The Baseball Writers Association of America voted for two outstanding players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York this summer: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Jeff Bagwell and just missed induction.
Griffey got more than 99 percent of the vote, a record. He was named on 437 of the 440 ballots returned, 99.32 percent, which is an all-time record, breaking the previous record (98.84 percent) held by Tom Seaver. Piazza was named on 365 ballots, 83 percent.
For Raines, he'll have one more chance on the regular ballot, next year. He received 307 votes, 69.8 percent, so he missed by 23 votes. Bagwell, who has four more years of eligibility, was named on 315 ballots, 71.6 percent.
Piazza could be rated as the best-hitting catcher of all time. He finished in the top 10 of MVP voting seven times (was second twice) and was a 12-time All-Star.
But the "king," if you will, of this year's class is Griffey, who might have been the one to break Hank Aaron's career homer record if he'd stayed healthy. By my count Griffey missed huge chunks of five seasons when he was in his 30s to injury, and of course he also lost time to two labor-dispute shortened seasons, 1994 and 1995, and he was injured in '95 as well.
He'd likely have hit 50+ homers in a full year in 1994, and he did hit 56 homers in two other seasons (1997 and 1998). He ranks sixth all-time with 630 homers, which likely would have been well over 700 without the injuries. He'd also likely have had over 3,000 hits if he'd have been healthy his whole career. Among hitters who have 600+ home runs, only Aaron and Alex Rodriguez also have 3,000 hits. Add to that his spectacular defense when he was younger -- something that contributed to the injuries given his propensity to run into walls -- and you have a complete player who is, to me, a "top tier" Hall of Famer.
Congratulations to this summer's inductees, who will be honored with a ceremony in Cooperstown Sunday, July 24.
Sammy Sosa will remain on the ballot for next year; he received 31 votes (7 percent). Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens received in the mid-40 percent range. Falling off the ballot with less than five percent of the vote: Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Sweeney, David Eckstein, Jason Kendall, Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, , Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Mike Lowell and Randy Winn. You can find the entire BBWAA voting results at this link.
As I mentioned to you the other day, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America also held a Hall of Fame vote. The IBWAA honored Griffey and Martinez this year, and here's how the IBWAA voting broke down:
My ballot, as I noted in this post, included Griffey, Trevor Hoffman, , Curt Schilling, Lee Smith and Sammy Sosa.
Piazza, Bagwell and Raines were not included in this year's IBWAA ballot because they had already received enough IBWAA votes in previous years. Also for the IBWAA vote, er a group decision in January, 2014, the IBWAA allows members to vote for up to 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with the 2015 election. In the 2016 election, 99 members voted for 10 or more candidates. Twenty-one members voted for 15 candidates. The average vote per member was 8.74.
Hall of Fame voting, as you surely know, has become a bone of contention among baseball fans in recent years, to the point that some of you have quit caring about who's in and who's out. That's certainly your prerogative. I still care, and I care because I'd like to see the Hall honor the best of what baseball has to give, and not just statistically, either. Hopefully the Hall will fix what's wrong with the voting system in years to come.
You should care about the Museum that's attached to the Hall, because it does showcase everything about the game's history. Though the myth of baseball's founding in Cooperstown was exploded long ago, it's still a lovely setting for a museum of baseball, especially in the summer. It's not easy to get to, but I think every baseball fan should visit at least once in his or her lifetime. Worth the trip. My goal is to get to an induction ceremony someday, doesn't really matter for whom; I'd just like to experience everything that goes on, on Induction Weekend.