Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio have been elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association Of America. All were inducted in their first year of eligibility except for Biggio, who was on the ballot for the third year.
Perhaps the best left-handed pitcher of all time, Johnson recorded 4875 career strikeouts over his career (second only to Nolan Ryan) and his 10.61 K/9 rate is the highest in baseball history. “The Big Unit” was a fearsome figure on the mound, standing at 6’10” and throwing a 100-mph fastball that helped him win 303 games and five Cy Young Awards over his 22-year career. Johnson played for six teams in his career but is mostly remembered as a Mariner (10 seasons) and as a Diamondback (eight seasons). His time in Arizona was punctuated by a perfect game in 2004 and sharing World Series MVP honors with Curt Schilling when the D’Backs won it all in 2001. Johnson accumulated 111.7 fWAR (fifth all-time amongst pitchers) and 104.3 rWAR (ninth) over his career.
Martinez won three Cy Young Awards over his 18 MLB seasons and is a revered figure in Boston for helping the Red Sox break their World Series jinx in 2004. Martinez collected 219 wins, 3154 strikeouts over his career and he posted the best ERA+ (154) of any starter in history. Martinez’s 1999 and 2000 seasons are arguably the two greatest pitching seasons in baseball history — despite home games in hitter-friendly Fenway Park in the midst of the steroid era, Martinez posted a 1.90 ERA, 12.5 K/9 and 8.65 K/BB rate over 430 1/3 IP over those two seasons, plus an uncanny 215 ERA+. While he threw “only” 2827 1/3 innings over his career, much less than many other all-time greats, Martinez still finished with 87.1 fWAR (16th all-time) and 86 rWAR (17th).
Smoltz spent 20 of his 21 seasons with the Braves, teaming with fellow HOFers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as the cornerstones of the Atlanta rotation throughout the 1990’s. Smoltz’s career resume includes the 1996 NL Cy Young Award, 3084 strikeouts, 213 wins and a World Series ring in 1995. After missing the entire 2000 season due to Tommy John surgery, Smoltz pitched primarily as a reliever from 2001-04 and dominated to the tune of 154 saves in 167 chances. Smoltz amassed 78.7 fWAR (22nd all-time) and 66.5 rWAR (39th).
After falling just two votes shy of induction to the Hall last winter, Biggio is finally on his way to Cooperstown. Biggio spent all 20 of his seasons with the Astros, forming “the Killer B’s” with Jeff Bagwell and other notable B-named teammates like Derek Bell and Lance Berkman in the Houston lineup. Biggio’s 3060 career hits rank him 21st all-time in baseball history and he posted a career slash line of .283/.363/.433 with 291 homers, 1844 runs and 414 steals. He finished with 65.1 WAR for his career according to both Fangraphs (which places him 84th among position players) and Baseball-Reference (92nd).
Stepping into Biggio’s shoes this year was catcher Mike Piazza, who just missed election but could be set up for a successful run next time around. He played in 16 big league seasons, racking up a lifetime .308/.377/.545 slash and 427 home runs while spending the vast majority of his time behind the dish. He tallied 59.4 rWAR and 63.5 fWAR when his defense and baserunning were accounted for, easily placing him within the ten most productive backstops of all time. Piazza certainly has a claim as the best-hitting catcher in MLB history, as his lifetime 140 wRC+ trails only the still-active (and still in-prime) Buster Posey.