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Baseball Hall of Fame ballot 2013
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa debut
The Baseball Writers' Association has unveiled its 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, which, as expected, is full of controversial first-time candidates.
Among the first-timers with proven or suspected ties to performance-enhancing drugs are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. All have put up Hall-worthy numbers (Bonds is the all-time home run king; Clemens ranks third all time in strikeouts and ninth all time in wins; and Sosa is eighth all time in homers), but the steroids stigma hangs over them.
The ball now is in the hands of the more than 600 voters, who thus far have shown no willingness to give PED-tainted candidates anywhere close to the 75 percent of the vote required for induction. Mark McGwire's best showing came in 2010 when he got 23.7 percent of the vote.
More details about the 2013 ballot:
The 24 newcomers
Sandy Alomar Jr., Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Roger Clemens, Jeff Conine, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Mike Piazza, Reggie Sanders, Curt Schilling, Aaron Sele, Sammy Sosa, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, David Wells, Rondell White, Woody Williams.
The 13 returning candidates
Jack Morris (14th time eligible, named on 66.7 percent of ballots last year); Jeff Bagwell (3rd, 56.0 percent); Lee Smith (11th, 50.6 percent); Tim Raines (6th, 48.7 percent); Alan Trammell (12th, 36.8 percent); Edgar Martinez (4th, 36.5 percent); Fred McGriff (4th, 23.9 percent); Larry Walker (3rd, 22.9 percent); Mark McGwire (7th, 19.5 percent); Don Mattingly (13th, 17.8 percent); Dale Murphy (15th, 14.5 percent); Rafael Palmeiro (3rd, 12.6 percent); Bernie Williams (2nd, 9.6 percent)
The results of the vote will be announced Jan. 9, with the Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for July 28 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Hall ballot deep in big league accomplishments
First-timers Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Sosa, Piazza there to challenge closing-in Morris
Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com | 11/28/12
The newly released 2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is rich in numbers and deep in talent:
Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader with 762.
Roger Clemens, a storied right-hander with 354 wins.
Craig Biggio, a second baseman with 3,060 hits.
Sammy Sosa, the only slugger to bash more than 60 homers in three different seasons and who totaled 609.
Mike Piazza, who hit 396 of his 427 homers as a catcher -- the most of any player at that position in Major League history.
Curt Schilling, winner of 216 regular-season games and 11 more in the postseason.
Jack Morris, a starter who so dominated the American League during one decade that he's now on the cusp of immortality in his 14th try.
The ballot that members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will contemplate during the month of December, though, is not simply about career numbers. This year's voting -- with the addition of Bonds, Clemens and Sosa in particular -- brings further attention to baseball's era played under the cloud of performance-enhancement questions.
"It's going to be a very interesting ballot and I know the writers are going to have some tough decisions to make," said Morris, who finished with 66.7 percent of the vote in the last balloting "Unfortunately, they are going to have to be the moral police and I don't think a lot of them want to be. Hopefully it will work out the right way and it will be the right thing when it's all said and done."
As all Baseball Hall of Fame votes are conducted, a candidate needs to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots to be elected. BBWAA members with 10 consecutive years or more of covering the sport are eligible to vote and they can name as many as 10 players on their ballots. The results of the voting will be announced on Jan. 9. MLB.com will air a live simulcast of MLB Network coverage of the announcement.
Those elected, if any, will be inducted into the Hall during the annual ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 28. They will be joined posthumously on that day by anyone selected by the pre-integration Veterans Committee. The winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for meritorious contributions to baseball announcing and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing will be honored on July 27 at Doubleday Field.
Anyone named by the Veterans Committee -- plus the two award winners -- will be announced at the Winter Meetings, to be held in Nashville, Tenn., from Dec. 3-6.
Morris, who had 254 career wins during his 18-year career -- an American League-best 162 of them during the 1980s -- tops a list of returnees that includes, among others, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Edgar Martinez.
Morris is hoping that his 14th year on the ballot will be the charm. He fell 48 votes shy of election for the Class of 2012, in which Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was the only player elected by the BBWAA. In recent votes, Burt Blyleven was elected to the Hall in his 14th year, Jim Rice in his 15th year and Bruce Sutter in his 13th.
All of this is setting an optimistic course for Morris.
"That's the beauty of the waiting process; the fact that there is time," Morris said. "If it was one vote and you're gone, there would be a lot more guys in or a lot more out. I've always said this: the guys who are in, they deserve to be in. There may be a few guys who aren't in who deserve to be in. There's never going to be a perfect system. You can't really change it to make it perfect."
