Some heavy hitters highlight the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot. Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell are among the highest vote-getters from the holdovers, while Ken Griffey Jr. is a near-lock to earn induction in his first year of eligibility. We analyze six returning candidates and four newcomers and predict their chance of reaching Cooperstown.
MATT CAMPBELL (AFP)
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Mike Piazza
The 12-time All-Star and 1993 NL Rookie of the Year earned 69.9 percent of the vote last year, making him the most likely returning candidate to reach the necessary 75 percent plateau. Piazza retired with 427 homers, including a major league-record 396 as a catcher. Not bad for a 62nd-round draft pick. OUTLOOK: The fourth time will be the charm for Piazza as he earns induction.
AFP/Getty ImagesDON EMMERT
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Jeff Bagwell
Bagwell watched fellow 'Killer B' Craig Biggio get elected last year in his third year on the ballot. In his fifth year on the ballot in 2015, Bagwell earned 55.7 percent of the vote after peaking at 59.6 percent in 2013. The 1994 NL MVP and 1991 NL Rookie of the Year totaled eight 100-plus-RBI seasons and nine 30-plus-homer seasons. However, PED suspicions have followed Bagwell, hurting his candidacy. OUTLOOK: A slight tick upward but still not near 75 percent.
MLB Photos via Getty ImagesRich Pilling
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Tim Raines
Perhaps overshadowed during his career by Rickey Henderson, Raines ranks fifth on the all-time stolen-base list with 808. Six times, he stole at least 70 bases, and he led the league in batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.413) in 1986. The 55 percent of the vote he earned last year was his highest in eight years on the ballot. OUTLOOK: The seven-time All-Star will hover around 55 percent again.
Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Curt Schilling
Schilling also reached a new high last year with 39.2 percent of the vote but still lagged far behind inductees Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. His 216 regular-season wins and 3.46 ERA won’t get him in, but his postseason heroics (11-2, 2.23 ERA, 2001 World Series co-MVP, bloody sock, etc.) eventually might. OUTLOOK: With fewer aces on this year’s ballot, Schilling should trend slightly higher – but not high enough.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Roger Clemens
No one has more Cy Young Awards (seven), and only Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson have more strikeouts (4,672). Clemens even has an MVP Award. But no pitcher’s candidacy is more clouded by steroid suspicion. Clemens debuted on the 2013 ballot with 37.6 percent of the vote and earned 37.5 percent in 2015. OUTLOOK: The Rocket will remain in a holding pattern, waiting patiently for the PED police to drop their case against him.
Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Barry Bonds
The all-time home run (and walks) king and seven-time MVP faces the identical hurdles as Clemens – with nearly the same voting trend. Also entering his fourth year on the ballot, Bonds peaked at 36.8 percent last year after debuting at 36.2 percent in 2013. Bonds’ 13 All-Star nods, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, eight Gold Gloves, numerous top-10 rankings in most key offensive categories and career 162.4 WAR (second-highest ever, according to baseball-reference.com) will be moot until the PED situation clears. OUTLOOK: The wait will continue with little movement in the vote totals.
MCT via Getty ImagesPaul Kitagaki Jr.
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Ken Griffey Jr.
The only questions surrounding Junior pertain to how much better his numbers would have been if he were able to dodge the injuries that plagued him, especially later in his career. Griffey still finished with 630 homers and had a decade-long reign as an AL Gold Glove winner in the '90s. OUTLOOK: A sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, the only question will be how high his vote total will be.
MCT via Getty ImagesJoe Rimkus Jr.
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Jim Edmonds
Edmonds posted 10 seasons with 25 or more homers, four seasons with 100-plus RBI and five seasons with a .300-plus batting average, but he is as well known for his defense as his offense. Considering his collection of highlight-reel catches and defensive prowess in center field, it’s surprising he collected only eight Gold Gloves. Edmonds’ postseason heroics (13 homers, 42 RBI) will strengthen his case. OUTLOOK: This will be the first year of what should be a steady climb for Edmonds, but even future induction remains unlikely.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman was the first reliever to reach the 600-save plateau and retired as the career saves leader (Mariano Rivera ultimately eclipsed him). Not bad for a guy who was drafted as a shortstop. For a 15-season stretch (1995-2009), he notched at least 30 saves 14 times and he averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings seven times between 1994 and 2003. OUTLOOK: Voters haven’t been kind to closers, but Hoffman has a good chance to join recent inductees Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter in Cooperstown.
Getty ImagesDonald Miralle
2016 Hall of Fame preview: Billy Wagner
One of only five men in major-league history with more than 400 saves, Wagner also will try to debunk the anti-closer mentality that has kept out the likes of Lee Smith and John Franco – both of whom also belong to the 400-save club. From 1998-2008, only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman saved more games, and Wagner finished his career with an outstanding 2.31 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per inning innings. OUTLOOK: Wagner might bust through the 75-percent wall at some point, but it likely will take years