When the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies commence on July 20, only two players will be enshrined in the hallowed halls—Ron Santo and former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin.
Santo was selected by the Golden Era committee late last year, and Larkin was selected for induction by 86.1 percent of BBWAA voters on Monday afternoon.
Larkin, a 12-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1995 NL MVP, was selected in his third year of eligibility, and becomes the 48th member of the Hall of Fame who played his entire career with one team. Larkin was also the first shortstop in MLB history to join the exclusive 30-30 club, with 33 home runs and 36 stolen bases in 1996.
A number of returning HOF candidates were able to increase their overall percentage of votes this year but still fell short of induction. Jack Morris picked up 13.2 percent more votes this year but still fell short of the 75 percent of votes required, collecting only 66.7 percent overall.
Long-time Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell also increased his vote total significantly, up from 41.7 percent in 2011 to 56.0 percent this year.
Both Morris and Bagwell moved up significantly, however, with next year’s ballot containing several first-year candidates who will stir up much conversation and controversy. Can Bagwell and Morris garner enough votes for consideration?
Bleacher Report will take a look at the candidates who will be on next year’s ballot for the Hall of Fame and attempt to rate their overall chances at success.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 15
Career Accomplishments: Two-time NL MVP, five-time Gold Glove Award winner, seven-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 398 HR, 1,266 RBI, .265 average
In 2013, long-time Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy will be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA for the 15th and final time. Murphy’s highest vote total thus far has been 23 percent back in 2000, his second year of eligibility. While he has stayed above the threshold of five percent to remain on the ballot, in all likelihood, Murphy’s best chance for HOF selection will come from the Veterans Committee.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. Unfortunately for Murphy, many detractors feel that his decline in production later in his career hurt his chances for selection.
Does Murphy deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. Murphy was clearly one of the best players in the National League during the 1980s, both offensively and defensively. Jim Rice was selected to the Hall of Fame, despite declining numbers later in his career. Murphy should not be penalized for that reason.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 3
Career Accomplishments: Four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, 569 HR, 1,835 RBI, 3,020 hits, .288 average, one of only four players in MLB to collect 500 home runs and 3,000 hits (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray), one of only five players in history to hit over 200 home runs for two different clubs (Rangers, Orioles).
While first baseman/designated hitter Rafael Palmeiro is in a very exclusive club with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, he has only been able to garner as high as 12.6 percent in voting for inclusion into the Hall of Fame, far short of the 75 percent requirement.
Palmeiro’s insistence before a Congressional committee that he had never used performance enhancing drugs, followed four months later by a positive steroid test, certainly has not helped his chances for induction. Furthermore, detractors point to the fact that Palmeiro was only selected to four All-Star teams in his 20-year career, and that he only finished in the top five of MVP voting once in his career.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. Palmeiro will continue to be dogged by his positive steroid test in 2005. While Palmeiro’s numbers certainly indicate that he is worthy of selection, as long as the current guard of BBWAA writers is alive, Palmeiro has virtually no chance of selection.
Does Palmeiro deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. Palmeiro’s inclusion in the most exclusive of clubs (500 HR/3,000 hit club) and his excellence over the bulk of his career simply should not be ignored.
Baseball writers can continue to cry foul over players that either allegedly used performance enhancing drugs or tested positive for them. However, there is no doubt that members already in the Hall of Fame cheated in various other ways (Gaylord Perry doctoring the baseball, Ty Cobb intentionally attempting to hurt players), and others played in an era when “greenies” were allegedly a major part of clubhouse culture.
If the Hall of Fame were meant to just include players who were beyond reproach, the walls of the HOF would be barren by comparison.
You can consider the last two paragraphs as fodder for other players mentioned in this slide as well.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 7
Career Accomplishments: 12-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Rookie of the Year Award (1987), 583 HR, 1,414 RBI.
The career accomplishments for first baseman Mark McGwire speak for themselves. On four separate occasions, McGwire led the league in home runs, including his rookie year of 1987, and famously broke Roger Maris’ single-season home run record in 1998, in a late-season chase along with Sammy Sosa that captivated fans all across the world.
