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Baseball Hall of Fame 2012: Odds of Every Top Candidate Getting Enshrined

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2012

Baseball Hall of Fame 2012: Odds of Every Top Candidate Getting Enshrined

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    On Monday afternoon, the baseball world will know the results of the voting for the players eligible for the Hall of Fame. There are some notable first-timers on the ballot, including long-time New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, Atlanta Braves/Baltimore Orioles catcher Javy Lopez and right fielder/designated hitter Vinny Castilla.

    However, much of the attention is focused on players who have already been voted on in recent years and failed to meet the required 75 percent of the ballot necessary to be inducted.

    Bleacher Report will take a look at the top 10 candidates and rate their chances of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

10. Rafael Palmeiro

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    In taking just a cursory look at the overall numbers for Rafael Palmeiro, one would think that his numbers scream for immediate induction—569 HR, 1,835 RBI, 3,020 hits and one of only four men in MLB history to collect 500 home runs and 3,000 hits (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray).

    However, Palmeiro's Hall of Fame fate may have been sealed in Aug. 1, 2005, when he was suspended by MLB for 10 days for a positive steroid test, and this just four and a half months after he famously declared in front of Congress, "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Zero percent. Palmeiro only received 11 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility, and he will never be inducted as long as the current bloc of baseball writers in the BBWAA have any say about it.

9. Mark McGwire

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    Entering his sixth year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Mark McGwire is still awaiting entrance in baseball's hallowed halls. After garnering just 19.8 percent of votes last year, McGwire just may have to wait until the Veterans Committee decides his fate after his 15 years of eligibility expires.

    McGwire did apologize for using performance enhancing drugs before taking the job of hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 2010 season, but after years of silence regarding his steroid use, it may have been too little too late.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Zero percent. McGwire's numbers certainly make him worthy, but baseball writers don't forget things easily.

8. Bernie Williams

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    A five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams is eligible for Hall of Fame induction for the first time.

    Williams was an integral part of the Yankees' dynasty of the late 1990s/early 2000s, winning four World Series championships during his time in the Bronx.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Zero percent. Williams' statistics were excellent; however, he's just not a lock at this point. He'll collect somewhere in the range of 10-15 percent of votes.

7. Edgar Martinez

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    The career numbers for long-time Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez speak for themselves, and he has often been described as the perfect hitting machine.

    MLB even went so far as to rename the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award in Martinez's honor, after he himself had won the award five times.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Two percent. While Martinez garnered 32.9 percent of HOF votes last year, baseball writers seem to be struggling with allowing someone who rarely played the field into the Hall of Fame.

6. Tim Raines

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    During the height of Tim Raines' career in the early-to-mid 1980s, he was easily one of the more fun players to watch in baseball. Along with Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman, Raines was a force to be reckoned with on the basepaths, ending his career with 808 stolen bases, fifth-most in MLB history.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Five percent. Raines collected 37.5 percent of votes in his fourth year of eligibility, and in a year where no first-timers are considered locks, Raines could garner more votes, but not enough for induction.

5. Juan Gonzalez

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    Now entering his second year of HOF eligibility, outfielder Juan Gonzalez seems to be dogged by the same rumors swirling around other Hall of Fame candidates (McGwire, Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell).

    A two-time AL MVP Award winner, there is no question that Gonzalez meets at least one of the HOF criteria, being dominant over a period of time. Between 1992 and 2001, few right-handed hitters were as feared as Gonzalez.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Zero percent. Gonzalez only collected 5.2 percent of votes in his first year of eligibility, and even in a year where there doesn't appear to be a lock, it won't help Gonzalez's chances.

4. Jeff Bagwell

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    Few would argue that Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell wasn't one of the most dominant right-handed hitters in the National League during his 15-year career. While his arthritic shoulder forced his early retirement, Bagwell's career speaks for itself—Rookie of the Year Award, MVP Award in 1994, 449 lifetime home runs and 1,529 RBI.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Ten percent. Bagwell garnered 41.7 percent of votes in his first year of eligibility, and while some have suggested that certain writers won't vote for Bagwell because of alleged use of PEDs which are unfounded and unsubstantiated, he nonetheless attracted a fair amount of votes.

3. Lee Smith

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    If there was any one candidate who would appear worthy of Hall of Fame selection this year, my vote would be for long-time closer Lee Smith.

    Smith is the only closer in MLB history to post 12 straight seasons with at least 60 appearances, and he is the only reliever in history to post 13 straight seasons of at least 25 saves. His 478 saves rank third all-time behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Ten percent. Smith got 45.3 percent of the vote in his ninth year of eligibility, but he still has too many detractors who believe his record speaks more to durability than to greatness.

2. Jack Morris

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    Entering his 13th year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, starting pitcher Jack Morris is no doubt wondering if this year could finally be his year. In a year where no one is a lock, Morris could see his best chance yet.

    Morris gathered 53.5 percent of votes last year, and with only three years left of eligibility, this very well could be his best and last shot before moving on to a Veterans Committee decision.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: Twenty percent. Still not sure Morris has enough support at this point. While he was a three-time 20-game winner and hero of the 1991 World Series and integral part of the Toronto Blue Jays in their World Series triumph in 1992, Morris' career ERA of 3.90 doesn't exactly scream dominance.

1. Barry Larkin

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    Last year, long-time Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin fell just short of Hall of Fame selection, garnering 62.1 percent of the votes. This year, Larkin could possibly be the only player selected.

    A 12-time All-Star and winner of the NL MVP Award in 1995, Larkin was absolutely one of the dominant shortstops in the 1980s and 1990s, as his eight Silver Slugger awards would attest.

    Chances of being enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame: 80 percent. While there is a chance that voters may not select anyone, Larkin clearly represents the most qualified candidate on this year's ballot. 

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

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