Cooperstown, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes 17 new additions, including Cy Young Award winning pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
Also new to the ballot for 2015 are sluggers Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado and shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
Rounding out the 17 first-time candidates are infielders Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone and Tony Clark, outfielders Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd and Brian Giles, and pitchers Troy Percival, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado and Jason Schmidt.
The 17 candidates returning to the BBWAA ballot (with their 2014 election percentages) are: Craig Biggio (74.8%), Mike Piazza (62.2%), Jeff Bagwell (54.3%), Tim Raines (46.1%), Roger Clemens (35.4%), Barry Bonds (34.7%), Lee Smith (29.9%), Curt Schilling (29.2%), Edgar Martinez (25.2%), Alan Trammell (20.8%), Mike Mussina (20.3%), Jeff Kent (15.2%), Fred McGriff (11.7%), Mark McGwire (11.0%), Larry Walker (10.2%), Don Mattingly (8.2%) and Sammy Sosa (7.2%).
Mattingly is eligible for the ballot for the 15th and final time. If he is not elected in January, he will become eligible for consideration by the Expansion Era Committee beginning in the fall of 2016.
Candidates need 75 percent of the vote to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. Results will be announced on Jan. 6, 2015.
When including the returners to the ballot, it's interesting to note that only once in the history of voting have as many as five candidates earned the 75 percent in the same voting year. That was in 1936, the first year of voting, when Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner became the First Five.
Since then, the BBWAA has elected four candidates in one year only twice: 1947, when Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch, Lefty Grove and Carl Hubbell were elected; and 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance earned election.
The three candidates who at first glance deserve first-ballot Hall of Fame consideration are Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz.
Johnson pitched 22 seasons for Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Giants, posting three 20-win seasons (1997, 2001-02) and winning five Cy Young Awards. The hard-throwing left-hander ended his career with a 303-166 mark with a 3.29 ERA, finishing in top 10 of his league's Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1995 (6th) and 2002 (7th) and was named to 10 All-Star Games, starting four times. Known as a strikeout pitcher, Johnson led his league in strikeouts nine times (1992-95, 1999-2002, 2004) and is second on the all-time strikeout list with 4,875.
Martinez played 18 seasons for Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, going 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA. He had two 20-win seasons (1999, 2002) and captured three Cy Young Awards (1997, 1999-2000). An eight-time All-Star, the right-hander finished in Top 10 of his league's Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1999 (2nd) and 2000 (5th). He won 1999 American League Pitching Triple Crown after leading the league in wins (23), earned run average (2.07) and strikeouts (313).
Smoltz, who could be the first Hall of Fame member to have the famed "Tommy John" surgery, made a name for himself as a starter and closer, pitching 21 seasons for Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals. Smoltz had a career record of 213-155 with a 3.33 ERA with 154 saves. He won 1996 National League Cy Young Award and was named to eight All-Star Games (1989, 1992-93, 1996, 2002-03, 2005, 2007). As a reliever, the right-hander topped the 40-save mark three times (2002-04), the only three full seasons he served as his team's closer. His 3,084 strikeouts rank 16th all-time. Smoltz appeared in 25 postseason series over 14 seasons with Braves and Cardinals, posting 15-4 record in 41 appearances (27 starts) with 2.67 earned run average and four saves, striking out 199 batters in 209 innings.
If the BBWAA elects at least two candidates in January, it will mark the first time since 2004-05 that the writers have elected multiple candidates in back- to-back years. Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor were elected in 2004, followed by Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg in 2005. The last time three-or-more BBWAA candidates were elected in successive years was 1954-55, when the DiMaggio-Hartnett-Lyons-Vance group followed the 1954 class of Bill Dickey, Rabbit Maranville and Bill Terry.
The Class of 2015, and any candidates elected by the Golden Era Committee on Dec. 8, will be inducted on July 26 in Cooperstown.