Last year, suspected steroid use played a big role in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America electing no one to the Hall of Fame.
This year, the ballot itself might need a drug test.
With 300-game winners and longtime teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, along with two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas, up for consideration for the first time, the BBWAA will have plenty of qualified candidates.
The BBWAA mailed the ballot to more than 600 voting members this week. Of the 36 players on the ballot, 19 are appearing for the first time.
Players must be named on 75 percent of the ballots to earn election. The results will be announced at 2 p.m. Jan. 8.
Those elected by the BBWAA, along with anyone selected in the Expansion Era ballot, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 27 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Former managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are among those on the Expansion Era ballot, which will release its results Dec. 9.
Maddux won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards from 1992-95. He also won a record 18 Gold Glove Awards over his 23 seasons in the big leagues. He finished with a 355-227 record and an ERA of 3.16. Maddux, who played for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, struck out 3,371 batters over 5,0081/3 innings. He led the NL in ERA four times and won at least 15 games in 17 straight seasons, another record.
Glavine won the NL Cy Young Award in 1991 and 1998. A 10-time All-Star, Glavine had a career record of 305-203. He had an ERA of 3.54 over 22 seasons combined with the Braves and New York Mets. The left-hander won 20 or more games five times and won four Silver Sluggers.
Thomas won consecutive American League MVP Awards with the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and 1994, and placed in the top three in the voting five times. He finished his 19-year career with 2,468 hits, including 521 home runs. He drove in 1,704 runs, scored 1,494 and had more walks (1,667) than strikeouts (1,397).
Also making his first appearance on the ballot is 2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent, whose 17-year career included stints with the Mets, Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. He hit 377 home runs, 351 coming as a second baseman, which is a major-league record. Kent appeared in five All-Star games and had at least 20 homers and 100 RBIs in eight seasons, the lone second baseman in MLB history to accomplish that feat.
Of the 17 holdovers on the ballot, Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines appear to have the best shots at earning election.
Biggio compiled 3,060 hits and played in seven All-Star games. Last year, he appeared on 68.2 percent of the ballots, topping the list. Morris, on the ballot for the 15th and final time, garnered 67.7 percent last season. He was followed by Bagwell (59.6 percent), Piazza (57.8) and Raines (52.2).
The following is the complete ballot:
Moises Alou, Jeff Bagwell, Armando Benitez, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Sean Casey, Roger Clemens, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Lo Duca, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, Hideo Nomo, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Kenny Rogers, Curt Schilling, Richie Sexson, Lee Smith, J.T. Snow, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.