Smith among 5 former Cards to miss out on HOF

Former closer earns just 34.2 percent in 15th, final year on ballot

Smith among 5 former Cards to miss out on HOF

Former Cardinals closer Lee Smith and outfielder Larry Walker each garnered significant support, but both fell short when the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 was announced on Wednesday.

It was Smith's 15th and final year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. The 59-year-old, who became baseball's all-time saves leader while wearing a Cardinals uniform in 1993 and held that distinction until 2006, received 151 votes (34.2 percent) -- well shy of the 75 percent needed for election.

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It capped an agonizing journey for Smith, who received 42.3 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2003, and topped at 50 percent in 2012. But recent crowding on the ballot hurt his chances, and saw Smith slip below 35 percent in each of the past four years.

2017 Hall of Fame election results
Votes Player Percentage
381 Jeff Bagwell 86.2%
380 Tim Raines 86.0%
336 Ivan Rodriguez 76.0%
327 Trevor Hoffman 74.0%
317 Vladimir Guerrero 71.7%
259 Edgar Martinez 58.6%
239 Roger Clemens 54.1%
238 Barry Bonds 53.8%
229 Mike Mussina 51.8%
199 Curt Schilling 45.0%
Complete voting results »

"Just to be mentioned for the Hall, alongside guys like Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson and so many others. ... Man, that's incredible," Smith, who notched 478 career saves, told MLB.com in 2012.

Walker, meanwhile, saw an uptick this year. The sweet-swinging outfielder, who made a career with the Expos and Rockies before finishing with the Cardinals in 2004-05, received 97 votes (21.9 percent) up from 15.5 percent last year, and just shy of his personal peak in 2012, when he appeared on 22.9 percent of ballots. Walker has three more years of eligibility.

The three other former Cardinals on the ballot did not earn the necessary 5 percent to retain their eligibility. Edgar Renteria received two votes, and Arthur Rhodes and J.D. Drew each received none.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.