Orioles beat writers Eduardo Encina and Jon Meoli talk about Mike Mussina's chances of making the Hall of Fame, whether it's this year or down the road a bit.
Mike Mussina, who spent the first 10 seasons of his big league career with the Orioles and is credited as being the organization's last homegrown ace, saw his vote total climb in 2018 but again missed out on induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
However, a pair of sluggers who ended their careers in Baltimore — Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome — were part of the four-member class announced Wednesday.
Thome and former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones were the two first-ballot Hall of Fame inductees, with 97.2 and 89.8 percent of the vote, respectively, while Guerrero got in on his second try with 92.9 percent of the votes cast. Former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman made it in with 79.9 percent on his third try.
Mussina, the Orioles' first-round draft pick in 1990, quickly ascended to the major league rotation and was a fixture atop it for the entire decade. A five-time All-Star, all in an Orioles uniform, Mussina went 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA with Baltimore and finished in the top six of Cy Young Award voting nine times in 18 major league seasons.
Before the 2000 season, he left in free agency for the New York Yankees, for whom he went 123-72 with a 3.88 ERA before he retired after the 2008 season. He never won a title in New York, but made it to a pair of World Series there.
Mussina's vote percentage jumped from 51.8 percent in 2017 to 63.5 percent this year, bringing him closer to the 75 percent threshold required for induction.
He ended up with the second-highest vote total among those who didn’t make it, with former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martínez (70.4 percent) falling 20 votes short of the required total in his ninth year on the ballot.
Martínez's total jumped for the second straight year in his attempt to become the first player who was primarily a DH to reach Cooperstown. He’s one of only 14 players in baseball history with a career slash line of at least .310/.410/.510. Next year will be his last on the ballot.
“Thank you to all the fans out there that supported my [Hall of Fame] candidacy,” he tweeted shortly after the announcement. “We are trending up, next year may be the year.”
Guerrero last suited up for the Orioles in 2011 after eight seasons with the Montreal Expos (where he was signed under Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette), six years with the Los Angeles Angels and one year with the Texas Rangers.
The nine-time All-Star, who had a strong throwing arm, batted .290 with 13 home runs and a .733 OPS, capping a career where he hit .318 with 449 home runs and a .931 OPS.
The Orioles traded for Thome for their 2012 playoff run and saw him hit .257 with a .744 OPS while hitting the last three of his 612 career home runs — eighth on the career list — in their colors. The five-time All-Star played mostly for the Cleveland Indians.
Thome was known for his pre-swing routine, standing absolutely still in the box while pointing his bat at the pitcher. He said the posture helped him relax, slow down and “not be so tense.”
The slugger praised his longtime hitting coach, Charlie Manuel, for all the work they did together.
“It's about sweat equity, and getting after it,” Thome said on MLB Network.
Jones was an eight-time All-Star third baseman for the Braves. The switch-hitter batted .303 with 468 home runs. He was a force for most of the Atlanta teams that won 14 straight division titles — his election puts another member of those Braves clubs in Cooperstown, along with pitchers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz (Towson State, City).
Of the four new members, Jones was the only one to win a World Series. He joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the lone overall No. 1 draft picks to reach the Hall.
Hoffman was chosen in his third year, getting 79.9 percent after missing by just five votes last time. He used an outstanding changeup to post 601 saves, second to Mariano Rivera's 652, and revved up fans in San Diego with rocking entrances to “Hells Bells” by AC/DC.
Clemens, winner of 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards, got 57.3 percent after drawing 54.1 percent last time. Bonds, the career home run leader and a seven-time Most Valuable Player, reached 56.4 percent, up from 53.8 percent. Clemens and Bonds each have four tries left.
Jones endorsed the idea of Bonds and Clemens eventually joining him in Cooperstown.
