For the first time since 1999, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected three new members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine are all getting plaques in Cooperstown in July. This is the first time since 2009 the Hall has elected a first timer, when Rickey Henderson got elected on his first ballot. 2014 is also the first year since 2007 in which the writers elected strictly first timers, when Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn got the call. In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one, Maddux got the highest voting percentage of anybody, but did not break the all time record. 16 voters left him off. Maddux got 555 for 97.2% of the vote. Glavine received 525 votes to account for 91.9% of the vote and Thomas earned 478 votes for 83.7%.
The Hall nearly opened its doors to Craig Biggio in Wednesday. Yet the legendary Houston Astro received 74.8% of the vote, merely two votes shy of immortality. This one is a head scratcher to me. 3,060 hits alone should get someone in. 668 doubles and being considered one of the best second basemen of his time should put him over the top. There has been some, but very little talk of Biggio using steroids and therefore his call is likely next year. Yet some of the voters said on Twitter the Hall of Fame’s Rule of 10 kept them from voting for Biggio. He did pick up ground, but he should’ve gone in already. Jon Becker said he left Biggio off because of the Rule of 10 and chose Larry Walker, who got 10.2% of the vote, instead. All it could’ve taken was two more voters to get him in. Some people are calling for the Rule of 10 to be gotten rid of. If I were part of the BBWAA, I would vote for whom I thought was the 10 best, and Biggio would’ve made it and not been a casualty. Perhaps it’s also why Maddux was off of 16 ballots short. It seemed like a sure thing he was going to be elected and therefore others voted for those who weren’t as much of a sure thing.
In terms of other pitchers, Jack Morris didn’t get the Jim Rice treatment and is now off the ballot after 15 years. He received 61.5% of the vote. Curt Schilling got 29.2% of the vote and Mike Mussina debuted with 20.3% of the vote. How Morris got such a high percentage with Schilling and Mussina having such a low vote total is a question mark. On the encouraging side, Bert Blyleven debuted with 17.5% of the vote in 1998 and got 14.1% in 1999 before he gained steam and election on his 14th try in 2011. I could make the argument that both Mussina and Schilling were better than Morris and I think there are those who would share my sentiment.
In addition to Biggio 6% increase from a year ago, Mike Piazza received 62.2% of the vote, up from the 57.8% he debuted with in 2013. Jeff Bagwell was named on 59.6% of the ballots in 2013, but this year he only made 54.3% of them. Tim Raines also got a decrease from 52.2% to 46.1% this year. It’s definitely a shame Bagwell and Raines got fewer votes this year. What is most interesting to me is Piazza. I think there’s no doubt by the numbers he is a Hall of Famer. However, it’s all the debate of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. According to a May 30, 2002 New York Times article, Piazza said he never used steroids, but did take androstenedione early in his career. In the 1990s, andro was legal and could be bought over-the-counter, according to the article. If Piazza merely used andro when it was legal and nothing else, it could be why he gets higher votes than someone like Roger Clemens, 35.4 % of the vote, or Mark McGwire, who earned 11%. One should keep in mind andro is no longer permitted by MLB. I think Piazza eventually gets in unless it comes out he took steroids in addition to andro. However, I was debating this with someone on Twitter about this. In my opinion, the voters want to elect Piazza and Bagwell and probably would’ve done so, but they just want to be sure. I can see them before getting election before their 15 years are up.
Then of course, there are the token votes. Jacque Jones, Kenny Rogers and Armando Benitez all appeared on a voter’s ballot. J.T. Snow, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Hideo Nomo and Moises Alou also can say somebody voted for them for the Hall of Fame. Out of all the names, so far Benitez’s name has been met with the most contempt. A major name linked to the steroid era is now off, as Rafael Palmeiro garnered 4.4%, short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot. Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson and Mike Timlin all failed to get a vote and won’t be back next year either.
2014 brought fireworks to the Hall of Fame and it looks like 2015 could do the same. Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez all become eligible for the first time. Johnson is all but a lock and there’s a very good chance Smoltz and Martinez get their names called too. With Maddux getting a mere 97.2% of the vote, I think it’s unlikely Johnson gets a unanimous or breaks Seaver’s record, not that he wouldn’t be deserving of either one. Hopefully, above all else, Biggio gets his deserved 75% next year.