It is no secret that the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera is a Hall-of-Famer in waiting. In fact, he is a definite first-ballot inductee. Even non-Yankee fans will attest to that. However, while watching Sun Sports’ broadcast of the New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays on August 25, 2013, I saw the graphic that asked a poll about the superstar closer. Announcer DeWayne Stats read the question aloud. Without hesitation, I immediately shouted, “Yes!” prompting my wife to ask me what I was shouting about.
The poll asked if Rivera should become the first-ever unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. A 75% “Yes” vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America gets a player into the Hall. No one has received every vote; the player with the highest percentage of “Yes” votes is Tom Seaver, who received 98.84% (420 of 425) in 1992.
Five players have received 98% or more of the required votes at their time of induction. The following chart comes from Baseball Almanac’s Website:
Name Year Ballots Votes % Position Rank
Tom Seaver 1992 430 425 98.84% P 1.
Nolan Ryan 1999 497 491 98.79% P 2.
Cal Ripken, Jr. 2007 545 537 98.53% SS 3.
Ty Cobb 1936 226 222 98.23% CF 4.
George Brett 1999 497 488 98.19% 3B 5.
Rivera’s numbers should say it all. As of August 26, 2013, Rivera has saved 646 games in 724 chances (89.2%). He is the all-time saves leader, and it looks like no one will ever catch him. Not only do most closers dominate for only a few years, but their teams need to give them the chances as the Yankees have done over the past 19 years. Rivera has done all of this with a win-loss record of 80-60 and a 2.21 ERA.
Mariano Rivera has announced his retirement from the Majors effective at the end of 2013. This will allow him to appear on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot. Currently, approximately 500 BBWAA writers vote, but the number fluctuates each year. We cannot yet predict exactly how many will vote in 2019, but if we assume 500, then Rivera would need 494 votes to break Seaver’s record. Obviously, the actual votes needed depend on actual ballots cast. I cannot see how six or more voters could possibly say, “No.”
Rivera is also the all-time postseason saves leader, another record that could stand forever. He has successfully converted 42 of 47 chances (89.3%) pitching against the best teams of each season since 1995. Again, what other team will give its closer this many opportunities?
Many like to look at more advanced statistics such as player value. Rivera has a career average WAR of 2.93 for a pitcher who appears in 67 games per season. This includes 2012 when he missed most of the season to injury.
Look at the accomplishments that Rivera has achieved: 13 All-Star teams, seven American League pennants, and five World Series titles. He may not get another chance at postseason saves, but he will still save a few more regular-season games before 2013 ends.
I cannot imagine any voter saying “No” to Mariano Rivera. I understand that first-ballot induction is extra special, but Rivera has proven himself far beyond that honor. Unless someone else such as Greg Maddux (the only player with half a chance to do so) beats him to it, then Mariano Rivera should easily become the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee in 2019.
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