The 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced on Tuesday, with a class of four MLB greats voted in for the first time since 1955.
For only the third time in Major League Baseball history, a class with more than three inductees will be enshrined this summer in Cooperstown, NY. The craziest part? There probably should have been more than the four who were voted in.
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Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez headline the group. John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will join those two in the 2015 class, to be inducted this coming July.
Johnson is arguably the most dominant left-handed pitcher in baseball history. Over the course of his career he amassed 303 wins and an absurd 4,875 strikeouts. He won five Cy Young awards, including a stretch of four straight awards. The further we great from Johnson’s career, the more we will appreciate his brilliance. He received an incredible 97.1% of the vote, one of the highest marks in Hall of Fame history.
Martinez bucks the usual criteria for a starting pitcher to be voted into the Hall, something that should be the start of a trend as 300 game winners become a dying breed. He did not win 300 games, going 219-100 over his 18 year career. But his dominance is simply too much to ignore.
Martinez posted a career 2.93 ERA to go along with a career 4.15 K/BB ratio. Like Johnson, he is one of the greatest starting pitchers of all time, even when considered alongside the rest of the greats already in the Hall of Fame. Pedro Martinez got 91.1% of the vote.
As for Smoltz, his career is certainly worthy, but his status as an inductee on his first try likely stems from his connection to fellow Atlanta Braves’ greats Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Smoltz won 213 games and then logged 154 saves after transitioning to closer later in his career.
John Smoltz won a Cy Young award and was outstanding in the postseason for those classic Braves’ teams. That said, his resume is not actually all that different from those of Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling, so it is likely that his name recognition and the plugs from Maddux and Glavine were the tiebreakers for him to be a first-ballot inductee. Smoltz received 82.9% of votes.
Finally, there is Biggio. He was one of the main stories at this time last year for all the wrong reasons. The longtime Astros’ second baseman fell just two votes short of induction. With such a crowded ballot for this year’s vote, there had to at least be some nerves for Biggio. Thankfully for him, the momentum from last year carried over into induction this year.
Over the course of a career that lasted an incredible 20 years, Biggio amassed 3,060 hits and a career .281 batting average. Some feel that his career is propped up by longevity, but isn’t that a feature instead of a bug? Biggio’s sustained greatness earned him this honor. Craig Biggio received 82.7% of the votes.
Mike Piazza (69.9%) fell just short once again. The slugging catcher will have to wait until next year, along with the controversial names of the so-called ‘steroid era.’
The debates can be saved for later, as can the discussions about much needed changes to the process. For now, let’s enjoy the chance to celebrate the outstanding 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.
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