It was billed as a battle of the titans between two players who just turned old enough to join the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats (COG), Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mariano Rivera.  But Griffey proved strongest from early in the voting and becomes the 39th inductee in the COG.  More on Junior, and the voting, is available for you, but only if you prove that you want to read the rest of this entry by, well, clicking on “Read the rest of this entry”.

Most Position Player Wins Above Replacement (WAR, baseball-reference version), Age 26-27 Seasons Combined:
1. Babe Ruth (1921-1922) 19.2 WAR
2. Ken Griffey, Jr. (1996-1997) 18.72 WAR
3. Ron Santo (1966-1967) 18.65 WAR
4. Willie Mays (1957-1958) 18.5 WAR
5. George Brett (1979-1980) 18.04 WAR
6. Eddie Collins (1913-1914) 18.02 WAR


Most Regular Season Home Runs, Age 26-30 Seasons Combined:
1. Ken Griffey, Jr. (1996-2000) 249
2. Sammy Sosa (1995-1999) 241
3. Ryan Howard (2006-2010) 229
4. Alex Rodriguez (2002-2006) 223
5. Ralph Kiner (1949-1953) 215


Most Position Player Wins Above Replacement Through Age 27 Season, AL History:
1. Ty Cobb 68.8 WAR (baseball-reference version)
2. Mickey Mantle 67.4
3. Alex Rodriguez 63.3
4. Jimmie Foxx 62.4
5. Ken Griffey, Jr. 59.0
6. Tris Speaker 55.0
7. Eddie Collins 54.8
8. Babe Ruth 51.4
9. Rickey Henderson 50.1
10. Lou Gehrig 49.1
11. Al Kaline 48.9
12. Joe DiMaggio 48.8
13. George Brett 45.4
14. Ted Williams 45.1
15. Robin Yount 44.5

If you run this same list through age 29 seasons instead of age 27, Junior is still 8th all-time in the AL, as only Ruth, Collins and Speaker have nudged ahead of him.

Junior’s closest comparables through age 30 are the greatest players in history.  After age 30, his closest comparables might be guys like Tom Paciorek and Bill Robinson:

Griffey, age 31 season and after: 991 G, 114 OPS+, 7.5 WAR
Paciorek, age 31 season and after: 945 G, 110 OPS+, 9.1 WAR
Robinson, age 31 season and after: 950 G, 110 OPS+, 7.3 WAR

In addition to Griffey’s impressive showing in this round of voting, Mariano Rivera and Gaylord Perry also received impressive levels of support: Mo appearing on nearly 50% of the ballots and Perry on nearly 40%.

That didn’t leave a lot of room for others. Rick Reuschel fell one vote short of the level needed to remain on the ballot, as his return via the redemption vote route proved short-lived.  Four long-time holdovers with a cushion of guaranteed eligibility also failed to make the 10% vote threshold: Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Bobby Grich and Ron Santo.  Santo had only a two-round cushion, so he falls on to the bubble: another sub-10% showing next round would knock him off the ballot.  Biggio, Martinez and Grich still have some leeway, though less than before.

So with Reuschel falling off the holdovers list and Mariano joining it, the total number of holdovers remains stable at 15.  And with Reuschel gone but Santo joining the group of bubble boys, the number of players at immediate risk of falling off the ballot also remains steady at seven.

The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1969 Vote Tally.

The current vote summary for Circle of Greats voting rounds, now updated to include the 1969 round, is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with fuller details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round listed appears on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round listed appears on Sheet 2.

Here’s the Circle of Greats membership thus far, currently in order of date of birth, from earlier to later:
Phil Niekro
Carl Yastrzemski
Pete Rose
Ferguson Jenkins
Joe Morgan
Tom Seaver
Steve Carlton
Rod Carew
Jim Palmer
Reggie Jackson
Nolan Ryan
Johnny Bench
Carlton Fisk
Mike Schmidt
Bert Blyleven
George Brett
Gary Carter
Ozzie Smith
Robin Yount
Paul Molitor
Alan Trammell
Wade Boggs
Rickey Henderson
Tim Raines
Tony Gwynn
Cal Ripken
Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Barry Larkin
Barry Bonds
Tom Glavine
Greg Maddux
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas
Mike Piazza
Mike Mussina
Ken Griffey, Jr.

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