By the Red Sox Newswire at 98.5 The Sports Hub
Mariano Rivera is just about universally regarded as the greatest closer in baseball history. The Baseball Hall of Fame handsomely rewarded the former Yankees reliever for his illustrious career on Tuesday, announcing Rivera as the first player ever to receive 100 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot.
Rivera is baseball’s all-time leader in saves with 652, and games finished with 952. Per Baseball Reference, he’s also baseball’s all-time leader in Adjusted ERA (ERA+), which accounts for factors outside pitchers’ control to compare them to the league average score of 100. Rivera is easily No. 1 all-time at 205, followed by Clayton Kershaw at 159 and fellow Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez at 154.
The closer will be forever remembered for his “Enter Sandman” entrance, hard fastballs, and bat-splintering cutter, which he combined to routinely shut games down and win five World Series with the Yankees. He’s the all-time leader in postseason ERA at 0.70, losing only one game and blowing just three other save opportunities in 96 career postseason appearances.
Red Sox fans will fondly remember Rivera’s two consecutive blown saves in the 2004 ALCS, which helped propel the Red Sox toward their first World Series win in 86 years. Rivera’s only other notable defeat came in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, when he took a rare walk-off loss to the champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Otherwise, Rivera will be known as the most dominant, prolific closer in history for a long time.
Rivera joins three other inductees, one of which is also on his first ballot. The late Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who also pitched a perfect game and postseason no-hitter in 2010, earned posthumous induction in his first year of eligibility with 85.4 percent of the vote. Halladay died in a plane accident on Nov. 7, 2017 at 40 years old.
The other two first-time inductees had to wait longer to earn enough votes. Righty Mike Mussina, who pitched 18 seasons for the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, topped the necessary 75 percent threshold with 76.4 percent of the vote. Mussina won 270 games in his career, famously completing his quest for his first career 20-win season in his final season, when he went 20-9 for the Yankees in 2008. He also won seven Gold Gloves as the American League’s best fielding pitcher.
Former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez also earned induction with 85.4 percent of the vote, becoming the first-ever primary DH to get into Cooperstown. Martinez finally broke through in his 10th and final chance on the ballot. He finished with a .312 career batting average, 309 home runs, and 1,261 RBIs in 18 seasons with Seattle. He also won two batting titles, in 1992 and 1995, and led the AL with 145 RBIs in 2000.
Martinez’s watershed moment all but assures that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz will have no problem getting inducted, likely on his first ballot. Mussina’s induction may help the case for ex-Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who sits at 177 career wins and a 3.50 career ERA as he enters his age-35 season. That’s on top of two World Series championships with the Red Sox in 2007 and 2013, plus another world title and NLCS MVP for the curse-breaking Cubs in 2016.
The clock continues to tick for prolific but controversial players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who received 59.1 and 59.5 percent of the vote, respectively. Former Red Sox outfielder and 2004 World Series MVP Manny Ramirez earned just 22.8 percent.
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