When the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) announced the results of its Hall of Fame voting on Tuesday night, there was much to celebrate. Four players joined the Class of 2019: Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Mariano Rivera, who became the first player voted in unanimously. (Harold Baines and Lee Smith also were selected last month by the Today's Game Era Committee.)
Halladay and Rivera brought the total of first-ballot inductees since 2014 to 12, but only two other debut players received the requisite 5 percent of the vote from the BBWAA in order to remain eligible in '20. Former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton started with 16.5 percent support, while Rivera's longtime Yankees teammate, Andy Pettitte, was at 9.9 percent.
• Complete Hall of Fame voting totals
However, for most players who appear on the ballot for the first time, it's also the last -- a chance to tip their caps for a fine career, but nothing more. Here is a look at the 16 talented and accomplished players who fit that description this year, listed in order of career wins above replacement (WAR) , according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Lance Berkman (52.1 WAR)
The story with Berkman was simple -- he could flat-out hit. The six-time All-Star, who spent 12 of his 15 seasons with Houston, slashed .293/.406/.537 with 366 home runs over his career. His 144 OPS+ -- adjusted for ballpark and era -- ranks 33rd among all modern players (minimum 7,000 plate appearances), higher than Hall of Famers such as Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews and Vladimir Guerrero. Berkman almost exactly matched his batting line over 52 career postseason games, playing an integral role in the Cardinals' 2011 World Series victory over the Rangers.
Roy Oswalt (50.1 WAR)
Berkman's longtime Astros teammate was on a path toward the Hall of Fame, but started only 15 games after his age-33 season in 2011. Before that, the three-time All-Star was consistently one of the top pitchers in the game. In five of his first six seasons, he was a top-five National League Cy Young Award finisher. Not bad for a smaller right-hander who was a 23rd-round Draft pick out of a Mississippi community college.
Miguel Tejada (47.3 WAR)
He could get overshadowed at times by his era's other shortstops -- Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra among them -- but Tejada was one of the most productive position players in MLB for a sizeable stretch. From 2001-06, he played 162 games every single season while batting .300/.351/.501 and averaging 29 homers and 116 RBIs. The '02 AL MVP moved from Oakland to Baltimore in '04 and led the league with 150 RBIs that year.
Placido Polanco (41.5 WAR)
Mostly a second baseman and third baseman, Polanco played for four teams over 16 seasons and quietly put together a stellar resume that included a .297 batting average and more than 2,100 hits. His best season came for the Tigers in 2007, when Polanco batted .341 and took home Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.
Freddy Garcia (34.4 WAR)
The right-hander was a two-time All-Star with Seattle early in his career after coming over from Houston in the Randy Johnson trade. White Sox fans will never forget his role in the team's 2005 championship, which included a complete-game victory in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series and seven scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series.
Derek Lowe (34.4 WAR)
Speaking of postseason heroics, Lowe started and won Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, as the Red Sox completed their sweep of the Cardinals to end their infamous championship drought. Lowe is one of seven pitchers to start and relieve more than 300 times apiece, racking up 42 saves in 2000 and 21 wins in '02.
Kevin Youkilis (32.6 WAR)
It wasn't a long career, but Youkilis made himself into a Boston favorite during his time with the Red Sox. From 2006-11, the patient corner infielder batted .292/.392/.500 for a 130 OPS+.
Vernon Wells (28.5 WAR)
The three-time All-Star won three Gold Glove Awards as a center fielder during his heyday with the Blue Jays. At the plate, Wells topped 30 homers and 100 RBIs three times each.
Ted Lilly (27.1 WAR)
The well traveled southpaw was traded four times and pitched for six teams over 15 seasons, nabbing a pair of All-Star selections and reaching double digits in wins each year from 2003-11.
Travis Hafner (24.8 WAR)
The big left-handed batter's peak was short but impressive. With Cleveland from 2004-06, Hafner batted .308/.419/.611, led the AL in OPS+ twice and walloped 103 home runs.
Michael Young (24.6 WAR)
A Rangers franchise cornerstone, Young made seven All-Star teams in Texas. He finished with 2,375 career hits and a .300 average -- topping that mark seven times while winning a batting title in 2005.
Jason Bay (24.6 WAR)
The 2004 NL Rookie of the Year with the Pirates posted a 131 OPS+ and averaged 30 homers and 99 RBIs over his first six full seasons in Pittsburgh and Boston.
Jon Garland (22.5 WAR)
The workhorse right-hander had at least 32 starts, 190 innings and 10 wins in each season from 2002-10, teaming with Garcia in the rotation for the championship-winning '05 White Sox.
Darren Oliver (22.2 WAR)
Pitching for the Rangers and eight other clubs between 1993-2013, Oliver transitioned from rotation to bullpen, finishing with 229 starts and more than 500 relief appearances.
Juan Pierre (17.1 WAR)
A speedy outfielder with six teams over 14 seasons, Pierre collected more than 2,200 hits and is one of 10 players with 600-plus career steals since 1920. His exploits from the leadoff spot helped spark the Marlins on their 2003 championship run.
Rick Ankiel (8.9 WAR)
Nobody else has authored a career quite like Ankiel's. He was a sensation as a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher with the Cardinals in 2000, but after his control infamously vanished and injuries struck, he enjoyed a solid second career as an outfielder. Ankiel returned to the Cardinals in '07 and smacked 25 homers with a .506 slugging percentage the next year.
Now 39, Ankiel is attempting yet another comeback -- this time as a pitcher. However, elbow surgery has delayed that quest.