Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, Chase Utley on Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

November 20, 2023, 5:09 PM

Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer and Chase Utley headline the list of newcomers to the 26-player Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, it was announced Monday.

Players must receive 75% of the vote to gain induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with the top holdovers from last year's vote including Todd Helton (72%), Billy Wagner (68%), Andruw Jones (58%), Gary Sheffield (55%) and Carlos Beltran (46.5%).

It's the 10th and final year on the ballot for Sheffield, while Wagner is on the ballot for the ninth time.

Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, both of whom received PED suspensions during their careers, also return to the ballot.

Beltran returns for the second time after his vote total might have been held down in his initial appearance due to his involvement in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal.

Other newcomers are David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holliday, Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, Victor Martinez, James Shields and Brandon Phillips.

A look at the top newcomers:

• Beltre should be a lock as a first-year candidate after finishing with 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and 93.5 WAR while capturing five Gold Gloves. He ranks third in WAR among third basemen, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. He had his career season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, when he led the National League with 48 home runs and finished second in the MVP voting, but his best run came in his 30s with the Texas Rangers from 2011 to 2018, when he had four 30-homer seasons and hit .304.

• Mauer is the first of the trio of catchers from the late 2000s and 2010s with strong credentials to hit the ballot, with Buster Posey and Yadier Molina coming in future years. Mauer has the highest career WAR (55.2) among the three and ranks ninth among all players who played at least half their games at catcher. The eight in front of him are all Hall of Famers, as are the two immediately behind. Mauer won three batting titles, including a remarkable .365 average with the Minnesota Twins in 2009 when he won the MVP Award. No player has hit for that high of an average since. Mauer should be viewed as a solid-to-strong candidate, but concussions forced him to move to first base his final five seasons and, unlike Posey and Molina, he never won a World Series, so he's unlikely to make it on the first ballot.

• Utley promises to generate a contentious Hall of Fame debate. He was a stat-head favorite as one of the top all-around players in the majors from 2005 to 2010, when he averaged 7.6 WAR per season, and his 64.5 career total ranks 14th among second basemen. His lifetime counting stats are a little thin, however, as he finished with 1,885 hits, 259 home runs and 1,025 RBIs. His WAR total also relies on some extremely positive defensive metrics, even though Utley was never considered an elite defender while active and never won a Gold Glove.

• Wright was on a Hall of Fame path with 46.5 career WAR through his age-30 season, but back injuries shortened his career and he played just 211 games after turning 31. His counting stats aren't much different from Utley's with 1,777 hits, 242 home runs and 970 RBIs, but he might not get the 5% of the vote needed to remain on the ballot.

• Colon became a fan favorite late in his career, and he finished with 247 wins and won a Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005, but his career ERA of 4.12 is a little high for serious consideration.

• Holliday played in three World Series with the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals and was MVP runner-up in 2007, when he led the NL in batting, average, RBIs, hits and doubles. He finished with a .299 career average and seven All-Star appearances, but his career numbers are a little short (44.5 WAR, 2,096 hits, 316 home runs) for a corner outfielder.

• Bautista had a nice run from 2010 to 2015 as the game's top power hitter -- he led the AL with 54 home runs in 2010 and 43 in 2011, and his 227 home runs over those six seasons were 28 more than Miguel Cabrera to lead all hitters -- but he was late bloomer and didn't do enough on the front end or back end of his career, and Hall of Fame voters tend to reward longevity over peak value.

• Gonzalez (43.5 WAR) falls into the "Hall of Very Good" category, with just over 2,000 hits, 317 home runs and seven 100-RBI seasons, but the offensive bar is high for first basemen.

Of the holdovers, Helton will likely get elected after coming so close in last year's vote. Wagner also has a strong chance after improving from 51% to 68%. Sheffield saw a 15% increase last season but will need to make a 20% leap to get in.

Other holdovers are Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Buehrle, Francisco Rodriguez and Torii Hunter. After years of electing multiple candidates, the BBWAA has elected just one each of the past two years -- Scott Rolen in 2023; David Ortiz in 2022 -- and didn't elect anyone in 2021.

Earlier, the Hall of Fame announced its Contemporary Era Committee ballot, which this year considered managers, executive and umpires. The eight candidates on that ballot are managers Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Cito Gaston and Davey Johnson; executives Hank Peters and Bill White (who was also a fine player); and umpires Joe West and Ed Montague.