This year’s induction is July 21st. Meet the MLB Hall of Fame class of 2019.
With the all-time record for saves with 652, it is clear that Mariano Rivera was the greatest closer in baseball history and a shoo-in for the MLB Hall of Fame. What wasn’t as certain was the inevitability of Rivera being the first-ever unanimous selection, but that’s exactly what happened.
Rivera’s place as the first unanimous choice highlighted a flaw in the system – the writers who vote on the Hall held out biases against players who should have been stone-cold locks such as Babe Ruth.
But it’s also a testament to his character and class. His on-field numbers were beyond reproach, but so was his off-field demeanor. None of the voters could think of a reason to keep the dignified Rivera out.
Mike Mussina didn’t have a lot of the arbitrary milestones that make pitchers “great” in the general public’s eyes. He didn’t win 300 games. Mussina only won 20 games once, in his final season. He fell short of 3,000 strikeouts. This is the thinking that kept him from being elected after he first became eligible in 2013.
But those milestones are a tad outdated, from a time when starters threw more innings and pitched more games per year. Mussina missing out on those old school targets obscures how great he truly was. Over an 18 year career, Mussina won 270 games with an ERA of 3.68. He had an ERA+ of 123 and 2,813 strikeouts.
Despite never winning a World Series, Mussina also pitched well in the postseason with a 3.42 ERA. Under any metric of what makes a pitcher great, Mussina fulfilled it.
Sadly, Roy Halladay didn’t live to see his Hall of Fame induction as he tragically passed away at the age of 40 in a plane crash. Halladay’s selection was as elementary as they come, however – he was quite simply one of the most dominant pitchers of the past 20 years. Take a look at some of his achievements from a 16-year career that began in 1998:
- Led the league in wins twice and won 19 or more games 5 times
- Two Cy Young Awards with five additional top-ten finishes in the voting
- 2,117 strikeouts
- 3.38 ERA
- ERA+ of 131
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 64.3
- Eight-time All-Star
One of the most astounding statistics about Halladay? His number of complete games. He threw 67 for his career (20 of them shut outs). He led the league in complete games seven times. In the modern era, those types of numbers are unheard of.
Along with Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and Ichiro, Edgar Martinez was one of the faces of the Seattle Mariners franchise. Over 18 seasons he batted .312 with 309 home runs, 1,261 RBI, and a .418 on-base percentage. Martinez was selected for seven All-Star games and finished in the top ten of the MVP voting twice.
Martinez is the first player to gain entry to the Hall by primarily playing designated hitter. He retired in 2004, making his first year of eligibility 2009.
His candidacy was no doubt delayed by the idea that not playing defense made his career less impressive. Martinez’s induction this year proves once and for all that players at DH can and should be considered. This is good news for David Ortiz when he’s up for selection in a few years.