2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees
Sources: Chris Trotman/Getty Images; Shannon Stapleton; Gregory Shamus/Getty Images; Elaine Thompson/AP
For baseball fans, today is one of the best days of the year. After months of having no baseball games, and a slow free agency period, today marked the day that a few more legends of the sport would be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. This year, four more players got the best phone call of their lives, but even more importantly, history was made today as we saw something that has never happened before and may very well never happen again. This year there were 425 ballots submitted, meaning that players needed 319 votes (75%) to be inducted. Without further ado, here is your Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
1. Mariano Rivera Position: Closer Team(s): New York Yankees Years on ballot: 1st Percentage of votes received: 100%
Regular Season 82-60, 2.21 ERA, 652 saves, 1283 2/3 IP, 1173 K Postseason 8-1, 0.70 ERA, 42 saves, 141 IP, 110 K Career Accolades 13 time All-Star 5 time World Series Champion (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009) 1999 World Series MVP (1999) 2003 ALCS MVP (2003) 5 time Reliever of the Year (1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2009) 5 top five Cy Young finishes
Here he is. The first ever unanimous inductee. I had my reservations about whether or not he would actually achieve this incredible feat and luckily, the voters got this one right. When I originally wrote about who I would vote for this year, I talked about how the chances of us ever seeing a unanimous vote for a player were slim. This is because you have a lot of writers/voters who think that they are bigger than the game and they are some sort of sacred protectors of the Hall of Fame. Every year prior to this one you would hear voters talk about how "If Babe Ruth didn't get 100%, nobody deserves 100%", which is an incredibly stupid way to vote. You're basically saying "I acknowledge that this person is a Hall of Fame player, but because I don't agree with something that happened 80 years ago, he's not getting my vote!". But, I guess I can't talk too much trash after all, since we avoided this situation for the first time in history.
In my opinion, Mariano Rivera is the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Not just the greatest closer, or the greatest reliever, the greatest pitcher. Period. I'll be glad to fight you if you don't agree with that. Sure you can argue that starting pitchers have more of an impact since they usually pitch somewhere between 5-9 innings a game while Rivera pitched 1-2, but I'd argue that Rivera still had more of an impact on any given game than a starter. First off, you ask any player, manager or fan and they will tell you that the last three outs of a ball game are the hardest to get. Do you know who was the best ever at getting the last three outs? Mariano Rivera. Also, it's not like he was limited to just the three outs. He came into the game for 4, 5, 6 even 7 out saves on numerous occasions throughout his career, especially in the postseason. Another reason why he was the most impactful is that he had an effect on the game before he even pitched in that game. If you're on the opposing team and the Yankees have a 1-3 run lead in the fourth or fifth inning, you know that you have to get those runs in the next two or three innings because once Mo came into the game, your chances were close to zero. So teams would change their game plan or intensity levels because of Rivera even if he was still sitting in the bullpen. Plain and simple, he's the best pitcher this game has ever seen and we will never see another player like him.
2. Roy Halladay Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies Years on ballot: 1st Percentage of votes received: 85.4% Regular season 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 2749 1/3 IP, 2117 K Postseason 3-2, 2.37 ERA, 38 IP, 35 K Career Accolades
8 time All Star 2 time Cy Young winner (2003, 2010) Threw a Perfect Game on May 29, 2010 Threw a Postseason No-Hitter on October 6, 2010
Arguably the best pitcher of his generation. The only part that sucks about Halladay being inducted is that he's not here to see his plaque go up.
If you had to choose a person to start a game for you between 2000-2010, I'm not sure there's anybody you would choose over Halladay. At most, there's one, maybe two guys who would get the nod over him. Halladay was just the epitome of consistency. He was never going to overpower you with his stuff, but that didn't stop him from dominating some of the game's best hitters on a regular basis.
My only question with this induction is that I would like to see what percentage of votes he would've received if he was still alive. I said in the past that his death helped his case to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the 85.4% shows that. If not for the tragedy that happened less than a year ago, he may have been right on the cusp of being a first-ballot guy. But, I could also be completely wrong. Maybe he would've received the same amount of votes, or he may have even received more. Who knows. It's an interesting conversation, but one that we don't have to have since he's been inducted and that's all that matters.
