As the 2015 year begins, four baseball players have reached immortality. The BBWAA voted in four players into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, for the first time since 1955. The class of 2015 consists of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz make up the first trio of pitchers elected to the Hall in the same year. Also, all three appeared on the ballot for the first time, which marks consecutive years where three players made it in their first appearance; Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were inducted in 2014.
Johnson is arguably the best left handed pitcher of his era. He received the eight highest percentage of votes in Hall of Fame voting history, 97.3 percent, and the only surprising thing is that not everyone voted for him. He led the league in strikeouts nine different seasons, won four consecutive Cy Young awards—five total—and is second on the all-time strikeout list with 4,875, only behind Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.
Unlike Johnson’s intimidating 6-foot-10 stature, Martinez—5-foot-11—went about his business a different way. He threw in the mid 90s but had a control of the strike zone second to none. His ability to work the inside corner with no fear at all, earned him three Cy Young Awards in his career; he led the league in ERA five seasons, and in strikeouts three times.
Smoltz made his way into the Hall partly because of his versatility; he dominated the league as a starter and as a closer. He is the first pitcher in history to record over 200 wins and 150 saves. He won the Cy Young Award in 1996 after winning 24 games with a 2.94 era and 276 strikeouts. His postseason stats also helped him tremendously. He is the only player to play in all of the Braves 14 straight division title years. He had a 15-4 record in the postseason with a 2.67 ERA and 199 strikeouts.
Biggio finally made it in 2015 after two years of being short of the 75 percent needed for the Hall. Biggio is part of the 3,000 hit club, and has hit more doubles than any right handed hitter in the history of baseball. An impressive feat for anyone, but especially for a second baseman, who actually came up to the league as a catcher. Biggio made the move from catcher to second base seem effortless; he won four gold gloves at second base and is the only player in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 homeruns.
The induction into the Hall of Fame is scheduled for July 26, in Cooperstown, NY.