Evaluating the Hall of Fame ballot has become an annual tradition for me. Though last year's results were somewhat surprising (in regard to the number of inductees) I don't believe that this year's voting will produce any unexpected results.
Front runners from the 2015 ballot include Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. The best offensive catcher in history, Piazza came up a few percentage points shy of induction last year. He has been steadily gaining support. Bagwell is indisputably the greatest first baseman the Astros ever produced. Entering his sixth year on the ballot, he has been holding steady in the fiftieth percentile. Tim Raines is another player who has been gaining steam over the past few years, peaking at 55% of the vote in 2015. With 808 lifetime steals (fifth on the all-time list) and an 84.7% success rate, he will certainly get a fair share of support this year.
On an interesting side note, this will be Alan Trammel's last appearance on the primary ballot. A six-time All-Star and four-time Gold-Glover, Trammel helped the Tigers to a World Series victory in 1984 and was MVP of the Series. Unfortunately, he played in an era dominated by high profile shortstops and was overshadowed by the likes of Cal Ripken Jr., Roberto Alomar and Ozzie Smith. Trammel was a great player in his own right, but he is not in the same class as those other guys.
First-timers on the ballot this year include Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman. Griffey hit 630 homers, drove-in more than 1,800 runs and captured ten consecutive Gold Gloves in center field. Hoffman was the all-time saves leader from 2006 until 2011, when his record was eclipsed by Mariano Rivera. He still ranks #2 in that category.
Who Will Make It?
Griffey and Hoffman will be popular choices among voters. Piazza will remain on the cusp. Raines and Bagwell will both lose a little support.
Who Will Be Eliminated on the First Try?
Though Jim Edmonds, Jason Kendall, Garrett Anderson and Billy Wagner were all excellent players in their prime, none of them had Hall of Fame caliber careers. Edmonds and Wagner may get enough support to appear on future ballots. First-timers who will be eliminated include Troy Glaus, Mike Hampton, Luis Castillo, Randy Winn, David Eckstein and Brad Ausmus.