Ken Griffey Jr. Leads Class of First-Time Candidates for Cooperstown

Ken Griffey AP

Ken Griffey Jr. leads a pack of fifteen first-time candidates for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America consider Griffey, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds, Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner and Randy Winn as candidates for the first time this year. Under revamped rules, voters consider nominees for ten instead of fifteen years before a veterans’ committee can install an overlooked candidate in the hall.

Griffey, Hoffman, and Edmonds likely receive the most votes among those eligible for entry in 2016. Among the trio, Griffey appears as the only sure-bet.

Longtime Padres closer Hoffman ranks second all-time in saves with 601. Writers value closers less than the contracts issued by general managers do. But with Bruce Sutter, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage in the Hall of Fame, Hoffman eventually coming to Cooperstown makes sense. Jim Edmonds’ 393 home runs put him just short of the 400 club that once all-but guaranteed induction. But the center fielder presents his glove more than his bat as the reason for induction. Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves and leaves a lengthy highlight reel of his acrobatics on the field. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 630 home runs in the steroid era without the taint of the chemicals. But his accomplishments with his legs, glove, and arm join his heroics at the plate in making him the picture next to “five-tool player” in the dictionary.

Seventeen players return to the ballot. Mark McGwire and Alan Trammel appear for the last time. Mike Piazza who fell short of the 75 percent threshold with 70 percent last year looks like the strongest candidate among those returning to the ballot. The names of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens also again appear.

The writers announce the chosen ones on January 6, 2016. The induction ceremony takes place in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2016.