he ever saw, and former Rangers general manager Tom Grieve said Rodriguez's first-ballot candidacy was a "no-brainer."

ARLINGTON -- Those who played with Ivan Rodriguez or against him have little doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre called Rodriguez "the greatest catcher" he ever saw, and former Rangers general manager Tom Grieve said Rodriguez's first-ballot candidacy was a "no-brainer."

It's still up to approximately 400-450 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and the results of their ballots will be revealed at 5 p.m. CT live on MLB Network, and simulcast live on MLB.com beginning at 2 p.m.

Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Rodriguez may be one of the best catchers of all-time, but his chances of being elected into the Hall of Fame, at least on the first ballot, are getting tight.

Candidates need 75 percent of the votes cast to be inducted. As of Wednesday morning, Rodriguez was at 78.9 percent in the now-famous Hall of Fame tracker set up by Ryan Thibodaux.

Thibodaux closely monitors the internet for any writers who have revealed their ballots prior to Wednesday's announcement. Thibodaux had found 235 ballots and Rodriguez was listed on 191. He was listed on all 14 MLB.com writers' ballots that were published on Tuesday.

Video: Ivan Rodriguez hopes to make HOF in 2017

The 78.9 percent might seem to be good news, but often -- not always -- a candidate's final percentage is 1-5 points lower than what is showing in the final Thibodaux update before the official announcement.

Last year, Jeff Bagwell was at 75.9 percent of the vote in the final update and 71.6 percent in the official vote, denying him induction for a sixth straight year. Tim Raines went from 74 percent to 69.8. But Mike Piazza went from 84.6 percent down to only 83, and was elected. Trevor Hoffman wasn't elected in 2016, but his 67.3 percent of all votes cast was higher than the 66.6 in the final update.

All votes had to be submitted by Dec. 31, so it's all over except the announcement.

Rodriguez will no doubt be disappointed if he doesn't get the call, but there is no reason to be discouraged. Johnny Bench is the only catcher to ever be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Yogi Berra got 67.2 percent in 1971 and had to wait until '72 to jump up to 85.6 percent. Carlton Fisk didn't get in until the second try. Piazza needed four tries, while Roy Campanella and Gary Carter needed six each.

All candidates get 10 years of eligibility as long as they don't fall under 5 percent. The only drama right now is if Rodriguez will get in on his first ballot.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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