Early Induction Chances for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Class

Karl Buscheck@@KarlBuscheckContributor IIIJanuary 8, 2014

Early Induction Chances for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Class

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are all in, but once again, Craig Biggio came up short in his quest for Cooperstown.

    The longtime Houston Astros second baseman needed just two more votes to gain entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame, according to the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Biggio immediately becomes a leading contender to enter the Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class.

    On next year's pitcher-heavy ballot, the most prominent newcomers will be Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. A preliminary ballot is already available via Baseball-Reference.com.

    With all the talented stars slated for the 2015 ballot, there could easily be a trio of inductees for the second year in a row.

    Here's a rundown of early induction chances for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class.

    Note: Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. All voting results courtesy of BBWAA.com.

Honorable Mentions

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    With such a talented collection of players on the ballot for 2015, I'd be remiss not to give a few shout-outs to players on the fringe.

    The following list consists of players who received less than 30 percent of the vote in 2014, or who are projected to fall below that threshold on next year's ballot. Of course, there's no shame in falling well short of the 75 percent entrance bar.

    As for newcomers in 2015, Gary Sheffield stands out. The slugger totaled 509 home runs during his 22-year career. However, like so many other stars from the recent past, Sheffield found himself linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs when his name ended up in the Mitchell Report in 2007, via ESPN.com.

    While some of these players may eventually gain entrance to Cooperstown in the future, none of them will get the call in 2015:

    • Edgar Martinez
    • Larry Walker
    • Fred McGriff
    • Sammy Sosa
    • Alan Trammell
    • Curt Schilling
    • Don Mattingly
    • Jeff Kent
    • Lee Smith
    • Mike Mussina
    • Mark McGwire

Barry Bonds

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    Career Stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 home runs, 1,996 RBI, 514 stolen bases, 182 OPS+, 162.5 WAR

    It's not looking good for Barry Bonds. After debuting with 36.2 percent of the vote in 2013, Bonds watched as his total fell to 34.7 percent this year.

    The minor dip underscores exactly how the voters feel about the most transcendent player of the so-called steroid era. On the 2015 ballot, Bonds is No. 1 in runs, home runs, RBI, walks, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and WAR.

    Despite those credentials, Bonds is destined for another year in the 30-35 percent range in 2015.

    2015 Induction Chances: 2 percent

Roger Clemens

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    Career Stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 143 ERA+, 4,672 strikeouts, 140.3 WAR

    Roger Clemens is in the exact same situation as Bonds.

    The right-hander's vote total dropped from 37.6 percent in 2013 to 35.4 percent this time around. That drop-off suggests Clemens has a slim chance of cracking the 75 percent threshold in 2015.

    The seven-time Cy Young Award winner put up a career WAR of 140.3, which is the eighth-best in the history of the game. For now, though, he's likely to languish around the 35 percent mark in 2015.

    2015 Induction Chances: 2 percent

Tim Raines

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    Career Stats: .294/.385/.425, 2,605 hits, 808 SB, 123 OPS+, 69.1 WAR

    The 2014 vote did not go as planned for Tim Raines.

    After he earned 52.2 percent of the vote in 2013, his vote total fell to just 46.1 percent this time around. That minor slide reverses a trend that saw Raines' support grow gradually over the years after debuting with 24.3 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot back in 2008.

    There's no questioning Raines' pedigree as one of the greatest leadoff hitters ever. The 23-year veteran owns a .385 OBP for his career, and his 808 stolen bases are the fifth-most of all time.

    Still, to expect Raines to jump from 46.1 percent this year to 75 percent in 2015 is a big reach. Raines deserves to be in Cooperstown, but he'll have to be patient.

    2015 Induction Chances: 5 percent

Jeff Bagwell

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    Career Stats: .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 149 OPS+, 79.5 WAR

    Jeff Bagwell is yet another holdover who saw his stock drop in 2014.

    After earning 59.6 percent of the vote in 2013, Bagwell fell to 54.3 percent in the most recent results. The first baseman's candidacy is not helped by the fact that he fell well short of the 500-home run plateau with 449 career home runs. That's 44 fewer long balls than Fred McGriff, who earned 11.7 percent of the vote in 2014.

