2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). There are no statistical guidelines for a player to meet in order to be chosen. Rather, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who are qualified to vote will vote based on the candidates’ abilities, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the sport. There are also special committees that have the power to elect baseball managers, announcers, older veteran players, and Negro League players. The only hard-and-fast rules for eligibility are that the inductee must have played in the major leagues for at least 10 years, and he has to have been retired for at least five years before being chosen. Once a screening committee of six members from the BBWAA nominates players for the ballot, those nominees remain on the ballot for 15 years if they aren’t elected (unless they get less than 5 percent of the vote for a year).
The BBWAA just announced their 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, which includes 36 players. Voting will be conducted in the coming weeks and players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots to be inducted. The voting results and Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 8, 2014. This year’s ballot is very deep and that’s something of a problem. Voters are only allowed to vote for 10 players maximum and there appears to be more than 10 players worthy of Hall of Fame induction on the ballot. Several players are going to get squeezed off individual ballots due to the numbers game, fairly or unfairly.
The four positional players and the four pitchers who I feel have the best chance of being elected are Frank Thomas*, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent*, Tim Raines, Greg Maddux*, Tom Glavine*, Mike Mussina*, and Jack Morris. First-timers are denoted with an asterisk (*). For the positional players, I believe Frank Thomas followed by Craig Biggio have the best chance of being elected. On the bubble would be Jeff Kent and Tim Raines. For the pitchers, I believe Gregg Maddux followed by Tom Glavine have the best chance. On the bubble are Mike Mussina * and Jack Morris.
Six players with a very small outside chance of making it are Don Mattingly, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, and Larry Walker.
Players I believe have no chance include Moises Alou*, Armando Benitez*, Sean Casey*, Ray Durham*, Eric Gagne*, Luis Gonzalez*, Fred McGriff, Jacque Jones*, Todd Jones*, Paul Lo Duca*, Hideo Nomo*, Kenny Rogers*, Richie Sexson*, J.T. Snow*, and Mike Timlin*
If you are wondering why the names Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro are not mentioned, it is because these players have all been connected in some way with the use of PEDS (performance enhancement drugs). McGwire admitted to using PEDS, Bonds and Clemens were investigated and Palmeiro failed a drug test in 2005. Some voters left Bagwell and Piazza off ballots last year simply because of hearsay and rumors that they were PED users. Being home run hitters, they also fit the prototype of a PED user. These PED connected players are a major reason the ballot is so crowded this year. If it wasn’t for their drug ties, all of them would have been in Cooperstown some time ago. Instead, they’re still on the ballot and will inevitably draw votes, meaning there will be fewer votes for the players I mentioned above.
In the postings that follow this one, I will present my reasoning, based solely on their baseball statistics, for choosing which players from the list of Frank Thomas*, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent *, Tim Raines, Greg Maddux *, Tom Glavine *, Mike Mussina*, and Jack Morris are most deserving to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.