Ballot No. 25: Álex Rodríguez, Adrian Beltré, Carlos Beltrán, Joe Mauer, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Chase Utley, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte

The 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot marks my 25th consecutive year of fulfilling this incredible privilege as a BBWAA voter. That first ballot came in late 1999, and I mailed it back just before the new millennium arrived with Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez in Cooperstown.

We have elected 45 Major League greats over that quarter-century, and I voted for all of them except Jim Rice (2009), Andre Dawson (2010) and Bert Blyleven (2011). I overhauled my own voting approach in 2015 to prioritize WAR and JAWS metrics and always check the maximum 10 boxes, a big change from the old small-ballot days of “elite of the elite” certainty.

For most of that time, we would mail back our ballots and it was a mystery until the announcement. That all changed with social media and the BBHOF Tracker, which added more accountability and made voters more informed. It even allowed us to factor in a candidate who might be in danger of falling off the ballot.

One topic dominated this quarter-century of balloting, of course, and that was steroid use. Some voters used their ballot to take a stand. Others, self included, purposely avoided the issue because no writer will ever know all who did and didn’t.

Everyone will be in the Hall one day soon enough — Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Álex Rodríguez, etc. Feelings fade and performance prevails. Look how many Negro Leaguers were enshrined long after people of certain beliefs faded away. Times just change. Today we know what a large percentage of plaques (Bill Mazeroski?!) don’t belong there.

That whole PED issue caused a major ballot bottleneck that ultimately resulted in the election of an astounding 18 players over a six-year period, from 2014-19. Younger fans had become upset that their favorite players were excluded from the Hall, so this was a reactionary wave.

Now we are back to a crawl — only four electees in the four years since that period ended. The steroid debate goes on, as A-Rod and Manny Ramírez have obvious numbers for entry but will be denied, probably through their 10-year eligibility.

Another key issue over this quarter-century was the downsizing of the voting body. The Hall of Fame instituted a procedure that required voter registration, to determine how many people still cover baseball and to “sunset” those who stop covering it. It has reduced the number of voters during this quarter-century from a high of 581 in 2011 to only 389 last year. That skews younger, more stats and analysis, more 10-check ballots, more public and accountable.

So Happy New Year the traditional way, with the following 10 check marks, in order:

Álex Rodríguez, Adrian Beltré, Carlos Beltrán, Joe Mauer, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Chase Utley, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield and Andy Pettitte.

Here is a closer look at how I completed the 2024 ballot and the bubble breakdown.

1. Álex Rodríguez. Two of the top five all-time home run hitters are not in Cooperstown, Bonds (762) and A-Rod (696). Hank Aaron is second with 755 and Babe Ruth third with 714. Albert Pujols, fourth with 703, will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration on the 2028 ballot. All five plaques should be there, not to mention Pete Rose’s. One day it will all be corrected. As noted, I have never factored the steroid subject into voting. No writer will ever know all who did and who didn’t. Even if you exclude A-Rod because he admittedly used, you don’t know that David Ortiz from last year’s HOF class didn’t. I voted Bonds/Clemens the whole way. I don’t go there.

2. Adrian Beltré. Obvious first-rounder despite never winning a ring. Not in Mike Schmidt’s class at 3B, but has a higher voting percentage as “good guys” are overcompensated today. If he’s almost unanimous, then Ichiro definitely should be unanimous next year. Ichiro > Beltré.

3. Carlos Beltrán. No. 8 all-time in WAR among center fielders, only Mike Trout isn’t in (yet) above him. Here’s another great example of inconsistency among voters. Proven cheater, knew what pitches were coming and condoned it for at least the last full year that I worked for MLB.com (2017), yet he has a much higher voting percentage than A-Rod, who is far more deserving statistically. Who decides what cheating is good and what is bad? Even if you cheated for one game, you cheated!

4. Joe Mauer. No-brainer going by WAR/JAWS, first-ballot. Doesn’t have much October street cred as Twins generally sucked in the postseason, but you can’t argue with his rank.

5. Todd Helton. Should have already been in, this time he’ll probably make it for a trio. Doesn’t matter what altitude he played in, he was steady excellence for a long, long time. I don’t know about you, but I still love a guy who plays his whole career with one franchise.

6. Andruw Jones. No. 14 all-time in WAR among center fielders, far ahead of a bunch of undeserving Hall of Famers like Hack Wilson or Earl Combs. And he’s 11th in JAWS! Lloyd Waner is in despite being 97th in JAWS. We know stuff today. Stop the madness and vote for this guy.

