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2024 Mock Hall of Fame Ballot

Every year, I fill out a mock Hall of Fame ballot and I always vote for ten players, thinking that it is a statement for a “big Hall of Fame.” Recently, I was reading an article that mentioned Lou Whitaker, Hall of Famer Alan Trammell’s double play partner, who arguably had a better full career, that dropped off the ballot after just one year. To compare, Whitaker had a higher WAR, more hits, homers, RBI and a higher OBP and SLG over his career and one more Silver Slugger Award than Trammell who had more stolen bases and a higher batting average, while winning one more Gold Glove, going to one more All-Star Game and finishing second in the 1987 MVP balloting, which he should have won. The writer of that article noted that it was a rather loaded ballot that Lou was edged out of the voting. Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett were inducted on their first ballot, and the ballot sported seven future inductees, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris. There were also a number of guys that also missed their shot at the Hall but have a really good case, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Luis Tiant and Keith Hernandez. If someone in 2001 were to fill out their ballot with all nine players so worthy of the hall that they eventually got in, Whitaker still had competition with another six players who also deserve a longer look. This had me thinking that 2001 was some kind of aberration of an entire ballot filled with Hall of Famers, and looking back through to the year that I started paying attention to the game, 1991, until ballots were somewhat cleared out in 2018 and 2019 with four writers ballot and two veterans committee inductees each year. That 2018 ballot had nine Hall of Famers on the ballot and every ballot in that time had 9-14 Hall of Famers per ballot, with one year sporting only eight. That’s a pretty crowded ballot when they are capped at ten players per vote.

There are a few controversial inductees in that time, but I have to assume that every voting baseball writer has one or two or more players that they covered that never made the Hall, but they believe deserved a better shot. Perhaps not on their first ballot, there is the odd distinction by some writers that players that get in on their first ballot or are unanimous inductees are somehow more of a Hall of Famer than the others, but their plaques are all mounted in the same room, at the same height. Every ballot and every era of baseball should have representative classes of Hall of Famers, and perhaps the eras with more players, more teams in the league and more diversity of players should also have more Hall of Famers than an era of the game with only 16 teams and no minorities and limited players from other countries. It’s great that with the addition of the Negro Leagues as a major league there is a greater spotlight calling to add more forgotten stars that were never allowed to play in MLB, but perhaps there should be more players that never played in the US at all, as well. I really am a “Big Hall” guy, perhaps “The Biggest Hall.”

As for the players of today, there are a few statistical mile-markers we can look at as “average Hall of Famers.” I figured it would be pretty handy to get a sense of the stats of average Hall of Famers to compare to the guys on the ballot and to supply comparable Hall of Famers to those numbers.


69 WAR (Tony Gwynn), 2411 Hits (Mickey Mantle, 2415), 1330 R (Barry Larkin, 1329), 225 HR (Bobby Doerr, 223), 1230 RBI (Gary Carter, 1225), 224 SB (Dave Winfield, 223), .302 AVG (Willie Mays), .376 OBP (Harmon Killebrew), .841 OPS (Carl Yastrzemski), 6 All-Star Games (Jackie Robinson).


69 WAR (Don Sutton), 246 W (Juan Marichal, 243), 3.00 ERA (Dizzy Dean, 3.02), 2127 Ks (Roy Halladay, 2117), 412 SVs (Closers only, Dennis Eckersley, 390) 4 All-Star Games (Dizzy Dean).

Last year, Scott Rolen just made it through the voting threshold for induction into the Hall of Fame, joining the smallest positional class in the Hall, third basemen boast the fewest members of any position. Fred McGriff was inducted through the Veterans Committee after failing to make the 75% threshold for ten years on the Writers Ballot. Both were players that made my mock ballots each year I filled one out. It was also the first year after controversial players Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa dropped off the ballot after ten tries. Each one of them made a solid case for the Hall based on the numbers alone, but each one had either personality issues or personality and PED issues going against them for the voters. 

This year’s ballot sports a solid class of returning players as well as a number of very interesting newcomers. There are a few solid players with controversies surrounding them, but there’s also a possibility of a larger class of inductees with great resumes that are also beloved personalities in the game.

