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#pounditTuesday, January 18, 2022

Four players likely to make the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019

Mariano Rivera monument park

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced Wednesday, with Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman all getting the call. It’s a richly deserving class, but more candidates are in position to get in next year, either from first-year balloting or building momentum from years of candidacy.

There are really only four candidates with a good shot at getting in next year, and here’s a look at them.

1) Mariano Rivera

Rivera is a virtual shoo-in to be elected on his first try. The all-time saves leader will easily surpass the 75 percent threshold. In fact, he’ll probably go over 90 percent on his first try. His cutter changed the entire sport, and only Derek Jeter is more emblematic of the New York Yankees’ decade of dominance than Rivera. He’ll miss out on a unanimous induction because pretty much everyone does, but as one of the best and most beloved players in the game’s history, he will skate in with ease.

2) Roy Halladay

Another likely first-timer, though he probably won’t get the overwhelming majority of votes that Rivera will. Halladay didn’t really hit his peak until his late-20s and was past his best by his mid-30s, but his peak was so dominant that it won’t matter. From 2006-2011, he threw over 1,400 innings with a 2.86 ERA for the Blue Jays and Phillies. His 2010 season included a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter. He won two Cy Young Awards — one in each league, was elected to eight All-Star Games, and he had seven top-5 finishes in Cy Young voting. At his peak, he was easily the best pitcher in baseball. Even if he doesn’t get in on year one, his candidacy won’t have to wait long. It’s a tragedy he won’t be with us to see it happen.

3) Edgar Martinez

Martinez only has one more year on the ballot, but based on his rise to 70.4 percent this cycle, he looks like a good bet to make it in. He’d be the first designated hitter to do so, and would be richly deserving. A career .312 hitter with 309 home runs, he was one of the greatest pure hitters of his generation. The former Seattle Mariner probably should have made it in this year, where he fell 20 votes short. A certain segment of voters will simply never vote for a DH, but enough will go through with it that Martinez looks like a good bet to be elected.

4) Mike Mussina

Mussina jumped by nearly 12 percent from 2017 to 2018. A similar rise next year would put him right on the threshold of election, though it may still prove a year too soon. While he lacked the outstanding peak of some of his peers, Mussina’s career was the mark of consistency. He won 270 games with a 3.68 ERA while pitching in hitters’ parks in one of the most active offensive periods in baseball history. Given the way he’s trending, it does look like he’ll find his way in within a year or two.

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