Rapid Reaction: 2019 MLB Hall of Fame class revealed

Image result for mariano rivera
The first unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera. Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The results are in.

Pitchers Mariano Rivera (100%), Roy Halladay (85.4%) and Mike Mussina (76.7%) will be joined by designated hitter Edgar Martinez (85.4%) as the newest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rivera is the first player ever to be inducted unanimously, a great testament to his legendary career.

You can find the whole results here. Some quick thoughts:

Mussina was perpetually underrated

Mike Mussina had an absolutely fabulous career, one I’ve found to be fairly undervalued given the titans he pitched alongside (Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, etc). Dude finished 23rd all-time in Wins Above Replacement (82.9) and 20th in strikeouts (2813). He pitched a long, long time in the thick of a pummeling offensive era, all in the bright lights of the AL East. That Mussina wasn’t already in is absurd, especially given other pitchers already in.

Mussina was a blast to watch, too. He relied on a variety of pitches, often from different arm angles. His knuckle-curve is one of the nastiest ever seen. Mussina was also on the mound for one of the most clutch moments I can recall, his appearance in relief of Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. The Red Sox were threatening to blow the game wide open. Then Moose stepped in:

 

Doc sails in on his first appearance

The late Roy Halladay was the best pitcher of his generation. He felt like a throwback to a different era, throwing a lot of innings and kicking butt the entire way. Especially given how starting pitchers operate today, Halladay already feels like a distant memory. It’s a testament to his greatness.

It was a thrill to watch him work. He was an expert at setting batters up and had incredible stuff. A late bloomer who re-worked his mechanics to save his career, Halladay bagged two Cy Young awards and arguably deserved more. He also famously threw a no-hitter in the postseason, wiping the floor with a potent Cincinnati Reds lineup. Halladay was the man like few others, and at his peak, no one ever questioned who the best in the world was. Even when guys like CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and others had great seasons, the best was Doc.

Watch this. It’s about five minutes long. Just do it.

 

Edgar finally gets in

Edgar Martinez could flat-out rake. Few hitters were regarded like him — no surprise, given that he sprayed line drives all over ballparks across America. I came across several warm responses from writers who grew fans of the Mariners and most shared a familiar sentiment.

In a big moment, they wanted Edgar up. An OPS-plus of 147 for his career backs up the notion. Well deserved.

The Sandman is in

It’s absurd that no one had ever been inducted unanimously before, but alas, why not start with Mo? Baseball’s unquestioned greatest reliever, Mariano Rivera received 100% of the possible votes. His dominance is almost comical, to the point the stats are almost meaningless. He’s like Jerry Rice compared to other wide receivers. Truly no one else is in the picture.

Hearing hitters describe the experience of facing Rivera is a blast, though. David Ortiz, a future Hall of Famer himself, faced Rivera many times as designed hitter for the Boston Red Sox. Here’s what he told Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe about facing Mo:

“Mariano wasn’t fun to face. He was nasty. You knew what was coming but that didn’t mean you could hit it. You’d be waiting for it and it would disappear. Like I said, nasty.”

Sounds about right.

Since I’m providing videos, check this one out. A great look at the routine excellence of Rivera, called by the sublime Vin Scully:

No one ever did it better. Congrats, Mo.

 

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