The 2015 MLB Hall of Fame class is complete, and it's one of the most unique in history.
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were all granted admission to Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday afternoon, making it the largest class in 60 years, per Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan:
Here's a look at the full results, via BaseballHall.org:
This year's class is unsurprisingly led by Johnson and Martinez, two of the most dominant, over-powering pitchers of all-time. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted their place in history in terms of strikeout efficiency:
Johnson, forever intimidating with his 6'10" frame, mullet haircut and eagerness to back hitters off the plate, is second all-time in strikeouts (4,875) behind only Nolan Ryan. He led the league nine times, including a staggering 423 (counting regular season and playoffs) punchouts during the Arizona Diamondbacks' magical 2001 World Series run.
Although he came up just short of Tom Seaver's record 98.84 percent of the vote, he still finished in the top 10 historically, via MLB.com's Greg Johns:
Pedro wasn't as effective for as long, but when he was at the top of his game, there was no one else in the same stratosphere. During his back-to-back Cy Young seasons in 1999 and 2000, he compiled a 41-10 record, 1.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 597 strikeouts. Per ESPN's Mark Simon, the only other players to hit those milestones (40 wins, 500 K, sub-2.00 ERA) in a two-year stretch are Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, who both did it in the 60's.
As Passan noted, the fact he was left off nine percent of the ballots was baffling:
Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy put it simply, while Sports Illustrated's Michael Beller pointed to the frustrating inconsistencies in the voting process:
John Smoltz wasn't quite as much of a lock as Johnson and Pedro, but there was never really a doubt that he would get in. One of the most versatile pitchers in history, he owns both a Cy Young Award as a starter and a season with 55 saves.
ESPN Stats & Info illustrated his unmatched production:
Craig Biggio rounds out the class after coming up just two votes shy in 2014. It was a long time coming for the former Houston Astros star, who finished his career with a remarkable 3,060 hits, 291 home runs, 414 stolen bases and 1,844 runs scored.
SportsCenter's Twitter feed noted his status among elite company:
Mike Piazza (69.9 percent), Jeff Bagwell (55.7) and Tim Raines (55.0) were closest to the cut line. The stats for all three are obviously impressive, but endorsements from fellow players often speak even louder. Former "Nasty Boy" and 1990 NLCS MVP Rob Dibble gave just that for the former two:
Fortunately, with Ken Griffey Jr. serving as the only lock to enter next year's ballot, each player has a good chance to enter the Hall very soon.
Passan offered a very early outlook at the next couple of years:
Seattle Mariners fans would like to see Edgar Martinez join that list. One of the best pure hitters of all time, Martinez got just 27.0 percent of the vote, but he did get a ringing endorsement from the newest Hall of Famer, via the M's Twitter feed:
Of course, the biggest debate will continue to surround the players from the Steroids Era. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who would have been easy first-ballot inductees on merit, each received under 40 percent of the vote.
They both saw an increase from last year, but as the YES Network's Jack Curry noted, the change in the voting process makes it a steep hill for them to climb to Cooperstown:
It's an unfortunate controversy that will continue to serve as a dark cloud over the Hall of Fame voting process in coming years, and it's going to be interesting to see if voters eventually soften on their stance.
But that's a question to worry about down the road. For now, it's time to celebrate one of the most impressive Hall of Fame classes in history.
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