Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina elected to the Hall of Fame on 2019 ballot

62 Comments

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martínez, and Mike Mussina have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the 2019 class. The results were just announced on MLB Network. Rivera received votes from every single writer who submitted a ballot, becoming the first player ever to be unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame. Halladay and Edgar Martínez each received 85.4 percent of the vote and Mussina appeared on 76.7 percent of ballots.

Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his seasons in the majors with the Yankees. He was initially used as a starter, but quickly moved to the bullpen, becoming the greatest closer of all-time. He racked up 652 saves — the most in baseball history — during the regular season along with a 2.21 ERA anda 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings. He saved his best work for the postseason. Rivera appeared in 96 postseason games, saving 42 saves in 47 opportunities with a 0.70 ERA and a 110/21 K/BB ratio in 141 innings. Rivera won five championships, five Rolaids Relief Awards, as well as MVP awards in the World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Game. He made the AL All-Star team 13 times.

Halladay, 40, will sadly be inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously. Just a few years following his retirement, Halladay died while flying his plane off the coast of Florida. Halladay spent the first 12 years of his 16-year career with the Blue Jays, winning the 2003 AL Cy Young Award and making the AL All-Star team six times. The Jays traded him to the Phillies after the 2009 season. In 2010, Halladay threw a perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, 2010, which was the 20th in baseball history at the time. Halladay then pitched a no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS, his first career postseason start. He unanimously won the NL Cy Young Award that year. Halladay had another great year in 2011, making the NL All-Star team and finishing a runner-up in Cy Young balloting. Starting in 2012, however, injuries began to get the best of him and his career was finished not long after.

Martínez, 56, played in the big leagues between 1987-2004, all with the Mariners. He spent the first eight years of his career before becoming a full-time DH, arguably the best of his era. He retired with a career .312/.418/.515 batting line along with 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI. He won two batting titles, led the league in RBI once (145 in 2000), led the league in doubles twice, and led the league in on-base percentage three times. Martínez made the AL All-Star team seven times and won five Silver Slugger Awards as well. This was Martínez’s 10th and final year on the ballot and he finally received enough support to earn enshrinement. Starting with his first year of eligibility in 2010, Martinez earned 36.2, 32.9, 36.5, 35.9, 25.2, 27.0, 43.4, 58.6, and 70.4 percent of the vote through last year.

Mussina, 50, has been a Sabermetric favorite since he first became eligible. The right-hander played 18 seasons in the majors, 10 with the Orioles and eight with the Yankees. He won 270 games, retiring with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts across 3,562 2/3 innings. Mussina made the AL All-Star team five times and won seven Gold Glove Awards. His traditional stats, beyond wins, don’t stack up quite as well compared to other Hall of Fame starters. However, Baseball Reference credits him with racking up 82.9 Wins Above Replacement, which is only a tick behind Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez’s 86.2.

Congratulations to Rivera, Halladay, Martínez, and Mussina. They will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith in the 2019 Hall of Fame induction class. Baines and Smith were voted in by the Today’s Game Era Committee last month. The group of six will be inducted into Cooperstown in July.

Players that got between five and 75 percent of the vote will reappear on next year’s ballot. Those include: Curt Schilling (60.9%), Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%), Larry Walker (54.6%), Omar Vizquel (42.8%), Manny Ramirez (22.8%), Jeff Kent (18.1%), Billy Wagner (16.7%), Todd Helton (16.5%), Scott Rolen (17.2%), Gary Sheffield (13.6%), Andy Pettitte (9.9%), Sammy Sosa (8.5%), Andruw Jones and (7.5). Fred McGriff got 39.8% of the vote in his 10th and final year on the ballot, so he is no longer eligible, but he can be considered by the Today’s Game Era Committee.

Dropping off the ballot with less than five percent of the vote: Michael Young (2.1%), Lance Berkman (1.2%), Miguel Tejada (1.2%), Roy Oswalt (0.9%), Placido Polanco (0.5%), Rick Ankiel (0), Jason Bay (0), Freddy Garcia (0), Jon Garland (0), Travis Hafner (0), Ted Lilly (0), Derek Lowe (0), Darren Oliver (0), Juan Pierre (0), Vernon Wells (0), and Kevin Youkilis (0).

