Baseball Hall of Fame 2019




Baseball Hall of Fame – 2019 Selections

 


By David A. Avila

New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera was voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the baseball writers and will be joined by Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina. They will also be accompanied by Harold Baines and Lee Smith who were voted in by the Veterans Committee last month. Induction ceremonies take place this summer in Cooperstown, New York.

Mariano Rivera

No other player in history had ever achieved a unanimous vote but Rivera throughout his 20 year career proved to be the most feared closer during his era and established it when it counted most, during post season baseball.

In the playoffs, including the various World Series he participated in, the Panamanian native sported a lifetime ERA of 2.00 during the regular season and miniscule 0.70 during the postseason which included 42 saves.

That vicious cutter he fired at hitters was one of the most effective pitches in the history of baseball.

The first time Rivera caught the eye of sports fans outside of Yankee Stadium took place during the 1995 American League Division Series when he fired five scoreless innings of relief. The next eventful time arrived during the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves when as a set-up reliever he stymied the National League team every time he pitched. In 1997, New York released the closer John Wetteland and moved Rivera into the closing role.

Rivera always had a relationship with the Los Angeles Angels. It was the first team he ever faced as a Major League Pitcher and it was the first team he ever faced as a closer. It was also one of the rare teams that gave him any trouble and showed he was human after all.

But as he gained experience Rivera would shut down the Angels and all teams he faced in the future especially in the playoffs when it really counts. It’s no wonder he was voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the first player in the history of the Hall of Fame to get every vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Not even Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb received every vote.

In 2005, when the Angels defeated the Yankees in the ALDS, the team from New York had three Hall of Fame players in Mike Mussina, Randy Johnson and Rivera, and one for certain future Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter.

Rivera was the most feared on those Yankee teams. Whole strategies were developed to avoid facing the Yankee closer.

“He was dominant,” said former Yankee manager Joe Torre who now works for MLB.

 

Mike Mussina

Mussina was never a dominant pitcher who blew 100 mph fastballs by batters or won pitching awards on an annual basis, but he exemplified consistency like a jackhammer breaking away a granite wall.

He first established himself as a pro with the Baltimore Orioles in an era when batters were juicing up like weight-lifters at Muscle Beach. As hitters blasted out homers at a record rate Mussina was quietly defusing the bombs in their bats with an effective knuckle curve and an intelligent strategy.

“When I knew they were trying to hit it out I’d use that against them and get them to pop up or groundout,” said Mussina.

As an Oriole he was the ace for 10 years from 1991 to 2000 and quickly established himself as a starter with an 18-5 win/loss record and a 2.54 ERA in his first season. Despite playing in the always heated American League Eastern Division the right-handed Mussina set a record of winning 11 or more games in 17 consecutive seasons.

In 2001 he began his stint with the New York Yankee organization and continued his steady effective pitching.

As a Yankee hurler Mussina won 20 games in 2008 his final season. He’s only the second pitcher to win 20 games and then retire following in the footstep of L.A. Dodger great Sandy Koufax.

Mussina won a total of 270 games and added seven Gold Gloves for his stellar defense as a pitcher. He was 39 when he retired.

 

Roy Halladay

Pitching first for the Toronto Blue Jays then the Philadelphia Phillies the right handed ace Roy Halladay was one of baseball’s most dominant hurlers during era.

Halladay was a fastball pitcher with pinpoint control and only got better as the years went by. When he first entered the Major Leagues he was primarily a power pitcher who relied on straight fastballs. This resulted in a 10.64 ERA that and the worst in baseball history for any pitcher with more than 50 innings in 2001.

With assistance from Blue Jay pitching instructors Halladay learned how to change his arm slot and began firing from a three-quarters angle while keeping the ball low regardless of his pitches. By the end of 2001 Halladay had re-invented himself and won five games with a 3.19 ERA.

From 2002 on Halladay became one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League and won 19 games followed by 22 wins the next season in 2003. Pinpoint control was one of his strengths as he walked only 32 in 266 innings pitched. He was voted the Cy Young award for his stellar season.

In 2010 he was traded to the already powerful Philadelphia Phillies and his addition to the pitching staff only made the National League more powerful. He won 20 games in his first season with the Phillies and took them to the playoffs. In his first playoff game Halladay fired a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. He had previously pitched a perfect game in May against the Florida Marlins and became the first pitcher ever to fire a no-hitter and perfect game in the same season.

Halladay retired in December 2013. He passed away on November 2017 while flying over the coast of Florida on is personal aircraft. Flying was his hobby.

 

Edgar Martinez

During his era Edgar Martinez was baseball’s purest hitter and despite playing most of his career as a designated hitter, his dominance with the bat forced writers to finally include him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Born in New York City, he played his entire baseball career with the Seattle Mariners and had a career batting average of .312. From 1987 to 2004 he cranked out more than 2200 hits and with 1,261 RBIs. His on base percentage was .400 and slugging average of 500 gave him a lifetime OPS of .900.

Those are quite impressive numbers for someone that baseball experts did not first believe was Major League caliber.

Physically, Martinez was not very impressive. When he was signed by Seattle as a free agent in 1982 he was sent to a minor league team were he hit a meager .173. But the scout who signed Martinez convinced the general manager of the Seattle Mariners to assign him to the Arizona Instructional League where he proceeded to tear up pitching at a .340 clip. From that point on he moved up the system and eventually made the Major League team on September 1987. In 13 games he hit .372. Off and on for three years he would go up and down between the big club and the minors.

In 1990 Martinez finally established himself as a starter and proceeded to hit .302. In 1991 he hit .307 and in 1992 reached .342 and won his first batting title. That batting average also led the Major Leagues and from that point on Martinez never looked back.

No other batter in his era could hit like Martinez. Though he was never a power hitter his ability to get solid wood on every pitcher made him feared. The better the pitcher the better Martinez hit. He especially owned Mariano Rivera who he hit more than .400 against over the years. In 1995, Martinez led the Mariners against the Yankees in the AL division series while batting .571 and knocking in seven RBIs in one game alone. He also reached base 18 times in five games.

Over the years he beat up opposition repeatedly but it was injuries that he could not overcome. In 2004, after leg injuries, Martinez announced his retirement in August.

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

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