COOPERSTOWN – The Red Sox’ Manny Ramirez is among four new contenders among 19 candidates on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot that is being mailed this week to more than 400 voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Outfielder Ramirez is joined by catcher Iván Rodríguez, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and shortstop Edgar Rentería on the newcomers’ list, joining 15 holdovers from the 2016 balloting in which center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. and catcher Mike Piazza were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
How successful they are remains to be seen, with the Chicago Tribune immediately labeling Ramirez and Rodriguez “steroids-tainted stars.” The BWWAA has so far been reluctant to vote in anyone touched by PED scandals.
Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by selected BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage to gain election. Falling 15 votes shy of the required total in 2016 was first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who received 71.6 percent of the vote. The only other players to be named on more than half the ballots were outfielder Tim Raines (69.8), relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman (67.3) and starting pitcher Curt Schilling (52.3).
The Hall of Fame provided the particulars on the newcomers:
- Ramírez, a 12-time All-Star and nine-time Silver Slugger winner, starred on the Boston Red Sox title teams of 2004 when he was the World Series MVP and ’07. A .312 hitter with a .996 on-base plus slugging percentage, Ramírez bashed 555 home runs and drove in 1,831 runs over 19 big-league seasons. He led the league in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS three times apiece and in batting, home runs and RBI once each. In 23 postseason series, Ramírez’s 29 home runs and 72 walks are the most in postseason play, and his 78 RBI rank second.
- Rodríguez had an extraordinary combination of offense and defense for a player behind the plate in a 21-season career in which he earned 13 Gold Gloves, the most for a catcher and tied for second most among position players, and seven Silver Slugger Awards. He was the AL MVP in 2009 with the Texas Rangers when he set a career high with 113 RBI and tied his career best with 116 runs while batting .332 with 35 home runs and falling one hit shy of 200. A member of 14 All-Star teams, “Pudge” started behind the plate in 12 of those games. Rodríguez appeared in the most games as a catcher (2,844) and among players who appeared in at least 50 percent of their career games as a catcher has the most hits (2,844) and doubles (572). He ranked first in his league in caught stealing percentage nine times, led all catchers in his league in assists five times and putouts twice and is the all-time leader in career putouts as a catcher with 14,864. Rodríguez won a World Series ring with the then Florida Marlins in 2003 and was MVP of the National League Championship Series.
- Rentería, a shortstop who won three Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves, was a World Series hero for two franchises. He drove in the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of their 1997 championship and was the MVP of the 2010 World Series for the San Francisco Giants.
- Guerrero was the MVP in the AL in 2004, his first season with the then Anaheim Angels, when he batted .337 with 39 home runs and 126 runs batted in, plus league-leading totals in runs (124) and total bases (366). The Dominican Republic native also played for the Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles in a 16-season career in which he compiled a .318 batting average and .553 slugging percentage, one of only nine players in history to do so. The others were Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and still-active Miguel Cabrera. Guerrero was an eight-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award, seven times as a right fielder and once as a designated hitter, in 2010, when he won the Edgar Martínez Award as the league’s top DH. The nine-time All-Star batted .300 in 13 seasons, including 12 years in a row, had four 200-plus hit seasons, drove in 100 or more runs 10 times and scored 100 or more runs six times.
The ballot: Jeff Bagwell, Casey Blake, Barry Bonds, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, Roger Clemens, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillén, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Derrek Lee, Edgar Martínez, Fred McGriff, Melvin Mora, Mike Mussina, Magglio Ordóñez, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, Manny Ramírez, Edgar Rentería, Arthur Rhodes, Iván Rodríguez, Freddy Sánchez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Matt Stairs, Jason Varitek, Billy Wagner, Tim Wakefield, Larry Walker.
Writers must return ballots by a Dec. 31 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, on MLB Network.