In results revealed today from the 2016 Hall of Fame balloting, in his first year on the ballot, Ken Griffey Jr. received 99.3% of the vote, a new BBWAA election record. Only three voters kept Junior off their ballots.
The previous high-mark for voting percentage was held by Tom Seaver, who elected in 1992 with 98.8% of the vote in his first year of eligibility.
Former catcher Mike Piazza finished second at 83.0% and was the only other player elected. Both players will be inducted in a ceremony this summer in Cooperstown, New York.
Griffey is the closest thing we’ve had to Willie Mays since The Say Hey Kid was in his prime. He could hit for power, average, throw, field, and run. He played hard (which often led to injury) and with childlike enthusiasm. Griffey is the example of a player who did things without the use of PEDs and stands out as an unblemished superstar of his era.
Only Johnny Bench and negro leagues star Josh Gibson can challenge Piazza as the greatest hitting catcher in history. Piazza hit 40 homers twice, and 30+ homers nine times. His 427 career homers are a record for catchers. He was Rookie of the Year in 1993, and finished second in MVP voting twice.
Raines Poised to Earn Election in 2017
Former outfielder Tim Raines continued his climb up the voting totals, earning 69.8% support, an increase of nearly 15%. The 2017 ballot will be his final time to be considered by the BBWAA. No player who has received as much as 60% on a ballot has failed to be elected later.
Jeff Bagwell received an even bigger boost, jumping by nearly 16% to 71.6% overall in his sixth time on the ballot. Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina saw huge gains as well, which bodes well for their future chances to get to Cooperstown.
Hoffman Makes Big Debut on Ballot
Relief pitchers have not had an easy road to the Hall of Fame, but that may be changing. Former San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman got nearly 300 votes in his first appearance, getting 67.3%.
Other relievers, like Rollie Fingers, Goos Gossage, and Hoyt Wilhelm were forced to wait many years before getting their Hall of Fame plaque.
Bagwell, Raines, and Hoffman brought the total to three of players who got at least 60% in this 2016 ballot were not elected. All will be back for consideration in 2017.
Trammell and McGwire Exit Ballot
Alan Trammell and Mark McGwire were on the ballot for their final time. Neither were elected, meaning they will not be eligible for further consideration by the BBWAA. Following a July 2016 rule change, they will be considered eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committees, which has now been split into four eras.
Other notables to leave the ballot include Nomar Garciappara, who fell below the 5% threshold to remain, and Jim Edmonds, who was a bit of a surprise to fall off the BBWAA ballot in his first year of eligibility.
Larry Walker’s Candidacy Gets Surprisingly Little Support
In his sixth appearance on the BBWAA ballot, Larry Walker saw his support still in the teens at 15.5%, well below what he needs to get to the required 75% in four more tries.
Walker finished above 20% in his first three years, but he’s slumped as other candidates have crowded the Hall of Fame ballot. The situation is odd considering his credentials.
Walker won three batting titles and hit .313 in his career which he spent with the Expos, Rockies, and Cardinals. He was also a superb defensive right fielder, which is why he was awarded with seven Gold Gloves. In 1997 when he batted .366 with a .720 slugging percentage, Walker was a 30/30 player when he led the NL with 49 homers and stole 33 bases. He hit well at home, he hit well on the road. He was an excellent player. But voters have been lukewarm to him so far.