11/28/12 12:05 PM ET
Deep list of candidates rounds out Hall's list
By Cash Kruth and Zack Meisel / MLB.com
The newest list of candidates for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2013 is headlined by players that not only dominated their era, but stars -- like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza -- who put up numbers that made history.
But beyond those elite names are other players up for enshrinement in Cooperstown for the first time. And while they may not be considered as first-ballot possibilities, at one point or another during their careers, they were among the game's best, their contributions etched into baseball lore. That may not send them straight to Cooperstown, but it is reason enough to consider them for baseball's highest individual honor.
A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. An impressive list of first-year candidates joins the process in 2013 after Reds shortstop Barry Larkin became the only player elected to the Hall last year. Starting pitcher Jack Morris (66.7 percent) leads returning vote-getters in his 14th of 15 years of eligibility.
Among the players on the ballot for the first time:
Sandy Alomar Jr.
Part of one of baseball's great families, Alomar burst onto the scene in 1990, winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award, the Gold Glove Award and earning the first of his six All-Star nods. He was a pillar behind the plate for the Indians throughout the 1990s, and helped lead them to the 1997 Fall Classic. He played 20 years in the Majors, 11 of which came in Cleveland, and also spent parts of five seasons with the White Sox.
A two-time All-Star, Cirillo patrolled the hot corner for six different franchises in his 14-year big league career. He was a steady force in the Brewers lineup from 1994-99 and again in 2005 and '06. Cirillo batted better than .320 in all but one season from 1996 and 2000. He also tallied a career-high 115 RBIs and 111 runs scored for the Rockies in 2000. Cirillo often performed admirably with his glove, as well. The California native ranked in the top five among baseball's third basemen in fielding percentage in all but one season from 1998-2003.
Widely recognized as a slick-fielding shortstop with speed, Clayton ranked in the top 10 in fielding percentage among players at his position in each season from 2000-05. He twice led his league in assists and putouts among shortstops. Clayton earned a bid to the All-Star Game in 1997, one of five seasons in which he stole more than 20 bases. The California native also tallied 20 or more doubles in a season on 12 occasions.
A 58th-round Draft choice by the Royals in 1987, Conine blossomed into a two-time All-Star and steady hitter for the Marlins and Orioles, the two clubs that benefitted from the first baseman/left fielder's presence the most during his 17-year career. Defensively, Conine committed only 63 errors in nearly two decades of big league play. Offensively, he provided a consistent bat, as he hit 10 or more homers in 12 of the 14 seasons in which he played in at least 100 contests. Conine helped the Marlins to a pair of World Series triumphs in 1997 and 2003, and maintained a .304 batting average in 102 postseason trips to the plate.
Known for his durability and all-around skill set, the two-time All-Star played in 139 or more games 15 times in his 19 seasons at the big league level. Finley captured five Gold Glove Awards, tallied 2,548 hits and stole 320 bases. The rangy center fielder covered plenty of ground on defense and logged 10 or more triples in a season on six occasions, including the 2006 season, when he collected 12 three-baggers at the age of 41. Finley topped the 30-homer mark three times, notched 90 or more RBIs five times and scored 100 or more runs on five occasions.
Franco graced the big leagues with his durability and unique batting stance for nearly three decades. The three-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner got his first taste of the Majors in 1982 as a lanky shortstop and hung up his cleats in 2007 as a 49-year-old veteran. Along the way, Franco logged 2,586 hits, 281 stolen bases and won the American League batting crown in 1991. Franco is the oldest player in Major League history to post a home run, a grand slam, a pinch-hit homer, two homers in one game and two stolen bases in one contest.
Green was a model of consistency during his 15-year big league career. He averaged 149 games played from 1995-2007, and saw action in 149 or more contests in each season from 1998-2007. A two-time All-Star, Green submitted his most productive year in 1999, when he batted .309 with 45 doubles, 42 homers, 123 RBIs and 20 stolen bases while meriting Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Green topped the 40-homer plateau three times and drove in at least 100 runs on four occasions. He tied Major League records with four homers, five extra-base hits and six runs scored in a nine-inning game on May 23, 2002, and established a new record with 19 total bases in the affair.
Hernandez toed the rubber for 10 Major League teams over his 17-year career and racked up 326 saves in the process. The two-time All-Star posted a 1.91 ERA and tallied 38 saves as the White Sox closer in 1996. In 1999, the right-hander notched a career-high 43 saves for Tampa Bay. He totaled 25 or more saves in a season 10 different times before finally calling it a career in 2007 at the age of 42.
