Although my opinion has no impact on the Baseball Hall of Fame selection process, I would like to share my thoughts and show what my ballot would look like if I was a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America BBWAA. The official announcement will come tomorrow, January 6, 2015 at 2 p.m ET and can be seen on the MLB Network.
The 2015 ballot features 34 potential honorees, 17 are holdovers from previous years and there are 17 first timers on the ballot this year. Don Mattingly enters his final year of eligibility on the ballot but would be eligible for selection by the Expansion Era committee two falls from now in the event that he is overlooked tomorrow. To gain induction the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75 percent of all submitted ballots.
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Of the 34 on the ballot, there are 23 position players and eleven pitchers. There are several intriguing storylines heading into selection day, possibly none more so than the status of Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza. Last year, Biggio collected 74.8 percent of the ballot, missing out on induction by only .2 percent while Piazza was a bit further away, gathering 62.2 percent of the vote.
A duo of first timers, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, appear to be virtual locks for Cooperstown but there is uncertainty pertaining what percentage of the vote each will receive. Will Steroid Era sluggers see a spike or drop in their percentages? How many players will be voted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Can Biggio break the 75 percent mark? Will Pedro or Randy break 95 percent?
All of these questions, and more, will be answered tomorrow at 2 p.m. but without further adieu here are Ryan Kazeroid’s picks for Hall of Fame Induction:
Pedro Martinez The right-hander did not reach the 300-win mark, but was one of, if not the most dominant pitcher in his era while he was in his prime. Over seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Martinez went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA which was highlighted by four All-Star game appearances and two Cy Young Awards in Boston. For his career, the Dominican-born righty won three Cy Youngs and was named to eight All-Star teams. Although he only won 219 games, Pedro struck out 3,154 batters and posted a WHIP of 1.054, which is the best mark in the history of Major League Baseball for a starting pitcher.
Randy Johnson The Big Unit won 303 games over 22 big league campaigns while being named to 10 All-Star teams. Johnson, a 5-time Cy Young Award winner, took the award in four consecutive seasons from 1999 to 2002 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. His longevity should be marveled, as Johnson proved to be a capable pitcher into his mid-forties last pitching for the San Francisco Giants in 2009. He struck out 4,875 batters in 4,135 1/3 innings pitched. The lone knock on Johnson could be that he only won one World Series title, with Arizona in 2001, and that his overall postseason line of 7-9 with a 3.50 ERA was not overly impressive. Yet, he went 3-0 with a 1.04 earned run average in the 2001 World Series en route to being tabbed Fall Classic MVP.
Craig Biggio The former Houston Astros star finally punches his ticket to the Hall in 2015 according to this observer and joins a class that includes two of the most dominant pitchers in the Modern Era. Biggio, a 20-year veteran, broke into the big leagues behind the dish, but spent the majority of his career at second base and around the outfield. He spent each of his 20 seasons with the same organization, the aforementioned Astros, amassing 3,060 hits and seven All-Star nods. Biggio was named to the NL All-Star squad for five consecutive seasons between 1994 and 1998. He hit 20 home runs eight times in his career and finished with a .363 on-base percentage. A possible consequence of playing in a small, less popular baseball market like Houston is a lack of exposure, which may have hurt his vote total last year.
John Smoltz The right-hander split his career between the bullpen and starting rotation, winning 213 games and saving 154 others. His career 3.33 ERA is not eye-popping, but it is very formidable. Smoltz won twenty games one time in his career, coming in the 1996 campaign. He saved 40 or more games in three consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2004. A 21-year veteran, Smoltz won the 1996 NL Cy Young Award and was named to eight All-Star teams. The longtime Braves mainstay punched out 3,084 batters in his career, winning the 1995 World Series with Atlanta. In total, he posted a career 15-4 postseason record with a 2.67 ERA.
Nomar Garciaparra The shortstop broke into the majors with the Boston Red Sox, taking the league by storm while capturing the 1997 AL Rookie of the Year Award. In a fourteen-year career plagued with knee and leg problems, Nomar hit .313 with 229 home runs and a .361 on-base percentage. He was named to six All-Star teams, but struggled to stay healthy. When healthy, he was one of the most potent offensive threats in the bigs, hitting over .300 eight times, while eclipsing 20 home runs seven times. His selection will likely be a close call; he does not seem to be a lock like his former Red Sox teammate Pedro Martinez, and it remains to be seen whether his injury troubles will come back to haunt him. Also, he was never a member of a World Series champion although he got a World Series ring for his contributions to the Red Sox prior to the trade deadline in 2004.