Now that the dust has settled from the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame election, we now know that two new players will be headed to Cooperstown, NY this summer. However, several others came close. Next year’s ballot will be rather interesting, as there will be opportunity for one or two individuals who didn’t make it in 2023 to get the call twelve months from now. So, let’s take a look at the five most notable names that have a legitimate shot of making it to the Hall next January.
Related: Which players are a part of the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame class?
We’ll start off with Carlos Beltrán, a two-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glover, and nine-time All-Star. As mentioned in our recap of the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame class, Beltrán’s career WAR (70.1) was exactly the same as Scott Rolen. Beltrán was an elite switch-hitting center field, as he accumulated 2,725 career hits, 435 career home runs, and 312 stolen bases. Not to mention, the former Royal and Met was a terrific outfielder defensively.
Given the arc that it took for Rolen to make it to the Hall of Fame, it does make some sense that Beltrán didn’t make it on his first go-around. Plus, doesn’t have the PED-associated baggage of a Gary Sheffield. However, the sign-stealing scandal most likely had an effect on the 48.5% Beltrán received in the BBWAA vote. Granted, the Puerto Rican icon didn’t game the system in the same way that the PED-associated players did. But, this scandal doesn’t help. Beltrán most likely won’t get in next year, but he should get the call at the some point.
Legendary Braves center fielder Andruw Jones inched closer to Cooperstown this year, as received 58.1% on his sixth go-around. While Jones may not have the career WAR of a player like Beltrán, Jones did have an incredible one. The 45-year-old hit 434 career home runs, 1,933 hits, and a career OPS+ of 11. Plus, Jones’ ten Gold Gloves help his resume.
There is an argument to be made that Jones’ career didn’t have the longevity of other Hall of Famers. After signing with the Dodgers as a 30-year-old after the 2007 season, Jones played just five more seasons and only logged at least 100 games in a season just once. However, Jones’ prime was exceptional. In fact, Jones’ 46.4 WAR7 — which measures a player’s cumulative WAR over a player’s seven best seasons — sits two points ahead of Rolen.
Beltrán’s former teammate with the Astros and Mets, closer Billy Wagner, came awfully close to breaking through on the 2023 ballot. Wagner received 68.1% of the vote, meaning that he’ll need a little less than 7% more to make it to Cooperstown. The left-hander may not have been the most dominant closer in his era, but Wagner was still a shutdown man in the ninth inning. Over 16 seasons, the seven-time All-Star accrued 426 saves. That total ranks sixth all-time in the statistic.
The door has softened in recent years for relievers, thus making it easier for someone like Wagner to make it. Wagner’s rise in the ballot of proof of just that. The 51-year-old’s journey to Cooperstown will also be a test to see whether “K-Rod” Francisco Rodriguez can enter the Hall, Rodriguez received 437 saves in his career, good for fourth on the all-time list.
Former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton came awfully close to Cooperstown in 2021. Helton received 72.2% of the vote, just shy of the 75% threshold. Helton did spend all of his career with the Rockies, but his splits away from Coors Field were solid:
- Home: .345/.441/.607, 227 HR, 119 tOPS+
- Away: .287/.386/.469, 142, 80 tOPS+
Helton’s production did dip towards the end of his career. But, Helton’s 46.6 WAR7 is ahead of both Rolen and Andruw Jones. It’s more than likely that Helton will be able to crack the 75% marker in 2024, joining Larry Walker in the Hall.
Out of all the new candidates on the list for 2024, the only one who is a lock to make it is third baseman Adrián Beltré. Beltré’s 48.7 WAR7 ranks third among all eligible players, behind only Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez. Unlike those two, Beltré can check a number of other boxes. Besides not being involved with PEDs, Beltré did crack the 3,000 hit plateau in 2018. Beltré was also a tremendous power hitter, one who hit 477 career dingers and posted twelve 20+ home run campaigns.
A tremendous hitter at the plate, Beltré also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. Given his prowess in the field and at the plate, it’s practically a given that Beltré will head to Cooperstown one year after Rolen takes his spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In addition to Beltré, other notable names to be on the ballot for the first time include David Wright, Chase Utley, and Joe Mauer.