An intriguing group of talented players hit the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2016, but one name stood out. Ken Griffey Jr. was pretty much always going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer ever since he left his lasting mark on the game in the 1990s. Today, that goal has been realized, and by a record margin.
The Hall of Fame announced that both Griffey and Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, with the best hitting catcher in baseball history finally making it after four years on the ballot. Griffey set a new Hall of Fame voting record by being named on 99.3% of all ballots, surpassing Tom Seaver's previous high of 98.8% from 1992. Griffey missed only three ballots out of 440. He will be the first person with a Mariners hat on his plaque in Cooperstown. Griffey of course should have been unanimous, but that's the way it unfortunately always goes with Hall of Fame voting--Greg Maddux wasn't unanimous, Rickey Henderson wasn't unanimous... life goes on.
Here are the final results:
Results since the site is probably gonna crash. Griffey only missed 3 ballots and set a new percentage record. pic.twitter.com/QmHu2xun1r— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) January 6, 2016
The best news of the day is that Piazza is finally going to be enshrined, as he earned 83.0% of the vote.. He debuted on the ballot in 2013, the awful year when no one was inducted into the Hall of Fame despite a stacked group. It took a couple years for him to make it, primarily because of baseless PED accusations that all amounted to "he had backne" or "he was smaller when he declined." Nothing concrete was ever found on Piazza, so these claims were ridiculous. The man was a menace at the plate, as Yankees fans can attest, and he holds the record for most homers by a catcher, with 396 of his 427 blasts coming from behind the plate.
Power-hitting Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and the speedster Tim Raines finished just shy of the 75% needed for induction. Both are very deserving Hall of Famers who should have a good chance to get in when the 2017 ballot rolls around given how well they did this year (Bagwell jumped from 55.7% to 71.6% and Raines moved from 55% to a nice 69.8%). However, while Bagwell has multiple years of eligibility to go, the former Expo and Yankee Raines will be entering his final year on the ballot in 2017. We can only cross our fingers that this tremendous player will finally get his due next year, or else he will be subject to the slow-moving Veterans Committee.
In other Yankee news, longtime Yankee Mike Mussina saw a big increase in Hall of Fame votes, leaping from just 24.6% in 2015 to 43% this year. This is no small feat, and it definitely inspires hope for the many Yankees fans who want to see "Moose" in Cooperstown one day. I haven't been shy about why Mussina is as worthy as any pitcher for induction, so here's hoping it comes just a few years down the line. (Who knows? Maybe it will be the same year that Mariano Rivera is up for election, 2019. That would be neat.)
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds also saw their Hall of Fame vote percentages go from 37.5% and 36.8% last year to 45.2% and 44.3% in 2016. That is the best the controversial duo has fared since they debuted on the ballot in 2013. Perhaps one day they will join the club in Cooperstown as well.
There certainly seemed to be more than two deserving candidates--the Pinstripe Alley staff certainly felt so. Alas, so it goes with the Hall of Fame. What do you think of the results?