The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voted a shutout this year, as no candidate on the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot reached the 75 percent mark for the first time since 1996.
Houston Astros star and first-year eligible Craig Biggio led all 37 candidates in votes with 388 (68.2%), which was just 39 shy of the 75 percent needed. Finishing second was Jack Morris (Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians) with 385 votes for 67.7 percent. This was Morris’ 13th year on the ballot and next year will be the last time his name will appear. Finishing third was Biggio’s long time Astros teammate Jeff Bagwell, who received 339 votes for 59.6 percent.
Steroid-tainted ball players Barry Bonds (Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants), Roger Clemens (Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros) and Sammy Sosa (Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles) we’re on the ballot for the first time this year. The BBWA took the three players ties with PEDs seriously as these stars received a low amount of votes.
“The Rocket” received only 214 votes (37.6%), Bonds (the all-time home run king) gathered up 206 votes (36.2%) and rounding out the three was Sosa, who was able to collect 71 votes (12.5%). Other PED linked players on this years ballot included Mark McGwire (Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals), who received 96 votes for 16.9 percent and Rafael Palmeiro (Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles) who just survived next years ballot with 50 votes for 8.8 percent.
With no Hall of Fame inductee this season, the BBWA should have a flourishing class of 2014. With strong new first-year eligible players and the core of this year’s ballot returning, I believe that at least five players will get inducted next year. The only question is who? I’ve taken account of all the players on next years ballot and here is whom I believe deserves to have a plaque in 2014.
1. Jack Morris
Why? Morris played in the big leagues for 18 seasons spanning from 1977 to 1994. The right-hander dominated hitters with a fastball, slider, a devastating forkball and a competitive spirit. Over his 18-year career, Morris compiled a 254-186 record with 2,478 strikeouts and a 3.90 Earned Run Average (ERA). His 254 wins rank him 42nd all time. Morris also was a five time All-Star (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1991), four time World Series champion (1984, 1991, 1992, 1993), the 1991 World Series MVP, two time Babe Ruth Award winner (1984, 1991) and pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 1984.
In the 1980’s, Morris started the most games, pitched the most innings and had the most wins of any pitcher in that decade. With all the great accomplishments Morris had many flaws. Morris ranks No.8 on the all time MLB list for wild pitches with 206. Morris also had a career ERA+ of 105, and only placed in the top 10 in ERA+ in four seasons and never ranked higher than fourth. His 39.3 wins above replacement (WAR) player according to Baseball Reference, was good for only 140th all-time among pitchers. Morris also never won a Cy Young.
Taking the good with the bad, WAR wasn’t around when Morris was pitching. Morris’ stats are good enough for a plaque in Cooperstown. He will be in his final year of eligibility in 2014. He received 67.7 percent of the votes in 2013 and should make the cut next year.
2014 Percentage Prediction: 75.2
2. Craig Biggio
Why? Biggio was a Hall of Fame snub without any question. Biggio played his entire 20-year baseball career with the Astros (1988-2007). Biggio played second base, catcher and the entire outfield during his career racking up 3,060 hits, ranking 20th on the career hit list.
Biggio’s was a seven time All-Star (1991, 1992, 1994-1998), a four-time Gold Glove Award winner (1994-1997), five time Silver Slugger Award winner (1989, 1994-1998), the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award winner and had his No.7 retired by the Houston Astros.
Biggio and Morris should have been the only inductees in the 2013 Class. Next year Biggio will be voted into the Hall of Fame, while Morris will be a question mark.
2014 Percentage Prediction: 82.1
3. Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays)
Why? With a .301 batting average with 521 home runs (ranking him 18th in career homers), 1,704 RBI’s (ranks 22nd all time) and 2,468 hits (ranks 100th all time). “The Big Hurt” was known for his stunning home run power and clutch play.
The Auburn alum played 19 years in the Major Leagues (16 years with the Chicago White Sox, two years with the Oakland A’s and two years with the Toronto Blue Jays). Thomas was a two time American League MVP (1993,1994), a five time All-Star (1993-1997), a four time Silver Slugger Award winner (1991, 1993, 1994, 2000), the 1997 AL batting champion, the 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year, the 1995 Home Run Derby champion and his No.35 was retired by the White Sox.
Thomas was a monster in the 90’s. He currently holds several White Sox batting records, including all-time leader in runs scored, home runs, doubles, RBI’s, extra base hits, walks, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He was a fan favorite every team he played for. Thomas also was never mentioned as a steroid user in an era filled with cheaters.
The one thing that will hurt Thomas is the fact that he was a designated hitter, which is frowned upon by many BBWA voters. Edgar Martinez was one of the best right-handed hitters in MLB history. Martinez only gathered 35.9 percent of the votes this year.
Thomas is one of the best and most dominant hitters of all time. The fact that he wasn’t any part of the steroid talks makes Thomas an attractive candidate for class of 2014. Thomas deserves to be a first ballot inductee.
2014 Percentage Prediction: 75
4. Greg Maddux (Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego)
Why? With 355 career wins (eighth all time), a 3.16 ERA and 3,371 strikeouts Maddux will without a doubt be a first ballot inductee. Maddux won the Cy Young four times from 1992-1995. During those years he won the Cy Young Maddux posted a 75-29 record with an unreal 1.98 ERA. Maddux made eight All-Star appearances (1988,1992, 1994-1998, 2000), won 18 Gold Gloves (1990-2002, 2004-2008). Maddux No.31 is also retired by the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.
Without any question Maddux will be in the Hall of Fame next year. He is the most deserving candidate on the 2014 ballot.
2014 Percentage Prediction: 93.5
5. Tom Glavine (Atlanta Braves, New York Mets)
Why? Glavine and Maddux were the best pitching duo of the 90’s. The two were dominate as the Atlanta Braves 1-2 punch. Glavine compiled a 305-203 record with a 3.54 ERA and 2,607 strikeouts. Glavine was a five time 20-game winner and two-time Cy Young winner.
The lefty was also a ten time All-Star (1991-1993, 1996-200, 2002, 2004, 2006), a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1991, 1995-1996, 1998) and the 1995 World Series MVP. Like Maddux his No.47 was retired by the Atlanta Braves.
2014 Percentage Prediction: 79.3
So for the Class of 2014 I have Jack Morris, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. This class will be one of the greatest to be enshrined in MLB History. All these players had amazing careers and were clean players in an era that will forever be known as the Steroid Era.
The Just missed list
Jeff Bagwell: 2014 Percentage Prediction: 68.3
Mike Piazza: 2014 Percentage Prediction: 66.7
Tim Raines: 2014 Percentage Prediction: 64.9
Roger Clemens: 2014 Percentage Prediction: 52.4