Among the first-timers, Biggio would seem to be on a clear course toward a plaque because 3,000 hits is almost a certain ticket to the hallowed Hall. Of the 26 other retired players who amassed 3,000 or more hits, only two are not in the Hall and both have extenuating circumstances. One is Rafael Palmiero, who finished with 3,020 hits and 569 homers but garnered 12.6 percent in his second year on the ballot after being suspended for a positive steroid test in 2005, his last season in the Major Leagues. The other is Pete Rose, the all-time leader with 4,256 hits who is banned from baseball because of gambling and is not eligible to be included on Hall of Fame ballots.
Biggio played 20 seasons, all for the Astros. He batted .281 as a catcher, outfielder and second baseman; he played 1,989 of his 2,780 games at second base.
"It would be a very, very rewarding feeling if it was to happen," said Biggio, who has been a high school coach and a special assistant to the general manager for the Astros since his retirement in 2007. "I'll just cross my fingers and hopefully next year, come Jan. 9, I'll get a phone call."
Bonds played 22 seasons for the Pirates and Giants and holds the all-time records for homers in a career and a single season (73), plus walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688). By even the metrics of today, Bonds is third in overall WAR (Wins Above Replacement) behind Babe Ruth and Cy Young, third in offensive WAR, sixth with a .444 on-base percentage, sixth with a .607 slugging percentage and fourth with a 1.051 OPS, which combines on-base and slugging percentages. He won the National League MVP seven times, three times before 1998, the demarcation line for when many believe the so-called streoids era began.
"I gave to that game," Bonds said recently. "I know how many games I played, how many years I put in, how many hours I put in, how much time I've worked, how hard I've worked and I am never, never, ever going to justify that part of my life. And it was a great part of my life. ... "
"This is an exceptional group of players," he said. "... We're always going to respect each other as athletes."
Clemens, who pitched for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros during a 24-year career, is ninth in career victories, one shy of Gregg Maddux, the top winning pitcher in their era with 355. He is third with 4,672 strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. His career WAR ranks eighth for all players and third among pitchers behind Young and Walter Johnson, the pitchers with the most wins in history. Clemens was the AL MVP and won the Cy Young in 1986 for the Red Sox. He captured the Cy Young Award seven times, six of them in the AL, four of them prior to 1998.
Sosa hit 66 homers for the Cubs in 1998, the year of the feverish home run race with Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris' record of 61, set in 1961. McGwire finished with 70, a record that was broken three years later by Bonds. During that '98 season, Sosa led the National League with 158 RBIs and was named the NL's MVP. His home run hitting didn't end there. Sosa hit 63 in 1999, 64 in 2001 and led the league with 50 in 2000 and 49 in 2002. During that five-year period from 1998-2002, Sosa hit 292 homers.
Piazza ranks fifth offensively among the top nine catchers, six of them Hall of Famers. He hit .308 and was a 12-time All-Star, winning Rookie of the Year honors with the Dodgers in 1993. He was MVP of the 1996 All-Star Game in Philadelphia.
Schilling and Randy Johnson were the co-MVPs of the 2001 World Series as their D-backs defeated the Yankees in seven games. Schilling's regular-season record of 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA is not particularly Hall-worthy, but his 11-2 record and 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts for the Phillies, D-backs and Red Sox certainly stand out.
Schilling was 4-1 with a 2.07 ERA in seven World Series starts, also winning it all with Boston in 2004 and '07. In 2004, he created postseason lore by pitching against the Yankees with such a serious foot injury that blood soaked his baseball sock.
Hall of Fame ballot: The facts and whispers on PEDs
Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY
Baseball's Hall of Fame released its 2013 ballot Wednesday
Several players directly or indirectly tied to steroid use appear for the first time
Players have 15 years to earn election to the Hall
November 28. 2012 - It will be known, immediately and for the foreseeable future, as the Baseball Hall of Fame's Doping Class.
Wednesday, the Hall released its 2013 ballot that will be sent to 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who must decide how best to handle a long list of players tied directly, indirectly or circumstantially to performance-enhancing drugs.
Indeed, the debate will not die once balloting results are released Jan. 9.
And the support each player receives likely won't remain static, either. A player must be named on 75% of ballots to earn induction to the Hall, but just 5% to remain on the ballot, for up to 15 years. Over that course of time, the voting pool will change, as could the attitude of the electorate. New information may emerge about candidates that could steer voters in a new direction.
But what do we know now, about both the ballot newcomers and the holdovers?
It's up to each voter to decide whether to ignore the cloud of PED use, or punish a candidate for his doping, suspected or otherwise. We're not here today to cast judgment on the proper route.
Rather, here's a user's guide to the users, suspected and otherwise, that voters will be basing their ballots upon.