A key offensive contributor to the great Braves teams of the 1990s, Klesko finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1994 and made his lone All-Star team with the Padres in 2001. He was a big part of Atlanta's 1995 World Series championship team, hitting .313 with three home runs in the Braves' World Series victory against Cleveland. A Westminster, Calif., native, Klesko also played seven years with the Padres, posting 20-homer, 20-stolen-base seasons in 2000 and 2001.
For nearly two decades, Lofton embodied the prototypical leadoff hitter and center fielder. The speedster led the American League in stolen bases each season from 1992-96 and finished his 10-year stint in Cleveland as the Indians' all-time leader in bags swiped. A six-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Lofton routinely climbed outfield walls to take away home runs and tallied 2,428 hits over his 17-year career. His teams qualified for the postseason in all but six seasons and his 34 steals are the most in Major League playoff history.
At his peak, Mesa was one of the game's most feared closers. He helped the Indians to a World Series appearance in 1995 when he posted a then-franchise-record 46 saves and 1.13 ERA, as he finished second in American League Cy Young Award voting. The two-time All-Star also converted 38 consecutive save opportunities, a Major League record at the time. Later in his career, Mesa racked up saves for the Mariners, Phillies and Pirates, and closed his 19-year run with 321 saves, which ranks 14th all-time.
For 15 consecutive years, 1992-2006, Reggie Sanders totaled double digit home runs and stolen bases. In four of those seasons, the journeyman outfielder compiled a 20-20 campaign. A consistent force at the plate for the better part of two decades, Sanders slugged 305 homers and swiped 304 bases while donning the uniform of eight different Major League teams. He's one of six players in history with at least 300 homers and steals. The South Carolina native earned an All-Star nod in 1995, and he finished that season with a .306 average, 28 homers, 99 RBIs and 36 steals. For the World Series champion D-backs in 2001, Sanders socked a career-high 33 homers and drove in 90 runs.
Sele was a durable ace in the middle of his 15-year career, assuming that role for the Rangers and Mariners after beginning his career in Boston. The height of Sele's career came from 1997-2001, when he averaged 16 wins a season and threw more than 200 innings four times with the Red Sox (1997), Rangers (1998-99) and Mariners (2000-01). Sele finished third in the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year balloting and fifth in the 1999 AL Cy Young Award voting. He also pitched for the Angels, Dodgers and Mets before retiring in 2007.
Stanton was part of the two great teams of the 1990s, the Braves and Yankees. He was a key bullpen part for the Yankees' dynasty in the late 1990s, often filling his role of left-handed specialist to perfection. He pitched for the Yankees from 1997-2002 and in 2005 as a member of all three World Series champion teams from 1998-2000. He began his career in Atlanta, pitching for the Braves from 1989-1995.
Walker played for several teams during his 12-year career, providing a steady glove at second base and later throughout the infield. He was a .289 career hitter who also had some pop, totaling double-digit home runs seven times. He played for the Twins, Cubs, Reds, Rockies, Padres, A's and Red Sox.
A three-time All-Star, "Boomer" racked up 239 wins over 21 big league seasons with nine clubs, twice finishing third in the balloting for the American League Cy Young Award. Wells submitted the 15th perfect game in Major League history on May 17, 1998, when he blanked the Twins. The southpaw tossed 54 complete games in his career, including an AL-most 24 from 1998-2000, and tallied 15 or more victories in eight different seasons, including a career-high 20 in 2000. Wells, who topped 200 innings in a season on eight occasions, often saved his best for the playoffs. In 27 postseason appearances (17 starts), the lefty posted a 10-5 mark and 3.17 ERA.
White spent the majority of his career north of the boarder in Montreal, putting together a handful of impressive years -- when able to stay healthy -- thanks to his combination of power and speed. He also played for the Cubs, Yankees, Padres, Royals, Tigers and Twins in his 15-year career. He was an All-Star in 2003 with the Padres and on the Twins' 2006 AL Central championship team.
The best years of Williams' 15-year career came in St. Louis, where the right-hander earned his lone All-Star nod in 2003. Williams was impressive in the early 2000s, going 63-38 with a 3.80 ERA from 2000-04. He began his career in Toronto as a reliever before shifting to the rotation in 1996 and eventually being traded to the Padres before the 1999 season. After San Diego traded him to St. Louis, he returned to the Padres in 2005 before finishing his career with one season in Houston.