After last year’s shutout with the Baseball Hall of Fame voting, there was no way it was going to happen again this year. With several newcomers to the ballot, and more qualified holdovers, there were bound to be at least a couple players to get the 75 percent necessary for enshrinement. And there were three.
In what many people expected, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas will be heading to Cooperstown this summer. Maddux was this year’s leading vote-getter with 97.2 percent of the vote. That is the eighth-highest total in the history of the Hall. Still, 16 Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters found a way to leave him off their ballots.
Just behind him, with 91.9 percent of votes, was his longtime Atlanta teammate Glavine. With the two of them elected on the same ballot, they reached some significant benchmarks. Their totals marked just the fifth time ever that multiple players on the same ballot received at least 90 percent of the vote, they are the first pair of living 300-game winners to be elected in the same year and just the third time overall, and they are the third pair of teammates to be elected together after spending at least 10 seasons on the same team.
Thomas, meanwhile, was also inducted by a fairly healthy margin, earning votes on 83.7 percent of ballots. He becomes the first player ever voted into the Hall after spending the majority of his playing time as a DH.
For the ballot veterans who didn’t make the cut this year, it’s a toss up between a couple players as for whom the results sting more. Craig Biggio, in his second year on the ballot, received 74.8 percent of votes. He was just two votes shy of enshrinement and was a victim of the 10-player-per-ballot limit. Meanwhile, Jack Morris, in his 15th and final year of eligibility, saw his support slip, dropping down to 61.5 percent. He’ll now be at the mercy of the Veterans Committee in a few years.
Aside from Biggio, the only holdover player whose vote total went up this year was Mike Piazza. In his second year on the ballot, he received 62.2 percent of votes. That’s up from 57.8 percent in his debut last year. Things are trending in the right direction for him.
Everyone who has been trying to get to that magic 75 percent is further away from it after today. Jeff Bagwell (54.3 percent), Tim Raines (46.1 percent), Roger Clemens (35.4 percent), Barry Bonds (34.7 percent), Lee Smith (29.9 percent), Curt Schilling (29.2 percent), Edgar Martinez (25.2 percent), Alan Trammell (20.8 percent), Fred McGriff (11.7 percent), Mark McGwire (11.0 percent), Larry Walker (10.2 percent), Don Mattingly (8.2 percent), and Sammy Sosa (7.2 percent) will all get another shot next year, staying above the 5 percent necessary to remain.
Among the takeaways in that group is the reluctance of BBWAA members to allow any PED-using suspects anywhere near a level of support that would give them any optimism for future enshrinement. The fates of Clemens and Bonds remain closely linked, as Clemens received only a handful of votes more than Bonds, just like last year. Bagwell likely took a hit because he was overshadowed by the newcomers to the ballot and there are people who believe he was a steroid user.
Tim Raines is still searching for that big push that could give him momentum for the following year. This won’t do it. He is now about halfway through his eligibility period and he may continue to be overlooked in favor of bigger stars going forward. The same will be true for other longtime Hall hopefuls. Smith, Trammell, and Mattingly are all within their final couple of years of eligibility, and it appears they have very little chance of getting in.
But for others, that door completely shut today. Those include Rafael Palmeiro (4.4 percent), Moises Alou (1.1 percent), Hideo Nomo (1.1 percent), Luis Gonzalez (0.9 percent), Eric Gagne (0.4 percent), J.T. Snow (0.4 percent), Armando Benitez (0.2 percent), Jacque Jones (0.2 percent), and Kenny Rogers (0.2 percent). For guys like Snow, Benitez, and Jones, they can be happy with the fact that they at least got a vote.
The same can’t be said for a few others. Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson, and Mike Timlin were all left without a vote in their first, and what will be their only, appearance on the ballot.
With that, the 2014 Hall of Fame voting is complete. Even if many are upset with the process and some voters, baseball fans can’t be too disappointed with the results as three deserving players received the top honor in the game.
For the voting members of the BBWAA who thought this year’s ballot was tough to navigate due to the 10-player limit and lack of guidance on PED-linked candidates, it’s not going to get any easier next year. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield, and John Smoltz will be eligible beginning next year, so a crowded and confusing ballot will become only more so. But at least this summer, baseball fans will be able to celebrate three greats of the game, and that’s what the Hall of Fame vote is all about.