It’s that time of year again — the Baseball Hall of Fame released its 2014 ballot on Tuesday. This is a good year; there are three no-doubt-about-it first-ballot Hall of Famers as well several other quality players making their debuts. They join a literal All-Star cast of leftovers who have yet to be voted in for one reason (steroids) or another (suspicions of steroids). Here’s an analysis, with my predictions of who gets in:
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas
All three of them will be voted in on their first try, as well they should be. Maddux and Glavine each won more than 300 games and Thomas topped 500 home runs. There were never any whispers of PEDs about any of them that could hurt their Hall of Fame candidacies. And maybe Glavine will wear a Mets hat on his plaque. Just kiddding!
Jeff Kent, Mike Mussina
Kent and Mussina are making their first appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot. Kent is arguably the best hitting second baseman of all time and Mussina had a record of 270-153. But neither of them was truly dominant players of their era, so while they will likely get enshrined some day, it will not be on their first ballots.
Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez., Kenny Rogers
Three more players making their ballot debuts. All of them had fine major league careers, but not Hall of Fame caliber.
Biggio leads the players returning to the ballot. Despite more than 3000 hits, Biggio did not make it on his first attempt last season, winning 68% of the vote. Perhaps he fell victim to the superstar steroid users who also made their ballot debuts. Also, some writers might see Biggio as a classic stat compiler and did not think he was worthy of being a first ballot Hall of Famer. Whatever the reason, his punishment is over and he will be voted in this time around.
Piazza, the best hitting catcher in baseball history, was done in by whispers of steroids even though there has been absolutely no concrete evidence against him. But the fact that he got 57% of the vote means not everyone is convinced he juiced. He will eventually get in, but with a strong ballot, not this year. He will increase his vote total and get in next time around.
Bagwell is also being victimized by unsubstantiated PED rumors. He has steadily increased his vote total from 41% to 56% to 59%, so he will eventually get in as well, but also not this year.
Schilling got 38% on his first attempt last year. He will not get in this year, either, but his strong post-season performances will likely get him in eventually.
This is Morris’s 15th and final year on the ballot. He got 67% of the vote last time and will fall short yet again. It’s onto the Veterans Committee for Morris.
I have warmed to McGriff’s candidacy over the years. He was never truly dominant, but he had a dozen solid seasons. If he had 500 home runs he would have been in by now; should he really be penalized for missing that number by just seven? No, but he will continue to be.
Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker
All very good major leaguers, but they will all continue to fall short of being Hall of Famers.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro
The steroid guys. They are never getting in. Instead, they just clog up the ballot and make it harder for the clean players.