The results are in, and we have our Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2024: Adrián Beltré, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer reached the 75% necessary for induction on the BBWAA ballot, joining Jim Leyland from the Contemporary Baseball Era committee.
Those four legends are getting most of the attention, and rightfully so; they earned their spot in baseball’s most exclusive fraternity, and they deserve their full flowers. But, of course, they weren’t the only ones on the ballot this year — the voting had some serious ramifications for many of the game’s biggest names, and we’re here to break down everything you need to know.
Wagner is one year away
This cuts in two different ways. Closer Billy Wagner is likely just one year away from making it into Cooperstown, as he narrowly missed induction with 73.8% of the vote. History tells us that a player who gets that close will almost always get in the next year. But Wagner better hope so: 2025 will be the lefty’s 10th and final year on the ballot. We made the case for Wagner as a Hall-worthy player here, and here’s hoping the voters do the right thing next winter.
The steroid candidates look cooked
Manny Ramírez fell from 33.2% of the vote in 2023 to 32.5% this year, his eighth on the ballot. Alex Rodriguez has gone from 34.3% to 35.7% to 34.8% in his three rounds of voting. The voting body of the BBWAA continues to get younger, and that demographic shift should mean that there’s growing flexibility regarding players tied to PED use during their careers. But that change happens gradually, and neither of the above players would seem to have enough time to build the necessary momentum to get to 75% — right after other steroid-era names like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally fell off the ballot. Seven years is a long time for A-Rod, and his statistical case is overwhelming. Manny, however, seems officially done for.
Jones, Beltrán keep on climbing
Andruw Jones jumped from 58.1% to 61.6% — an important gain, albeit a modest one. The pro-Jones camp would’ve loved to see more of a leap forward here in his seventh year on the ballot, and it remains to be seen whether the center fielder will hit his voting plateau before he reaches 75%. But his defense-heavy credentials should be appreciated by a younger voting bloc that’s more well-versed in new-age analytics, and a good number of candidates who get to this range with at least three years of cushion left wind up in the Hall.
Beltrán had some better news, going from 46.5% in his first year to 57.1% in his second. Some voters may have felt compelled to punish him in 2023 for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, but clearly they don’t think that it warrants leaving him out of the Hall entirely. Granted, he too could peter out before he gets the required votes, but right now the odds are in his favor.
Decent first showing puts Utley on track
In the publicly available vote (via Ryan Thibodaux’s Ballot Tracker) Chase Utley was polling around 40%, which would seem to put him on the Jones/Beltran track. But while many candidates see a gap in support between public and private ballots, Utley fell off a cliff, ending up at 28.8% of the vote in his first year of eligibility.
It’s tough to know what to make of that. We’ve seen recent inductees like Larry Walker, Scott Rolen and now Todd Helton start well below 30% and end up in the Hall. We’ve also seen plenty of candidates start in the 20s and never make it to Cooperstown. Silly as this line of thinking is, there are still a good number of voters who hold “first-ballot” Hall of Famers to a higher standard and, therefore, may have withheld support for Utley that they’ll grant him in future years. Will he see a second-year leap, or will his candidacy be in trouble? Next year will be a huge one.
Speaking of 2025, Something to watch for: Contemporary second basemen Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler both debut on the ballot next winter, and both of them have inferior resumes to Utley. Will their presence on the ballot help Utley, as people compare the second basemen to each other?
The group of first-year candidates this year had two surefire Hall of Famers in Beltré and Mauer, eight obvious one-and-dones and one somewhere in the middle in Utley. Then there was David Wright, a player who seemed to be on a Hall of Fame track over his first decade before injuries derailed things. Objectively speaking, his numbers fall short; but would that tragic luck, as well as his status as the face of the Mets for a number of years, help keep him above 5% of the vote — and on the ballot for one more year?
Turns out, the answer was yes. Wright ended up getting 24 votes, which was good for 6.2%, so he’ll stick around. He likely won’t ever get to 75%, but it’s a nice development for an extremely talented player who deserves to be remembered.
Five sub-20% players lost votes
- In his seventh year on the ballot, Omar Vizquel went from 19.5% to 17.7%, which is a new low for him. It’s hard to see him moving back above 25%, much less getting close to making it in the Hall of Fame.
- In his sixth year, Andy Pettitte dropped from 17% to 13.5%. His chances of rising are better than Vizquel’s, but I’d say the proverbial writing is on the wall by now.
- In his fifth year, Bobby Abreu fell from 15.4% to 14.8%. I thought there was a chance he’d be an internet darling who grew in popularity as sabermetrically-inclined analysts made his case; instead, his wall seems to have been hit in the mid-teens.
- In his fourth year, Mark Buehrle dipped to 8.3% from 10.8%. It seems more likely he’ll fall off the ballot than make a strong run toward enshrinement.
- In his second year, Francisco Rodríguez fell from 10.8% to 7.8%. I wondered if the increased push for Wagner (6th all-time in saves) would help give a bump to K-Rod (4th), but thus far it doesn’t appear to be the case. He’s not too far from falling off the ballot.
Gary Sheffield comes up short
This was the 10th year on the ballot for all-time great slugger Gary Sheffield, who simply couldn’t overcome his ties to PED use, his shoddy defense and his at times prickly relationship with the media. Personally, I thought Sheffield’s offensive prowess and longevity made him worthy of enshrinement, and it seems hypocritical to ding a player who never actually tested positive for steroids once MLB decided it cared enough to implement a testing regimen. But the Hall of Fame is a very high bar, and now he’ll hav to wait for a veteran’s committee to give him another shot.