The only thing more automatic than Mariano Rivera getting elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot was Rivera on the mound with a lead in the ninth inning. On Tuesday the longtime New York Yankees closer got the call to Cooperstown with record-setting support from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Rivera was named on 425 of 425 ballots, a stunning 100% of the vote, surpassing the previous mark of 99.3% received by Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016.
A total of four players were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, with the late Roy Halladay, designated hitter Edgar Martinez and pitcher Mike Mussina also surpassing the necessary 75% to receive induction to Cooperstown.
|Ken Griffey Jr.||2016||99.32%|
|Cal Ripken Jr.||2007||98.53%|
Rivera getting in has long been seen as a forgone conclusion, after a 19-year career with the Yankees that saw him dominate opposing hitters with a single pitch, but a devastating one at that. Rivera and his cutter posted a minuscule 2.21 ERA and a record 652 saves.
After a rookie season that saw the Panamanian right-hander split time between starting and relief, Rivera found his permanent home in the bullpen in 1996, serving as a fireman reliever for the first of five World Series championships with the Yankees. A model of consistency, Rivera in his final 18 seasons posted an ERA of 2.16 or lower 14 times.
In the postseason is where Rivera was at his most ruthlessly efficient, with a record 42 saves and a mind-boggling 0.70 ERA — yes, starting with a zero — in 141 innings.
Rivera is the second player born in Panama to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Rod Carew.
Hall Call for Doc
Roy Halladay received 85.4% of the vote from the BBWAA, elected like Rivera to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
One of the best and most durable starting pitchers of this century, Halladay led his league in innings pitched four times and complete games seven times, while posting a 3.38 ERA in his 16 seasons, a 131 ERA+.
The right-hander won two Cy Young Awards — one in each league, in 2003 with the Toronto Blue Jays and in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies — placed second two more times and had three other top-five finishes.
Halladay pitched a perfect game in 2010, striking out 11 against Miami, then raised the bar that October, authoring a no-hitter in the National League Division Series against the Reds, just the second no-hitter in postseason history.
Sadly, Halladay passed away in 2017 after crashing his airplane in Florida.
“Being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is every boy’s dream. To stand on that stage in Cooperstown and deliver your acceptance speech in front of baseball’s most enthusiastic fans is something that every baseball player aspires to achieve, and Roy was no exception,” said Brandy Halladay, Roy’s wife. “But that was not Roy’s goal. It was not his goal to have those three letters after his signature. His goal was to be successful every single day of his 16-year career. Tonight’s announcement is the end result of that effort.
“If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an even more amazing day this would be. I would like to extend special thanks to the baseball writers for the overwhelming percentage of votes that Roy received in his first year on the ballot. It means so much to me, Braden and Ryan.”
Designated for Cooperstown
If there was any suspense on this ballot, it was Edgar Martinez in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. After cracking the 70% barrier but falling 20 votes shy of induction in 2018, the longtime Seattle Mariners designated hitter got 85.4% of the vote this time around.
His credentials as a hitter are impeccable, hitting .312/.418/.515, a 147 OPS+ in 18 years with Seattle, with 514 doubles and 309 home runs. Martinez led the American League in on-base percentage three times and won two batting titles.
The Major League Baseball yearly award for the best DH in the game is named after Martinez.
Since the BBWAA resumed annual voting for the Hall of Fame in 1966, a total of 24 players received at least 70% of the vote while falling short of the required 75%, like Martinez last year. All 24, now including Martinez, made it eventually into the Hall of Fame.
Mike Mussina also made quite a gain, jumping from 63.5% last year to 76.7% this year, getting elected to the Hall of Fame on the seventh try. The right-hander was at the top of an AL East pitching stuff for his 18 MLB seasons, all with the Orioles and Yankees.
Mussina never won a Cy Young Award but he did finish in the top six in voting nine different times, topping out at second place in 1999. In addition to his 270 wins and 123 career ERA+ in 3,562⅔ innings, Mussina posted a 3.42 ERA in his 23 postseason games (21 starts), with more strikeouts (145) than innings pitched (139⅔).
This is the fifth time in six years the baseball writers have elected at least three to Cooperstown. In the previous 55 years, the BBWAA elected three players into the Hall of Fame in a single year only four times (1972, 1984, 1991, 1999).
In addition to BBWAA selections Rivera, Halladay, Martinez, and Mussina, the veterans committee selections of Lee Smith and Harold Baines will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony on July 21.