On Wednesday, Jan. 9, the 2013 MLB Hall of Fame class will be revealed at 2 p.m. EST on MLB Network. There is a chance that the most players could be inducted since 1936.
There's also a chance that no one gets in.
HOF voters had their hands full in deciding who was worthy of receiving a plaque to be placed on the hallowed walls of Cooperstown.
Zach Rymer, my esteemed colleague here at Bleacher Report, wrote a compelling piece late last week about the upcoming vote announcement. He gave an impassioned plea for the HOF voters to do the right thing and open up the gates for those who are deserving of entry.
Whether that comes to pass remains to be seen.
Here is a prediction of which players will gain entrance to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell is now on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 12th time. His double-play partner, Lou Whitaker, lasted just one year on the ballot.
Trammell should consider himself lucky.
Trammell and Whitaker formed the longest-running double-play combination in MLB history, playing together from 1977 to 1995.
Whitaker received just 15 votes in his first year of HOF eligibility, nowhere close to the five percent required to stay on the ballot. Trammell hovered in the teens for the first eight years of eligibility but has gained a bit more support in recent years. He received 36.8 percent of votes from writers last year, still well below the 75 percent needed for induction.
Trammell will once again be on the outside looking in when the vote is announced on Jan. 9. The numbers simply work against Trammell with a number of worthy candidates on the ballot.
Trammell was an excellent shortstop throughout his career, no doubt. However, his overall statistics simply aren't at the level of shortstops currently enshrined.
A consistent performer? Yes. A leader on his team? Yes. But an all-time great player? That's debatable.
Trammell will likely have to wait and hope that the Veterans Committee deems him worthy of a plaque.
Someday, eligible voters for the National Baseball Hall of Fame will start recognizing the achievements of great designated hitters like Edgar Martinez.
Unfortunately, that day hasn't come yet.
Martinez received just 36.5 percent of votes last year, falling well short of the 75 percent requirement.
In 2004, the year of Martinez's retirement, the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, the award given to the best-hitting DH each year since 1973, was renamed the Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.
Only four other players have awards named after them (Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Cy Young). All of them are in the Hall of Fame.
It's high time the BBWAA recognized Martinez and what he accomplished during his career.
It's just not going to happen in 2013.
When outfielder Tim Raines started his career back in 1979 with the Montreal Expos, he was a fresh-faced 19-year-old prospect blessed with tremendous speed.
Raines would use that speed to become one of the most accomplished leadoff hitters and baserunners of his era.
Now on the Hall of Fame ballot for the sixth time, Raines has increased his support for consideration each year since 2008, capturing 48.7 percent of the vote last year.
Raines could see that number increase, but it will again fall short of the 75 percent needed for induction.
Raines is a more than worthy candidate. His 808 total stolen bases rank him fifth all-time. All four players who are ahead of him (Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Billy Hamilton, Lou Brock) are in the Hall of Fame.
Raines also showed tremendous prowess as a leadoff hitter, winning the National League batting title in 1986 and ending his career with a .294 average. His modern contemporary, Henderson, never led the league in batting and ended his career with a .279 average.
There are currently only five relief pitchers who have been inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.
It's likely to remain at that number in 2013.
That's not to say that Lee Smith isn't deserving of induction. It just won't happen this year.
Smith was the all-time leader in saves for 14 years until Trevor Hoffman surpassed his total of 478 saves in 2006.
Smith dominated as a closer in the National League both with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s and early 1990s. He even led the American League in saves in 1994 in his lone season with the Baltimore Orioles.
Smith garnered 50.6 percent of the vote in 2012 in his 10th year of eligibility.
One of these years the voters will get it right and give Smith his rightful place in Cooperstown.
In 2013, starting pitcher Curt Schilling's name is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
Schilling will qualify for further years, but will fall far short of the votes needed for induction.
Schilling won 216 games with a 3.46 ERA during his 20-year career. He especially shined during the postseason, posting an 11-2 record and 2.23 record, including four wins and a 2.06 ERA in World Series play.
Schilling is also one of only 16 pitchers in history to have surpassed the 3,000-strikeout mark for his career.
However, I'm just not convinced that the overall body of work is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown.
Slugger Sammy Sosa is also eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time.
He won't even come close.
Despite being the only player in baseball history to have surpassed the 60-home run mark three times and hitting 609 total homers, the allegations of PED use will leave Sosa far short of the 75 percent of votes required for induction.
Longtime Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the third time in 2013.
