Many baseball writers faced a big challenge this year with a deep pool of Hall of Fame candidates and a ballot that limits them to only 10 choices. And even though they moved Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas off the list and into Cooperstown, their process won't get any easier with the 2015 ballot.
That's because stars like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Delgado and Nomar Garciaparra will be among the first-time eligibles on the ballot. (Baseball-Reference has the full list here.) They'll join a field that seems poised to push Craig Biggio past the 75 percent needed for election (he earned 74.8 percent in 2014) and possibly Mike Piazza (62.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (54.3). Johnson and Martinez seem like good bets to be first-ballot inductees, so there's a chance the writers could elect four (or more) players on one ballot for the first time since 1955.
Smoltz will likely one day join teammates Maddux and Glavine in the Hall, but the glut of worthy candidates means he could be among those who have to wait a year or more. Along those lines, Curt Schilling (29.2 percent in his second year on the ballot) and Mike Mussina (20.3 in his first) could see a loss of momentum.
Two noteworthy names who won't be on the 2015 ballot are Jack Morris (61.5 percent), who fell off on Wednesday after 15 years and Rafael Palmeiro (4.4), who failed to reach the 5 percent necessary to remain among the candidates. The surge of candidates in 2015 also means that Mark McGwire (11.0), Larry Walker (10.2), Don Mattingly (8.2) and Sammy Sosa (7.2) could be among those in danger of missing the 5 percent cut.
Last but not least, both Barry Bonds (34.7) and Roger Clemens (35.4) will be in their third year of eligibility and it'll be interesting to see where their numbers go after falling in 2014.
There is some potential good news for both candidates and voters, however. It was revealed on Wednesday that 50 percent of the voters used all 10 eligible spots in 2014, a number that former BBWAA president Bill Shaikin believes could lead to a reformed and larger ballot.
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