The newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, as announced on Wednesday, are Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. All three players were on the ballot for the first time in 2014.
Maddux received 97.2% of the vote, one of the highest totals ever. In 23 seasons, Maddux pitched for the Cubs, Braves, Padres, and Dodgers, winning four straight Cy Young awards from 1992-95. His 355 wins are the eighth-most of all-time, and his 3,371 strikeouts are tenth-most. He led the National League in innings pitched in five straight seasons (1991-95), and was a four-time ERA champ (1993-95, 1998). He's also the best fielding pitcher ever, collecting 18 Gold Gloves over his career. Quite simply, he's one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.
Glavine, his long-time teammate in Atlanta, is right up there with him. Glavine received 91.9% of the vote this year. In his career split between the Braves and Mets, Glavine won 305 games, the 21st-highest total ever and fourth-highest among all left-handers. Glavine won the 1991 and 1998 Cy Young Awards and picked up four more top three finishes.
Thomas spent the bulk of his career with the White Sox, but also spent time with the Athletics and Blue Jays. He earned 83.7% of the vote this year. Thomas won the AL MVP award in 1992 and 1993, smashing 521 career homers (18th-most ever, tied with Willie McCovey and Ted Williams) while leading the American League in OPS four times. During his seven year peak of 1991-97, Thomas hit .330/.452/.604 with 250 home runs, 835 walks, and just 528 strikeouts.
Falling just short of election are Astros greats Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, long-time Dodger and Met Mike Piazza, and Jack Morris, in his final year of eligibility on the ballot. Biggio received 74.8% of the vote, missing election by the slimmest of margins. Bagwell received 54.3%, Piazza received 62.2%, and Morris got 61.5%. All but Morris will get another shot next year, and the former Tigers ace will have to look to the Veterans Committee in 2016 for enshrinement. The steroids stamp placed on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens continued to affect their election, as the two baseball greats received just 34.7% and 35.4% of the vote respectively. Fellow steroid-linked stars Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro all struggled as well, drawing 11.0%, 7.2%, and 4.4% of the vote. Palmeiro will fall off the ballot after not receiving 5% of the vote, while Don Mattingly managed to stay above the threshold with 8.2% of the vote.
Next year's ballot will be just as crowded as this year's, with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield, and John Smoltz joining the holdovers from this year. The backlog isn't going to be getting any easier, but it was nice to see three players get elected by the BBWAA for the first time since 1999, when Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount all earned their elections.