However, McGwire’s alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, including his famous "not here to talk about the past” speech in front of a Congressional committee in March 2005, led Hall of Fame voters to repeatedly keep him out of the hallowed when McGwire’s eligibility began in 2007.
McGwire’s very public admission of steroid use in January 2010 was long overdue, and probably too little too late in the eyes of current BBWAA voters, who continue to keep McGwire out of the HOF. McGwire garnered 19.5 percent of the vote on Monday.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. For the same reasons as Rafael Palmeiro.
Does McGwire deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. He’s one of the most prolific home run hitters of all time.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 4
Career Accomplishments: Five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, .284 average, 134 OPS+.
First baseman Fred McGriff garnered just under a quarter of Hall of Fame votes on Monday, and while he increased his vote total six percent over 2011, there are clearly not even close to enough voters who feel McGriff is worthy of the hallowed halls.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. With the inclusion of several worth first-year eligible players coming up in the next few years, McGriff may have hit his peak already.
Does McGriff deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? No. While McGriff’s numbers indicate a very good career, the Hall of Fame is not meant for players who were very good.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 4
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, two-time American League batting champion, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, .312 lifetime average.
Long-time Seattle Mariners slugger Edgar Martinez poses an interesting problem for BBWAA members eligible to vote for potential Hall of Fame candidates. While Martinez started his career as a third baseman, he garnered most of his illustrious offensive statistics as a designated hitter, and the old guard of the BBWAA has thus far been hesitant to award anyone who didn’t primarily play a field position.
Second, some critics have suggested that Martinez was only the third or fourth best player on the Mariners, who at the time also had Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez for a good portion of Martinez’s career.
However, that simply doesn’t wash. Consider that the 1950s Yankees included the likes of Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Mickey Mantle, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. That argument simply doesn’t hold water.
Martinez was the best designated hitter of the 1990s, bar none. He continued hitting at a torrid pace throughout his career, collecting 24 HR and 98 RBI with a .298 average when he was 40 years old.
Chances of selection in 2013: Five percent. It’s likely that Martinez will continue gaining support, but to expect a 40 percent rise in votes in just one year is highly unlikely.
Does Martinez deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Martinez was a feared right-handed hitter throughout his career, and his accomplishments at the designated hitter position should be recognized and rewarded accordingly.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 12
Career Accomplishments: Six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, .285 lifetime average
For 20 seasons, shortstop Alan Trammel was the darling of Detroit Tigers fans, retiring in 1996 as one of the most popular players in team history. Teamed with Lou Whitaker for many years, the two were one of the most dominant middle infield combinations in major league history.
Chances of selection in 2013: Five percent. Trammell collected 36.8 percent of votes in 2012, by far his most since he became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2002. While support for Trammell is gaining steam, much like Edgar Martinez, it’s doubtful that Trammell can more than double the vote next year in order to gain induction.
Does Trammell deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? I have been on the fence regarding Trammell’s inclusion in baseball’s Hall of Fame for a few years now, however, I’m starting to like him as a member of the HOF more and more. Trammell’s production during the 1980s was impressive, and was considered a premier offensive contributor at the position before the era of Cal Ripken, A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and other bigger shortstops.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 6
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, 1986 NL batting champion, five-time stolen base leader, 2,605 hits, 808 stolen bases, .294 lifetime average
Over his long 23-year career with six different teams, Tim Raines was dynamite on the base paths. From 1981 to 1987, Raines was one of the most prolific base stealers in the majors, leading the National League in that category five times and was selected to seven straight All-Star teams.
However, Raines’ inclusion into the Hall of Fame has largely been blocked by voters who believe that Raines played another 15 seasons without achieving much of anything. While he continued to steal bases at a good clip, Raines failed to make another All-Star team past the 1987 season, retiring in 2002.
Chances of selection in 2013: Ten percent. Raines gathered 48.7 percent of votes on Monday, and continues to gather steam as a viable candidate. Not sure if he can get the extra 25+ percent needed next year, however.
