Should be a quieter year, at least for the writers.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame revealed the 2023 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot on Monday, with several notable names appearing for the first time, as well as returning candidates hoping to continue trending toward possible enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Former slugging outfielder Carlos Beltrán, who belted 435 home runs and stole 312 bases during a 20-year MLB career, appears on the ballot for the first time, as does former All-Star closer Francisco Rodríguez and his 437 career saves. Other notable first-timers are Huston Street, Matt Cain, John Lackey, R.A. Dickey, Jered Weaver, Bronson Arroyo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy and Jayson Werth.
Among the returning candidates, three received more than 50 percent of the vote in 2022, with 75 percent needed for election: Scott Rolen (63.2 percent), Todd Helton (52 percent) and Billy Wagner (51 percent). Rolen is in his sixth year of eligibility (candidates are on the ballot for up to 10 years), while Helton is on his fifth and Wagner is on his eighth.
There’s been a bit of a logjam on the ballot in recent years, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling receiving sizable shares of the vote without being elected. Though all three are no longer eligible on the BBWAA ballot, they appear on this year’s Contemporary Era ballot.
Another notable candidate, in his second year of eligibility, is Alex Rodriguez, who received 34.3 percent of the vote on his first ballot despite his then-fourth-place ranking on the all-time career home run list. His connection to performance-enhancing drugs could keep his vote totals low, though he’s another candidate who may benefit from Bonds, Clemens and Schilling falling off the BBWAA ballot.
The general consensus on Beltrán is that he’s an absolutely worthwhile candidate, and also that he’s tainted by the Astros’ cheating scandal. No one knows how much that will hurt him, but I’d bet money he doesn’t get close to being elected this year. Maybe over time, but not right away. No one else new to the ballot is worth serious consideration, and those three top votegetters from last year are all likely to benefit from that. As for A-Rod, well, he’s not likely to go anywhere either.
The Contemporary Era Ballot has the most recent problem children on it, as well as some curious omissions. Perhaps this is Fred McGriff’s big moment; I don’t have strong feelings about that but it would be nice for him if it happens. As usual, we’ll know the results in early January. Fangraphs has more.