Congratulations go out to Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza for their induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The former Mariners/Reds center fielder netted 99.3% of the vote, setting an all-time record for vote percentage. The ex-Dodgers/Mets receiver made the Hall with 83% of the vote.
Coming up a little short this year was lifelong Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell who received 71.6% and longtime Montreal left fielder Tim Raines, who was named on 69.8% of the submitted ballots. I’m certain, although it may not be next year, that both men will eventually make the Hall of Fame. Raines may have to rely on the Veteran’s Committee in a number of years, since next year’s ballot will have some impressive newcomers with Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez. Bagwell, like Piazza this year, will be the ballot’s lead holdover and hopefully will get the required 75% needed for enshrinement next year.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Trevor Hoffman receive 67.3% of the vote, as he stands a fair shot of getting enshrined next year. The fireman has, historically, been undervalued by Hall of Fame voters, but with 601 career saves, Trevor is one of the game’s elite stoppers. However, the poor showing for Billy Wagner, another elite fireman whose career saves total is far inferior to Hoffman’s, albeit with some better peripheral stats, still indicates that relief pitchers aren’t valued as other positions.
Both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds saw modest upticks in their vote totals. I fully understand the arguments both for and against these former players, and although they were the best pitcher and hitter of their time, I wouldn’t lose sleep if they never get inducted. Be that as it may, neither man ever was suspended by Major League Baseball for using performance enhancing drugs, which inclines me suggest that we should step down from our soapboxes and place them not in the same regard as Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ryan Braun and Manny Ramirez. Those four men, like Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte don’t deserve a single vote cast for their enshrinement. Sure, they were surly, unlikable ball players, but what they accomplished in their careers, even before the Steroid Era, was worthy of the highest esteem. But I understand and support the arguments against them as well, and hold the honest players, those who performed without the benefit of some injected substance, at a much higher level than those who took steroids.
Edgar Martinez shot up in the ranks, as did Fred McGriff, but both men still have a way to go for enshrinement. Curt Schilling is beginning to garner the support he clearly deserves. Sure, his supporters will tell you that he was one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all-time, but that’s only a piece of the story. Schilling is perhaps the single most excellent pitcher the game has ever seen. He was the perfect blend of power and control, which enabled him to set a record for strikeout-to-walk ratio that inspires awe every time I visit his stats. The career wins aren’t as impressive as they could be, but neither was Pedro Martinez’s and he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. One must remember that Schilling toiled for an abysmal Phillies team before he caught on with Arizona and Boston and won championships.
The totals of the vote are listed below:
Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3), Mike Piazza (83.0), Jeff Bagwell (71.6), Rock Raines (69.8), Trevor Hoffman (67.3), Curt Schilling (52.3), Roger Clemens (45.2), Barry Bonds (44.3), Edgar Martinez (43.4), Mike Mussina (43.0), Alan Trammell (40.9), Lee Smith (34.1), Fred McGriff (20.9), Jeff Kent (16.6), Larry Walker (15.5), Mark McGwire (12.3), Gary Sheffield (11.6), Billy Wagner (10.5) and Sammy Sosa (7.0). The other players on the ballot, to include Jim Edmonds (2.5%) and holdover from last year, Nomar Garciaparra (1.8%) failed to garner the necessary 5% of the vote for retention.