17 Newcomers join 17 Holdovers for Hall of Fame Consideration
Pitchers who won a combined nine Cy Young Awards and position players who earned three batting titles are among 17 new candidates on the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot that is being mailed this week to more than 575 voting members of the BBWAA.
Pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz; infielder Nomar Garciaparra and outfielder Gary Sheffield join 17 holdovers from the 2014 balloting in which pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas won election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. It marked the first time that three first-ballot nominees were elected since Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999.
Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage to gain election. In 2014, Craig Biggio missed the 75-percent qualifying point by two votes, tying Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in 1947 for the smallest margin in balloting history. Traynor was elected in 1948. Fox was in his last year on the ballot and was subsequently elected by the Veterans Committee in 1997.
This is Biggio’s third time on the ballot. A rules change by the Hall’s board of directors going into effect this year limits players to remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they receive five percent of the vote. Players between 10 years and the previous time frame of 15 years have been grandfathered on the ballot: first baseman Don Mattingly (15th and final year), shortstop Alan Trammell (14th year) and relief pitcher Lee Smith (13th year).
Other players receiving sufficient support to remain on the BBWAA ballot for 2015 were pitchers
Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina; catcher Mike Piazza; first basemen Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff and Mark McGwire; second baseman Jeff Kent; third baseman-DH Edgar Martinez and outfielders Tim Raines, Barry Bonds, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa.
Johnson won five Cy Young Awards – four in the National League with the Arizona Diamondbacks and one in the American League with the Seattle Mariners – during a 22-season career in which the lefthander won 303 games and totaled 4,875 strikeouts, second only to Ryan in MLB history. Johnson was co-winner of the 2001 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with D-backs teammate Schilling. Another World Series MVP – outfielder Jermaine Dye for the Chicago White Sox in 2005 – is also on the ballot for the first time.
Pedro Martinez also won Cy Young Awards in both leagues – two in the AL with the Boston Red Sox and one in the NL with the Montreal Expos. The right-hander led his league in earned run average five times and finished his 18-season career with 3,154 strikeouts and a .687 winning percentage (219-100). He was runner-up for the 1999 AL MVP Award to Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez and a member of the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series champions.
Smoltz was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 1996 with the Atlanta Braves for whom he spent the bulk of his 21 seasons in the majors as a rotation mate of Maddux and Glavine for clubs that won 14 division titles, five pennants and the 1995 World Series. Smoltz is the only pitcher in history with more than 200 victories (213) and 150 saves (154). He amassed a postseason record of 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 209 innings.
Garciaparra was the unanimous choice for the 1997 AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award and went on to win batting titles in 1999 and 2000 over a 14-season career in which he compiled a .313 batting average. He was runner-up to Texas’ Juan Gonzalez for the AL MVP Award in 1998, one of five times he finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting.
Sheffield was the NL batting champion in 1992 with the San Diego Padres, one of eight clubs the slugger played for over 22 seasons, including the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins. His 509 career home runs rank 25th on the all-time list. With the New York Yankees in 2004, Sheffield finished second in the MVP voting to the Anaheim Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero, one of six top-10 MVP placements for Sheffield, who drove in more than 100 runs eight times.
Carlos Delgado, who totaled 473 home runs among his 2,038 career hits, is also on the ballot for the first time along with fellow first baseman Tony Clark; outfielder-first baseman Darin Erstad; pitchers Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Troy Percival and Jason Schmidt; infielders Rich Aurilia and Aaron Boone and outfielders Cliff Floyd and Brian Giles.
Writers must return ballots by a Dec. 27 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, on MLB Network.