In 1936 the first vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame was held. There were many candidates, but a few absolute shoo-ins. Certainly Ruth, Cobb, and Wagner would be selected by every voter. Walter Johnson received 83.6% and Christy Mathewson received 90.7%. Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth also made it. Wagner and Ruth had 95.1% and the great Ty Cobb finished with the highest vote total at 98.2%. In 1955, Joe DiMaggio was up for election and received 88.8%. In 1962, one of the greatest pitchers to live, Bob Feller, was ready to be enshrined. He was of course, but with 93.8%. A few years after him in ’66, Ted Williams received 93.4% and then in ’69 Stan Musial took 93.2% of the vote and the curse of the unanimous carried into the 70s. Mantle claimed 88.2% in 1974, but in 1979 it was surely going to end. Willie Mays was on the ballot and the unanimous streak would surely snap, but he posted a 94.7%. Hank Aaron graced the ballot in 1982 and was rewarded with a 97.8%, the highest since Cobb. The next year, Brooks Robinson had a 92%. In ’89, Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench reached over 90%. Bench even crossed the 95 mark with 96.4%. Jim Palmer was handed 92.6% and in ’91, Rod Carew received 90.5%. In ’92, Tom Seaver broke Ty Cobb’s record with a 98.8% showing. Reggie Jackson pulled down 93.6% in ’93. In 94, Steve Carlton received 95.6%. Mike Schmidt capped off the 7 year run of 90+ finishes with 96.5%. In ’99, George Brett and Nolan Ryan took their shot at 100%. Brett finished with 98.2 and Ryan tied Seaver’s record with 98.8. Ozzie Smith crossed the 90 mark with 91.7% in ’02. In ’05, Wade Boggs was voted in with 91.9%. 2007 was the year, both Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were up to bat. They both did cross 95%, Gwynn with 97.6% and Ripken with 98.5%. Rickey Henderson swiped 94.8% in ’09 and Roberto Alomar came in at 90% in 2011. In 2014, Glavine made it in with 91.9% and was joined by former teammate, Greg Maddux who came in at 97.2%. The next year Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson took the mound. Pedro won 91.1% and Johnson won 97.3%. Then came Griffey. Ken Griffey Jr. was the great hope for the 100% club. He, of course, fell two votes shy, but broke the record with 99.3%. In 2018, Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones were enshrined with over 90%. Vlad with 92.9 and Chipper with 97.2%. Which brings us to this year and this closer. 33 players before him went over 90, and 16 over 95, but there is only one 100. Maybe it says more about the writers than the player. I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that Mo is better than Ruth, Cobb, or Feller. However, it must say something incredible about the man that he received unanimous support five years after he was done shocking us. He left us with no doubt, the 9th inning belonged to Mariano. The other team seemed to be there for show, a prop for the greatest closer. He is one of the few great ones who’s mistakes get spoken about and remembered. Partly, because as a closer, his mistakes cost the game and the pennant or World Series, but also because they were astounding. It has been oft repeated that more people have walked on the moon (12) than scored off of Rivera in the playoffs. In a sport of such failure, one man seemed to never fail. Everyone knew what was coming and yet it didn’t matter. The greatest closer of all time, the most perfect weapon, is going out how he pitched, with perfection.
He waited a long time. In his tenth year on the ballot he finally cracked through. He was arguably the greatest DH ever and one of the more beloved figures to play in the last 30 years. Similar to his struggles to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Edgar Martinez struggled to make an impact in the league. Unlike the other three Hall members who were voted in this year, Edgar began his career in the ’80s. In 1982, Edgar signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners, but stayed in the minors for a few years. He finally got his chance as a 24 year old in 1987. Over 13 games he had a line of .372/.413/.581. In ’88, he played 14 games, but got even fewer at bats. He hit .281/.351/.406. Edgar began 1989 as the Opening Day third baseman, but he struggled and was sent down. Through 65 games and almost 200 plate appearances, Edgar hit .240/.314/.304. He hit his first home run in May. It was 1990 when Edgar began to figure it out. He stuck around for 144 games that year and hit .302/.397/.433. He hit 11 home runs and drove in 49. It wasn’t a career year, but it showed he at least belonged in the show. In ’91, Edgar played in 150 games and hit .307/.405/.452. He hit 14 home runs and drove in 52. 