Baseball Hall of Fame voters have some tough choices to make by the time ballots for the Class of 2014 are due New Year’s Eve.
The ballot released Tuesday is headlined by newcomers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, who join holdovers including Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines in a strong group that should produce multiple electees a year after writers declined to put anyone in the Hall.
Maddux, Glavine and Thomas have impressive Cooperstown cases, making a second straight year with zero inductees appear very unlikely. Other new players on the ballot for 2014 include Jeff Kent, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Mussina, Kenny Rogers and Moises Alou.
The group will vie for votes with the returning players, of whom Biggio (68.2 percent) came closest to reaching the required 75 percent of the vote for election. Jack Morris was next at 67.7 percent and is on the ballot for the 15th and final time. Bagwell (59.6), Piazza (57.8) and Raines (52.2) also were named on more than half the ballots last year.
Players must receive at least 5 percent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot, and the voters — 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America — are limited to 10 selections.
A potential logjam could knock off players with strong statistical cases who have been denied election because of perceived ties to performance-enhancing drugs but continue to garner numerous votes each year. That group includes Roger Clemens (37.6 percent last year), Barry Bonds (36.2), Mark McGwire (16.9), Sammy Sosa (12.5) and Rafael Palmeiro (8.8).
The rest of the newcomers this year are Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow and Mike Timlin.