Does Raines deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Another player that I have been on the fence about, and for the same reason as many writers, pointing to Raines’ failure to achieve much beyond his 1987 season. However, as a base-stealing specialist, Raines deserves to be honored. Ozzie Smith was honored purely for defensive abilities, why shouldn’t Raines be honored for his base-stealing prowess?
Year of HOF Eligibility: 11
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, 478 career saves (third all-time), four-time league leader in saves, 8.7 lifetime K/9 rate
Closer Lee Smith has attracted the interest of Hall of Fames since his inclusion on the ballot began back in 2003, however, he has generally hovered in the range of 36-45 percent before Monday’s vote, in which he received the support of 50.6 percent of writers.
Chances of selection in 2013: Ten percent. Smith’s vote total did increase in 2011, but there may still be a bloc of writers who believe the save category to be an overblown statistic.
Does Smith deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? I am with the bloc of writers who believe the save statistic to be overblown in nature. Smith’s career save total is impressive, however, unlike Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter, who all routinely garnered saves over two or more innings, Smith was primarily a ninth-inning specialist, and his save total speaks more to longevity than to excellence.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 3
Career Accomplishments: 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, 1994 NL MVP Award winner, four-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, .297 lifetime average
In 2012 Hall of Fame voting, long-time Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell collected 56 percent of votes, a significant jump from the 41.7 percent of votes collected in his first year of eligibility in 2011.
While Bagwell’s career was cut short due to persistent arthritis in his shoulder, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Bagwell was one of the most feared right-handed hitters of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Chances of selection in 2013: Twenty percent. Bagwell was dogged by allegations of PED use during his career. However, he never once tested positive for PEDs. There are some that believe that Bagwell’s vote total has suffered because he put up such big numbers in an era that was plagued by players using PEDs.
Does Bagwell deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Bagwell’s numbers speak for themselves, and considering he did much of his damage in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball for much of his career (Astrodome) speaks even more to his ability to hit.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 14
Career Accomplishments: Five-time All-Star, three seasons of 20 wins or more, 175 career complete games, 4-2 World Series record with 2.96 ERA
The hero of the 1984 and 1991 World Series, starting pitcher Jack Morris garnered his highest Hall of Fame vote total yet in 2012, with a 66.7 percent total.
Heading into his second-to-last year of regular eligibility, Morris may have his best chance to finally succeed. Detractors point to his overall 3.90 ERA, which would be highest ERA recorded by any starter in the HOF, however supporters point to his excellence in big games, and in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Morris would have been the man that many wanted on the mound in a do-or-die game.
Chances of selection in 2013: Sixty percent. Morris will be on a ballot where only two other player are almost certain to gain exclusion (Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio), and he only needs another 8.3 percent of voters to approve his candidacy.
Does Morris deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. Morris was at his best when the pressure was on, and his masterful ten-inning complete game performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series gives plenty of ammunition for his dogged personality with the game on the line.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, 1998 NL MVP Award winner, six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI
The 2013 Hall of Fame class presents a very interesting case of first-time eligible players who will generate much interest, and much controversy, starting with Sammy Sosa.
Sosa is the only player in MLB to register three seasons of 60 or more home runs, ironically losing the home run title in each season (Mark McGwire 1998-1999, Barry Bonds 2001). Sosa did lead the National League in homers on two separate occasions, however.
Again, the cloud of steroid use hangs over Sosa’s head, so, much like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro before him, Sosa’s first year of eligibility may not equate to many votes.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. Sosa will be lumped in with McGwire, Palmeiro and others among the PED crowd who are being largely ignored by the BBWAA.
Does Sosa deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. And I refer to my reasoning listed earlier on this slide show in reference to Rafael Palmeiro.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: Six-time All-Star, three-time runner-up in Cy Young Award balloting, two-time league leader in wins, four-time league leader in complete games, 3.46 lifetime ERA
Curt Schilling will be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2013, and he is no doubt looking forward to seeing how others perceive his candidacy.
