Yankees: These former Bombers will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame


Voting for modern-era candidates for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is taking place now with final results scheduled to be announced on January 22, 2019. At least one candidate from the New York Yankees will be elected to the Hall this year.

As announced on November 19th, 35 former MLB players and 18 others who are on the ballot for the first time will be considered by over 400 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) for election into the 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame. Two of the Yankees’ illustrious Core Four, relief pitcher Mariano Rivera and starting pitcher Andy Pettitte are on the ballot for the first time this year.

Two additional Yanks who have been considered in prior years are on the ballot as well, starting pitchers Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina. In order to be elected into the HOF, candidates need to garner the support of 75% of BBWAA voting members.

Baseball writers don’t always agree on the nature and importance of the professional contributions of ballplayers. For example, there is some debate over whether candidates who have played certain positions, such as designated hitter and relief pitcher, should even be included on the ballot let alone be inducted into the Hall.

In addition, many if not most writers tend to support candidates from the team they cover and sometimes oppose candidates from longstanding rival teams.

In recent years the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs by players has influenced voting significantly and has prevented several otherwise outstanding ballplayers from being elected to the Hall.

Finally, numerous writers have refused to support terrific ballplayers for inclusion in the Hall because of their controversial comments on sensitive issues as well as their engagement in unprofessional behavior.

Despite his excellent pitching record, Curt Schilling, for example, has been kept out of the HOF because of the extreme views he has expressed on moral, social, and political issues.

Pete Rose was banned from MLB and induction into the HOF for betting on Cincinnati Reds’ baseball games while he was the player-manager of the team from 1984 to 1986. Following years of public denial, Rose acknowledged in 2004 that he bet on baseball and on the Reds. While MLB has ceased to oppose his inclusion on the ballot, the HOF continues to exclude him from consideration.

Whether writers will change their minds about the eligibility of such controversial baseball figures for induction into the Hall in future years is uncertain.

These and other factors make it difficult to predict exactly who will be voted into the Hall this year and who will not.

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What about Mariano Rivera?

Jaffe presents a very strong, compelling case as to why Yanks relief pitcher Rivera should be elected to the HOF this year. The cool, calm, and unflappable Panamanian set the all-time record for saves, 652, and prevented runs more effectively in MLB than anyone else.

In 1,283.2 innings, he had an ERA of 2.21. Jaffe reports Rivera’s JAWS (his career WAR averaged with his 7-year peak WAR) as 42.5. The average for current HOF relief pitchers is considerably less, 32.3.

During his 19-year-career, Mo was lights out when the stakes were the highest. He helped the Yanks win five World Series Championships. In fact, he got the final out in four World Series the Yanks won (1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009). He was equally dominant in playoff games.

There has been some debate as to whether pitchers, particularly relief pitchers, should be included in the HOF. In fact, Christy Mathewson, himself one of the most dominant pitchers of his time, once said, “A pitcher is not a ballplayer.” Yet, he was inducted into the HOF on the first ballot in 1936, the first year that votes were cast for the Hall. Other superb pitchers have followed, but they overwhelmingly have been starting pitchers.

Only six relief pitchers are enshrined in the HOF. Compared to them, The Sandman’s numbers are off the charts. Among the HOF six relief pitchers, only Dennis Eckersley was able to gain first-ballot entry. Rivera will definitely be the second relief pitcher to do so. The only question is whether he will earn a unanimous vote to the Hall. I really hope he does. But with so many different kinds of personalities voting, it is unlikely that he (or anyone else) will ever receive a unanimous vote.

What about Andy Pettitte?

Pettitte had a solid record as a starting pitcher. His won-loss record was 256-153. He pitched 3,316 innings and struck out 2,448 batters.

His WAR was 60.3 and his JAWS was 47.2. The averages for all HOF starting pitchers are 73.9 and 62.1, respectively, which are better than Pettitte’s numbers.

He was extremely successful in the postseason. He won more postseason games than anyone else, 19. And he participated in and won five World Series championships with the Yanks.

However, his regular season 3.85 ERA is high and may prevent him from inclusion in the HOF this year.

In addition, he admitted to using a growth hormone (HGH), as documented in the George J. Mitchell Report, but “only for two days.” Although he had a strong show of remorse and apologized in public, a number of writers might hold this against him.

What about Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina?

Both Clemens and Mussina have appeared at least twice on the HOF ballot in prior years.

Clemens was clearly one of the most dominant pitchers of all time. The Rocket tallied 354 wins, earned a 3.12 ERA, and struck out 4,672 batters. He was an 11-time All-Star, and he won an amazing 7 Cy Young Awards during his career, more than any other pitcher in history.

While more voters are beginning to look past performance-enhancing drug allegations and are now viewing Clemens as a true legend of the game, there remains a large block of voters who will never vote for him due to his alleged drug use. In order to make it into the HOF this year, he will need to increase his 2018 vote total by nearly 20%, which seems extremely unlikely to happen.

I find it ironic that Pettitte and Clemens are on the ballot together for the first time this year. Once very close friends, Pettitte testified that Clemens discussed with him his drug use several times. Clemens strongly denies this. Suffice it to say, they are no longer friends.

Mussina has been unfortunate in the previous voting, having to go up against more well-known, exciting candidates in earlier elections for the Hall.

However, Moose’s career statistics provide a strong argument for his inclusion in the HOF.

His won-lost record was 270-153, and he had 2,813 strikeouts. However, his ERA was a bit high, 3.68. Yet, his career WAR was 83.0 and his JAWS 63.8, higher than the averages for all HOF starting pitchers. These statistics strongly support his worthiness for selection to the Hall.

Surprisingly, he received only 20.3% of the vote in 2014 and 24.6% the following year. However, he has had three strong showings in succession and was able to earn 63.5% of the vote last year. Whether Moose can increase his vote total percentage by at least 11.5% this year is uncertain. I am predicting that he will, mainly because he has been wisely building his support through a quiet, respectful, and reserved approach. If he does not get in this year, he has another 5 years of eligibility. He will certainly receive enough votes before then.

Clearly, the use of performance enhancing drugs is significantly affecting how HOF voters are evaluating the contributions of modern-era baseball players, including some of the best Yanks, on the field. My next article looks at the controversy surrounding the use of drugs by previous members of the Yanks.

Next. Yankees: Performance enhancing drugs, and the Baseball Hall of Fame. dark

How much should prior drug use determine whether they are enshrined in the HOF? Read and find out.