Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr. headline 2016 Hall of Fame class
Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Wednesday as the only two members of Cooperstown's Class of 2016. Both Griffey and Piazza easily cleared the 75% vote total minimum required for election, with Griffey setting an all-time record for highest vote percentage in Hall of Fame history.
Griffey, who was in his first year of eligibility, received 99.3% of the 440 total votes cast, breaking Tom Seaver's vote record of 98.8%, set in 1992. Over a 22-year career, Griffey posted a .284 career batting average with 2,781 hits, 630 home runs (the sixth-highest total in MLB history) and 1,836 RBIs. The outfielder spent the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him with the No. 1 pick in 1987, but also played nine seasons for the Cincinnati Reds and one with the Chicago White Sox. Griffey won the 1997 American League MVP award and was a 13-time All-Star (with 11 consecutive Midsummer Classic trips from 1990 to 2000), a 10-time Gold Glove Award recipient and a seven-time Silver Slugger award winner. He also led the league in home runs four times. With his election, Griffey becomes the first No. 1 pick ever to make the Hall of Fame.
Piazza received 83% of votes in his fourth year of eligibility after finishing just shy last year at 69.9%. The catcher spent eight years with the New York Mets and seven with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who drafted him in 1988, but also spent time with the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Miami (nee Florida) Marlins over his 16-year career. Piazza holds the MLB record for homers hit by a catcher with 427, and his .308 career batting average helped him earn 12 All-Star selections and 10 Silver Slugger awards. He also won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1993 with Los Angeles. A 62nd-round draft pick, Piazza now holds the distinction of being the lowest-drafted Hall of Famer ever.
Just missing the cut for election were ballot holdovers Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, who finished with 71.6% and 69.8% of the vote, respectively. Bagwell, who was in his fifth year of eligibility, spent all 15 of his MLB seasons with the Houston Astros and finished his career with a .297 batting average, 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs. The four-time All-Star was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1991 and won the NL MVP in 1994. Raines, a 23-year pro, spent 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos and won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996. A career .294 hitter with 2,605 hits for six MLB teams, Raines was a seven-time All Star and the NL batting champion in 1986 with a .334 average. Raines has one more year of ballot eligibility remaining.
Falling short of election once again were all-time home run king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens. Bonds, who will return to baseball this season as the Marlins’ hitting coach, received 44.3% of the vote, up from the 36.8% he garnered last year. Clemens earned 45.2% of votes, also up from his 37.5% in 2015. Both players have five years remaining on the ballot.
Among the ballot's returning players, former starting pitchers Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina each took big jumps in the voting. Schilling earned 52.3% of the vote in his fourth year on the ballot, up from 39.2% last year; Mussina, meanwhile, went from 24.6% in 2015 to 43.0% in his fourth year of consideration. Longtime Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez also saw a spike in his support, as he finished with 43.4% of the vote, though he has just three years remaining to reach the 75% threshold for induction.
Of the other notable first-year candidates, relievers Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner were left on the outside looking in, capturing 67.3% and 10.5% of the vote, respectively. Hoffman saved 601 games over 18 seasons and recorded a 2.87 career ERA. Wagner’s 422 saves are fifth-most in MLB history, and his .184 opponent batting average against is the lowest of all-time among qualified pitchers.
Falling off the ballot was first-year candidate Jim Edmonds, who received just 2.5% of the vote. The former Cardinals and Angels centerfielder hit 393 career home runs and was regarded as one of the best defensive players of his time, but he was named on only 11 ballots and thus fell short of the 5% eligibility minimum. Aging off the ballot, meanwhile, were former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell and one-time home run king Mark McGwire, each of whom was in his final year of eligibility. Trammell finished with 40.9% of the vote in his 15th year on the ballot; McGwire received 12.3%. Twelve other players, including 11 first-timers, will also no longer be on future ballots after failing to reach the 5% minimum, including Nomar Garciaparra (eight votes), Mike Sweeney (three votes) and David Eckstein (two votes).
The full voting results are available here.
The 2016 Hall of Fame class will officially be inducted on July 24 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
- Kayla Lombardo and Erin Flynn