Todd Helton, 1B (72.2% in 2023, 6th year)

46.6 WAR, 2519 H, 592 2B, 369 HR, .316 AVG, .414 OBP, .539 SLG, 5x AS, 3x GG, 4x SS

During his playing career, Helton was a player that was considered to be very much on track for the Hall even without monumental home run numbers. Of note, his consistency hitting doubles, Helton was one he is the only hitter in the top twenty of all-time doubles leaders with less than 10,000 plate appearances, paired with an incredible ability to get on base, at a .414 OBP clip. To compare him to a recent Hall of Fame inductee, Edgar Martinez was voted into the Hall as a DH known for hitting doubles and getting on base, 514 doubles and a .418 OBP. Helton was right on track with those numbers, if not quite a bit higher with doubles, while also playing a slick first base with a decent 107 total zone rating. Helton seems to be gaining steam with his vote totals and the prejudices against the Coors Field effects and a dip in the second half of his career seem to be weakening enough that he has a real shot at induction this year. 

Billy Wagner, LHP - closer (68.1% in 2023, 9th year)

27.7 WAR, 422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, 1196 K, 11.9 K/9, 7x AS, Rolaids

A small pitcher, listed at 5'10" but perhaps a bit shorter in actuality, Wagner used that lower release point and incredible velocity to his advantage. Apparently, the physics of throwing a baseball make it impossible to toss it with enough spin and velocity to make it actually rise between the pitcher's release and home plate, but that's exactly the optical illusion Wagner was able to achieve. This lefty's "rising fastball" made him so difficult to hit over his entire career that he was one of the most consistently dominant closers in MLB history. Five of his sixteen seasons he posted an ERA under 2.00, and his best year may just have been his last in 2010 as a 38 year old on the Braves. Only in Atlanta for the one season, he tallied one of the great final seasons of anyone, especially with such a decorated career: seven wins in relief, 37 saves, 104 strikeouts in 69.1 innings and a .865 WHIP over 71 games. That season capped off a career with the second most saves by a left hander in MLB history, just two short of John Franco, and sixth on the overall list. As his time on the ballot is waning, Wagner seems close enough that he just might get over the hump in vote total with one last year of insurance. 

Andruw Jones, OF (58.1% in 2023, 7th year)

62.7 WAR, 1933 H, 434 HR, 152 SB, .254 AVG, .337 OBP, .486 SLG, 5x AS, 10x GG, SS

While his strike out numbers could be ugly at times, Jones was an incredible power hitting outfielder, even as a teenager, and one of the best fielders ever to play the game. With the eye test he was incredible, but by the numbers his total zone rating, fielding as it relates to the rest of the league in that season, he was off the charts great, with numbers in the 30’s and 20’s almost every year, something I haven’t seen from many other players in history. To compare, Ozzie Smith had three seasons with total zone ratings in the 20’s and one over 30, and Jones had four seasons in the 20’s, and two over 30 and finished with a career zone ratings 15 points higher despite having a bit of a drop off his last five seasons. There just aren't very many players with the consistency and reputation as a fielder to win ten Gold Glove Awards as Jones did, he is tied for the tenth most awards with four Hall of Famers and future first ballot inductee, Ichiro.

Gary Sheffield, OF (55.0% in 2023, 10th year)

60.5 WAR, 2689 H, 509 HR, 253 SB, .292 AVG, .393 OBP, .514 SLG, 9x AS, 5x SS

I took a two year hiatus from mock voting for Sheffield, the ballots have been a little bloated and he was a guy I felt was safe to stay on the ballot. This year, he seems to be inching closer to induction. Sheff was a bit of a “superstar for hire” over his career, playing for eight teams over his 22 year career. One of the quickest swings I have ever seen, Sheff was not easy to strike out and that bat speed added up to a lot of home runs. He won the batting title in 1992 (.330) as a 23 year old third baseman in San Diego and led the league in OBP (.465) and OPS (1.090) in 1996 as a right fielder for the Marlins. From 1999 to ‘05 Sheffield had a run of six out of seven seasons with 30 or more homers and 100 or more RBI as he entered his 30’s. This is his last shot at the writer's ballot and I'm hopeful that urgency will overshadow the specter of PED use. 

