Travis Hafner exited yesterday’s game with a sprained right foot and the Indians have placed the designated hitter on the disabled list.
Hafner also missed time with a foot injury in April and spent a month on the DL with an oblique strain around midseason, but he’s been very productive when healthy enough to be in the lineup, hitting .281 with 11 homers and an .812 OPS in 82 games.
Hafner is out for at least two weeks and his potentially being a question mark for September could increase the Indians’ chances of claiming Jim Thome, who reportedly was placed on waivers today along with an assortment of other veterans.
Thome could step into the DH spot for however long Hafner is out before moving into a pinch-hitter role, and both his remaining salary (about $600,000) and the Twins’ likely asking price (probably a mid-level prospect) are very affordable. It seems like an ideal fit for everyone involved, but that will be a moot point if a team in front of the Indians on the waiver wire pecking order also puts in a claim.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.