CLEVELAND, Ohio –No player has been elected to the Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers Association of American. Ken Griffey Jr. came the closest at 99.32 percent in 2016. Griffey was named on 437 of the 440 ballots cast.
It’s still hard to imagine why someone wouldn’t vote for Griffey and now the BBWAA’s discerning eye will once again be under scrutiny because on Monday the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot was announced, and it includes Mariano Rivera, baseball’s greatest relief pitcher.
Rivera is not only the all-time saves leader with 652, but he is the leader in games finished at 952 and shares the record with Trevor Hoffman, elected last year, with nine seasons of 40 or more saves. Then there’s the postseason.
In 19 years with the Yankees, Rivera helped them win five World Series titles. He holds the all-time postseason records for ERA at 0.70, games pitched at 96 and saves with 42. Rivera holds Worlds Series records for games pitched with 24 and saves at 11. He appeared in 32 postseason series, going 8-1. In 141 postseason innings, he allowed 11 earned runs.
It is hard to imagine someone meeting the requirements of their job with more success than Rivera did over almost two decades of work.
Along with Rivera, other players appearing on the ballot for the first time, include former Indians DH Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte, Todd Helton, Michael Young, Miguel Tejada, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, who pitched briefly for the Indians in 2012, Darren Oliver, Roy Oswalt, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis and Rick Ankiel.
Halladay, who won the Cy Young award for Toronto and Philadelphia, died at age 40 in a plane crash in 2017. In a 16-year career, he went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA. He threw two no-hitters in 2010, the second coming against the Reds in Game 1 of the NLCS.
Among the holdovers from last year’s class are Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, the 11-time Gold Glove winner, who received 37.1 percent of the vote in his first appearance on the ballot last year. A player must receive 75 percent to be elected to the Hall. They can stay on the ballot for 10 years as long as they continue to get five percent of the vote annually.
Vizquel didn’t make it in on the first ballot as his Indians teammate Jim Thome did last year, but it was a good showing for his first time on the ballot.
Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff are on the ballot for the 10th and final time. Martinez, Seattle’s accomplished DH, just missed induction last year when he received 70.4 percent of the vote. McGriff, with 493 homers, received 23 percent of the vote last year.
Other players receiving more than 50 percent of the vote include Mike Mussina (63.5 percent), Roger Clemens (57.3 percent), Barry Bonds (56.4 percent) and Curt Schilling (51.2 percent). It’s conceivable that Clemens, Bonds, Manny Ramirez (22 percent), Gary Sheffield (11.1 percent) and Sammy Sosa (7.8) may already be in the Hall of Fame if not for the taint of steroids. Ramirez played for the Indians from 1993 through 2000.
Also returning from last year’s ballot are Billy Wagner (11.1 percent), Jeff Kent (14.5), Scott Rolen (10.2), Andrew Jones (7.3) and Larry Walker (34.1). Kent, who leads all second basemen in homers, played for the Indians in 1996.
BBWAA members must have covered baseball for at least 10 years to vote. Their ballots must be returned by Dec. 31 with the new class of Hall of Famers being announced on Jan. 22.
Last year the writers voted Thome, Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero into Cooperstown. Detroit’s Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were elected by the Modern Era Committee.