The Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce the results of its voting on Jan. 9, determining the fate of the 27 names on this year's ballot. Any players who receive at least 75 percent of the vote will receive an invitation to Cooperstown and will be on their way to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Jeff Bagwell is one of the more intriguing candidates up for election a year removed from receiving 41.7 percent of the vote. The longtime Astros first baseman was the 1994 National League MVP and a four-time All-Star. Bagwell slugged 449 home runs, racked up 2,314 hits and drove in 1,529 runs while posting a .297 lifetime batting average during his 15-year career.
On his own, Bagwell's numbers would merit consideration for the Hall, and one can make the case pretty convincingly that he belongs in Cooperstown. But despite the fact that he has never been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, Bagwell is sometimes considered guilty by association due to the era that he played in.
Bagwell, however, isn't the only player who may be on the cusp of induction this year. Shortstop Barry Larkin is the leading vote-getter returning on the ballot and is expected to get the call. Twins pitcher Jack Morris, Expos outfielder Tim Raines and pitcher Lee Smith are all on the ballot with outside chances at induction as well.
2012's Hall of Fame class certainly has its fair share of storylines, and that's even before getting to the more controversial candidacies of Rafael Palmeiro or Mark McGwire. Is Bagwell being unfairly linked to those names? Or is this the year he breaks through and earns his way into the Hall?
On Jan. 9, at least one of those questions will be answered.