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2015 Baseball Hall of Fame: The Five Most Serious Candidates

by Photo of Sam Cohen

With the 2014 HOF ceremonies in the books, we take a look at what the 2015 class could bring.

2015 Baseball Hall of Fame: The Five Most Serious Candidates

The six members of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Class were celebrated in Cooperstown this past weekend. The class is one of the best in MLB history, as three of the top five winningest managers,1 two of the winningest pitchers and one of the most powerful hitters ever were inducted.

Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre were all inducted to the Hall of Fame as managers this past weekend after winning a combined 7,588 games, eight World Series titles, and ten Manager of the Year Awards. Joining them were eight-time all-star, four-time Cy Young Award winner, and 18-time Gold Glove Award winner Greg Maddux, 10-time all-star and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine, and five-time all-star and two-time MVP Frank Thomas.

This was a pretty good class, to say the least. Now that these six men are part of one of the most exclusive and celebrated clubs in sports, it's time to look towards the 2015 class. Here are the five names with the best chance to get into the Hall of Fame.

Randy Johnson

The Big Unit will be on the ballot for the first time next year and there is no doubt his wait to get into the Hall will be short-lived. The 6'10" fireballer is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers ever, as indicated by his 303 wins, 5 Cy Young awards, ten All-Star appearances, and 4,875 strikeouts, which ranks second all-time and first among lefties. He also threw a no-hitter as well as a perfect game.

Since I just turned 19, this is one of the first times I get to say that I grew up watching a Hall-of-Fame pitcher. What made Johnson so special is not only the fact that he was so dominant, but that he did it in an era where hitters had never been better (partly because many of them were on steroids). He was also 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in the World Series. Watching him was amazing and Johnson is all but certain to be in Cooperstown next summer.

Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio has been eligible for the Hall of Fame twice now and both times, he fell short. Biggio had 3,060 career hits, all for the Astros, so he is basically a lock for Cooperstown.

A player needs 75% of the voters to vote for him in order to get elected. Biggio had 74.8% last year, facing stiff competition from Glavine, Maddux, and Thomas. This coming year, things should fall Biggio's way. The third time is the charm.

John Smoltz

John Smoltz was often overshadowed during his career by two of his teammates, Glavine and Maddux, but there is no denying that the right-hander deserves to join his two fellow Braves pitchers in Cooperstown. Smoltz was both a dominant starter and closer, finishing with 213 wins and 150 saves in his career.

Smoltz was an eight-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in 1996. He has almost 3,100 career strikeouts and his postseason statistics are among the best ever, as he is second in wins with 15 to go along with an elite 2.69 ERA. It wouldn't be shocking to see Smoltz have to wait a year before he gets in, but most expect to see him up on stage making a speech next summer.

Pedro Martinez

This might be the most interesting name on next year's ballot. Pedro didn't have the longevity or amount of wins (219) as many other Hall of Fame pitchers had, but one could make the argument that nobody's peak was better than Pedro's peak. His stuff was absolutely filthy, as he holds the lowest WHIP for any starting pitcher since 1920. He was an All-Star eight times and a Cy Young Award winner three times.

Pedro led the league in ERA five different seasons and strikeouts in three different seasons. Without him, the Red Sox might not have broken the curse and won the World Series in 2004. His 2000 season will go down in history as one of the best seasons for a starting pitcher ever, as he went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA, 284 strikeouts, four shutouts, and 0.74 WHIP. From 1997-2003, Pedro went 118-36 with a 2.20 ERA, a stretch that may never be matched again.

The reason he is an interesting candidate is because wins, for some odd reason, often mean something to voters. But his prime was as dominant as it gets and the fact that he led Boston to their first World Series in 86 years means a lot. His career 2.93 ERA and 1.05 WHIP (not to mention some of those peak seasons) should be enough. If he doesn't get into the Hall in 2015, he will come very, very close.

Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza probably won't get into the Hall in 2015, but he got 62.2% of the votes in 2014 and should continue to see that number grow. Piazza might be the greatest offensive catcher ever, finishing with 427 home runs and a .545 slugging percentage. He was a 12-time All-Star and finished in the top-ten in the MVP voting seven times.

The fact that Piazza won't get in next year has nothing to do with his numbers. He just doesn't match up with some of the other candidates. There are also the PED rumors that he can't seem to escape, though those rumors are ridiculous since the reason that accusers give is the fact that he had back-acne. Piazza will get in eventually, but not this year.

For the people like myself who believe that the Hall of Fame should be about the players with the best numbers and that's it, I am sorry but Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and the newly eligible Gary Sheffield will not make it in quite yet. In any case, next year's ballot has some exciting names and it should be another great year for Cooperstown.

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