The results of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) vote for the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be revealed Tuesday night. Much of the intrigue in this vote will revolve around if Scott Rolen and/or Todd Helton make it, the gains made by several players and how Alex Rodríguez and Carlos Beltrán fare. The full 2023 ballot can be viewed here.
The rules: A player is eligible to be placed on the ballot after five years of retirement. Players who get at least 75 percent of the returned ballots from qualified BBWAA voters gain entry to the Hall of Fame. Those who get below five percent fall off the ballot. Those between five and 75 percent can remain on the ballot for up to 10 years. BBWAA members who are active and in good standing and have been so for at least 10 years can vote for anywhere from zero to 10 players each year.
Regardless of what goes down in the BBWAA vote, there’s already one new Hall of Famer in the 2023 class: Fred McGriff. He made it by way of the Contemporary Era Committee vote held during the winter meetings.
Here are the details for Tuesday’s selection show:
2023 Baseball Hall of Fame class announcement
- Time: 6 p.m. ET | Date: Tuesday, Jan. 24
- TV channel: MLB Network (coverage starts at 4 p.m. ET and lasts four hours)
- Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Below are six storylines to watch for as the vote totals get unveiled Tuesday night. NOTE: When I mention “polling,” I’m talking about Ryan Thibodaux’s ballot tracker (it’s not really a poll so much as gathering ballots, but this is the easiest way to succinctly frame it).
1. Is this Rolen’s year?
Scott Rolen’s climb in the vote has a “when, not if” feel to it. It’s actually more than feel. Last month, I went through recent historical voting trends to show that Rolen is overwhelmingly likely to get in.
It still matters if it is this year or next or the year after, though. First off, from a human perspective, surely Rolen is excited to get in and if he just misses the cut, it’s another year of waiting. In terms of big picture Hall of Fame voting, it’s a spot on the ballot and clearing them helps every other legitimate candidate. Remember, voters only have a maximum of 10 spots on their ballot and some Small Hall voters limit themselves artificially beyond that. More succinctly, the quicker Rolen gets off the ballot, the easier it is for every other player to make gains — including next year’s newcomers like Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer and Chase Utley.
Polling shows Rolen has a good chance to get to the needed 75 percent, but he seems to have a pretty decent chance to fall barely short. He was polling at 71 percent last year and the actual vote revealed him at 63.2 percent. Right now, he sits at 79.2 percent in polling and if there’s a similar shortfall in private ballots, he’ll be just a few percent shy of making it.
As I said, it’s gonna be close. This is where most of the drama is for the vote Tuesday night.
2. Still low numbers for A-Rod?
A-Rod has a polarizing case. We already know that. I firmly believe this is a huge year in balloting for A-Rod. If he makes big gains, there’s a chance he’ll make the Hall down the road. If he doesn’t, he’s likely to end up in Bonds Land. I went much more in depth on the theory here.
The numbers right now don’t bode well for A-Rod. Polling shows he’s only gained two votes from last year (when he was 161 votes shy of enshrinement). It’s always possible there’s a cache of non-public votes for A-Rod, but there weren’t last year. Right now, it looks like he’ll fall short of 40 percent and if that’s the case, it’s hard to see him making up enough ground moving forward to get to 75 percent.
3. How does the sign-stealing scandal affect Beltrán?
We’ve been able to get a general idea of how the players connected to PEDs would be treated, generally-speaking, with the voting body for years. In Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, we have two all-time greats who never tested positive while there was testing, but were heavily connected. In Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez, we’ve had players who posted Hall of Fame offensive numbers but tested positive. In A-Rod, well, you know.
We don’t have a good comparison with this voting body to Beltrán, though, and it might provide a roadmap on how things will unfold for Jose Altuve and others down the road. Here’s my extended discussion on his case and the matter of the sign-stealing scandal.
Polling shows that he’s about 15 percent above A-Rod at 55.7 to 40.4, so that’s probably a good sign for Beltrán. There have been a few voters who have written that they’ve withheld a vote for him this year but would think about it again next year. If he can get around 50 percent of the vote, I’ll estimate, he has a chance to get in down the road. If he ends up down closer to A-Rod, we’ll say low-40s, he’s probably in for a long 10 years.
