Baseball greats get book deals, right? With the Hall of Fame class now set for 2019, I thought I would take a look at books that focus on those players’ careers. I was surprised to find that only on of the six has an autobiography already in print, and only one other has an announced release date for later this year.
- Mariano Rivera (out now): The Closer (a Spanish edition, El cerrador: Mi vida is also available, as well as a Young Readers Ediiton)
- Edgar Martinez (coming June 11): Edgar: An Autobiography
I’m not sure there would be much demand for a Lee Smith tell-all, or even a Harold Baines bio (although I would be interested in that one). Mike Mussina‘s humble disposition will probably prevent an autobiography from him. I heard an interesting story, and I don’t remember if it was on MLB Network’s coverage or elsewhere. Mussina tanked a grade in school so he wouldn’t be valedictorian. He didn’t want the spotlight.
There are a handful of Roy Halladay books geared toward younger readers:
- Roy Halladay: Superstar Pitcher (Playmakers)
- Roy Halladay (Amazing Athletes)
- Roy Halladay (Robbie Readers)
- Four Aces, One Expectation (focuses on Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels)
Time will tell if a fuller examination of Halladay’s life will be offered, or if biographies of Smith, Baines, or Mussina will pop up.
Everyone knew Mariano Rivera would get the call today. The question was whether he would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously. No one had ever done it before—not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Ken Griffey. One writer stated earlier in the year that he would not vote for Rivera, then revealed he wouldn’t vote for anyone. However, he declined to submit his ballot, therefore Rivera still had a chance. As of late last night, according to the Ballot Tracker by Ryan Thibodaux, the all-time saves leader was still at 100%. Today, the question was finally answered. Mariano Rivera is the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mike Mussina was one of the most dependable pitchers of his era, though he was never flashy. In 18 seasons, he collected 270 wins and struck out 2813 batters. He had six top-five finishes in Cy Young Award voting, and two additional sixth-place finishes. Is that enough for a Hall of Fame plaque? For five years, more than 25% of the voters have said no, but tonight he can start adding “HOF 2019” to his autograph.
A dominant force on the mound, the Blue Jays and Phillies relied on the late Roy Halladay to eat innings and win games. Halladay was the Cy Young Award winner twice, and finished in the top five for the trophy five other times. Eight times an All-Star, Halladay won 203 games and struck out 2117 batters in his 16-year career. The BBWAA recognized him as a Hall of Famer in his first year on the ballot, and he will be inducted this summer, less than two years after his untimely death.
Finally, the long wait is over for Edgar Martinez. In his tenth and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, the standard by which designated hitters are judged gained entrance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the modern era began (1961), only three players have bettered his .418 OBP. After a sluggish start on the ballot, Edgar’s candidacy gained traction three years ago and he received 70.4% of the vote in 2018.
Does Curt Schilling talk too much? Yes. Should that affect his Hall of Fame candidacy? No. He has a 79.6 WAR. He struck out 3116 batters. He finished 2nd in Cy Young Award voting three times. Three World Series rings. Once he was the World Series MVP. And don’t forget THE BLOODY SOCK. This guy’s performance SCREAMS Hall of Famer. But he just can’t keep his mouth shut.
The tracker shows him at 70.5%, needing 156 more votes to reach 75%. Generally, the numbers go down when the final totals are released, so it does not look like 2019 will be Curt’s year.
This is the one I just don’t understand. Clean player, 493 home runs, 1550 RBI. Five-time All-Star. Three Silver Sluggers. If it weren’t for the strike in 1994, Fred McGriff would have certainly hit the magic number 500 home runs. This guy is, in my book, hands-down a Hall of Famer. Yet, in his first nine years on the ballot, he couldn’t garner even 25% support from the BBWAA. He is polling at 38.7% tonight, far short of the necessary 75%. I’m sure the Veterans Committee will set it right in a few years, but it is disappointing that the Crime Dog isn’t getting the support now.
I was not sold on Scott Rolen‘s greatness until just a few years ago. The Hall of Fame voters are notoriously judgy when it comes to third basemen not named Brooks, Mike, George, or Wade. Ron Santo, the seventh-best third baseman of all-time by JAWS rankings, had to wait for the Veterans Committee to give him a plaque. Graig Nettles, Ken Boyer, and Buddy Bell are all on the outside looking in. Maybe that’s where they should be. But not Scott Rolen. Rolen is ranked as the 10th best third baseman, with every other 3B ahead of him already in excpet Adrian Beltre. In his first year on the ballot last year, Rolen only pulled 10.2% support. It’s up a little this year, but not much. Hopefully it will continue going up in years to come until he finally reaches that 75%.
Jeff Kent probably doesn’t care that the BBWAA is overlooking his career. His 55.4 WAR isn’t overly impressive, but he retired as the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman. He won an MVP award and made three All-Star teams, and his hitting statistics are solid: 2461 hits, 377 homers, 1518 RBI, and .290 average. Not bad at all, but his attitude toward baseball in general will likely keep him out, at least until until a Veterans Committee reviews his case.
Another victim of the anti-Rockies bias? Or simply a borderline candidate? Todd Helton‘s 61.2 WAR is not as impressive as teammate Larry Walker‘s, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. Helton collected 2519 hits, and finished his 17-year career with a .316 average, along with 369 homers and 1406 RBI. JAWS ranks him as the 15th best first baseman, above Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray, and Hank Greenberg. But the voters have been cold to Helton in his first year of eligibility, with only 18.0% support so far. Can he make the climb to Cooperstown in years to come?