Baltimore Orioles: Will Hall of Fame voters elect Mike Mussina?
By Tim Smart
Later today, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will officially announce its 2019 class. Will former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina be included?
We’re waiting in anticipation today about whether former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina will get the call from the Hall of Fame. Players need to appear on more than 75% of all ballots to be inducted. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s public ballot tracker, Mussina is currently on just over 81% of them.
As of midnight on Tuesday morning, roughly 52% of all ballots have been revealed. There’s still a long way to go for Mussina, considering that the anonymous voters generally have stricter standards than those who make their ballots public.
But Mussina has some wiggle room, and he’s been tracking well over the last couple years: in 2016, Mussina’s 43% was well short of induction, but he got to 51.8% in 2017, and finished with 63.5% of votes last year. Mussina needs to be on roughly 67% of remaining ballots to surpass the 75% mark.
Mussina certainly has a strong Hall of Fame case. He pitched to a 3.68 ERA in over 3,500 innings, he won 270 games, and had 2,813 strikeouts in his 18-year career. He was a 5-time All-Star, finished in the top-6 in American League Cy Young voting nine times (7 with the Baltimore Orioles), and has a career 83.0 bWAR.
The case against Mussina is essentially that he was never the best pitcher of his time.
To the point, Mussina pitched alongside Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux. Clemens and Martinez are arguably the two best pitchers of all time, and Johnson and Maddux are in the top-10. That Mussina wasn’t better than those guys isn’t a slight against him.
Mussina is a sure-fire Hall of Fame pitcher. He should get there this year but if he falls short tomorrow, we can reasonably expect that he’ll get there in the next year or two.
In addition to Mussina, there are three other players whose names will likely be announced tomorrow evening.
Mariano Rivera is currently on 100% of known ballots. Rivera is one of the best relief pitchers of all time and is a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, no player in history has been unanimously elected. Ken Griffey Jr.has received the highest vote total to date, getting 99.3% in his first year of eligibility in 2016.
If someone is going to hit 100%, it’s likely to be either Rivera this year, or Derek Jeter in 2020. Both will be first-ballot Hall of Famers, and both should be in the 100% conversation.
The other two players on watch tomorrow are Roy Halladay and Edgar Martinez.
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What Halladay lacked in longevity, he made up for with his peak. From 2008-2011, he pitched to a 2.59 ERA in 969.1 innings, won an AL Cy Young and twice more finished second in Cy voting. He doesn’t have the traditional counting stats (203 wins, 2,749 innings, and just 2,117 strikeouts), but he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball for five years.
Halladay belongs in the Hall of Fame; whether he’s a top-tier guy is certainly debatable, but his tragic passing in November of 2017 will more than likely boost his case a bit and ensure first-ballot election.
Martinez’s candidacy is a point of contention, but I’m on the side of him belonging in the Hall. Five Silver Slugger awards, seven All-Star game appearances, he led the league twice in doubles and batting average, and three times in on-base percentage. He was undoubtedly one of the best players in MLB when he was on the field.
The case against Martinez is that he was a designated hitter and didn’t provide any defensive value.
That might be the case, but Martinez was a career .312/.418/.515 hitter. He hit 309 home-runs, had a career 147 OPS+, and posted 68.4 career bWAR. Martinez couldn’t add value with the glove, so he had to add the majority of his value with the bat.
He’s one of the best designated hitters of all time and belongs in the Hall. Add in the fact that he’s on his last year of eligibility, and he should push past the required 75% threshold.
The only other players that are close are Roger Clemens (71%), Barry Bonds (70.5%), and Curt Schilling (70.5). All three are trending in the right direction, but it’s tough to see any of them appearing on the necessary ~80% of remaining ballots to be included in the 2019 Hall of Fame class.
If I’m guessing, I think the four guys mentioned get the call tonight (Mussina, Rivera, Halladay, and Martinez). They’re all deserving, and all should be honored with Hall of Fame induction. If Mussina gets elected, there’s a chance that he represents the Baltimore Orioles in the Hall, becoming the 7th player in O’s history to have earned the honor.