Mariano Rivera - future first-ballot Hall of Famer

His vital stats:

[ul]
[li]19 year major-league career[/li]
[li]Virtually all of it as a closer[/li]
[li]Played entire career in the American League[/li][/ul]

I got to wondering, given the above information, how many career at-bats did he have?

Answer:

Three

Source: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/riverma01.shtml

Well, he had 7 total career Plate Appearances - 4 in the regular season, 3 in the post-season. I also reported this to a mod for moving it to the Game Room.

Pitching this one over to the Game Room.


Hal Briston - MPSIMS Moderator

Jack Morris had one regular season at-bat and another four in the playoffs. If you’re a pitcher who played in the AL after the advent of the DH, you won’t have a lot of at-bats. Mike Mussina had 52 and he’ll be in the Hall eventually. Roger Clemens may or may not get in and he only had 26 at-bats before he went to the NL at age 40.

Predictions for Jan 8 2015:

  1. Rivera will be a first time HOFer
  2. He will set the record for highest-percentage of votes for a relief pitcher
  3. He will probably be left off around 20-30 ballots
  4. At least a dozen SD posters will say that those writers should have their votes taken away.

The reasons for the 20-30 NAY votes on Rivera

  • WAR gives closers low totals compared to “full-time” players
  • Some claim that even the very best closer is not as valuable to a team as good #3 starter
  • Relief pitchers are just failed starters
  • Rivera was a “compiler” of a lot of 3 WAR seasons, whose career may have been extended via PEDs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he was left off more than 30 ballots. He’ll get in, but by that time 30 “nays” is a 95% vote. I could see him getting less than that.

While I think he’s a no-brainer Yes, you can construct a perfectly logical argument against him if you are absolutely determined to do so; he didn’t pitch enough. He only pitched 1283 innings, a very small number for a Hall of Famer, and so even being ludicrously great his career WAR is not at a clearly-Hall-of-Fame level; there are more valuable players who aren’t in.

Personally I think the limited number of innings is far outweighed by his incredible dominance and his Nintendo-like postseason record and I think he’s a really obvious Hall of Famer, but there is at least a logical argument to the contrary if one wants to make it.

I dunno. Any voter that’s likely to use WAR as an argument probably isn’t going to leave Rivera off their ballot. I think your 2nd and 3rd are going to be the most common among those not voting for him.

Frankly, I’ll be really interested to read the articles by those who argue against his inclusion.

Additionally, are there any stats that measure the difference between the output of a reliever versus the likely decline the starter would have suffered? WAR essentially measures that against a replacement player, but is there any indication of whether or not a starter would dip below that level if left in a game too long? I think that’s probably far too speculative to try to put a number on.

I used 95%, thinking that it would be hard to see more that 1 out of 20 not voting for Rivera. Pretty good narrative, don’t ya think? I think most of the NAYs will come from those that now rely heavily on modern metrics, while, ironically, I think he’ll do very well amongst the old-timers, who’ll somehow see him as an ANTI-PED candidate, even though he played smack dab in the middle of it. Gurnick might even decide to start voting again, just to give Mo a boost.

ALSO In my post I said Predictions for Jan 8 2015, but that SHOULD be Jan 8 2020.

Voters seem to seek reasons not to vote for people.

In all the Hall of Fame’s history only thirteen players have gotten 95% of the vote; Seaver, Ryan, Ripken, Cobb, Brett, Aaron, Gwynn. Schmidt, Bench, Carlton, Ruth, and Wagner, and now Maddux. Doesn’t that seem like a low number to you, like there’s gotta be more than 13 clear-cut Hall of Famers, right? WILLIE MAYS didn’t get 95% of the vote. STAN MUSIAL didn’t. I mean, Frank Robinson came up just short of 90. Really, you cannot underestimate the pettiness and alcoholism of BBWAA members.

In the case of Mays and Frank Robinson, I’d also add racism.

It’s not quite as bad as you make it out to be. Counting the new class, there have been roughly 115 players elected to the HOF. Some of them, (10 or so) were elected in the first few years of the voting, when voters had all the players from 1900 to choose from, but could still only vote for a max of 10.

1 in 12 players elected to the Hall got 95% or better.

Sometimes great players are on the ballot the first time, with a lot of good choices… Frank Robinson, for example was on the ballot with Hank Aaron, and a dozen other eventual HOFers.

25% of Americans don’t accept evolution. 6% aren’t convinced the earth is round. So getting 95% consensus on anything is pretty tough.

Some of the NAY votes against the greatest of the greats are due to personal grudges. And some writers have taken it upon themselves to make a distinction between top-tier and second tier candidates. But the biggest problem is that members of the BBWAA having lifetime voting privileges. I’d like to know what percentage of the voters are in their 80s and 90s, and the effect of senility has on the voting. How many voters check the wrong boxes or got Frank Robinson mixed up with that nasty black kid down the street that used to cut across his lawn.

But I don’t know how you take away a vote based on age. Shirley Povich seemed pretty damned sharp into his 90s. Who the hell was going to take his ballot away?

This shows a lack of historical perspective of the process. No one gave a rat’s ass about the percentage of the vote until the past 20 years, if not more recently. People were either elected or they were not. It might be mentioned when Seaver got the highest percentage ever, but the only number that mattered to anyone involved – writers, athletes, and fans – was 75%.

Then, suddenly, people start fretting about not getting 95% of the vote, as though this were a deliberate snub. I doubt anyone who got between 75% and 95% feels particularly slighted, especially when they get to the induction ceremony.

Being concerned about getting 95% is being concerned about the most trivial of trivia – a number that has less meaning than the fabric of the player’s uniform.

You have a point- but I seem to recall that unanimity became prominent in basketball before it did in baseball.

As you say, most people had (and still don’t have) no idea what percentage of the vote Mickey Mantle or Warren Spahn got. They were elected, and that’s all anybody cared about.

But remember how much grief John Saunders got one year when he was the only voter who didn’t give Shaquille O’Neal his first place vote for most valuable player in the NBA? He had the audacity to pick Allen Iverson! I think he was wrong, but even so, Shaq got every other vote and won by a NEAR unanimous vote. But that wasn’t good enough, in many people’s minds, and Saunders took a lot of abuse.

Awards voting is an altogether different story (and worthy of a different thread, I’d think.)

Annual award voters (at least baseball) are only comprised of active writers, who’ve seen the players play. So there’s no allowance for senility or 80 year old writers that long for the good ole days when men were men and pitchers threw 300+ innings, or even younger writers trying to grapple with the idea of a “Big Hall” or a “Little Hall.”

My nominee for worst baseball award vote of all time: 1967 AL MVP, when Yastrsemski was not a unanimous pick because one writer voted for Cesar Tovar, Twins CF. Yaz won the Triple Crown that year, including going 7 for 8 in the last two days against the Twins to get the Sox to the World Series. Modern WAR calcuations give Yaz a total of 12.4, vs Tovar’s 2.4.

Hell Jacque Jones is closer to being a legitimate HOFer than Cesar Tovar was closer to being the 1967 AL MVP.

While that one was pretty bad, at least he was eligible. I’d have to award that dubious distinction to the three dolts who voted for Edinson Volquez for Rookie of the Year in 2008 – when he wasn’t even a rookie.