MLB: Five Years From Now...Best Hall Of Fame Class Ever?

John LewisSenior Writer IMay 5, 2008

As John Smoltz is recovering from his shoulder injury, he may call it quits after this season.  So if his current teammate Tom Glavine and former teammate Greg Maddux decide to retire after this year as well, would this be the best Hall of Fame class ever?

The first year the hall ballots were cast, 1936, had Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson each enshrined, with Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Rogers Hornsby and Jimmie Foxx all falling short of the required 75% of the vote.  While these players waited longer than the current five year minimum to be on the ballot, today's classes certainly aren't this deep.

It's funny to say that Cy Young wasn't a first ballot Hall of Famer but in the last 60 years the potential class of 2014 with Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz could rival any in that time.  Greg Maddux, arguably the most notable of the three will have more than 350 wins, more wins than any pitcher in the 90's, well over 3,000 strikeouts, four consecutive CY Young awards, a lifetime 3.12 era, more than 60% winning percentage and 17 gold gloves.  His best season came in 1995, the only year he won the World Series, when he posted a 19-2 record with a 1.62 era.  Maddux also posted a sub two era the season before and became the first pitcher to do so since Walter Johnson in 1918 and 1919. 

Tom Glavine is certainly not far behind when it comes to accolades.  This lefty control pitcher and former Maddux teammate is a two time CY Young award winner with over 300 wins 9 (only five other left-handers have that many), more than 2,500 strikeouts, a 3.51 lifetime era, five seasons with 20 or more wins, 10 all-star appearances and four silver slugger awards.  He was also drafted in the fourth round of the NHL draft in 1984 but chose baseball instead where he helped lead the Braves to one World Series win and four other appearances. 

When Glavine won his 300th game, it was speculated that he might be the last member of the 300-wins club simply because of how difficult it is to stay healthy added with the fact that teams rely heavily on five man starting rotations.

The fire baller of the bunch John Smoltz is probably the most versatile of the three after spending 12 seasons as a starter, then after having Tommy John surgery spent the next four seasons as the closer.  He returned to the starting rotation in 2005 where he's enjoyed the same success before his shoulder surgery.

In 2002 he became only the second pitcher in history to have had both a 20-win season and a 50-save season (the other being Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley). He is the only pitcher in Major League history to top both 200 wins and 150 saves.  Smoltz has more post season wins than any other pitcher in history, has one CY Young award and is recently a member of the 3,000 strikeout club. 

There have been a few Hall of Fame classes that can lay claim to the best class starting with the most recent, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken.  Each had 3,000 career hits and considered the best hitter and best short stop in history.  The class of 1999 was certainly not short of accomplishments with Robin Yount, George Brett and Nolan Ryan.  Way back in 1982 saw Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson inducted together and 1979 included Willie Mays and Hack Wilson.    

1971 and 1972 were important because Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were inducted in consecutive years.  We'll have to wait and see what happens but mark your calendars for 2014.