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Talented Hall of Fame Class of 2015 to be announced Tuesday

From left are Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson in

From left are Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson in 2008, Boston Red Sox' Pedro Martinez in 2003 and Atlanta Braves' John Smoltz in 2008. Photo Credit: AP

It will be hard for this year's Baseball Hall of Fame class to top last year's in terms of quality. But when it comes to quantity, this year's class could be historic when results are announced Tuesday at 2 p.m.

One year ago, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were voted into Cooperstown by the eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The players were joined by managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox -- three Veterans Committee selections -- to form an impressive group of inductees.

This year, the writers are expected to vote Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz into the Hall.

Long Island native Craig Biggio and former Mets catcher Mike Piazza could join the trio of aces in what could end up being one of the baseball writers' biggest classes ever.

Only once in history have five players been elected by the writers in the same year. That was the Hall's first class in 1936 (Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner).

And four players haven't been elected by the writers since 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance all received the needed 75 percent of the vote.

This year's class could have a definite New York flavor.

Johnson, the flame-throwing 6-10 lefthander nicknamed the Big Unit, spent 2005-06 with the Yankees, going 34-19. But his best days came with the Diamondbacks, including his co-World Series MVP performance in the 2001 World Series against the Yankees.

Johnson won 303 games and five Cy Young Awards, including four in a row from 1999-2002 for Arizona. He is second on the all-time list with 4,875 strikeouts.

Martinez, a flamboyant righthander, pitched for the Mets from 2005-08 and went 32-23. The three-time Cy Young Award winner with the Red Sox went toe-to-toe with the Yankees for the meat of his career and was part of Boston's curse-defying 2004 World Series championship team.

His last career start was for the Phillies against the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. Martinez was 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA in 18 years spent mostly in the big-offense steroid era.

If he makes it, Martinez's speech should be a highlight of the Cooperstown induction ceremony, which is scheduled for July 26.

Smoltz, if he is elected, will join his Braves buddies Maddux and Glavine. Smoltz was an ace starter and closer for the Braves. He won 213 games and saved 154.

The real intrigue on the ballot begins with Biggio, the former Kings Park High School star who had 3,060 hits in a 20-year career with the Astros.

Biggio missed getting elected last year by two votes. This is his third year on the ballot.

It also will be the third try for Piazza, one of the best-hitting catchers of all time. He played for the Mets from 1998-2005.

Piazza received 57.8 percent in 2013 and 62.2 percent last year. Some writers have left Piazza off their ballots because of suspicion of performance-enhancing drug use during his career. Piazza has denied using PEDs and never was named in any investigation.

The cloud of PEDs likely will continue to keep all-time greats Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the Hall, as well as sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

This will be Don Mattingly's final year on the writers' ballot. The former Yankees first baseman received 8.2 percent of the vote last year.

Other notables among the 17 returning players are Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Lee Smith.

There are 17 first-time eligible players. They include Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra and Gary Sheffield.

Ken Griffey Jr. leads the first-timers in the class of 2016.

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