One of the most-talked about days on the baseball calendar is Hall of Fame day. The class, which was announced on Tuesday and will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 26. includes Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, this is also a historic vote by volume of players elected:
Full voting results can be found at BBWAA.com
The Baseball Writers Association of America had the unenviable task of choosing from the deep list but arrived at a consensus.
The four stars of baseball's past were welcomed to the exclusive club by MLB on Twitter:
It's no surprise that Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez headline the 2015 class. The Big Unit was as consistently dominant as any pitcher in baseball from 1993-2004.
Johnson's dominance on the mound was impressive no matter how you slice it, but High Heat Stats may have the best numbers on how impressive his career was:
Even Johnson's vote totals were impressive, as Greg Johns of MLB.com pointed out:
One thing that fans missed out on, as noted by ESPN's David Schoenfield, was the opportunity to see the greatest left-handed pitcher of his era (Johnson) against arguably the greatest right-handed pitcher of his era (Martinez):
|2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame Voting|
|Player||Notable Career Milestone(s)||Vote Total (412 needed)||Vote Percentage (75 percent needed)|
|Randy Johnson, LHP||5-time Cy Young winner; led league in strikeouts nine times||534||97.3|
|Pedro Martinez, RHP||3-time Cy Young winner; 5-time ERA champion||500||91.1|
|John Smoltz, RHP||1996 NL Cy Young winner; Only player in MLB history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves||455||82.9|
|Craig Biggio, C/2B/OF||3,060 career hits; led NL in doubles three times; 4-time Silver Slugger winner||454||82.7|
|Players Receiving Votes||-||Vote Total (412 needed)||Vote Percentage (75 percent needed)|
|Mike Piazza, C||1993 NL Rookie of the Year; MLB record for HRs as Catcher (396; 427 total)||384||69.9|
|Jeff Bagwell, 1B||1991 NL Rookie of the Year; 1994 NL MVP; 39th best OBP in history (.408)||306||55.7|
|Tim Raines, OF||5th most stolen bases (808); 7-time All Star||302||55|
|Curt Schilling, RHP||2nd best K-BB ratio in MLB history (4.38)||215||39.2|
|Roger Clemens, RHP||7-time Cy Young winner||206||37.5|
|Barry Bonds, OF||7-time NL MVP||202||36.8|
|via BBWAA.com and Baseball-Reference.com|
Martinez didn't have the longevity that Johnson did, but his peak was as good as there has ever been.
Mark Simon of ESPN.com compiled a statistical breakdown of Pedro at the height of his powers from 1999-2000:
Martinez was the only ERA-title qualifier in the league with a WHIP below 1.2 (his was 0.92) and a strikeouts-per-9 rate above 8.5 (his was 13.2). He was the only AL pitcher with more than 200 strikeouts (he had 313).
The next year was more of the same. His 1.74 ERA beat the next-best AL pitcher by two runs (Roger Clemens finished second at 3.70). His 0.74 WHIP was way ahead of Mike Mussina’s runner-up 1.19. He won the strikeout title with 284, but won it by only 72.
Martinez also expressed excitement and gratitude to his native Dominican Republic on Twitter after the announcement:
Even though Martinez wasn't the most intimidating physical specimen, he told MLB Network that the mound made him look bigger than he actually was, via MLB Network PR:
Whatever Martinez had, whether it was just natural ability or the intimidation factor, it worked well enough to land him in the Hall of Fame.
John Smoltz took an interesting path to Cooperstown. He was a dominant starting pitcher early in his career, winning a Cy Young Award in 1996 with a 24-8 record and 276 strikeouts in 253.2 innings.
The Atlanta Braves then moved Smoltz to the bullpen in 2001 after he had Tommy John surgery the previous year. He had three consecutive seasons with at least 44 saves from 2002-04 before moving back to the rotation.
Smoltz joked on MLB Network that the call from Cooperstown led to one of the quietest moments of his life, via MLB Network PR:
Joining the pitchers in Cooperstown is Craig Biggio, who gets in this year after finishing two votes shy of election last year.
The former Houston Astros catcher/second baseman/outfielder wasn't a star at the level of Johnson or Martinez—few players in history are—but Biggio carved out a niche as one of the best leadoff hitters of his era.
Biggio's former team took to Twitter to boast about some of his credentials for the Hall of Fame:
WIth Johnson and Martinez headlining the class of 2015, the induction ceremony in July shouldn't be missed. The addition of Smoltz and Biggio makes this one of the more memorable groups to be enshrined in recent years.
A lot of think pieces have been written and will be written about who got left out of the Hall of Fame this year. There are always going to be valid criticisms, but let's not forget to appreciate the incredible talents who did get in.