    However, the advanced numbers are more favorable to Bagwell. The four-time All-Star posted a career WAR of 79.5, which is higher than that of first-ballot Hall of Famer Thomas (73.6 WAR).

    Of course, he'll still face a huge challenge in making it to Cooperstown in 2015. In the most recent voting, both Mike Piazza and Biggio earned higher vote totals and thus appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order for hitters.

    2015 Induction Chances: 15 percent

Mike Piazza

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    Career Stats: .308/.377/.545, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 143 OPS+, 59.2 WAR

    Piazza is making progress.

    After he landed 57.8 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot, his total climbed to 62.2 percent in 2014. That increase suggests the all-time leader in home runs for a catcher will ultimately make his way to Cooperstown.

    However, just how long that process will take remains to be seen. The former 62nd-round draft pick has clearly come under suspicion for posting impressive power numbers during an era when PED use was allegedly rampant.

    Piazza could certainly make the Cooperstown cut in 2015, but receiving right around 70 percent of the vote appears the more likely outcome.

    2015 Induction Chances: 30 percent

John Smoltz

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 213-155, 3.33 ERA, 125 ERA+, 154 saves, 3,084 strikeouts, 69.5 WAR

    John Smoltz lacks in overall numbers compared to fellow newcomers like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez because he spent four seasons in the bullpen as a lockdown closer. During that time the right-hander amassed 154 saves.

    Despite his bullpen hiatus, Smoltz's numbers are arguably stronger than those of his longtime teammate, Glavine, who nabbed 91.9 percent of the vote this year.

    In fact, Smoltz posted a lower career ERA (3.33) than did Glavine (3.54) and also totaled 477 more strikeouts in nearly 1,000 fewer innings.

    There is no doubt, though, that Smoltz is just the third-best pitcher eligible for induction in 2015. For that reason, the eight-time All-Star could find himself on the outside looking in. 

    2015 Induction Chances: 50 percent

Craig Biggio

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Career Stats: .281/.363/.433, 291 HR, 1,175 RBI, 3,060 hits, 414 SB, 112 OPS+, 64.9 WAR

    Craig Biggio missed out on making it to the Hall of Fame by just two votes.

    According to the BBWAA, that ties the record for the "smallest margin in balloting history," so Biggio was a snub of historic proportions.

    The second baseman has an excellent chance of making up that deficit in 2015, as next year's ballot is short on hitters.

    However, it's not short on pitchers. For Biggio to get the call in 2015, he'll have to be one of three players to get in, as there are two aces ahead of him on the ballot.

    2015 Induction Chances: 95 percent

Pedro Martinez

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Career Stats: 219-100, 2.93 ERA, 154 ERA+, 3,154 strikeouts, 84.0 WAR

    Pedro Martinez is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

    The right-hander's 2.93 ERA for his career is the lowest on the 2015 ballot, and his 154 ERA+ is the highest figure among all eligible pitchers.

    In fact, his 154 ERA+ dwarfs the 132 ERA+ that Greg Maddux posted during his brilliant career. Maddux, of course, snagged 97.2 percent of the vote on the 2014 ballot.

    What is truly remarkable, though, is that it can be argued Martinez isn't even the best pitcher in the class of 2015—at least in terms of longevity.

    Martinez totaled 1,721 fewer strikeouts than Randy Johnson. Meanwhile, his 219 wins amount to just three more than Curt Schilling's 216. For his part, Schilling grabbed just 29.1 percent of the vote in 2014.

    Despite those shortcomings, it would be downright absurd if Martinez doesn't make it to Cooperstown on his first try.

    2015 Induction Chances: 99.9 percent

Randy Johnson

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    Career Stats: 303-166, 3.29 ERA, 135 ERA+, 4,875 strikeouts, 102.1 WAR

    Like Martinez, Johnson is unquestionably worthy of making it to Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility.

    Johnson boasts the highest strikeout total on the 2015 ballot. The tall left-hander also owns by far the highest career WAR (102.1) of any player not named Bonds or Clemens.

    The starter won four straight Cy Young awards from 1999 to 2002 during the high-water point in alleged PED usage. In 2001, the same season that Bonds crushed 73 home runs, Johnson racked up a remarkable 372 strikeouts.

    That the wiry left-hander would absolutely dominate under such circumstances only adds to his legend.

    2015 Induction Chances: 99.9 percent