7. Chase Utley. No. 15 all-time in WAR among 2B, just ahead of Jackie Robinson. Ranks 12th in 2B JAWS, right above Lou Whitaker, who is ridiculously omitted from the Hall to date. It’s just further reminder that Whitaker (No. 7 in WAR) should be in alongside his double play partner Alan Trammell.

8. Billy Wagner. Ninth year on the ballot and was in the low 60s for percentage around Christmas. I started voting annually for Wagner in 2020, the year after the bottleneck was cleared. Think he will get in next year, especially if three get in this year. Ask any hitter he faced.

9. Gary Sheffield. Tenth and final year on the ballot, guessing Sheff will come up a little short…  but once again doing what I can here. Became more popular with writers in later life.

10. Andy Pettitte. The Yankee left-hander was king of the postseason era, the guy who won after a playoff loss. He ranks 65th all-time in WAR (60.2) among starting pitchers, which is strong. There are only eight starting pitchers above him who are excluded, save for the ones who are either locks down the road (i.e. Jason Verlander and Clayton Kershaw) or the banished (i.e. Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling). Have voted for him every year but it doesn’t look like he will go in through the BBWAA. I feel there is still too much legend to ignore. DISCUSS


Any of these guys could be a nice No. 10. Maybe next year.

11. Jimmy Rollins. Will probably vote for him next year, was No. 10 here but want to help keep Pettitte on for more discussion. I waited long enough to take a peek at the Tracker so I know J-Roll is in no danger of falling off the ballot. Let’s be honest, Utley/Rollins was a good notch below “Trammaker” in Detroit. But you can still make a case for Rollins, who ranks 26th in all-time WAR among shortstops with 47.6. Except for A-Rod, only three shortstops above him are not in the Hall: Bill Dahlen, Bert Campaneris and Jim Fregosi. Campy is a gross omission to date, more deserving than J-Roll.

12. Manny Ramírez. Dropping him this year as a “lost cause” candidate, the same way I eventually dropped Big Mac. I’m done at least for now. Numbers are obviously Cooperstown-worthy but no room for him on the 2024 ballot.

13. Bobby Abreu. On-again, off-again bubble pick for me over the years. He ranks 20th all-time in RF WAR, right behind Sheff. Abreu is halfway through his eligibility, and looks like a struggle.

14. Omar Vizquel. Still can’t see it from the BBWAA. And yet I still see him getting in via an Era ballot one day as his glove was so stupendously good. Why is his campaign so lifeless? He has sabotaged his own case with a several off-field issues.

Big cliff dropoff here.

15. David Wright. Coulda shoulda woulda been a contender, just didn’t play long enough for the Mets. Even Don Mattingly made a longer case before he faded from contention. Great guy and great memories, even for the USA in that first World Baseball Classic.

That’s it. Frankie Rodríguez needs too much hype and too much arcane metric creativity, don’t see ever voting for him.

Looking forward next year to Ichiro. Will he be the second unanimous first-ballot selection? I think he should be, but there’s always that someone in our crowd.

Writers are still a good group to do this voting. The Era committees have improved, with many wrongs righted in recent years. There are still missing legends, still plaques that should be yanked off the wall, but bottom line there are awe-struck patrons in the Gallery whenever you walk through the Hall of Fame and that’s what it’s all about, right?

Looking forward to more fun years of elections, at least until the sun sets down here in sunny St. Pete…

Mark Newman is a recipient of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence and author of No. 1 bestseller Diamonds from the Dugout. He has been a pro sports beat writer for The Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and San Jose Mercury News; VP/GM at The Sporting News, and from 2002-2018 was a familiar byline to millions of baseball fans as Enterprise Editor and lead national writer for MLB.com plus the first 26,000 tweets & first 1.2 million followers as @MLB. The Indiana University graduate is a longtime Hall of Fame voting member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America working 25 World Series.

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        • I apparently missed that. Justin, Jason are very similar names. That said I knew his name was Justin but I probably saw what I expected to see when I read the article.

          • Jason, Justin, it’s all the same. I think Justin was the guy in the hockey mask on Friday the 13th, right Newman?

    • Me neither. Especially where he says the part about Mauer being a no-brainer by wars and Jaws. So your argument is that the guy is a no-brainer using hypothetical statistics? Brilliant. Agreed, Manny is a lost cause but A-rod is not? The Rodriguez/Wagner thing really makes no sense. Utley, Jones and Mauer are obvious to him but Abreu is on the bubble? Abreu was the best player on every Philadelphia team he was on and an all-around machine for years. Can’t believe this guy gets no support.

