The results of the 74th annual BBWAA Hall of Fame election are in, and four players will be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 29 as part of the Class of 2018: Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. More »
Alan Trammell takes a special tour through the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, taking a look at baseball's amazing history
Jim Thome joins the White Sox booth to discuss his induction into the Hall of Fame and the favorite moments of his career
Alan Trammell discusses what it means to him to be elected to the Hall of Fame alongside fellow Tiger Jack Morris
2018 Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thome takes a tour of Cooperstown before his enshrinement
Hall of Fame electee Jim Thome discusses how life has been since learning he would be inducted in 2018
Jack Morris enjoys a tour of the Hall of Fame and relishes how he's joining such a prestigious group when he gets inducted this summer
Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman are named as the newest members of the Hall of Fame in 2018
Chipper Jones receives the monumental phone call that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame Class of 2018
Vladimir Guerrero receives the call of his dreams, informing him that he's been elected to the Hall of Fame
Trevor Hoffman gets the call that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame Class of 2018 with 79.9 percent of the vote
Five-time All-Star Jim Thome gets the call that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame and rejoices with his loved ones
A look at the results of the BBWAA ballot for the Hall of Fame Class of 2018
Former Indians and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel calls in to congratulate Jim Thome for making the Baseball Hall of Fame
Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are announced as the newest electees of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Jack Morris and Alan Trammell embrace at the Winter Meetings after both getting elected into the Hall of Fame
Joe Posnanski joins MLB Now to discuss Jack Morris and Alan Trammell being elected into the Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson announces that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are elected to the Hall by the Modern Era Committee
Jack Morris reacts to his Hall of Fame selection and discusses his gratitude for those that helped him during his career
Alan Trammell joins MLB Tonight and shares his excitement and joy to be elected to the Hall of Fame
First-time nominees Jim Thome, Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel are among the 33 total players on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2018
Ken Rosenthal joins High Heat to discuss how Omar Vizquel and Jim Thome will be an intriguing litmus test for the 2018 Hall of Fame voters
The MLB Tonight panel discusses the notable first-time eligible players on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot that was announced on Monday
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez reflect on being inducted into the Hall of Fame and thank the influential people in their life
Bud Selig and John Schuerholz talk about the pride they feel being a part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig reflect on their journeys to the Hall of Fame
During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Tim Raines talks about being compared to fellow Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson during his career
Jeff Bagwell recalls the story of being traded for Larry Andersen during his Hall of Fame speech
Ivan Rodriguez shares a funny memory about Nolan Ryan teaching him English
Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown
John Schuerholz shares his admiration for Bobby Cox and the Braves organization
Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Tim Raines' Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown
Bud Selig discusses the startup and improvements of Major League Baseball Advanced Media
Jeff Bagwell discusses former teammate Craig Biggio and being in the Hall of Fame with him
Ivan Rodriguez reveals the origin of his nickname, Pudge, during his Hall of Fame speech
Tim Raines talks about winning the 1996 World Series with the New York Yankees during his Hall of Fame induction speech
Jeff Bagwell talks about a lesson he learned from his father to never quit anything, even as a dishwasher at Friendly's
Jeff Bagwell remembers former teammates who have passed and shares his memories of them
Jeff Bagwell recaps his speech in Cooperstown and how he's honored to be Hall of Famer
Ivan Rodriguez apologizes to Ken Griffey Jr. for an incident involving his then 2-year-old son at the All-Star Game
Commissioner of MLB Rob Manfred reads Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown
Tim Raines jokes about batting fifth, saying he feels he had the power and speed to do it
Jeff Bagwell reflects on the impact his father had on his love for baseball during his Hall of Fame speech
John Schuerholz reflects on his career, his obstacles and the many accomplishments over his life
Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Bud Selig's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown
Jeff Bagwell shares stories over his career with the Astros and the lessons he learned from his family as he is inducted into the Hall
Claire Smith discusses why the J.G. Spink Award is significant and thanks the Hall of Fame
2017 Hall of Famers Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines arrive in Cooperstown prior to their Hall of Fame inductions
The White Sox honor Tim Raines as he enters the Hall of Fame, having spent parts of five seasons in Chicago
Kathleen Lowenthal, stepdaughter of HOF inductee Bill King, is thankful to accept his award on his behalf
Fans get to watch visiting Hall of Famers ride down Main Street in Cooperstown for the Parade of Legends
2017 Hall of Famers Pudge Rodriguez and Tim Raines recap their day golfing in Cooperstown on the eve of their Hall of Fame inductions
Peter Gammons discusses the upcoming inductions of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame
Alyson Footer and Richard Justice preview the upcoming weekend in Cooperstown leading up to Sunday's Induction Ceremony
Look back at great moments from Hall of Fame Weekend in advance of the 2017 Hall of Fame induction
2017 Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines discusses attending the Hall of Fame induction ceremony as a inductee rather than a teammate
Nolan Ryan discusses Jeff Bagwell being a complete player on offense and defense
Mark DeRosa and Joe Magrane discuss how special a player Tim Raines was ahead of his Hall of Fame induction this weekend
2017 Hall of Fame inductee Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez joins MLB Central to discuss his emotions when he received the call to the Hall of Fame
The crew on MLB Central discusses the 10th anniversary of the 2007 Hall of Fame class
2017 Hall of Fame electee and Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig discusses his interest in baseball and how he got started on a HOF path
2017 Hall of Fame electee Jeff Bagwell talks about what it meant to him to spend his entire Major League career in Houston
2017 Hall of Fame electee John Schuerholz talks about how he was able to maintain success as a team president and general manager
Tim Raines talks with the media about his upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame class of 2017
Bob Uecker and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio discuss what it means to have Bud Selig inducted into the Hall of Fame
Ivan Rodriguez talks before the All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard, about Miami and being inducted into the Hall of Fame
Former Braves general manager and Vice Chairman John Schuerholz discusses being inducted into the Hall of Fame and his old team
Former big leaguers John Buck, Aaron Rowand, Ozzie Smith and Michael Cuddyer discuss the Hall of Fame Classic
2017 Hall of Fame electees Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez discuss their careers and being chosen for induction this July
2017 Hall of Famer Tim Raines joins MLB Central on Monday to talk about getting the call to the Hall, his career and new book
Hall of Fame electees Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez discuss who they would like to see join them in Cooperstown
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez discuss the mentors they had early on in their Hall of Fame careers
A behind-the-scenes look as Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines travel from their Hall of Fame news conference to the MLB Network
Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell looks back on how he came up with his authentic batting stance
Hall of Fame electee Tim Raines says he didn't know the sound of fellow electee Jeff Bagwell's voice until they reached the podium
Hall of Fame electee Tim Raines discusses going into Cooperstown as a member of the Montreal Expos
On High Heat, the Mad Dog and Bruce discuss the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot and debate on who has the best shot to make it
2017 Hall of Fame electee Ivan Rodriguez discusses being the first Puerto Rican-born first ballot Hall of Famer and representing his country
MLB Tonight talk about potential first ballot Hall of Famers and who will eventually make it to Cooperstown
MLB Network discusses the election of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Tim Raines discusses being the third Montreal Expo ever to be elected into the Hall of Fame
Jeff Bagwell is elected to Cooperstown as part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class
Ivan Rodriguez gets voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 2017 class
Tim Raines is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2017
Ivan Rodriguez discusses the importance of playing the majority of his career with the Texas Rangers
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice discusses the reasons why Jeff Bagwell was elected to the Hall of Fame
MLB.com's Richard Justice discusses Trevor Hoffman receiving 74.0% of the vote in his second year on the Hall of Fame ballot
The MLB Network crew discusses if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will ever get enough votes for Cooperstown
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice discusses Ivan Rodriguez's election on the first ballot to the Hall of Fame in 2017
Edgar Martinez discusses the 2017 Hall of Fame election class and offers his congratulations to Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez
Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez discusses coming up short in the 2017 Hall of Fame vote
The guys from MLB Network discuss Edgar Martinez's career after missing out on the Hall of Fame with 58.6 percent of the vote
Ivan Rodriguez talks about the joy of joining his favorite catcher, Reds' legend Johnny Bench, in the Hall of Fame
MLB.com columnist Paul Hagen discusses Vladimir Guerrero falling just short of being elected for the Hall of Fame
Ivan Rodriguez looks back on the moment he received the call that he had been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame
Despite not being elected to the Hall of Fame, Larry Walker reflects on the future as he still remains on the ballot
MLB.com's Alyson Footer is joined by Claire Smith, the first female recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award
Former Braves and Royals general manager John Schuerholz discusses how properly scouting and developing players will keep a team competitive
MLB.com's Alyson Footer, Tracy Ringolsby, Phil Rogers and Mark Bowman talk about the Hall of Fame career of John Schuerholz
Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and former Royals and Braves general manager John Schuerholz discuss being voted into the Hall of Fame
Bud Selig talks with MLB.com about his major achievements during his long tenure as the Commissioner
MLB.com's Michael Bauman, Paul Hagen and Richard Justice discuss the legacy of Bud Selig as he is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame
Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig discusses his election to the Hall of Fame
Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today's Game Era Committee
Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson announces longtime executive John Schuerholz and Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig as new Hall of Famers
On MLB Tonight, Peter Gammons discusses what made the combination of John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox so important to the success of the Braves
Below are the results of the Baseball Writers' Association of America vote to elect the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018, with vote totals and percentages. A total of 422 ballots were cast, with 317 required for election.
Chipper Jones: 410 votes (97.2%)
Vladimir Guerrero: 392 votes (92.9%)
Jim Thome: 379 votes (89.8%)
Trevor Hoffman: 337 votes (79.9%)
Edgar Martinez: 297 votes (70.4%)
Mike Mussina: 268 votes (63.5%)
Roger Clemens: 242 votes (57.3%)
Barry Bonds: 238 votes (56.4%)
Curt Schilling: 216 votes (51.2%)
Omar Vizquel: 156 votes (37.0%)
Larry Walker: 144 votes (34.1%)
Fred McGriff: 98 votes (23.2%)
Manny Ramirez: 93 votes (22.0%)
Jeff Kent: 61 votes (14.5%)
Gary Sheffield: 47 votes (11.1%)
Billy Wagner: 47 votes (11.1%)
Scott Rolen: 43 votes (10.2%)
Sammy Sosa: 33 votes (7.8%)
Andruw Jones: 31 votes (7.3%)
Jamie Moyer: 10 votes (2.4%)
Johan Santana: 10 votes (2.4%)
Johnny Damon: 8 votes (1.9%)
Hideki Matsui: 4 votes (0.9%)
Chris Carpenter: 2 votes (0.5%)
Kerry Wood: 2 votes (0.5%)
Livan Hernandez: 1 vote (0.2%)
Carlos Lee: 1 vote (0.2%)
Orlando Hudson: 0 votes
Aubrey Huff: 0 votes
Jason Isringhausen: 0 votes
Brad Lidge: 0 votes
Kevin Millwood: 0 votes
Carlos Zambrano: 0 votes
All candidates who received less than 5 percent of the vote on ballots cast will be removed from future BBWAA consideration.More »
Thirteen MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2018 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The results of the 74th BBWAA Hall of Fame election were revealed Wednesday on MLB Network, with Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman earning places in Cooperstown.
As many as five candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the 13 voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:
Barry M. Bloom
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Larry Walker
I've been voting since 1992, and this was my easiest and least controversial ballot. I knew this was going to be my group of 10 immediately after the 2017 election. Bonds and Clemens are gaining. Jones and Thome are first-ballot no-brainers. And I'm confident enough that Guerrero and Hoffman will make up the scant amount of votes they needed last year to get in. Martinez may make it as well. If not, he'll be right on the cusp for '19, his 10th and final year on the ballot. If we elect a record-tying five this year, it will go a long way to empty the ballot. It means that we will have elected 17 very worthy players to the Hall since '14. I'm very good with that.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome
I returned Bonds, Clemens, Guerrero, Mussina, Ramirez and Sheffield from last year's ballot, while Jones and Thome got my vote in their first year of eligibility. I voted for Martinez after leaving him off last year, not because I didn't feel he was worthy, but because of the 10-vote limit.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Larry Walker
I pledged last year that I would revisit the Walker debate, and even with some concerns about his road splits and the Colorado effect, I think as an all-around player (defense, baserunning, etc.), he is a worthy candidate. I also continue to vote for Martinez, which may seem like a contradiction because he was mostly a specialist (as a DH). But he was a dominant specialist, as was closer Hoffman, whose 601 saves are second only to Mariano Rivera. If I had a Pro Football Hall of Fame vote, I'd vote for kickers, too.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel
Guerrero confounded pitching staffs by hitting any pitch in any location. Thome and Jones were formidable as rookies and never changed. Covering Vizquel during his National League stint with the Giants prompted my vote for him. I still can't fathom Kent's lack of support, and I jumped to supporting Bonds and Clemens last year; their conviction in the court of public opinion isn't enough.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome, Larry Walker, Billy Wagner
There were some tough decisions filling out the last four spots on this ballot. And I hope Vizquel gets at least the 5 percent he needs to remain under consideration in 2019. But for me, the two first-time eligibles (Thome and Jones) and the two near-misses from last year (Hoffman and Guerrero) were no-brainers. And as I've said before, since nobody knows for sure who did or didn't use PEDs, that can't be used as a factor in voting.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome, Billy Wagner
These 10 were an easy call, but there are at least four other deserving players on the ballot. Bonds and Clemens were the best of their generation. Mussina and Schilling were dominant at a time when ballparks and strike zones got smaller and hitters got bigger. Guerrero, Martinez, Jones and Thome were good enough to be above the usual debate. Do closers belong in the Hall? That's the question with Hoffman and Wagner. If they belong, then these two should be in. My struggle was submitting a ballot without Walker, Rolen, Andruw Jones and Ramirez.
Jon Paul Morosi
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome, Larry Walker
The Hall ought to honor the greatest players of every generation, judged within the unique context of each era. And so I voted for Bonds and Clemens, just as I did in each of the previous two years. Walker vs. Vizquel was my major dilemma. Vizquel is a Hall of Famer, especially if one compares his career to that of Ozzie Smith, but he's early enough in his eligibility timeline that I wanted to prioritize Walker. Walker's seven Gold Glove Awards and 141 OPS+ (tied with Jones, ahead of Guerrero) show that there is little doubt as to his Cooperstown worthiness. And while the right-handers have different career profiles, Mussina and Schilling are Hall of Famers by virtue of their consistent excellence in a hitter-friendly era.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel
Jones, Thome and Vizquel were easy selections. I didn't want to miss Jones' or Thome's at-bats. Vizquel was so gifted athletically, he was someone I never wanted to miss playing shortstop. Guerrero is an add to my ballot after re-evaluating his numbers, while Bonds and Clemens are carryovers. To those who object, I feel my responsibility is to judge players in the context of their era and vote for the best players. Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in May 1998 is my favorite of all time, but that wasn't enough for me to check his name.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Scott Rolen, Jim Thome, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker
Rolen ranks 10th all-time among third basemen with 70.0 career WAR. Walker ranks 12th in WAR (72.6) among all-time right fielders. Those two candidates had to be on my ballot, and for the first time I omitted Hoffman, who is No. 11 on my top 20. His case is not heavily supported by newer analytics -- in stark contrast to next year's newly eligible candidate, Rivera. Saves mean less today, although they mattered when Hoffman closed. I would expand the ballot beyond the maximum 10 votes, and I also would tweak the 5 percent rule to prevent mistaken one-and-dones like Kenny Lofton, Jorge Posada and likely, Johan Santana.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome, Larry Walker
I voted for first-timers Jones and Thome without hesitation. I voted for Bonds and Clemens because I believe that they're two of the 25 greatest players in the game's history. I voted for Mussina and Schilling; their careers are massively underappreciated, and they both should have been first-ballot picks. Martinez is an all-time great hitter, Walker is one of the best all-around players and Guerrero was obviously great and might have been the most fun player of my lifetime. That left one spot, and numerous good choices for it. I went with Rolen, who is one of the 10 best third basemen ever, in large part because I believe strongly he should stay on the ballot.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Jim Thome, Larry Walker
Walker won't make it into the Hall of Fame, but he should. Too much is made about Coors Field, but he only had 31 percent of his career plate appearances at Coors Field, and his career road average is higher than 233 players in the Hall of Fame. He was the most complete player of his generation. I can't ignore Bonds and Clemens. They were dominant even before the suspected steroid era.
Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Larry Walker
Voting for Thome was a pleasure, as was covering him. I did it long enough to remember him as the Indians' third baseman. He wasn't bad, either, and was really good at first base when he moved across the diamond. He hit a Major League-record 13 walk-off home runs in his career and delivered an eighth-inning shot that allowed the White Sox to beat the Twins, 1-0, in the 2008 division tiebreaker. Thome and Jones may have been the least discussed candidates over the last couple of months, but we'll have plenty of time to dissect their legacies between now and the induction ceremony.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Scott Rolen, Jim Thome, Larry Walker
This is going to be a big class, but it is more troubling who won't get in. Mussina belongs in the Hall of Fame, Fred McGriff deserved more consideration and Wagner was Hoffman's equal as a closer.
Vote totals of the 13 MLB.com writers
With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Clemens, Guerrero, Jones, Thome, Martinez and Mussina received enough support -- appearing on a minimum of 10 of the 13 ballots -- from MLB.com writers, with Walker and Hoffman knocking at the door.
1. (tie) Vladimir Guerrero: 13More »
1. (tie) Chipper Jones: 13
1. (tie) Jim Thome: 13
4. (tie) Barry Bonds: 12
4. (tie) Roger Clemens: 12
6. (tie) Edgar Martinez: 10
6. (tie) Mike Mussina: 10
8. Larry Walker: 9
9. Trevor Hoffman: 8
10. Curt Schilling: 7
11. (tie) Scott Rolen: 4
11. (tie) Omar Vizquel: 4
13. (tie) Manny Ramirez: 2
13. (tie) Billy Wagner: 2
15. (tie) Jeff Kent: 1
15. (tie) Gary Sheffield: 1
Vladimir Guerrero wouldn't be denied for a second time after falling just short of Hall of Fame induction in his first year on the ballot.