Keep it close at hand. Some debates may not go away for the next 15 years.
Rafael Palmeiro: Tested positive for Stanolozol in 2005, the first whale nailed by baseball's drug-testing program. His 3,020 career hits and 569 home runs would make him a Hall lock; instead, his positive test -- and sanctimonious denials of PED use in a 2005 congressional hearing -- reduced him to vote totals of 11% and 12.6% his first two years on the ballot.
Mark McGwire: His nebulous testimony about steroid use in the same hearing that set Palmeiro up for his fall from grace all but discounted his 583 career home runs. McGwire peaked at 23.7% of the vote in 2010. Coming clean did not help his cause, either. After admitting in January 2010 he took steroids and growth hormone in his career, McGwire's total dipped to 19% each of the next two years.
Barry Bonds: Bonds dodged a perjury conviction in a federal trial related to his testimony in the BALCO doping scandal but was convicted of obstruction of justice, a conviction that is still under appeal. However, the crux of that trial was based on whether he "knowingly" took steroids. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was jailed on numerous occasions for refusing to testify against Bonds. The book Game of Shadows breaks down in excruciating detail the arc of Bonds' alleged used, which it claims began after the 1998 season. Those details have not been credibly disputed. For what it's worth, Bonds had a near-Hall of Fame career (411 home runs, 445 steals, a .996 OPS) from 1986-98, years in which he was ostensibly clean. By the time his 22-year career wrapped up in 2007, he had a record 762 home runs and a 1.051 OPS.
Roger Clemens: The biggest name ensnared in baseball's 2007 Mitchell Report on PED use, Clemens will learn this year if his successful fight to avoid federal perjury charges -- and his seven Cy Young Awards -- resonate with voters more than allegations from his former trainer that he took steroids and growth hormone between the years of 1998-2001. Clemens won 354 games over his career, including 213 wins and four Cy Young Awards before he supposedly started using PEDs. But voters must weigh whether the allegations leveled by Brian McNamee -- at least partially corroborated by former teammate Andy Pettitte -- resonate more than Clemens' June 2012 acquittal on six charges of lying to Congress and obstruction. Clemens sued McNamee for defamation in 2008, a suit eventually dismissed by a series of federal judges. McNamee's defamation suit against Clemens, filed in 2009, is still winding through the legal process in New York.
Sammy Sosa: McGwire was admittedly doped up when he slugged a then-record 70 home runs in 1998. The only player who could keep pace with him? Sosa, who finished with 66. Seven years later, they both testified before Congress about PED use. While Sosa came out a bit better than McGwire, his suddenly faulty English and statement that he had not "broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic," where steroids can be legally purchased, did not help his cause. Sosa's statement that he "never took performance-enhancing drugs" was investigated by a House committee in 2010 after a New York Times report said he was among a group of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003 survey testing. But the House panel did not recommend the Department of Justice investigate Sosa, perhaps in part because of a five-year statute of limitations on such investigations.
Nothing but whispers
Jeff Bagwell: There has been no evidence that Bagwell used PEDs during a career in which he hit 449 home runs, had a .297 batting average, won an MVP award and finished in the top three two other times, all easily Hall credentials. In fact, his career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) put him in elite, sure-fire Hall territory. But his bulky physique and the large disconnect between his minor-league and major league production (he hit six home runs in 731 minor-league at-bats) have tailed him. Bagwell received 42% and 56% of the vote his first two years on the ballot, and barring any PED evidence emerging, figures to eventually win election. But in a 2010 interview with ESPN.com, Bagwell seemed to sense that he might be a victim of his era when it came to Hall of Fame voting. "I know a lot of people are saying, 'His body got bigger.'" Bagwell said then. "Well, if you're eating 30 pounds of meat every single day and you're working out and bench pressing, you're going to get bigger. You can go to every single trainer and they'll say, 'He was the first here and last to leave, and that dude worked his ass off.'"
Mike Piazza: Like Bagwell, Piazza had famously modest amateur credentials -- he was drafted in the 62nd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. Then, he developed into arguably the greatest-hitting catcher of all time as baseball's steroid era blossomed. That's put him in the crosshairs of suspicion, though he has publicly denied using PEDs. One on-the-record assertion that Piazza doped came in Jeff Pearlman's 2009 book on Clemens, The Rocket Who Fell To Earth. Reggie Jefferson, a major league first baseman/outfielder from 1991-99, said Piazza's use was widely assumed by his peers. "He's a guy who did it, and everybody knows it,"Jefferson said. "It's amazing how all these names, like Roger Clemens, are brought up, yet Mike Piazza goes untouched."