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Nick Cafardo | On baseball

Hall of Fame voting could bode well for Curt Schilling, other pitchers

(Boston Globe) Pedro martinez talked about how proud he is to do what he did without taking PED’s. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)
(Boston Globe) Pedro martinez talked about how proud he is to do what he did without taking PED's. (By Alan Miller, Globe Staff)

What can we take away from Tuesday’s Hall of Fame vote that may impact the voting for years to come?

For one thing, as has been the case the past two years, pitchers who performed (clean) in the Steroid Era were elected overwhelmingly, which likely bodes well for Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, and, in the future, Roy Halladay and others.

“Today, I’m actually part of the living proof of what it takes to do it that way,” Pedro Martinez, who got into the Hall along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio, said about being “clean.”

“The fact that you guys believed in the way I did it is the main reason, the proof that you want,” Martinez said. “Doing it this way probably led me into going to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. If I didn’t do it this way, I would probably go in eventually. But the fact that I did it in that era, in a different era — probably the most different era that baseball has ever faced, when the challenges were at the max, made me appreciate what I did.

“I appreciate the fact that I had to face probably the toughest matchup out there. Guess what? I didn’t want it any other way. I’m repeating it because I think I’ve told you that before. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wanted to beat the best. Any time I had an opportunity to embarrass any team in the big leagues, including the ones using PEDs, it was a great honor to do it.”


Martinez won 219 games and dominated once his career got rolling in Montreal and then in Boston. Over time, wins will not be the biggest determining factor for a pitcher entering the Hall.

Where 300 wins once meant automatic entry, it appears with the increased dependency on power pitchers in the bullpen, wins will slip down the list of reasons to vote for someone.


Clearly, the future bodes well for Mike Piazza, who went from 62.2 percent of the vote last season to 69.9 percent this season; Tim Raines, an extraordinary leadoff man who went from 46.1 percent last season to 55 percent this time; and Schilling, who went from 29.2 percent to 39.2 percent. There’s no question Schilling is helped by advanced metrics, which show him high up all-time in ERA-plus. He also has an impressive postseason record and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Raines is only eligible for the next two seasons. He is considered by many the second-best leadoff man in the modern era behind Rickey Henderson. Raines has been one of those players appreciated more over time, much like Jim Rice.

Another interesting aspect of the voting was the slight increase for alleged PED users Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. There seems to be a gradual change of thinking on “cheaters.”

Clemens received 37.5 percent of the vote and Bonds 36.8. Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young winner, started at 37.6 percent in 2013 and dropped to 35.4 last year. Bonds, the only seven-time MVP, began at 36.2 in 2013 and fell to 34.7.

Both players have seven years of eligibility remaining. Will that be enough time for voters to completely change their opinion on PEDs? Certainly the spike in suspected user Piazza’s vote total may mean a change in those views.


Other steroid-linked stars: Mark McGwire, who has only one more year of eligibility, received 10 percent, down from 11 percent in 2014 and way down from his peak of 23.6 in 2008. Sammy Sosa was on 6.6 percent of the ballots, down from 12.5 in 2013 and 7.2 last year, but above the 5 percent threshold for remaining on next year’s list.

Voters like myself have begun to grow tired of guessing whether the playing field was level.

Those who have admitted to cheating always have estimated that anywhere between 50-75 percent of the players dabbled in performance enhancers during their height.

There’s also a segment of the voters — and many of them are the proponents of sabermetrics — who believe whether a player took steroids should not deter writers from voting for the best players to ever play the game. Clearly Clemens and Bonds are that.

One reason they lost votes last season and gained only some of them back this time is that there was a still a logjam of quality candidates, so some voters again excluded the PED users.

The best test of whether the suspected users will make any significant ground should come with next year’s results, as the slam dunk Hall of Famers thin out.

The steroid fallout certainly affected first-time candidate Gary Sheffield, who hit 509 home runs and had more than 2,600 hits. He stayed on the ballot with 11.7 percent of the votes.

A powerful, vicious hitter in the mode of Dick Allen, Rice, and Albert Belle, Sheffield was a poor defender. He admitted during his career that he used a steroid cream to help him through a knee injury while working out with Bonds. Sheffield said he never knew the cream was a steroid and never took steroids after that.


There was some thought that Sheffield might not even make the 5 percent minimum.

Jeff Bagwell, the former Astros star who has faced some suspicion about PEDs, is also a player who could move forward in the coming years. Bagwell garnered 55.7 percent of the vote, up from 54.3 last year. He is another hitter who could benefit from the lighter ballot.

In strictly analyzing two of the newcomers, Nomar Garciaparra was able to stay another year on the ballot with 5.5 percent. However, Carlos Delgado, who had 10 straight 30-homer seasons and 11 out of 12, surprisingly didn’t make the cut with 3.8 percent.

There is a proposal the Hall will decide on soon to increase the number of players writers can vote for from 10 to 12.

But clearly, with four players voted in this year, things will get more back to normal starting next season. Then we should see more pitchers who say they were clean throughout their careers (Schilling and Mussina in particular) see their vote totals grow.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.