Guerrero, one of the most electrifying and unconventional hitters of his generation, was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday after appearing on 92.9 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America electorate, clearing the 75-percent threshold required for election. He debuted on the ballot with 71.1 percent last year.
"I feel very happy, thanks to God," Guerrero said in Spanish during a conference call. "I want to thank everyone who voted for me. Last year I was happy when I came close, and this year I feel even happier for making it into the Hall of Fame."
Guerrero will join Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris in the Class of 2018, which will be formally inducted on July 29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Guerrero, 42, is the third player from the Dominican Republic to enter the Hall of Fame -- the first position player -- joining countrymen Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.
"I'm so proud to have influenced his life and also his career in baseball," Martinez, Guerrero's former Expos teammate, said on MLB Network. "I'm just like an older brother that feels really proud to have given a younger brother some advice, and the advice pretty much paid off big time. I'm extremely proud. I'm celebrating over here. The entire country is celebrating."
Guerrero played most of his 16 Major League seasons as a right fielder for the Expos and the Angels, though he also had stints with the Rangers and Orioles at the end of his career. Guerrero, who spent eight seasons in Montreal and six in Anaheim, said he will wait until Thursday to reveal which team he will represent in the Hall of Fame.
"It's hard, because I enjoyed all four teams that I played for," Guerrero said. "I think sometimes it's hard to pick a cap. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
The Expos have three players -- Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines -- who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame with their cap. The Angels have none.
A five-tool talent, Guerrero finished his career with a .318/.379/.553 slash line, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBIs, 2,590 hits and 1,328 runs scored. He had a cannon for an arm and was a significant basestealing threat early in his career, swiping 181 bags -- 40 in 2002 and 37 in '01. Guerrero's resume includes nine All-Star selections and eight Silver Slugger Awards.
After leaving Montreal to sign a free-agent deal with the Angels, Guerrero captured the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player Award, batting .337/.391/.598 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, 39 doubles and 15 stolen bases. Over the final month of that season, Guerrero hit .363/.424/.726 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs, propelling the Halos past the A's in the race for the AL West title.
"We are so excited for Vladdy and his family with today's announcement," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement. "I think that sentiment is not only from our organization, but is shared with his many teammates through the years, and perhaps more importantly, his countrymen in the Dominican Republic. His six years with the Angels was arguably the most impressive stretch of team success in club history. Vlad's contributions to that performance will forever make him one of the more popular men to ever wear an Angels uniform."
Gifted with elite hand-eye coordination and the temerity to swing at any pitch, Guerrero forged a reputation as the best bad-ball hitter in the game, even collecting hits on balls that had bounced in the dirt.
Mike Scioscia, who managed Guerrero during his tenure in Anaheim, described the Dominican slugger's strike zone as extending from his "nose to his toes, literally."
"I've never been around a player that took his 'A' swing so often and swung the bat so hard, but yet squared the ball up so consistently more than Vlad," Scioscia said Tuesday in an interview with MLB Network Radio. "This guy was a machine at home plate."
Born in Nizao, a town about 45 minutes outside of Santo Domingo, Guerrero grew up in extreme poverty, drinking from puddles as a child while living in a shack that lacked electricity and running water. He stopped going to school after the fifth grade and instead harvested vegetables in the fields. In his spare time, Guerrero played baseball.
In 1991, his older brother, Wilton, was signed by the Dodgers. Vladimir Guerrero also got a look at the Dodgers' academy, though the club ultimately passed. Still, his break came two years later, when he caught the eye of Expos scout Fred Ferreira, who decided to sign the 18-year-old for $2,000.
"I'm happy that they were the team that signed me out of the Dominican," Guerrero said of the Expos. "They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues."
Despite his free-swinging tendencies, Guerrero rose quickly through the Expos' farm system and reached the Majors in September 1996. He was joined in Montreal by his mother, Altagracia Alvino, who lived with Guerrero at each of his Major League stops and prepared home-cooked Dominican meals for her son and scores of other ballplayers.
After finishing sixth on the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year Award ballot, Guerrero broke out the following season, batting .324/.371/.589 with 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and 37 doubles for the 97-loss Expos. He was rewarded with a five-year, $28 million extension and continued to deliver for Montreal, batting a combined .326/.400/.602 and averaging 37 homers and 22 steals from 1999-2003.
Still, the Expos never made the playoffs in any of Guerrero's eight seasons in Montreal, and when the slugger hit free agency, he decided to sign a five-year, $70 million contract with the Angels. Guerrero's arrival helped spark a memorable run of success for the Halos, who reached the postseason in five of his six years in Anaheim. Over that stretch, Guerrero hit .319/.381/.546 with 173 homers. He remains the franchise's leader in batting average and ranks second in slugging percentage and sixth in home runs. Last summer, the Angels inducted Guerrero into their team's Hall of Fame.
"Vladdy was the most talented and exciting player of his generation. He was a fantastic teammate and a joy to play alongside," former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon said.
In 2010, Guerrero signed a one-year deal with the Rangers and became the club's designated hitter. He went on to hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, helping to spur Texas to its first World Series appearance.
"We didn't win the championship, but I was very happy with the year that I had there," Guerrero said. "In that moment, I was so happy that I threw a party in my hometown."
Guerrero capped his career with a final season in Baltimore, where he batted .290 with 13 home runs in 2011 before announcing his retirement from baseball.
While Guerrero will make history as the first Dominican hitter to enter the Hall of Fame, he doesn't expect to be the last.
"You always think that someone is going to enter before you, but I'm happy that I'm the third [Dominican] and the first position player," Guerrero said. "There have been so many Dominicans who have played in the big leagues, so I hope the number keeps growing soon with David Ortiz, [Adrian] Beltre and [Albert] Pujols. I'm happy that we can keep making our country proud."More »
ATLANTA -- Though he was certain he was going to receive the hallowed call, Chipper Jones tossed and turned as he experienced a restless night and attempted to calm the excitement he felt when he received confirmation he now has the distinction of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
"I knew today was going to be a day that could possibly change my life forever," Jones said. "You have a handful of instances where something happens that will change your life, with marriages and kids. But professionally, being drafted No. 1 overall in 1990 changed my life forever. Today was another instance where my life will never be the same."
As he was surrounded by friends and family members at his suburban Atlanta home, Jones received a call early Wednesday morning that informed him he had been elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. He proudly shared the moment with his mom, Lynne, who provided him his inner strength, and his father, Larry Wayne Sr., a devout Mickey Mantle fan who taught Chipper how to switch-hit at a young age and now has the honor of knowing his only son will forever be immortalized with Mantle and the game's other legends in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Shortly after receiving the call, Jones signed a pair of baseballs for Blondie (his mother's nickname) and Hawk (his father's nickname).
"I put their nicknames on it and said we did it and signed it 'HOF '18,'" Jones said. "It was a pretty special feeling."
Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were elected via the ballots cast by qualified Baseball Writers' Association of America members. The quartet will join Modern Baseball Era Committee electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell to form the Hall of Fame Class of 2018, which will be officially inducted during a July 29 ceremony in Cooperstown.
The only question about Jones' candidacy leading up to the announcement focused on how his vote total would relate to the highest in balloting history. He was included on 97.2 percent of the ballots, matching what his former Braves teammate Greg Maddux received in 2014. The only players to receive a higher percentage were Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3 percent), Tom Seaver (98.8), Nolan Ryan (98.8), Cal Ripken Jr. (98.5), George Brett (98.2), Ty Cobb (98.2), Hank Aaron (97.8), Tony Gwynn (97.6) and Randy Johnson (97.3).
Having worn No. 10 throughout the bulk of his career, Jones thought it was appropriate to now own the 10th-highest percentage in balloting history.
Jones' election extends what has recently been a nearly annual late July pilgrimage to Cooperstown for the Braves organization. He now shares the honor that within the past four years was bestowed upon some of his former teammates -- Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz -- his former manager Bobby Cox and his former general manager John Schuerholz.
Like Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, Jones was elected in his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, making the Braves the first team in history with four first-ballot teammates who spent 10-plus years with the same club.
"For us to have that little fraternity in a little piece of heaven up there in Cooperstown, New York, it's something that we can and should be very proud of, because we did an awful lot of winning during the '90s and early 2000s in Atlanta," Jones said.
While playing the entirety of his professional career with the Braves, Jones had a .303 batting average with a .401 on-base percentage, a .529 slugging percentage, 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs and 1,619 runs. He earned eight All-Star selections, garnered the 1999 National League MVP Award and proudly retired having struck out fewer times (1,409) than he walked (1,512).
Jones joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott and Ted Williams as one of only six players in MLB history to record a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage, 450 home runs, 1,500 walks, 1,600 RBIs and 1,600 runs.
As a young child, Jones used to sneak into his father's closet and grab a Mantle bat. Though he didn't have the strength to swing it, the presence in his hand provided him a sense of what he wanted and needed to do to realize that dream of becoming a Major Leaguer.
Selected by the Braves to begin the 1990 MLB Draft, Jones joins Griffey as the Hall of Famers who were a first overall Draft pick. He debuted during the final month of the 1993 season and missed the following season with the first of two torn left anterior cruciate ligaments that would interrupt his career. Jones began his reign as the Braves' starting third baseman at the start of the '95 season, which culminated with Atlanta capturing its only World Series title.
With Jones as a regular in their lineup, the Braves won 11 consecutive division titles from 1995-2005, three NL pennants and that lone World Series championship. He homered twice during his postseason debut (Game 1 of the 1995 NL Division Series against the Rockies) and ended up producing an .864 OPS over 93 postseason games.
While playing at the Double-A level, Jones was asked to be present at an autograph signing event that featured Mantle. He nervously rehearsed what he would say and then found himself literally speechless when he was introduced to the switch-hitting Yankees legend.
Twenty-five years later, Jones proudly holds the honor of ranking third all-time among switch-hitters in home runs, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He epitomized consistency as he slashed .304/.391/.498 against left-handed pitchers and .303/.405/.541 against right-handers.
"Today has just been a blur," Jones said. "I still can't believe that it's happened."More »
NEW YORK -- He will be the first Angel in baseball heaven. He will be the first Dominican Republic-born position player to enter the hallowed Hall of Cooperstown. Vladimir Guerrero's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29 will mean so much to so many, but first and foremost it will mean the wildest dreams of that young boy who played "plaquita" on the streets of Nizao has had his wildest dreams come true.
"I'm forever thankful," Guerrero said through interpreter Jose Mota, "for this beautiful moment."
Guerrero made it clear at Thursday's Hall of Fame news conference at the St. Regis New York -- the first public appearance of the Baseball Writers' Association of America's loaded 2018 class that also features Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman -- that he shares this moment with each of the four teams he played with during his magnificent Major League career. The Angels, Expos, Rangers and Orioles are forever a part of him.
But there can be just one team on Guerrero's bronze cap, and the only unsettled intrigue surrounding this setting was whether that cap would be that of the Expos or that of the Halos.
Having come up as a member of the Expos, established himself as an All-Star with the Expos and logged more games with Montreal than any of the four clubs he played for, this was no easy decision for the 42-year-old Guerrero. But the opportunity to be the first to represent the Angels team where he experienced tremendous personal and team success was one Guerrero could not turn down.
"I know what it represented," Guerrero said. "What it represents now and all the winning that happened while I was with the Angels."
In six seasons with the Angels after signing as a free agent before the 2004 season, Guerrero was a part of five American League West title clubs, including the '09 team that reached the AL Championship Series against the Yankees. He also had the greatest individual honor of his playing career -- the 2004 AL Most Valuable Player Award.
Guerrero had a .319/.381/.546 line with 173 homers and 616 RBIs in 846 games with the Halos. In eight seasons with the Expos, he slashed .323/.390/.588 with 234 homers and 702 RBIs in 1,004 games. He was a four-time All-Star for both clubs, but never reached the postseason with the Expos, who signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 1993.
"Those are seven years in Montreal I'll never forget," Guerrero said. "Very special years for me. Then going to the Angels, getting a taste of winning and the way Montreal prepared me for that. I toiled with this for a long time, because the Canadian people mean a whole lot."
Guerrero, who played one season apiece in Baltimore and Texas, could have joined Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines as the only players with Montreal caps on their plaques in the Hall.
But to say the Angels' organization is thankful Guerrero went another route is an understatement.
"I look at Vladdy and that reward for all that hard work," Angels owner Arte Moreno said. "I look at the fans, because they got to see a great player -- and we've had some really good players come through Anaheim. Obviously Rod Carew was there, Nolan Ryan was there for a long time. There were a bunch of really good players. But to see someone wear our colors [entering the Hall] is a proud moment for our fans."
Moreno said he made it a point not to have any discussion with Guerrero about the plaque decision, understanding how special his Montreal career was to him.
"We had an opportunity to get him in '04, and he just lit it up for us," Moreno said. "Every night. People loved to watch him play. I had scouts that would tell me, 'I'd pay to see this guy play. He's just so electric.'"
A five-tool talent with an incredible arm in right field and the ability to drive even bouncing balls in the dirt, Guerrero was considered one of the game's most entertaining players wherever he roamed. That he'll be forever identified as an Angel is one thing, but his distinction as just the third Dominican-born player to reach the Hall -- pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez were the first and second, respectively -- is not to be overlooked, either. Evidence of what Guerrero means to the Latin American community, at large, was on display at the news conference, where a sizable throng of Spanish-language reporters ensured Guerrero received more questions than any of the other Hall of Famers.
"It is why I still live in the same village that saw me come into the world," Guerrero said. "I want to be with the people who saw me grow up and share the success that I've had with those people. To this day, those are my people, and that's what keeps me grounded."
Guerrero relayed how baseball shaped his life, how his earliest Minor League days taught him the importance of being on time, how proud he was to learn how to cook for himself and to make the healthy food choices that allowed him to have a long and productive career and how much he'll always appreciate Felipe Alou for giving him his first everyday opportunity in the big leagues. He even sought to set the record straight that the long-told story about him wearing mismatched shoes to his tryout with the Expos was "not right."
Mostly, though, Guerrero expressed gratitude for the recognition of the impact his incredible career -- one in which he became just the sixth player in history (joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial) with at least 449 home runs and a career batting average of .318 or higher -- had on the game of baseball.
"The one thing that came to mind after I retired was knowing when I was going to appear on the ballot," he said. "I was excited I appeared last year. To be elected in my second year means a whole lot."More »
CLEVELAND -- When Jim Thome extended his right arm and pointed his bat toward the mound, settling into his iconic stance, it served as a warning. The pitcher knew what could come next, should the baseball that spun from his fingertips stray from its intended path.
For more than two decades, Thome made pitchers pay with his prolific displays of power and keen eye, becoming one of nine hitters in baseball's storied history to launch at least 600 home runs and the Indians' all-time leader with 337 shots. Now he can point his bat toward the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
On Wednesday, Thome was voted into the Class of 2018 by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, alongside Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. That quartet of all-time greats will be joined by Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who were voted in by the Modern Baseball Era Committee, for the induction ceremony on July 29 in Cooperstown.
"This is a day I don't think any player can ever imagine happening," Thome said. "It's a special day in all of our lives."
Thome surpassed the required 75 percent threshold by being named on 379 ballots, accounting for 89.8 percent of the total ballots. That Thome spent the latter third of his 22-year career mostly as a designated hitter did not prove to be much of an obstacle for the voting body, which instead recognized him as one of the game's premier home run hitters.
Thome is the first player voted into the Hall by the BBWAA to have the Indians as his primary team since 1976 (Bob Lemon), and he gives Cleveland 13 Hall of Famers overall.
Sandy Alomar Jr., who roomed with Thome during Spring Training early in their careers with the Indians, was thrilled for his former teammate.
"You know how there's a saying about good guys finish last?" Alomar said. "I'm so glad that a great, genuine person like Jim Thome is in the Hall of Fame. He was such a hard worker and a great teammate. He's the most genuine guy I've ever seen. It's good to see people like that reach their goals and the Hall of Fame. And also have a guy from those '90s Indians to be in it. We had such great teams in that era."
Beyond center field at Progressive Field in Cleveland, a statue of Thome -- erected in 2014 with his likeness frozen in time with his bat pointed forward -- rests near the landing spot of his 511-foot home run on July 3, 1999. As that ball bounced in the direction of Eagle Avenue, Tom Hamilton, the Indians' longtime radio voice, boomed: "That will take two tape measures!"
By that point, Thome had established himself as one of baseball's top power threats -- a skill he carried forward in stints with the Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins and Orioles through the 2012 season. Thome was a five-time All-Star (three times for the Indians, and once each for Philadelphia and Chicago), a one-time Silver Slugger recipient and he finished in the top 10 in MVP Award balloting four times.
Thome ended with 612 home runs (eighth all-time), 1,747 walks (seventh) and a .956 OPS (18th). He ranks fifth in career at-bats per home run at 13.76, trailing only Mark McGwire (10.61), Babe Ruth (11.76), Barry Bonds (12.92) and Giancarlo Stanton (13.4). Thome, Bonds and Ruth are the only hitters in MLB history to have amassed at least 600 home runs and 1,500 walks in a career.
Thome hit an MLB-record 13 walk-off home runs, launched nine grand slams, had 17 postseason blasts, homered in 38 stadiums and took 403 pitchers deep during his career.
That Thome reached those heights is incredible, given the awkward, tense swing that he featured as a skinny 19-year-old third baseman in Cleveland's farm system. He was a quiet, polite kid from Peoria, Ill., and was taken by the Indians in the 13th round of the 1989 Draft out of Illinois Central College. Thome was a country boy with a strong work ethic, but a 600-homer icon? No one saw that coming.
