Why this trio can forget about being unanimous Hall of Famers
Although he set a record for voting percentage (99.3) last week, new Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. fell short of being a unanimous selection – just as every Hall of Famer who came before him did. Junior appeared on all but three ballots, raising the question whether anyone ever will earn 100 percent of the vote. There are three strong candidates to do so in the coming years, but each is likely to fall short. Here’s why.
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Chipper Jones (2018 ballot)
Like Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper was a great player from the steroid era who never was linked to performance-enhancing drugs. So, he has cleared that huge hurdle. Chipper won an NL MVP Award, an NL batting title and a World Series ring, and he finished his career with 468 homers, nine 100-RBI seasons and a .303 batting average. But even during his prime years, he wasn’t considered his league’s best hitter (fewer than 3,000 hits) or its best defender at third base (no Gold Gloves). Jones is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame who easily should top the 90-percent mark, but he won’t be unanimous.
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Mariano Rivera (2019 ballot)
His case for unanimity is arguably even stronger than Ken Griffey Jr.’s. Rivera is the most dominant player ever at his position, as evidenced by his all-time-best 652 saves. A 13-time All-Star who posted a 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP during his 19 seasons in the majors, Rivera was just as dominant when it mattered most in October (his 42 saves and 0.70 ERA are the best in postseason history). And the New York factor will only boost his case. But Mo ultimately will fall short a few percentage points from being unanimous because the Hall has been nearly as unwelcoming for closers as it has been for designated hitters. Remember, voters never even rewarded Rivera with a Cy Young Award.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
Derek Jeter (2020 ballot)
Jeter defined greatness for two decades while playing in arguably the toughest market in the majors. He was among the game’s greatest leaders and clutch performers, especially in the playoffs (he is the all-time leader with 200 postseason hits). Jeter was the 1996 AL rookie of the year, a 14-time All-Star and a World Series and All-Star Game MVP. He has five World Series rings and 3,000 hits, but he never won an MVP Award or batting title and never hit 25 homers in a season. And despite winning five Gold Gloves, his defense at shortstop never was air-tight, especially late in his career. Jeter will have to “settle” for about 95 percent of the vote.