The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 for Major League Baseball will be announced at 6 pm ET on Tuesday, January 23rd. I do not have an official vote. However, after seeing some of the ballots made public, I am confident that I know more, or even care more, about baseball and the Hall of Fame than some writers with the privilege to vote. The system needs to be looked at again, especially how they decide who actually gets a vote and how long they keep it. But that is an article for another day. Instead of going on with the negativity, let's celebrate a few guys who have a real shot at induction this year and also take a look at the players who I would have on my 2024 ballot.
I have been driving the Abreu induction train since he appeared on the ballot. The man could flat-out play the game of baseball. He had a rare combination of speed, power, and plate discipline. Abreu holds the record for most seasons (9) with 60+ extra-base hits and 20+ stolen bases. He is in the Top 50 all-time of reaching base. Abreu was also durable as he played in 150+ games 13 times in his career. Unfortunately, most writers do not feel consistent excellence for 13 years is better than a peak of seven and good play otherwise. Hopefully, Abreu will gain some support over the second half of his candidacy.
This should be a no-brainer. Not only was Beltran a premier centerfielder, but he was also one of the best switch-hitters the game has seen. He has the best stolen base percentage in history (min. 200 attempts) at 86.43. Beltran is also one of only six players with 1,000 extra-base hits, 1,500 runs, 1,500 RBIs, and 300 stolen bases. The others are Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb.
This is another easy one. Beltre is comfortably in the top 10 all-time among third basemen. He is second in dWAR to the legendary Brooks Robinson. Of the 31 third basemen with more than 10 dWAR, Wade Boggs is the only other one with 3,000 hits and Mike Schmidt is the only other one with 400 home runs.
The Coors Field Effect has kept Helton out of the Hall of Fame for long enough. There are plenty of players who hit better at home. Just ask Boggs who had a lower OPS on the road than Helton by .074. Helton is the only player ever to have back-to-back 100 extra-base hit seasons.
I know his sharp decline turns some voters off. However, in his prime, from 1998-2006, Jones was incredible. His 162-game averages over that span are .270/.347/.513, 36 home runs, 13 stolen bases, 102 runs, and 107 RBIs. Did I also mention he won a Gold Glove in each of those seasons? His dWAR is the best all-time in centerfield. Among the 17 centerfielders with at least 10 dWAR, Jones's 111 OPS+ is second behind Mays.
Mauer was a catcher for nine full seasons. In that time, he won three batting titles, an MVP, and was the best catcher in the major leagues for most of that stretch. He slashed .323/.406/.466 from 2005-2013 and won three Gold Gloves. He also led the league in caught-stealing percentage and was only below league average in that category once.
There are 13 players to slash .300/.400/.500 for their careers (min. 9,000 plate appearances), but only four of them were right-handed hitters: Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Jimmie Foxx, and Rogers Hornsby. Of those four, Manny has the most extra-base hits, the most home runs, and is second to Foxx in RBIs. I don't really care about the steroids, so Ramirez gets my vote.
The numbers speak for themselves. A-Rod had nearly 700 home runs, slashed .295/.380/.550, and had over 2,000 runs and 2,000 RBIs. He fits in the same category as Manny. Many writers won't vote for either because they actually were suspended for PEDs. If you're a borderline case then I can see that, but in the cases of A-Rod and Ramirez, it shouldn't matter.
Sheffield is getting dinged for his steroid use and ties to BALCO. While he was never suspended, the cloud has hung over him throughout his candidacy. He was such a feared hitter and has the rare distinction of hitting 500 home runs and walking 300 more times than he struck out. There have been five players in history to have done it: Sheffield, Bonds, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Mel Ott.
The best left-handed reliever ever should be in the Hall of Fame. He finished his career with 422 saves, only two behind John Franco for the top spot among southpaws. Wagner had a sparkling 2.31 ERA, a WHIP below 1.00, and a strikeout-to-walk rate of a hair under four-to-one.
Hall of Fame Thoughts
With only 10 votes, there are a few guys who got squeezed, namely Chase Utley and David Wright. Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Torii Hunter, and Jimmy Rollins all have interesting cases. I don't think they are Hall of Famers, however, if they stay on the ballot, I could be persuaded to vote for them.
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