In case you didn’t know, last week was a pretty big week for a few former baseball players. No, it wasn’t because they got recognized on any All-Decade lists or anything, but rather because some of the biggest names in the sport during the ’90s and early 2000s found out that they would be among the few who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. And while every athlete aims to win as many titles as possible, being recognized as one of the game’s best is the biggest individual honor a player can have.
But not that this year’s voting is over, we’re taking a look at a few baseball players who might find themselves among the few who will become part of this exclusive fraternity next year—with a few of these names certain to bring back some childhood memories.
5. Mike Piazza
Just look at the dudes numbers and you’ll see that Mike Piazza has been the best-hitting catcher the game has ever seen. But after striking out the past two years since becoming eligible, does he have the voters love to push him to the required percentage to earn himself in Cooperstown? We’re not so sure with the increased ballot next year, but one would think that Piazza would find a home at some point—but it has to be within a few years, otherwise some would forget about the good things that he did.
4. Gary Sheffield
This one’s tough because, while the former outfielder did slug 509 homers in his 22-year career, most people don’t associate him as being one of the best players ever. Sure, that’s probably a little unfair as his average season in his two decades came to 32-homer, 105-RBI and .292 clip, it may come back to bite him in the end—at least on the first go-round. Sheff has a World Series ring as an added bonus and the same slugging percentage as ’90s superstar, Ken Griffey Jr., but no one would mention him as having the impact on the game that Junior ever did, so this one will be interesting to watch closely.
3. John Smoltz
He’s the only pitcher in MLB history to have both 200 wins and 100 saves on his career resume, meaning he was one of the most unique guys to ever take the mound. Add in the amount of playoff wins he has—a then-record 15—and one would think that Smoltzy shouldn’t be too concerned about being left off next year. But in a loaded class that includes both new and old candidates, he may not get in right away—but we don’t expect him to have to wait long.
2. Pedro Martinez
If going just off of his career numbers—and that’s typically the barometer for measuring a Hall of Famer—Pedro will find his name among those called in 2015 in his first year of eligibility. Winning three Cy Young Awards and finishing in the top-five in four other session, Martinez won 219 regular season games and added even more dramatics in the postseason whether as a starter or coming in relief. At his peak, Martinez—who added two World Series titles as well—was probably the most feared hurler in all the game.
1. Randy Johnson
It might be weird to think about because he was mostly under-the-radar until he joined the Yankees late in his career playing for teams like Seattle, Houston and Arizona, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Randy Johnson was one of the most dominating pitchers of his generation, and arguably one of the top-10 pitchers in baseball history. Dude has over 300 career wins, sits second on the all-time strikeouts list and has some memorable playoff moments—which includes a World Series title. With those credentials, Johnson will have no problem being a first-ballot guy next year.