The blueprint was there, though.
Alomar remembered his first impression of Thome during Spring Training before the 1990 season.
"Jimmy was taking BP with us and I was like, 'Man, this guy hits the ball hard.' And he hit the ball to all fields," Alomar said. "He looked like he had an idea at such a young age of how to hit."
How Thome's famous stance -- one imitated by kids in Cleveland and throughout the country in the 1990s -- came about is the stuff of legends.
As the story goes, Thome and his Triple-A teammates were watching "The Natural" one day, when Charlie Manuel -- then a manager in Cleveland's system -- walked in and told them to turn the TV off. The players insisted on watching a little longer and, when Manuel looked up and saw Roy Hobbs, the movie's fictional protagonist, point his bat toward the pitcher, the manager obliged.
Manuel had been searching for some kind of mechanism for Thome to use at the start of his swing to stay relaxed at the plate. He suggested that Thome try Hobbs' approach, and the stance was born. Thome never shattered any light standards, but he soon began morphing into the type of hitter that Manuel envisioned. It was around that same time that Manuel had Thome shift into a more open position with his feet.
"It was very important," Manuel said on MLB Network. "And let me tell you something, once we did that, he started hitting balls all over the yard. He started pulling balls strong and he also started hitting hard the other way, too."
When the Indians created Thome's statue, the slugger said one of Manuel should be built alongside it. Theirs was a special bond that spanned several years through Thome's career.
"I would not be here if it wasn't for Charlie," Thome said. "I know he's very humble and he'll say, 'Hey, the players got to ultimately do it,' but I will tell you, there was many, many days that he pounded his fist, wanting to keep me at the big league level. There were days when I was in Triple-A that he told me I wasn't ready to go to the big leagues. So from that point, I knew and trusted him like a father."
During the 1990s, Thome was a part of the Indians' core that helped the franchise capture six division titles and reach two World Series (1995 and '97). After the 2002 season, though, Thome became the top free-agent hitter on the market and explored his options, eventually signing a six-year, $85 million contract with Philadelphia. For the Phillies, Thome was the biggest free-agent acquisition since Pete Rose in '78. For Indians fans, it was incredibly tough news to swallow, especially after Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle had also left via free agency before him.
Thome led the National League in homers (47) in 2003, finished fourth in voting for the NL MVP Award and went on to belt 89 homers in a two-year span for his new club. Prior to the '06 season, the Phils dealt Thome to the White Sox, where he spent four years and now works as a special assistant to the general manager. Before retiring, Thome had a second stint with both Cleveland ('11) and Philadelphia ('12).
The Indians gave Thome a fitting send-off in his final home game in a Cleveland uniform. In the ninth inning against the Twins on Sept. 25, 2011, Lonnie Chisenhall moved to left from third base, and former Tribe manager Manny Acta sent Thome to the hot corner -- where his Indians career began -- for one pitch.
Being able to return to Cleveland, and be welcomed back by fans who were upset to see him walk away so many years earlier, meant a lot to Thome.
"Jimmy was so nervous about coming back," Alomar said. "When people came out and stood up and gave him an ovation, that was an incredible feeling for everybody, especially for people who were around for those times and knew what we went through in development, going from losing 100 games to winning 100. All of that, it was just a lot of hard work for growth as a unit, and he was one of the main pieces."
On Aug. 2, 2014, Thome signed an honorary one-day contract with the Indians, so he could officially retire as a member of the organization. That was the same day that his 12-foot, bronze statue was unveiled at Progressive Field, where Thome is part of the team's Hall of Fame.
Thome is no longer just an Indians great, though. He can now be called a Hall of Famer.
"Walking through the front door gives you chills," Thome said of going to Cooperstown. "I think the Hall of Fame is so magical."More »
In 1990, the Braves had the first overall selection in the Draft, and they were prepared to use it on Todd Van Poppel. The Martin High School (Arlington, Texas) right-hander made it clear he would not sign with a franchise that was regularly losing more than 90 games a season.
So Atlanta went instead with another high school player: shortstop Larry "Chipper" Jones from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. The rest is history, and Jones just joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only other No. 1 overall Draft pick to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
The Draft began in 1965, and it was until 2016 that a No. 1 overall pick made it to Cooperstown. With Jones, we've now had two in three years, so now that the trend has begun, who might be the next to do it?
Here are the top six contenders and the year of their No. 1 overall selection:
1. Joe Mauer (2001)
The Twins' five-time All-Star enters his 15th season with the club, coming off his best OPS+ (116) season since 2013. Although he has been a primary first baseman since the '13 conversion, one look at catcher in the all-time JAWS and WAR rankings yields a resounding "yes." Mauer ranks in the top eight for both, with only Hall of Famers ahead of him. Being a one-team lifer only enhances one's candidacy.
2. Bryce Harper (2010)
At the age of 25, the Nationals superstar already has five All-Star selections, one National League Most Valuable Player Award, 150 homers, 421 RBIs, 785 hits, a 140 OPS+ and a 26.1 WAR. Just as importantly, Washington has finished first or second in all six of his first big league seasons, a sign of his impact. It remains to be seen whether the Nats can negotiate a contract extension or whether he will test free agency next offseason, but the road to Cooperstown is well-paved so far.
3. Alex Rodriguez (1993)
He would be a unanimous first-ballot pick in 2022, of course, if not for the off-field matter. If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens continue to struggle on the ballot due to alleged abuse of performance-enhancing drugs before the MLB and MLB Players Association instituted their Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program, then it is hard to imagine better support for a three-time AL MVP Award winner who was suspended after that program came about and missed all of '14 as a result. Then again, Rodriguez has expressed remorse (again) and not only became cooperative but also a friend to baseball and a popular Emmy-winning broadcast analyst who smooches J-Lo on the Kiss Cam. Times are changing. Who knows?
4. Carlos Correa (2012)
The sample size is really too small to project higher after just three years, two of which were partial due to a midseason callup in 2015 and a thumb injury that caused him to play in just 109 regular-season games last season. But to say that the Houston shortstop has made the most of his time would be an understatement, highlighted by his key role in a World Series championship. He looks like a Hall of Famer.
5. Stephen Strasburg (2009)
How are we going to measure starting pitchers a decade from now, when the 200-inning annual watermark is a relic? That unknown will be a factor for a guy like him. The first of back-to-back No. 1 overall picks by Washington, the 29-year-old right-hander from San Diego State does not have Harper's Hall projection, but he could still make a legit case. He had a career-best 2.52 ERA and led MLB with a 2.72 FIP in 2017.
6. David Price (2007)More »
The Red Sox left-hander and five-time All-Star would need to get back on track in a hurry. Once a regular in AL Cy Young Award conversation, he started 11 games in 2017 and is now with his fourth team. Price threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings of relief against Houston in the last AL Division Series, and he is listed as No. 2 in Boston's rotation behind Chris Sale.
SAN DIEGO -- In his remarkable 18-year career as one of the best relief pitchers in baseball history, Trevor Hoffman racked up 601 saves. He slammed the door on yet another milestone Wednesday: a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hoffman's third year on the ballot proved a charm. He appeared on 79.9 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- a 5.9 percent boost from last year's results and well above the 75 percent threshold required for election.
Along with Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero -- who were also elected on Wednesday -- Hoffman will be feted during a July 29 induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., that also will include Modern Baseball Era Committee electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.
"It's hard to describe the emotions that flood you right away," Hoffman said. "I know it's a very standard line, but so many things go through you. You think of your early days in the game, you think of parts of your career, you understand what you put in on a daily basis. To be sitting at this stage, seven years after you retire, it just comes full circle. It's the cherry on top of a sundae."
Hoffman learned of the news in a phone call Wednesday afternoon, prior to the official announcement. He celebrated briefly with his family at his Del Mar home, before heading to Petco Park for a news conference. On Thursday, Hoffman will head to New York to meet with media at 3 p.m. ET. It will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com.
"It was awesome to have family around," Hoffman said. "… We made it a little bit bigger today, with all the family and extended family. We were maybe hedging our bets a little bit. But the disappointment last year is last year. I couldn't be more excited, humbled by the process."
Hoffman will presumably become the third player to don a Padres cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, joining Dave Winfield and former teammate Tony Gwynn. Hoffman paused during his news conference Wednesday to note, of the late Gwynn, "I wish he was here to share this moment."
Drafted by the Reds as a shortstop from the University of Arizona in 1989, Hoffman made his career-altering move to the mound two years later. "Career survival," Hoffman called it, after he batted .227 with 55 errors in two pro seasons as an infielder. He broke into the Majors with the Marlins in 1993, but he was traded to the Padres midway through his first season.
"What he became really changed the organization and the future of the franchise," said former Padres executive Randy Smith, who sent Gary Sheffield to the Marlins for Hoffman and two other prospects. "He's a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word."
Hoffman spent 16 years with San Diego, before he headed to Milwaukee in 2009 to finish his career.
And what a career it was.
In 2006, Hoffman surpassed Lee Smith for Major League Baseball's all-time saves record. He would later become the first pitcher in history to reach the 500- and 600-save milestones. Hoffman's 601 saves are second only to Mariano Rivera, a surefire Hall of Famer himself and the only pitcher to have since joined Hoffman in those exclusive clubs.
Among relievers with at least 1,000 innings, Hoffman ranks second in save percentage (88.8), eighth in ERA (2.87), fourth in ERA+ (141), second in opponents' batting average (.211), second in WHIP (1.06) and first in strikeout rate (25.8).
Hoffman clearly relished the role of pitching in the ninth inning of close games, and the fans in San Diego adored him for it. AC/DC's "Hells Bells" played every time he entered a home game in San Diego, and it quickly became an anthem for Padres fans. (Fittingly, Hoffman entered his news conference Wednesday with "Hells Bells" playing in the background.)
"I couldn't have imagined being in a different role," Hoffman said. "There's nothing better than flying those doors open, hearing some cool music, getting the fans riled up and having that home cooking to go out and get things done. It's a great role. It's something I cherished."
Hoffman's brother Glenn serves as the Padres' third-base coach and spent nine seasons as a big league infielder. He was on hand for Wednesday's celebration (and even prank-dialed his brother twice to ease some of the tension in the room, while the family waited for the phone call).
If anyone understands Trevor's relationship with San Diego, it's Glenn, who was quick to note that Wednesday's announcement was a victory for the city, too.
"San Diego is his city and his town," Glenn Hoffman said. "The people here love him. … And he's built that relationship to where they can celebrate, too. They can go to New York, and they've got something to celebrate."
Indeed, Trevor Hoffman is perhaps as revered as any living San Diego sports figure and has already been enshrined in the Padres Hall of Fame and the city's sports Hall of Fame. Come July, he'll add another Hall to the list when he receives baseball's highest honor.
In many ways, the National Baseball Hall of Fame voting this year went exactly as you would have expected. Ever since Ryan Thibodaux started the Tracker, compiling public ballots -- he collected 246 of them, which is 58 percent of all the votes cast -- it has been fairly easy to predict who will make the Hall of Fame.
We knew that Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero would get elected by a comfortable margin. All three were polling higher than 90 percent on the Tracker, so they were virtual locks for election. And all three were elected easily, well above the 75-percent threshold necessary.
Jones, 410 votes, 97.2 percent
That is the 11th-highest percentage in history, just barely behind Greg Maddux, and just ahead of Mike Schmidt.
Guerrero, 392 votes, 92.9 percent
This was a huge leap for Guerrero in his second year on the ballot; he fell 15 votes shy of induction last year. His percentage jumped more than 20 percent.
Thome, 379 votes, 89.8 percent
MLB Network insider Tom Verducci points out that Thome becomes just the third first baseman to get elected on the first ballot, joining Willie McCovey and Eddie Murray. It's a cool fact and is technically correct, but it's a little bit misleading. Lou Gehrig was elected by special election, so he went in before his first ballot. Ernie Banks and Frank Thomas each played more than 40 percent of their games at first base, and they were both elected on the first ballot.
Those three were certainties. Then there were two players who were above the 75 percent threshold on the Tracker, but just barely. Thing is, now that Thibodaux has been doing this tracking for a few years, we generally know how the private balloters think. They tend to be focused less on advanced statistics and more on traditional things like wins, saves, home runs, Gold Gloves, etc.
This boded well for Trevor Hoffman and his 601 saves, and as in the past, his private ballot vote (81.8 percent) was higher than his public vote (78.5 percent).
Hoffman, 337 votes, 79.9 percent
Hoffman becomes only the second pitcher -- after Bruce Sutter -- to make the Hall of Fame without starting one game. He was the purest of closers; only Mariano Rivera, who should be elected next year, saved more games than Hoffman's 601 and finished more games than Hoffman's 856. Hoffman fell just five votes short of the Hall last year.
While the private ballots were expected to come in for Hoffman, history also showed they would probably not come in for Edgar Martinez. He was at 77.2 percent on the Tracker, which suggested he might have a chance to sneak in. Not this year -- only 60.8 percent of the private ballots went his way, and as such he fell 20 votes short.
Martinez, 297 votes, 70.4 percent
It has been a long and exhausting uphill climb for Martinez, who is trying to become the first player elected to the Hall of Fame who was a designated hitter more than 60 percent of the time. Martinez hovered between 25 percent and 37 percent for the first six years he was on the ballot, and only lately has he made a move. His 12 percent jump this year bodes very well for his chances next year, his last on the ballot.
* * *
Mike Mussina was one of the winners on this year's ballot. It has taken a little while for the Baseball Writers' Association of America to warm up to his case. His 270 wins are not quite the 300 that Hall of Fame voters love. Mussina didn't quite reach 3,000 strikeouts. He did not win a Cy Young Award.
Mussina came on the ballot with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Roger Clemens was already on there; Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz joined the ballot a year later. Mussina was swamped. He got less than 25 percent of the vote each of the first two years.
But Mussina's case has been gaining steam and he took another step forward this year as his vote percentage jumped more than 10 points, all the way up to 63.5 percent. It's a strange concept that players can gain so much support having done absolutely nothing to improve their careers, but it has been this way since the start. At 64 percent and five years left on the ballot, Mussina is a virtual lock to get in. The only question is how long it will take.
* * *
Mussina's right-handed pitching counterpart, Curt Schilling, had another rough year. In Moose's first three years on the ballot, Schilling had the higher percentage. The narrative seemed to be that while their cases were quite similar, Schilling's postseason heroics made him the slightly better Hall of Fame candidate.
That turned around last year when Mussina made a nice gain and Schilling, probably because he offended voters with some of his comments and social-media posts, lost support. Schilling gained back a little of that support this year, but his 51.2 percent was still below what he had in 2016. There is now a sizable gap between Mussina and Schilling, with the two most controversial players on the ballot stuck between them.
* * *
When Hall of Fame vice chairman and legendary second baseman Joe Morgan sent out his letter to voters petitioning us to not vote for suspected steroid users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, I wrote that it would all but end their chances to ever be elected by the BBWAA. People have strongly disagreed with that prediction, but I'm sticking with it. The issue isn't that I think Morgan's letter will change many minds. I believed that it would stop the momentum that Bonds and Clemens had been building over the last couple of years. And it has.
Bonds got 195 votes in 2016 and 238 votes in '17. Clemens went from 199 to 239. A 40-plus vote gain in one year is huge; if they could have had a similar bump this year, they would have put themselves in excellent position to get into the Hall of Fame over the next four years.
Instead, they made no movement at all. Bonds got exactly the same number of votes this year as last year. Clemens got three new votes. There were 20 fewer voters this year, so their percentages inched up a bit, but the only way they can make any real ground is by changing minds. I think the Morgan letter blunted that, as intended.
There are those who still think that Bonds and Clemens will make a real push toward 75 percent over the next four years. I just don't see it.
* * *
Another big winner on this ballot: Shortstop Omar Vizquel. He debuted at an impressive 37 percent. In recent years, Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage and Sutter all debuted with less than 37 percent and eventually were elected to the Hall of Fame.
The voters clearly were impressed with Vizquel's defense -- he won 11 Gold Gloves -- and his 2,877 hits. What's unclear is why voters were so much less impressed by Andruw Jones, who won 10 Gold Gloves as the pre-eminent defensive center fielder of his time and hit more than 400 home runs. Jones got just 7.3 percent of the vote, though that is above the 5 percent necessary to get back on the ballot next year.
* * *
Moving forward: Larry Walker, Fred McGriff and Billy Wagner
It was a good vote for Walker, who jumped 12 percentage points up to 34.1 percent. Walker only has two years left on the ballot, so it will be tough for him to get all the way to 75 percent, but with Guerrero off the ballot, Walker should be the most prominent outfielder not connected to PEDs for those two years. So he might move up a lot.
McGriff only went up a couple of percentage points to 23.2 percent. Next year is the last year for him on the BBWAA ballot, which is probably good for him. McGriff stands an excellent chance of being elected by the Today's Game Committee.
Wagner only moved up one percentage point; it remains baffling how there could be such a perception gap between him and Hoffman. The news only gets worse for Wagner next year when Rivera will be on the ballot. Rivera's career was so much better than any closer in baseball history that he might set a different standard in the voters' minds.
Moving backward: Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa
Kent remains a contentious case. He hit more home runs than any second baseman in baseball history, and he was outspoken about the need for PED testing. But Kent's vote total has basically stayed in place for five years now. He dropped two points to 14.5 percent.
When Morgan wrote his letter, it was assumed -- with good reason -- that his main targets were Bonds and Clemens. But the other three players most notably connected to PEDs (Ramirez, Sheffield and Sosa) all lost votes. Sosa is down to 7.8 percent and, despite hitting more than 600 home runs, he is in danger of falling off the ballot.
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It's always fun to see who among the down-ballot candidates received support. Jamie Moyer did much better than expected, getting 10 votes, the same number as two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. All 10 of Moyer's votes came from the 176 private ballots.
Johnny Damon, who was a threat to get 3,000 hits until his career ended abruptly, got eight votes. Hideki Matsui, who starred in both Japan and America, got four votes. Chris Carpenter and Kerry Wood received two votes each. Livan Hernandez and Carlos Lee each got a vote.
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There will be at least four very interesting newcomers on next year's ballot. The Great Mariano leads the way, and he will likely become the first relief pitcher to be elected on the first ballot.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay will come on the ballot, and it will be fascinating to see how much support he gets, especially after two-time Cy Young Award winner Santana got just 2.4 percent of the vote. Halladay's career was considerably longer than Santana's; he made 100 more starts and won 203 games to Santana's 139. He should do well.
Todd Helton will be another compelling Hall of Fame candidate. He hit .316/.414/.539, is 19th on the all-time list with 592 doubles, and is top 50 in extra-base hits, runs created and slugging percentage. But, alas, Helton will fight what Walker has had to fight -- the perception that his greatness was an illusion of his home ballpark, Coors Field.
Finally, there will be those who will push the case for pitcher Andy Pettitte, who won 256 regular-season games, 19 more in the postseason and built up a similar bulldog reputation as new Hall of Famer Jack Morris.More »
SEATTLE -- Edgar Martinez fell just short of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, but if history holds true, the former Mariners standout now stands in strong position to earn the call to Cooperstown next January in his final year on the ballot.
Martinez, who is about to begin his third year as hitting coach for the only team he played for in his 18-year career, was named on 70.4 percent of the 422 ballots cast by Baseball Writers' Association of America voters, as announced Wednesday.
"Even though I didn't make it this year, getting 70 percent is a big improvement, and all I can think right now is it's looking good for next year," Martinez said. "It would have been great to get in, but it looks good for next year."
While four of his peers -- Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman -- garnered the necessary 75 percent for induction into baseball's most prestigious club, Martinez wound up just on the outside in his ninth year of eligibility.
But in the past 22 years, all 13 players who received 68.3 percent or more of the vote without being elected wound up being inducted the following year. Overall, since Hall of Fame voting began in 1936, there have been 29 players who fell between 70-74.9 percent, and all of them eventually wound up in Cooperstown.
Of that group of 29 in the 70-plus category, 24 were elected the next year, including Hoffman and Guerrero this year. Another, Jim Bunning, took two years to get in after first reaching 70 percent in 1987. Orlando Cepeda (1994) and Nellie Fox (1985) were in their final year of eligibility when they reached 70-plus percent, but wound up being added later by the Veterans Committee.
Red Ruffing twice hit the 70-plus percent mark, in 1964 and '67. But he took the unusual path of getting into the Hall via a "runoff election" in 1967, when a since-abandoned rule called for BBWAA voters to hold a second election between the top two finishers in any year when no one reached 75 percent.
Frank Chance also cracked the 70-percent mark in 1945, then dropped below it in his final year on the ballot in '46 before being added later by the Veterans Committee.
What it all adds up to is the fact that every player in Major League history who reached 70 percent voting at some point is in the Hall except for Martinez, and his path should be clearer next year now that the BBWAA has elected a record 16 players over the past five years.
Among next year's additions, Mariano Rivera figures as a strong first-ballot inductee, while Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte and the late Roy Halladay likely will draw considerable support. But Martinez now has elevated to the top returner and is riding considerable momentum.
After being named on 36.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2010, those numbers hovered at 32.9, 36.5, 35.9, 25.2 and 27.0 until trending upward to 43.4 in 2016, 58.6 last year and now 70.4.
"At that time [when I was in the mid-20 range], I thought I'd never get to this point," Martinez said. "It is encouraging to see 70 percent going into my final year. I just feel I still have a good chance. In 2014, I didn't think I'd be at this point right now."
Voters appear to have opened up more to the notion of electing players who performed primarily at designated hitter as well as how strongly his imposing .312/.418/.515 career line and 147 OPS+ stack up historically.
"There's more information out there now that writers can look at in terms of how all different stats can impact a team," he said. "I think it has improved my case a lot."
Martinez also has benefited from a strong push from the Mariners as well as some writers who've taken up his cause.
Now he's just looking for one final push over the top, and it will need to come in his final year on the ballot.
Former Mariners shortstop Omar Vizquel drew 37 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot, while venerable lefty Jamie Moyer earned 2.4 percent vote and won't appear on the ballot next year.
Martinez played with Vizquel from 1989-93 in Vizquel's first five seasons in the Majors and believes the defensive wizard deserves his own plaque in Cooperstown some day.
"He got 2,800 hits and 11 Gold Gloves," Martinez said. "To me, it doesn't get better than that. He was a great player that played the game for a long time. He belongs. He doesn't have the big numbers like a lot of home runs or RBIs, but defense is important, too, and he was consistent on both sides of the field."More »
Four new players are headed to Cooperstown.
When the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced the results of its 2018 ballot on Wednesday night, first-timers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome had cleared the 75-percent threshold needed for induction, along with ballot holdovers Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman.
This was only the fifth time in 74 BBWAA elections that the writers elected four or more players. However, it was the second time in the past four years, as Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz all gained entry to Cooperstown in 2015.
Since the BBWAA elected no players in '13, it has picked up the pace with 16 over the past five years, which is a new record for any five-year span. This is only the second time -- joining 1951-56 -- that the writers have elected multiple players in at least five straight cycles.
With Jones and Thome cruising into the Hall on their initial try, there now have been 54 first-ballot inductees -- but 10 in just the past five years. Previously, there were 10 from 2000-13.
Here are five additional facts to know about each of the newly minted Hall of Famers:
• Jones' 468 career home runs rank third all-time for a switch-hitter, behind only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. He smacked 389 of those as a third baseman, which ranks fourth at that position, behind Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and the still-active Adrian Beltre.
• Jones finished with a career slash line of .303/.401/.529, and his 10,614 plate appearances are the sixth most for any player with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. Only Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Mel Ott, and Babe Ruth had more, and none of those five played past 1963. Jones is the only switch-hitter in the .300/.400/.500 club.
• Only twice in 13 seasons from 1998-2010 did Jones strike out more times than he walked, and for his career, he walked 103 more times than he struck out (1,512-1,409). The only retired players to debut since 1960 and finish with more free passes than whiffs, while posting a higher OPS+ than Jones' 141, are Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez.
• Drafted by the Braves with the top pick in 1990, Jones joins Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to go from No. 1 overall selection to the Hall of Fame.
• Jones is just the eighth third baseman elected by the BBWAA, which is tied with center field for the fewest of any defensive position. Prior to Jones, Wade Boggs (2005) was the most recent BBWAA honoree who played the majority of his career at the hot corner.
• Combining elite power and patience, Thome ranks eighth on the all-time home run list (612) and seventh on the all-time walks list (1,747). Bonds and Ruth are the only other players who rank in the top 10 on both.
• From 1996-2008, Thome collected at least 30 homers and 90 walks 11 times in 13 seasons. Bonds is the only player to reach both thresholds in the same season more times in his career.
• Thome launched one homer per 13.8 at-bats, which ranks fourth in history behind Mark McGwire, Ruth and Bonds. He also racked up the second-most strikeouts in history, but when he didn't whiff, Thome's rate of one homer per 9.6 at-bats ranks behind only McGwire.
• Thome is the only player to deliver 13 walk-off home runs, spreading them out over 10 different seasons between 1994-2012.
• He is tied for seventh on the all-time postseason home run list with 17 and joins Carlos Beltran as the only players to have gone deep at least four times in a League Division Series (1999) and at least four times in a League Championship Series ('98) in his career. In those '98-'99 postseasons with Cleveland, Thome piled up 10 homers, 20 RBIs and an .818 slugging percentage over 15 games.
• Combining power with bat-to-ball ability, Guerrero walloped 449 home runs while striking out just 985 times. That makes him one of just five players to finish his career with more than 400 homers and less than 1,000 strikeouts. The others -- Lou Gehrig, Musial, Ott and Ted Williams -- all began their careers prior to integration.
• Ever aggressive, Guerrero only collected 737 walks, which doesn't even put him in the top 300 on the all-time list. However, more than a third of those free passes (250) were of the intentional variety. He ranks fifth in that category, behind only Bonds, Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey. Only Bonds exceeded Guerrero's total of seven seasons with at least 20 intentional walks.
• After getting a cup of coffee late in 1996, Guerrero played 15 more seasons and never finished with lower than a .290 batting average -- which came in his final year in 2011. He is one of seven players in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to log at least 15 seasons of 300-plus at-bats and a .290-plus average, and one of five in that time to put together 13 seasons of 300-plus at-bats and a .300 average. The others are Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Boggs and Rod Carew.
• Guerrero is the third player from the Dominican Republic to make it to the Hall of Fame, and the first position player. He follows pitchers Juan Marichal and Martinez.
• Guerrero was a star with both the Expos and Angels, getting about 600 more plate appearances in Montreal but winning an American League MVP Award and playing in five postseasons in Anaheim. That presents a difficult choice. While three players now have entered Cooperstown representing the Expos -- Tim Raines joined Gary Carter and Andre Dawson last year -- Guerrero could be the first to have a Halos cap on his plaque.
• Hoffman became the first pitcher to reach both 500 and 600 career saves -- finishing with 601 -- although Mariano Rivera later passed him for the record (652).
• His nine seasons with at least 40 saves ties Rivera for the all-time record, while no other pitcher has reached that mark more than six times. From 1995-2009, Hoffman saved at least 30 games 14 of 15 times, only falling short due to injury in 2003.
• Hoffman not only collected a lot of saves but also did so efficiently. His conversion rate of 88.8 percent is the third highest among the 28 pitchers with at least 300 saves, behind Rivera and Joe Nathan (both 89.1 percent).
• Hoffman's best season came in 1998, when he went 53-for-54 in save opportunities. The 53 saves is tied for the fifth-highest single-season total in history, and the 98.1 percent success rate is the second highest in a 50-save campaign.
• Hoffman racked up a win probability added (WPA) of +34.2, which ranks 21st all-time among pitchers -- just in front of Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Marichal and Sandy Koufax. WPA measures a player's impact on his team's win probability in a given game, thereby giving Hoffman credit for pitching in high-leverage situations.More »
Mariano Rivera was one of the defining greats of his generation, and not just by doing his job better than almost anyone ever. Besides that, no player has ever been a better ambassador for his sport.
So as we look a year ahead to the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, we begin with one of the all-time Yankees greats leading a class of first-timers that includes late Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton and Yanks lefty Andy Pettitte.
There's hope for all of them at a time when voters have swung decisively to a record-setting Big Hall approach. The Baseball Writers' Association of America has voted 16 players into the Hall of Fame in the past five years after inducting just nine in the previous eight.
In 74 Hall of Fame elections, 16 players is a record for any five-year period after Wednesday's announcement that Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman crossed the 75 percent threshold (317) on 422 ballots.
That's a good thing, because there's all kinds of unfinished business, beginning with Edgar Martinez, who will be making his 10th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot next year. He made a nice gain this time, from appearing on 58.6 percent of ballots to 70.4 percent. Still, Martinez finished 20 votes short of induction, but he is nicely positioned for 2019.
That's also true of Mike Mussina, the former Orioles and Yankees right-hander who was named on 63.5 percent of ballots, an increase from 51.8 on the 2017 ballot.
Three other players -- Roger Clemens (57.3 percent), Barry Bonds (56.4) and Curt Schilling (51.2) -- were named on more than 50 percent of the ballots, but all would need a huge lift to get to 75 percent next time. All of them have four more chances to reach 75 percent.
Now back to Rivera. For him, the debate will not be about his getting into the Hall of Fame, but how close he comes to being a unanimous selection. In the 74 previous elections, the four players who've gotten the highest percentage of votes are:
• Ken Griffey Jr. (99.32 percent in 2016)
• Tom Seaver (98.84 percent in 1992)
• Nolan Ryan (98.79 percent in 1999)
• Cal Ripken Jr. (98.53 percent in 2007)
Rivera's credentials are about as impressive as any player ever. He got the final out of the World Series four times and had a nearly incomprehensible .759 WHIP in 96 postseason appearances.
Oh, and Rivera was also a 13-time All-Star and baseball's all-time saves leader (652). In 1,115 regular-season games, he allowed an average of exactly one baserunner per inning.
There's an easy case to be made for Halladay, whose death at 40 in November following a plane crash stunned the sport and devastated his family and friends.
In 16 seasons, Halladay won two Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star. His no-hitter against the Reds in the 2010 National League Division Series was one of the most dominant postseason performances of all time, and he also threw a perfect game against the Marlins during the regular season that year. Halladay's Hall of Fame credentials were forged during an 11-season stretch (2001-11) when he was 175-78 with a 1.113 WHIP and a 2.98 ERA in 319 starts.
Helton played 17 seasons, all with the Rockies, and was a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner. His .414 OBP is the 26th-highest of all time; his .953 OPS is 19th.
Helton's case almost certainly will be hurt -- as former teammate Larry Walker's has been -- by playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field. However, while Walker played only 30 percent of his games there, Helton was a career Rockie. In 1,141 games at home, his numbers were overwhelmingly Hall of Fame worthy: .345 batting average, .441 OBP, 1.048 OPS. In 1,106 games away from Coors Field, Helton hit .287 with a .386 OBP and an .855 OPS.
Among other 2019 first-timers who will be part of the conversation: infielder Michael Young, shortstop Miguel Tejada, first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman and pitcher Roy Oswalt.
That they are even in the mix speaks volumes about their careers and how they accomplished things most players only dream of doing. Only a few of them will be bestowed the sport's ultimate honor, but that's the point.
When Joe Torre came up short in his quest to make the Hall of Fame as a player, he said bluntly: "It's the Hall of Fame. It's supposed to be a tough thing to get into."
Besides, Torre had another path, and in 2014, he was inducted for a 29-year managerial career that included leading the Yankees to four championships.
"To say you are humbled at an honor like this," he said, "that doesn't even begin to describe what it means."More »
Wednesday night featured plenty of celebration as the Baseball Writers' Association of America elected four members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was the second time in the last four years that the BBWAA elected at least four Hall of Famers (and only the fifth time overall), and the idyllic village of Cooperstown figures to be an extremely busy place this July as Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome join Veterans Committee selections Jack Morris and Alan Trammell on stage.
But as the phone calls were received and champagne bottles were popped, a host of other candidates quietly exited stage left. As voters grappled with the impact of performance-enhancing drugs and the 10-player maximum on their ballots, here are the former bona fide stars who are dropping out of Hall consideration after just one turn at the plate.
Santana is the headliner out of this year's "one-and-dones," simply because he's a pitcher who was a crucial part of the story of baseball in the 2000s. The Twins and Mets great appeared on only 2.4 percent of the BBWAA ballots and thus fell shy of the Hall's 5 percent threshold to remain under consideration next year. That's a strange fate for a man who was almost undoubtedly the Majors' best starting pitcher from 2003-08, before an assortment of injuries took a toll. Santana, it should be pointed out, is still aiming for one last taste of the big leagues. Regardless of whether he's able to come back, the proof of Santana's dominance sits on his mantle.
Start with the two American League Cy Young Awards that Santana won in 2004 and '06. Of the other 18 pitchers who claimed multiple Cy Young Awards, 10 are already enshrined in Cooperstown, while four others (Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer) are still active or have not yet retired. That leaves seven-time winner Roger Clemens (now in his sixth year on the ballot) and the late Roy Halladay (who is not yet eligible) outside the Hall, along with two pitchers whose cases in some ways resemble Santana's.
The first is Denny McLain, who captured back-to-back AL Cy Young Awards, the 1968 AL MVP and holds the distinction of being the last 30-game winner. McLain's peak was sensational, but short-lived -- he lost 22 games just two seasons after winning 24 -- and he was out of baseball after just 10 seasons. The Tigers star garnered just one vote in his 1978 BBWAA debut, meaning he would have been a one-and-done under the Hall's current voting rules, and bowed out after receiving three votes in his follow-up.
Santana's other comparable is Bret Saberhagen, the owner of two AL Cy Young Awards, a World Series MVP trophy and a no-hitter, who pitched in parts of 16 seasons, but could only compile two full campaigns after age 31. Saberhagen garnered only 1.3 percent of the vote in his 2007 one-and-done appearance.
Santana's peak was arguably higher than both McLain's and Saberhagen's, but all three pitchers saw external forces sap their potential for even greater glory.
Santana also becomes only the fourth pitcher to win at least three league strikeout titles and not last more than one year on a BBWAA ballot, following Mark Langston (2005), Sam McDowell (1981) and Sam "Toothpick" Jones, who was never listed for consideration. For the time being, Santana will also join Clemens as the only retired pitchers with at least three league ERA titles who are not in the Hall.
This year's other one-and-done candidates were never recognized as the absolute best at their position like Santana and Jones, but collectively they gave the game plenty of moments. Damon was a folk hero for the 2004 Red Sox, while also defining the '09 World Series with his daring two-steal dash for the Yankees in Game 4. His 522 doubles rank among the top 50 totals in baseball history.
Like Santana, Carpenter had both the stuff and the guile to be a Hall of Fame pitcher, had injuries not kept him from compiling a fuller résumé. Carpenter will forever have the 2005 NL Cy Young Award, and the Cardinals might not have their 2006 or '11 World Series championship banners without him.
Hernandez's magical 1997 postseason as a 22-year-old for the Marlins won't soon be forgotten, but the righty turned into a workhorse, pacing the National League in innings pitched for three straight seasons from 2003-05.
Wood's 20-strikeout afternoon on May 6, 1998 -- the fifth start of his big league career -- endures as one of the most dominant days of pitching ever seen. The 2003 Cubs are remembered for the way their season ended, but Chicago wouldn't have gotten to the NLCS without Wood's pair of dominant NLDS starts that October against the Braves.
