Baseball Hall of Fame 2023 vote results: 11 takeaways, including hopes for Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltrán

The results of the 2023 BBWAA portion of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote have been revealed and Scott Rolen is now a member of the Hall of Famehaving obtained 76.3% of the votes. Here are the full results with official voting percentages. Players needed 75% of the vote to get there and at least 5% of the vote to stay on the ballot next year, for up to 10 years.

Let’s dive deeper into the biggest takeaways from our Hall of Fame season.

1. It’s actually a two-person class

First, the contemporary era committee has already selected Fred McGriff. There will be a Hall of Fame ceremony honoring two players this summer. McGriff is 59 while Rolen is 47. Both have played for a handful of teams and it should make for a fun weekend.

2. Rolen’s case can give hope

In 2018, on a much more crowded poll, Rolen got just 10.2% of the vote. But as the ballot has cleared over the years with Hall of Famers inductees and high-profile players falling without an inductee, smudges have emerged on the ballots of Rolen voters. There was also an outpouring of support from multiple corners of the internet, pointing out that Rolen’s defense deserved much more credit and that showed up in stats like WAR.

Rolen’s move from 10.2% of the vote to writers was the largest in history. It’s a record that might not last long, as there are a few players we’ll talk about below who make a move similar to Rolen.

Certainly, big moves after pretty starts are a theme with several of the most prominent candidates on this ballot.

3. Helton just on the precipice

As I detailed while discussing Rolen last month, it’s incredibly rare for players to go over 62% with free time on the ballot and not be elected soon after, whether it’s just an extra ballot or two. Rolen had passed that milestone last year and did so this time around. Next, Todd Helton.

Helton, in his fifth year, scored 72.2%. It would be unprecedented for a player to reach that level of voting in their fifth year and not be inducted into the Hall.

Using the available data, zero public votes had 10 votes that did not include Helton. That is to say, even with players like Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer on the ballot next year, the overwhelming majority of voters either voted for Helton or have spots available to add him. There will be new voters. Some voters will expire because they will no longer cover the game. Some voters reconsider their stance on players once they get closer to the 75% mark.

For all these reasons, Helton will almost certainly be elected next year.

4. Beltran has hope

Carlos Beltrán has a statistical record that belongs in the Hall of Fame, but since his retirement, the sign-stealing scandal has clouded his Hall of Fame chances (full details here).

The good news here for Beltrán is that he starts with a pretty decent number: 46.5% of the vote on his first try.

It’s not the best comparison to loop into PED-connected drives, but it’s the best we’ve got. Players who were kicked out of the Hall of Fame due to being tied to DEPs started in the mid-30s in percentage or lower. Most of them were inferior, in fact it was really only Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in the mid 30’s.

With Beltrán starting here, he’s already in a much better position. Anecdotally, I have also read several articles by prominent writers who have said they plan to reconsider their position in the coming years after not voting for Beltrán here in his first election. And some people really consider the “first-round Hall of Famer” a sacred honor.

Overall, I think Beltrán’s results are net positive. We’ll see how much progress he makes next time around — with the unattached “first ballot” and perhaps a few of those aforementioned writers reconsidering his case — without making any sweeping claims, though.

5. A-Rod has less hope

The Hall of Fame case for Alex Rodriguez is complicated. We all already knew that. Before last year’s vote, we couldn’t know exactly how the vote would start to unfold for him. It was his second ballot and it was his first without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Bonds might be the best track record here between PED connections and all-time big numbers by a position player, although Bonds was never suspended under MLB’s JDA and A-Rod was nailed with one of the greatest punishments in history. Bonds started in the mid-1930s and hit 66% in its final year. The electorate will continue to evolve into a more new-school mindset, but there are future voters who would have voted in bonds and wouldn’t go with A-Rod due to the suspension.

Well, A-Rod got 34.3% of the vote last year and 35.7% this time.

It’s probably in the range of stagnation, right? I know I often mention things about the electorate changing, opinions changing and stuff like that, but he barely budged.

Simply, while things could change, he seems to be stuck.

6. Wagner, Jones in good shape now

Billy Wagner started in 2016 with about 10% of the votes (note the Rolen section above). In four rounds it was just 16.7%, but it’s on the move now.

2020: 31.7%
2021: 46.4%
2022: 51%
2023: 68.1%

Wagner still has two ballots left and a real shot at going home. It could even happen next year. He’s really close now.