    • Don’t see anything amazing in the writing but I do see really weird explanations. K-Rod isn’t obvious but Wagner is? Almost the same guy. Manny is a lost cause but A-rod is not? How does that play out?

  1. “…then Ichiro definitely should be unanimous next year.” I bet at least 10 morons (I use the term loosely) don’t vote for him next year.

    • It’s funny how some people get worked up if a player they love isn’t a unanimous selection. Even Willie Mays, arguably the best overall player to play the game only got 409 of 432 votes (95%) his first year. Hank Aaron got 406/415 (98%), Mickey Mantle got 88%, Sandy Koufax 87%, Stan Musial 93%, Ted Williams 93%, Mel Ott 87%, etc.

      In 1936, the first year of HOF voting none of those elected were unanimous – Ty Cobb 98%, Babe Ruth 95%, Honus Wagner 95%, Christie Mathewson 91% & Walter Johnson 89%.

      Then there are the great players that weren’t even 1st ballot inductees such as Cy Young, the MLB record holder for W’s (511) and has 749 CG of 815 GS, wasn’t voted in until his 2nd time on the ballot (after getting 49% in 1936), Mel Ott his 3rd time, Joe Dimaggio the 4th time, and Roger Hornsby his 5th.

      So if Ichiro isn’t unanimous, why do you care? It should be about him getting voted in because he was a great player.

      • I think it’s not as much about wanting your favorite players to be unanimous but how silly the voting process is. People get pissed because these guys are supposedly the knowledgeable professionals who are responsible for electing the right players but instead apply personal agendas and stupidity to the process. What possible reason would anyone who knows baseball have to not vote for any of those guys you named? Every one of them should have been unanimous. And many more. You are half right, if the guy gets in then great but the same stupidity that keeps the best of all time from being unanimous also leads to second-tier, deserving guys not getting in at all and I’m pretty sure that’s what pisses off the fans the most. It’s an indictment of the process and they are doing it to themselves. Babe Ruth and Cy Young were not unanimous? The biggest pioneers of the game as we know it today? Complete idiocy. And it still exists today.

      • Hey remember when you guys refused to play us for the 1904 World Series because John McGraw crap this pants? That should have been a forfeit and we should actually have 10.

  2. Mr. Newman, could you please explain why you vote for Wagner, but say “Frankie Rodríguez needs too much hype and too much arcane metric creativity” when Rodriguez has more career saves than Wagner, led the league 3 x in saves, Wagner never did, holds the single season record for saves, and has a virtually identical save % as Wagner?

    • While I agree with you on Rodriguez’s being Hall of Fame caliber, he wasn’t one of the 5 best relievers all time. Billy Wagner was! Wagner’s ERA is about a half run lower than Rodriguez. K-Rod was magnificent but not anywhere near Wagner’s level.

      • Ah you misunderstand me. I was merely pointing out the absurdity of Mr. Newman’s stated positions on Rodriguez versus Wagner. Neither are remotely qualified for the HOF.

          • What don’t you understand about “Neither are remotely qualified for the HOF.”

        • Apparently your argument is that relievers do not throw enough innings to merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame. That is just silly and wrong. Especially so when it comes to talents like Wilhelm, Rivera, Fingers, Gossage and Marshall. All 5 pitched more innings in relief than Wagner. You could argue that Rivera pitched about the same number of innings per season as Wagner. That said Rivera pitched longer than Wagner did and was significantly better than Wagner. Marshall threw the most innings per season but of the 5 had the highest relief ERA. Much of thar was related to a slow recovery of form after a significant injury to Marshall in the summer of 1975. He did recover that ability and was outstanding again in the final years of his career. The great oddity is that he retired after a season in which his ERA was under 3.00. Point is that at peak he was the best reliever in game history . His 7 best years are better than any other relievers. Era was not as low as say Wilhelm and Rivera. That said he pitched more innings than either at his peak or JAWS if you will. In Rivera’s case Marshall more than doubled Rivera’s inning total for JAWS. Anyway you look at it Marshall pitched more innings in relief than Rivera. And he had a superior innings pitched to Wilhelm in the JAWS ranking.If only because no reliever ever pitched more innings in his 7 best seasons. In those 7 years he threw 945 innings for an average of 135 innings per year winning 77 games and saving 157 games. His saves were often 2,3 or even 4 inning saves. Oh yes his terrible career Relief ERA, 2.96. Still worthy of the Hall of Fame. But if you think that inducting relief pitcher’s is somehow an insult to hard working starting pitcher’s then no reliever will ever do. That said pretty soon even starting pitcher’s will not throw enough innings to satisfy you.

