The latest ballot for baseball’s Hall of Fame has been released, and it includes first-timers Mike Mussina, Armando Benitez and Mike Timlin.
Other former Orioles include Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling and Lee Smith. Tim Raines appeared in four games with the Orioles in 2001, allowing him to play in the same outfield as son Tim Raines Jr.
Eligible voters may choose up to 10 players, and 75 percent of the votes is the threshold necessary for induction in Cooperstown, N.Y. No players were elected last year, but another shutout may be averted.
The 2014 ballot includes Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Also, Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 hits and was a seven-time All-Star while playing three positions, topped the 2013 ballot with 388 votes - 39 shy of the 427 required for election.
Biggio must be regarded as a favorite for 2014 induction.
Maddux won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and a record 18 Gold Glove Awards in a 23-season career in which he compiled a 355-227 record with a 3.16 earned run average and 3,371 strikeouts in 5,008 1/3 innings. He led the NL in ERA four times and won at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons, also a record.
Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner (1991 and ‘98) and 10-time All-Star, was 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA over 22 seasons combined with the Braves and New York Mets. The lefthander was a five-time 20-game winner and won four Silver Slugger Awards.
Thomas, who won consecutive American League MVP Awards with the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and ‘94 and placed in the top three in the voting five times overall, 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).
Jeff Kent, the NL MVP in 2000 with the Giants, also is eligible for the first time. He hit 377 home runs, including a record-351 as a second baseman. The five-time All-Star had at least 20 homers and 100 RBI in eight seasons, the most by any second baseman in major league history.
Mussina’s candidacy will spark one of the more heated debates among Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters and fans.
Mussina was 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA in 537 games. He struck out 2,813 batters in 3,562 2/3 innings over his 18 seasons. He was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting nine times, placing second in 1999. He also won seven Gold Gloves.
The right-hander’s critics will point to how he never won the Cy Young. How he won 20 games only once, in his final season. How he never won a World Series.
Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens return to the ballot for a second consecutive year. A slugger with 609 career home runs, a seven-time Most Valuable Player and all-time home run king, and a seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
The steroid cloud hasn’t dissipated, and it most likely will deny them entrance into Cooperstown. Sosa received 71 votes (12.5 percent) last year, Bonds 206 (36.2) and Clemens 214 (37.6).
The same is true with Palmeiro, one of only four members of the 3,000-hit/500-home run club. He received 50 votes (8.8 percent) last year, enough to keep him on the ballot.
Also worth discussing.
Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years, provided they receive five percent of the vote. This is the 15th and final year of eligibility for Jack Morris, who received 385 votes (67.7 percent) on the 2013 ballot.
Results will be announced on Jan. 8.
Here’s the complete ballot:
Paul Lo Duca