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Hayden Goethe, Published January 08 2012

Some hope to claim their trip to Cooperstown today

Fargo

It’s not uncommon to find young boys and girls in the country hoping to one day grow up to be professional athletes. On their hometown diamonds, they emulate the likes of Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Joe Mauer.

Last weekend happened to serve as the one time all year that grown men and women pretend to be Joe Posnanski, Ken Davidoff and Buster Olney. And I am no different.

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting is one of those hotly debated topics every single year. And today, we learn who gets the nod in this year’s induction class.

Every sports fan jumps into the Hall fray, regardless of whether or not they have ever seen that player in person.

Statistics often pale in comparison to the amount of passion in some of the arguments.

Everyone is an expert. And everyone is a critic.

And that’s what makes the Baseball Hall of Fame so special. One could argue the near-misses are more publicized than the electees to the Halls of Fame in other sports.

Judging from the early results, today will likely be Barry Larkin’s big day. The question is: Will anyone else join him in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer?

Readers can reach Forum

Assistant Sports Editor

Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558

The early returns

Can’t wait until this afternoon to find out what former players will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? The website www.baseballthinkfactory.org can help you.

Many Hall voters in the Internet age post their ballots online prior to the vote’s announcement. Baseball Think Factory takes those ballots from every writer to figure out what percentage players on the ballot are getting among the writers who post ballots.

A player needs 75 percent of the vote to gain induction. Here’s a look at what percentage of votes the top ex-players were drawing as of Saturday night (at the time, Baseball Think Factory had located 104 ballots):

Barry Larkin

As of Saturday night: 89.4

Last year: 62.1 percent

The longtime Cincinnati Reds shortstop appears to be the one sure thing heading into today’s announcement. The 1995 NL MVP played all 19 of his major league seasons in “The Queen City.” He hit .291 for his career and batted .353 in the Reds’ 1990 World Series victory.

Jack Morris

As of Saturday night: 60.6

Last year: 53.5 percent

Morris is best known in these parts for his Game 7 masterpiece in the 1991 World Series, tossing 10 shutout innings as the Minnesota Twins won their second – and to date, last – championship. He won 254 games in his career. However, his 3.90 ERA would rank last among Hall of Famers if elected.

Tim Raines

As of Saturday night: 57.8

Last year: 37.5 percent

Raines seems to be making a big charge from a year ago. The former Montreal Expos outfielder played 23 seasons in the major leagues, hitting .294. His 808 stolen bases rank fifth all-time and his .385 on-base percentage ranks ahead of greats like Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt and Duke Snider.

Jeff Bagwell

As of Saturday night: 55.8

Last year: 41.7 percent

Bagwell sits well in traditional and new-age statistics, yet his first year on the ballot in 2011 garnered a disappointing vote total. In his 15 seasons with the Houston Astros, Bagwell hit 449 homers and posted a .540 slugging percentage. In the sabermetric category WAR (a stat that measures a players value in teams wins over what an average replacement player would have provided) he is 21st among all players dating back to World War II, ahead of Rod Carew, Ken Griffey Jr. and Pete Rose.

Alan Trammell

As of Saturday night: 44.2

Last year: 24.3 percent

Trammell spent all of his 20 major league seasons manning the shortstop position for the Detroit Tigers. The career .285 hitter was a four-time Gold Glove winner and six-time All-Star. He hit .450 in the Tigers’ 1984 World Series championship victory.

Lee Smith

As of Saturday night: 42.3

Last year: 45.3 percent

Smith compiled 478 saves in an 18-year big league career that ended in 1997. Four times he led his league in saves, including back-to-back seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1991 and 1992. He ranks third in career saves, behind only Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

Edgar Martinez

As of Saturday night: 35.6

Last year: 32.9 percent

Martinez is trying to become the first Baseball Hall of Famer to have played less than half of his games in the field. The longtime Seattle Mariners designated hitter was a career .312 hitter in 18 seasons. The seven-time All-Star finished with 2,247 career hits.