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Baseball HOF Voter Drawing Closer To Including Former Orioles RHP Mike Mussina

January 10, 2019
David Ginsburg, a longtime reporter for the Associated Press who's been covering baseball since 1990, voted for five players on his Hall of Fame ballot this year -- including former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez for the first time -- and is drawing closer to voting for former Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Mike Mussina.

Ginsburg revealed his ballot on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 9. He checked the box next to five names this year: sluggers Barry Bonds and Martinez and pitchers Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay. Ballots had to be postmarked by Dec. 31 en route to the Hall of Fame. The inductees will be announced on MLB Network Jan. 22.

Ballots that have been revealed publicly are being tracked by Ryan Thibodaux. Four players currently are tracking at more than the 75 percent necessary to be inducted into the Hall of Fame: Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina. Rivera, Halladay and Martinez are safe bets to be inducted this year, but Mussina projects to land right around the 75 percent threshold.

Ginsburg explained why he held off on including Mussina this year.

"It is a worthwhile conversation. I was never closer than I was this year. I weighed it heavily," Ginsburg said. "My whole argument is he never made 300 wins, he had one 20-win season, never won a Cy Young, all those things. But he put up some darn good numbers, and I will tell you this: If he doesn't get in this year, he's going to get in. Every year, his voting total incrementally increases."

Mussina debuted on the writer's ballot during the 2014 cycle, and he got just 20.3 percent of the vote. Since then, he has steadily climbed the ladder, and last year he got 63.5 percent of the vote. He's set to climb once again this year, and even if he doesn't get elected to the Hall of Fame, he'll almost certainly be elected by 2020.

Mussina pitched for the Orioles from 1991-2000 and New York Yankees from 2001-2008. He went 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts during his 18-year career. Mussina possessed unusual consistency and longevity against the rugged AL East, compiling an 82.9 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.

Mussina was also a very good playoff performer; he pitched 139.2 postseason innings with the Orioles and Yankees, posting a 3.42 ERA. He pitched one of the best games in postseason history during Game 6 of the 1997 American League Championship Series between the Orioles and Cleveland Indians: an eight-inning, one-hit, 10-strikeout masterpiece that came in defeat.

If Mussina doesn't crack 75 percent this time, he'll likely land on Ginsburg's ballot next year.

"I've looked at his numbers. He had an under 4.00 ERA. He had many strikeouts. He won a lot of games," Ginsburg said. "The Orioles had a bad stretch and he was by far their best pitcher, and he was wonderful in the playoffs. Never did have a no-hitter, but he sure as heck came close a couple of times. I'm going to say I've never been closer to putting him on my ballot and I think … next year I'm going to finally have acquiesced and thrown him on there."

One player who Ginsburg did have a change of heart about is Martinez, who's in his 10th and final year on the writer's ballot. Martinez, who appears headed for election, played for the Mariners from 1987-2004, mostly as a designated hitter. Martinez, who hit .312/.418/.515 during his career, was a seven-time all-star. He hit 309 home runs and posted more walks (1,283) than strikeouts (1,202).

Martinez' 1995 season -- during which he hit .356/.479/.628 -- was particularly memorable. He was responsible for one of the biggest moments in Mariners history in the 1995 ALDS; he hit a double to score Ken Griffey Jr. and send Seattle to the ALCS.

Ginsburg estimated that 94 percent of the reason he voted for Martinez this time around was that it was Martinez' last year on the writer's ballot, and 6 percent of the reason was due to the Today's Game Era Committee's election of designated hitter Harold Baines, who Ginsburg said wasn't as good as Martinez. 

"I think Martinez did the job as to what he was supposed to do. Did he use his glove? No, and that's why I previously didn't put him in, but good enough to be in the Hall of Fame," Ginsburg said. "If he didn't get it this time, he wasn't going to get it. I like the way he played. He put up some solid numbers. He did the job of a designated hitter, and that's why he's on my ballot."

To hear why Ginsburg voted for Bonds, Clemens, Rivera and Halladay, listen here: 

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox