Smith misses HOF in final year on writers' ballot

Smith misses HOF in final year on writers' ballot

CHICAGO -- Whether Lee Smith will get into the Hall of Fame is now in the hands of the Eras Committee.

Smith received 151 votes (34.2 percent) in the last year the right-handed pitcher was eligible for Cooperstown in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, released Wednesday. Players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast to earn election into the Hall.

2017 Hall of Fame election results
Votes Player Percentage
381 Jeff Bagwell 86.2%
380 Tim Raines 86.0%
336 Ivan Rodriguez 76.0%
327 Trevor Hoffman 74.0%
317 Vladimir Guerrero 71.7%
259 Edgar Martinez 58.6%
239 Roger Clemens 54.1%
238 Barry Bonds 53.8%
229 Mike Mussina 51.8%
199 Curt Schilling 45.0%
Complete voting results »

Smith, who turned 59 on Dec. 4, finished his 18-year career with 478 saves and held the Major League record for career saves from 1993-2006. Trevor Hoffman then passed Smith's save total in 2006, and finished his career with 601 saves, second only to Mariano Rivera's 652. Hoffman just missed selection into Cooperstown this year, receiving 327 votes (74 percent) in his second year on the ballot.

Smith never received much support in the balloting by the BBWAA. In the 14 previous years he was on the ballot, he never received more than 50 percent, and last year, garnered 34.1 percent. He was the last player to appear on the ballot for 15 years, as players now only get 10 years to reach the 75 percent threshold.

Whether he gets into Cooperstown now will be determined by the Eras Committee. The Eras Committee considers retired players no longer eligible for election by the BBWAA along with managers, umpires and executives whose greatest contributions to the game were realized in one of three eras.

Only Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter have been inducted into the Hall of Fame based primarily on their relief pitching, and only Sutter has been elected with fewer innings or starting appearances than Smith.

Smith led the National League in saves in 1983 with 29, and again in '91 with 47 and in '92 with 43. He also paced the American League in saves in 1994 when he totaled 33 with the Orioles.

Smith pitched for the Cubs from 1980-87, and saved games for the Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds and Expos in his career. The right-hander never won a Cy Young Award, but he finished in the top 10 four times (1983, '91, '92 and '94), and he was eighth in NL Most Valuable Player Award voting in '91.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.