“Obviously, I have no problem and I've said it publicly often. Barry Bonds is the best baseball player I've ever seen put on a uniform.” Jones said. “It's unfortunate that some of the best players of this era have a cloud of suspicion because you're talking about some all-timers, guys that would be considered the greatest player of all-time, the greatest pitcher of all-time.
“That being said, I'm not going to tell anybody how to vote for them. I think both would have been Hall of Famers, regardless, whether they had a cloud of suspicion or not. So I'm just going to leave it at that for now, until the time actually comes.”
Other players tainted by steroids — outfielders Manny Ramirez (22.0 percent), who was twice suspended for failing MLB-administered performance-enhancing-drug tests, Gary Sheffield (11.1) and Sammy Sosa (7.8) — also continued to linger on the fringes of the balloting.
Pete Rose, permanently banned from Major League Baseball after an investigation into his betting on the game, didn't receive any write-in votes, as he often has in the past.
There are now 323 people in the Hall, including a rush of 23 elected by the BBWAA and veterans panels in the last five years.
The four new members will be inducted on July 29. They will be enshrined with pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, picked last month by a committee that considered older players and executives.
This matches the biggest lineup of living players to be inducted since 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance, Home Run Baker and Ray Schalk were honored.
“We have a large class,” Hoffman said.
Rivera highlights the newcomers on next year's ballot, once again raising debate over whether any player will be unanimously elected to the Hall. Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte and the late Roy Halladay also will be first-time candidates.
Among players on this year’s ballot with Orioles connections, starter Curt Schilling’s vote rose from 45 percent to 51.2 percent and Sosa’s fell from 8.6 percent to 7.8 percent.
Former Orioles who fell off the ballot were starter Jamie Moyer (10 votes, 2.4 percent), outfielder Aubrey Huff (no votes) and starter pitcher Kevin Millwood (no votes). Starter Johan Santana, who signed with the Orioles in March 2014 hoping to making a comeback but never pitched in a game for the organization, also received 10 votes.
BBWAA: Elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America; TGE: Today's Game Era (1998-present) committee; VC: Elected by the Veterans Committee; NL: Elected by the Veterans Committee based on Negro League career; SCNL: Elected by the special committee on the Negro Leagues and the Pre-Negro League; PI: Elected by Pre-Integration (1871-1946) committee; G: Elected by Golden Era (1947-72) committee; E: Elected by Expansion Era (1973-present) committee; ME: Elected by Modern Era (1970-87) committee; TG: Elected by Today's Game (1988-present) committee; GD: Elected by Golden Days (1950-69) committee; EB: Elected by Early Baseball (1871-1949) committee:
2018 — BBWAA: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman. ME: Jack Morris, Alan Trammell.
2017 — BBWAA: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez. TGE: John Schuerholz, Bud Selig
2016 — BBWAA: Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza
2015 — BBWAA: Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz.
2014 — BBWAA: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas. E: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre.
2013 — PI: Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White.
2012 — BBWAA: Barry Larkin. G: Ron Santo.
2011 — BBWAA: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven. E: Pat Gillick.
2010 — BBWAA: Andre Dawson. VC: Whitey Herzog, Doug Harvey.
2009 — BBWAA: Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice. VC: Joe Gordon.
2008 — BBWAA: Goose Gossage. VC: Barney Dreyfuss, Bowie Kuhn, Walter O'Malley, Billy Southworth, Dick Williams.
2007 — BBWAA: Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr.
2006 — BBWAA: Bruce Sutter. SCNL: Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, Biz Mackey, Effa Manley, Jose Mendez, Alex Pompez, Cum Posey, Louis Santop, Mule Suttles, Ben Taylor, Cristobal Torriente, Sol White, J.L. Wilkinson, Jud Wilson.
2005 — BBWAA: Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg.
2004 — BBWAA: Dennis Eckersley, Paul Molitor.
2003 — BBWAA: Gary Carter, Eddie Murray.
2002 — BBWAA: Ozzie Smith.
2001 — BBWAA: Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield. VC: Bill Mazeroski. NL: Hilton Smith.