Matthew Roberson: Examining the newcomers on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot
Published in Baseball
NEW YORK — Scott Rolen was the only member of the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot to be granted induction by the writers, and next year he’ll be joined by one of the only men on the planet who can credibly claim to be a better third baseman than he was.
Along with that defensive maestro (whose 3,166 hits will make him a shoo-in) there will be some other newcomers who stand no chance of seeing Cooperstown. Players like Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez and Brandon Phillips — who all reached the requisite 10 years of service time needed to appear on the ballot — were all excellent players who delivered memorable moments but will fall well short of the necessary vote total.
In breaking down the new batch of players whose Hall of Fame cases will be dissected for the first time next winter, we find the aforementioned lock, and beneath him, a few guys who have very credible merits but will definitely need some time if they’re going to get in.
Armed with a better resume than Rolen, there should be no problem getting Beltre 75% of the vote next year. Beltre is one of 33 big leaguers to amass 3,000 hits, he has five Gold Gloves, four All-Star Game appearances and Silver Sluggers, and even two Platinum Gloves that distinguished him as the very best fielder in the entire league.
Beltre also finished in the top 10 of MVP voting six times, led MLB in homers in 2004, led the league in hits in 2013 and batted .300 in seven different seasons. Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews are the only third basemen with more Wins Above Replacement than Beltre, who is more than deserving of first-ballot Hall of Fame status.
Mauer’s case isn’t as ironclad as Beltre’s, but like Rolen, the Twins icon should be inducted after a few years of waiting.
Every catcher ahead of Mauer on Baseball-Reference’s all-time WAR list has a plaque in Cooperstown, as do the two guys behind him (Ted Simmons and Mickey Cochrane). His .306 batting average is just two points shy of the career mark put up by Mike Piazza, widely considered the best offensive catcher ever. While Piazza has the edge in slugging percentage, Mauer has him beat in on-base percentage, something that should help him curry favor with modern voters.
Other things Mauer has going for him: he is the only catcher to ever win three batting titles, he has an MVP on the mantle and he played all 15 years of his career with one team, which strikes a chord for several members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
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