At least two players will pull off the insanely difficult task of being a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. We will find out for sure when the inductions are announced on Jan. 9.
In the meantime, we are left to speculate. This is a fun year to do just that. The list of accomplishments of this group of first-ballot players is amazing. Unfortunately, too many of those accomplishments are tainted by steroids.
That is awful for the sanctity of the Hall, but it is fun to debate.
Just to refresh your memory, players are eligible for the ballot simply by playing for ten years in the majors and also having been retired for five years. To stay on the ballot, they have to receive at least five percent of the votes. To gain induction, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote.
Before getting into the favorites, let's take a look at the eligible players who will be one-and-done.
Players with No Chance of Staying on the Ballot
Sandy Alomar Jr., Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Jeff Conine, Shawn Green, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Jose Mesa, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, Rondell White, Woody Williams
1-to-1: Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza
These two guys have to be no-brainers. Craig Biggio is the only player in the history of the game to record at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs. And he did all that while offering up solid defense at catcher and second base.
Piazza is arguably the greatest offensive catcher to ever play. He was a great blend of power, contact and consistency. He finished with 427 homers, 1,335 RBI and a career batting average of .308.
4-to-1: Curt Schilling
Schilling should get in on the first ballot, but I don't think he will. That is largely due to the antiquated stat of wins. Schilling only has 216 of them, which is far below the magic 300 number. However, while Schilling played on great teams late in his career, he was not as fortunate early on.
The rest of his body of work is outstanding. He is 15th all-time in strikeouts and third among pitchers with at least 3,000 innings in strikeouts per nine innings.
The biggest thing Schilling has going for him is his postseason performances. He went 11-2 in 19 postseason starts while posting a 2.23 ERA, and he was even better in World Series play where he went 4-1 in seven starts with a 2.06 ERA.
Schilling will be close, but I don't think he gets in this time.
50-to-1: Barry Bonds
Were it not for all the steroid talk, Bonds would be as big a no-brainer as the Hall of Fame ballot has seen. However, that talk is there and it is going to derail his chances at the Hall.
Maybe, in time, he will still get in. He is ahead of others entangled in the steroid web because Bonds was considered the best player in the game long before the seasons that many speculate were chemically enhanced.
100-to-1: Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa
Again, we have two of the biggest stars of their generation who have resumes clearly deserving of first-ballot status, but the steroid cloud will doom them.
150-to-1: David Wells
If David Wells ever took steroids, it would only be because someone slipped some in his beer. Boomer will be held back for more typical reasons: his stat line.
Wells finished with 239 wins and an ERA of 4.13 over the course of his 3,439 innings. Those numbers are certainly comparable to Schilling's, but he is far behind Schilling in strikeouts and postseason performance.
That is not to say he was bad in the postseason. He wasn't, as he went 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in postseason play. He deserves to stay on the ballot, but he won't be close to getting inducted.
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