The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2014 inductees Jan. 8, giving the call to pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and first baseman Frank Thomas, all first-time candidates.
Maddux led the ballot with 555 votes out of 571 ballots cast, a percentage of 97.2, the eighth highest in Hall of Fame voting history. Glavine earned 91.9 percent and Thomas garnered 83.7.
Craig Biggio came tantalizingly close to induction, earning 74.8 percent, 0.2 percent short of the required 75 percent needed. Had Biggio earned two more votes, he would've made it.
It's fitting that Maddux and Glavine would be inducted together, considering the two were teammates for a decade with the Atlanta Braves, forming a deadly combination atop the rotation along with John Smoltz (who will be Hall-eligible for the first time next year). Excluding the strike-shortened 1994 season, the Braves won their division all 10 years that Maddux and Glavine were teammates (1993-2002) and took home a World Series championship in 1995.
Maddux, one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball history, was considered a slam-dunk induction. Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young awards, from 1992-95, and won four ERA titles as well, finishing his 23-year career with a 355-227 record and a 3.16 ERA during 744 games.
A workhorse, Maddux reached the 200-innings mark 18 times, including a five-year stretch from 1991-95, when he led the National League in innings pitched each season. Maddux threw 109 complete games -- including 35 shutouts -- and had pinpoint control, registering the NL's lowest ratio of walks per nine innings on nine separate occasions (his career mark was 1.8). Maddux was also known for his defensive prowess, winning an MLB-record 18 Gold Gloves at his position.
Maddux spent his entire career in the NL, including parts of 10 seasons with the Cubs and two partial seasons apiece with the Dodgers and Padres in addition to his 11-year stint in Atlanta.
Glavine, meanwhile, spent 17 of his 22 years with the Braves and the other five with the Mets. He earned Cy Young awards in 1991 and 1998, which were two of his five 20-win seasons. All told, Glavine compiled a 305-203 career record and 3.54 ERA during 682 games, all starts. Glavine had 14 seasons of 200 or more innings and led the majors in starts six times.
Thomas was perhaps the most fearsome hitter in the game during his heyday, displaying both eye-popping power and outstanding on-base ability. Thomas amassed a .419 OBP and .555 SLG during his 19-year career, spending all but three of those seasons with the White Sox before brief stints with the Athletics and Blue Jays.
Though Thomas was mainly a designated hitter during the second half of his career, his offensive numbers were more than impressive enough to counteract his lack of defensive value. Thomas won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in 1993 and 1994; during the latter season, he posted a 1.217 OPS, one of seven years when he topped a 1.000 OPS. Thomas blasted 40 or more home runs during five different seasons, finishing his career with 521 round-trippers as well as 495 doubles.
In other notable votes, pitcher Jack Morris failed to earn induction during his 15th and final year on the ballot, earning 61.5 percent. And former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro dropped off the ballot during his fourth year of eligibility, picking up 4.4 percent of the vote, shy of the 5 percent needed to remain on the ballot for future years -- so much for my prediction that Palmeiro would get enough support to save himself. Sammy Sosa hung on, reeling in 7.2 percent.
Former O's ace Mike Mussina, making his first appearance on the ballot, received 20.3 percent of the vote despite putting up career numbers comparable to Glavine's.
Every Hall of Fame vote, it seems, comes with its share of inexplicable ballots, and 2014 was no exception. In addition to Biggio's two-vote miss, 16 voters somehow left Maddux off their ballots. Even more incredibly, someone actually voted for Armando Benitez. If that's not an indictment of the entire Hall of Fame voting process, I don't know what is.
Here's a look at how the eight former Orioles on the ballot fared.
Tim Raines: 46.1 percent
Lee Smith: 29.9 percent
Curt Schilling: 29.2 percent
Mussina: 20.3 percent
Sosa: 7.2 percent
Palmeiro: 4.4 percent (dropped off ballot)
Benitez: 0.2 percent (dropped off ballot)
Mike Timlin: 0 percent (dropped off ballot)