Three pitchers in their first year of eligibility were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 6, and they were joined by a player who missed induction last year by two votes.
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz led the balloting of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, making this year the first time three pitchers were elected in the same year. Craig Biggio got votes on 82.7 percent of the ballots after receiving 74.8 percent -- 0.2 percent short of the necessary threshold -- last year.
Below are some of the most remarkable statistical accomplishments of this year’s class.
Johnson, who received votes on 97.3 percent of ballots, had the fifth-most wins of any left-handed pitcher (303).
He ranks second all time with 4,875 strikeouts (behind Nolan Ryan, who had 5,714). Johnson had six 300-strikeout seasons, tied with Ryan for the most. No other pitcher has had more than three such seasons.
His 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings are the most for anyone with at least 1,000 career innings pitched.
Johnson won five Cy Young Awards (more than anyone else except Roger Clemens), including four in a row from 1999 to 2002, and was a 10-time All-Star.
Johnson is one of five pitchers with 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts and a no-hitter. The others are Ryan, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver.
Among pitchers with at least 300 wins, Johnson’s .646 career win percentage ranks fifth.
Martínez (voted on 91.1 percent of ballots) won 219 games and three Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star. At his best, he was one of the game's most dominant pitchers.
Martínez’s peak can stack up against anyone else’s in MLB history. From age 25 to 33, Martínez produced 69.7 WAR, the third most by any pitcher over those ages in history.
The Elias Sports Bureau offered this to put Martínez's top two seasons in perspective: Since ERA became an official stat, there have been five instances of pitchers posting 40 wins, 500 strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 over a two-year span. Martínez’s performance in 1999-2000 is one of them. The four others are by Sandy Koufax (1963-64, 1964-65 and 1965-66) and Bob Gibson (1968-69).
Among pitchers with at least 200 wins, only Whitey Ford had a higher career win percentage (.690) than Martínez (.687).
Smoltz (82.9 percent) is the only pitcher in baseball history with at least 200 wins and 100 saves. Smoltz had 213 and 154. He joins former Atlanta Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in Cooperstown. Smoltz was an eight-time All-Star.
Smoltz was known during his career as a big-game pitcher. He was 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 41 career postseason appearances.
Smoltz became a full-time closer from 2002 to 2004. During that stretch, his 144 saves were second in baseball behind Eric Gagne's 152 and 23 more than Mariano Rivera.
Biggio is the Astros' all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and extra-base hits.
During a seven-year run from 1993 to 1999, Biggio ranked as the fourth-best player in baseball. He had 41.5 wins above replacement in that time, trailing Barry Bonds (53.3), Ken Griffey Jr. (49.2) and Jeff Bagwell (47.2).
Biggio is one of four players with at least 2,500 hits, 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. The other three: Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan.
Biggio's 668 doubles rank fifth all time and are the most of anyone whose career began within the past 50 years.
Mike Piazza (69.9 percent) received the most votes among those who weren’t selected, followed by Bagwell (55.7) and Tim Raines (55.0). No one else received more than 40 percent of votes.