Analyzing Returners on 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Astros Hall of Fame Billy Wagner

In November, the Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the candidates for the 2024 Hall of Fame class. There are 12 new candidates and 14 returners. All of the returners came up short of the 75 percent threshold for induction into the Hall of Fame last year, but they also received more than five percent and therefore remain eligible for induction for this year.

Bobby Abreu

Abreu is one of those players who everyone knew was good at the time, but the analytics suggest he was even better than they thought. He was a two-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Abreu was a super solid player, but his true case comes from his durability and longevity. He played for 18 seasons and had 59.8 WAR. This is Abreu’s fifth year on the ballot and I’m split on whether he should get in. Regardless, he won’t get in until his ninth or 10th year on the ballot.

Carlos Beltran

Beltran was one of two players who were first-year candidates last year and remain on the ballot this year. If we are just talking about how the player performed on the field, Beltran is 100 percent a Hall of Famer and might have been elected first-ballot. However, he was the ringleader of the Astros’ cheating scandal, which is a deal-breaker for a lot of voters. I think that by Year 10, the stink of the cheating scandal will fade and Beltran will eventually get in. Nevertheless, it is going to take a while.


Mark Buehrle

This is Buehrle’s fourth year on the ballot and I’m honestly surprised he has stayed on all these years. He was always a respectable pitcher but never elite. He only finished top-five in Cy Young voting five times. There is a chance that part of the reason he has gotten a higher percentage of votes in the past couple of years is because the ballots have been pretty weak outside of the top-tier players. This year has a stronger ballot, so there is a better chance he gets fewer votes.

Todd Helton

Helton has the best chance of any returning player to make the Hall this year. He finished with 72.2 percent of all votes last year. Historically speaking, players that finish with that high of a percentage make it the year after. Fans like to downplay his career since he played at Coors Field, but he was still elite on the road. I think there will be two or three players inducted into the 2024 Hall of Fame class, and Helton will be one of them.


Torii Hunter

Last year, Hunter finished with the lowest percentage of votes for players who advanced at 6.9 percent. As great of a fielder as he was (he won nine Gold Glove awards), I simply do not see a path for him to make it to the Hall, and there is a solid chance he will get fewer votes this year with a more stacked ballot. Hunter played for 19 seasons and was always very good but not great. He finished sixth in MVP voting in 2002 and finished 15th in 2007. Outside of those two seasons, he never finished in the top 20. He was a very good player with a great resume, but I would be shocked if he ever breaks 50 percent.

Andruw Jones

This is Jones’s seventh year on the ballot. Fans might see he got only 58.1 percent of the votes and doubt that he will eventually get in, but there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for years to come. In his first year on the ballot in 2018, he finished with 7.3 percent of the votes, and in 2022 he finished with 41.4 percent. This shows that voters are beginning to realize how strong Jones’s case is. He will probably be inducted in his eighth, ninth, or 10th year of eligibility.

Andy Pettitte

With all due respect to Pettitte, I honestly do not see what a lot of his voters see. Yes, he is a five-time champion and three-time All-Star, but was he ever elite? I don’t think so. He finished with a 3.85 ERA and 117 ERA+. He was very good at times but never considered a top-five pitcher in the league. This is his sixth year on the ballot and he finished at 17 percent last year. It will be interesting to see how much he grows or shrinks in votes over the next five years.

Manny Ramirez

Last year, Ramirez finished with 33.2 percent of votes, so things are not looking good for him. This is his eighth year on the ballot so he has a ton of ground to cover with just three years of eligibility remaining. Just like Beltran, Ramirez would be a surefire Hall of Famer if not for a tarnished off-the-field resume. He finished among the top 10 in MVP voting 10 times and retired with a 154 OPS+. Had he abstained from steroids and put up the same numbers, he would have been in the Hall a long time ago.


Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez is in an extremely similar situation to Ramirez. He is only in his third season on the ballot and received 35.7 percent of the vote, slightly higher than Ramirez. He does have a better chance at getting in than Ramirez, but it will take a very long time. The fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were never inducted set the precedent that steroid users are a big turn-off for a lot of voters. Don’t expect that to change for a while.

Francisco Rodriguez

Rodriguez was on my ballot last year but won’t make the cut this year. As mentioned, last year’s ballot was pretty weak; besides Beltran, Rodriguez was the second-best player not inducted. There are much better players this year, so he will lose my vote and votes from BBWAA voters. Last year, he received the second-fewest votes out of all the players who advanced. Rodriguez is simply not one of the 10 best players on the ballot. As great of a closer as he was, he likely won’t ever make it to Cooperstown.

Jimmy Rollins

Rollins was a fan favorite in Philly and for good reason. He won an MVP and was a key contributor to their championship in 2008. With this being said, he is probably not a Hall of Fame-caliber player. He never had a WRC+ over 120, and he retired with a mark of 95. This is his third year on the ballot and he finished with 12.9 percent of votes last year. He likely won’t lose enough votes to drop off before his 10th year on the ballot, but I would be surprised if he ever gets inducted.

Gary Sheffield

This is Sheffield’s final year on the ballot. Just like a whole lot of these guys, he would be in already if he did not take steroids. A player who hit 500 home runs and finished top-10 in MVP voting six times is usually a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. Sheffield received 55 percent of the votes last year. In 2019, Larry Walker received 54.6 percent of the votes and managed to get inducted before his eligibility expired the next year. While Sheffield is unlikely to be inducted due to his off-the-field issues, it is not totally out of the question.

Omar Vizquel

Vizqel’s votes have plummeted in the past couple of years. He received 52.6 percent of votes in 2020, but that dropped to 19.5 percent last year due to off-the-field issues. Even based on baseball-related merit alone, I don’t think Vizquel should make it. As impressive as 11 Gold Gloves are, I do not think a player with a career 83 WRC+ should sniff the Hall. This is his seventh year on the ballot, but with the way things are trending, it would not surprise me to see him fall below five percent in the next couple of years.

Billy Wagner

Wagner received the second-most votes out of those who fell short of the 75 percent threshold last year. I have said it for over five years now: Wagner should have been inducted a long time ago. He is one of the best relievers of all time, and there are certainly worse closers in the Hall than him. This is his ninth year and he received 68.1 percent of the votes last year. I think Helton and Adrian Beltre are shoo-ins for this year. After that, I expect one of Wagner or Joe Mauer to get in, too. It will be interesting to see what happens there.

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