On Wednesday, the BBWAA elected Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Yankee legend Ivan Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame. On a crowded ballot, only these three managed to get enshrined in Cooperstown. Mike Mussina continued his slow climb as he rose from 43% of votes last year to now 51.8%. He will eventually get his day as he wins over voters. Unfortunately his former teammate, Jorge Posada, will not get another chance. While Posada undeniably had a remarkable career, he unfortunately fell off the ballot after just one year of eligibility.
Needing to be on at least five percent of votes to stay on the ballot for another year, Posada managed to only show up on just 3.8% of them, receiving a lowly 17 votes. Now Posada is more likely a “Hall of Very Good” player than he is a Hall of Fame player; however, with the career he had, it seems pretty shocking that he fell off the ballot so quickly. He may not be the best catcher of his time, but he was one of the better offensive catchers in the game’s history, and his multiple World Series rings should merit deeper consideration.
Other Yankee greats have been victimized by the five percent rule. Although some managed to consistently garner the votes needed to remain on the ballot until their years of eligibility were up, more were like Posada in failing to receive five percent.
Unlike Posada, Bernie Williams was able to stay on the ballot longer than one year. Not much longer, but longer. In his first year of eligibility, Williams saw his name on 9.6% of ballots. In his second year, that number dropped down to 3.3% and his time on the ballot ended just that quickly. Williams will always be remembered as an integral part of the Yankees’ dynasty of the nineties.
He wasn’t part of the “Core Four” marketing because he was retired by 2009, but if there’s anyone who deserves a spot in a potential “Jive Five,” it’s Williams. However, anyone wishing to remember Williams’ career will have to walk through the dungeon that is Monument Park and see his plaque there, along with his retired number.
Wins. Rings. Cy Young award. Perfect game. The only thing missing from David Cone’s career is the Hall of Fame. His case isn’t a bad one either, as he struck out 2,668 batters, pitching to a 121 ERA+, and notched 61.7 WAR. He won five rings, one with the Blue Jays and four with the Yankees, took home the Cy Young in 1994, and threw a perfect game in 1999 with the Yankees. A player with his resume would almost surely be a Hall of Fame candidate, right? One would think, and yet Cone somehow fell off the ballot after just one year. When he first became eligible in 1999, Cone received just 21 votes (3.9%) and remarkably didn’t get another shot at baseball immortality.
Need another way to spell consistency? It’s Willie Randolph. He was never the greatest or most exciting player, yet he was always reliable. Throughout his career, he averaged 91 walks a season (including a league-leading 119 walks in 1980), had a career OBP of .373, and was well-regarded for his work in the field at second base. He won two World Series titles as a player with the Yankees and was selected to six All Star Games.
What Randolph had in consistency, he lacked in “sexy” stats. Randolph was always lost among his peers because he was never really a power threat, and saw a big drop in his stolen base numbers. He’s arguably one of the better second basemen in baseball history, and yet only received five votes (1.1%) and didn’t even make it to a second year on the ballot.
Throughout their decorated history, the one thing the Yankees have had trouble producing is great third baseman.
Yangervis Solarte Alex Rodriguez is probably the best third baseman the Yankees ever had, at least in terms of WAR, but right behind him is Graig Nettles. He hit 390 career home runs (250 as a Yankee), won two World Series titles along with two Gold Gloves, and was an All-Star six times in his career. While he lasted on the ballot longer than Posada, Williams, and Cone, he still dropped off after four years. He is one of the better players to not make it into the Hall of Fame, receiving just 22 votes (4.7%) in his final effort. I guess it’s not too surprising given even the Yankees’ reluctance to honor him in Monument Park.
These aren’t the only Yankees who couldn’t quite make the cut. Ron Guidry dropped off after getting just 23 votes (4.9%) in his 9th year on the ballot, and others, like Don Mattingly and Thurman Munson, remained on the ballot for the then-maximum 15 years before dropping off. They at least stuck around for a long time and had a chance.
Unfortunately, a crowded ballot likely doomed Posada’s ability to hang around for a couple years. He now joins a list of other Yankee greats who just couldn’t hang around and got “five-percented.” These players will forever be remembered in Yankee history, but unless a Veterans Committee in the future is feeling generous (which likely won’t happen), they won’t be part of baseball’s story.