The chance to join players like Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan and others is one of the most exciting prospects for any major leaguer. In recent years it has been extremely difficult for some players to reach the 75 percent threshold, with only Jim Rice, Rickey Henderson, Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson and Barry Larkin making it in on votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
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This year there are a glut of new candidates on the ballot, including Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, which may hold back some deserving players from reaching 75 percent. Here is a look at some of the best players who are not yet in the Hall of Fame (but are on the ballot).
Jeff Bagwell, First Baseman
Bagwell is one of the most polarizing and interesting players on the ballot. Many feel that he is worth of the Hall of Fame due to his solid numbers and his absence from PED rumors, but at the same time, other voters feel his stats aren't as comparable to other players of his era. Bagwell went to five All-Star games and won the MVP award in 1994 after hitting .368 with 39 home runs, 116 runs batted in and 104 runs scored, in 400 at-bats during the strike shortened season.
The first baseman was one of the most consistent players of his time, hitting 30 home runs in nine different seasons and posting 100 RBIs in eight seasons during his career. He also scored 100 runs in nine seasons, including for six straight years from 1996 to 2001. He won a Gold Glove in 1994 during his MVP season and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1991. Bagwell played with Craig Biggio for his entire career and also hit for the cycle in 2001. Bagwell is another name that will likely get in, although it will take a few years. He has slowly started gaining votes each of the past two years, starting off at 41 percent before jumping to 56 percent last year.
Edgar Martinez, Designated Hitter
The Baseball Hall of Fame is meant for the best of the best, but is it for just the best players overall, or for the best players at certain positions? That argument is playing out in real time for Martinez, who is considered the best DH and one of the purest hitters of all-time. This will mark his fourth season on the ballot and things aren't looking too good for him to make it into the Hall. His percentages have leveled out over the past few ballots and with a number of players with better numbers; Martinez may be waiting around for a while.
Whether or not he actually gets in, everyone knows how skilled of a hitter he was. Martinez had a .312 career batting average and added 309 home runs with 2,247 hits and 1,262 RBIs. He was the best player for the Mariners for a number of years and helped save baseball in the city by leading the team to the ALCS in 1995. He won a batting title in 1992and 1995 and won five Silver Sluggers over his 18 year career. Martinez went to seven All-Star games and is the only designated hitter to win a batting title.
Roger Clemens, Pitcher
New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros
This is Clemens' first year on the ballot, but he won't be getting in due to his connection to steroids and performance enhancers. Let's forget about that for once though. Even with his connection, he is one of the most decorated pitchers of all-time and could be a Hall of Famer based on just the first half of his career.
Clemens has won seven Cy Young awards with three different teams and amassed a 354-184 over a 24 year professional career. His career ERA is 3.12 and he struck out 4,672 batters, ranked third best all-time behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. Clemens was one of the rare pitcher to win the AL MVP award after winning 24 games in 1996. Clemens was the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue to win a league MVP award until Justin Verlander did it in 2011.
Clemens won two World Series with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000 and during the same year he won the MVP, Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game. Those aren't his only accomplishments. He reached his 300th win and 4,000th strikeout in the same game (which was witnessed by the writer of this article) and he also was selected to 11 All-Star games. Clemons will be bunched with a number of skilled pitchers on the ballot over the next few years, including with fellow 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, who will become eligible over the next two years.
Mike Piazza, Catcher
New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics
Piazza is another player that is on the ballot for the first time, but is easily the best hitting catcher of all-time. During his time with the Dodgers and Mets, Piazza put up numbers unlike any other player at his position. He was never the best defensive catcher, but his number speaks for themselves. He finished his career with a .308 batting average and 427 home runs with 1,335 RBIs over 16 years.
The former 62nd round draft pick posted ridiculous number while with the Dodgers, hitting .362, with 40 home runs and 124 RBIs in 1997 before being traded. During his rookie season he hit .318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs while taking home the Rookie of the Year award. Piazza hit .300 or better 10 times in his career and scored over 1,000 runs with 344 doubles and 2,127 hits. He was elected to 12 All-Star games and also took home 10 Silver Slugger awards during the course of his career. Piazza will be elected to the Hall, it's just a matter of when.