Dan's Dugout: Class of '17 Could Break Records • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Class of ’17 Could Break Records

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Disappointed that only two players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Wait ’til next year.

Although the voting writers have elected five players once and four players three times, the Class of 2017 could top both.

Trevor Hoffman almost made it this year

Trevor Hoffman almost made it this year

In addition to Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, and Tim Raines — all virtually certain to get in after topping 67 per cent apiece this time — the Expansion Era Veterans Committee could end its two-year schneid by choosing Dale Murphy and Jack Morris.

With Curt Schilling also increasing his percentage and a mini-boomlet underway for Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina, there could be a flood of new inductees a year-and-a-half away.

Jeff Bagwell (5) topped 71% in this year's vote

Jeff Bagwell (5) topped 71% in this year’s vote

Traditionally, players who score 70 per cent one year get in the next. Bagwell finished the 2016 vote with 71.6, followed by Raines at 69.8 and Hoffman at 67.3.

In addition to those holdovers, the 2017 ballot will feature first-timers Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez, among others.

With separate votes by the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Veterans Committee, the stage could get crowded.

If Bagwell, Raines, and Hoffman all graduate from near-misses to electees, there’s still a chance that Guerrero will join them. A feared slugger who came up with the Montreal Expos, Guerrero was never suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Pudge Rodriguez could reach the Hall in his first try next year

Pudge Rodriguez could reach the Hall in his first try next year

Rodriguez, on the other hand, was part of a Texas Rangers team that seemed to ooze steroids. The best American League catcher of his generation, he was known primarily for his Gold Glove defense but was also a strong hitter who could hit for power and average. When the compact catcher hit an unexpected 35 home runs, however, he might have had artificial help.

As for Murphy and Morris, both have Hall-worthy resumes. The former is a two-time National League MVP who hit 398 home runs, one less than first-time electee Al Kaline, and had more total bases during the ’80s than any other player. Only Mike Schmidt had more home runs during that decade and only Eddie Murray had more runs batted in. Both are in Cooperstown.

Jack Morris was a World Series star for three different teams

Jack Morris was a World Series star for three different teams

Morris, like Murphy, dominated a decade. He not only had more wins during the ’80s than any other pitcher but, like Schilling, had a well-earned reputation as a big-game pitcher. His 10-inning, 1-0 complete game win for Minnesota in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was last complete game by an American League pitcher in the Fall Classic.

The team Morris beat, the Atlanta Braves, started its streak of 14 straight first-place finishes — a pro sports record — that same year. The architect of that team, and a man whose tenure extended through the entire streak, also has a good chance to win a Cooperstown niche from the Expansion Era Committee.

Only three managers won more games than Bobby Cox

Only three managers won more games than Bobby Cox

If he gets the nod, John Schuerholz will join manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz in the Hall of Fame gallery — with Chipper Jones certain to follow in 2018.

The bottom line? Even though electees need 75 per cent of the vote, there’s a very real chance the Class of ’17 may have a half-dozen or more members. At the very least, the ballots will certainly be crowded.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Now that Alan Trammell and Mark McGwire are no longer eligible for election  by the BBWAA, they must wait five years for consideration by the Veterans Committee . . .

With the election of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza this week, the

Junior Griffey is the first No. 1 pick to reach the Hall and the owner of the best vote percentage

Junior Griffey is the first No. 1 pick to reach the Hall and the owner of the best vote percentage

Hall of Fame has 312 elected members, 70 of them still living . . .

Griffey’s 99.32 percentage was the highest ever, topping Tom Seaver’s 98.84 per cent from 1992 . . .

How hard is it to get 75 per cent of the vote? Joe DiMaggio had to wait until his fourth try, Rogers Hornsby until his fifth, and Jimmie Foxx until his seventh . . .

The Cooperstown collection includes 40,000 artifacts, 145,000 baseball cards, and three million library pieces . . .

Also to be honored during Induction Weekend this year are the late Graham McNamee, an aspiring opera singer who became the first great baseball broadcaster, and Boston Globe sportwriter Dan Shaughnessy. They won the Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink awards, respeectively.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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