Bryce Harper’s bid to make the Nationals at the tender age of 19 could be derailed by a calf injury that will sideline him for “at least three days,” manager Davey Johnson said Friday.
Harper woke up with tightness in his left calf Thursday and was scratched from the day’s lineup. He missed a second game Friday.
The Nationals have indicated they’re open to putting Jayson Werth in center field to make room for Harper in right, and Harper was making an early case for the job with hits in his first four appearances of the spring. He was 5-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts before going down.
If Harper ends up missing a week or more, that’d probably be enough to see to it that he begins the season in the minors. The Nationals have financial incentive for going that route anyway.
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.