2023 Baseball Hall of Fame Vote: 11 Takeaways, Including Hope for Carlos Beltrán and Todd Helton

2023 Baseball Hall of Fame Vote: 11 Takeaways, Including Hope for Carlos Beltrán and Todd Helton

The results of the BBWAA portion of the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot have been revealed and Scott Rolen is now a Hall of Famerwith 76.3 percent of the vote. Here are the full results with official voting percentages. Players needed 75 percent of the vote to make it and at least five percent of the vote to stay on the ballot next year, up to 10 years.

Let’s dig deeper into the bigger takeaways from our Hall of Fame season.

1. This is actually a two-man class

First of all, the Contemporary Era committee has already selected Fred McGriff. There will be a Hall of Fame ceremony next summer to honor two players. McGriff is 59 years old while Rolen is 47. Both played for a handful of teams and it should be a fun weekend of events.

2. Rolen’s case may give hope

In 2018, Rolen received only 10.2 percent of the vote in a much busier vote. But as the ballot cleared over the years with inductions of Hall of Famers and major players falling off without induction, spots were freed up on voters’ ballots for Roles. There was also a flurry of support from various corners of the internet, pointing out that Rolen’s defense deserved a lot more credit and it showed in stats like WAR.

Rolen’s move from 10.2 percent of the vote to winning by the writer’s vote was the largest in history. It’s a record that may not hold for long, as there are a few players we’ll discuss below who make a move similar to Rolen’s.

Sure, big moves after fairly small beginnings is a theme with several of the prominent candidates on this ballot.

3. Helton right on the abyss

As I spoke extensively about Rolen last month, it’s incredibly rare for players to surpass 62 percent with time left on the ballot and not be voted on soon after, whether it’s just one or two rounds of voting. Rolen crossed that line last year and made it this time. Then Todd Helton.

Helton got 72.2 percent in his fifth year. It would be unprecedented for a player to get to that level of voting in his fifth year and not be included in the hall.

Based on the available data, zero public ballots had 10 votes, not counting Helton. This means that even with players like Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer coming to the ballot next year, the vast majority of voters have either voted for Helton or have a seat(s) available to add him. New voters are coming. Some voters are dropped because they no longer beat the game. Some voters are rethinking their stance on players once they approach the 75 percent mark.

For all those reasons, Helton will almost certainly be voted in next year.

4. Beltrán has hope

Carlos Beltrán has a statistic that belongs in the Hall of Fame, but since his retirement, the sign-stealing scandal has clouded his Hall of Fame chances (full breakdown here).

The good news here for Beltrán is that he’s starting with a pretty decent number: 46.5 percent of the vote in his first try.

It’s not the best equation for looping in PED-connected players, but it’s the best we’ve got. The players who have been kept out of the Hall of Fame for being tied to PEDs began in the mid-1930s in percentage or lower. Most of them were lower, in fact it was really just Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in the mid 1930’s.

With Beltrán starting here, he is already in a much better position. Anecdotally, I’ve also read several columns from prominent writers who said they plan to reconsider in years to come after failing to vote for Beltrán the first time here. And some people really consider “first ballot Hall of Famer” a sacred honor.

All in all, I think the results for Beltrán are net positive. We’ll see how much progress he makes next time — with the “first ballot” thing not included and possibly some of those aforementioned writers reconsidering his case — without making sweeping statements.

5. A-Rod has less hope

The Hall of Fame case for Alex Rodriguez is complicated. We all knew that already. Before the vote last year, we didn’t know exactly how the vote would go for him. This was his second round on the ballot and it was his first without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Bonds could be the best roadmap here between the PED connections and all-time great numbers by a position player, even though Bonds was never suspended under MLB’s JDA and A-Rod was nailed with one of the biggest penalties in history. Bonds began trading in the mid-1930s and peaked at 66 percent in its last year. The voting body will continue to move towards a more new-school mindset, but there are prospective voters who would have voted in bonds and won’t go for A-Rod because of the suspension.

Well, A-Rod got 34.3 percent of the vote last year and 35.7 percent this time.

That’s probably within the range of stagnation, right? I know I often say things about changing the vocal organ, changing opinions and things like that, but he barely moved.

Simply, although things may change, he seems stuck.

6. Wagner, Jones now in decent shape

Billy Wagner started 2016 with about 10 percent of the vote (note the Roles section above). After four rounds it was only 16.7 percent, but he’s moving now.

2020: 31.7%
2021: 46.4%
2022: 51%
2023: 68.1%

Wagner has two ballots left and a real chance to get home. It might even happen next year. He’s very close now.

