The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its class of 2018 on Wednesday night, and Chipper Jones was the leading man, appearing on 97 percent of the 422 ballots. Also getting in were Vladimir Guerrero (93 percent), Jim Thome (90 percent), and Trevor Hoffman (80 percent). Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina were near misses with 70 percent and 64 percent of ballots, respectively. Candidates need to appear on 75 percent of ballots to make the Hall of Fame.
Jones in particular is notable for Mets fans, who saw their team locked in an intense rivalry with Jones’ Braves during the late 1990s and early 2000s. During that period, “Larry,” as he was so affectionately known by the Shea Stadium faithful, was consistently a thorn in New York’s side. For his career, he hit .309/.406/.543 in 245 games against the Mets with 49 home runs. That may sound like total dominance, but it’s only slightly better than Jones’s career rate, as he hit .303/.401/.529 over 19 big league campaigns with 468 home runs. In 1999, he won the National League MVP, and in 2008 he remarkably won a batting title at age 36.
Guerrero and Thome also played a large portion of their careers for New York’s rivals, with Guerrero playing the first eight years of his career with the Montreal Expos and Thome spending three years with the Phillies from 2003 through 2005. Only 11 of Thome’s 612 career home runs were hit against the Mets, while Guerrero went deep 23 times in just 102 games.
Hoffman, the only pitcher in the 2018 class, finished his career with 33 saves against the Mets with a 2.67 ERA. Of the four inductees, he had to wait the longest. This was his third year on the ballot, while Guerrero was on his second try, and both Jones and Thome earned rare first-ballot election status.
Something that might grind the gears of Mets fans is that Johan Santana only appeared on 10 ballots. That’s good for fewer than three percent of the vote in a system that requires players to get five percent in order to stay on the ballot in future years. Although the legendary southpaw didn’t have a long career, he did win two Cy Young Awards with the Twins before being traded to New York in 2008. That season, he nearly carried his new team to a postseason berth with a 2.53 ERA in 234.1 innings. Injuries would keep Santana from having another campaign like that again, but he will forever be loved for throwing the only no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, 2012.
Other former Mets who were eligible for the Hall of Fame were Jason Isringhausen, Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent, and Gary Sheffield. The latter three did not come close to election, but they at least received enough votes to stay on the ballot in 2019. Isringhausen, however, did not garner a single vote.
You can check out the full Hall of Fame voting results at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America website.