Looking Ahead at Upcoming Hall of Fame Ballots

Okay, I started working on this last night, then today saw a very similar post at ESPN.com. Now, they get paid for this kind of thing, and I’m doing it for free. Also, I swear I’m not plagiarizing!

Anyway, each year after the BBWAA Hall of Fame selection announcement is made, I start thinking about who might get in next. So, with that in mind, let’s check the next few potential ballots (thank you, Baseball Reference for making it much easier than it used to be).

2024:

There will be 14 holdovers from this year’s ballot. Todd Helton just missed induction this year with 72.2% of the vote, and Billy Wagner was not far behind at 68.1%. Helton sports a career .316/.414/.539 slash line along with 3 Gold Gloves. Wagner has 422 saves, and a gaudy 187 ERA+ and 0.998 WHIP. Other holdovers include Andruw Jones, one of the best center fielders ever (58.1% of the vote), Gary Sheffield—awful fielder but great hitter (55.1%), and Carlos Beltran (46.5%)—another excellent center fielder It will be Sheffield’s tenth and final year on the ballot, and Wagner’s ninth.

It’s also a strong first year class. Leading the way is Adrian Beltré. Whether one like old school metrics or SABR metrics, he checks the boxes. He has 93.5 WAR, 3166 hits, 477 homers, and 5 Gold Gloves at 3B. Here is the list of every third baseman ever with more defensive WAR than Beltré: Brooks Robinson.

Then there’s Joe Mauer. He lead the AL in batting average as a catcher three times, with four Gold Gloves, six All Star nods, six Silver Sluggers, and the 2009 AL MVP. A severe concussion forced him to move to first, otherwise he would have been a no brainer first ballot inductee. I think he still should be…I also think he will be forced to wait. The JAWS metrics rank him the 7th best catcher ever.

Chase Utley has 64.5 WAR, six All Star nods and four Silver Sluggers. He’s going to get more love than Jeff Kent ever did, but he’s not going in on the first ballot.

Others who will garner votes include David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holiday, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Jose Reyes.

2024 prediction: Adrian Beltré cruises, Todd Helton gets in, Billy Wagner gets in (or very, very close). Joe Mauer just misses. Carlos Beltran and Andruw Jones move into the 60% range. Sheffield gets to 60% and falls off the ballot. Chase Utley debuts in the 40-50% range.


2025:

If Wagner doesn’t get selected in 2024, then 2025 will be his last chance…and would almost certainly get in then. The rookie class is headlined by Ichiro Suzuki with his 3k hits including a MLB record 262 in one season. Also appearing for the first time is CC Sabathia (251 wins, 3.74 ERA, 3093 Ks). Additional first timers likely to at least gain enough votes to stay on the ballot are Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Felix Hernandez, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Kinsler, and Curtis Granderson.

2025 prediction: Ichiro sails in. Joe Mauer makes it. Jones and Beltran inch closer. Utley moves up. Sabathia debuts strong.

2026:

It’s Manny Ramirez’ last year on the ballot. His stats are eminently Hall-worthy…and he has no chance whatsoever due to PEDs. It’s Andruw Jones’ ninth year. The best newcomer is Cole Hamels. Alex Gordon, Ryan Braun, and Edwin Encarnacion are also on the ballot but are not going to garner all that much support. 2026 is a good year for holdovers to build momentum.

2026 prediction: It’s the year of the center fielder as both Jones and Beltran get the call. In the last 40 years the only other center fielders inducted have been Kirby Puckett and Ken Griffey, Jr. Utley and Sabathia make moves. It’s also Bobby Abreu’s and Andy Pettite’s chance to make a move, in their 7th and 8th years on the ballot.

2027:

It’d be Andruw Jones’ final year of eligibility if he doesn’t get in earlier as I’ve predicted. He’d certainly make it here I think. It will be Omar Vizquel’s final year of eligibility—a very good defender at shortstop but liability with a bat. I don’t think he gets elected, especially with the personal baggage he carries. Debuting are Buster Posey and John Lester— I bet both get in, but neither on the first ballot. Some voters won’t like the relative brevity of Posey’s career or that Lester “only” has 200 wins.

2027 prediction: Sabathia and Utley get the call or come close.

2028:

It will be Andy Pettite’s last shot…2026 and 2027 will show if he really has one, along with Bobby Abreu in his 9th year on the ballot as well. The newcomers make for a distinctly Cardinals flavor to Cooperstown in July: Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina appear on the ballot.

2028 prediction: Pujols will challenge unanimity. Molina will get in on the first ballot. Pettite falls short. Posey and Lester inch upward.

Eras committees:

The current iteration is a three year cycle. 2024 is for executives/contributors since 1980. I would like to see Dr Frank Jobe (inventor of Tommy John Surgery) get in. He won’t. Cowboy Joe West will. Ick. I’m convinced I’m right, though. 2025 will be pre-1980 players…how about Dick Allen, Tommy John, and Bill Dahlen? How about reinstating Shoeless Joe Jackson 70 years after his death and then inducting him? I honestly expect none of them. 2026, like this year, is for players since 1980. Please let’s not nominate PED-associated players just to shoot them down again. Let’s have Lou Whitaker. Jeff Kent will have a good shot here, but it’s Sweet Lou I want to have get his due finally.

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