Not so close, but still coming in range is Andruw Jones. He started sweating and just stayed above five percent. He only got 7.5 percent on his second ballot, but then he started to gain some traction.

2020: 19.4%
2021: 33.9%
2022: 41.4%
2023: 58.1%

This was Jones’ sixth time on the ballot, so he has four more rounds of voting to make up less than 20 percent. If so, he would easily break Rolen’s record.

Still, with both players, but especially with Jones because he’s further away, there’s always the danger of plateauing. That is, a player can get to a certain percentage and then stagnate. It varies from player to player, as each Hall of Fame case is unique and each one is voted on by an ever-changing electorate.

Overall though, things are looking good for Wagner and it really looks like Jones has the momentum to bring him in eventually. Someone who reached a plateau in recent years and had a potentially great night was an all-time great bat-waggler.

7. Sheffield within range?

This was Gary Sheffield’s ninth time on the ballot. He made big gains in 2019-21, going from 13.6 percent to 40.6 percent, but in 2022 he achieved exactly 40.6 percent again. It seemed that perhaps all hope was lost. Instead, he’s moved to the possibly overused but still fun “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” range.

Sheffield received 55 percent of the vote this year.

Maybe there will be another nice final year bump? Kent received a boost of more than 13 percent, although that would not be enough. One of the biggest one-year jumps on the final ballot ever was Larry Walker, who jumped from 54.6 percent in his ninth year to 76.6 to run in his final attempt.

If Sheffield can make such a profit with the polling station next year, he’ll be in. That is of course a very high hill to climb, but it is possible.

8. Kent falls off the mood

Jeff Kent was the lone player on this ballot for the 10th time. It was his proverbial swan song. We knew he wouldn’t come close, but he set a new high with 46.5 percent of the vote, more than 10 percentage points above his previous high of 32.7 percent. It’s a feather in his cap to get nearly 50 percent of the vote while he lingered on the ballot for a decade. It’s hard to just get on the ballot and Kent can rest easy knowing that he’s clearly left a mark on baseball history.

Moreover, my suspicion Kent will do much better with the committee votes (like McGriff), so this could be a blessing in disguise. I bet he’ll be down the hall within ten years.

9. Possible reason for optimism?

The following players are lower on the ballot, but have a chance to catch lightning in a bottle like Rolen did (and fashion-wise it resembles Helton, Jones, and maybe Sheffield and Wagner).

  • Andy Pettitte jumped from 10.7 percent to 17. This is his fifth year on the ballot, so he’ll need some bigger jumps, but it’s a starting point.
  • Bobby Abreu went from 8.6 to 15.4 percent in his fourth year. It’s a very nice bump.
  • Jimmy Rollins went from 9.4 to 12.9 percent. Very modest indeed on the win and vote percentage, but it’s only his second round of voting and Chase Utley is coming. It is always possible when you discuss Utley and Rollins together on the ballot that there is a mutual pressure in voting for the doubles combination. It didn’t work for Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, but times are changing.
  • Mark Buehrle went from 5.8 to 10.8 percent. I dove in its business as an all-time workhorse recently and perhaps more will come about him.
  • This was the voice debut for Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. He started with 10.8 percent of the vote. While Rolen’s participation offers hope for all players, Wagner’s move is especially telling as K-Rod and other elite-level closers move forward. It’s much harder for closers to make it to the Hall, but Wagner coming in next year could pave the way for some momentum for K-Rod.

10. No Man’s Land

Now to the players who seem to have no chance of being introduced, even if they keep waiting for the vote.

  • Manny Ramirez actually went from 28.9 percent to 33.2 percent, but he’s not even halfway through and only has three ballots left. I just don’t see enough room for improvement there.
  • Omar Vizquel’s descent continues. From 52.6 in 2020 to 49.1 to 23.9 and now to 19.5 percent in his sixth attempt. There’s a higher chance of him falling off the ballot before his 10 years are up than turning things around and getting anchored.
  • Torii Hunter went from 5.3 to 6.9 percent, but he’s still very close to five percent after a very small gain in his third year. He probably needs to be up more than 10 percent next year to have any hope, but I suspect this is all just a formality.

11. Five percent

The following players did not receive 5 percent of the vote, meaning they will be removed from the ballot: Bronson Arroyo, RA Dickey, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Huston Street, Matt Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, JJ Hardy, Jhonny Peralta , Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth. Notably, these were all first-timers. Each remnant received at least five percent of the vote.

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