Checking in on Hall of Fame Voting
Updated: Jan 23
by Mike Whiteman
January 8, 2023
On January 24th, Hall of Fame voting of the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will be revealed, and there may be new members to celebrate - or debate. This is always one of my favorite days of the year, a shot of baseball sunshine during the depths of winter when we need it.
In the meantime, for those like myself who can't wait, we have the Baseball Hall of Fame Vote Tracker at http://www.bbhoftracker.com/ to follow along with the voting. A historical note to consider as we anticipate the results: with the exception of the recent unique cases of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Curt Schilling, garnering at least 50% of the vote has punched a ticket to Cooperstown, either via further BBWAA voting or an eventual Veteran's committee selection. Here are some thoughts with about 33% of the votes revealed: 1. Scott Rolen: 81% - The eight-time Gold Glove award winner and seven-time All-Star seems on his way to joining Fred McGriff at the induction ceremony this summer. 2. Todd Helton: 78% - Did Larry Walker's election open the door for fellow Colorado Rockies player Helton? The longtime first baseman, maybe the all-time face of the franchise, looks deserving to me, his .287/.386./.469 road slash defying the notion that he's solely a Coors Field creation. If he doesn't make the 75% standard this year, he's got five more cracks at it.
3. Andruw Jones: 69% - While Jones may fall short this year, he looks set up to be elected sometime in his last four years of eligibility. Most voters seem to be honing in on on Jones' Atlanta years, when he may have been one of the great fielding center fielders of all time, as opposed to his journeyman-type last five years.
4. Billy Wagner: 71% - Wagner was an absolutely filthy lefthanded closer throughout his career. The seven-time All-Star had four full seasons with an ERA under 2.00 - including a 1.43 mark in his last season at age 38. His lifetime WHIP and hits per nine innings would be among all-time leaders if he had pitched more innings. His low inning count (903, which would be least among Hall of Famers not from the Negro Leagues) has been considered a possible hinderance to election, but it doesn't look that way right now. He has two more years of eligibility after this election. 5. Gary Sheffield: 68% - The hard-hitting outfielder with a PED link looks to be rallying in his ninth ballot, but the question is can he make the leap to 75% in his last year?
6. Carlos Beltran: 56% - One of the great switch-hitters in MLB history and a beast in the postseason, I expect him to someday have a plaque in Cooperstown. It looks like voters are going to punish him though for his role in the Astros cheating scandal and make him wait a few years before his eventual election. 7. Jeff Kent: 49% - This is Kent's last year on the ballot, and he almost certainly won't be elected. One would think that a second baseman with a .290/.356/.500 slash line and an MVP award might get a bit more support. Kent wasn't the greatest fielding second baseman, but was good enough that his managers penciled him in the lineup over 2000 games at the position. I see him as a prime candidate for enshrinement someday via the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
8. Alex Rodriguez: 45% - Rodriguez is slightly ahead of Bonds' and Clemens' second-year performances. ARod has admitted to his bad behavior, and seems to have rehabilitated his image to the point that to many he's a well-regarded television analyst. Could this help him to someday approach the promised land that Clemens and Bonds could not? 9. Manny Ramirez: 43% - If this percentage holds it would be a significant increase for Manny, but with only three more years of eligibility and the experience of Bonds and Clemens he would be hard pressed to get to enshrinement. 10. Bobby Abreu: 20% - What a "professional" hitter he was! Wouldn't he look real nice in the 2023 Yankee lineup? A nice bump in his voting this year, but I see him in the same light as Kent, as a "committee" choice someday.
11. Andy Pettite: 19% - Some improvement for one of the beloved Core Four, but I really never see him gaining a plaque. 12. Jimmy Rollins: 12% - Living in the Phillies media market, I saw a lot of Rollins' career, and feel like he's underappreciated, though not necessarily Hall of Fame caliber. The 5'7" switch-hitting shortstop could influence a game at bat, in the field, and on the bases. Those Phillies teams of Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels were really enjoyable to watch. 13. Mark Buehrle: 12% - A lot of folks who analyze Hall of Fame voting seem to like Buehrle, but a lot of those doing the actual voting do not. I suspect the fact that he received Cy Young votes in only one season could be part of the reason we won't likely see him in Cooperstown. 14. Omar Vizquel: 10% - In 2020, the eleven-time gold glover broached the 50% mark in just his third year of eligibility, and suddenly seemed to have a realistic chance at eventual election. Allegations of domestic abuse and sexual harassment looks to have significantly dampened his support, and his voting has tanked. I wouldn't be surprised to see him fall of the ballot at some point. 15. Francisco Rodriguez: 8% - I still have nightmares about that 2002 ALDS series against Anaheim. K-Rod was elite with the Angels, merely good afterwards. Not a Hall-of Famer. With Bonds, Clemens and Schilling moving off the ballot and a number of folks recently being voted in by the writers, there looks to be some space this year for folks to make progress. That progress could be short lived, as the ballot starts to get interesting next year with Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, David Wright, and Chase Utley newly eligible and Ichiro Suzuki, CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez joining in 2025. What would your Hall of Fame ballot look like?