After months of debate throughout the game, the Baseball Writers' Association of America has voted and officially announced the results of the 2015 Hall of Fame election. A quartet of tremendous players from the '90s and 2000s will be going into the Hall this summer, as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio were all elected to join the greats in Cooperstown. For the second straight years, three first-year eligible players made the Hall in their first election, and after painfully falling a mere two votes short last year, the Astros legend and 3,000 Hit Club member Biggio made it on his third try. Here are the full results:
The four-player class is the BBWAA's biggest since 1955, and it was about time for the writers to induct such a big class. A remarkable number of writers maxed out their ballots at 10 players apiece, a sure sign that the maximum number of players to vote for needs to be either increased (the BBWAA will reportedly suggest to the Hall a bump up to 12) or changed entirely to a binary yes/no option, as suggested by Derrick Goold. Remember, PSA would have put in a seven-player class, and other non-voting blocs have also suggested larger classes.
Focusing on the matter at hand though, it's good that four players made it the Hall; they were all quite deserving. Johnson and Pedro garnered an amazing percentage of the vote, respectively, signs of respect for their unbelievable careers. Johnson has an argument as the best left-handed pitcher of all-time for his strikeout prowess (4,875 total, second only to righty Nolan Ryan), his unhittable repertoire, and five Cy Young Awards, and in addition to Pedro's long-term success, it will be hard for anyone to duplicate his eye-popping prime with the Red Sox from 1999-2003. Smoltz's case is probably, in fact, about the same as Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling's, but he was someone who deserved eventual induction anyway. Smoltz used his 3,084 strikeouts over an excellent 21-year-career to make it on over 75% of the ballots. As previously noted by Arun, Biggio's induction was a long time coming, even if it was just three years.
For a good chunk of the candidates, it's back to the drawing board. Mike Piazza did not miss induction by too much, and his high 69.9% percentage (nice) has set himself up nicely for next year, when he will have a strong shot at joining the near-lock first-ballot inductee Ken Griffey Jr. in Cooperstown. (Maybe Biggio's longtime teammate and equally deserving candidate Jeff Bagwell can make a jump too from 55.7% in a less-crowded 2016 ballot as well.) The always-controversial legends Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens fell below 40% of the vote again, but I have a feeling that will be a recurring theme throughout their times on the BBWAA ballot. I'd vote them in, but whatever. A couple former Yankees who I've greatly supported made gains as well. Tim Raines only has two years left on the ballot, but at least he jumped from just 46.1% last year to a 55% in 2015. Mussina also made a modest leap from the disappointingly low 20.3% margin in 2014 to 24.6% this year. Fingers crossed that some year down the line, Moose and Rock get their moments in the sun by Otsego Lake.
I'm certain a good chunk of Yankees fans will be disappointed that in his last year on the ballot, Don Mattingly barely garnered any votes, just 9.1% of the vote. Alas, as researched by Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe, a Mattingly fan growing up as well, "Donnie Baseball" is probably one of those talented players who fall in "Hall of Nearly Great" territory. He will always be a Yankees legend though; that fact will never change. That #23 in Monument Park isn't going anywhere.
What are your thoughts on the Hall of Fame voting results? I know I'm pleased with the four players going in, but I still wish they'd induct a few more and perhaps re-evaluate election standards.