The Baseball Hall of Fame is considered to be one of the greatest shrines in all of sports. It is one of the hardest halls to get into among the major sports and is always a controversial topic when talking to die-hard baseball fans.
The vote will be announced on Wednesday for the 2013 Hall of Fame class, but things have been greatly muddled this year by the addition of steroid-connected names like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. While it is likely that both players will not get in this year, the addition of them along with Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa may force other players who have been waiting for years to wait even longer to get the Hall call.
This year there is also the possibility that no one will get elected to the Hall of Fame. That has only happened twice since 1965, with Yogi Berra appearing on 67 percent of the ballots cast in the 1971 vote and when Phil Niekro was tops on the ballot with 68 percent in 1996. Both were elected the next year after earning at least 75 percent of the vote.
Here are some of the most notable candidates and a look at their chances at making it in this year.
Craig Biggio, 2B, Houston Astros
It looks as though Biggio has the best chance to get into the Hall this year as he is not one of the new players tainted by any steroid or PED use. He has 3,000 hits, which has been nearly a guarantee of getting into the Hall apart from steroids-user Rafael Palmiero. There's a chance Biggio could get over 70 percent of the vote and fall short just like Roberto Alomar did, but it is likely that voters will want to elect someone in this year and Biggio is deserving.
Sometimes the voters may want to make someone wait rather than put them in on the first ballot, but with so many other candidates on the list, Biggio has a great shot. He has the modern-era career hit-by-pitch record and was considered to be one of the most consistent second baseman in all of baseball during his playing career. Biggio had a .281 lifetime batting average and added 291 home runs and 1,175 RBIs. He has the 21st most ever with 3,060, which is more than any player whose primary position was second base since 1920. Biggio also has the fifth most doubles in that span as well as the 31st most extra-base hits. He scored 146 runs during the 1997 season tied for second most the expansion era.
Throughout his career Biggio put up a WAR of 62.1 and was a consistent fielder at second base, catcher and center field, three demanding positions on the diamond. His ability to change positions and the fact that he played his entire career with the Astros will be a factor in his ballot this year.
Roger Clemens, Pitcher
Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros
With all the controversy surrounding Clemens and his alleged use of steroids, it's likely that the Rocket will never get the Hall call. Tough thing about Clemens though, and Bonds for that matter, is that they likely would be Hall of Fame candidates for the statistics they put up without using PEDs. Obviously it's impossible to tabulate just how much was affected by enhancers, but the stats and the awards are still extraordinary.
Clemens extended his career in his 30s by his possible use of steroids, but prior to that point he still won five Cy Young awards. He took home seven of those in his career and was an 11-time All-Star that won 300-plus games and struck out 4,000-plus batters. His career record is 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA in 24 years of baseball. Based on past votes of PED-related players, it would be a surprise if Clemens gets more than 25 percent of the vote. In the future though, some voters may decide to put him on the ballot as time goes by, but there still are a number of stalwarts who say they will never vote for someone who was even connected to steroids. According to SI.com, 24 candidates have debut above 40 percent, and the only ones who have failed to gain eventual entry via the BBWAA vote are Lee Smith (42.3 percent debut), Bagwell (41.7 percent) and Steve Garvey (41.6 percent).
Barry Bonds, OF, San Francisco Giants
Bonds is another one that fits into the Clemens mold, as that he put up some amazing numbers during his career before his suspected PED use. He is the home run king, technically, after breaking Hank Aaron's record and is one of the most controversial players to hit the ballot. He has won a staggering seven MVP awards and is a 14-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove-winner.
The statistics for Bonds are somewhat misleading due to the heavy production he put up at the end of his career, but it also points to how good he was during the early stages of his career when he likely wasn't using. Bonds is the all-time career leader in both walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) and set the record for single-season home runs with 73 in 2001. There is very little chance Bonds gets in at all and he definitely will not this year. The biggest thing to look for will be the percent he gets, which will be telling for how he might do in a few years.
Mike Piazza, Catcher
New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A's, Florida Marlins
Piazza is arguably the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, but even he had to deal with some steroid rumors, albeit from the media and not from legitimate evidence. He will likely make a strong debut on the ballot and could garner up to 60 percent of the cote, much like fellow catchers Yogi Berra (67.2 percent) and Carlton Fisk (66.4 percent). He was a 12-time All-Star and won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1993. He was a 10-time Silver Slugger award winner and finished his career with a .308 batting average and 427 home runs.
Makiong his story even more amazing, he was a 62nd round draft pick for the Dodgers that was a favor to his father from manager Tommy Lasorda. The team got the best hitting catcher of all-time for that pick and got some amazing production out of the catcher position for years. During the 1996 season he hit .336 with 36 home runs and 105 RBIs, finishing second in MVP voting, and then the next season he did even better hitting .362, with 40 home runs, 124 runs batted in, an on base percentage of .431 and a slugging percentage of .638., finishing second in the MVP voting once again. Even if he doesn't get in this year, next year is nearly a guarantee.