ELAINE THOMPSON/Associated Press
Notable First-Year Eligibles
SP Randy Johnson, SP Pedro Martinez, P John Smoltz, RF Gary Sheffield, SS Nomar Garciaparra, 1B Carlos Delgado, RF Brian Giles
2015 will be the year Randy Johnson officially joins Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Lefty Grove and Warren Spahn in Cooperstown as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history.
Johnson, a 10-time All-Star, won five Cy Young Awards, nine strikeout titles and four ERA titles during an absolutely dominant 22-year career. His 303 wins (fifth among left-handers all time) and his 4,875 strikeouts rank second all time, while his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest average ever among qualified starters, according to the Hall of Fame’s website.
Johnson pitched in the postseason with four different teams in his career—Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees—posting a 3.50 ERA in 121 innings (19 starts/16 appearances), and he was named MVP of the 2001 World Series after going 3-0 with a 1.04 and 0.692 over 17.1 innings.
Pedro Martinez finished his brilliant career with just 219 wins, but a strong case can be made that the electric right-hander’s prime years were among the best of all time.
From 1997-2003, Martinez went 118-36 with a 2.20 ERA and 11.3 K/9 and won three Cy Young Awards, and the fact that he led the Red Sox to the World Series in 2004 certainly won’t be overlooked when his name appears on the ballot.
Overall, the eight-time All-Star posted a 2.93 ERA in 18 seasons playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. According to the Hall of Fame’s website, Martinez led his league in ERA five times, WHIP six times and strikeouts three times.
Craig Biggio (third year on ballot)
A seven-time All-Star, Biggio is one of the most productive second basemen in baseball history, ranking 15th among the all-time leaders in runs (1,844), 21st in hits (3,060) and fifth in doubles (668). He finished fourth in the MVP voting in 1997 and fifth in 1998.
Biggio featured an impressive blend of power and speed (291 home runs, 414 stolen bases) during his 20-year career, which he began as catcher before moving to second base and then to center field and then back to second base. Though he was versatile, Biggio’s best position was second base, where he won four consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1994-1997.
After receiving 68.2 percent of votes in 2013, his first year on the ballot, and then missing the cut by two votes in 2014 with 74.8 percent, Biggio should get in next year as the best offensive player in the class.