Two great starters of different eras, a designated hitter, and the greatest closer ever are inducted.
It’s induction day, so time to have exactly one drink and argue about the Hall of Fame. One would think actually putting people in the Hall of Fame would change that, but it’s likely only to accelerate from here.
Let’s start with who did get in. There shouldn’t much of a surprises with our locks. Roy Halladay, who tragically passed away in a prop plane accident in November of 2017, is the defining Modern Starter who will likely be the model for inductees of tomorrow. He had just a hair over 200 wins (203) and pitched in 16 seasons, but he essentially had a Hall of Fame career without any extended decline phase: he just stopped being good. A collective 131 ERA+, 65.5 WAR, a 57.5 JAWS puts him at 43rd all time, around Juan Marichal. Yet I can’t think of anyone whose peak was quite as peak-y as Halladay except maybe Pedro Martinez; he had a sub-3.00 ERA from 2001 to 2011.
Edgar Martinez probably wouldn’t have made it in without the internet, as could be said for a few these days like Tim Raines. Fervently pushed by our friends over at Lookout Landing, the narrative around Martinez was both a statistical argument about the worth of the DH, but also a narrative about how he defined a city with his play in the 1990s. .312/.418/.515 for a 2000-game span firmly cements him as the best pure hitter of his era, sans steroids, and it sets the precedent for the likes of, say, David Ortiz, to follow in his footsteps.
Mariano Rivera is the least surprising inductee… ever, probably?What is surprising though, is that he is the first player of all-time to voted in unanimously. If there’s one thing I’m happy we will N E V E R debate again, it’s this. It’s very rare for the greatest ever at a position to be inducted, so this one is going to be an exciting one. I mean, just look at his Baseball Reference page. Not only does he have the all-time record for saves (652), games finished (952), and ERA+ (205), he has a number of postseason records that I really doubt are ever broken in our time:
- ERA: 0.70
- Saves: 42
- Consecutive scoreless innings: 33 1⁄3
Even so, he had two of the most devastating losses ever in 2001 and 2004 to fully cement his legacy in a way we wouldn’t have expected: when you’re that great, your failures are news.
Here’s the big surprise, though: Mike Mussina. I grew up during a period of time when Mussina was largely an afterthought of the great Yankees teams of the mid-2000s, because you had Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Rivera, and then Alex Rodriguez. Yet when you think about it, he had the best career of anyone other than Rivera, essentially: he ranks 29th all-time in JAWS, slightly ahead of Nolan Ryan and Tom Glavine, making the most inner circle-y of any of the Dynasty Year Yankees, in my mind. He would have the highest ERA other than Jack Morris in the Hall at 3.68, so it would show a massive change in thinking: adjustments for league and park are in full effect in voting, and Mussina getting in fully proves that the statistical case is getting its due.
As expected, there will now be more talk about who didn’t get in now that the voting is over. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens miss the Hall once again despite some changes in the PED stance of voters; it’s still not enough of that sentiment to fill up the full voter roll as they reach their eighth year of eligibility.
Curt Schilling continues to reel from his racist, transphobic, and anti-journalist comments, but probably not enough to keep him forever: his close vote likely means we’ll have to hear the absolute worst speech in Hall of Fame history.
What do you think? Are you satisfied with the results? What would you change?