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Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez And Biggio Voted To Baseball's Hall

Craig Biggio (from left), Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz, the four members of the 2015 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Craig Biggio (from left), Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz, the four members of the 2015 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Three dominating pitchers and one resilient fan favorite are heading to Cooperstown, as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were named to Baseball's Hall of Fame Tuesday.

The strong class marks the first time in 60 years that baseball writers have chosen four players from the same ballot — and the first time three pitchers were elected in the same year. Biggio narrowly missed being inducted last year, falling just short of the required 75 percent of ballots.

Biggio played his entire major league career with the Astros, compiling 3,060 hits in 2,850 games. His career average was .281, with 1,175 runs batted in and 1,160 walks. He also hit 668 doubles — a record for right-handed hitters — and stole 414 bases, even though he was hampered by a bad knee injury in the 2000 season.

While Biggio played mostly at second base, he also logged more than 400 games as a catcher and more than 350 as an outfielder. The Baseball Almanac notes that he was "the first player in the history of baseball to be an All-Star at both catcher and second base."

At 6 feet, 10 inches, Randy Johnson was an imposing figure on the mound — particularly when he whipped his left hand out to send fastballs streaking toward home plate.

In 22 years, Johnson struck out 4,875 batters and ran up an ERA of 3.29. Of his 603 starts, he delivered a complete game in 100 of them. Johnson played at least eight seasons for both the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, along with shorter tenures at other teams.

Pedro Martinez's array of unhittable pitches (and a famously feisty attitude on the mound) led him to play multiple seasons for the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, along with shorter stints with the Phillies and Dodgers.

Through 18 years, Martinez's ERA was 2.93, with 3,154 strikeouts. He struck out more than 300 batters in two seasons and was widely viewed as one of the most dominant starters in baseball's history when healthy. In 1999, he posted a 23-4 record with an ERA of 2.07.

Playing nearly all of his big-league career with the Atlanta Braves, John Smoltz was a fearsome pitcher both as a starter and as a closer, a role the power pitcher fulfilled for several years after an elbow surgery. His statistics include a 15-4 postseason record and a 2.47 ERA in eight World Series games.

Smoltz posted a 3.33 ERA in his 21-year career, with his best season coming in 1996: His record as a starter was 24-8, with 276 strikeouts. As a closer, he saved more than 40 games in three separate seasons, including a high of 55 in 2002.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.