Bagwell’s name was written on 41.7 percent of the ballots submitted in December, which is easily enough to keep him on the ballot for 2012 induction and could set the stage for a prolonged candidacy. As long as a player keeps surpassing 5 percent of the vote, his name can be on the ballot up to 15 times.
“I was not real shocked,” Bagwell said of the result. “I’ve (said) before I didn’t expect to get in. And that’s OK; I don’t feel bad, I’m just thankful that I’m even on the ballot, and we’ll go from here.
“Guys like me they’re not going to get in real easily; it’s not like that,” he added, referring to a lack of a major milestone number like 500 home runs. “But I’m happy for Robby and Bert, though, that’s great for them.”
An analysis of votes made public prior to Wednesday’s formal announcement indicated that Bagwell’s candidacy was hindered by suspicion of performance-enhancing drug use, a rumor that Bagwell has denied during and after his career. There was also a contingent of voters who believed that Bagwell’s career performance simply did not stand out in an era marked by sluggers with a high concentration at Bagwell’s position of first base.
The historical precedent for exclusion of players outside of a super-elite class from first-ballot induction also may have dragged the number down as it likely did with Alomar, who missed by eight votes last year.
Bagwell should see a rise next year when first-ballot hesitations wear off and he faces a weaker field, which, though not based on a written rule. Bernie Williams and Brad Radke are arguably the top position player and pitcher.
After that, candidates could tend to get lost with Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza coming on the ballot for the first time in what is sure to be a 2013 election fueled with talk of performance-enhancing drugs and Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz among the big names for the following two years.
Bagwell played 15 years with the Astros, hitting a team record 449 home runs among a host of other records and starring on four playoff teams while playing on two others.
Alomar and Blyleven will join executive Pat Gillick, elected by the Veterans Committee, broadcaster Dave Van Horne and writer Bill Conlin as the Class of 2011. They will be enshrined in the museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. in a ceremony on July 24.
Bagwell received the sixth-most votes from the 581-person electorate consisting of Baseball Writers Association of America members who earned their vote with 10 years of service.
Alomar, among the top second basemen of all-time, was an overwhelming selection with 90 percent of the vote, up from 74 percent last year, showing an enormous group of voters who did not vote for him on his first ballot but later checked off his worthiness. Blyleven, a standout pitcher in the 1970s and ’80s who is fifth on the all-time strikeout list, got in somewhat less comfortably with 79.7 percent of the vote on his 14th ballot.
Shortstop Barry Larkin was third with 62.1 percent of the vote, pitcher Jack Morris received 53.5 percent and reliever Lee Smith got 45.3 percent.
Mark McGwire, who admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs since the last vote, saw his percentage drop from 23.7 percent to 19.8 percent, while Rafael Palmeiro, who was suspended for drug use during his career, got 11 percent of the vote.
The vote: Roberto Alomar 523 (90.0%), Bert Blyleven 463 (79.7%), Barry Larkin 361 (62.1%), Jack Morris 311 (53.5%), Lee Smith 263 (45.3%), Jeff Bagwell 242 (41.7%), Tim Raines 218 (37.5%), Edgar Martinez 191 (32.9%), Alan Trammell 141 (24.3%), Larry Walker 118 (20.3%), Mark McGwire 115 (19.8%), Fred McGriff 104 (17.9%), Dave Parker 89 (15.3%), Don Mattingly 79 (13.6%), Dale Murphy 73 (12.6%), Rafael Palmeiro 64 (11.0%), Juan Gonzalez 30 (5.2%), Harold Baines 28 (4.8%), John Franco 27 (4.6%), Kevin Brown 12 (2.1%), Tino Martinez 6 (1.0%), Marquis Grissom 4 (0.7%), Al Leiter 4 (0.7%), John Olerud 4 (0.7%), B.J. Surhoff 2 (0.3%), Bret Boone 1 (0.2%), Benito Santiago 1 (0.2%), Carlos Baerga 0, Lenny Harris 0, Bobby Higginson 0, Charles Johnson 0, Raul Mondesi 0, Kirk Rueter 0.