The Baseball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that four players will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer: Randy Johnson, Pedro Marinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio.
This was the first time under the new rules for the voters that four players have been enshrined. Five players were enshrined in the Hall’s first year, 1936, and only twice since then have four players been enshrined.
The 6-foot, 10-inch Johnson, nicknamed The Big Unit,” received 97.3% of the vote, close to Tom Seaver’s record 98.8%. He pitched for six teams in his illustrious 22-year career, starting with the Montreal Expos for a year and a half, then moving to Seattle, where he spent 9 seasons, half of a season with Houston, six seasons with Arizona, two seasons with the New York Yankees, back to Arizona for two seasons, and his final season with the San Francisco Giants in 2009. He compiled a record of 303 wins against 166 losses, a career ERA of 3.29, an astonishing 4875 strikeouts, leaving him second only to Nolan Ryan, five Cy Young Awards (he finished second three other rimes), the pitching Triple Crown in 2002, and the World Series MVP in 2001. The ageless southpaw won 222 games after he turned 30, and pitched in 10 All-Star games.
Martinez, who received 91.1% of the vote, started with the Dodgers for two years, then spent time with Montreal, seven seasons with Boston, four seasons with the New York Mets, and finished in Philadelphia. He won three Cy Young Awards while finishing second twice. He led both leagues in ERA five times, the AL in strikeouts three times, strikeout rate five times, and strikeout-to-walk rate four times. He had arguably one of the best stretches of pitching in history. From 1997-2003, he won 188 and lost 36 with a 2.20 ERA.
Smoltz got 82.9% of the vote. He was a double-threat; a sterling staring pitcher before he became an ace reliever. He spent 20 seasons with Atlanta before finishing his career in 2009 with Boston and St. Louis. He became an All-Star in his second year, 1989, and went 209-147 as a starter with six All-Star appearances, winning the 1996 Cy Young Award when he went 24-8, leading the NL in innings and strikeouts. Later, as a reliever, he saved 154 games with a 2.41 ERA. He made the All-Star Game as a reliever twice, in 2002 and 2003. He is the only pitcher with over 200 wins and 150 saves. He was a stellar post-season pitcher, going 15-4 with four saves and a 2.67 ERA.
Biggio, who barely missed entry last year on his second try, receiving 82.7% of the vote, spent his entire 20-year career with Houston, amassing 3,060 hits. The only players with 3,000 hits not enshrined in the Hall are Biggio, Pete Rose (for gambling), Derek Jeter (ineligible as yet) and Rafael Palmeiro (PED use). Biggio ranks first all-time in being hit by a pitch, fifth all-time with 668 doubles, eleventh all-time with 12,504 plate appearances, eighteenth all-time with 4,505 times on base, and fifteenth all-time with 1,844 runs scored.
Piazza came close, amassing 69.9 %, followed by Tim Raines at 55%. Raines made a leap from last year, when he amassed 46% of the vote. Curt Schilling raised his score the most, from 29% last year to 39% this year. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens remained stagnant in the 30% range, indicating that their chances of being elected will diminish in years to come.