Lidge's celebration to cap the 2008 World Series will resonate for decades in Philadelphia; a perfect capstone to his perfect 41-for-41 ledger in save chances that year.
Matsui came to the States with plenty of fanfare and proved his power was worthy of the "Godzilla" moniker. Yankees fans will always remember Matsui's six RBIs in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, sealing New York's 27th world championship and his World Series MVP Award.
A consistent run producer, Lee's 17 career grand slams is tied with Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams for the seventh-most in history.
Moyer proved that velocity was far from everything one needed to cut it on a Major League mound. Not only was Moyer durable; he was valuable far into his 40s.
Like many aspects of Zambrano's career, the good (his strikeouts) came with the bad (his walks). Still, among starters in history who walked more than four batters per nine innings, only Bob Feller (122 ERA+) had a better league-adjusted ERA+ than Zambrano (120).
Millwood attacked hitters head-on with his fastball. When things were clicking, Millwood was among the game's better moundsmen. He placed third in the 1999 NL Cy Young Award voting.
Something clicked when the hard-throwing Isringhausen moved to the bullpen full-time. Only Mariano Rivera, Hoffman and Billy Wagner topped Isringhausen's 293 saves from 1999-2008.
Hudson's pure energy will be remembered long after his exit from the ballot, and four Gold Glove Awards to go with a career .273 average is nothing to sneeze at from a former 43rd-round Draft choice.
Huff overcame troubles off the field to be a certified masher in Tampa Bay and San Francisco (four seasons with 25-plus home runs). The first baseman made an impressive surge to a seventh-place finish in the 2010 NL MVP vote at age 33.
There simply weren't enough votes to go around, but these players will still be fondly remembered in the years to come. It's possible, however, that we look at Santana further down the road and wonder why he only got one shot at immortality.More »
DEL MAR, Calif. -- It was a great day for a family party at Trevor Hoffman's beach house on the shore of the mighty Pacific Ocean. Temperature in late January: 72 degrees. The common refrain: That's why we live here.
At 2:22 p.m. PT, Hoffman took the call he and the crowd were waiting for. It was Jack O'Connell from the Baseball Writers' Association of America and Jane Forbes Clark from the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the other end.
He answered the call as if he was facing Todd Helton with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning -- with intensity and stony coldness. There were no tears on this day. Just raw emotions.
"I was just trying to keep it together," Hoffman later said. "Enjoy the moment."
Hoffman was told he is headed to the Hall of Fame, on the third try. He missed by just five votes last year, and this time he had 20 to spare. His name needed to be on 75 percent, or 317, of the 422 ballots cast by eligible members of the BBWAA. He received 337 votes, or 79.9 percent.
"It's really very difficult to wrap your mind around something like this in such a short period of time," Hoffman told his friends and family moments later as they toasted him with glasses filled with champagne. "You get to certain places, and it's never alone. To be surrounded by so many loved ones and special people in my life who were part of the beginning of the journey and here toward the end is really special.
"We're going to have a lot of fun celebrating in the future. It doesn't go unnoticed that your support was everything one needs when things didn't go well and when things were super. Thanks for being a part of this. Thanks for sharing your day. I love each and every one of you."
And now the whirlwind begins. Hoffman, the National League's all-time saves leader (601), will be inducted into the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 29. He'll join fellow electees Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome, plus Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. The latter pair was elected last month by the Modern Era Committee.
Trammell, the former Tigers shortstop, is a San Diego native and played ball at Kearny High School in Serra Mesa. Hoffman played 16 of his 18 seasons for the Padres. The two talked about the possibility of this happening on the day Trammell was elected.
Thus, the upcoming induction will have a San Diego flavor. Hoffman grew up 90 miles away in Anaheim and his mother, Mikki, brothers Greg and Glenn and their families drove down for the festivities.
Glenn preceded his younger brother in the Majors as a shortstop with the Red Sox. He has been a Padres coach since 2005. Trevor left for Milwaukee as a free agent in 2008 and finished his career with the Brewers in 2010.
Among the small group celebrating Wednesday were Mark Kotsay and Brad Ausmus, both teammates of Hoffman in San Diego.
Trevor's wife, Tracy, fittingly wore a black and grey AC/DC T-shirt with the words "Hells Bells" plastered across the front, the name of the song that played each time Hoffman jogged in from the bullpen to pitch the top of the ninth inning for the Padres.
Hoffman pitched a combined 392 times in what was then called Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park, and the chime of a bell is still used to usher in games at Petco.
Two of Hoffman's three sons were there, Brody and Wyatt. The third, Quinn, is in school at Harvard and watched the much-awaited phone call via FaceTime. The boys were fixtures around the Padres during Trevor's time there.
There was merriment and laughter, but Hoffman professed to be a tad nervous.
As 2 p.m. PT rolled around, the group was told the Hall call was scheduled to come anytime within a half-hour period from 2:15 to 2:45, but only if Hoffman was elected. If he wasn't, no call.
Hoffman sat with his wife and kids around him at the far end of a wooden table, the specter of aqua Pacific waves in the background. His cellphone was on the table in front of him.
Almost on cue, the phone rang, just a bit before 2:15. There was an immediate hush. The name Glenn Hoffman appeared on the screen.
"It's Glenn," Hoffman bellowed as everyone broke down in raucous laughter.
"I just wanted to make sure your phone was working," Glenn deadpanned.
Once again in their long lifetime together, the older brother had punked the younger one.
"The timing couldn't have been more perfect," Glenn said.
But when the clock struck 2:15, it was time to get serious. The minutes began to ebb. The jovial mood turned tense.
"This is going to be a long 30 minutes," Trevor said.
Almost at that moment, the cellphone rang. The callers were placed on speaker phone.
"May I speak to Trevor Hoffman, please," said O'Connell, the longtime secretary/treasurer of the BBWAA, who has the pleasure of making these calls.
"This is," said Hoffman, almost solemnly.
"I got your phone number [at the Winter Meetings] in Orlando, and I'm letting you know that the baseball writers have elected you to the Hall of Fame," O'Connell said.
Hoffman took a split-second to respond, as if he were checking the sign one more time with his catcher -- perhaps Ausmus -- before throwing the game's most important pitch. He didn't blink an eye.
"I appreciate that, Jack. It was awesome seeing you in Orlando, and I'm glad we were able to make it happen today," Hoffman finally said.
"I wish you had made it last year, but you made it in swimmingly this year," O'Connell said. "I'm happy that you made it. Sometimes it takes a little longer than it should, but you're where you belong right now, my friend."
With that, the group erupted into cheers and applause. Not a man or woman or child in the Hoffman beach house on Wednesday disagreed with O'Connell.More »
BALTIMORE -- Orioles great Mike Mussina is getting closer to the Hall of Fame, but he's not there yet. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were unveiled on Wednesday night as the 2018 Hall of Fame class that will be enshrined this summer.
Mussina, needing 75 percent of the 422 ballots, finished at 63.5 percent in his fifth year of eligibility. The right-handed pitcher was a fringe candidate this year, with a long, consistently productive career.
He appeared on 51.8 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 2017 -- an improvement over 43 percent in '16.
While his 63.5 percent was not enough for election, it's worth noting that just one player receiving 60 percent or more of the votes has not eventually made it into the Hall: Gil Hodges, whose total rose to 63.4 percent in 1983, his 15th and final year on the ballot. Mussina has already surpassed that number, a good harbinger of things to come.
Mussina pitched 18 seasons, all in the American League East, including the first 10 with the O's. Despite pitching in hitters' parks at Camden Yards, and then at Yankee Stadium, Mussina more than held his own.
He compiled 270 wins, good enough for 33rd all-time. His 83.0 WAR mark is 19th all-time among pitchers in the Hall of Fame or currently on the ballot. He won at least 18 games six times, including 20 his last season, 2008, when at 39 he went 20-9 with an 3.37 ERA.
Mussina was remarkably consistent and durable. He had 11 top-10 finishes in AL ERA, and was in top five in Cy Young Award voting six times. A five-time All-Star, Mussina went 200 innings or more 11 times, and he was a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner.
He punched out at least 200 in four seasons, and owns a career 3.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The ultimate competitor, he also had just one losing season, during his rookie year in 1991, when he finished 4-5 in 11 starts.
The nominee list included several other players who spent time with the Orioles, including Guerrero and Thome, who each spent a year with Baltimore. Other nominees who spent time with the O's included Aubrey Huff -- who spent three seasons with Baltimore -- Kevin Millwood and Sammy Sosa.More »
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies always knew they had a great one in Jim Thome, but it turns out they had one of the greatest ever.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday evening that Thome will be part of its 2018 Hall of Fame class. He received votes on 89.8 percent of ballots cast in his first year of eligibility. Players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots for induction.
"How about the 'Thome-nator?'" former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said when he picked up the phone Wednesday night.
Manuel could not have been happier. A lot of people with Phillies connections felt the same way.
Thome sparked a baseball renaissance in Philadelphia 15 years ago. He ignited that rebirth because he had Hall of Fame talent and chose to play in a city that had not enjoyed postseason success since 1993.
Of course, the way Thome tells the story, Philadelphia helped him as much as he helped the city.
No wonder folks call him "Gentleman Jim."
"Philadelphia made an impact on me," Thome said in a conference call with reporters. "When I went there I only knew one thing and that was Cleveland. I love Philadelphia. To this day it's something that I embrace."
Thome spent just a fraction of his storied 22-year career in Philadelphia, playing with the Phillies from 2003-05 and briefly again in 2012. But despite the fact he is better remembered with the Indians, with whom he spent the majority of his career, there is no question Phillies fans will make the trek to Cooperstown, N.Y., to see him inducted in July.
Thome signed a six-year, $85 million contract with the Phillies in December 2002, when nobody wanted to come to Philadelphia to play baseball and when the Phillies were trying to build excitement as they moved from Veterans Stadium to Citizens Bank Park.
He made the Phillies legit. He made baseball in the city fun for the first time in a long time.
"Jim's signing was a transformative moment for our organization," Phillies chairman David Montgomery said.
"When he came over, [Scott] Rolen had just left and they were building the new ballpark," Manuel said. "It was a new era. The fact they got Jim Thome, they knew they got a big player. But I think who Jimmy is and where he came from was big. I remember the construction workers there [at the ballpark] looking at him like he was one of them."
Thome led the National League with 47 home runs in 2003 as the Phillies fell just short of the NL Wild Card. He finished fourth in NL MVP Award voting that season. He then hit 42 homers in 2004, making the NL All-Star team.
"The fans treated me so great there," Thome said. "I truly, truly loved every moment. The fans motivated me. The fans push you. They can be very tough, but as a player I've got to tell you that's what drove me to try to be better. The one thing I love about playing in Philadelphia is it's about going out every day and giving everything you've got and hustling to the degree that you're there every day in that moment. That's what I love most about Philly. The moment was intense every day and I loved it so much."
The Phillies traded Thome to the White Sox after the 2005 season, following the emergence of Ryan Howard as NL Rookie of the Year. Thome returned in 2012, only to be traded to the Orioles that same season.
"I'm extremely happy for Jim and his family," Howard said. "I'm proud I was able to call him a teammate and a mentor and even more proud to call him a friend."
Thome hit 101 of his 612 career homers with the Phillies, including the 400th of his career. But he also made an impact off the field. Ask anybody about Thome and they will say he is one of the nicest people they have ever met.
"Sharing the clubhouse with Jim not once, but twice, was an honor," Jimmy Rollins said. "His infectious smile, gentle nature, and the extra-large and tight hugs he'd give his friends because he was genuinely excited to see you were things I looked forward to every day. He made me strive to be a better player every day with the hope being he didn't feel like he had to do it all himself. I just wanted to be a part of his legacy, not for bragging rights but simply to know what it felt like to stand so close to greatness."More »
CINCINNATI -- Former Reds third baseman Scott Rolen is statistically considered one of the top 10 players to ever play at the position but was widely viewed as a borderline Hall of Famer. For Rolen to become an actual member of the Hall of Fame, he will need a lot more votes.
Results of balloting from the Baseball Writers' Association of America were released on Wednesday. In his first year on the ballot, Rolen received 10.2 percent of the vote. Eligible candidates need to receive at least 75 percent of the vote for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The BBWAA did elect four more players in Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman.
Fortunately for Rolen, he got 43 votes of the 422 ballots cast and finished with enough room above the minimum 5 percent required to return to the ballot in 2019. He will have nine more chances for election following this year.
Rolen played 17 seasons from 1996-2012 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds, and is viewed as the best defensive third baseman of his era. He finished his career in Cincinnati from 2009-12.
The 1997 National League Rookie of the Year, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, Rolen batted .281/.364/.490 with 2,077 hits, 316 home runs and 1,287 RBIs in his career. He was a member of the 2006 World Series championship team with St. Louis.
Rolen, now 42, has a lifetime WAR of 70.0, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Of the 13 third basemen currently in the Hall of Fame, the average WAR is 67.5, meaning Rolen will continue to deserve a closer look on future ballots. But as the results for this year are revealed, it is looking like he will need a lot more momentum going forward to be enshrined among the immortals in Cooperstown.More »
CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano had great seasons with the Cubs, but the two pitchers did not garner enough votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Sammy Sosa, who was on the ballot for the sixth time, received 33 votes (7.8 percent), a slight drop from the 8.6 percent he received last year.
The Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that four players were elected into Cooperstown: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman.
Wood, on the ballot for the first time with Zambrano, received two votes from BBWAA members. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Wood's stellar May 6, 1998, start at Wrigley Field, when he fanned a Major League-record 20 batters and gave up one hit in a 2-0 win over the Astros. Wood was named the National League Rookie of the Year that season.
Now involved in the Wood Family Foundation, the former pitcher told the Chicago Tribune earlier this month that if he got one BBWAA vote, he'd have a big party.
"I'm going to call the guy who voted for me, whoever voted for me, and apologize," said Wood, 40. "If they voted for me, they're probably losing their credential."
Zambrano, now 36, was one of six players who did not receive a single vote from the BBWAA. He pitched for the Cubs from 2001-2011, and spent one season with the Marlins in '12 before retiring. He finished 132-91 with a 3.66 ERA in 354 games (302 starts), which included a no-hitter on Sept. 14, 2008, against the Astros at Miller Park in a game relocated because of hurricane damage in Houston.
Sosa, 49, played for the White Sox, Cubs, Orioles and Rangers, hitting 609 home runs in 18 seasons. He posted three seasons with at least 60 home runs, and won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1998, when he belted 66 homers and drove in a league-leading 158 runs.
In Sosa's first year on the ballot in 2013, he received 12.5 percent of the vote, and his support had dipped to 7.2 percent in '14, 6.6 percent in '15, 7 percent in 2016 and 8.6 percent last year.
Players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast to earn election into the Hall.More »
SAN DIEGO -- At some point during his 18-year Hall of Fame career, legendary Padres closer Trevor Hoffman must have realized he was charting a course for Cooperstown.
When, exactly, did that notion creep into his mind? Well, Hoffman had the luxury of sharing a clubhouse for nine seasons with another Hall of Famer, the late Tony Gwynn. And when Cooperstown chatter began to engulf Gwynn, Hoffman says he realized he might be on the verge of something special as well.
Gwynn, a 2007 inductee, and Hoffman are two of the most beloved Padres of all time. Come July, they'll share a place in baseball's most storied ground. After Hoffman was elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, he was quick to tip his cap to Gwynn, a former teammate who lost his battle with cancer in 2014.
"Standing here, I think of some of the things Tony was thinking about when he was here, being inducted and getting a chance to talk about it," Hoffman said. "I wish he was here today to share this moment."
Gwynn and Hoffman took different routes to Cooperstown. Gwynn, one of the best hitters in the history of the sport, cruised to induction in his first try. Hoffman, one of the best closers in the history of the sport, was elected on the third try.
But their careers will forever be linked, given their impact on the Padres and the city of San Diego. At his election news conference Wednesday, Hoffman was asked when he began to ponder the Hall as a possibility for himself.
"Really, when things started heating up with Tony, with his career starting to wind down, and the numbers he was putting together," Hoffman said. "Seeing him handle that scrutiny and that microscope he was under and, really, what it took for him at that level.
"And then ultimately I realized that I had built up some time in my role. I'm not sure what that particular [Hall of Fame] ticket was going to look like. I think I let myself dream then, a little bit, thinking maybe something down the road might come your way. But if you start looking down the road, that's when this game will trip you up. It'll humble you really fast. It was for a brief minute, and then it was back to going to stadiums, getting ready for another night's work."
Hoffman built himself a rather impressive resume, racking up 601 saves, a 2.87 ERA and a 25.8 percent strikeout rate throughout his career.
Of course, the majority of that career was spent with the Padres -- 16 seasons, to be precise. Gwynn played no small part in Hoffman's decision to remain in San Diego for so long.
"I remember sitting with Tony in the early '90s," Hoffman told MLB.com. "I remember him talking with us about having the opportunity to sign long-term in San Diego, making this our home. He said, 'It's hard to describe, but you won't be disappointed.'
"I took that really to heart. A guy that has been through it, was in the middle of a 20-year career here in this city, to hear him speak on behalf of how great the community is, how much they appreciate you when you work hard. It's been nothing but that. I walk around town, and people couldn't be more complimentary, more supportive."
Come July 29, San Diego fans will bring that support across the country to Hoffman's induction ceremony. Gwynn's presence will undoubtedly be felt that day.
"I've always put Tony at a pretty high level," Hoffman said. "To ultimately have shared a locker room with him and then be going to a pretty special place [in Cooperstown] will be a tremendous honor."More »
The record for most living Hall of Fame electees in any five-year span was shattered on Wednesday night at 23, now that Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman have been added to the Class of 2018 along with Modern Baseball Era electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.
