(WINDSOR, ON) – Apparently, it is pretty easy to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Just travel to Cooperstown, NY, pay your admission, and you’re in. But if you want to be enshrined as a player, manager, or builder, then it is a little bit harder.
This year’s ballot for the HOF has thirty-four hopefuls, 17 of whom are in their first year of eligibility. Recent changes to the criteria have reduced the amount of time a player may remain on the ballot, from 15 years to 10. However, three players, Lee Smith, Don Mattingly, and the Tigers’ Alan Trammell, all past 10 years, will be grandfathered under the previous rules.
As well, to remain on the list beyond the 1st year, and each year thereafter, players must receive more than 5% of the votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). For example, Mattingly, in 2014, was in his 14th year of eligibility and appeared on 8.2% of the cards returned by the writers. This allowed him to be, once again, on the ballot for 2015. Contrast that with Rafael Palmeiro who, in his 4th year, was named by just 4.4% of BBWAA respondents, so will not appear on the ballot again.
Now that voting has wrapped up, on December 31, I can make my thoughts known about who will, and will not, be elected to the HOF.
Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, and Sammy Sosa have all been on the ballot multiple years. They are, also, all closely associated with the performance enhancing drugs (PED) era of baseball, and their election to the Hall will forever be argued. Without doubt, they have the career stats that would ensure their enshrinement, if it weren’t for that pesky asterisk. Look for all of them to be shunned again, but probably garnering enough votes to stay another year, except Sosa.
In his 3rd year of balloting, look for Craig Biggio to be elected this year. He fell short by just two votes in 2014 and none of the first year entries for 2015 can match his numbers. Likewise for Jeff Bagwell, who is in his 5th year.
In their first year, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez look to be obvious choices for the writers. They enter the ballot with very strong career numbers and without the whiff of PED’s. Which brings us back to Piazza.
Except for McGwire (9th year), the Class of PED are in their 3rd year of eligibility. Piazza received the most votes of the group (62%), but still well short of the 75% needed for induction. Whether he gets in or not depends largely on the disposition of the writers and their willingness to forgive.
Better put an asterisk next to Piazza’s name.
The players selected for entry to the HOF will be announced early this month.