Monday, January 19, 2015

Piazza in the Hall?

The doors to Cooperstown have suddenly swung wide open. For the second year in a row, baseball writers saw fit to elect three or more players at once. It's an interesting development considering that only fourteen men were granted access to the Hall by the BBWAA over the previous decade. Will the mass enshrinement continue in the coming years?

(My Magic 8 Ball says...)
Don't Count on it.

Among the holdovers from this year's election, there are only a handful who meet Hall of Fame standards according to the Bill James scoring system (which is a fairly reliable indicator). Even fewer in that group have received any considerable support from voters. Curt Schilling, who will be entering his fourth year on the ballot, peaked at 39.2% of the vote this year--only slightly above his debut of 38.8%. The same holds true for bad boys Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Both have been holding steady in the thirtieth percentile over the last three elections. Though speedster Tim Raines reached a personal high of 55% in 2015, it took him eight years to get there and he's still a long way off. Former Astros' slugger Jeff Bagwell has failed to gain any momentum, hovering in the fiftieth percentile for four years running.  

One player who appears to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory is Mike Piazza. Among the greatest offensive catchers of all time, Piazza captured 69.9% of the vote this year, falling just five percentage points shy of enshrinement. In the coming years, only a handful of new candidates will seriously compete with Piazza for Hall of Fame consideration. In 2016, Ken Griffey Jr. will be added to the ballot along with relief specialist Trevor Hoffman. 2017 will mark the arrival of Ivan Rodriguez. He'll be joined in 2018 by first-timers Omar Vizquel, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. Looking even further into the future, Mariano Rivera will become eligible in 2019. Assuming there will be no sudden inclination among voters toward electing steroid abusers, designated hitters and assorted trouble makers like Manny Ramirez, the list of inductees should be considerably smaller over the next several elections. 

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