Schilling helped guide the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series championship in 2001, and followed up three years later in his first season with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling was terrific in the postseason, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, including a 4-1 record and 2.06 in World Series competition.
Chances of selection in 2013: Zero percent. While Schilling’s postseason numbers are indeed spectacular, he simply didn’t do enough in regular season competition to merit consideration.
Does Schilling deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? No. Again, it’s not the Hall of Very Good, and that’s all Schilling was.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, 3,060 hits, .281 lifetime average
In a stellar 20-year career all with the Houston Astros, Craig Biggio became Mr. Everything for the franchise, moving to different positions at the team’s request three times during his career.
Hoping to preserve Biggio’s knees, the Astros moved Biggio to second base from catcher in 1992, and Biggio went on to collect four Gold Glove awards at his new position. Later in his career, after the Astros had acquired Jeff Kent, Biggio moved to center field, moving back to second base after Kent left the Astros.
Despite all the position moving, Biggio continued to hit, and hit well. Biggio led the National League in doubles three times, ending his career with 668 two-baggers, fifth in MLB history.
In addition, Biggio became the 27th member of the 3,000 hit club on June 28, 2007, his final season with the Astros.
Chances of selection in 2013: Seventy percent. Biggio’s inclusion in the 3,000 hit club puts him in elite company, and he could very well be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Does Biggio deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. Biggio’s excellence over a long period of time, combined with the fact that his bat never wavered despite multiple position changes, makes him a viable candidate.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time Cy Young Award winner, 11-time All-Star, 354 career victories (ninth all-time), 4,672 strikeouts (third all-time), six seasons 20 or more wins, 3.12 lifetime ERA
If we were talking about any other player with these statistics, it would be a no-brainer as far as inclusion into baseball’s Hall of Fame. However, because it’s Roger Clemens, the picture becomes muddier.
Before allegations of steroid/PED use were being bandied about, Clemens had already won five Cy Young awards, including two in his only two seasons with the Toronto Blue, winning the triple crown of pitching categories (wins, strikeouts, ERA) in both seasons to boot.
Chances of selection in 2013: Five percent. I’ll at least give Clemens a bit of a shot here, only because it’s way too hard to ignore the entire body of work, which was indeed incredible in its own right.
Does Clemens deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes, and I refer to my reasoning listed earlier on this slide show in reference to Rafael Palmeiro.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: 12-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 427 home runs, .308 batting average
Picked in the 62nd round of the MLB Draft in 1988 by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a favor to manager Tommy LaSorda, Piazza went on to become one of the most prolific hitters among catchers in MLB history.
Playing primarily with the Dodgers and New York Mets, Piazza twice hit 40 homers in season, and was the guiding force for the Mets in 2000, their last World Series appearance.
Chances of selection in 2013: Seventy five percent. If there was ever a bona-fide first ballot selection, Piazza clearly fits the bill.
Does Piazza deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Absolutely no question about it.
Year of HOF Eligibility: 1
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time National League MVP Award winner, eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 14-time All-Star, 762 HR (first all-time), 1,996 RBI (fourth all-time), 2,558 walks (first all-time), .444 on-base percentage (sixth all-time), .298 lifetime average
So, the 2013 Hall of Fame vote comes down to its most controversial candidate, Barry Bonds.
In looking at the career accomplishments alone, we are looking at one of the greatest hitters who ever lived, and a man who could do it all, with eight Gold Gloves and 514 career stolen bases.
However, the BBWAA will likely give a pass to Bonds in his first year of eligibility, despite the fact that Bonds never actually tested positive for any PEDs, but was convicted of misleading a grand jury.
Chances of selection in 2013: Five percent. Again, it’s difficult to ignore the numbers Bonds put up, even before any allegations of PED use came about.
Does Bonds deserve selection to the Hall of Fame? Yes. It’s not called the Hall of Shame, for which would certainly gain first-ballot entry. However, Bonds put up incredible numbers well before any allegations of PED use were bandied about. As stated several times before in this slide show, the Hall of Fame isn’t about moral character, it’s about numbers.
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.