There’s not a lot of Nationals love on the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot announced this morning.
Only one former Nat - infielder Aaron Boone - is listed among the 17 new additions to the ballot, which feature three pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz) who combined to win nine Cy Young Awards and two hitters (Gary Sheffield and Nomar Garciaparra) who claimed batting titles in their careers.
Boone played one season for the Nationals, hitting .241 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 104 games in 2008. He was granted free agency by Washington in November 2008 and signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Astros but underwent open heart surgery the following March to replace a bicuspid aortic valve, a condition he’d dealt with since childhood. Boone rehabbed and was activated by the Astros on Sept. 1, 2009, appearing in the final 10 games of a 12-year major league career that saw him hit .263 with 126 homers and 55 RBIs for the Reds, Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Nats and Astros.
Of course, Boone is most well-known for the Game 7 walk-off homer in the 2003 American League Championship Series that helped the Yankees beat the Red Sox. But the Yankees cut Boone the following February after he tore a ligament in his knee during a pickup basetball game, in violation of his contract. His replacement at third base in The Bronx: Alex Rodriguez.
After his retirement, Boone became an analyst for ESPN. He’s the son of former major league catcher Bob Boone, the Nationals’ vice president of player personnel.
While Boone is the lone former National on the ballot, he’s not the only one with ties to the organization, which played in Montreal as the Expos from 1969-2004.
Martinez won Cy Youngs in both leagues - two with the Red Sox in the American League and one for the Expos in 1997. The lanky right-hander was 55-33 with a 3.06 ERA in four seasons in Montreal from 1994-97. His final season north of the border was his best - he posted a league-leading 1.90 ERA and 13 complete games to go with a 17-8 record. He was runner-up for the 1999 AL Most Valuable Player Award to Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Tim Raines, who played 13 of his 23 seasons for the Expos, is in his eighth year on the ballot, but the new arrivals further cloud his chances of reaching baseball immortality in Cooperstown, N.Y. The seven-time All-Star and 1986 National League batting champ with the Expos got 46.1 percent of the vote last year, down from his high-water mark of 52.2 percent in 2013. Players need to appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast. Raines twice led the NL in runs scored, topped the league in doubles in 1984 and was the loop’s leading base stealer in four straight seasons from 1981-84.
Also on the ballot are former Expos outfielders Cliff Floyd and Larry Walker, ex-Expos pitcher Johnson (who won his 300th game at Nationals Park in 2009 with the Giants), and long-time relievers Eddie Guardado, who went to spring training with the Nationals in 2010 but was an early camp cut, and Lee Smith, the one-time career saves leader who finished his 18-year career with Montreal in 1997.
Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by Baseball Writers’ Association of America members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage to gain election. In 2014, Craig Biggio missed the 75 percent qualifying point by two votes last year and is on the ballot for a third year.
Ballots distributed to more than 575 BBWA members must be returned with a postmark no later than Dec. 27 and results will be announced live at 2 p.m. on MLB Network.
The full ballot: Rich Aurilia, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Troy Percival, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.
A rules change by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors going into effect this year limits players to remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they receive 5 percent of the vote. Players between 10 years and the previous time frame of 15 years who have been grandfathered on the ballot are Smith (13th year), Mattingly (15th) and Trammell (14th).