Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza are the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those two players combined have 25 All-Star game selections and hit 1,057 home runs so it’s easy to see how they earned a spot in Cooperstown.
Griffey was named on 437 of 440 ballots, giving him the highest voting percentage (99.32%) of anyone in Hall of Fame history. The fact that three so-called MLB experts did not vote for a man with 630 home runs and 13 All-Star game appearances who played his entire career in the teeth of the Steroid Era and did not raise even a bit of suspicion is absurd, but Griffey holds no grudges.
"I can't be upset towards the three people who didn't vote for me,” Junior said. “To have the highest percentage is definitely a shock."
Piazza, a San Diego Padre for the 2006 season, made it in his 4th year of eligibility. He hit 396 home runs as a catcher, the highest total at the position in MLB history (Piazza hit 427 dingers overall). Piazza and Griffey are the only two players who will be inducted this July.
There are four other men who appeared on at least half the 440 ballots: Jeff Bagwell (71.6%), Tim Raines (69.8%), Trevor Hoffman (67.3%) and Curt Schilling (52.3%). Although disappointing that vote total is actually fantastic news for the former Padres closer.
Hoffman was in his first year of eligibility and nobody who has ever earned that high of a percentage in his first year has ever failed to (eventually) be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of course, in a move that speaks to his infinite class, Hoffy released a statement about this year’s results:
“First and foremost I want to congratulate Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza,” Hoffman wrote. “This is a class of tremendous players and people, both deserving of the title Hall of Famer. While the news today wasn’t the news I was hoping for I am humbled and honored to have been on the ballot and in the conversation with players of this caliber. If and when the day comes that I receive the ultimate honor in our game, I look forward to sharing with my family, friends, teammates, the Padres organization, and most importantly, the fans.”
The Padres organization also released a statement in support of Hoffman:
“We would like to congratulate the Hall of Fame class of 2016, including former Padres catcher Mike Piazza.
Regarding Trevor Hoffman falling short in his first year of eligibility, we share our fans’ disappointment in today’s results. Few others have represented a franchise in Major League Baseball the way Trevor and his family have represented the Padres over the last three decades. While it may be impossible for us to be objective, Trevor is a true Hall of Famer in our eyes and the eyes of all San Diegans. We hope that well-deserved recognition comes his way in the near future.”
There are several other players with San Diego ties to appear on this year’s ballot. Sadly Kearny High School alum Alan Trammell, who was one of the best middle infielders in the game for a decade with the Tigers of the 1980’s, only received 40.9% of votes so his eligibility is up. Trammell will have to wait another year before he’s eligible to be elected by the Veteran’s Committee.
Former Padres Fred McGriff (20.9%) and Gary Sheffield (11.6%) received enough votes to earn another year on the ballot. Former Padres David Eckstein and Brad Ausmus were both on the ballot. Eckstein only received two votes in his first year of eligibility while Ausmus received no votes. Neither man will be on the ballot next year. Carlsbad native Troy Glaus was on the ballot but received no votes.
Current Padres hitting coach Mark McGwire was named on 12.3% of the ballots.
So Trevor Hoffman and the greatest changeup the game has ever seen will have to wait at least one more year to see what his Hall of Fame plaque will look like. But his case could be strengthened in 2016 because next year’s group of first-time eligible players does not contain anyone the caliber of a Ken Griffey Jr. Here’s the list of guys who will join Hoffy and company on the ballot next year (in alphabetical order):
Pat Burrell, IF/OF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Mike Cameron, OF
Vladimir Guerrero, OF
Derrek Lee, 1B
Magglio Ordonez, OF
Jorge Posada, C
Manny Ramirez, OF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Arthur Rhodes, LHP
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Jason Varitek, C
Javier Vazquez, RHP
Tim Wakefield, RHP
A case will certainly be made for guys like Guerrero, Posada, Rodriguez and Varitek but it’s certainly going to be difficult to convince 75% of voters that they’re worthy of being called a “First-Ballot Hall of Famer,” a title on 51 men in history have earned.