He will be denied entry into the HOF for the third time.
Bagwell received 56 percent of votes last year, a significant increase from the 41.7 percent he received in his first year of eligibility in 2011.
Everything about Bagwell's career screams Hall of Fame-worthy. His statistics compare more than favorably with other first basemen currently enshrined.
However, Bagwell was dogged throughout his career by allegations of steroid use, an accusation he has vehemently denied.
Bagwell played in an era when PED use has now been proven to be common. Guilt by association will continue to keep Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame—for now.
In his column written last Thursday, B/R colleague Zach Rymer pointed out that Craig Biggio is one of only two players in MLB history to have amassed at least 3,000 hits, 400 stolen bases and 290 home runs.
Rickey Henderson is the only other player to have achieved the feat.
It still may not be enough to get Biggio elected in his first year of eligibility.
Biggio's 3,060 hits rank him 21st overall in MLB history. Normally, 3,000 hits would suggest automatic entry.
However, Biggio's contemporary, Roberto Alomar, had to wait until his second year to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. Alomar was arguably a better player.
Biggio will come close but will likely have to wait a second year like Alomar.
After a spectacular 24-year career in which he amassed 354 wins,a record seven Cy Young Awards and an MVP, Roger Clemens is finally eligible to take his place among the sport's greatest in the Hall of Fame.
He's going to have to wait a while.
Last June, Clemens was acquitted on all counts of obstruction of justice and lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs.
Hall of Fame voters won't be so forgiving.
Despite his repeated denials and no concrete evidence against Clemens, he will be denied entry into Cooperstown.
Voters will be torn regarding both Clemens and Barry Bonds. In fact, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer abstained from voting completely:
I’d rather abstain than play judge and jury this year. The two most deserving players statistically of the 37 on the ballot are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Bonds was the best hitter I’ve seen. Clemens was the most dominant pitcher.
Both should be absolute locks to be first-ballot inductees.
But Bonds and Clemens also top of the list of players linked to performance-enhancing drugs. I believe both players used PEDs. From the BBWAA Rules for Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame:
“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
I’m one of the eligible voters as a 10-year member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. I feel woefully unqualified to judge the “integrity, sportsmanship and character” of players in the steroid era.
Fay is likely not alone in his line of thinking.
There should be absolutely no question in anyone's mind that in terms of pure statistics, Barry Bonds would certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.
It's simply not that black and white.
As John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer pointed out in his comments in the previous slide, Bonds and Roger Clemens were two of the best players he ever saw, but the PED allegations were just too much for him to even consider a vote.
Unlike Clemens, Bonds did reportedly test positive for PEDs during his career. However, Bonds maintains that he never knowingly took steroids.
The numbers speak for themselves—seven MVP awards (including four straight), 762 home runs, 1.051 OPS, 2,558 walks. Bonds clearly ranks among the greats of all time in many offensive statistical categories.
For just how long is anyone's guess.
On Wednesday, Mike Piazza will be breathlessly awaiting the results of voting for the Hall of Fame.
Piazza will earn induction.
One of the greatest-hitting catchers of all time, Piazza rose above being a 62nd-round draft choice to dominate at his position. He was selected to the All-Star team 12 times and hit more home runs (396) as a catcher than anyone currently enshrined.
There is speculation that Piazza could be denied entry in his first year simply because of the fact that he played during the steroids era.
Piazza never once tested positive for PED use, and his name never came up in any investigations tied to the steroids era.
However, like Jeff Bagwell, guilt by association could possibly keep him out.
I don't believe it will. Voters will give Piazza his rightful place among the game's greats in Cooperstown.
Starting pitcher Jack Morris has waited for his name to be called as the newest member of baseball's Hall of Fame for 13 years.
He may finally get his wish in 2013.
Morris received 66.7 percent of votes last year, the closest he's ever come to induction. With the number of first-ballot players and holdovers this year, it's possible that Morris could get lost in the numbers crunch.
Morris' candidacy for the Hall of Fame has been debated ever since he first appeared on the ballot in 2000. He was never a dominant pitcher if one is purely looking at ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.
However, Morris' value was in his durability and his ability to pitch deep into games, especially when the games mattered.
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated outlined Morris' overall numbers in stating his case for why Morris is Hall of Fame-worthy. The numbers are indeed telling.
Voters aren't going to want an empty podium when Hall of Fame induction day comes around. Sure, the Veterans Committee elected three members, but voting in no player on a ballot chock-full of worthy selections would be a stain.
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.