          • “Apparently your argument is that relievers do not throw enough innings to merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame. That is just silly and wrong.”

            I wasn’t making an argument, I was simply stating that neither are remotely qualified for the HOF. If you would like an argument, it would go something like this: One inning closers are almost universally unqualified for the HOF due to their low IP both within seasons and for a career. The criteria for HOF voters most relevant to me is that voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, and contribution to their teams. A one inning closer will have very little record relative to the long established HOF levels for pitchers, and that is the position they play and should be evaluated against. Their ability is almost universally less than that of starting pitchers, which is why they are appearing in a relief role. Their contributions to their teams is, similarl to their record, far less than a HOF caliber starting pitcher. Specific to Wagner, he has only 903 career IP, on a seasonal basis it’s about 70 IP giver or take. That’s a pitifully small record and contribution, which fades even further when you look at the amount of time he actually spent in closing/high leverage situations. Career 903 IP in 853 game means he truly was a one inning pitcher, and just 504 of those games were in save situations, so much of his time was spent in non save situations, low leverage, everyday reliever IP. For example, in 1999 he pitched 11 of 74 innings in losses where his team was well behind or wins where they were ahead by more than 3 (I did not include losses where the score was close and he held the other team keeping the score close). In 2002 it was 14 of 75 IP. In 2003 it was 20 1/3 of 86. In 2005 21 out of 77 2/4. In 2006 14 out of 72 1/3. Those are his his 5 highest IP seasons and he pitches about 21% of his innings in low leverage, non save situations. So it’s far fewer than 800 career IP in the role he’s being credit for and fewer than 60 IP per season. And I can add that his 3 run save appearances, of which he had 131 or 31% of his career saves, are not high leverage situations as evidenced by the extremely high save % of all one inning closers in those situations. He never led the league in any category, not even saves, so forget the people who talk about his ERA. He doesn’t appear on the career ERA leader board because he doesn’t have enough IP to qualify. Forget the K/9 fan boys because he didn’t throw enough IP to qualify there either. Career K’s? He’s 379th behind Chris Capuano and just in front of Nathan Eovaldi, until next season when Eovaldi passes him, too, then it will be Russ Ortiz. The idea Wagner is worth of the HOF is frankly absurd. Hoffman was a poor choice as well, and I’m a native San Diegan and life long Padres fan. Sutter was a poor choice, as was Smith. Fingers was hugely overrated by the writers, and despite his fame as a player with the great A’s teams of the 70’s and a HOF caliber mustache, he was a poor choice. Wilhelm is fine, Gossage I can see an argument for, and Rivera is clearly a HOF when you look at how much more often he pitched a single inning and incorporate his extraordinary post season record. That’s pretty much my argument.

            “That said pretty soon even starting pitcher’s will not throw enough innings to satisfy you.”

            You’re very presumptuous.

          • I work part time in real estate and I won an award for total house sales. Should I give it back because I only work 20 hours a week?
            It’s crazy to eliminate a huge percentage of players from Hall of Fame recognition because they do the job they’re given and do it better than their peers. Why try if your job is not worthy of recognition?

          • Manny works part-time too. He sells grills on Craigslist so I guess that’s why he’s not getting votes.

          • Low innings pitched? That’s crazy. Of course they’re low compared to starters. Because they’re not starters. They do the job they are given if they go home. Simple choice really, play pro ball or work at Walmart? So they take the job they’re offered and either thrive or don’t. You just want to invite an entire percentage of players for doing their jobs? Sounds a little off the wall.

