1/4/2014 11:31 P.M. ET
Notes: Hall inductees could jump to four or five in 2014
After last year's Cooperstown shutout, a historically large class may be on the horizon
By Tracy Ringolsby / MLB.com
It is a new year, but here are some old curiosities:
• Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio are making strong showings in the BaseballThinkFactory.org evaluation of Hall of Fame ballots that has been revealed, and Mike Piazza is on the borderline for the 75-percent vote needed for induction. Baseball will be going from a year in which no one was voted in by the BBWAA for only the third time since 1961, to the possibility four players could be voted in for the first time since '55. There were a record five BBWAA inductees in '36 -- the first election.
• When he was first approached to run for governor of Texas, then Rangers owner George W. Bush wanted to know his chances of being selected as Commissioner of Baseball before he made a political commitment. Bush wasn't encouraged about his chances of being the Commissioner, which led him to go into politics. Next thing anyone knew he was a two-term President of the United States.
• So, the fact a player was even suspected of using steroids is reason enough for some to demand him blocked from the Hall of Fame, but using amphetamines was OK, doctoring a baseball was acceptable and doctoring bats was no big deal?
• Election to the Hall of Fame requires a candidate to be listed on at least 75 percent of the BBWAA votes cast. Is it really necessary to demand such strong support? Discounting players elected in their first year of eligibility, researcher Tom Tango says only one of the 79 players to be selected on at least 50 percent of the ballots was eventually left out of the Hall of Fame. The only player to never get his moment in Cooperstown is Gil Hodges, who was listed on 63.9 percent of the ballots in his final year of eligibility. Sixty-three of the 79 were eventually elected by the BBWAA, and 15 others were eventually inducted thanks to either the Veterans Committee or Old-Timers committee.
• Lee Smith, who set the all-time saves record that has since been broken by Trevor Hoffman and then Mariano Rivera, continues to come up short in the Hall balloting. Smith played with eight teams in his career. Was he too much of a traveler for Hall of Fame voters' liking? Maybe. But there are four Hall of Famers who played with more than eight teams. Dan Brouthers played with 10 -- nine prior to 1900 -- and Goose Gossage, Deacon White, Rickey Henderson and Hoyt Wilhelm each played for nine. Gaylord Perry and Jim O'Rourke each played for eight.
• The new breed say wins don't matter. Does that play out? Well, as far as Major League free agents are concerned, the three most-discussed unsigned pitchers are Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. In the past three years, Santana was 29-35, Garza was 25-23 and Jimenez was 42-32. Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo, who has gone 105-94 in eight years with Cincinnati, seems like almost an afterthought. I guess the fact that he turns 37 on Feb. 24 outweighs the fact he has worked 199 innings or more in each of the past nine seasons and has started 29 games or more in each of the past 10.
• Rockies offensive players get downgraded because of the Coors Field factor. Is it unusual for players to have stats impacted by their home field? Well, Wade Boggs hit .369 in his career at Fenway Park and .305 elsewhere. Kirby Puckett was a .344 hitter at the Metrodome and batted .291 on the road. Carl Yastrzemski hit .306 at Fenway Park and .264 elsewhere. Ted Williams hit .361 at Fenway and .328 elsewhere. Jim Rice was a .320 hitter at Fenway compared with his .277 mark on the road. Ron Santo hit .298 at Wrigley Field and .256 in other parks.
• Marvin Miller was overlooked by the Veterans Committee again. He's now 0-for-7 on the Veterans Committee ballot, including twice when only living Hall of Famers voted. Does Miller belong in Cooperstown? He made life a whole lot better for players, but the question is whether that made the game better overall.
• Spring Training is around the corner. Fifteen teams train in Florida and the 15 others in Arizona. Wasn't it only 22 years ago that Arizona was about to lose its Spring Training teams? When Cleveland moved from Tucson, Ariz., to Winter Haven, Fla., in 1993, the Catcus League was considered on life support. The key to its survival? The Colorado Rockies were convinced to replace the Indians in Tucson.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.