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Mariano Rivera could become first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee

Three years after Ken Griffey Jr. fell three votes shy of a unanimous induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame and set the record with 99.3% of the vote, Mariano Rivera has a chance to establish the new high-water mark – and perhaps become the first play ever inducted unanimously – when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announces its 2019 class Tuesday.

Roy Halladay is also expected to garner enough votes in his first year on the ballot, while Edgar Martinez is projected to surpass the 75% threshold for enshrinement in his 10th — and final — appearance. Mike Mussina could join them.

Rivera has appeared on all 217 ballots that have been publicized as of Monday evening. His election was never in doubt. Widely considered the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history, Rivera’s 652 career saves in 19 seasons with the New York Yankees are the all-time record. The right-handed cutter machine compiled a 2.21 ERA. He also saved 42 playoff games while helping the Yankees win five World Series championships.

Halladay was tracking at 92.6%, making him a lock for induction. The right-hander, who was killed in an airplane crash in November 2017 at age 40, was one of his generation’s most dominant starting pitchers before injuries forced him to retire at 36 after the 2013 season. In 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, he posted a 3.38 career ERA, amassed three 20-win seasons, led his league in innings pitched five times, made eight all-star teams, and won the Cy Young Award twice.

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Martinez would be the third inductee who played the majority of his games as a designated hitter and second in this class, joining Harold Baines, who was inducted by the Today’s Game Committee along with closer Lee Smith last month. According to the tally of Ryan Thibodaux, who tracks the ballots and posts the results on his Twitter account, Martinez is tracking at 90.8% after finishing with 70.4% of the vote last year. He batted .312 with 309 home runs and a .933 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He won two batting titles, led the American League in on-base percentage three times, made seven all-star teams and had the league’s DH award named after him.

Mussina is tracking 81.6% in his sixth year on the ballot, making him the final player projected to pass the 75% needed for enshrinement. A model of consistency, right-hander accumulated 270 victories and a 3.68 ERA during the sport’s peak steroid era for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, though he never won a Cy Young Award and never led the league in wins, ERA, ERA+ or strikeouts.

Roger Clemens (71%), Curt Schilling (70.5%), Barry Bonds (70.5% ), and Larry Walker (65.4%) are the others still in contention for election. Clemens, Schilling, and Bonds are three controversial candidates who have picked up steam this year while Walker has seen his support explode from the 37.5% he received last year. The four, however, will likely have to wait until 2020 for induction.

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jorge.castillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @jorgecastillo


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