Former Yankees David Cone and Rickey Henderson are among 10 first-time candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  They join 13 holdovers from last year, including Mark McGwire, Jim Rice, Alan Trammell and my favorite player growing up, Donnie Baseball.  The 23 total players on the ballot make this year’s ballot the smallest group ever.

To gain entry to the Hall, a player must receive a positive vote from 75% of the eligible voters.  Last year, Rice received 392 votes, 72.2%, which was only 16 votes shy of the 75% necessary.  Mattingly has been on the ballot 8 previous times but has never received more then 28% (in 2001, his first year of eligibility) of the vote.  Last year, he received 15.8%.

Henderson was a 10-time all-star in a career that spanned over four different decades.  He played for nine teams from 1979-2003, including the NY Yankees, NY Mets and Oakland A’s.  In 1990, Henderson won his only MVP with Oakland.  He won two world series championships, with Oakland in 1989 and Toronto in 1993.  He also holds 4 career MLB Records with 1,406 stolen bases; 2,295 career runs; 81 career lead-off home runs; and 335 times caught stealing.  He owns two single season records, for steals, 130 and times caught stealing, 42, both in the same season.  Henderson is also second to Barry Bonds in walks all-time (2,190).  He is also a member of the 3,000 Hit Club with 3,055 career hits and holds the Yankees career steals record at 326.

Henderson is a lock for the HOF.  His numbers are just that amazing.  The second place guy in steels is 450 below Henderson.  I am going to go out on a limb and say if that record is ever passed, it won’t be for a good 40 or 50 years – if ever.  Someone with that type of speed usually ends up playing in the NFL.

Coney is a long-shot bid.  Although the 1994 Cy Young Award Winner was a dominating pitcher with two 20-win seasons, as well as a 19-strikeout performance and a perfect game, he had a win-loss record of only 194-126.  Many players with 75 more wins then Coney have been excluded from the hall, including current holdover on the ballot Tommy John (288 wins).  Cone was a great postseason pitcher, winning eight of 11 postseason decisions with a 2.12 ERA in 29 2/3 innings in the World Series, while his teams won all five of his Series starts and 12 of his 15 overall postseason starts.