Carlos Beltran, OF (46.5% in 2023, 2nd Year)

70.1 WAR, 2725 H, 435 HR, 312 SB, .279 AVG, .350 OBP, .486 SLG, 9x AS, 3x GG, 2x SS, 2017 WS, 1999 ROY

In all of MLB history only Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran can claim to be in the 400 homer and 300 steal club. As great as his regular season numbers were, he was even better in the postseason, hitting .307, getting on base at a .412 clip and slugging .609 in 7 trips spanning 13 years. Beltran really would have been a shoe-in for being a first ballot Hall of Famer if it wasn’t for his involvement with the Astros sign stealing scandal in the post season of his final year before retirement. Sign stealing, spitballs and other bending of the rules have been rampant throughout the history of baseball, I’m not really sure if a moral judgment should be placed on involvement. Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” is a home run that is now celebrated not just for the drama of the hit but also for the subterfuge of relaying the sign for the pitch as observed with binoculars from the dead center field stands.

Alex Rodriguez, SS/3B (35.7% in 2023, 3rd Year)

117.5 WAR, 3115 H, 558 2B, 696 HR, 2086 RBI, 339 SB, .295 AVG, .380 OBP, .550 SLG, 3x MVP, 14x AS, 2x GG, 10x SS, 2009 WS

ARod grew up torn between two cultures, born in New York City, he moved to the Dominican Republic at the age of four and back to Miami when he was in fourth grade. When the family was in Miami, his father left them because Florida wasn’t fast paced enough for him, moving to New York City. During both moves Alex struggled with new languages and struggled to fit in. Struggling to fit in and getting himself into trouble because of it was a theme in his playing career as well, breaking out with the Mariners, but signing as a free agent with the Rangers soon after his mentor Ken Griffey, Jr. was traded to Cincinnati. He admitted to taking PEDs when he joined Texas due to the pressures of signing in biggest contract in MLB histoy. After three losing seasons with the Rangers he was traded to the Yankees, where he enjoyed winning seasons, but struggles in the post season and a rift with team captain Derek Jeter after ARod disparaged him in an interview, and later in his career he alligned himself with the notorious PED pipeline of Biogensis after an injury that resulted in a year long suspension. All the while he went through a highly publicised divorce and some celebrity relationships. 

It’s easy to get stuck on his awkward personality and various scandals to forget that ARod had one of the great careers in baseball history. His numbers put him in the conversation of the greatest players ever, at perhaps the most demanding defensive positions in the game. His five tools and great speed, just the third 40-40 player in baseball, put him in an echelon of players consisting of just Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. All-time, he has the 12th best WAR for position players, ranks fifth in home runs, fourth in RBI and is one of just eight players ever to hit at least 300 homers and steal 300 bases. Only he and Willie Mays have 300 steals and homers as well as 3000 hits. 

Mark Buehrle, LHP (10.8% in 2023, 4th Year)

59.1 WAR,  214 W, 3.81 ERA, 1.281 WHIP, 1870 K, 5x AS, 4x GG, 2005 WS

Aside from their terribly misspelled surnames, Veterans’ Committee recently elected Jim Kaat and former White Sox star Mark Buehrle had very similar careers as two of the best fielding pitchers of their respective eras. Kaat is one of the most decorated fielding players in MLB history earning 16 Gold Glove Awards, second only to Greg Maddux and tied with Brooks Robinson, a three-time All-Star with a World Series Championship, and three trips to the All-Star Game, his 283 wins, 3.45 ERA and 2461 strike outs over 25 years amounted to a 50.5 WAR. Similarly, Buehrle was a highlight reel fielder on the mound, winning four Gold Gloves, five trips to All-Star Games and a World Series Ring of his own. His play on the field was rather flashy, but it was also statistically quantifiable as exceptional, he had four seasons with 10+ defensive runs saved, and his first three seasons came before the stat was measured. That might not be eye popping for a positional player, but he was able to do it in 31 to 35 games on the mound. If a position player fielded to that level they would be pushing 50 defensive runs saved in a season. The all time best season was Andrelton Simmons with 41 defensive runs saved in 2017. This past season former Gold Glove 3B Matt Chapman tied for 24th in the defensive runs saved category with 12 DRS, a mark Buehrle equaled twice in about a quarter of the games played.  While Buehrle’s 214 wins, 3.81 ERA and 1870 K’s over 16 seasons are dwarfed by Kaat, his 59.1 WAR place the lefty in favorable light to the Hall of Famer’s 50.5 career WAR.