Whitewash: Rob Manfred says he doesn’t think sign stealing extends beyond the Astros

Getty Images
25 Comments

Rob Manfred said today that he believes the sign-stealing scandal which has taken over the news in the past week does not extend beyond the Houston Astros. His exact words, via Jeff Passan of ESPN:

“Right now, we are focused on the information that we have with respect to the Astros. I’m not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We’ll deal with that if it happens, but I’m not going to speculate about that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.”

This is simply incredible. As in literally not credible.

It’s not credible because, just last week, in the original story in The Athletic, it was reported that the Astros system was set up by two players, one of whom was “a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources . . . they were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good. They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.”

The very next day Passan reported that Major League Baseball would not limit its focus to the Astros. Rather, the league’s probe was also include members of the 2019 Astros and would extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentioned the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Add into this the Red Sox’ pre-Cora sign-stealing with Apple Watches and widespread, informed speculation on the part of players and people around the game that many teams do this sort of thing, and one can’t reasonably suggest that only the Houston Astros are doing this.

Which, as I noted at the time, made perfect sense. These schemes cannot, logically, operate in isolation because players and coaches change teams constantly. In light of this, players have to know that their sign-stealing would be found out by other teams eventually. They continue to do it, however, because they know other teams do it too. As is the case with pitchers using pine tar or what have you, they don’t rat out the other team so they, themselves, will not be ratted out. It’s a mutually-assured destruction that only exists and only works if, in fact, other teams are also stealing signs.

So why is Major League Baseball content to only hang the Astros here? I can think of two reasons.

One is practical. They had the Astros fall in their lap via former Astro Mike Fiers — obviously not himself concerned with his current team being busted for whatever reason — going on the record with his accusation. That’s not likely to repeat itself across baseball and thus it’d be quite difficult for Major League Baseball to easily conduct a wide investigation. Who is going to talk? How can baseball make them talk? It’d be a pretty big undertaking.

But there’s also the optics. Major League Baseball has had a week to think about the report of the Astros sign-stealing and, I suspect, they’ve realized, like everyone else has realized, that this is a major scandal in the making. Do they really want to spend the entire offseason — and longer, I suspect, if they want a thorough investigation — digging up unflattering news about cheating in the sport? Do they really want to be in the bad news creation business? I doubt they do, so they decided to fence off the Astros, hit them hard with penalties, declare victory and move on.

Which is to say, it’s a whitewash.

It’s something the league has tried to do before. They did it with steroids and it didn’t work particularly well.

In 1998 Mark McGwire, that game’s biggest star at the time, was found to have the PED androstenedione in his locker. It was a big freakin’ deal. Except . . . nothing happened. Major League Baseball planned to “study” the drug but most of the fallout was visited upon the reporter who made it public. It was accompanied by some shameful conduct by both Major League Baseball and the baseball press corps who eagerly went after the messenger rather than cover the story properly.

Four years later Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco went public with their PED use and said drug use was widespread. MLB’s response was slow and, again, sought to isolated the known offenders, singling out Caminiti as a troubled figure — which he was — and Canseco as a kook — which he kind of is — but doing them and the story a disservice all the same.

The league eventually created a rather toothless testing and penalty regime. Congress and outside investigative reporters filled the void created by the league’s inaction, calling hearings and publishing damning stories about how wide PED use was in the game. Eventually Bud Selig commissioned the Mitchell Report. Some ten years after the McGwire incident baseball had at least the beginnings of a sane approach to PEDs and a more effective testing plan, but it was pulled to it kicking and screaming, mostly because doing anything about it was too hard and not very appetizing from a business and P.R. perspective.

And so here we are again. Baseball has a major scandal on its hands. After some initially promising words about how serious it planned to take it, the league seems content to cordon off the known crime scene and refuses to canvass the neighborhood. Sure, if someone gratuitously hands them evidence they’ll look into it, but it sure sounds like Rob Manfred plans to react rather than act here.

That should work. At least until the next time evidence of cheating comes up and they have to start this all over again.