Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas likely to enter Hall of Fame on first ballot
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter January 7, 2014 9:37PM
Cubs/White Sox Hall of Fame candidates
Greg Maddux: The 355-game winner could break Tom Seaver’s record for highest vote percentage (98.84) set in 1992. Was first to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards, compiling a 1.98 ERA during the four-year stretch starting in 1992 with the Cubs.
Frank Thomas: Batted .301 with 521 home runs in career highlighted by 1990-97 run of dominance, which included .330 average .452 on-base percentage, .600 slugging percentage and an average of 39 home runs and 38 doubles per 162 games.
Lee Smith: Former Cub (1980 to ’87) and seven-time All-Star ranks third with 478 saves.
Sammy Sosa: Former Cubs (1992 to 2004) and Sox (1989 to 1991) outfielder hit 609 home runs (eighth all-time) and is only player with three 60-plus-homer seasons. Suspected of and linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Tim Raines: Former Sox (1991 to ’95) leadoff man and outfielder batted .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, 2,605 hits, 170 home runs, 808 stolen bases. Stole 70 or more bases six times.
Luis Gonzalez: Former Cub (1995 to ’96) who excelled with Arizona Diamondbacks ranks 81st in hits and 30th in extra-base hits.
Rafael Palmeiro: Slugger who played for Cubs (1986 to ’88), one of four players (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray are the others) with 3,000 hits and 500 homers. Suspended after testing positive for anabolic steroid stanozolol.
Moises Alou: Former Cubs outfielder (2002 to ’04) and six-time All-Star batted .303 during career with 2,134 hits, 421 doubles, 332 home runs, 1,287 RBI.
Fred McGriff: Batted .284 with 2,490 hits, 493 home runs, 441 doubles, 1,550 RBI. Led both leagues in homers. A Cub in 2001 and ’02.
Ray Durham: Two-time All-Star second baseman who played first eight of 14 years of career with Sox (1995 to 2002), was .277 hitter with 192 home runs and 440 doubles.
Updated: January 7, 2014 11:11PM
Second city? Could be more like second to none when it comes to Chicago baseball greats getting voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot Wednesday.
Slugger Frank Thomas, one the best right-handed hitters of the modern era and undoubtedly the greatest White Sox hitter of all time, is a very good bet to be sent to Cooperstown on his first opportunity. Right-hander Greg Maddux, who won the first of his four consecutive Cy Young Awards for the Cubs in 1992, is a near-certain first-ballot pick.
Barring an upset, Maddux’s longtime Braves teammate Tom Glavine also is expected in on his first try. One website polling (baseballthinkfactory.com) of voting Baseball Writers’ Association of America members Tuesday showed Thomas, Maddux, Glavine and Craig Biggio above the 75 percent threshold needed for election. The approximate 550 voters, who can vote for up to 10 candidates, took a hard-line stance against suspected performance-enhancing drug users and did not elect a player — Biggio led all players by being named on 68.2 percent of ballots cast — last year but are expected to elect several Wednesday.
The sample from 161 voters, more than a quarter of the voting body, showed Maddux with all but one vote, Glavine with 96.3 percent, Thomas with 90.7 percent and Biggio with 78.9 percent.
The votes will be announced Wednesday at 1 p.m. on MLB Network.
Thomas, Maddux, Glavine, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent lead a deep list of worthy first-timers on the ballot. Jack Morris, a 254-game winner, was on the writers’ ballot for the 15th and last time. Morris received 67.7 percent of the vote last year but was falling short of that according to the poll.
Thomas is confident about his chances and covets a first-ballot induction, but “The Big Hurt” has stayed relatively quiet in recent months about the vote. At SoxFest last January, he said his numbers spoke for themselves, but for superstitious reasons, he’s not talking till Wednesday.
“It would be a terrible miscarriage of justice if Frank is not in that class,” Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said last month. “What I’m concerned about is there might be some writers who say, ‘I don’t want a DH to go in the first time.’ But Frank was a position player for a lot of his career. DH is a position. Frank was probably the best hitter of his era.”
The 36 candidates: (with the returnees and 2013 election percentages in parentheses): Biggio (68.2 percent), Morris (67.7), Jeff Bagwell (59.6), Mike Piazza (57.8), Tim Raines (52.2), Lee Smith (47.8), Curt Schilling (38.8), Roger Clemens (37.6), Barry Bonds (36.2), Edgar Martinez (35.9), Alan Trammell (33.6), Larry Walker (21.6), Fred McGriff (20.7), Mark McGwire (16.9), Don Mattingly (13.2), Sammy Sosa (12.5), Rafael Palmeiro (8.8), J.T. Snow, Thomas, Mike Timlin, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Lo Duca, Maddux, Moises Alou, Mussina, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson.
The Class of 2014 will be enshrined July 27 in Cooperstown.