Hall of Fame Ballot: Previewing 2024

Adrian Beltre

On Tuesday, third baseman Scott Rolen was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rolen will be sharing the stage in Cooperstown in July along with Veterans Committee elect Fred McGriff. It was a big day for baseball as the writers avoided a shutout for the second time in three years. Rolen garnered 76.3% of the vote, just barely surpassing the 75% threshold needed for induction. Behind him was Todd Helton with 72.2%, Billy Wagner with 68.1%, Andruw Jones with 58.1%, and Gary Sheffield with 55%.

Notably, Carlos Beltran finished with 46.5% of the vote in his first turn on the ballot. Beltran will be an interesting test case moving forward as the sport grapples with what to do regarding players involved in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal. With that said, it’s time to look forward to the 2024 ballot. There are some notable newcomers to the ballot as well as some holdovers that potentially have a great chance at induction next year.

Notable First-Timers on the 2024 Hall of Fame Ballot

Things get a lot more interesting next year as Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley get their turns on the ballot. Of all the potential first-timers, those three represent the best chance to gain induction. While Mauer and Utley both have very compelling cases, Beltre is already a lock to enter Cooperstown in 2024. He has long been known as one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time. His career 27.0 defensive WAR per Baseball Reference ranks as the second-highest figure all-time at his position. By career WAR, Beltre’s 93.5 is third-best at the position. He is one of only four third basemen to have accumulated more than 3,000 hits. Along with this are 477 career home runs and 1,707 career RBI, and .286/.339/.480 slash line that amounts to a .819 OPS and 116 OPS+.

While Beltre might not be a unanimous selection on the ballot, he figures to get close. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer and Chase Utley represent players whose peaks reflect that of the best players in their position. However, they do not have as strong a case as Beltre. It might take a few years but it is easy to see Mauer and Utley eventually receive a plaque in the Hall of Fame. Joining them are players such as David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jose Reyes. For a few of these players, their peak performance alone might warrant a second or third year on the ballot, but not much further. An example of this is the dominance of Jose Bautista. From 2010 through 2015, he averaged 38 home runs and 97 RBI per season. With a slash line of .268/.390/.555, Bautista’s .945 OPS and 156 OPS+ were among the best in the sport.

The Holdovers

Among the holdovers from the 2023 ballot, Helton and Wagner look all but certain to gain Hall of Fame induction in 2024. Helton finished 11 votes shy of the 75% threshold while Wagner made a giant leap from 51% of the vote in 2022 to 68.1%. In fact, Helton, Wagner, Jones, and Sheffield all enjoyed ballot increases that are virtually unprecedented. However, time is running out for Wagner and Sheffield who will be entering their 9th and 10th year, respectively, on the ballot. Jones will be entering his 7th year, and so has a little more time to receive that 17% increase in votes.

One of the more interesting ballot names is Carlos Beltran. As stated previously, he represents a test case for how writers and the media view his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal. His numbers undoubtedly warrant induction. He accumulated more than 400 home runs, 300 stolen bases, 1,500 RBI, and 70 WAR. Beltran was one of the best outfielders in the sport during his career. Beltran was the only player named on the report released by MLB after their investigation. Being known as one of the ringleaders of the scheme definitely hurts him.

However, Beltran is on a good track to eventually enter the Hall of Fame. Additionally, his 46.5% shows that writers view what he did differently than they view players who used steroids, such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. This also includes Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, who are nowhere close to induction. Ramirez, in his 7th year on the ballot, received 33.2%. Meanwhile, Rodriguez only received 35.7% in his second year on the ballot. These vote totals certainly reflect a difference in the perception between sign stealing and taking steroids. Francisco Rodriguez is the only other first-timer to garner enough votes to stay on the ballot, with 6.9%.

Looking Beyond 2024

The 2024 ballot has three players who should eventually enter the Hall of Fame. The 2025 ballot includes Ichiro Suzuki and C.C. Sabathia. The former is a lock while the latter might not be a first-ballot inductee but will get in fairly easily. In 2026, the ballot does not have many compelling first-year candidates, while 2027 represents Buster Posey’s first foray onto the ballot. Regardless, there are several upcoming election cycles that look to be very interesting as there are a handful of candidates who figure to obtain Hall of Fame induction. As a fan of baseball history, this is an exciting proposition. It will surely bring great anticipation for fans of the sport in general, too.

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Players Mentioned:

Scott Rolen, Fred McGriff, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Francisco Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki, C.C. Sabathia, Buster Posey