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Former Cardinals garner enough Hall support for another look

First-time inductee Smoltz closed career in St. Louis; McGwire, Smith and Walker remain on ballot

ST. LOUIS -- John Smoltz, who garnered the last of his 213 career wins in St. Louis, where he closed out his 21-year career, will be enshrined in Cooperstown's National Baseball Hall of Fame in July as one of four players to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Tuesday's announcement by the BBWAA revealed that Smoltz (82.9 percent), Randy Johnson (97.3 percent), Pedro Martinez (91.1 percent) and Craig Biggio (82.7 percent) will be included in the 2015 Hall of Fame class. Former Cardinals Lee Smith (30.2) and Larry Walker (11.8) saw their percentages rise just slightly, while Mark McGwire avoided falling off the ballot by receiving 10 percent of the vote. He'll be on the ballot one final time in 2016.

Support for McGwire has waned each year since 2010, the same year in which he admitted publically to using performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career. McGwire, who hit 70 home runs in a record-setting 1998 season, spent five years playing for the Cardinals before later serving as the team's hitting coach for three seasons.

Smoltz, whose Hall of Fame plaque will be dominated by his achievements with the Braves, came to St. Louis in 2009 after being released by the Red Sox in mid-August. Smoltz closed the season (and his career) by going 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts covering 38 innings. He also made one postseason appearance in relief during the Cardinals' Division Series loss to the Dodgers.

Smith, on the ballot for a 13th time, saved 160 games over four seasons with the Cardinals. His 478 career saves rank third all-time behind Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, neither of whom has been on the ballot yet. Twice during Smith's tenure with the Cardinals he finished in the top four in Cy Young Award voting.

Though the National Baseball Hall of Fame recently put a 10-year ballot limit on a player's eligibility, Smith, because he had already passed that threshold, can remain eligible for 15 years.

In his fifth year on the ballot, Walker received 65 votes on the 549 ballots cast. That represents an increase of 1.6 percent over the support he received a year ago. Walker's career was defined by what he did with the Rockies, though the outfielder ended his career with two seasons in St. Louis.

During his time as a Cardinal, Walker played 144 games and hit .286/.387/.520 while posting an OPS+ of 134. He had a standout 2004 postseason, too, hitting six home runs, four doubles and driving in 11 during the Cardinals' run to the World Series.

Seventeen players on this year's ballot will return for consideration in 2016, along with a group of 25 first-time eligible players. Those will include former Cardinals Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus, Randy Winn, Mark Grudzielanek, David Eckstein, Jeff Weaver, Fernando Tatis and Russ Springer.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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