That breaks the previous record of 20 established in 1969-73. The Baseball Writers' Association of America also has now tied the four-year record of its electees at 13, and the net effect is that a half-dozen more speeches are coming to Cooperstown on July 29 as fans see living legends.
The good times are expected to keep rolling for Hall hopefuls in 2019, with Mariano Rivera a lock for first-ballot election, Edgar Martinez expected to join him in his last year of BBWAA eligibility and Mike Mussina among those knocking on the door. Next year is also the Today's Game Committee vote, with candidates from 1988-present.
"Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is when fans can come out to salute their heroes with the ultimate honor of being elected," said National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum president Jeff Idelson, who read the names of the electees Wednesday on MLB Network. "Earning election is difficult, even in this era of many living electees. Only one percent of those to wear a Major League uniform end up with a plaque in Cooperstown.
"Cooperstown is about the history of the game, but those who create the history help bring the museum to life. Having a number of living electees, all of whom are deserving, certainly helps to embrace a wider fan base."
This is the fourth time in the last five years that as many as three former players were voted in by baseball writers, and again next year's class could mean it's five out of six. Before 2014, you had to go back to 1999 to find the last time a trio was elected by writers: Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount.
Here's another way to look at the stark contrast between these past five years and the five years before them: From 2009-13, there were 14 Hall inductees. Only six of those were elected by the BBWAA, half as many as from 2014-17. And of those 14 inductees, only three elected by the Veterans Committee were living at the time: executive Pat Gillick, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey (who passed away on Jan. 13).
It is important to note that this five-year record would be for "living" electees, because in 2006, the Hall inducted 17 former Negro Leaguers, plus Bruce Sutter.
Here is a look at the five-year plaque rush:
2018: Jones, Guerrero, Thome and Hoffman (BBWAA); Morris and Trammell
2017: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez (BBWAA); John Schuerholz and Bud Selig
2016: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza (BBWAA)
2015: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio (BBWAA)
2014: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas (BBWAA); Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre
Three of those 2014 inductees represented the powerhouse Braves era, and that representation is still going strong. Now that Jones is also in, that's six Braves among 23 living electees over a five-year span -- a stunning 26 percent. Never mind that Maddux chose to go without a team logo on his plaque because of his success with the Cubs, Dodgers and Padres.
"When you look back at the 1990s and early 2000s, the Braves were winning their division virtually every year," Idelson said. "Although it resulted in only one championship, their prolonged excellence over a decade-plus, it's emblematic that the guys who have earned elections have represented great teams, from their general manager to their manager to their 1-2-3 pitchers to ... Jones as the second No. 1 Draft pick ever."More »
PHILADELPHIA -- Former Phillies ace Curt Schilling fell short of election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, but he at least increased his percentage of the vote from a year ago.
If that trend continues, it could lead to enshrinement in the next few years for the right-hander.
Schilling received votes on 51.2 percent of ballots cast, compared to 45 percent last year. Players must receive votes on 75 percent of the ballots for enshrinement. This is Schilling's sixth year on the ballot. He needs to hit the 75 percent threshold in 10 years or he is removed from consideration, although he can be inducted later by the Veterans Committee.
Schilling appeared on 52.3 percent of ballots in 2016, but he suffered a drop last year, presumably following controversial political statements.
Schilling isn't the only player with Phillies ties on this year's ballot. Most notably, Jim Thome got elected in his first year of eligibility, receiving votes on 89.8 percent of ballots.
Billy Wagner (11.1 percent) and Scott Rolen (10.2 percent) will return to the ballot next year. It was Wagner's fourth year on the ballot and Rolen's first. Jamie Moyer appeared on 2.4 percent of ballots, while Brad Lidge and Kevin Millwood did not receive votes.
Players that do not receive votes on 5 percent of the ballots are no longer eligible for voting.
Based on WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com, Schilling (79.9) ranked fifth overall on the ballot. Thome (72.9) ranked sixth. Rolen (70.0) ranked eighth.More »
PITTSBURGH -- Barry Bonds took another small step forward in this year's Hall of Fame voting, but he still hasn't reached Cooperstown.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 was unveiled Wednesday night, and it didn't include Bonds, the Major Leagues' all-time home run leader and the only former Pirate up for election. He was named on 56.4 percent of the ballots, up from 53.8 percent last year, 44.3 percent in 2016 and 36.8 percent in '15.
Four baseball legends will be enshrined during the July induction ceremony in Cooperstown: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, both first-ballot Hall of Famers, alongside Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman.
Bonds and Roger Clemens, two all-time greats whose candidacies have been shrouded by suspicion of performance-enhancing drug use, both lagged behind Edgar Martinez (70.4 percent) and Mike Mussina (63.5 percent) among the crop of players who were not elected this year.
Next year will be Bonds' seventh on the ballot. Players named on at least 5 percent of the voters' ballots remain eligible for 10 years. Voters can select up to 10 eligible candidates each year.
Bonds fared better among the voters who revealed their ballots early. According to Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame ballot tracker, Bonds was named on 160 of the first 248 public ballots, a 64.5 percent clip that outpaced his actual voting numbers. To gain election, nominees must appear on at least 75 percent of ballots submitted by Baseball Writers' Association of America voters.
Bonds debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013 and received 36.2 percent of the vote. That total dipped to 34.7 percent in '14 then climbed each of the past three years. While he is gaining momentum, the longer he remains on the ballot, the chances dwindle.
Most of Bonds' historical achievements came as a Giant, but he established himself as an elite player with the Pirates. Bonds slugged 176 of his 762 homers for Pittsburgh, stealing 251 bases and slashing .275/.380/.503 in seven seasons (1986-92) for the Pirates.
Bonds won the National League MVP Award in 1990 and '92 and finished as the runner-up in '91. He made two All-Star teams while playing for the Bucs and won three straight Gold Glove Awards and Silver Slugger Awards from '90-92. He accumulated 50.1 Wins Above Replacement -- the ninth-highest total in Pittsburgh franchise history.
After leaving the Pirates, Bonds signed with the Giants and spent 15 years in San Francisco. During his 22-year big league career, he racked up 2,935 hits, 2,558 walks, 1,996 RBIs and 514 steals to go along with his MLB-record 762 homers. The seven-time NL MVP and 14-time All-Star retired as a career .298 hitter with a .444 on-base percentage and .607 slugging clip.More »
KANSAS CITY -- Former Royals outfielder Johnny Damon did not receive 5 percent of the votes and was unable to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility, as announced on MLB Network on Wednesday night.
Damon received 1.9 percent of the votes.
A first-round pick (No. 35 overall) by the Royals in the 1992 Draft, Damon spent his first six Major League seasons with Kansas City, hitting .292 with a .789 OPS and 156 stolen bases.
Damon went on to play for the A's, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Indians. He amassed 2,769 hits over his 18-year career and finished with a .785 OPS and 408 stolen bases.
Damon was on the 2004 Red Sox team that ended an 86-year World Series championship drought. He may be best remembered for his two-homer, six-RBI onslaught in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series. The Red Sox then swept the Cardinals to capture the World Series title.
Damon made his Major League debut with the Royals in 1995. His best season with Kansas City came in 2000, when he slashed .327/.382/.495. He also led the American League with 46 stolen bases and 136 runs scored.More »
MILWAUKEE -- His trudge to 600 saves wasn't easy, nor was his path to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But in both instances, Trevor Hoffman eventually closed.
Hoffman, who amassed 601 saves during an 18-year Major League career that ended with two seasons in Milwaukee, on Wednesday became the sixth former Brewers player elected to the Hall of Fame. He will join Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, Don Sutton and Robin Yount -- plus former Brewers owner Bud Selig -- when he is enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., in July.
"Two years went by pretty quick," Hoffman said of his Brewers tenure, which came after 16 seasons with the Padres. "I had a tremendous first year and a not-so-good second year, but that second year gave me an opportunity to really put up or shut up. You talk the talk your whole career, now it's time to walk the walk if you're going to truly be a team guy and want to give back.
"It was a great opportunity to do that, and I had some great teammates around me who allowed me to do that and were willing to listen. It was a lot of fun to be there."
It was more fun on Wednesday, when Hoffman got the call he had been denied in two previous years of Hall of Fame eligibility. His name was checked on 337 of 422 ballots (79.9 percent) submitted by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, surpassing the 75 percent threshold required for induction. After missing the cut last year by a mere five votes, Hoffman cleared it this time by 20 votes.
Hoffman, a middling Minor League shortstop who converted to pitching as a Reds farmhand and grew into one of the best closers in Major League history thanks to an elite changeup, was baseball's all-time saves leader when he signed a two-year free-agent deal with the Brewers in January 2009. He came to the Brewers having logged nine seasons with 40 or more saves and twice finishing as runner-up in National League Cy Young Award balloting. Hoffman performed as advertised in '09, logging 37 saves with a 1.83 ERA and making the NL All-Star team for the seventh time, leaving him nine saves shy of 600 entering 2010.
The milestone seemed inevitable. It turned out to be one of the great challenges of his career.
Hoffman stumbled early in his second season with the Brewers and was replaced by rookie right-hander John Axford after blowing five of his first 10 save opportunities.
"Over the course of 20 years as a GM, you'll have some tough sit-downs with players. One of the toughest I ever had was when we told Trevor he might not close on an everyday basis anymore," said former Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who signed Hoffman as a free agent ahead of the 2009 season. "But he handled it like a real pro. He was always a true pro.
"He was one of the best clubhouse guys. If there's a Hall of Fame just for being a great clubhouse guy, he's in the Hall of Fame for that, too."
Axford's memory of that time remains clear more than seven years later.
"It was my rookie season, and Trevor was absolutely incredible the entire way," Axford said. "He was my tutor, my mentor, my help the entire season. It was a role I had never pitched in before. It sticks with me what a true professional he was the entire time."
By August 2010, Hoffman was back in rhythm and picking up the occasional save when matchups were right or Axford was unavailable. One at a time, he inched closer to 600.
On Sept. 7, 2010, at Miller Park, Hoffman finally got there. After trotting in from the bullpen while AC/DC's "Hells Bells" rattled the stadium's sound system, Hoffman worked around a leadoff single to save a 4-2 win over the Cardinals, with Craig Counsell converting a ground ball to shortstop for the final out.
Hoffman threw both hands in the air and his teammates enveloped him. "Hells Bells" was cued again, and Hoffman's three young sons and his wife, Tracy, joined the crowd.
"In just two years, Trevor made a big impact on this franchise," Counsell said Wednesday. "He made us all better people and players through laughter and preparation. We were all fortunate to witness his 600th career save on a magical night at Miller Park."
It was the last magical moment of a Hall of Fame career.
"I'm happy he wore a Brewers uniform," Melvin said. "This is well-deserved. I would have been really surprised if he would not have gotten in."More »
BOSTON -- Roger Clemens, who won the first three of his MLB-record seven Cy Young Awards for the Red Sox, made incremental progress in this year's Hall of Fame voting, which was announced Wednesday night.
The Rocket received 242 votes, which meant he was listed on 57.3 percent of the ballots cast by BBWAA members. A player needs 75 percent of the votes to gain entry to the Hall of Fame. Last year, Clemens was on 54.1 percent of the ballots.
Curt Schilling, another pitcher who thrived in Boston, received 216 votes for 51.2 percent. That was a bump up from the 45.2 percent the big righty received a year ago.
Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman, four players Clemens and Schilling competed against in their careers, are the four new Hall of Famers, each receiving more than 75 percent of the votes.
Manny Ramirez, who formed a dynamic and dominant slugging duo with David Ortiz on the 2004 and '07 Red Sox teams that won World Series championships, received 22 percent of the votes in his second year on the ballot. That was a slight dip from the 23.8 percent the right-handed hitter received last year.
Another player from the beloved 2004 Red Sox, center fielder Johnny Damon, was knocked off the ballot in his first year, receiving eight votes (1.9 percent).
With Ortiz not eligible for the ballot until 2022, Clemens and Schilling are the players with Red Sox ties to keep an eye on in their quest to reach Cooperstown.
Clemens and Schilling both debuted on the ballot in 2013, and have four more chances to get elected via the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting process.
Clemens received the seventh-highest voting total on this year's ballot, and Schilling was ninth.
Dubbed the "Rocket Man" by teammate Bruce Hurst early in his time with the Red Sox, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts over his career. Clemens set a Major League record of 20 strikeouts while pitching for the Red Sox against Seattle on April 29, 1986, then tied his own record a decade later at Tiger Stadium in what wound up as his final win for Boston.
Clemens has all the statistical credentials to be in the Hall of Fame. However, like many players of his era, his candidacy has been hurt by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Ramirez was suspended twice for failing PED tests, which explains why a hitter with such impressive statistics (slash line of .312/.411/.585 with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs) didn't come close to gaining election again this year.
If you want the definition of a big-game pitcher, look no further than Schilling. His postseason numbers (11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts) could one day turn his bubble candidacy into an election into the Hall of Fame.
Schilling also did plenty of impressive things in the regular season, going 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and 3,116 strikeouts. He spent the final four seasons of his career (2004-07) with the Red Sox.More »
WASHINGTON -- When Max Scherzer won the National League Cy Young Award in November, it marked a significant milestone in his career. Scherzer became a three-time winner of the award, which has historically been a lock for a player's Hall of Fame candidacy.
Scherzer became the 10th pitcher to win at least three Cy Young Awards, a decorated list that includes Roger Clemens (seven), Randy Johnson (five), Steve Carlton (four), Greg Maddux (four), Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver and Clayton Kershaw (all with three). That list reads like a who's who for all-time pitching greats, and all of them are in the Hall of Fame except Kershaw, who is still active, and Clemens, who would be a lock if not for his connections to performance-enhancing drugs.
"When you start talking about winning it three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point in time," Scherzer said after winning the award in November. "It's such an unbelievable feeling and unbelievable moment, you really won't process it until years later."
Scherzer may still be processing his latest accolade, but with the results of the 74th Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame election set to be revealed Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET live on MLB Network and simulcast live on MLB.com, this seemed like a good time to examine Scherzer's Hall of Fame candidacy. How close is the Nationals ace to one day having his name enshrined in Cooperstown?
The short answer: Scherzer is not a lock right now, but he certainly is on the right path.
Evaluating starting pitchers for the Hall of Fame has become somewhat of a more difficult task since starters stopped racking up high win totals in recent decades, even though that stat began carrying less importance. Since 1992, BBWAA voters have elected only 11 starting pitchers to the Hall of Fame, and the most recent inductees were the no-doubters like Maddux, Martinez and Johnson. Some pitchers with strong cases have lingered on the ballot, such as Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling.
Where recording 300 wins used to be a guaranteed ticket to Cooperstown, that number has become nearly out of reach in modern baseball. Scherzer currently has 141 wins, and he'lll likely finish with a little more than 200 wins. That should not hamper his status as an elite pitcher, but it is worth noting that determining the value of a starting pitcher has become harder in recent years, not easier.
Using the JAWS metric to measure a Hall of Fame candidacy -- a number intended to compare a player to others at his position already enshrined -- Scherzer still has some work to do. The average JAWS score for a starting pitcher is 62.1 and Scherzer currently has a 43.7, which is 119th all time among starting pitchers.
Of course, Scherzer still has time to improve on that number. He is 33 years old, he's coming off winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards, so he has shown no signs of slowing down. He had a few nagging injuries during the 2017 season, which landed him on the DL for just the second time in his career, but he still managed to throw 200-plus innings for the fifth consecutive season. The Nationals have been so impressed by the care Scherzer puts into his body and how he maintains his arm health that they believe he will age gracefully and avoid a sharp decline.
Look at Scherzer's closest historical comparisons in terms of WAR over the past four years, and you'll see he's in good company. From his age 30-33 seasons, Scherzer most similarly compares to pitchers like Bob Gibson, Kevin Brown, Roy Halladay, Seaver, Cliff Lee, Palmer, Mussina and Mark Langston. During the next five seasons, the average WAR per season for those eight players went as follows: 5.4, 4.8, 1.8, 2.3 and 1.6. With a normal aging curve and a couple more years of his prime, Scherzer should be in great position to join the elite ranks.
With his excellence in recent years, Scherzer has established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers of this generation. He threw a pair of no-hitters in 2015 and almost routinely flirts with throwing another one. In '16, he became one of three pitchers in MLB history (Clemens, Kerry Wood) to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. His presence on the mound, stomping around and screaming to himself when he gets in a groove, makes him one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball. Where other pitchers who were merely very good for an extended period of time might get penalized during Hall of Fame discussions, Scherzer's routine dominance should give him a boost in consideration.
One limiting factor: Scherzer got off to a somewhat late start to get his career rolling. He made his first All-Star team and won his first Cy Young Award with Detroit in 2013 at age 28, but he has put together a dominant five-year run to build an already-strong Hall of Fame resume.
No player is currently in the Hall of Fame with a Nationals cap on his plaque, but perhaps if Scherzer continues on his current path, he could be destined to be the first.More »
Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey passed away due to natural causes on Saturday. He was 87.
Harvey was the ninth umpire elected to the Hall of Fame and one of the final Major League umpires who never attended an umpiring school. Over his 31 years in baseball, spent entirely in the National League, Harvey worked 4,673 games, which is the fifth most all-time and was the third most for any umpire at the time of his retirement in 1992.
"Hall of Famer Doug Harvey was one of the most accomplished umpires of all-time," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement on Sunday. "Known for his strong presence and communication skills, he umpired some of the most memorable moments ever, including from behind the plate for Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run to open the 1988 World Series. A generation of umpires learned as a result of Doug's example, his eagerness to teach the game and his excellent timing behind the plate.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Doug's family, his friends and the umpiring community."
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2010, Harvey umpired five World Series, nine NL Championship Series and six All-Star Games. He served as a crew chief for 18 years.
