Last year, not a single player was selected by baseball writers for induction into the Hall of Fame. This year, it's a different story.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were announced as Hall of Famers on Wednesday, as the Baseball Writers Association of America has elected its largest Hall of Fame class since 1999. Craig Biggio, who was projected to get in, missed the cut by a very slim margin — just two votes.
To earn induction, players needed 75 percent of the vote. Maddux topped the list with 97.2 percent, followed by Glavine (91.9) and Thomas (83.7). The last time three players were elected by the BBWAA, in 1999, the nods went to George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount.
Missing the cut this year were Biggio (74.8), Mike Piazza (62.2), Jack Morris (61.5), Jeff Bagwell (54.3) and Tim Raines (46.1). This was Morris' final year on the ballot. His divisive case — sabermetrics believers don't think he's worthy, while old-school types often do — will now be left up to the Veterans Committee in 2016.
Voters — there were 571 this year — were allowed to select 10 players from the ballot of 36, but some voters said they thought there were as many as 13 worthy players this year. That split the vote some, and ultimately hurt the numbers for Biggio, Piazza and others.
Most of the players in limbo will be back, as BBWAA voters still wrestle with the moral dilemma of enshrining players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who have been linked to PEDs. Bonds received 34.7 percent of the vote, while Clemens did slightly better at 35.4. Both players dropped about two percent from their 2013 totals. One PED-linked player, Rafael Palmeiro, did drop off the ballot after getting just 4.4 percent of the vote.
Had Biggio gotten through on the BBWAA ballot, it would have been the first four-player class since 1955. That was Joe DiMaggio's class, which also included Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons and Gabby Hartnett.
Three famous managers — Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox — were already elected for induction by the Veterans Committee, making for a robust six-member Hall of Fame class that will be honored in Cooperstown this July. All six members are alive, making it the biggest living class of Hall of Fame inductees since 1941.
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