Mark Prior’s latest comeback has brought him to Triple-A for the Red Sox’s affiliate and, so far at least, he’s been healthy and effective.
We’re only talking about three appearances, of course, but Prior has thrown 4.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
His velocity, while not where it was before all the injuries, has reportedly been pretty solid facing a handful of hitters per outing as a reliever and despite seemingly being around forever Prior is still just 31 years old.
Prior has reached the point in his career where it doesn’t really make any logical sense to get excited about his performance or optimistic about him getting back to the majors, but … well, 10 strikeouts in 4.2 innings is worth a mention for a guy baseball fans should be rooting for.
Through age 24 he had a 3.24 ERA and 719 strikeouts in 613 innings. That was in 2005. He struggled in 2006, going 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA, and hasn’t throwing a major-league pitch since.
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.