20. Mariano Rivera
Team: New York Yankees
Innings Pitched: 1,283.2
Some baseball purists will insist that a closer has no place amongst the all-time great pitchers. Many will argue there is no place in the Hall of Fame for someone who pitches one inning at a time. For anyone who has watched Mariano Rivera pitch, they would consider that view a close-minded one. Rivera is not only the greatest reliever of all-time, but also certainly one of the best to ever throw a pitch in an MLB game.
A 13-time All-Star, 5-time AL Rolaids Relief Man Award winner, 3-time Delivery Man of the Year winner, 3-time MLB saves leader, 2003 ALCS MVP, and 1999 World Series MVP; Rivera is an all-time talent. Featuring the best cutter the league has ever seen, Rivera helped the Yankees capture five World Series titles including the Yankee dynasty in the late 1990’s, which saw the team win it all four times in five years. The last man to ever don Jackie Robinson’s legendary 42, Rivera retired with an MLB postseason record 0.70 ERA, 42 saves, and a MLB record 652 career saves. Come 2019, Rivera’s first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, I expect “Enter Sandman” to be played in celebration of Rivera’s remarkable career.
19. Jim Palmer
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Innings Pitched: 3,948
Baltimore legend Jim Palmer set the league ablaze during the 1970’s. Palmer won an MLB best 186 games throughout the decade, on his way to a career total of 268. Palmer’s 2,212 strikeouts and 2.86 career ERA ensured his place in the Hall of Fame, which he entered in 1990. Palmer won three World Series titles to match his three Cy Young victories. Palmer, the 2-time AL ERA leader, also led the AL in wins from 1975-1977, and captured the Gold Glove Award from 1976-1979. Aside from his no-hitter, Palmer’s greatest game occurred when he was only 20 - a complete-game shutout in the World Series against the defending champion Dodgers. Palmer also remains the only pitcher in baseball history to win a World Series start in three different decades (1966, 1970, 1983).
Image Sources: Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Focus On Sport/Getty Images