Not quite as close, but moving in range nonetheless is Andruw Jones. He started sweating just staying above five percent. He only got 7.5% on his second ballot, but then started to gain ground.

2020: 19.4%
2021: 33.9%
2022: 41.4%
2023: 58.1%

It was Jones’ sixth time on the ballot, so he has four more voting cycles to make up less than 20%. If so, he would easily break Rolen’s record.

However, with the two players, but especially with Jones since he is further away: there is always the danger of capping. That is to say, a player can reach a certain percentage and then stagnate. It varies from player to player because, well, each Hall of Fame case is unique and they’re all voted on by an ever-changing electorate.

Overall, though, things are looking up for Wagner and it really looks like Jones has the momentum to finally bring him in. Someone who plateaued in recent years and maybe had a good night was an all-time great bat waggler.

7. Sheffield within reach?

It was Gary Sheffield’s ninth appearance on the ballot. He made big gains in 2019-21, going from 13.6% to 40.6%, but he got exactly 40.6% again in 2022. It looked like all hope might be lost. Instead, he moved on to the maybe overused but still fun “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” range.

Sheffield got 55% of the vote this year.

Maybe there will be a nice final year bump? Kent got a boost of over 13%, although that wouldn’t be enough. Larry Walker, who jumped from 54.6% in his ninth year to 76.6 to go on his last try, was one of the biggest jumps in the final ballot in a single year.

If Sheffield can make such gains with the electorate next year, it will enter. It’s a very high hill to climb, obviously, but it’s possible.

8. Kent falls on the ballot

Jeff Kent was the only player on that ballot for the 10th time. As such, it was his proverbial swan song. We knew he wasn’t going to come any closer, but he set a new high with 46.5% of the vote, more than 10 percentage points above his previous high of 32.7%. It’s a feather in his cap to get almost 50% of the vote while hanging around on the ballot for a decade. It’s hard to be on the ballot and Kent can rest easy knowing that he clearly made baseball history.

Also, my intuition is Kent will fare much better with committee votes (like McGriff), so it might be a blessing in disguise. I’d bet he’s in the Hall within the next decade.

9. Possible reason for optimism?

The following players are lower on the ballot but have a chance of catching lightning in a bottle like Rolen did (and the same way Helton, Jones and maybe Sheffield and Wagner are).

  • Andy Pettitte went from 10.7% to 17. It’s his fifth year on the ballot, so he’ll need bigger jumps, but it’s a place to start.
  • Bobby Abreu went from 8.6 to 15.4 percent in his fourth year. It’s a very nice bump.
  • Jimmy Rollins went from 9.4 to 12.9%. Very modest indeed on winnings and vote percentage, but it’s only his second round and Chase Utley is coming soon. It’s always possible, when discussing Utley and Rollins together on the ballot, that there’s a mutual push to vote for the double-play combo. It didn’t work for Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, but times are changing.
  • Mark Buehrle went from 5.8 to 10.8%. I dived into his case as an all-time workaholic recently and maybe others will continue to come around him.
  • This was Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez’s first ballot. He started with 10.8% of the vote. While Rolen’s entry gives hope to all players, Wagner’s move is especially telling with K-Rod and other elite-level closers moving forward. It’s much harder for those closer to make the Hall, but Wagner’s arrival next year could help pave the way for some momentum for K-Rod.

10. No Man’s Land

Now on to the players who seem to have no chance of induction even though they continue to linger on the ballot.

  • Manny Ramirez actually went from 28.9% to 33.2%, but he’s still not halfway there and has just three ballots left. I just don’t see enough room for improvement there.
  • Omar Vizquel’s descent continues. From 52.6 in 2020 to 49.1 to 23.9 and now at 19.5% on his sixth try. He’s more likely to land on the ballot before his 10th birthday is over than to turn it around and be consecrated.
  • Torii Hunter rose from 5.3 to 6.9%, but is still very close to being at 5% after a very small gain in its third year. He probably needs to rise more than 10% next year to have any hope, but I guess that’s all just a formality.

11. Five Percent

The following players did not reach five percent of the vote, meaning they are removed from the ballot going forward: Bronson Arroyo, RA Dickey, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Huston Street, Matt Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, JJ Hardy, Jhonny Peralta, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth. Notably, they are all beginners. Each vestige obtained at least five percent of the votes.

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