Intro of this ‘Hall of Fame Staff Picks’ article is credited to staff writer Steven Bardwell.
Following Tuesday’s release of the 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, the Cubbies Crib staff decided to list their top 5 candidates on who they believe would be joining Cooperstown next July.
This ballot is filled with talent, including 300-game winners, record holders, a 3,000 hit man and multiple Cy Young award winners. Analysts and voters alike, such as Buster Olney, have called this one of the most star studded ballots in years.
Although this is not saying much as the previous two seasons had merely one player off of the ballots inducted into Cooperstown, as it takes a 75% vote to become elected. No players were inducted last season with the closest being Craig Biggio who collected 68.2% of votes in only his first year on the ballot.
This year’s candidates hope to make an introduction into baseball’s greatest fraternity as some look to become first ballot hall of famers with others hoping for one last chance at immortality.
Cubbies Crib Staff:
1.) Craig Biggio: This man finished a mere 39 votes away from becoming enshrined into Cooperstown as the first player with a majority of his career taking place in Houston. Biggio ranks 21st all-time in hits (3,060) and has more doubles (668) than any right-handed hitter in Major League history. As a Chicago Cub’s fan I would always despise the “Killer B’s” in Houston as Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman would take long balls to the Crawford boxes in Minute Maid Park on a nightly basis. Biggio was always known for his hard work and leadership, which he displayed on and off the field, and can be seen as through his 2007 Roberto Clemente Award for community service. He played his entire twenty year career in Houston compiling seven Silver Slugger Awards, four Gold Gloves and was named to seven National League All Star teams.
2.) Greg Maddux: In Mad Dog’s first year on the ballot he certainly seems to have all the credentials necessary to become a first ballot hall of famer. In that case I will not blabber about one of baseball’s greatest pitchers of all time and simply let the numbers do the talking. Maddux is a 18x Gold Glove winner (1990-2002 2004-2008), eight time All-Star (’88, ’92, ’94-’98, 2000), four time NL Cy Young winner (’92-’95), four time NL ERA Champion (’93-’95, ’98) and three time NL Wins Champion (’92, ’94-’95) while having his infamous number 31 retired by both the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. If these numbers do not hold up enough for Mad Dog to get into the hall then I think a new system needs to be in place.
3.) Frank Thomas: Let’s begin with the stats, the Big Hurt is a five time All-Star (’93-’97), four time Silver Slugger award winner (’91, ’93-’94, ’00), two time AL MVP (’93-’94), AL Batting title (’97), AL Comeback Player of the Year (’00), had his number 35 retired by the White Sox in 2010 and had a life size statue placed outside U.S. Cellular Field. Thomas was one of the most feared men in baseball and you would often hear of pitchers getting nervous on the mound as he stepped into the on deck circle. In the batter’s box he brought with him a swagger that said he was here to beat you not only by getting a hit, but by getting a hit that drove in two teammates or that would send a baseball into the stratosphere. The Big Hurt became the 21st player to reach 500 homeruns and did so with a career batting average of .301.
4.) Jeff Bagwell: Finishing with the third highest vote total in 2013 with 59.6% of the votes, Bagwell looks for a bump in his fourth year of eligibility of the ballot. The longtime Houston Astro was 1991 Rookie of the Year and 1994 Most Valuable Player of the National League. Although injuries cut his career a little short and prevented him from reaching the 500 homerun milestone, Bagwell is still considered one of baseball’s greatest power hitters averaging 32 homeruns and 103 RBIs through his first fourteen seasons. Bagwell has said many times that he does not expect to be voted in, but to me another of the Killer B’s is almost a guarantee in the near future.
5.) Lee Smith: In Smith’s 12th attempt at baseball immortality I believe that he will succeed and get the final out to his illustrious career that he finally deserves. Over an eighteen year career, Smith held the saves record from 1993 until being passed by Trevor Hoffman in 2006. There have been five players to hold this record including hall of famers Hoyt Willhelm and Rollie Fingers and future Cooperstown representatives Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. These are arguably the greatest relief pitchers in baseball history and for Smith to be in the same grouping has me questioning where is Lee’s plaque? The 6-foot-6, 240-pound giant of a reliever notched saves for eight teams in his journey of a career and spend the first eight seasons saving games at the Friendly Confines.
1.) Jeff Bagwell
2.) Craig Biggio
3.) Greg Maddux
4.) Mike Piazza
5.) Lee Smith
1.) Greg Maddux
2.) Tom Glavine
3.) Frank Thomas
4.) Craig Biggio
5.) Jeff Bagwell
The results of the election for 2014 induction will be announced at 2 pm ET on Jan. 8 on MLB.com and MLB Network, with a news conference at the Waldorf Astoria New York the next day to introduce any elected players.