Bonds gains momentum for future Hall push

Bonds gains momentum for future Hall push

Former Pirates star left fielder Barry Bonds continued to make steady growth in his candidacy for baseball immortality. However, Bonds remained well short of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

In his fifth year of eligibility, Bonds appeared on 238 of the 442 ballots cast, for a total of 53.8 percent in voting results that were revealed on Wednesday. That was a 9.5 percent jump from the 44.3 percent he received in 2016. He received 36.8 percent of the vote in '15.

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For election, candidates must receive a minimum of 75 percent of ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will include Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez. Bagwell received 381 votes (86.2 percent), while Raines followed with 380 votes (86 percent) and Rodriguez with 336 votes (76 percent).

The sixth overall pick by the Pirates in the 1985 Draft, Bonds spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh during his 22-year career. As a Pirate, he batted .275/.380/.503 with 176 of his Major League record 762 home runs.

Bonds also twice won the National League MVP Award with Pittsburgh in 1990 and '92, along with three Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger Awards and twice represented the team in the All-Star Game. The Pirates were in the postseason in three straight seasons from 1990-92.

Over his career, Bonds is also baseball's all-time leader in walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688). He is ranked among the top 10 in career runs (third), total bases (fourth), RBIs (fifth), slugging percentage (fifth), on-base percentage (sixth) and games played (10th).

With five more years of eligibility remaining, it appears increasingly possible that Bonds will eventually get into the Hall. While he certainly has worthy overall statistics from his career with the Pirates and Giants, he's long been suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs. To date, that has made voters reluctant to vote for him.

However as more voters continue to have their feelings evolve about the use of PEDs, Bonds' vote totals have continued to rise.

Three other former Pirates also were not elected this year and will fall off the 2018 ballot after one year of eligibility. Pitcher Tim Wakefield received one vote while second baseman Freddy Sanchez and outfielder Matt Stairs received zero votes. All needed to garner at least five percent of the vote to stay on the ballot.

Wakefield spent 1992-93 with the Pirates, the beginning of a 19-season career as one of baseball's rare knuckleball pitchers. The right-hander finished third in 1992 NL Rookie of the Year voting after he was 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 13 starts. In the NL Championship Series, he was 2-0 with two complete-game victories.

Sanchez spent six years of his 10-year career with the Pirates and was a three-time All-Star. He won the 2006 NL batting title with a .344 average and batted .301/.338/.424 over 676 games for the Pirates.

Stairs is the Major Leagues' all-time record holder with 23 pinch-hit home runs. Over his 19-year career, he was a member of 13 different teams, and 12 franchises, a record for non-pitchers. The lefty hitter spent 2003 with the Pirates and batted .292/.389/.561 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.