Final Predictions for the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Class
The Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce the 2014 MLB Hall of Fame class on Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, as this year's class of candidates will look to join managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox (who were all veterans committee choices) in earning enshrinement.
A total of 19 newcomers join 17 holdovers from last year's ballot to make up this year's candidates. A player has 15 years of eligibility to earn 75 percent of all the writers' votes. For long-time Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris, this is his last shot.
After no one earned induction last year, we could see a number of players join the all-time greats inducted at the July 27th ceremony in Cooperstown. However, the performance-enhancing drug cloud of suspicion will continue to affect all-time greats of the sport like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens while stars like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell suffer due to rumors as well.
Here is a complete rundown of the 2014 candidates, as well as my final predictions for how the voting will shake out and who will wind up making up the 2014 MLB Hall of Fame class.
*Vote total predictions based on 569 possible ballots, the number cast last season, though more are possible.
Complete 2014 Ballot
*Returnees' 2013 vote total in parenthesis.
RP Armando Benitez
SP Roger Clemens (214, 37.6%)
RP Eric Gagne
SP Tom Glavine
RP Todd Jones
SP Greg Maddux
SP Jack Morris (385, 67.7%)
SP Mike Mussina
SP Hideo Nomo
SP Kenny Rogers
SP Curt Schilling (221, 38.8%)
RP Lee Smith (272, 47.8%)
SP Mike Timlin
C Paul Lo Duca
C Mike Piazza (329, 57.8%)
1B Jeff Bagwell (339, 59.6%)
2B Craig Biggio (388, 68.2%)
1B Sean Casey
2B Ray Durham
2B Jeff Kent
1B Don Mattingly (75, 13.2%)
DH Edgar Martinez (204, 35.9%)
1B Fred McGriff (118, 20.7%)
1B Mark McGwire (96, 16.9%)
1B Rafael Palmeiro (50, 8.8%)
1B Richie Sexson
1B J.T. Snow
1B Frank Thomas
SS Alan Trammell (191, 33.6%)
LF Moises Alou
LF Barry Bonds (206, 36.2%)
LF Luis Gonzalez
RF Jacque Jones
LF Tim Raines (297, 52.2%)
RF Sammy Sosa (71, 12.5%)
RF Larry Walker (123, 21.6%)
Less Than 5 Percent of Vote, Removed from Ballot (Pitchers)
Less Than 5 Percent of Vote, Removed from Ballot (Hitters)
|Paul Lo Duca||.286/.337/.409||1,112||222||80||481||17.9|
Enough to Stay on Ballot, Less Than 50 Percent of Vote (Pitchers)
|Roger Clemens||354-184||0||3.12||4,672||4,916.2||139.4||231 (40.6%)|
|Mike Mussina||270-153||0||3.68||2,813||3,562.2||82.7||217 (38.1%)|
|Curt Schilling||216-146||22||3.46||3,116||3,261||80.7||209 (36.7%)|
|Lee Smith||71-92||478||3.03||1,251||1,289.1||29.4||162 (28.5%)|
Enough to Stay on Ballot, Less Than 50 Percent of Vote (Hitters)
|Barry Bonds||.298/.444/.607||2,935||762||1,996||162.5||244 (42.9%)|
|Jeff Kent||.290/.356/.500||2,461||377||1,518||55.2||101 (17.8%)|
|Edgar Martinez||.312/.418/.515||2,247||309||1,261||68.3||195 (34.3%)|
|Don Mattingly||.307/.358/.471||2,153||222||1,099||42.2||34 (6.0%)|
|Fred McGriff||.284/.377/.509||2,490||493||1,550||52.6||83 (14.6%)|
|Mark McGwire||.263/.394/.588||1,626||583||1,414||62.0||53 (9.3%)|
|Rafael Palmeiro||.288/.371/.515||3,020||569||1,835||71.8||31 (5.4%)|
|Sammy Sosa||.273/.344/.534||2,408||609||1,667||58.4||45 (7.9%)|
|Alan Trammell||.285/.352/.415||2,365||185||1,003||70.3||173 (30.4%)|
|Larry Walker||.313/.400/.565||2,160||383||1,311||72.6||92 (16.1%)|
LF Tim Raines: Out
Prediction: 337 (59.2%)
Tim Raines has steadily seen his support grow since first appearing on the ballot back in 2008, when he received just 24.3 percent of the vote. That number rose to an all-time high of 52.2 percent last year and could be in for another slight bump this year.
A .385 on-base percentage and 808 career stolen bases (fifth all-time) are his best arguments for induction, as he lacks the traditional benchmark numbers most look at for induction, but was clearly one of the best table-setters of his era.
It will likely take Raines most of his 15 years of eligibility to earn enshrinement, but before all is said and done, my guess is he'll wind up in Cooperstown.
