MLB Hall of Fame: The Case for Each First-Year Eligible in 2014

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJanuary 14, 2013

MLB Hall of Fame: The Case for Each First-Year Eligible in 2014

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    Controversy surrounded many of the first-time eligible players for entry into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2013.

    However, 2014 will be a different story as it is filled with a class of players with the credentials to get in and not a shroud of controversy.

    From Greg Maddux to Tom Glavine to Frank Thomas, the 2014 rookie class is among the best we've ever seen.

    Here's the case (for and against) players who will be eligible for the first time in 2014.

    Note: This list includes the six players with a legitimate shot at making it to Cooperstown.

Greg Maddux

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    If there's anyone who's a shoo-in on their first ballot, it has to be Greg Maddux.

    In fact, Maddux could challenge Tom Seaver's record of 98.84 percent of the vote.

    Maddux ranks eighth in MLB history in wins (355) and 10th in strikeouts (3,371). His career ERA is 3.16, while his career WHIP is 1.14.

    He also has the most Gold Gloves in history (any position) with 18, winning the award every year except 2003 from 1990 to 2008.

    Maddux won four straight Cy Young Awards from 1993 to '96, with the first one coming as a member of the Chicago Cubs and the other three with the Atlanta Braves.

    Simply put, Maddux got the job done every year he was in the big leagues.

    The Case Against

    Is there anything logical that can be put in this space?

    Maddux is as close to an automatic selection as there is.

Tom Glavine

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    Tom Glavine was a teammate of Maddux's for 10 years with the Braves.

    Over the course of his career, Glavine amassed 305 wins and 2,607 strikeouts.

    Being a member of the 300-win club almost automatically earns a player induction into the Hall of Fame. Well, except if you're Roger Clemens.

    Glavine amassed five seasons of 20 wins or more, led the league in games started six times and threw 56 complete games in his career.

    The winner of two Cy Young Awards, Glavine was a member of a group of pitchers that helped Atlanta have a lot of success through the 1990s and 2000s.

    The Case Against

    The one knock on Glavine is that he never had a season with more than 200 strikeouts. In fact, he only had two seasons with more than 157 strikeouts.

    However, that shouldn't keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

    He won't get near the number of votes Maddux does, but Glavine will easily be inducted into Cooperstown.

Frank Thomas

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    Frank Thomas was never involved in steroids controversy.

    From the first day he entered the big leagues, "The Big Hurt" was bombing balls out of the ballpark.

    Thomas spent 16 of his 19 years with the Chicago White Sox and became one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

    Over the course of his career, Thomas hit .301 with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBI, winning MVPs in 1993 and 1994. He also ranks 19th in career on-base percentage (.419) and 22nd in career slugging percentage (.555).

    He is one of eight players with a lifetime .300 average to hit 500 home runs and knock in 1,500 runs.

    The Case Against

    Like Fred McGriff, Thomas will not receive votes because he didn't put up the numbers each year like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

    While those three are surrounded with steroid controversy, Thomas has never once been accused of taking steroids. However, his numbers will be compared to those three, which could hurt him in his first year of eligibility.

    While Thomas won't suffer the same fate as McGriff, he might have to wait a year or two to gain induction.

Mike Mussina

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    Mike Mussina spent his 18 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.

    Over the course of his career, he won 270 games with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts. He had seven seasons of at least 17 wins or more, earning double-digits in wins every year except his rookie season.

    Mussina also has seven Gold Gloves to his credit.

    The right-hander was consistent throughout his career and one his team could count on to make his start every fifth day.

    The Case Against

    Mussina never won a Cy Young Award. That will be a major point of contention among voters next year.

    Plus, Mussina led the league in wins once and wasn't considered a dominant pitcher.

    While he did get the job done throughout his career, none of his numbers particularly jump off the page at you.

    While 2014 might be hard for him to gain induction, at some point Mussina will get the call.

Jeff Kent

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    Jeff Kent will go down as one of the 10 best second basemen of all time.

    Kent spent time with six teams, most notably with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.

    He is the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen (377), and had 1,518 RBI and a career .290 average.

    Kent won the 2000 NL MVP and four Silver Sluggers.

    The Case Against

    The numbers don't jump off the page with Kent.

    As Craig Biggio experienced this year, Kent is going to have a tough time at gaining first-year induction.

    While his power numbers were great for a second baseman, it doesn't mean he's automatically going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    While Kent may have to wait at least five years, he'll also eventually get the call.

Luis Gonzalez

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    Luis Gonzalez put together a good career with six teams. He spent most of his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros.

    Over the course of his career, Gonzalez hit .283 with 354 home runs and 1,439 RBI.

    Gonzalez made five All-Star teams and had five-straight 100-RBI seasons from 1999-2003.

    The Case Against

    Gonzalez never won a league MVP. In fact, 2001 was the only year in which he came close as he finished third.

    He had a peak from 1998 to 2003, in which he hit .306 with 191 home runs and 645 RBI. However, outside of that six-year window, Gonzalez failed to produce at the same rate.

    Gonzalez had a great career, but it wasn't a Hall-worthy career.

    He'll go the full 15 years without gaining induction.