Greg Maddux is on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Joining him are Frank Thomas and his teammate Tom Glavine. Considering the complicated era in which they played, these three players are largely clear of the guilt-by-association that has hindered guys like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. With Maddux and Glavine the reasons are obvious.
As for Thomas, he was outspoken against steroids before it was in fashion. He also saw a natural increase and then decrease in power over the years. So other than punishing him for playing in those seasons and for being a big man, there doesn’t appear to be great reasons to lump him in with the dirt and keep him out of the Hall. Then again, the same was true with Bagwell and Piazza when they first appeared on the ballot and they are still on the outside looking in. Such is the context, then, for trying to predict who will be enshrined in Cooperstown this year.
Earlier this week Bill Deane, an expert who has correctly predicted the last number of Hall of Fame votes, told us who will make it this year (over at Baseball: Past and Present). The answer? Only Maddux.
Here’s the way I foresee the rest of the election shaping up, with newcomers in bold and predicted percentages in parentheses:
Greg Maddux (94) – The winningest right-hander of the past century, Maddux went 355-227 with four straight NL Cy Young Awards (1992-95). He’ll make it to Cooperstown easily.
The next closest guys, according to Deane, will be Glavine and Thomas. The guys in the thick of the steroid controversy will still be way outside, with Deane projecting Roger Clemens to get only 29% of the vote, Barry Bonds to get 29%, and Mark McGwire to only get 13%.
We are still a long way from making sense of this era, and Hall of Fame voting can be pretty shaky to begin with. For this year things will apparently be simple though, with only Maddux making it.