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Hall of Fame Predictions
The 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot features a total of 34 players, 17 for the first time, and 17 from previous years. Highlighting these newcomers are a plethora of starting pitchers; Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez to name a few. Star position players like Gary Sheffield and Brian Giles are also on the ballot for the first time.
The numerous returning players on the ballot may account for some new inductees this year. Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza both came close last year. Seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens and “homerun king” Barry Bonds, who have both been linked to PED use, are controversial names on the ballot.
With all this talent, this year has a chance to make history (only once were there ever five players elected in a year) but that could change in 2015. So who is going to be the Class of 2015 in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Read on to see who I believe will crack into this elite status this winter, who will eventually make it, who won’t be on the ballot next year, and everything in between.
Class of 2015 Inductees
The “Big Unit” is debuting on the ballot, but he should have no dilemma with his substantial list of accomplishments. The star lefty overwhelmed hitters during his 22 year career in baseball. His 300 wins alone almost guarantee him a spot, and considering that his record is 303-165, makes his win total even more impressive. He won five Cy Young Awards and led the league in ERA on four occasions. He is third all-time in strikeouts (trailing only Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson) and led the league nine times in strikeouts in his career. Randy Johnson is without a doubt going to headline the Class of 2015.
Pedro Martinez, also on his inaugural ballot, dominated the game during his 18 year career for the Red Sox, Expos, Dodgers, Mets and Phillies. His lifetime record is 219-100, which means a .687 winning percentage, and his lifetime ERA is an impressive 2.93. Pitching during a hitter’s era, that ERA is extremely low, PLUS, he pitched in the American League East for the majority of his career. Martinez was a three-time Cy Young winner and made the all-star game in eight seasons. His “low” win total could possibly keep him from being elected in his first year, but most likely Pedro will join Johnson in Cooperstown.
To get into the Hall of Fame via the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) a player must receive 75% of the vote. In 2014, (his second year on the ballot) Biggio received an excruciatingly close 74.8% of the votes, meaning he missed by a single vote. Presumably, one of those many writers who didn’t vote for him will now give him the nod, considering his profound lifetime statistics. Biggio’s 3,060 hits already sets him apart from the rest, and besides that he accumulated 1,844 runs and 1,175 RBIs in his illustrious 20 year career. Every game Biggio ever played was for the Houston Astros, which serves as a testimony to his loyalty. There is no reason this seven-time all-star should not be inducted this year.
Mike Piazza has twelve all-star appearances and ten silver slugger awards, and certainly should be in the Hall of Fame Class of 2015. However with so many stars on the ballot I don’t see it happening for Piazza this year. Predicting Piazza's outcome was more difficult than anyone else, because he should be a Hall of Famer without a doubt and perhaps he will be. His 62.2% vote last year indicates he will likely either barely gets in or barely misses it this year. He hit over .300 nine times and had over 100 RBIs over six times, there is no reason he shouldn’t get in this year. I hope he is elected, but if not he will be ultimately be elected one day, and likely very soon.
The only player in MLB history to record 200 wins and 150 saves, “Smoltzie” will definitely become a Hall of Famer at some point. However, I don’t know if he is going to make that threshold this year (If he doesn’t he will come super-close though). Pitching 21 seasons for the Braves, Red sox and Cardinals, Smoltz was an eight time all-star and won one Cy Young Award. Both Martinez and Smoltz will be right around the 75% mark, and easily Smoltz could be in and not Martinez, either way they will both be in sooner or later. Smoltz’s stats are Hall of Fame worthy, but I don’t see him becoming a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The Questionable Club
Mike Mussina had a very good eighteen year career for the Yankees and Orioles. “Moose” has a lifetime record of 270-153 which is good, but his 3.68 ERA scares voters away. If elected, his ERA would be higher than all but two Hall of Fame pitchers (Hank O’Day and Red Ruffing) He was a five-time all-star and definitely had a career worth bragging about, but will likely fall short of the hall in the end.