1992 was the first year he began to pick up awards. He played in 135 games and mashed a league leading 46 doubles. He picked up 181 hits and 18 homers with 73 RBIs. He even stole 14 bases. Overall, he hit a .343/.404/.544. Due to leading the league in doubles and batting average he was named the Silver Slugger winner for third basemen. He also made his first all-star game and finished 12th in MVP voting. Injuries hurt his next two years. In ’93, he only played in 42 games and hit a .237/.366/.378, with 4 home runs. In ’94, the injuries and the strike kept his season at 89 games. He hit .285/.387/.482, with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. He was turning 32 and had only one good season under his belt, and yet he will be enshrined this year just like any other Hall of Famer. Maybe the lesson from Edgar is perseverance and to never settle. 1995 Is when Edgar became the DH. He lead the league in average, doubles, and runs. He slashed .356/.479/.628 with an OPS of 1.107. He hit 29 homers with 113 RBIs and hit 52 doubles. He was third in MVP voting and won another Silver Slugger. For the first time in his career the Mariners made the playoffs. Edgar continued his hot hitting into the playoffs against the Yankees. It’s hard to come up with individual postseason series that were as great as this performance. He hit .571/.667/1.000, with 2 homers and 10 RBIs. The stats don’t even tell half the story. Already down 2-1 in the series, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead seemingly ending the Mariners year. Martinez hit a three-run homer and then later broke a 6-6 tie in extras with a grand slam. In Game 5, the Mariners were down to their final out in the bottom of the 11th behind by one run. Edgar laced a game-winning double to send the Mariners to the ALCS. The Mariners pushed the Indians to six games, but fell short. Edgar struggled mightily, picking up only 2 hits and no RBIs. Martinez continued mashing in ’96. He hit .327/.464/.595 with 26 homers and 103 RBIs. He again hit 52 doubles and was voted to the all-star game. The Mariners failed to make the playoffs. Edgar kept those numbers up for the ’97 season, hitting .330/.456/.554 with 28 home runs and 108 RBIs. The Mariners faced the Orioles in the postseason and lost in 4 games. Edgar hit two home runs, but both were solo shots. The Mariners slipped over the next two seasons, but it didn’t seem to conflict with Edgar’s stats. In ’98, he hit .322/.429/.565 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs. In ’99, he hit .337/.447/.554 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. The Mariners returned to winning ways in 2000 and Edgar hit .324/.423/.579 with 37 homers and a league-leading 145 RBIs. He finished sixth in MVP voting. Martinez hit .364 as the Mariners swept the White Sox in three games. They lost to the Yankees in six games and Edgar had a line of .238/.333/.429. The 2001 Mariners are one of the greatest teams ever and they have the wins to prove it. They tied the 1906 Cubs with 116 wins. For his part, Edgar hit .306/.423/.543 with 23 homers and 116 RBIs. Edgar continued his theme of crushing in the first round and then diminishing in the second. The Mariners beat the Indians in 5 and Edgar hit 2 home runs and batted .316, but the Yankees knocked them out in 5. Edgar managed a measly 3 hits. Despite winning 93 games in each of the next two seasons the Mariners didn’t reach the playoffs. In fact, they are still trying to get back. 2002 was a year of injuries as Martinez played less than 100 games for the first time since ’94. He hit 15 homers with 59 RBIs, but his average dropped to .277. In 2003, Edgar collected his 2000th hit and won another Silver Slugger, at the age of 40. He still had 24 homers and 98 RBIs and hit just below .300. 2004 was his last year. He still played 141 games, but it was clear that injuries and age had caught up. Edgar Martinez finished his career with 2247 hits, 309 home runs, and 1,261 RBIs. He played in over 2000 games and hit .312/.418/.515 over 18 seasons. He won the Silver Slugger award 5 times and the batting title twice, in addition to being a 7 time all star. Edgar Martinez didn’t fully break through until he was 32, maybe its only fitting that it took him a little bit to reach the Hall. But he got there, and much like the Majors, he isn’t leaving anytime soon.
