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Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza
Jonathan Daniel, Chris Trotman / Getty Images

On Wednesday evening, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest members: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Griffey set a record by being named on 99.3 percent of all ballots, surpassing the mark set by Tom Seaver in 1992. Piazza received nods from 83 percent of writers, easily crossing the 75 percent threshold required for enshrinement.

There had been some curiosity regarding whether Griffey would become the first player ever elected unanimously, but that did not happen, as three writers out of 440 left him off their ballots. He is certainly a deserving first-ballot selection, evidenced by his spectacular career achievements, which include:

  • 630 home runs (sixth all time)
  • 13-time all-star
  • 10 straight Gold Gloves in center field
  • 1997 American League Most Valuable Player (along with six other top 10 finishes)

Griffey was likely baseball’s most popular player in the 1990s, a decade during which he was a dominant force as the Seattle Mariners’ center-fielder, probably the best player in the American League those years. He was an all-star and the Gold Glove winner every single year. He had back-to-back 56-homer seasons in ’97 and ’98. He was traded to his hometown Cincinnati Reds in the 1999–2000 off-season. He suffered through numerous injury-plagued seasons there, before returning to Seattle to close out his career in 2009–10.

This was Piazza’s fourth year on the ballot. His percentages the past three years had been hurt by a crowded ballot — seven new members were elected the last two years, the highest two-year total ever — and by allegations of possible steroid use. (Those charges were never proven, the only evidence ever offered being one reporter’s claim of seeing Piazza with “back acne,” a potential indication of steroid usage.) His percentage kept climbing, though, going from 57.8 percent in 2013 to 62.2 in 2014 and 69.9 last year.

This year, though, Piazza finally broke through. He is regarded as the greatest hitting catcher of all time, boasting more home runs at the position than anyone else. He finished his 16-year career with:

  • 427 homers
  • a .308 batting average
  • the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year award
  • 12 all-star appearances
  • 10 straight Silver Slugger awards, as the best hitting catcher in the league
  • seven top 10 finishes in MVP balloting

Interestingly, Griffey and Piazza now become the highest- and lowest-drafted players in the Hall of Fame. Griffey was the first overall selection in 1987; Piazza was taken by the Dodgers with the 1,390th pick in the 1988 draft.

Just missing out on the 75 percent bar this year were Jeff Bagwell (71.6), Tim Raines (69.2) and Trevor Hoffman (67.3). The full results of this year’s voting are as follows:

Name 2016 votes (percent) Years on ballot
Ken Griffey Jr. 437 (99.3) 1
Mike Piazza 365 (83.0) 4
Jeff Bagwell 315 (71.6) 6
Tim Raines 307 (69.8) 9
Trevor Hoffman 296 (67.3) 1
Curt Schilling 230 (52.3) 4
Roger Clemens 199 (45.2) 4
Barry Bonds 195 (44.3) 4
Edgar Martinez 191 (43.4) 7
Mike Mussina 189 (43.0) 3
Alan Trammell 180 (40.9) 15
Lee Smith 150 (34.1) 14
Fred McGriff 92 (20.9) 9
Jeff Kent 73 (16.6) 3
Larry Walker 68 (15.5) 6
Mark McGwire 54 (12.3) 10
Gary Sheffield 51 (11.6) 2
Billy Wagner 46 (10.5) 1
Sammy Sosa 31 (7.0) 4
Jim Edmonds 11 (2.5) 1
Nomar Garciaparra 8 (1.8) 2
Mike Sweeney 3 (0.7) 1
David Eckstein 2 (0.5) 1
Jason Kendall 2 (0.5) 1
Garret Anderson 1 (0.2) 1
Brad Ausmus 0 1
Luis Castillo 0 1
Troy Glaus 0 1
Mark Gruzielanek 0 1
Mike Hampton 0 1
Mike Lowell 0 1
Randy Winn 0 1

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