It's late December, which means the deadline for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's members to submit their ballots for the 2016 Hall of Fame election is fast approaching. But which candidates up for election deserve to be inducted into Cooperstown, and which don't make the cut?
On this week's edition of The Strike Zone podcast, SI.com baseball writer and Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe joins Ted Keith and Stephen Cannella to break down the candidacies and cases for or against the biggest names on the Hall's ballot. Jay, who invented the popular JAWS metric that measures and compares statistics for Hall of Fame voting, runs down the list of candidates with Ted and Steve to give his thoughts and analysis on which players can start working on their induction speeches for 2016, and who will be left on the outside looking in—or perhaps off the ballot entirely come next winter.
Among the holdover players from previous ballots discussed in-depth: Mike Piazza, who narrowly missed out on earning a bronze plaque next year but should break through for 2016; Jeff Bagwell, who can make a case as one of the best first basemen ever offensively but who is still waiting for his Hall of Fame call; Tim Raines, who deserves a place in Cooperstown but whose time on the ballot is rapidly running out; Curt Schilling, a controversial candidate both for his on-field accomplishments and his off-field comments; Edgar Martinez, arguably the greatest designated hitter of all time but a player who has yet to find traction in the voting; Fred McGriff, a figure who has slipped through the cracks post-retirement; and Gary Sheffield, whose poor defense overshadows his prolific hitting. On top of that, Jay, Ted and Steve discuss the first-year candidates on the ballot, including Ken Griffey Jr., a lock for enshrinement; Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman, who share statistics but may see dramatically different results in the voting; and Jim Edmonds, whose dazzling defense may not be enough to entice voters.