With Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez And John Smoltz 2015 Baseball Hall Of Fame Locks, Will BBWAA Ease Up On Alleged Steroid Users?

The BBWAA has released the official ballot for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame, including 17 first-timers to go along with 17 holdovers. While there is never a sure thing in life, especially when it comes to the BBWAA, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez appear to be locks to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next year. I would also throw John Smoltz into that conversation. Johnson and Martinez were two of the most dominant starting pitchers since Bob Gibson forced MLB to lower the mound, especially while they were leading the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox to championships, while Smoltz was clutch as a starter as well as a closer while playing in multiple World Series with the Atlanta Braves. Gary Sheffield is another player worth of first-time consideration, though he will face some stiff competition from a few holdovers, most notably Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, who came very close to being inducted in 2014, which was also a difficult class headlined by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

First, lets take a look at the rest of the other first-timers on the ballot. While Johnson and Martinez should both garner well over the 75 percent necessary to earn induction, Smoltz should also join them in Cooperstown next Summer. Sheffield put up solid numbers for multiple teams and will come close. As for the rest, I don’t see anyone else really coming that close. While there was never any proof, the BBWAA has demonstrated that even alleged steroid users may never make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That, along with his injury history throughout his career, could hurt Nomar Garciaparra. Anyone who remembers that old Sports Illustrated cover knows exactly why. Many of the other first-timers had excellent playing careers, although I doubt that any of the others will receive the votes necessary for induction. Here is a look at the complete list of players eligible for the Hall for the first time:

Rich Aurillia
Aaron Boone
Tony Clark
Carlos Delgado
Jermaine Dye
Darin Erstad
Cliff Floyd
Nomar Garciaparra
Brian Giles
Tom Gordon
Eddie Guardado
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
Troy Percival
Jason Schmidt
Gary Sheffield
John Smoltz

As you can see, it is a list loaded with talent. But, aside from three or four players, is it Hall of fame talent? The BBWAA will decide that.

As for the holdovers, Biggio missed being inducted last year by just two votes. It is no guarantee that he gets in this season, but he has a very good chance. The next two players who came closest to induction last year never failed a PED test, yet were also shunned due to pure speculation. They are Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. Piazza came closer than Bagwell, but despite putting up greater offensive numbers than any catcher in the history of the game, he was not granted induction. Neither were other players who were far closer tied to PED use, including Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Numbers alone, they would have all been first-time Hall of Famers. But, the BBWAA has maintained its stance to keep out players who were suspected of cheating. Here is a look at all of the holdovers, along with the percentage they received in 2014:

Craig Biggio, 74.8 percent
Mike Piazza, 62.2
Jeff Bagwell, 54.3
Tim Raines, 46.1
Roger Clemens, 35.4
Barry Bonds, 34.7
Lee Smith, 29.9
Curt Schilling, 29.2
Edgar Martinez, 25.2
Alan Trammell, 20.8
Mike Mussina, 20.3
Jeff Kent, 15.2
Fred McGriff, 11.7
Mark McGwire, 11
Larry Walker, 10.2
Don Mattingly, 8.2
Sammy Sosa, 7.2

Those who were linked to PEDs will still likely be left out again in 2015. Still, so many other players on this list who were not tied to any rumored steroid use are also worthy, yet seem to struggle on the ballot. In my mind, Lee Smith, Don Mattingly and Fred McGriff should be in the Hall of Fame. I would also make a strong case for Tim Raines and Alan Trammel. That is not to say that others are not worthy, but I would favor the aforementioned players on the ballot.

Ultimately, it does not matter, as I do not get a vote. Feel free to leave a comment as to which players you feel most deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown in 2015!


About the author

Rob Kelley is a sports reporter for various newspapers in Florida, and is trying to break back into the sports writing game after a brief hiatus following the publishing of his first book, I'm Not a Quitter. He recently resigned as Editor-in-Chief and lead writer for The South Shore Magazine to pursue better opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter @RobKelley24.