Let’s start with the basic facts: The all-time ranking of leaders in Wins-Above-Replacement (WAR) value in Major League Baseball history does not include a relief pitcher until you get to No. 107 on the list—and even then, pitcher John Smoltz spent most of his career as a starting pitcher.
Where does Mariano Rivera place on this list? No. 227, in fact. Yet somehow, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America strangely made him the first unanimous-vote entrant into the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Let that sink in for a moment: A pitcher who averaged just over an inning an appearance over his career—playing in 1,115 regular-season games out of a possible 3,078, meaning he did not even pitch in every other game—somehow got anointed with this honor.
It does not matter how good Rivera was in those 1,115 games, and there are plenty of arguments to be made he is not the “best reliever ever” since he barely was called on to pitch in key situations with the high-flying Yankees for the majority of his career—and he blew four very high-profile saves that perhaps cost his club a shot at three different World Series titles in 1997, 2001, and 2004 (two different times, actually, in Game 4 and Game 5 of the American League Championship Series).
The fact is there are 226 better MLB players in history than Rivera, and for whatever reason, none of them earned unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame.
This could possibly be the biggest insult ever to legendary heroes and players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux, et al.
Why did this happen? Good question: Even just a few years ago, Ken Griffey, Jr. was not afforded this honor, grabbing a mere 99.7 percent of the vote. And who did not vote for Junior, a star player who ranks 57th on that WAR list above?
Good question. If Junior is not good enough for you, but somehow Rivera is? You ought to have your ballot taken away. Clearly, the whole process is broken, so never again let us hear the writers whine about any selections by the veterans’ committee again.
We will have more to say on this subject later in the week, but right now, we are quite disgusted with the BBWAA and its laughable hypocrisy—after decades of shunning excellent relievers from the pre-save era and after listening to years of save devaluation by sabermetric analysts.
Yes, you could say every BBWAA voter deserves to have her/his ballot revoked right now.