The First Timers

Adrian Beltre, 3B 

93.5 WAR, 3166 H, 477 HR, .286 AVG, .339 OBP, .480 SLG, 4x AS, 5x GG, 4x SS, 2x Platinum Glove

You can start engraving the plaque, Beltre is looking like he will have one of the highest vote totals in the history of the Writer's Ballot and for good reason. His combination of high level fielding and high level hitting isn't just just rare, he is alone with Roberto Clemente as the only two players with 3000 hits and 200 fielding runs above average. It’s not just that he was an especially good fielder and quite good at driving in runs, Beltre was a great teammate and a player with a sense of humor. 

Joe Mauer, C

55.2 WAR, 2123 H, 428 2B, 143 HR, .306 AVG, .388 OBP, .439 SLG, 2009 MVP, 6x MVP, 3x GG, 5x SS

Mauer's career was split in two, from catcher to first base, and from the indoor confines of the Metrodome to the cold outdoors of Target Field. While he didn't have the home run power of a prototypical 1B but he was always an on base machine with six seasons over .400 OBP and three batting titles. Every other player with at least three batting titles since 1900 is in the Hall of Fame with the exception of Pete Rose. While his 2123 hits is not eye popping in a historical sense, he spent most of his career at catcher, if he were active now, he would be second on the list of active hit leaders. The days of an expanding 3000 hit club might be waning as on base percentage gets more recognition and Mauer’s .3881 career clip ties Freddie Freeman and barely trails Tony Gwynn’s .3882 OBP. More than a statistical leader, he was the face of the twins as a home grown first overall pick for the Twins and led a class of players that came through the minor league system together and for years in the majors. 

Chase Utley, 2B

64.5 WAR, 1885 H, 411 2B, 259 HR, .275 AVG, .358 OBP, .465 SLG, 6x AS, 4x SS, 2008 WS

When it comes to all-time WAR or home runs at the second base position, Utley is in a class of all Hall of Famers, or all-time great guys, Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich, whose shot at the Hall was more deserved than their Writers’ Ballot vote totals. Utley was the leader of the Phillies during a run in the 2000’s that brought the Phillies to consecutive World Series, winning the trophy in 2008. He played much better in the year that they lost to the Yankees, hitting five home runs in that series, than the year they actually won it. His career WAR is sandwiched between Jackie Robinson and Craig Biggio, within a point of both legends, and he has the seventh most homers at the position. Not only was he a great power hitter for the position but also a pretty great fielder, 123 career defensive runs saved and the same defensive WAR total as defensive great Dick Groat, despite never winning a Gold Glove during his career. The Platinum Glove award for the best fielder in the majors started in 2011, but if it existed in 2008, Utley should have walked away with it thanks to a 30 defensive runs saved season… and he still lost out on the NL second baseman award to Brandon Philips who scored only 13 defensive runs saved. He likely should have walked home with six of those trophies, and he deserves a plaque in Cooperstown as well.

Just missed

There’s one name that I nearly added for the first time this year, Manny Ramirez. He just missed for me here and didn’t really get much consideration his previous years on the ballot despite eye popping stats and incredible baseball moments to witness as a Red Sox Fan in the 2000’s. The multiple failed PED tests are really hard to get over, although I know that a lot of his accomplishments were of his own doing.

I had four players that fell off my ballot this year due to all of the deserving newcomers this year. Andy Pettitte, who I often bundle with Mark Buerhle, is quite deserving as a key member of the Yankees “Core Four.” Jimmy Rollins really deserves to go in alongside Chase Utley as Lou Whittaker should have been enshrined with Alan Trammell. Bobby Abreu will likely get his day as a perhaps the ultimate sabermetrics dark horse of his time. KRod, Francisco Rodriguez is not heralded enough for being number four on the career saves list behind only Hall of Famers,  Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith.


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