3. Edgar Martinez
Position: Designated Hitter
Team(s): Seattle Mariners
Years on ballot: 10th
Percentage of votes received: 85.4%
Regular season 2247 hits, 309 HR, 1261 RBI, .312/.418/.515 Postseason 34 hits, 8 HR, 24 RBI, /266/.365/.508 Career Accolades 7 time All Star 5 Silver Slugger Awards (1992, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003)
The best designated hitter of all-time finally got the call. After a long 10 year wait and fear of falling off the ballot if he didn't get the required 75% of votes this year, Edgar Martinez can finally call himself a Hall of Famer. If you need a reason why Martinez deserves enshrinement, look no further than the words of Mariano Rivera. Years ago, Rivera was asked who the toughest batter he ever faced was, his answer? "The toughest...and thank god he retired...Edgar Martinez. Oh my god. I think every pitcher will say that. because this man was tough...He has more than my numbers. He has my breakfast, lunch, and dinner." In his career against Rivera, Martinez was 11-for-19 -- a .579 batting average -- with two home runs and three doubles. It may have taken the full ten years for him to be inducted, but if you asked Edgar right now, I'm sure he would say that it was worth the wait.
4. Mike Mussina Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees Years on ballot: 6th Percentage of votes received: 76.7% Regular season 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 3562 2/3 IP, 2813 K Postseason 7-8, 3.42 ERA, 139 2/3 IP, 145 K Career Accolades 5 time All Star 7 time Gold Glove winner (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2008)
Mussina was never the best pitcher in the league, but he always produced on the mound. He was the King of almosts. In 1999 he finished second place in Cy Young voting (Throughout his career, he finished top-6 in Cy Young voting nine times). In 2001 he was an out away from throwing a perfect game while also being a win shy of winning the World Series. If you were an opposing fan, you may not have been scared when you heard your team was facing Mussina, but the chances of him beating you were pretty high. In fact, technically speaking, there was a better chance of Mussina winning against your team (.638 regular season winning percentage) than Greg Maddux (.610%). Oh and he owns a better WAR rating than Nolan Ryan, take that in.
These weren't the only players on the ballot, here's a list of people that missed the cut and will have to wait until next year to have another shot at eternal glory. Curt Schilling (60.9%), Rogers Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%), Larry Walker (54.6%), Omar Vizquel (42.8%), Manny Ramirez (22.8%), Jeff Kent (18.1%), Scott Rolen (17.2%), Billy Wagner (16.7%), Todd Helton (16.5%), Gary Sheffield (13.6%), Andy Pettitte (9.9%), Sammy Sosa (8.5%), Andruw Jones (7.5%).
With a weak 2020 class, there's a chance that a player like Schilling or Walker will be inducted, but they would still need a significant jump in percentage to reach the 75% threshold. In terms of Clemens and Bonds, I still think that voters are going to make them sweat it out before finally inducting them in their tenth and final season of eligibility. If you didn't already know, there are two ways for a player to fall off the ballot permanently:
1) Fail to reach 75% of votes after ten seasons on the ballot 2) Fail to reach 5% of votes in any year of eligibility This year, Fred McGriff is the only player to fall of the ballot due to a failure to reach the 75% in his tenth and final year. He only received 39.8% of votes this year, so now he'll have to wait and hope that the Veterans Committee eventually inducts him. Here is a list of players that fell off of the ballot after failing to receive 5% of the votes:
Michael Young (2.1%), Lance Berkman (1.2%), Miguel Tejada (1.2%), Roy Oswalt (0.9%), Placido Polanco (0.5%), Rick Ankiel (0.0%), Jason Bay (0.0%), Freddy Garcia (0.0%), Jon Garland (0.0%), Travis Hafner (0.0%), Ted Lilly (0.0%), Derek Lowe (0.0%), Darren Oliver (0.0%), Juan Pierre (0.0%), Vernon Wells (0.0%), Kevin Youkilis (0.0%). Now, we look forward to next year. Overall, the 2020 class is pretty weak. Some of the first-time eligible players include Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Cliff Lee, Eric Chavez, Josh Beckett, Alfonso Soriano, Paul Konerko and Raul Ibanez.
Among this group, Jeter is the only person who is an absolute lock to be inducted next year. In fact, there's a chance that we may see back-to-back years of having a unanimous inductee. Although, I have a feeling that some people will refrain from voting for Jeter due to his controversial couple of seasons as part-owner and CEO of the Miami Marlins. The voters should just focus on his playing career, but some will surely hold the fact that he traded Giancarlo Stanton (2017 NL MVP), Christian Yelich (2018 NL MVP), Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in the same off-season against him. Other than Jeter, I'm not sure anybody else will be a first-time inductee. The best hope would be Cliff Lee or Bobby Abreu, but I just can't see either of them being a first-time guy.
Congratulations to this year’s class. This year’s induction ceremony takes place on July 21st. But, in the meantime, we are just over a month away from Spring Training. Actual baseball is so close, yet so far away.