What was interesting about last year's ballot was the fact that the writers selected a record average of 6.6 selections per ballot. That makes it a little more amazing that no player was selected last year. It also takes more away from the thought that the writers collaborated to not elect a player to the Hall.
The fact that a player did not gain entrance into the Hall of Fame last year was not solely due to the steroid era players. As I stated before, several of the players that were protested by the general public, received votes from many of the baseball writers. In fact, the presence of many of the first time eligibles resulted in some of the holdovers getting less percentage of the vote than in years past. The conclusion of the vote showed that while the BBWAA is not ready to select a player that either has used PEDs or has some suspicion of having used, no holdover player had gained enough clout to be selected.
This year will be another chance for many of those who used PEDs (and some who face some suspicion that they may have used) to gain entrance into the Hall. Several players who have spent several seasons on the ballot, including Jack Morris, who is on the ballot for his 15th and final time, have their chance to either gain election or gain some votes. As in all seasons, there is a new group of players on this year's ballot. Among first time eligibles, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and 1B/ DH Frank Thomas will be subjected to the vote.
75% of the vote is needed for a player to gain entrance. Last year, there were 569 ballots cast. It meant that 429 votes were necessary for selection. The player who received the most votes was first time eligible Craig Biggio (388, 68.2%). That was followed by Morris (385, 67.7%), Jeff Bagwell (339, 59.6%), Mike Piazza (329, 57.8%) and Tim Raines (297, 52.2%). Five players received more than 50% of the vote and twelve received over 1/3 of the vote.
Among the players who were eligible, only Dale Murphy was on the ballot for the last time. Bernie Williams, who was on the ballot for the 2nd time, did not receive the required 5% to be on the ballot again this season. Top first time players worth considering this year include Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. Odds are each will at least receive more than the 5% required to be on the ballot next year.
Last year, I announced I would have voted for Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza and Alan Trammell. If I had another choice of a player on the ballot, I would have chosen Tim Raines. Over time, I would select guys like Clemens, Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and maybe even Rafael Palmeiro.
This year, I'll stay with the four players I selected last time. In addition, I will add Maddux, who should be a no-brainer. I am also enticed to add Glavine and Thomas. So, my ballot this year would consist of Bagwell, Biggio, Glavine, Maddux, Piazza, Thomas and Trammell. Mussina, like Raines, is a player I think should get in over time. Though Morris was a very good postseason pitcher, I think he falls short in regards to the Hall of Fame. Other players I'd like to see gain in vote totals are Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and maybe Don Mattingly.