Baseball Hall of Fame voters begin to loosen logjam

First Posted: 1/8/2015

Kudos to the Baseball Writers Association of America.

They elected four very deserving players to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, in John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio.

Smoltz, Johnson and Martinez were no-brainers. And who could leave out Biggio? All he did was knock out 3,060 hits and steal 414 bases.

Hopefully, this starts a trend the next few years to loosen the player logjam and open the Hall of Fame doors to a group of deserving players. The last few decades, voters have tossed votes out there like they were100-pound manhole covers.

The voters had a good day on Tuesday by voting in four, but they came up short of a perfect day by not electing a few more.

Voters can vote for up to 10 players, and to be elected, a candidate needs 75 percent of the vote.

If I had a vote, I would have easily voted for Smoltz, Johnson, Martinez and Biggio. But my ballot would have also included the following: Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith and Fred McGriff.

Former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell just misses my list, but deserves plenty of consideration in his final year on the ballot next year.

And, by the way, the Veterans Committee needs to vote in Gil Hodges, the longtime emotional leader of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also managed the Mets to the 1969 title.

Piazza ended up with 69 percent of the vote and should get 75 percent soon. While Piazza was a defensive liability behind the plate, he was the best offensive catcher ever, with his 427 home runs and .308 career batting average.

Bagwell earned 56 percent of the vote and should get in one day. He had a .297 career average with 449 home runs.

Tim Raines got a boost in the voting and is now up to 55 percent. But with the number of years a player is on the ballot sliced from 15 years to 10, Raines has only two more years left before he goes to the Veterans.

Consider two numbers for Raines: 808 stolen bases and a career on-base percentage of .385. He’s fifth all-time in stolen bases, fourth in the modern era (post 1910).

Sure, Schilling has a career ERA of 3.46, but he was a big-game, World Series pitcher. See the bloody sock.

In seven World Series games, he was 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA. He was part of three World Series champions, twice in Boston and once in Arizona.

Big Lee Smith led the league in saves four times and finished with 478 saves, which is third all-time behind Mariano Rivera (652) and Trevor Hoffman (601), who will be eligible for election next year.

And old favorite from the days of watching him on TBS is former Braves first baseman Fred (The Crime Dog) McGriff. I’m baffled McGriff received only 13 percent of the vote.

McGriff hit .284 with 493 home runs and 1,550 RBIs. And at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, the slender McGriff was never on any steroid list.

The same can’t be said of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. And the voters are making the cheaters pay, as Clemens and Bonds received 37 percent, McGwire had 10 and Sosa six.

Next year, Ken Griffey Jr. is the only automatic to reach the Hall.

After that, here’s hoping the Cooperstown voters will welcome at least four or five more.

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