"Doug Harvey demonstrated exceptional character during a distinguished umpiring career, and was universally respected in baseball," Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement on Sunday. "All of us at the Hall of Fame thought highly of him, and we are deeply saddened by this loss. We send our sympathy and love to his wife, Joy, and their family."
Harvey began umpiring for a living after his father's suggestion and worked games in the Class C Sunset League at 19. Eventually he would umpire in San Diego in a grueling five-month, 155-game schedule before making it to the professional ranks.
"I remember that while watching Don Larsen throw his perfect game on TV, I told the guys with me that I was going to go into professional umpiring, and someday they would be watching me on TV," Harvey said in his Hall of Fame speech. "They laughed me out of the room. Eleven years later, they were watching me on TV, working my World Series plate job."
Harvey was known for his silver hair that grayed in his 30s, and his style was hard to miss. His methodical-yet-authoritative signals and presence earned him the nickname "God" from players.
"You always respected him because he came out to his job and [did it] with a lot of class," Joe Torre, a Hall of Fame manager who became the first player Harvey ejected, said after Harvey retired in 1992. "He was very consistent, and that's the highest compliment you can pay anybody."
Harvey was named the second-greatest umpire in history by the Society for American Baseball Research in 1999, and Referee magazine named him among the 52 most influential figures in the history of sports officiating in 2007.
"Doug Harvey set the bar for future umpires," Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame president, said in a statement on Sunday. "He was revered for his calm demeanor, ability to control the game, knowledge of the strike zone and comprehension of the rules, leading many players to refer to him as 'god.' He umpired with integrity, heart and common sense for 31 seasons, including 18 as a crew chief, resulting in his richly deserved 2010 election into the Hall of Fame."
A public memorial is being planned for the near future in San Diego.More »
The 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 24, and with it, a new group of legends will be revealed.
That makes now as good a time as any to ask a speculative question: Which current big leaguers might join them one day in Cooperstown? We're not talking about the easy ones: Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, the few other superstars who will likely turn into shoo-ins. We're talking about the borderline candidates, the stars who may well be on their way, but aren't there yet.
We ran a similar exercise last winter, but this year's version comes with a twist. Which borderline Hall of Famers actually improved their chances during the 2017 season? Whose Cooperstown resume looks better than it did a year ago? These 10 names should ring a bell. (Note: The historical comps below are informed by similarity scores devised by Bill James and, in this case, are the retired player who plays the same position and is the most statistically similar through their current age.)
Zack Greinke, RHP, age 34
Career: 172-107, 3.40 ERA, 56.9 bWAR
2017: 17-7, 3.20 ERA, 6 bWAR
Historical comp: Mike Mussina
When we explored the topic of active, borderline Hall of Fame candidates last winter, I wrote of Greinke: "He'll need to finish his career with more seasons akin to his 2011-15 stretch than his lackluster first season in Arizona if he wants to bolster his dark horse candidacy for Cooperstown."
That's exactly what he did in 2017. In his second year with the D-backs, Greinke shaved more than a run off his 2016 ERA, eclipsed the 200-inning mark, made another All-Star team, won another Gold Glove and placed fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. In the process, he entrenched his place in any conversation about the defining pitchers of his era.
Max Scherzer, RHP, age 33
Career: 141-75, 3.30 ERA, 45.6 bWAR
2017: 16-6, 2.51 ERA, 7.6 bWAR
Historical comp: Johan Santana
Scherzer's third Cy Young Award puts him in rare company. Ten pitchers in history have won as many, and of them, only Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw aren't enshrined in Cooperstown (yet).
With the demise of the 300-game winner, the criteria for Cooperstown-worthy starting pitchers has shifted in recent years, and will only continue to do so. By the time Scherzer's name appears on the ballot, he'll likely be judged on the strengths of his dominant peak -- now entering its seventh season.
Craig Kimbrel, RHP, age 29
Career: 1.80 ERA, 291 saves, 14.8 K/9, 18 bWAR
2017: 1.43 ERA, 35 saves, 16.4 K/9, 3.6 bWAR
Historical comp: Jonathan Papelbon
Relievers are still rare in Cooperstown, and debates over their value in modern, highly specialized roles rage on. They are the main reason Trevor Hoffman, the National League's all-time saves leader, isn't in yet. If Hoffman is enshrined this year, he'll be the first full-time reliever selected since Goose Gossage in 2008.
Specialized or not, few have been better than Kimbrel since he debuted in 2010, and even fewer dominated the way he did in 2017. Kimbrel's fate will ultimately be decided by the collective philosophy of the voting pool, but at the very least, his exceptional '17 campaign may be what catapults him into the conversation.
Yadier Molina, C, age 35
Career: .284/.336/.403, 126 homers, 35.4 bWAR, 8 Gold Glove Awards
2017: .273/.312/.439, 18 homers, 2 bWAR
Historical comp: Bill Freehan
Molina's case for Cooperstown will be based on his defense, and it will come with its fair share of detractors. Molina's eight Gold Glove Awards are the third most of any catcher (behind Ivan Rodriguez and Johnny Bench), but his offensive numbers won't be enough to warrant consideration on their own. Glove-first stars are rare, but not unheard of, in the Hall of Fame.
Which is why it stands to reason that any additional offense Molina produces from here on would only boost his candidacy. On that front, 2017 offers a conflicted outlook. On the one hand, Molina's batting average and on-base percentage were lower than his career marks. On the other, he put up his second-best single-season home run total and had a career-high 82 RBIs.
Buster Posey, C, age 30
Career: .308/.376/.474, 128 homers, 37.5 bWAR
2017: .320/.400/.462, 12 homers, 4 bWAR
Historical comp: Gabby Hartnett
The Giants were not very good in 2017, but their catcher, as usual, was. Quietly, Posey enjoyed perhaps his best offensive season since his NL MVP-capturing 2012 campaign. After nine seasons, Posey's 135 career OPS+ ranks second all-time among catchers, behind only Mike Piazza.
That alone says a lot about his Hall of Fame chances, though they might ultimately hinge on how long Posey remains behind the dish full-time. Posey made a quarter of his starts away from catcher last season, more than double the year before. The more time he spends at first base, the more glaring Posey's lack of power will look to voters.
CC Sabathia, LHP, age 37
Career: 237-146, 3.70 ERA, 60.7 bWAR
2017: 14-5, 3.69 ERA, 2.8 bWAR
Historical comp: Mike Mussina
Sabathia's case could end up acting as a litmus test in regards to how voters judge starters of an era where starters were asked to do less than ever before. And his rebound season in 2017 may help sway voters who, before last season, considered him on the short side of the Hall of Fame bubble.
Chris Sale, LHP, age 28
Career: 91-58, 2.98 ERA, 37.1 bWAR
2017: 17-8, 2.90 ERA, 6 bWAR
Historical comp: Juan Pizarro
There really isn't a great historical comparison for Sale. He throws like Randy Johnson, but enjoyed much more early-career success. He ranks like Johan Santana in similarity score, but hasn't won a Cy Young or an ERA title. Four of the next nine most statistically similar pitchers are active, and two that aren't were right-handed.
At age 28, Sale still lacks the prestige of a Cy Young Award or an ERA crown. But he does have two strikeout titles and the best career strikeout-to-walk ratio ever among qualified starters. A little more hardware, and his resume may start to stack up among some all-time greats.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, age 28
Career: .268/.360/.554, 267 homers, 35.1 bWAR
2017: .281/.376/.631, 59 homers, 7.6 bWAR
Historical comp: Juan Gonzalez
After his high-voltage 2017 campaign, Stanton now owns two league home run titles, an MVP Award, four All-Star selections and two Silver Sluggers. He still has a ways to go to reach Cooperstown, but consider his chances to reach some of baseball's biggest power benchmarks.
Stanton is signed for the next 10 seasons. Over that time, he'll need to average just 23.3 home runs per year to reach 500 and 33.3 per year to reach 600. And if you really want to dream … 43.3 per year to reach 700.
Justin Verlander, RHP, age 34
Career: 188-114, 3.46 ERA, 56.6 bWAR
2017: 15-8, 3.36 ERA, 6.4 bWAR
Historical comp: Dwight Gooden
It's possible Verlander checked the final box on his Hall of Fame resume in 2017: A World Series championship. What else does he have to prove? Verlander now owns a ring, a Cy Young Award, an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year Award, two wins titles, two no-hitters, an ERA crown, three innings-pitched and four strikeout titles, and the reputation as the most dominant and durable power pitcher of his generation.
Verlander's candidacy for Cooperstown looked murky as recently as two winters ago, when he followed two subpar seasons with an injury-plagued year. But after two redemptive seasons in the third act of his career, Verlander looks as likely as ever to be eventually enshrined. The new hardware should help, too.
Joey Votto, 1B, age 34
Career: .313/.428/.541, 257 homers, 54.8 bWAR
2017: .320/.454/.578, 36 homers, 7.5 bWAR
Historical comp: Jason Giambi
Votto commands the strike zone better than any hitter since Barry Bonds, and this season, those on-base skills brought him within two measly points of his second NL MVP Award. By the time Votto's name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot, the voter pool will likely look past the question that's trailed Votto throughout his career: Does he drive in enough runs?
Still, Votto will be a fascinating case when compared to others enshrined at his position. Votto is the game's premier on-base machine in an era that values getting on base above all else. His career .428 OBP is tied for eighth all-time with legendary slugger Jimmie Foxx. But he's driven in only 830 runs over 11 seasons. How will he compare to, say, Hall of Fame first baseman Frank Thomas, who reached base at a similar clip but also hit 344 home runs with 1,183 RBIs over his first 11 years in the league?More »
SAN DIEGO -- For half a century, the biggest moments in sports were often accompanied by the warm and inviting tones of Dick Enberg's voice. Enberg, who won the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award and earned equivalent honors from the football and basketball Halls of Fame, passed away on Thursday. He was 82.
"Dick Enberg was first and foremost a true gentleman, one who just happened to be among the most distinguished sports broadcasters in history," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was well-known for bringing many different sports into the homes of fans, but he had a special bond with the National Pastime. Those of us in Baseball are grateful for his impact on the Angels, the Padres, the Tigers, and his national playoff coverage. I was fortunate to get to know Dick during our 2016 All-Star Week in San Diego, where he participated in the pregame ceremony, a year after he was honored in Cooperstown.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Barbara, their family, and the many admirers he earned throughout a magnificent broadcasting career."
Enberg is the only person to win an Emmy as a sports broadcaster, writer and producer, and during his ceremony in Cooperstown, he deemed the Frick Award "the culmination" of his professional life behind the microphone. Enberg concluded a career that spanned six decades with seven seasons as the play-by-play voice of the San Diego Padres from 2010-16.
"We are immensely saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg," read a statement from Padres ownership. "Dick was an institution in the industry for 60 years and we were lucky enough to have his iconic voice behind the microphone for Padres games for nearly a decade. On behalf of our entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Barbara, and the entire Enberg family."
In a 50-year career, Enberg called 42 NFL seasons, 28 Wimbledon tennis tournaments, 15 NCAA basketball title games, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls and the 1982 World Series. He earned 14 Emmy awards and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards. Name a major sporting event, chances are Enberg called it.
"He was the voice of my childhood in sports," said Padres color commentator Mark Grant, who worked alongside Enberg for seven seasons. "He was the voice that when you heard it on a game, it mattered. Football, Wimbledon, college basketball, Super Bowls, his resume speaks for itself.
"It was an honor to sit next to him for seven years. Here I am as a little kid, 8 years old, watching UCLA basketball games with my dad in the basement of our house, and Dick Enberg is doing the game. Fast forward in my career, and all of a sudden, I'm sitting next to him, talking about Padres baseball. It's surreal. You find out that people who you admire are regular people, too. They have passions about certain things. They have good hearts. It's sad, it really is. I honestly thought Dick was going to be a guy who was going to live to like 105."
Baseball, Enberg constantly reiterated, was always his first love. He served as a teacher and baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State College from 1962-65. It was there that he developed his two signature catchphrases: "Oh, my!" and "Touch 'em all!"
Enberg called his first Major League Baseball game in 1969 and spent time on Angels and national broadcasts for parts of the next two decades. He called his 2015 ceremony in Cooperstown "the greatest weekend of my life."
"I've loved this game as far back as I can remember, being teethed on a baseball bat," said Enberg upon the announcement that he'd be honored in Cooperstown. "To have this, and my love for a sport, it's too good to be true, especially in light of those who are so qualified to earn this Ford C. Frick Award."
Enberg's colleagues from around the broadcasting world immediately took to social media to convey their sadness of his passing, while also celebrating one of the most beloved members of the industry.
Born and raised in Michigan, Enberg earned his bachelor's degree at Central Michigan University and got his first experience broadcasting college athletics at Indiana University. He began a full-time broadcasting career at KTLA in Los Angeles, serving as a voice for UCLA basketball, Los Angeles Rams football and California Angels baseball games. He gained fame calling the dominant Bruins basketball teams of the 1970s, and also called the famous 1979 NCAA championship game featuring Indiana State's Larry Bird and Michigan State's Magic Johnson.
Enberg joined NBC Sports in 1975, when he got his first experience calling MLB postseason contests. The Angels hired him back to broadcast for the team in 1985 before he went on to be a national voice once again for CBS Sports. Throughout his career, Enberg called nine no-hitters, noting upon his retirement, "There's no drama like that in any other sport."
Enberg regularly recounted the story of how he received his first job in the business. In his early 20s, he walked into a Mount Pleasant, Mich., radio station in search of a custodial job. Instead, he was given work as a weekend disc jockey and local sports show host.
"What if I had been given the job I wanted?" Enberg often quipped, with a wry grin.
Instead, more than half a century later, Enberg has passed away as an icon in the sports world, one of the most fabled and soothing voices the industry has ever known.More »
A year ago, I sat down with my first ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame and agonized over it for weeks.
Who should I vote for? What would I do with players who tested positive -- or were even suspected -- of using performance-enhancing drugs? How would I choose my final 10?
With no personal voting history to fall back on, I first came to the decision that I would vote for players regardless of whether they had ever been connected to PEDs. From the moment they arrived in the Majors, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez were three of the best players I had ever seen, and the idea of not voting for them seemed implausible.
I respect any voter who chooses to punish players associated with PEDs, but given that we don't know exactly who was or wasn't using drugs prior to the implementation of testing in 2003, I'm not about to draw any such lines. Agree or disagree, that's where I stand.
So last year, once I narrowed the ballot down from 34 to 17, I whittled it down to 10 from there. The final two spots were the toughest, with Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff making the cut ahead of Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker and Jeff Kent.
After Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez -- all of whom I voted for -- were elected last year, I figured some of the players I was forced to leave off would find their way to the top of my 2018 ballot.
I forgot about those pesky first-timers: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome were no-brainers for me, and while Omar Vizquel's defensive wizardry was second to none, I wasn't ready to vote for him ahead of many of the other eligible players.
Returning on my ballot from last year were Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Mussina. Eight spots down, two remaining.
McGriff was the only other player left from my 2017 ballot that I had not checked off again. The moment I sealed my ballot and mailed it in last year, I regretted not voting for Martinez. He finished 11th on my list, thanks in part to the fact that he played about 70 percent of his career games at designated hitter. I absolutely considered him a Hall of Famer, but you can only vote for 10.
This is where Hall of Fame voting gets tough -- strategic, even. To me, the process should be a simple, binary question: Is he a Hall of Famer? Vote yes or no for each player, regardless of how many you vote for.
Instead, we must ask that question first, then pare it down to 10 names if we believe there are 11 or more that warrant a vote. There were 17 names on the ballot this year that would have received serious consideration from me if I could vote for more than 10, and while it's unlikely that I would have voted for all 17, I probably would have checked off 14 or 15 boxes.
So while I voted for McGriff ahead of Martinez last year, I felt they were both deserving. They're each in their second-to-last year of eligibility, and while McGriff hasn't garnered more than 23.9 percent of the vote in any of his first eight years, Martinez and his absurd .312/.418/.515 slash line made it to 58.6 percent a year ago.
If I believe both are Hall of Famers, I owe it to Martinez to vote for him since he has a legitimate chance to earn the required 75 percent in one of his final two years on the ballot. Unfortunately for the "Crime Dog," a vote for him feels like a wasted vote.
With that decision made, my final spot came down to Schilling, Kent and Walker. I gave careful consideration to Hideki Matsui, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones and Johnny Damon, but none had a case convincing enough to move past the first three. I hope they collect at least 5 percent of the vote so I can consider them again, though there's a chance they fall off the ballot the same way Jorge Posada, Jim Edmonds, Carlos Delgado and others have in recent years.
I ultimately chose Schilling, whom I would have voted for a year ago if not for a series of anti-journalist comments he made that rubbed me -- and nearly everybody in my profession -- the wrong way. It was enough to put voting for him off for at least a year when there were clearly more than 10 other deserving players on the ballot.
Schilling's career was brilliant; Hall of Fame worthy, for certain. He was 70 games over .500, had eight seasons with 15-plus wins (including three 20-win campaigns) and struck out more than 3,000 batters while posting the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the game since the mound was lowered.
Then there's his postseason success. Like a modern-day Jack Morris, Schilling pitched three franchises into the World Series: the Phillies, Red Sox and D-backs.
Although he didn't win a ring with the Phillies, he pitched great that postseason. In Arizona, he pitched as well as anybody could, going 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA to lead the D-backs to a stunning World Series title. The numbers weren't quite as dominant with the Red Sox three years later, but his impact on that 2004 Boston team was unquestionable, while his "bloody sock" game will go down as one of the most memorable games in history.
Overall, Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts, including a 4-1 record and a 2.06 ERA in four World Series. That's Hall of Fame in my book, no matter how much I might disagree with him on non-baseball issues.