After 20 seasons in the MLB and two on the ballot, Schilling is not getting the respect some thought he would. Pitching for the Phillies, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Astros, and Orioles the right-hander made the all-star game six times and led the league in wins twice. His 216-146 record is great, and his 3.46 ERA is debatably “worthy” as well. But that’s the key word: debatably; Curt Schilling may never have enough people believing in him more than that and may never make the hall.
Playing all eighteen of his seasons for the Seattle Mariners, Edgar Martinez accomplished a lot. He was named to seven all-star games, won five silver sluggers, and finished third in MVP voting twice. He is one of merely 10 players in MLB history with 300 homers, 500 doubles, a batting average higher than .300, an OBP higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage above .500. Martinez should be in the hall one day, but he earned only 25.2% of the vote last year and that was his fifth time on the ballot. He will likely never make the Hall of Fame.
Normally when a player has made nine all-star games, they are a shoo-in for the hall; Gary Sheffield would be a no-doubter, if not for his name being linked to PEDs. His 509 lifetime homeruns are monumental, and usually that number means a guaranteed entry to the hall. However, since his name is on the Mitchell Report, that changes things drastically. Sheffield will probably be affected by this like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and others like them.
With an MLB leading 762 homeruns, 1,996 RBIs, 2,935 hits and a batting average of .298, at first glance it seems Bonds is a shoo-in for the hall. Bonds declined “knowing” that he took steroids, implying to many that he did them “without knowing”. There’s a word for this…bullshit. Bonds knew what he was doing, and he remains the only player to have a felony based off of his PED use, although that felony is perjury. The question isn’t did he do PEDs or not? The question is in an era with so much steroid use, can the BBWAA overlook that? Considering that many other players abstained from being involved in this injustice, I believe the BBWAA’s answer will be no, they cannot overlook cheating.
Should Barry Bonds be inducted to the Hall of Fame?
Roger Clemens has the most Cy young Awards of all-time with seven, but because of his link to PEDs he will likely not make the hall too. Clemens may get different consideration than other users though, since he only used them in his late career. Performance enhancing drugs did not make him the player he was; they did however help him maintain that in his final seasons. By numbers alone, “The Rocket” would easily be in, with an outstanding 354-184 record and an ERA of 3.12 throughout his 24 seasons for the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros and Blue Jays. He also led the league in ERA seven times and in wins four times. Clemens may one day get reconsidered and make the hall, but that time will not be this year.
On the ballot for the second year, Jeff Kent earned only 15.2% of the vote last year. He was an all-star on five occasions and won one MVP award. He only has 2,461 lifetime hits with 377 homers and 1,518 RBIs which are all very good. He has a decent shot at the hall, but will probably never make it.
On the bright side, Brian Giles has nearly 2,000 hits, nearly 300 homers and over 1,00 RBIs. On the bad side though, he doesn’t have 2,000 hits, he falls short. He also has 287 homers and 1,000 RBIs is very good but has no guarantees for the hall of fame. He was only a two time all-star, and is never going to become a Hall-of-Famer, but will flounder on the ballot year to year.
McGriff has only lost votes from the BBWAA since being on the ballot, falling to 11.7% last year. This upcoming season will be his sixth year on the ballot, and I don’t see his fortune changing in the next ten years on the ballot. His 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs are worthy numbers of the hall. He also led the league in long-balls two different seasons. He was elected to the all-star game six times, and has a lot of things going for him. There is suspicion of drug-use around his name, but he was never proven guilty and should be given the benefit of the doubt. However, most writers don’t see it this way and “Crime Dog” will probably never become a Hall of Famer.
These players will likely receive enough to stay on the ballot for another year but will never make the Hall of Fame. These good but not quite Hall-of-Fame-worthy players include Nomar Garciaparra, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Troy Percival, Sammy Sosa, Lee Smith, Alan Trammel, and Larry Walker. Sosa and McGwire are clearly on this list due to PED allegations. The other players won’t have the numbers in the eyes of the voters to make it into the hall. (In my opinion Trammel and Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame, however this is a predictive article not a persuasive article.)
Off the Ballot
Players who receive less than five percent of the BBWAA vote are removed from the ballot. These players will likely not earn enough votes; their careers are good, but not deserving of the prestigious Hall. Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Jason Schmidt are these players.