Baseball Hall of Fame: Who will get in?

Piazza is up for the Hall of Fame for the first time.

Voting for the most controversial class in history comes Wednesday. First-time nominees on the ballot include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and a swath of other player who left broken records and steroid stigmas in their wake.

Metro breaks down the pros and cons for each candidate and decides whether they will make it into the Hall of Fame.

The contenders …

Barry Bonds, OF, 1986-2007, Pittsburgh/San Francisco
.298 BA, 1.051 OPS, 762 HR, 1996 RBI

WHY HE BELONGS: The first decade of Bonds’ career is relevant to his case. Through 1998, Bonds was on a path to the Hall of Fame as a three-time MVP with 411 career home runs, eight Gold Gloves, 445 stolen bases and a .966 OPS. After 1998, Bonds was 34 and even with natural assistance, he likely would have reached 500 home runs and may have even surpassed 600.

WHY HE DOESN’T: Leaving someone with 762 career home runs, even if nearly half are tainted, is a difficult call for voters. Besides his inflated numbers from 1999 on, his conviction of obstructing justice, which is a federal felony, could keep him out — at least for this year.

WILL HE GET VOTED IN: No.

Roger Clemens, P, 1984-2007, Boston/Toronto/New York Yankees/Houston
354-184, 3.12 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4,672 strikeouts

WHY HE BELONGS: Clemens is similar to Bonds in the fact that he was great before the years the Mitchell Report mentioned him prominently for using steroids. He has four Cy Young Awards before being associated with performance-enhancing drugs, his .658 winning percentage is the best of any right-hander of the modern era and the federal government could not prove he used HGH.

WHY HE DOESN’T: Voters will likely not go by the verdict rendered in Washington, but more on the details of Clemens outlined in the Mitchell Report and subsequent books. They also will cast a suspicious eye toward his dominant numbers from 1996 on, after he turned 33.

WILL HE GET VOTED IN: No.

Sammy Sosa, OF, 1989-2007, Texas/Chicago White Sox/Chicago Cubs/Baltimore
.273 BA, .878 OPS,  609 HR, 1,667 RBI

WHY HE BELONGS: If 60 home run seasons, regardless of enhancement are factored in, Sosa’s three are more than Babe Ruth and Roger Maris combined. Sosa is one of eight players with at least 600 home runs and his RBI total is 27th all-time. Everyone ahead of him that is eligible is already in.

WHY HE DOESN’T: Unlike Bonds, the start of Sosa’s career was a bit pedestrian. From 1989-1997, he hit over 40 home runs just once and had just four 30 home run seasons, which made him an All-Star only once.

WILL HE GET VOTED IN: No.
 

Mike Piazza, C, 1992-2007, Los Angeles/Florida/New York Mets/San Diego/Oakland
.308 BA, .922 OPS, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI

WHY HE BELONGS: Being the best at your position should seem like an automatic entry and Piazza’s statistics make him the best hitting catcher ever in terms of OPS, slugging and home runs. While he was strictly a hitting machine and not much of a defender, plenty of pure hitters are in.

WHY HE DOESN’T: Playing in the steroid era may skew things against the best Met hitter of all-time even without any reports of Piazza taking them. But his lack of defense may also be held against him, especially when you consider that Piazza has a career caught-stealing percentage of 23 percent and allowed 102 passed balls. Also working against Piazza is his lack of notable numbers, such as 500 home runs or 3,000 hits. Voters may also be awaiting the contents of his soon-to-be-released book.

WILL HE GET VOTED IN: Yes.

Craig Biggio, C/2B/OF, 1988-2007, Houston
.281 BA, 3,060 hits

WHY HE BELONGS: The other three players with 3,000 hits not in the Hall of Fame are Pete Rose (ineligible), Derek Jeter (active) and Rafael Palmeiro (steroid suspicion). Biggio is 21st on the all-time hits list, 15th in runs scored, a seven-time All Star, led the NL in doubles three times and his 291 home runs primarily at second base would give him the second-highest total among Hall of Famers behind Rogers Hornsby

WHY HE DOESN’T: Some segments of the voters might view him as a compiler, who stuck around for 20 years even as he batted under .280 in five of his last six seasons, helped him reach 3,000 hits. He didn’t quite perform in the postseason and never placed in the top three in the MVP race.

WILL HE GET VOTED IN: Yes.

Curt Schilling, P, 1988-2007, Baltimore/Houston/Philadelphia/Arizona/Boston
216-146, 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3,116 Ks
 
WHY HE BELONGS: An array of impressive postseason numbers ramp up his case. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 games and that also includes a 5-0 record by his team in elimination games (Yankee fans remember Game 6 in 2004 and Game 7 in 2001). He also won the MVP in a postseason series twice while pitching four complete games and that’s before you mention he twice led the league in wins, three times led in games started and also compiled the 15th-best strikeout total.
 
WHY HE DOESN’T: If Jack Morris having a 3.90 career ERA has made him fall short 13 times, then Schilling’s 12 instances with an ERA over 3.50 might not help. Also not working in his favor is that Schilling never won a Cy Young award, though he finished in the top four in four years.
 
WILL HE GET IN: No.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.



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