Trammell, McGwire among 15 to fall off HOF ballot

January 7th, 2016

For Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell and another 13 former Major League standouts, there will be no more waiting until next year when it comes to the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

McGwire's candidacy, noteworthy since its first year due to his association with performance-enhancing drugs, ended Wednesday with the slugger known as Big Mac becoming the first to be removed from the ballot after just 10 years, a lower threshold established in 2014. Trammell, the longtime Tigers shortstop, saw his traditional 15-year run on the ballot end as well.

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Jim Edmonds, with his combination of circus catches in center field and power at the plate, was one of 12 first-time candidates who wound up going one-and-done, falling short of the 5 percent threshold to remain on the ballot.

McGwire, who set what was then the single-season record for home runs with 70 in 1998 with the Cardinals and finished with 583 for his career, received 12.3 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America's ballot. The 1987 American League Rookie of the Year with the A's and 12-time All-Star topped out with 23.7 percent of the vote in 2010, his fourth year on the ballot, and he knew going into this last one that his chances were slim. "I don't think the tide's going to turn," he said upon being hired as the Padres' hitting coach last month.

McGwire was one of the first, but certainly not the last, to have his candidacy profoundly affected by his use of performance-enhancing drugs. During his playing career, McGwire admitted taking androstenedione, a steroid precursor, but nothing else. In January 2010, almost a decade after his playing career ended, he admitted to steroid use and apologized for it.

Trammell, who began his ballot journey with 15.7 percent of the vote in 2002 and had 25.1 percent a year ago, received a big bump with 40.9 percent of the 440 votes cast. He figured for quite some time the required 75 percent was not going to be in his reach.

"Right out of the chute getting a low percentage, knowing that, you know you're not going to make some 50 percent [gain] to get to the 75," Trammell said Wednesday. "That's a heckuva increase. You know it's not going to happen."

Trammell played two decades exclusively with the Tigers, and when the 10-year Hall of Fame threshold was set, he was "grandfathered" in as having 11 or more years on the ballot. His career included a key role on a 1984 World Series-champion Tigers team that was among the greatest in recent decades along with six All-Star appearances, four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Sluggers.

Both McGwire and Trammell will be eligible for consideration by the Expansion Era Committee beginning in 2020, according to the BBWAA, so their Hall of Fame hopes aren't completely finished.

"I knew it wasn't going to happen in this regular voting," Trammell said. "And we'll go to the veterans' committee and see what happens in the next one."

Edmonds, whose layout dives into the grass and leaps above the fence for the Angels, Cardinals and four other teams made him a highlight staple for most of his 17-year career, received 11 votes, or 2.5 percent, to lead the players who will be on the ballot just this one time after falling short of the 5-percent mark. Mike Sweeney (three), David Eckstein (two), Jason Kendall (two) and Garret Anderson (one) received votes; Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Mike Lowell and Randy Winn received no support in their one and only time on the ballot. Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, meanwhile, survived his first year in 2015 but not his second, receiving eight votes (1.8 percent) on this ballot.

Looking ahead to next year, closer Lee Smith (34.1 percent) will be in his 15th and final year on the ballot and Tim Raines (69.8 percent) will be on the cusp of having the 75 percent required for election in his 10th, and final, year.