The Baseball Hall of Fame voting season can be, well, interesting. In addition to the usual debating the merits of each player’s individual achievements over and over again, what to do about suspected PED users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as well as discussions about the process in general and issues of transparency and whether the BBWAA is even who should be in charge of such decisions. We won’t rehash those debates here as they are well-documented elsewhere.
Tonight is for the the Hall of Fame class of 2019. With one player in Mariano Rivera as a sure bet, the rest of the ballot was filled with intrigue as several players were relatively close to induction as well to falling off the ballot altogether. Without further delay, here is the class of 2019 that will be inducted into Cooperstown (along with Harold Baines and Lee Smith who were voted in by committee earlier this offseason).
Mariano Rivera, to the surprise of basically everyone, was the first player ever to be unanimously elected to Cooperstown. Despite being a reliever (which was one of the reasons why it was so surprising to see him as a unanimous pick), Rivera still managed to accumulate 39.7 fWAR with a 2.21 ERA in his career and was the gold standard amongst closers during most of his time as a player. His election is far from a surprise, but being the first unanimous pick does come as a bit of a shock given that relievers have typically had a hard time getting love from HoF voters.
Roy Halladay had a peak during his career with the Blue Jays and Phillies where he was one of the best pitchers in baseball as he racked up high finishes in Cy Young voting (including a pair of wins) and posted a 3.38 ERA and 65.2 fWAR. Unfortunately, Halladay did not live to see his induction as he was killed in a plane crash in 2017.
Edgar Martinez was the best designated hitter of his time (some argue that he was the best ever although David Ortiz will get his fair share of love there as well), but a vocal minority of voters who had disdain for the DH as a position kept him waiting for induction until his last year on the ballot. Despite getting dinged for being a DH, Edgar still had a 65.5 fWAR career while slashing .312/.418/.515 for his CAREER while playing in 2,055 games for the Mariners.
Finally, we have Mike Mussina who just barely got enough votes to eclipse the 75% threshold for induction into Cooperstown. Mussina got to 270 wins as a pitcher during his 18 year career and accumulated 82.2 fWAR with a career 3.37 ERA with the Orioles and Yankees.
Notable players who missed out include the aforementioned Bonds and Clemens along with Larry Walker and Curt Schilling. Walker has long been overlooked during his time on the ballot, but saw a big jump in support for his candidacy this time around as he enters his final year on the ballot next year. Schilling has a Hall of Fame resume on paper, but has seen his politics and issues with media members cost him support. However, his support is trending upwards and with a less crowded ballot after this year could easily get elected in the next few years.