Cooperstown call: Mike Mussina elected to the Hall of Fame

Right-hander Mike Mussina, drafted in the first round by Baltimore in 1990 and an Oriole the first 10 years of his big league career, was tonight voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Mussina got 76.7 percent of the vote, making the Hall in his sixth year of eligibility. In his first year of eligibility in 2014, Mussina got just 20.3 percent of the vote. But he just kept trending up and got closer and closer. He got 24.6 percent in 2015, then moved to 43.0 percent in 2016, 51.8 percent in 2017 and 63.5 percent last year. Tonight he got more than the needed 75 percent from eligible voting members in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Mussina Throws Camden Yards.jpgMussina will be inducted in July in a class that includes three others added tonight in all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, former Mariner Edgar Martínez and the late Roy Halladay, who had a great run pitching for two teams.

Rivera became the first unanimous selection, getting 100 percent of the vote, listed by all 425 voters in his first year on the ballot.

Mussina, who turned 50 in December, was actually drafted twice by the Orioles. He didn’t sign when they selected him in round 11 out of Montoursville (Pa.) High School in 1987. He did when they picked him in round one, No. 20 overall, out of Stanford in 1990.

A year later, he made 12 starts for the Orioles and his big league career was underway. He went 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA and .638 win percentage between the Orioles and New York Yankees. He joined New York via free agency before the 2001 season.

We’ll find out later which cap will be on Mussina’s Hall of Fame plaque, one representing the Orioles or the Yankees. The Hall of Fame executive committee makes that decision.

Mussina pitched better over his 10 seasons as an Oriole than he did in his eight seasons in New York. His time in Baltimore produced a lower ERA (3.53 to 3.88), lower WHIP (1.175 to 1.212) and better ERA+ (130 to 114). He also had many more complete games (45 to 12) and shutouts (15 to eight) as an Oriole. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he averaged 4.76 WAR per season as an Oriole and 4.38 as a Yankee. Of course, Mussina was older when he pitched in the Bronx, starting there with his age-32 season.

Rivera played his entire career with the Yankees, from 1995 to 2013. Rivera made 19 appearances and 10 starts as a rookie, posting a 5.51 ERA. But a fulltime move to the bullpen followed and a great career began to take off in 1996.

With very heavy use of his remarkable cut fastball, Rivera went 82-60 over 19 seasons and posted a 2.21 ERA. That is the best ERA in the last 100 years with a minimum of 750 innings. His 652 saves is No. 1 all-time and he posted 40 or more in each of nine seasons. His ERA+ of 205 ranks No. 1 all-time among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.

Rivera played on five World Series winners with the Yankees, was a 13-time All-Star and was exceptional in the postseason. In 96 games, he went 8-1 with an 0.70 ERA, 0.759 WHIP and 42 saves. He pitched more than one inning in recording 31 of those saves.

Martínez, checked on 85.4 percent of the ballots, as was Halladay, played his entire 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners, from 1987-2004, winning two batting titles. Martínez played some third base early in his career but became a fulltime DH in 1995. His career numbers are outstanding at .312/.418/.515 with a .933 OPS and a career 147 OPS+, making him one the game’s top right-handed hitters.

Martínez makes the Hall in his 10th and final year of eligibility. Last year, he fell 20 votes shy, getting 70.4 percent of the vote. Martínez was an All-Star seven times, and five times was among the top 16 for the MVP vote. He was third in the MVP voting in 1995, when he hit .356/.479/.628 with a 1.107 OPS. He’s one of only nine players in major league history to have collected at least 300 home runs, 500 doubles and 1,000 walks while posting a batting average of .300 or better and an on-base percentage of .400 or better.

Halladay enjoyed a 16-year career playing for Toronto from 1998-2009 and for Philadelphia from 2010-2013. The right-hander won a Cy Young Award in both leagues. Tragically, he was killed while piloting his own plane on Nov. 7, 2017.

Halladay, who goes into the Hall in his first year on the ballot, pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Marlins on May 29, 2010. Later that year, he pitched a playoff no-hitter against the Reds, on Oct. 6.

For his career, he went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.178 WHIP. Halladay averaged 1.9 walks and 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He posted a 131 ERA+. Halladay won the American League Cy Young Award with Toronto in 2003, and took the National League honor in 2010 with Philly. He finished second in the voting in 2008 and 2011 and was overall top five in the voting seven times.

The closest candidate to miss out were Curt Shilling, who got 60.9 percent of the vote. Roger Clemens was listed on 59.5 percent of ballots and Barry Bonds was next at 59.1 percent.

Mussina, Rivera, Halladay and Martínez will be honored as part of the Hall’s induction weekend from July 19-22 in Cooperstown, along with relief pitcher Lee Smith and designated hitter-outfielder Harold Baines, who were elected in December by the Today’s Game Era committee.

Also being honored that weekend will be the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting, the late Al Helfer, and the recipient of J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for writing, Jayson Stark.

Mike speaks: In an MLB Network interview tonight, Mussina was asked which hat he thinks will be on his Hall plaque?

“You know, I can’t choose,” he said. “To play 10 seasons in one place and eight seasons in the other, to have pretty comparable numbers in both places. I wouldn’t be on this phone call if it wasn’t for both places. I started my career in one place and had a lot of success, and I finished my career in the other place and had a lot of success. I proudly played for both organizations, but there is no way I could pick one over the other.”

Mussina was asked his reaction to the news he’s heading to Cooperstown.

“It’s surprising, somewhat, I think. I was steadily improving and there was a pretty big jump from last year to this year. I was paying attention to the trackers. I knew it was going to be close, but this was pretty cool,” he said.

Mussina told a panel on MLB Network he had to hide tonight at Mountoursville High School, where he coaches basketball, to take the call telling him he got in. He said he was not suppossed to let on about his news until the numbers appeared on the live broadcast. So he went to a back room and took the phone call he had been hoping to get for years.



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