The National Baseball Hall of Fame will have players to enshrine the next time the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America have their ballots counted—something that couldn’t be said this year.
The 2013 Hall of Fame vote failed. Those who had votes couldn’t agree on one player that deserved to make it into Cooperstown this summer. Much of the indecision revolved around who was on the ballot, and more specifically, whether those who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs should get in.
But this year’s vote is now over and the best we can do is look to next year, when many more candidates will be on the ballot and those who received at least five percent of the votes will be back—except for Dale Murphy, whose 15 years have expired.
This year was a big toss-up as to who would get in, but next year there are a few on the ballot who will most definitely get the necessary 75 percent of the vote to get the call.
Craig Biggio, Second Baseman
2013 was Craig Biggio’s first time as a Hall of Fame candidate, and although he didn’t receive the required 75 percent of the vote, he did make his mark. Biggio received more votes than any of the candidates on the ballot, earning 68.2 percent.
Despite the fact that Biggio has as many as 14 more years to earn that additional seven percent to get enshrined, it will only take him one. A comparable player in Roberto Alomar was inducted on his second try—earning 73.7 percent in 2010 and 90 percent in 2011.
Another example is Ryne Sandberg, who, though not making it until his third attempt, didn’t have as good of a first year as Biggio. Sandberg received 49.2 percent in 2003, 61.1 percent in 2004 and 76.2 percent in 2005.
Biggio has just over 600 more hits than the average Hall of Famer and should have no issues convincing the writers that 2014 is his year.
Greg Maddux, Pitcher
Greg Maddux will absolutely join the elite class of first-ballot Hall of Famers. He was easily one of the elite pitchers of his era and has the numbers to prove it. Over the course of his 23-year career, Maddux won at least 18 games nine times, and a total of 355.
Do you know how many current Hall of Famers have at least 355 wins on their resume? Seven. If Maddux is inducted—and he will be—he will have the eighth-most wins of any pitcher in Cooperstown. And that’s somewhat fitting since he’s eighth on the all-time wins list as well.
Maddux has won four Cy Young Awards and 18—count ‘em—18 Gold Glove Awards. Not that Gold Gloves mean much, but it is still good to be known as one of the best pitchers in baseball and the best fielding pitcher. He led the league in ERA four times—twice posting ERAs under 2.00—and in innings pitched five times—accumulating the 13th-most ever in a career.
It will be more shocking if Maddux didn’t receive more than 94 percent of the votes in 2014 than if he doesn’t get in on his first try.
Frank Thomas, First Baseman/Designated Hitter
Hitting more than 500 home runs over the course of his 19-year career, Frank Thomas is a great candidate to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2014. From 1990 through 2008, Thomas was one of the most feared hitters in the game, whether he was a first baseman or a designated hitter.
You may not know this, but Ted Williams played 19 years as well and has the same number of career home runs as Thomas. I’m not implying that they’re very similar, but their home run totals are. Thomas has the 18th-most long balls of all time and would be tied for 10th among current Hall of Famers with Williams and Willie McCovey.
Thomas has the 19th-highest on-base percentage ever, the 22nd-highest slugging percentage and the 14th-highest OPS. He won back-to-back MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994—hitting .332/.453/.658 with 79 home runs, 229 RBI and 212 runs during those seasons.
What makes Thomas a lock to make it in on his first attempt is that he played the game clean and has never been linked to steroids. There will be other players on the ballot who have better numbers than he does, but they nearly all have some sort of connection with performance-enhancing drugs. Thomas will likely get around 82 to 90 percent of the votes in 2014.
Tom Glavine, Pitcher
Just 20 current Hall of Famers have won 300 games in their career—and only four were left-handed. Tom Glavine will become a part of that exclusive club next year when his name is on the ballot for the first time.
Over the course of Glavine’s 22-year career with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, he was a 20-game winner five times, leading the league in wins in each of those seasons. He has a pair of Cy Young awards to his credit and finished in the top three six times. He started 682 games in his career—12th most all-time—and accumulated more than 4,400 innings.
There will be several elite pitchers on the ballot in 2014, including his teammate Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Jack Morris and Curt Schilling, among others, but there’s no way that the writers don’t circle his name when they receive that envelope in the mail. He was the best left-handed pitcher in baseball throughout his career and his numbers speak for themselves.
Glavine probably won’t get as many votes as Maddux will, but the teammates will most definitely be on the stage together in Cooperstown come next July.