Two votes. Two stinkin' votes.
That's how close Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio came to being enshrined in Cooperstown with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas in 2014. After leading all candidates with 68.2 percent of the vote in an inductee-less 2013, Biggio garnered 74.8 percent of the vote a year ago.
At this point, it appears safe to say Biggio won't fall victim to a narrow miss again this year. The 20-year big leaguer has been selected on 84.4 percent of ballots that have been made public as of Jan. 1, according to Baseball Think Factory. Granted, he was in a similar situation through 209 ballots last year, but the steady climb he experienced from 2013 to 2014 should repeat itself this year given the situations of the new candidates on the ballot.
Why he's a Hall of Famer
Biggio has the one counting stat that almost guarantees him a spot in Cooperstown: 3,000-plus hits. And though he wasn't known as a feared power hitter during his playing days, Biggio wasn't just a singles compiler, either. The right-handed-swinging Seton Hall alum led the league in doubles three times and hit 20 or more home runs in eight different seasons.
What is perhaps Biggio's strongest case for induction, however, has little to do with his strong offensive production, as SB Nation's Craig Goldstein wrote this time last year:
One of the best things he has going for him though is the complete and utter lack of suspicion of PED usage. In an environment in which his teammate, Jeff Bagwell ... is retroactively punished, Biggio's purity stands out. He may gain some votes on the pure fact that he's not associated with performance enhancers as voters seek to moralize and castigate while they can.
Biggio was also a model for durability among baseball players for years. From 1992 through 1999, he appeared in 1,216 of the Astros' 1,231 regular season games.
Why voters might keep him out
Simply put, Biggio doesn't quite stack up with other Hall of Fame second basemen -- or center fielders or catchers, for that matter. The average Hall of Famer who manned the keystone during his career compiled just shy of 70 career WAR. Biggio's seven-year peak and JAWS score are short of the average enshrined player at that position, as well. But, let's be honest: the majority of Hall of Fame voters care little about those things.
What they might put some weight into, though, is the fact that Biggio never won a Most Valuable Player award or World Series title. While neither of those things fell under Biggio's control, lack of hardware and gaudy power numbers has hurt similarly deserving players in the past.