With the announcement yesterday that Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Thome all will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in July 2018, it is now time to look ahead to the 2019 ballot and some 2019 MLB Hall of Fame Predictions.
We Yankees fans all know why this ballot is important. It is the first ballot that the greatest closer in baseball history and Yankees icon, Mariano Rivera, will be on the ballot along with other notable first timers Todd Helton, Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, and Roy Oswalt as well as holdovers that received over 50% of the vote in 2018: Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Curt Schilling.
Let’s discuss the holdovers first:
– Edgar Martinez just missed induction in 2018 where he received 70.4 percent. Crossing the 70% threshold is usually a lock for induction and seeing how it is his final year on the ballot, I fully expect Martinez to be the first true DH to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. My prediction is that he will receive 83% of the vote.
– Mike Mussina saw an increase in his totals and received 63.5 percent. By crossing the 60% threshold, Mussina is pretty much guaranteed induction, it’s just a question of will it be next year or in a few years. Mussina is the best pitcher on the ballot not tied to PEDs (yes, I do believe his career was better than Schilling’s though Schilling was a beast in Octobers). There is no “lock” in regards to the first timer pitchers on the 2019 ballot (though they all have arguments to be made – see below), so Mussina may just squeeze by in 2019. I predict he does get in with 79% of the vote.
– Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, both continue to gain votes each year and are just below the 60% threshold (Clemens at 57.3 and Bonds at 56.4). With the induction of Bud Selig by the Veteran’s Committee and “newer” voters coming on while “older” voters are removed, two of the greatest players in baseball history, will eventually gain induction. I do think it still takes a couple more years, though each should pass 60% in 2019. I predict they each receive 64% of the vote.
– Curt Schilling continues to make gains each year, this time he received 51.2%. While I do believe he should be in the Hall of Fame, I do think some voters are taking his attitude and things he’s done off the field since he retired and using that to not vote for him. If the voters look at solely what he did on the field, he should see a huge jump in vote totals as well he should if he can keep the controversial statements in his personal life to a minimum. I do think he sees some gains again next year and receives 58%.
Now on to the notable first timers. While there are many players that will make their debut on the ballot in 2019, these are the players that I believe will receive over 5% of the vote to remain on the ballot in future years. The other players, while all notable in their own right, simply do not have the careers to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Up first are the players that I believe will receive the necessary 5% to remain on the ballot, but I do not think they ever gain induction via the BBWAA and may even fall off the ballot in the coming years:
– Miguel Tejada was really good for several years, but outside his peak, he was borderline Hall of Fame, however, due to failed PED tests (Adderall), being named in the Mitchell Report, and lying to Congress will simply keep his vote totals low. I predict he receives 7% of the vote.
– Roy Oswalt was a great pitcher but didn’t have the peak or longevity to warrant induction. He was a workhouse and is one of the Astros greatest pitchers in their history. I predict he receives 6% of the vote.
– Lance Berkman was an OBP machine, but sadly, he didn’t hit any milestone numbers (3000 hits, 500 HRs etc); this will affect his votes. I do predict he receives 6%.
Now on to the players that warrant serious discussion and may one day gain induction via either the BBWAA or a Veteran’s Committee:
– Todd Helton has the numbers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (if just comparing him to other first basemen already inducted). However, not reaching milestones (3000 hits, 500 HRs) and playing in Colorado (see the Hall of Fame vote totals for Larry Walker) will be factors that cause the voters to have issues with voting for him. I predict he gets 23% of the vote and remains on the ballot for a long time.
– Andy Pettitte will be an interesting case. He has the numbers to warrant consideration, yet he also has the PED use admission. The difference is, he did admit it and has seemed to be forgiven over time. However, the voters have held PED use and suspicion of use against players, but seem to be slowly coming around (see the increased vote totals for Bonds and Clemens in the last couple of years). While Pettitte is not the same as Clemens in regards to place in baseball history and I do not think he is a Hall of Fame pitcher (though he is a Top-5 All-Time Yankees starting pitcher), I do think he receives 30% of the vote.
– Roy Halladay was simply one of the best pitchers of his era. While he does not have the Wins (203) of other Hall of Famers, his career was amazing. Two Cy Young awards, led the league in complete games, innings pitched, WAR, and shutouts multiple times, and he also threw a no-hitter in the post-season. Sadly, Halladay just recently perished in a tragic plane crash in which he was the pilot. The recent release of the toxicology report may stop some voters from voting for him as it was revealed that there were multiple drugs in his system (morphine and amphetamine) at the time of the crash. While I do not think any of that should matter, the voters will. I do believe Halladay should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but I think he falls just shy at 72%.
Now on to the one first ballot player that should and will gain induction immediately. Of course, I am talking about Mariano Rivera.
There is no doubt Rivera gains induction – he was simply the greatest closer to ever play the game. The real question is just how much of the vote will he receive. In a perfect world, Rivera would be the first unanimous inductee in history (though to be fair there should have already been a ton of unanimous inductees but that’s a story for another day). Trevor Hoffman received 74% of the vote on his first ballot, but even though he and Rivera are the only 2 closers with over 600 saves, Hoffman is not Rivera.
I do believe Rivera easily surpasses 75%. I do believe some voters will hold him “only being a closer” against him like they do Edgar Martinez for “only being a DH.” With that said, the real question will be how close will he come to Ken Griffey Jr.’s record vote total of 99.32%? I believe because some voters will penalize his for being a closer that he does not come close to Griffey and actually, won’t crack the top 4 (Cal Ripken Jr has the 4th highest total at 98.53%). My prediction is he receives 97%.
So, based on my predictions, there will be 3 inductees in 2019 – Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, and Edgar Martinez. Come back in January 2019 and see how close I was!
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