So that's my 10: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield and Jim Thome.
Whether your choices would have been the same, somewhat similar or completely different, there's one thing we can all agree on: baseball is great. Why else would anybody care about any of this?
I can't wait to do it all over again next year.More »
Renowned sports broadcaster Bob Costas was named the 2018 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Wednesday morning. The award is given annually to a candidate who displays "excellence in broadcasting."
Costas, the 42nd winner of the award, received the highest point total in a vote conducted by the Hall of Fame's 15-member selection committee. He will be recognized for his achievements during the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on July 28 as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2018.
"I love baseball. As most of you know, it's always been my favorite sport to broadcast, and I think that I'm something of an historian on the history of the craft," Costas said. "As a little kid, when I was 9 or 10 years old, I would fiddle with a radio dial and try to pick up Ernie Harwell from WJR in Detroit, or Bob Prince on KDKA in Pittsburgh or Chuck Thompson on WBAL in Baltimore, or Harry Caray and Jack Buck on a very clear night all the way from Long Island, beaming in from St. Louis on KMOX.
"And in the early '60s, we lived for a short while in Los Angeles, and I listened then to Vin Scully on a transistor radio like millions of others."
Costas was selected over finalists Buddy Blattner, Joe Buck, Dizzy Dean, Don Drysdale, Al Michaels, Joe Morgan and Pee Wee Reese.
"For almost 40 years, Bob Costas has presented an incredibly thoughtful and informed voice on every game he calls for NBC, The Baseball Network and MLB Network," president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Jeff Idelson said. "But it's Bob's pure affection for baseball that has made him a national treasure. From the first day he entered our living rooms, Bob became one of the national pastime's greatest friends."
A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Costas began his broadcasting career as the play-by-play caller for the St. Louis Spirits of the American Basketball Association. He called regional National Basketball Association and National Football League games for CBS in the late 1970s before moving to NBC in 1980.
Costas was paired up with Sal Bando to form the backup broadcast team for NBC's MLB Game of the Week in 1982, and he served that same role alongside fellow Ford Frick Award winner Tony Kubek from 1983-89.
"But I would think that the 15 people who voted, all of whom know the history of baseball broadcasting, I would think that the work that I did on a baseball game of the week on NBC in the '80s and then in the '90s with Bob Uecker and Joe Morgan on NBC, that it was that history as much as anything else that led to me being lucky enough to being selected," Costas said.
Costas has handled play-by-play duties for the American League Championship Series in 1983, '85, '87 and '89 in addition to doing pregame duties for the All-Star Game during those seasons. He also helped perform pregame assignments for the World Series in 1982, '84, '86 and '88.
Costa is a 28-time Emmy Award winner, and he joined MLB Network in 2009. He has served as the network's documentary host for the past nine years.More »
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Akron Beacon Journal had decided to invest in full coverage of the 1981 Cleveland Indians, not just home games. But the newspaper's Tribe beat reporter did not want to travel. The sports editor needed somebody flexible -- or perhaps crazy -- enough to spend an entire summer following a season that wound up being memorable for Len Barker's perfect game and little else.
Sheldon Ocker, who had been covering the NBA's Cavaliers, agreed to take on the job. He had no idea he'd be doing it for the next 33 years.
"I should have known better," he jokes now.
Ocker met all the deadlines, sat through all the rain delays, caught all the flights and, of course, covered all the highs and lows and news and notes associated with more than three decades in the life of a baseball club. Now they'll put his name not in a byline but on the most prestigious award a baseball scribe can receive. On Tuesday, Ocker was announced as the 2018 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He will be honored with the accolade as part of the Hall of Fame's induction weekend on July 27-30 next summer in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"I was surprised," Ocker said. "I guess nobody expects that they're going to win, but I sure didn't."
The writers recognized Ocker for his indefatigable approach to the job. From that 1981 season through his retirement at the end of the Tribe's 2013 campaign, he very rarely missed a game -- both in Spring Training and the regular season.
"He had the four things every beat writer needs -- he was a good reporter, he had strong opinions, he never took a day off and he knew the best restaurants in every city on the road," said Paul Hoynes, who has covered the Indians since 1983. "More than that, he's a good friend."
Ocker, 75, retired following the 2013 season after 33 years on the Indians' beat for the Beacon Journal. He was named the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in '97 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and served as the president of the BBWAA in '85 and as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He is now the 69th winner of the Spink Award, having received 168 votes among the 426 ballots cast, including two blank submissions, via BBWAA members with at least 10 consecutive years of service. Jim Reeves (143 votes) of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and longtime Minneapolis-based baseball writer Patrick Reusse (113 votes) were also considered.
When Ocker gets to the podium in Cooperstown, he'll have more than a few stories to tell. Like the time a rookie by the name of Manny Ramirez summoned him to a table in the visiting clubhouse in Kansas City where Ramirez was sitting with Julian Tavarez.
"Can you give us a loan?" Ramirez asked Ocker.
"How much, Manny?" Ocker replied.
"Sixty thousand dollars," Ramirez said. "We want to buy two Harleys."
Ocker had to explain to the young Ramirez that sportswriter salaries aren't exactly on par with those of the ballplayers they cover.
Not all the laughs came courtesy of Manny. When things were slow on the field, Ocker would occasionally pepper the press box by drawing from his collection of cutouts from the New York Post of an old jokes column from comedian Joey Adams and reading the groaners aloud to the audience.
"Mostly they were not funny at all," Ocker said. "Which is why they were funny."
You've got to have a sense of humor to do what Ocker did for as long as he did it. But the funny thing about the baseball beat for those who do it long enough is that the lifestyle gets in your blood after a while. And for Ocker, retirement was a rude awakening.
"It took two years before I stopped packing my suitcase every other week," he joked. "You kind of have withdrawal a little bit, because you have this routine that's like the opposite of a normal person. Instead of going to Kansas City to see the Royals, you have to go to the grocery store to buy some hamburger."
And so Ocker wound up on a beat of a very different sort, working part-time as an editor and school board reporter for a company that produces community magazines in the Northeast Ohio area.
But Ocker's time in baseball was not forgotten by those who worked alongside him all those years.
"When you get voted into something by the people you've worked with for years and years, it makes it more special, because they know what you do and you know what they do and you're kind of all in the same boat," he said. "When they recognize you like that, it makes it pretty neat."More »
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were Tigers Draft picks in the same year, a few rounds apart in 1976. They both arrived in the big leagues a year later and spent the next 14 seasons as teammates in Detroit.
On Monday, they were wearing the same jersey once more. This time, it was the red and white jerseys the Hall of Fame gives to inductees to put on during their introductory press conference. And as they put their arms through the sleeves, fitting them over the attire they wore to the Winter Meetings, the gravity of Sunday's news was sinking in.
"How's it look, buddy?" Trammell asked, turning to Morris.
"Makes you look good," Morris answered.
It was a good fit -- not just the jerseys, but the historic significance of Morris and Trammell entering Cooperstown together. The pair was part of the Tigers' last World Series championship team, in 1984, the same year that two teammates went into the Hall of Fame wearing the same cap on their plaque. Baseball writers voted in Don Drysdale that year, his 10th on the ballot. That same year, the Veterans Committee voted in Drysdale's Dodgers teammate, Pee Wee Reese.
Though Braves rotation mates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine went into the Hall of Fame together in 2014, only Glavine went in as a Brave. Maddux, whose career began with the Cubs, went in with a blank cap on his plaque.
As Trammell and Morris spoke together with reporters, they played off each other like they were still teammates. While Morris was emotional, at times fighting back tears as he spoke about the long wait to get in, Trammell couldn't stop smiling.
"I've prided myself for years of being prepared, and that was kind of my style of how I played, but I find myself with my mind drifting constantly," Trammell said of his mentality since Sunday. "I'm trying to stay on task, and I'm having a very difficult time doing it. I'm going to be honest. I feel a little bit out of place.
"The Hall of Fame, that's got a great ring to it. But when I hear 'Alan Trammell, Hall of Fame,' it hasn't resonated yet, and I'm just speaking from the heart."
Those emotions might be more similar as they sit down and prepare their speeches, the magnitude finally sets in for Trammell, and the task at hand becomes more imperative for Morris. But for this day, their personalities on the dais at Disney's Swan and Dolphin Hotel and Resort reflected a little bit of their personalities as teammates -- Morris the fiery competitor, Trammell the kid at heart.
"After failing on the writers ballot, reality sinks in. For me, it was a wonderful learning time because I had to remind myself of how much I am grateful for without the Hall of Fame," Morris said. "And then you get this wonderful news from your peers, and it happens, and Tram and I are both having a tough time grasping that right now. But it's more for the people that were in my corner than me, myself, right now. I think, had I made it on the first ballot, I wouldn't have that same feeling. So I'm grateful for the time, because it has taught me a lot."
One of the people who had been in both of their corners is no longer with them, though he's also in the Hall. Until now, Sparky Anderson was the only member of the 1984 Tigers enshrined in Cooperstown, in his case as a manager. Both Trammell and Morris were thinking of Anderson and his teachings as they thought about their careers that led them down this path.
"As young athletes, we thought we were good, and we thought we knew what we were doing," Trammell said. "And little did we know, we didn't know squat. We really didn't. And he was the man that got us over the hump."
They had different relationships with Anderson, as Morris acknowledged, but he got the most out of them.
"Sparky made me a ballplayer, whether I liked it or not," Morris said. "We were unhealthily too close. He wasn't my manager. He was my older brother, my dad, and I love both of them. … I loved Sparky, but I wanted to hug him and kick him in the butt at the same time almost every day.
"What I can tell you is he brought out the best in both of us, and not only us, but our teams. There's a crazy, insane way he did it. It defies all logic. It doesn't fall into any analytic. But he knew what he was doing, and I love the man, will forever. Wish he was here to celebrate with us."More »
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Before the phone calls that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell had waited a baseball lifetime to receive, there was a closed room, a rectangular table and 16 men discussing, deliberating, debating and after somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours, deciding how to cast their votes in the Baseball Hall of Fame's Modern Era ballot.
The end result of the process, as announced Sunday night and celebrated at a Monday morning news conference at the start of the Winter Meetings, was Morris and Trammell getting what some would say was their long-overdue call to the Hall. But the process is as interesting as the end result. It reveals to us the stark discrepancy that can exist in the perspectives between external observers and between-the-lines insiders as to which players dominated their respective eras, and it demonstrates that the heated discussions over who is worthy of Hall of Fame acclaim extend to the Hall of Famers themselves.
"Holy cow," said George Brett, one of the 16 Modern Era committee members this year. "You start comparing them, and then you get people speaking on their behalf and then you've got people bad-mouthing them. I mean, it was pretty heated discussions on everybody. Then it's a secret ballot, and you write down zero to four names."
Brett and fellow Hall members Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount were on the voting board, as were Major League executives Sandy Alderson, Paul Beeston, Bob Castellini, Bill DeWitt and David Glass and veteran historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark. The 10-person ballot featured Trammell, Morris, Ted Simmons, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Luis Tiant and former MLB Players' Association leader Marvin Miller, and as Brett said, the committee members were limited to four votes. To get in, a candidate needed to appear on at least 12 of 16 ballots (Morris appeared on 14, Trammell 13).
Yount looked at his ballot after the lengthy discourse and felt overwhelmed by the assignment.
"That," Yount said, "was more difficult than anything I had ever imagined when I was asked to be one of the committee members."
Yount and Brett both became first-ballot Hall of Famers in 1999. They didn't have to have their Cooperstown cases put through the wringer of spending 15 years on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, as Morris and Trammell did. Morris and Trammell don't simply share a history as 1976 Detroit Draft picks turned 1984 World Series champs and 2018 Hall entrants.
The fact that they were rewarded by their baseball peers only added to the appeal of the outcome.
"I have to thank this group of people that voted for us," said Morris, "and it is somewhat more gratifying knowing that the guys that I tried to get out and the people that I competed against and the guys that worked the front office and made decisions are the people that helped us be here today. It's wonderful."
Added Trammell: "I think it's even better [than getting voted in by the writers]."
Trammell never appeared on more than 40.9 percent of BBWAA ballots. His case had strong support from sabermetricians but grassroots efforts to get him elected never gained traction. Morris, on the other hand, made it as high at 67.7 percent, ultimately losing a sort of culture war between the advanced analytics that pooh-poohed his place among Hall of Fame pitchers and more traditional numbers like wins and complete games that celebrated his standing.
Morris said he never really understood why his career would be judged by statistical criteria that didn't even exist when he was playing, but he ultimately learned to find peace with the process. He said he never begrudged the writers their opinion or their vote.
"Now that I'm in," he said with a laugh, "I don't have to worry about that anymore."
Some peers were puzzled to see Morris and Trammell left on the outside looking in for those 15 years, and their voices were heard via the Modern Baseball Era Committee, which considers the cases of those whose greatest impact was realized between 1970-87 and was created as part of the re-imagination of the former Veterans Committee process in 2016. One of the interesting wrinkles of the result was that Simmons, a catcher who spent 21 seasons with the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves, fell just one vote shy of election by the Modern Era Committee after dropping off the BBWAA ballot with just 3.7 percent support in his first and only year.
"I know how good a player he was," said Yount, "and something went completely wrong in the baseball writer voting."
That is the goal of the smaller committees -- to right potential wrongs from the BBWAA part of the process. And to be a fly on the wall in the room, with each member of the committee fighting for his guy.
"I learned an awful lot about the game of baseball," Brett said.
When the end result was discussed Monday, Trammell said was still in a daze of wonder and Morris continually got choked up about the topic.
"That's not the guy I remember on the mound snorting and sniffing and out for blood," Yount said. "He has a soft side."
The peers who had helped Morris and Trammell get in admitted to getting choked up, too, because, as Hall of Famers themselves, they know all about the emotion of entry into one of sports' most hallowed clubs. And as voting committee members, they took part in the fascinating process that had made it all happen.
"It really was a fun process," Brett said. "It was really kind of cool to be able to determine someone's fate."More »
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Alan Trammell was in Detroit last weekend, co-hosting a baseball camp for kids inside the gym at Wayne State University, when the staff played a video showing Trammell's highlights from the 1984 World Series. They were meant to give campers a glimpse of what their instructor accomplished in his career, but they also served to jog Trammell's memory.
"I have not sat down and watched a full game of the World Series," Trammell said. "I have those tapes, but this is going to date myself: They're all VHS. But they were running those [at the camp], and I kept glancing up there, because there were things happenings that I'd almost forgotten. I caught myself looking up there quite a bit."
Now that two members of that squad, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, are about to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, having been selected by the Modern Era Committee, generations of fans -- some of whom weren't alive for that magical run -- are about to learn a lot about that club and how dominant of a season it had.
Until now, the only member of that team in the Hall of Fame has been its manager, Sparky Anderson. The fact that no player had been inducted has been a sore spot for years for many Tigers fans. For them, Sunday was a validation, an acknowledgment that a team that went 35-5 to begin the season, won 104 games and led its division wire to wire had Hall of Fame players.
It wasn't just a great season, but a great team. Morris and Trammell had better individual seasons in other years, including 1983, but never on more successful clubs.
"It certainly gives me a sense of pride," Morris said. "I know that Tiger fans have been loyal ever since that year. I think a lot of people in Michigan always wondered why a team that was so good and so dominant never had someone to represent them in the Hall of Fame. And so I'm proud that Alan made it and I made it together. I can't think of a better scenario than to go in with a former teammate that I love and respect so much.
"I know it's got to be a great day, a warm and fuzzy day for Tiger fans, because the tradition of Tiger baseball is finally recognized."
It won't just be a great day for fans of that team. For other members of that club, it's an honor long overdue.
"From the '84 perspective, yeah, it's nice to have a couple guys from that team represent us in the Hall of Fame," Lance Parrish said. "Maybe it'll give us a little more credibility, although I think the record speaks for itself."
Morris was an 18-game winner on that team, and a critical part of that team's historic start. Not only did he throw a no-hitter on April 7 of that year, he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in six starts, four of them complete games. He was 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA at the end of May, and finished 19-11 with a 3.60 ERA that year. He won all three of his postseason starts, pitching two complete-game victories in the World Series.
Trammell tore through the season's opening month and owned a .407 batting average on May 1. He ended up batting .314 that year with 34 doubles, 14 home runs and 69 RBIs in 139 games. He was an All-Star selection and American League Gold Glove Award winner that year, but his saved his bigger contribution for that World Series, batting 9-for-20 with two homers and six RBIs in the five-game series against the Padres to earn series MVP.
"It is special to have two of those guys from that '84 team, and even in that era," said Tom Brookens, an infielder on that club. "We had a lot of good teams other than that '84 team, but that one sticks out because we won the championship. Those guys were mainstays and reasons why we were successful."
Though Brookens said they didn't need a Hall of Famer to validate the success itself, the fact that a championship club did not have one Hall of Famer was an historic oddity. Trammell and Morris exhausted their eligibility on the BBWAA ballot without receiving the 75-percent vote needed for induction. Others, like Kirk Gibson and Lou Whitaker, didn't even receive the five-percent vote required to stay on the ballot and were off after one year.
Whitaker was considered for the 10-person Modern Era ballot, but the longtime Tigers second baseman did not receive the necessary votes from the Historical Overview Committee to make it, dashing Trammell's hopes to be inducted with his double-play partner of 19 seasons.
"Jack and I are going in to represent our era. I think Lou, hopefully in some time, will," Trammell said. "That'll put a big smile on my face."
To many, any recognition for the Tigers of that era was long overdue. The fact that it came from a committee that included several Hall of Famers who played against that 1984 squad meant even more.
"Trust me, I've thought about that for a long time," Morris said. "I thought about that while I was still on the writers' ballot. And there is some real warmth there that those guys were on the field against me [voted], more so than young writers who never saw me."More »