In the 1990 draft the Orioles made Mike Mussina the 20th pick. He pitched well in the minors and was called up in August of ’91 to the big league club. On August 4th he took the mound for his debut and pitched 7 and two thirds with only 4 hits and one run off of him. He made 12 starts and had an ERA of 2.87. He quickly showed he was there to stay when in ’92 he finished 4th in Cy Young voting and won 18 games. Shoulder injuries took out a good part of his ’93 season, but he still won 14 games and made the All Star game. Mussina recovered nicely and was pitching great well into the next year. The players went on strike and the rest of the ’94 season was canceled. Mussina again finished 4th in Cy Young voting. In ’95 Mussina lead the league with 19 wins and 4 shutouts. ’96 was a special year for Mike, he won 19 games and his first Gold Glove. The Orioles made the postseason. However, his ERA jumped to 4.81 and he carried 11 losses with those 19 wins. The Orioles faced the Indians in the ALDS and won the series 3 games to 1. Mussina pitched in Game 3, the only loss of the series, going 6 innings and giving up 3 earned runs. The Orioles advanced to play the Yankees in a series that will be remembered for a 12 year old kid. Derek Jeter launched what looked to be a home run, but was actually interfered with by a fan. Mussina took the mound in Game 3 with the series tied 1-1. He pitched 7 and two thirds, but gave up 5 runs. The Orioles lost the series in 5 games and the Yankees went onto win the World Series. Mussina started the ’97 season on the DL, but recovered to have a nice season with a career high 218 strikeouts. The Orioles made the playoffs again and faced the Mariners. Moose got the ball in games 1 and 4 against Randy Johnson. In Game 1 he pitched 7 innings of two run ball to beat Johnson and Game 4 he threw 7 innings of one run ball again beating Johnson. After beating the Mariners, the Orioles faced off against the Indians for the second year in a row. Mussina was sent to the mound in game 3 with a tied series. He shut down the Indians with 7 innings of one run ball and 15 strikeouts, but a lack of run support cost him a win. He got another shot in Game 6 with the Orioles down 3 games to 2. He again pitched superbly going 8 innings of shutout ball with ten strikeouts. Again he didn’t get the run support he needed and the Orioles went home and did not return to the playoffs until 2012. Mussina suffered through a few injuries in ’98, but earned his third Gold Glove and his 1,000th strikeout. In ’99 Mussina had one of his best year with 18 wins and a second place finish in the Cy Young voting. 2000 was Mike’s last year on the Orioles. He pitched well despite a losing record. He ended his ten years there with over 2,000 innings pitched and close to 150 wins with a 3.53 ERA.
On Tuesday night the National Baseball Hall of Fame added its’ 4 newest members. Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous selection in history. Roy Halladay made it on his first year of eligibility with a little over 85 percent (may he rest in peace). Mike Mussina made it on his sixth year with over 76 percent. Edgar Martinez made it on his tenth and final year on the ballot with a little over 85 percent. The debate over voting relievers and steroid users will continue over many years. The debate over which stats and achievements should make players eligible will last even longer. Here we will breakdown the highlights of their careers, from their debut to retirement. We will start with Roy “Doc” Halladay. One of the greatest starting pitchers of the last 20 years, Halladay was a true competitor. A hot prospect out of high school, the Blue Jays took him with the 17th pick in the first round of the ’95 draft. He debuted on September 20th, 1998 he threw 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs. Nobody remembers that start, because in his next one he almost pitched a no-hitter. With 2 outs in the ninth he gave up a solo shot to end his bid. Halladay took that promise and ran it into the ground. 99-01 were not that great although he put up a respectable 3.16 ERA in 16 starts in ’01. In 2000 he put up a shocking 10.64 ERA, the highest for any pitcher who threw at least 50 innings. In 2002, Doc began to insert himself. He lead the league in innings pitched and posted a 19-7 record with a 2.93 ERA. He quickly showed that was no fluke by dominating in 2003 on the way to his first Cy Young award. 2004 was a lost season due to injuries. Despite a hot 12-4 start his 2005 season was killed by injuries as well. He pitched well in 2006 and earned a 3 year extension worth 40 million. He would finish each season from 06-11 with 16 or more wins. In 2007 he recorded his 100th win. Halladay finished second in Cy Young voting in 2008 and pitched well again in 2009. In 12 years with the Blue Jays he had just under 150 wins and an ERA of 3.43. The Blue Jays never reached the postseason during his tenure. He was traded to the Phillies before the 2010 season. He lead the league with 21 wins and helped the Phillies reach the playoffs. On May 29th, Roy Halladay threw baseball’s 20th perfect game. In his first playoff start he threw the second ever postseason no-hitter. The Phil’s swept the Reds and went onto face the Giants. Doc pitched twice, in game 1 he pitched 7 innings and gave up 4 runs taking the loss. In game 5 he won, pitching 6 innings and only giving up 2 runs. The Giants beat the Phillies in six and then went onto win the World Series. After the season he was named the Cy Young winner becoming only the 5th player ever to win the award in both leagues. In 2011 the Phillies put together a starting rotation of Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. Doc won 19 games and posted a 2.35 ERA. The Phillies finished with the league’s best record for the second year in a row. Doc pitched in game 1 against the Cardinals. He gave up 3 runs in the first inning but recovered to pitch 8 innings and get the win. He pitched brilliantly in game 5, but lost 1-0 to end the Phillies season. Once again the team that defeated the Phillies went on to win the World Series. This was Halladay’s last postseason start. Injuries slowed Halladay down in his last two years and eventually lead to his retirement. Roy Halladay pitched for 16 seasons and compiled a record of 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA. He was an 8 time All-Star and won 2 Cy Young awards. He made ten opening day starts and won 20 games 3 times. He threw a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter. He was a terrific teammate and a great competitor. The Hall is beefing up their staff with this acquisition. RIP.