I did a few posts on this subject 2 years ago and I feel pretty much the same now.
In order to get in, you need 1 of 2 things:
1- An exceptionally high peak in which you were among the best in the game for 7-8 years before tailing off and having your career cut short due to injury
2- Longevity. You play at a high level for 16-20 years with a good but not exceptional peak and when your career is done, you have the key milestones such as 3,000 hits, 500 HRs and 275 wins.
Look back to my early 2013 posts for more on this subject but on this post, I'll just deal with the 2015 ballot here. I don't think that every player that's ever been inducted is deserving but I do agree with all 4 choices this time around.
Randy Johnson- YES. No brainer.
Pedro Martinez- YES. Clear example of case #1
Craig Biggio- YES. Clear example of case #2
John Smoltz- YES. I wasn't sure he'd get in on the 1st ballot but I'm glad he did. His dominance as both a starter and a closer seals the deal.
Now, the ones that did not make it:
Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza- I've been on the fence about these 2 for a long time. Both have the numbers but are suspected PED users. Both have admitted to using Andro, a pre-cursor to testosterone, which was not illegal but may have been a cover for harder drugs as was the case with McGwire. Bagwell dropped off after testing began but was hampered by a back injury the ultimately ended his career. Piazza also dropped off but that's common for a Catcher in his mid-30s and his numbers remained respectable until a mediocre final season at 36. Neither tested positive nor were they listed in the Mitchell report. Innocent until proven guilty. I've got to say YES.
Tim Raines- NO. Had an excellent peak but was only superstar caliber for 5 years and really only had 1 more great year after the age of 30. Hung on until age 41 but was a platoon player over the last 4-5 years. If he had 2 more MVP type seasons or compiled another 300 hits, he's in but as it is, he's short. By comparison, his offensive numbers are only slightly better than Kenny Lofton who was one and done. Lofton was also the better defensive player of the two.
Curt Schilling- NO. Several outstanding seasons and was sensational in the post-season but simply lacked the durability and consistency. In 20 years in MLB, he only made 25+ starts 10 times and had a few downright ugly seasons. He's another player that needed another 2 great years or stayed healthy enough to compile another 35-40 wins. Numbers are similar to HOFer Don Drysdale, who I don't think belongs for the same reasons. A more contemporary comparison is Kevin Brown, who was one and done.
Bonds and Clemens- NO. Unlike McGwire and Sosa, these 2 have a case because they were not dopers for their entire careers and were close to HOF level before they started. Had they simply hung on as "average" players for another 4 years, they'd be no brainers but as it is, I'm adamant about no cheaters in the HOF. Remember the character, integrity, sportsmanship clause. For the record, I would have also voted against spitball pitcher Gaylord Perry as well.
Mike Mussina- YES. I'm puzzled as to why he hasn't gotten more support. 270 wins and a very high winning percentage in an era with few complete games. ERA is a bit high but inflated by pitching in the steroid era and the offensive heavy AL East. Jack Morris got as high as 67% and Moose's numbers are superior in every category. I think he'll see a rise in coming votes.
Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker- NO. These 2 have interesting cases and I could change my mind especially about Martinez. In terms of milestones, both are well short of 500 HR and 3,000 hits but really shine in terms of BA/OBP/SLUG. However, at the end of the day, neither had a peak impressive enough for a YES after such a short career. Once again, 5 top 10 MVP seasons is usually not enough. You need 7. Both had less than 7,500 ABs and if they had maintained the same production over another 2,000 ABs, it's a different story.
Jeff Kent- YES. One of the best offensive 2B in history. Ryne Sandberg got in on his 3rd try and Kent is far superior offensively. Finished with an even .500 slugging and 377 HRs despite not reaching MLB until age 24. With 400 HRs, he's in for sure but the voters may not agree.
Fred McGriff- YES. I feel pretty strongly about his case. Robbed of 500 HRs by the players strike and was overshadowed by cheaters such as McGwire, Palmeiro and Giambi at his position. Class act and deserving in my book.
Gary Sheffield- NO. Connected to steroids through the BALCO scandal. Did not like him when he played because he made numerous racially charged statements throughout his career. 509 HRs with a solid BA and over 2500 hits would be enough without the steroids.
McGwire and Sosa- Hell NO!
Garciaparra- NO. As is the case all too often, a short career with only a few outstanding seasons.
Smith- NO. When evaluating closers, I'm not overly impressed with the number of saves. I want to see "lights out" domination because the inning total is so low. I'd like to see a career ERA south of 2.50 and a WHIP close to 1.00. Smith falls well short. I would vote YES on Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner and leaning towards YES on Trevor Hoffman.
Carlos Delgado- NO. While I don't think he's HOF material, I would have liked to have seen him get a longer look. 473 HR total despite an early retirement due to injuries. 30+ HR for 10 straight seasons with no drop off after steroid testing and he's one and done. That's harsh.
Alan Trammell- NO. Well short of Barry Larkin's numbers. A very good but not great career.