Aside from seeing if Rolen gets in or not, this is the storyline that will most garner my attention Tuesday night.
4. Helton on the move
But what if Rolen isn’t the only player with a chance to make it?
Last year, Helton got 52 percent of the vote compared Rolen’s 63.2 percent, but Helton has made significant gains. He’s up 32 votes already and has actually pulled past Rolen, sitting at 79.8 percent. It would be an amazing leap forward, but it really seems like the voting body as a whole has strongly warmed up to Helton’s candidacy.
His is a bit of a polarizing case, but not for reasons of scandal. He played his entire career with Coors Field as his home. I examined the matter here.
If there’s a big upset on Tuesday night, it’ll be Helton becoming a Hall of Famer.
5. Watch for gains
Let’s keep an eye on the following players aside from those mentioned above:
- Billy Wagner: After leaping nearly 30 points in two years to 46.4 for the 2021 vote, Wagner made more modest gains to 51 percent last year. Still, polling shows he’s gained 29 votes this voting cycle. This is his eighth year and a great chance, with all the ballot clearing from last voting cycle, to make a leap into realistic territory.
- Gary Sheffield: After a huge two-year leap to 40.6 in the 2021 vote, Sheffield stagnated to exactly 40.6 percent again. This is his ninth year on the ballot and he needs a big jump to have an even remote shot next year. Polling shows 26 gained votes so far, so maybe he’s on his way, though, realistically, the lack of gains last year doomed him.
- Andruw Jones: Little more than an afterthought lingering on the ballot in his first two years, Jones hit 19.4 percent in 2020, 33.9 percent in 2021 and 41.1 percent last year. Now in his sixth ballot, the tracker has him gaining 24 more votes. It looks like he’ll top 50 percent or maybe even 55? If the latter is the case, he’s well on his way to eventual enshrinement.
- Bobby Abreu: He only got 8.6 percent of the vote last year, but has gained 12 votes so far in polling. It’s his fourth try.
- Andy Pettitte: In his fourth voting cycle last year, Pettitte got 10.7 percent of the vote and has gained 13 votes this time around.
- Jimmy Rollins: He got 9.4 percent of the vote in his debut last year and has gained five votes this time.
- Mark Buehrle: He stayed above the threshold in each of his first two tries (5.8 percent last year) and has gained nine votes.
Wagner and Jones would be the big ones to watch while it’s possible Buehrle and Rollins barely stay alive.
6. Who falls off?
- Jeff Kent: It’s his swan song; his 10th and final year. Even with a decent final-year bump in polling data, he’s very unlikely to even get to 60 percent. I detailed here that his case will probably fare much better in committee and how this is a blessing in disguise for him.
- Torii Hunter: With only 5.3 percent last year in his first try, Hunter barely stayed alive. His public gains are modest enough to believe there’s a chance he falls under 5 percent.
- Francisco Rodríguez: It’s the first year for K-Rod and it looks like he’ll survive, but it’s likely to be very close. Polling shows him around nine percent, but as a closer, my guess is he loses some before the vote is revealed.
- Omar Vizquel: He’s very likely to survive. He’s polling right with K-Rod, but the remaining Vizquel voters are nearly all private. He gained nearly 14 percent last year between ballot tracking and the actual voting results. He’s still dead in the water as far as his chances of making the Hall, though, here in his sixth try.
- None of the remaining first-timers on the ballot have gotten a public vote yet. Those are Bronson Arroyo, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, JJ Hardy, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, Huston Street, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth. Even if a few of them get a vote or two, they are all one-and-dones.
Of those facing the 5 percent threshold, I’ll predict Hunter falls off while K-Rod and Vizquel survive.
The only other person on the ballot I haven’t yet mentioned is Manny Ramírez. He very likely remains in no-man’s land with Vizquel, albeit for different reasons. He got 28.9 percent of the vote last year and his polling shows stagnation.
Back on Nov. 22, I predicted this class would be McGriff and Rolen. I nailed the committee vote with McGriff going in alone, so let’s make it two for two in getting the BBWAA one correct as well. Rolen goes in and that’s it from this vote.