Rob Neyer: ‘One More Year For Piazza’

For the first time since 1955, four players were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday, as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will be inducted into Cooperstown this summer.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire, meanwhile, remain unlikely to be elected any time soon due to their alleged steroid use.

So, which is a bigger story: the guys who got in, or the guys who didn’t?

“Oh, I think it’s the guys who got in,” Fox Sports senior baseball writer Rob Neyer said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When you elect four, that has rarely happened. So there were three last year, four this year – I think the story has to be the ones who got in. Because it was just two years ago that no one got in. So I’ve been amused today in the wake of the announcement hearing people say, ‘Oh, see? The system works.’ It’s exactly the same system that two years ago you said didn’t work. You can’t have it both ways. The truth is, the system worked this time around and really last year, too, because there were just a bunch of tremendous candidates on the ballot for the first time, so the writers really couldn’t screw it up.”

Still, isn’t it a little surprising that Pedro Martinez got only 91.1 percent of the vote? Granted, a player only needs 75 percent for induction, but almost 10 percent of voters didn’t think Martinez was worthy? Really?

“I think there are a couple of things happening there,” Neyer sad. “One, is there are still a few voters who don’t think anybody should be elected on the first ballot unless they’re Babe Ruth or Tom Seaver or Nolan Ryan. There are also some voters who just forget. Literally, there are probably two or three or four voters who just didn’t know who Pedro Martinez was because they haven’t watched a baseball game in 30 years. It happens. That’s why we’ll never see anybody get 100 percent – not with the system that they have now. It’s just not going to happen. Ninety-one percent is actually quite strong.

“And Pedro won 219 games,” Neyer continued, “which is not a great number of wins for a Hall of Fame starter. Now, of course he did so many other things so well that the 219 wins is not an issue, but for a few voters, it probably was.”

Mike Piazza, meanwhile, was not elected for the third straight year. He did, however, receive 69.9 percent of the vote – his highest ever and just 28 votes shy of induction. What’s it going to take for one of the greatest offensive catchers in the history of the game to get elected?

“Really just one more year, I think,” Neyer said. “As great a candidate as Mike Piazza is, you’re right, he’s lost some votes because of the steroid discussion, no question. But he also just suffered because there was an incredible glut of candidates, especially these last two years. But he got 70 percent this time around – by quite a bit the highest of anybody who wasn’t elected. Next year, Ken Griffey Jr. comes on the ballot. He’ll be elected obviously with 98 percent or something, but Piazza will almost certainly get bumped up over 75 and he’ll be elected as well.”

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