2015 Baseball Hall-of-Fame Ballot Unveiled
The 2015 Baseball Hall-of-Fame ballot was released on Monday morning. For the second year in a row, superstar names headline the ballot. The 2014 class featured a slew of first ballot Hall-of-Famers, and this year’s crop is once again led by an impressive group of first time nominees.
Some 600 baseball writers will vote on the list of nominees. The results will be announced live on MLB.com and MLB Network on January 6th, 2015. In order to be elected into the hall, a nominee must receive 75% of the vote.
First Time Nominees:
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The Big Unit is making his first appearance on the ballot, and likely his last appearance. Johnson is as close to a sure fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer as humanly possible. Johnson grew up in Livermore, Calif., and prior to staring in the Major Leagues for 22 seasons; he honed his craft on the diamond at USC. The massive 6’10 southpaw hit his stride with the Seattle Mariners in the 90’s, and dominated hitters until he was in his mid 40’s. The Big Unit won 303 games over his career, and finished with the second highest total of career punch outs in MLB history. Johnson won five Cy Young Awards, including four straight while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. While in Arizona, Johnson teamed with, Curt Schilling, to create one of the most dominant one-two combos in baseball history en-route to taking home the World Series in 2001.
Pedro Martinez dominated opposing hitters for 18 years, and he is a strong bet to be enshrined in Cooperstown next July. Martinez became in a household name in the late-90’s pitching with the Boston Red Sox. There was time when Martinez had the nastiest stuff in baseball, and the ability to throw a no-hitter every time he stepped out on the mound. Petey won three Cy Young Awards in his career, and made the All-Star team 8 times. Martinez is beloved in the Boston area after helping lead the BoSox to their first World Series Title in 86 years. Martinez had the rare combination of incredible talent, and an ability to manipulate the psychology of the game to best benefit himself. Martinez finished with 219 wins, a 2.93 EAR, and 3,154 career strikeouts.
John Smoltz witnessed his Atlanta Braves rotation mates, Greg Maddux, and, Tom Glavine, enter into the Hall last July. In 2015 he is likely to join them in Cooperstown. Smoltz had a fascinating 21-year career. For his first 11 seasons in Atlanta, Smoltz was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. After sitting out for the entire 2000 season due to injury, Smoltz shifted to the bullpen, and became one of the best closers of his era. After functioning as the Braves closer for four seasons, Smoltz transitioned back into the starting rotation. Smoltz would change teams a couple of times, but stayed a starter until he retired in 2009 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Smoltz won one Cy Young, one World Series, and was named an All-Star on eight separate occasions. Smoltz finished his illustrious career with 213 wins, and 154 saves.
Gary Sheffield was one of the greatest power hitters of all-time, and is one of the rare power hitters of his generation not to have his legacy tainted by PED allegations. Sheffield has a legitimate shot at becoming a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Sheff played 22 seasons in the big leagues, as a member of eight different organizations. Perhaps best know for his eccentric batting stance that featured a violent shopping motion, Sheffield could flat out hit. Sheff finished with a career batting average of .292, 2,689 hits, 509 home runs, 1,676 RBI’s, and 253 stolen bases. Sheffield won the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997, and was voted an All-Star nine times.
Other First Time Nominees: Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Cliff Floyd, Jermaine Dye, Tom Gordon, Brian Giles, Jason Schmidt, Eddie Guardado, Rich Aurilia.
Notable Returning Nominees:
Craig Biggio (74.8% in 2014)
Craig Biggio just missed out on being enshrined in 2014, falling just two votes shy of the 75% needed for election. Biggio starred for the Houston Astros for 20 years, playing all over the diamond, and helped lead the ‘Stros to a World Series appearance in 2005. Biggio is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and is likely to take his place in Cooperstown next summer. Biggio won five Silver Sluggers, four Gold Gloves at second base, and was named an All-Star seven times. His final numbers are deserving of a place in the hall, batting .281, with 3,060 hits, 291 home runs, 1,175 RBI’s, and swiping 414 bags.
Mike Piazza (62.2 % in 2014)
Mike Piazza is mentioned in the same breath as Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, and Johnny Bench, as the greatest offensive catchers in baseball history. Originally a 62nd round selection in the 1988 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Piazza was one of the most prominent figures in the game for 16 seasons. Piazza’s home run at Shea Stadium in 2001 following the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks is etched in the memory of every New Yorker. The feud he had with, Roger Clemens, in the 2000 Subway Series also comes to mid when remembering Piazza. Piazza took home 10 Silver Sluggers and appeared on 12 All-Star teams. Piazza batted .308, with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI’s over his career. The Hall may still be a year away for the charismatic backstop, but being enshrined in 2015 is not out of the question.
Jeff Bagwell (54.3% in 2014)
Another Houston Astro that dominated pitchers during the 90’s, and most importantly to voters, Bagwell did it clean. Bagwell lost votes in 2014, but seems destined to earn a plaque in Cooperstown with in the next couple of years. Bagwell played 15 seasons with the Astros, being named rookie of the year in 1991, and winning the 1994 MVP punctuated his career. Bagwell won three Silver Slugger awards, one Gold Glove, and made four All-Star teams. Baggy finished his career batting .297, with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI’s.
Other Returning Nominees: Tim Raines (46.1%); Curt Schilling (29.2%); Edgar Martinez (25.2%); Alan Trammell (20.8%); Mike Mussina (20.3%); Jeff Kent (15.2%); Fred McGriff (11.7%); Larry Walker (10.2%); Don Mattingly (8.2%).
Darin Erstad (1996-2006)
Darin Erstad has always been a fan favorite in Anaheim after spending 11 of his 14 seasons with the Halos. Erstad helped lead the Angels to their first World Series title in Franchise history in 2002. Erstad played in the outfield and at first base during his time with the Angels. Erstad won three Gold Glove awards, one Silver Slugger, and was selected to the All-Star team on two occasions. Erstad finished his career with a .282 batting average, 1,697 hits, 124 home runs, and 699 runs driven in. This is Erstad’s first, and likely only time on the ballot, as his numbers are not likely to garner much attention from voters.
Troy Percival (1995-2004)
Troy Percival was the Angels closer for 10 years, and Percival was on the mound when the Halos won game seven of the 2002 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Originally a 6th round pick of the California Angels, Percival had a stellar career, making four All-Star appearances. Percival finished his career with 358 saves, and is the all-time leader in saves for the Angels with 316. Just like with Erstad, this is Percival’s first and likely last appearance on the ballot. Percival may not make the Hall-of-Fame, but his impact with the Halos will not soon be forgotten.
Jarrod Washburn (1998-2005)
Jarrod Washburn was a big reason the Angels took home the World Series in 2002, after going 18-6, with a 3.15 ERA for the club that season. 2015 will be Wash’s first appearance on the ballot, but he has next to no chance to make the Hall-of-fame. Washburn pitched in Anaheim for 8 years, going 75-57 and posting a 3.93 ERA. Washburn’s numbers simply are not Hall-of-Fame worthy, but just like with Erstad and Percival, fans look back fondly on Wash’s years with the Halos.
Lee Smith (1995-1996)
Lee Smith is up for the Hall-of-Fame for the 13th time, and after registering just 29.9% of the vote last year, his chances are slim of being enshrined in Cooperstown. Smith was 37-years-old when he joined the Angels in 1995, and he still had some juice left in his right arm. Smith saved 37 games for the Halos, and made one All-Star team during his brief stay in Anaheim. For Smith’s career he tallied 478 saves, and made seven All-Star appearances.