When Mariano Rivera stepped off the mound on September 26, 2013, with Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte at his side, he could have bypassed the dugout and walked straight into Cooperstown. Tradition, however, dictated that he must wait five years between retirement and induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. So wait he did.
The waiting paid off tonight, however, as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the newest members of the Hall of Fame. Rivera sailed in with 100% of the total votes. This comes as no surprise, as Mo long appeared a lock for a first-ballot induction. Not only does he stand out as baseball’s all-time saves leader (652), but his stretch of dominance remains nonpareil. He boasted a career 2.21 ERA (2.76 FIP) over 1283.2 innings — and that doesn’t even count his postseason credentials. Consider that postseason resume and five World Series rings and one has a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
Many hoped Rivera would enter the Hall of Fame as the first ever unanimous inductee, but I was expecting someone to hold out. The fact that he became the first ever player to appear on 100% of the ballots is incredible.
Rivera will be joined by another first-ballot inductee, the late Roy Halladay. “Doc” had a 15-year career, one that saw him pitch to a 3.38 ERA (3.39 FIP), before earning 85.4% of the votes. At his peak, from about 2008 - 2011, Halladay featured as arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball. He won two Cy Young Awards, authored a perfect game and a no-hitter, plus made eight All-Star teams. Someone once said that Halladay bridged the gap from Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson to Clayton Kershaw. The right-hander tragically passed away in November 2017.
Additionally, Edgar Martinez punched his ticket to Cooperstown in his final year of eligibility. The slugger appeared on 85.4% of the ballots. Martinez played 17 seasons with the Mariners, hitting .312/.418/.515 with 309 home runs. He had a career 147 wRC+, and fittingly enough, Mo once described him as the toughest batter he ever faced. It’s kind of fun that they will go into the Hall of Fame together.
In the surprise of the evening, Mike Mussina also cleared the threshold. The right-hander made the grade, receiving 76.7% of the votes. Moose pitched for 18 seasons, all in the American League East at the height of the steroid era. His career 3.57 ERA (3.68 FIP) stands as a testament to his success during a period of the game known for high-octane offense.
Elsewhere on the ballot, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds’s crawl to induction continues to slow down. They appeared on 59.5% and 59.1% of the ballots, respectively. That marks a 2.2% increase for Clemens and 2.7% increase for Bonds. Time is running out for these two.
Andy Pettitte, meanwhile, scraped by with 9.9% of the votes. While an all-time great Yankee, Pettitte is a fringe Hall of Fame candidate. He will get another shot next year, though, and that’s fun. Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams didn’t enjoy the same luck.
With the major storylines addressed, here are an assortment of thoughts from around the ballot:
- Larry Walker’s surge reminds me an awful lot of the push Tim Raines received. He gained a remarkable 20.5 points from 2018. It’s still a long-shot to induction — gaining 20.4 in one year will be tough, but he just did it. At the very least, Walker made it clear that he’s a strong Veterans Committee candidate.
- Curt Schilling’s stock took a major hit last year, but it appears his numbers have recovered. Talented pitcher? Sure. Would I lose sleep if he does’t get inducted? Nope.
- Omar Vizquel’s candidacy seems to be based on fielding percentage and comparisons to Ozzie Smith. Both reasons are flawed, and like I said last year, Vizquel will be a thorn in the SABR side for years to come.
- Derek. Jeter. Next. Year.
The Hall of Fame conversation may wind down until July, but we still want to hear from you. Let us know how you feel in the comment section.