1B Jeff Bagwell: Out
Prediction: 351 (61.7%)
One of the premier run producers of his era—and of all time for that matter—Jeff Bagwell has seen his voting support climb from 41.7 percent his first year on the ballot in 2011 to 59.6 percent last year in what was his third year of eligibility.
His 1,529 RBI are good for the 47th-highest total of all time, and only Harold Baines has more RBI and is currently not in the Hall of Fame, excluding active players and players currently on the ballot.
He has a higher career WAR than Frank Thomas, but trails him in the counting numbers that still reign supreme among voters. The 1994 NL MVP will likely find his way into the Hall eventually, but it looks like he'll have to wait at least another year.
SP Jack Morris: Out
Prediction: 391 (68.7%)
Jack Morris did not receive more than 26.3 percent of the vote in each of his first five years on the ballot, but support for the intimidating right-hander has climbed since, reaching an all-time high of 67.7 percent last year.
Entering his 15th and final year on the ballot, Morris is hoping he will get a late push of support similar to what Bert Blyleven did a few years ago.
The argument for him is his reputation as a big-game pitcher and status as one of the top starters of the 1980s. However, his 3.90 ERA and lack of a truly dominant career peak may very well be enough to keep him short of the necessary 75 percent support.
C Mike Piazza: Out
Prediction: 402 (70.7%)
Squarely in the discussion for the title of best offensive catcher of all time, Mike Piazza earned just 57.8 percent of the vote in his first time on the ballot last year, but that number could jump a decent amount this year.
His 427 home runs and .922 OPS are tops among players who served primarily as catchers in their career, and beyond that, he ranks in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category at the position.
PED questions are likely what kept his vote total down last year, as he has admitted to using androstenedione prior to it being banned, but he's never technically done anything wrong and belongs in Cooperstown in the near future.
2B Craig Biggio: In
Prediction: 460 (80.8%)
Craig Biggio came the closest of anyone to earning induction last year, netting 68.2 percent of the vote in his first time on the ballot. That left him just a handful of votes short, and there's a good chance he'll get over the hump in his second go-round, even with the impressive players joining him on the ballot this year.
Originally a catcher, Biggio turned himself into a Gold Glove defender at second base after being moved from behind the plate. Over the course of his 20 seasons, Biggio compiled the fifth-most doubles and 15th-most runs scored all time while also setting the career mark for hit by pitches.
Teammate Jeff Bagwell was always the bigger star during their time together in Houston, but it will likely be Biggio who makes his way into Cooperstown first.
1B Frank Thomas: In
Prediction: 507 (89.1%)
One of the faces of MLB during the 1990s, Frank Thomas was a true superstar during his time with the Chicago White Sox and without a doubt one of the premier players of his generation.
Playing in an era clouded by steroid use, Thomas was never once tied to PEDs, as he had been a huge man since his days as a tight end at Auburn University.
He ranks among the all-time leaders in OBP (20th), slugging (22nd), home runs (18th) and RBI (22nd), as he put together five 40-home run seasons and 11 100-RBI seasons. He was AL MVP in 1992 and 1993, and also has five All-Star appearances to his credit.
SP Tom Glavine: In
Prediction: 525 (92.3%)
One of the best left-handed pitchers of all time, Tom Glavine played in the shadow of Greg Maddux for much of his career, but was one of the best pitchers of the generation in his own right.
A five-time 20-game-winner and 10-time All-Star, Glavine won NL Cy Young honors in 1991 and 1998. He recorded his 300th win as a member of the New York Mets in 2007, and his 305 career wins rank fourth most among left-handed pitchers.
On top of his regular-season success, Glavine also posted a 3.30 ERA in 35 playoff starts, winning World Series MVP honors in 1995 when he was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his two starts. Earning enshrinement alongside Maddux only seems right, as those two will forever be tied together in the annals of baseball history.
SP Greg Maddux: In
Prediction: 565 (99.3%)
Greg Maddux still has a chance to become the first player in history to earn unanimous enshrinement, as he has been listed on all 145 ballots that have been made public to this point, according to Baseball Think Factory.
Former Braves teammate Chipper Jones discussed the flawed process and that Maddux deserves to be a unanimous selection—but likely won't be. Jones told David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Maddux will probably be left off the ballot "because no one else has been a unanimous pick."
If nothing else, he should have a decent chance to surpass Tom Seaver (98.8 percent) for the highest vote percentage of all time, and rightfully so, as he is one of the best ever to toe the rubber.
He won four straight Cy Young Awards from 1992-1995 and turned in one of the best single-season pitching performances of all time in 1995 when he was 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 0.811 WHIP.
Throw in 18 Gold Gloves and the eighth-highest win total of all time, and there is no question Maddux deserves to sail into Cooperstown in his first appearance on the ballot.