        • Your argument is equivalent to saying that because 3rd basemen don’t cover as much ground as shortstop they don’t deserve inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Or that Centerfielders are the only outfielders who belong in the Hall of Fame. It doesn’t hold up.as for your clutch stats they are all balderdash. Every inning a pitcher pitches is important. You think you are God and have the privilege of deciding what role matters more. Saves are a fake stat and depend as much on the offensive skills of the pitcher’s teammates as the pitcher’s skill. For that matter pitcher wins are also a fake stat for the same reason saves are. That said every inning a pitcher manages without getting bombed matters. Clutch stats are to a certain extent made up. Do Homer’s count less because they are in the 1st inning or in a losing cause? Clutch smuch. Scott Downs had a 2.60 ish ERA in over 700 appearances as a set up man. His relief ERA was lower than that of Rollie Fingers who pitched in an era with far less scoring than Downs did. You think all relievers are failed starters. Even when the were never used that way ever. Now if some guy throws 102 or better they automatically are pegged as closers or potential closers. Hoyt Wilhelm had a lower ERA in his 50 or so starts than he had in his entire relief career of over 2,000 innings. Was he also a failed starter? I’d give you the argument on 1 inning closers if the pitcher’s could choose how they are used. Thing is now a pitcher’s role is determined before they reach the majors. Failure as a starter rarely has anything to do with it. Is it Rolando Chapman’s fault that someone in the Minors saw his 105 mph fastball and thought closer? You are devoted to what the game was 50 to 70 years ago and probably think the whole sport went haywire sometime in the 90’s. That’s fine. I agree with you. Pitcher use made a lot more sense then. Whether a pitcher was a starter or a reliever if they did well they got more innings. It seems silly to me that some guy can win a Cy Young award without qualifying for the ERA title. That and it should be obvious by now that reducing Pitcher workloads actually increases the frequency at which they get hurt. That said the game changed. Not all the changes were for the best but so be it. You can’t hold today’s players to yesterday’s standards. None of them chose the type of player they would be. It all just happened to them. Yes hard work pays off but Rod Carew could never have made himself Hank Aaron with hard work. He couldn’t even be Ty Cobb. Because in the Dead Ball era Ty Cobb was a power hitter with speed. Rod Carew had a set of tools that meant he could hope to hit with more power than Lloyd Waner and less than Paul Waner but with an average closer to Paul’s career average. You might want to appreciate guys for what they are instead of hoping the past returns. Like it or not the 1 inning Pitcher is real. I don’t like it. But I don’t hold it against the Pitcher that managers changed the way they are used in certain roles. Chapman, Wagner and Rivera did everything that was ever asked of them at the highest possible level. Expecting them to buck the system and double their inning totals is like Expecting them to walk on water. They fulfilled their role better than all but 1% of others in the same role. That should be enough.

  3. To Patrick above. Now you are just being silly. Wagner is 1 of the 5 best relievers ever. Rodriguez might be borderline but relief pitching is so underrepresented in the Hall it is a joke. If you have some standard like 200 wins or 50 WAR then no one will meet it who works as a reliever.

  4. I’m happy Utley is getting the votes he’s getting right now. His results have far exceeded my expectations despite being a first year. At this rate, he’ll go to Cooperstown in under 5 years! Mets fans can cry one last time!

    • I can see all the guys you both have mentioned being in the Hall. Patrick and I have discussed relievers at length and, from his point of view, which I can see from the way he looks at the Hall, relievers in general do not offer a large enough body of work to be considered for incarceration into the Hall of Shame. I happen to not agree with that standpoint as I believe, if baseball is going to create, promote and maintain a role in the game, similarly to the DH, it should also recognize those who contribute at the highest level in that role. Of course you’re not going to compare Randy Myers to Randy Johnson, it doesn’t even make sense but, recognizing the best relievers for how they performed in their role and properly representing them in the Hall is perfectly sensible. If the whole point of the Hall is to showcase the best ever in the game, how do you ignore relievers and DHs? They are definitely part of the game and a pretty big part.

    • Hey remember when we kicked your ass in the 1915 World Series? Then the Mets beat us in ’86 so I guess that makes them better than you…

  5. Mark- Excellent article. I for the most part agree on all your takes. Especially about steroid use which was rampant in baseball for at least 60 years before testing commenced in 2005. At best we might know 1% of the guys who used. Without doubt dozens who used are in the Hall already. The ballot has been gutted for at least 15 years now. I can see 15 or so players on it thaare deserving of induction. 20 If you go by the idea that anyone on the ballot who was better than the Worst guy already in Cooperstown. It appears we will get 4 in this year. Sadly the best guys on this ballot won’t come close to induction. The back log of players worthy of induction to Cooperstown is probably around 50 or more names. Keep covering the game. Your vote is needed.

  6. Based upon voting results the past couple of elections… it’s apparent that there is a definite negative bias towards relief pitchers. Very sad because they are integral to a team’s success. Look at the elite closers who continue to get lack of hall of fame support. Absolutely disgraceful…

    • Apparently not everyone agrees. Since starters barely go five innings now I guess they will just bring out one of those little league pitching machines for the other four innings since relievers are worthless.

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