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Mussina on the brink of HOF in sixth year

Former Orioles ace received 63.5 percent of the vote in 2018; Tejada debuts on ballot
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Could this finally be Mike Mussina's time? The former Orioles pitcher, who split his career between Baltimore and New York, was among the returnees on the 2019 ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which was unvelied on Monday.

The election results will be announced live on MLB Network on Jan. 22. Mussina needs a vote on 75 percent of the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballots to be enshrined into baseball history. His voting percentage has ticked up every year since he was first eligible in '14, and he appears to be knocking on Cooperstown's door in his sixth year on the ballot (of the maximum 10 years).

BALTIMORE -- Could this finally be Mike Mussina's time? The former Orioles pitcher, who split his career between Baltimore and New York, was among the returnees on the 2019 ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which was unvelied on Monday.

The election results will be announced live on MLB Network on Jan. 22. Mussina needs a vote on 75 percent of the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballots to be enshrined into baseball history. His voting percentage has ticked up every year since he was first eligible in '14, and he appears to be knocking on Cooperstown's door in his sixth year on the ballot (of the maximum 10 years).

Mussina joins an intriguing group of candidates headlined by newcomers Mariano Rivera and the late Roy Halladay. It also includes former Oriole Miguel Tejada.

Mussina's substance was his style, never winning the Cy Young Award or the ERA title. For 18 years (1991-2008) in the American League East, during a hitter-dominated era, Mussina compiled 270 wins, 2,813 strikeouts, a 3.68 ERA and 83 career bWAR.

The Orioles' first-round pick in the 1990 Draft, Mussina quickly ascended to the big leagues and became a mainstay in the rotation. He went 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA with Baltimore and finished in the top six of Cy Young Award voting nine times in his 18 seasons.

Mussina, who signed with New York when he hit free agency before the 2000 season, retired after a 20-win season with the Yankees in 2008 at age 39. His 5.2 bWAR that year is second only to Sandy Koufax for the highest mark in a final season over the past 100 years. Had Mussina continued his career, he would have needed 30 wins to get to 300 and 187 strikeouts to get to 3,000.

A five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, Mussina placed in the AL's top 10 in pitcher bWAR in 11 seasons, WHIP in 12 seasons, strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings in 10 seasons and walks per nine and strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 seasons. Since 1969, he is one of eight pitchers to put together at least eight seasons of 200 innings and a 125 ERA+.

Here are Mussina's voting totals over the past five years:

2014: 20.3 percent
2015: 24.6 percent
2016: 43.0 percent
2017: 51.8 percent
2018: 63.5 percent

Tejada, who will need a vote in at least five percent of the ballots to stay on it beyond this year, played five of his 16 seasons with Baltimore. He also spent time with Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, San Francisco and San Diego. This will be his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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