Not every baseball player is good enough to make it to the show. Even among those few who prove worthy of playing in the major leagues, only a handful will have the sort of career that enables their legacy to live on in the shrine of baseball lore. However, for those individuals who manage to leave a indelible mark on the ultimate team game, they may one day find themselves fortunate enough to land a spot in the sport’s most prized resting place: Cooperstown.
In 2015, for the first time since 1955, members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) elected at least four players on the same ballot to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Then again, it’s not every day that one sees a list that includes the likes of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio. This time around, something tells us things will probably turn out a bit differently.
With the release of the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, 15 new candidates found their names added to a list that includes 17 holdovers from last year’s balloting. In order to make it into the Hall of Fame, players must be named on 75% of ballots cast by the 475 voting members of the BBWAA. So who are these individuals hoping to have a bust enshrined in the halls of baseball immortality? Let’s find out.
Of all the players whose names are appearing on the ballot for the first time, one should stand out among the rest. That’s The Kid himself, Ken Griffey Jr. As far as surefire first-ballot Hall of Famers are concerned, this one is as close to a lock as you could possibly get.
In his 22 seasons in the major leagues, Junior had 2,781 hits, 630 home runs (No. 6 on the all-time list), 13 All-Star Game appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger awards, and was named the ’97 AL MVP. We expect he’ll be getting a call to Cooperstown. But can the same be said for any of the other players appearing on the ballot for the first time?
While Griffey is easily the most recognizable name of the bunch, the 2016 ballot does feature plenty of other notable big leaguers. The leader of that group has to be Trevor Hoffman, one of the game’s greatest closers, whose resume includes 601 career saves and 856 games finished (both are second only to the great Mariano Rivera). Some other players making their first appearances on the ballot are David Eckstein, Troy Glaus, Mike Hampton, Mike Lowell, and Billy Wagner. And although we don’t believe any of these individuals will make it into the Hall of Fame in 2016, that’s not necessarily the case for some of the holdovers.
Out of all the names on the 2015 ballot, catcher Mike Piazza came the closest to making it to Cooperstown. When it was all said and done, he received 69.9% of the electorate, falling 28 votes short of enshrinement. The only other members on last year’s ballot to receive at least 50% of the vote were first baseman Jeff Bagwell (55.7%) and outfielder Tim Raines (55.0%). We’d love to see all three of these individuals find a place in the Hall of Fame, but we think Piazza is the only player of this group destined for Cooperstown in 2016.
Making it to the major leagues is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Some players, the select few, manage to take that opportunity and turn it into a career worthy of immortality. For their remarkable work, these individuals will be rewarded with a ticket to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The crop of players up for enshrinement in 2016 has officially been released. Next stop, Cooperstown.