The 2014 Hall of Fame balloting was just completed yesterday. Six men went into Cooperstown- pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas, and managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre all gave their induction speeches.
Next year, the following players will be on the ballot (in alphabetical order):
1. Randy Johnson
2. Pedro Martinez
3. John Smoltz
4. Nomar Garciaparra
5. Carlos Delgado
With new BBWAA rules limiting eligibility to ten years rather than the usual fifteen, time is running out for McGwire and Raines. Whether this change was done as a punishment for the “steroid era” in baseball remains to be seen, but we had all anticipated changes coming to the ballot; this wasn’t necessarily what we had in mind, though. Three players- Mattingly, Smith, and Trammell- are grandfathered into the ballot, because they survived the ballots before the rule change. Mattingly will be in his final year of eligibility, and all three seem like long shots.
In the Veteran’s Committee “Golden Era” vote, to be announced in November, these are who I’d like to see on the ballot:
1. Gil Hodges
2. Jim Kaat
3. Minnie Minoso
4. Ken Boyer
5. Buzzie Bavasi
6. Tony Oliva
7. Dick Groat
8. Charlie Finley
9. Allie Reynolds
10. Luis Tiant
The inclusion of Groat may be a questionable one, but he did play on two World Series winners (1960 Pirates, 1964 Cardinals) and won the National League MVP Award and batting title in 1960. Groat made eight All-Star Games, amassing over 2,000 hits and a .286 batting average, which is not only decent for a shortstop but also great for the decade of the pitcher in the 1960s. Hodges is probably the best player not in the Hall of Fame, and Reynolds missed by one vote in 2009. Kaat won 283 games and a World Series with the Cardinals in 1982. I would put Hodges and Kaat in, with Reynolds, Boyer and Groat garnering consideration.
How I think the ballot will break down:
BBWAA ballot: Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez
Veteran’s Committee: Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat