Former Cardinals fall short in HOF voting

Former Cardinals fall short in HOF voting

Published Jan. 9, 2012 11:14 p.m. ET

Former Cardinals closer Lee Smith got the highest vote total he's received in seven years on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

But unfortunately for the man with the third most saves in baseball history, Smith still remains well short of the 75 percent of the vote needed for enshrinement.

The Baseball Hall of Fame released the 2010 voting numbers Monday afternoon and Smith's name appeared on 290 of 573 ballots, good for 50.6 percent. That's the highest total he's received since getting 47.3 percent of the vote in 2010. The right-hander dropped to 39.8 percent in 2007 but has seen an upward trend since.

Working in Smith's favor is the fact that only one player has ever received 50 percent of the vote and not eventually gotten in to the Hall of Fame.

But after hovering around 45 percent since he first appeared on the ballot in 2003, Smith would need to take a significant jump in his six remaining years on the ballot to garner enough votes.

Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was the only player voted into the Hall of Fame after receiving 86.4 percent of the votes.

Current Cardinals hitting coach and former St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire was named on just 112 of the ballots, good for 19.5 percent. McGwire, who admitted to taking steroids in January 2009, hasn't received higher than 23.6 percent of the votes in any of his six years on the ballot.

Smith, who ranks third in baseball history with 478 career saves, posted a 3.03 ERA in 1,022 big league games from 1980-1997. He led the league in saves four times and had 11 seasons of at least 30 saves.

McGwire hit 583 home runs in 16 big league seasons, leading the league four different times. His 70 home runs in 1998 briefly set the single-season home run record before Barry Bonds broke it a few years later.

Former Cardinals Brian Jordan and Tony Womack were also on the ballot but were two of the six candidates to not receive any votes. They will be removed from the ballot for next year but both Smith and McGwire will return.

Things don't figure to get any easier for Smith or McGwire next year as a monster set of candidates will appear on the ballot for the first time. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio are among those set to appear on the 2013 ballot.

Former Cardinals Steve Kline, Woody Williams, Royce Clayton and Reggie Sanders will be eligible for the first time as well but aren't likely to garner many votes should any of them even appear on the ballot.