One of the most talented and decorated classes in baseball history is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa will all be honored by Major League Baseball in Cooperstown, as the sextet will be enshrined in the Hall on Sunday afternoon. Maddux, Glavine and Thomas were voted in by the writers, all three on their first year on the ballot, while Torre, Cox and La Russa were selected by the Veterans Committee.
Before MLB celebrates the six newest members of the Hall of Fame this weekend, take a look back on their sterling careers with Jay Jaffe's extensive and exhaustive JAWS profiles of Maddux, Glavine and Thomas, then check out Cliff Corcoran's piece on the Veterans Committee candidates, including Torre, Cox and La Russa, as well as some other names that didn't make the cut. And be sure to read Jay's thoughts on the 2014 ballot from back in January, including those who missed out on election and those yet to come. For some fun historical comps, take a look at Jay's ranking of the best Hall of Fame classes; he considers the incoming 2014 group of Maddux, Glavine and Thomas the fifth best ever in Hall history.
SI.com will have a full rundown of the induction ceremony and festivities on Sunday.
"In the discussions I've had regarding this year's Hall of Fame ballot, the crowded field of candidates and the ways that the process might be improved, I've heard one sentiment repeatedly: 'Anybody who doesn't vote for Greg Maddux ought to have his ballot revoked.' Given the body of work in question, it's not hard to see why."
"Tom Glavine was the epitome of the crafty lefty. Much like his longtime teammate and fellow 2014 ballot newcomer GregMaddux, he lacked the stuff to just rear back and blow hitters away, instead relying primarily on a mid-to-high-80s fastball and a very good changeup. He made his living on the outside edge of the plate, demonstrating an uncanny ability to expand the strike zone, thus avoiding contact and putting hitters in unfavorable counts."
"Few could match his track record as a hitter. Thomas never led the American League in home runs, but he bashed 521 for his career, enough to tie him with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 18th on the all-time list; if not for injuries, he quite possibly would have reached 600. He was so feared by opposing pitchers, and so disciplined when it came to the strike zone, that he drew 100 walks in 10 different seasons while topping 100 strikeouts just three times. He won a batting title and back-to-back MVP awards and led the AL in on-base percentage four times. Even after adjusting for the favorable offensive conditions of the era, he stands as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history."
"The case for Cox's induction into the Hall of Fame is simple: From 1991 to 2005, his Braves made the postseason every year that there was one (the strike-shortened 1994 being the exception). That's 14 straight playoff berths, each one the result of a division title. No other team in the history of the game has had such a sustained run of success, not even the Yankees of recent vintage, who had their streak of consecutive postseasons snapped at 13 in 2008, and who were limited to the wild card in three of those years."
"The three managers who won more games than Cox are Connie Mack, John McGraw and La Russa, who won 2,728, just 35 shy of the great McGraw. From 1979 to 2011, not a season passed without La Russa at the helm of a major league team, and he took all three of his organizations to the postseason. In 1983, he guided the White Sox to the playoffs for the first time since 1959. With the A's, he won three straight pennants from 1988 to 1990, something only Joe Torre's Yankees have done since, and he had his greatest success with the Cardinals. In La Russa's 16 years in St. Louis, the Redbirds went to the postseason nine times, winning three pennants and two World Series titles."
"Torre arguably deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a player, but he is a no-brainer choice as a manager. The overall impact of his more than half-century in the game makes him second only to Miller (with whom Torre was a significant figure in the union as a player representative) as an obvious choice on this ballot."
"It's a bumper crop of well-qualified candidates with strong credentials on both traditional and sabermetric merits. Maddux and Glavine each won more 300 wins and combined for six NL Cy Young Awards, while Thomas hit 521 home runs and won a pair of AL MVP awards. All three clear the JAWS standard at their position by a wide margin, which is to say that they're above-average with respect to the already-enshrined players at their position."
"If this year's class winds up being a trio of Maddux (81.6), Glavine (62.9) and Thomas (59.5), their average JAWS would be 68.0, which objectively speaking would be fifth by the criteria above but might rank third given the presence of two 300-game winners who took home six Cy Young awards, and a 500-homer slugger with two MVP awards himself."