Also among the holdovers are Jack Morris, Lee Smith and Jeff Bagwell. A relatively weak group of newcomers includes former AL batting champions Bernie Williams and Bill Mueller.
Morris, the winningest pitcher of the 1980s but burdened by a 3.90 career ERA, received 53.5 percent on his 12th try last year, up from 52.3 in 2010 and 22.2 percent in his initial appearance. Players are eligible to appear on the writers’ ballot for up to 15 years, and his chances might decrease in future years because the ballot will get crowded with high-profile stars.
The 2013 ballot figures to be the most controversial, with seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens eligible for the first time along with Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have been implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs, allegations they have denied.
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 19.8 percent of the vote last year in his fifth try on the ballot, down from 23.7 in 2010 _ a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Rafael Palmeiro, among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, was on just 11 percent of the ballots last year in his first appearance. He received a 10-day suspension in 2005 for a positive test, claiming it was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada. Juan Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP implicated by Jose Canseco in steroids use, received 30 votes last year, just above the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.
Then in 2014, the focus will turn to elite pitchers when Greg Maddux (355 wins) and Tom Glavine (305) become eligible. Among pitchers eligible for the Hall, all 20 of the 300-game winners are in.
But first, the class of 2012.
“I certainly would like to be a part of it, and I really do want it to happen,” Larkin said. “But as far as analyzing it and seeing how it’s gone down in the past, I’ve never been that way, so it’s no different now.”
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