A Candidate-by-Candidate Look at the 2024 Hall of Fame Election Results

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The following article is part of Jay Jaffe’s ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2024 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to this year’s ballot, and other candidates in the series, use the tool above; an introduction to JAWS can be found here. For a tentative schedule, see here. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

The 2024 Hall of Fame election is in the books, with three newcomers — first-year candidates Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer, and holdover Todd Helton — crossing the 75% threshold. It was a bit of a nailbiter, as Mauer cleared the bar by just four votes while Billy Wagner missed by five, but after just two candidates were elected by the writers over the past three cycles, it’s a welcome crowd of honorees, and it should make for a raucous weekend in Cooperstown when they and their families, friends and fans join those of Contemporary Baseball Era Committee honoree Jim Leyland for induction into the Hall on July 21.

Beyond the topline results, there’s plenty to chew on, so as promised, here’s my candidate-by-candidate breakdown of the entire slate of 26 candidates.

José Reyes, James Shields (1st year on the ballot, 0.0%)

As Vin Scully liked to remind viewers, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” According to Baseball Reference, 217 players last appeared in the majors in 2017. Just 12 of them (5.5%) lasted long enough and had careers substantial enough to make it onto this ballot. So this bears repeating annually: There is no shame in being shut out on a Hall of Fame ballot. A checkbox next to these players’ names is the reward for their unique, impressive careers, and with every year that I do this, my appreciation for the endurance, perseverance, and good luck it takes just to get to this point grows.

Admittedly in the case of Reyes, that sentiment is tempered by more than a bit given his 2016 suspension for violating the game’s domestic violence policy. Nonetheless, I learned a great deal while writing about his career, and at the very least, I came to appreciate that he did a better job of expressing remorse and taking accountability for his actions than numerous other players who have been connected to such incidents, whether via suspensions or allegations that predate the period when MLB could enforce such discipline. That’s not nothing.

Brandon Phillips (1st, 0.3%), Adrián González (1st, 0.8%), Matt Holliday (1st, 1.0%), Bartolo Colon (1st, 1.3%), José Bautista (1st, 1.6%), Victor Martinez (1st, 1.6%)

Again, there’s no shame in going one-and-done in this process. These guys received one to six votes, not because some voter truly believed they merited a plaque in Cooperstown but as a small courtesy, a gesture of respect or gratitude. When the ballots were overstuffed a few years ago, such gestures drew the ire of those spending too much time watching the Ballot Tracker (myself included), but on ballots with more breathing room, they’re a bit of goodwill that I’ve come to appreciate. This time around, I even considered doing so myself, mulling a vote for Colon before deciding that a) it would compromise the consistency of my stance on PED violations (I haven’t voted for anyone who’s been suspended); and b) the 10th slot on my ballot could be put to more constructive use via a pitcher with stronger credentials.

David Wright (1st, 6.2%)

Wright was another candidate who I considered for my 10th slot, in part to help keep him from slipping off the ballot. I might have felt a bit of regret if he’d missed the cut, but I was reasonably sure that he wouldn’t, particularly once I saw The Athletic’s Jayson Stark stumping for him early in the cycle. Wright was more or less on a Hall of Fame path before injuries wiped out his career in his early 30s, but my wish list for electing third basemen (Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Graig Nettles, Sal Bando, and Buddy Bell) is already long, and I don’t know that I’d put him ahead of any of those players given their strong résumés.

Torii Hunter (4th, 7.3%, up 0.4%)

In every year of his candidacy, Hunter has languished below the 5% cutoff prior to the results being announced, and every time he’s squeaked through; this time, his 6.7% public-versus-private differential — 4.6% on those revealed prior to the announcement, 10.8% on the unpublished ones — was the cycle’s second-largest. Maybe he’s going to become the center field version of Harold Baines, who somehow lasted six ballots without topping 6.1%, then fell off and was elected by the Today’s Game Era Committee eight years later. Hunter still hasn’t even replicated his own first-year share of 9.5%; while his combination of counting stats (2,452 hits, 353 homers, 195 steals, nine Gold Gloves) could be appealing to a future Era Committee, he’ll have to battle for ballot space with candidates who got shares of the vote six or seven times his peak share.

Francisco Rodríguez (2nd, 7.8, down 3.0%)

If you were expecting some kind of closer-related coattail effect as Wagner nears election, here’s evidence to the contrary. Only one candidate experienced a larger drop from 2023 than Rodríguez, who has more saves than Wagner but trails him in just about every other meaningful way, and only one returning Wagner voter who has published a ballot thus far added K-Rod.

Mark Buehrle (4th year, 8.3%, down -2.5%), Andy Pettitte (6th year, 13.5%, down 3.5%)

It was not a great year for starting pitchers on this ballot. In fact, I wonder if the 89 votes they combined to receive (23.1%) is the lowest in modern voting history, particularly with the two holdovers losing ground. After much discussion and experimentation with regards to how Hall voters should handle pitching standards, I decided to put my money where my mouth is with my 10th ballot slot by voting for Pettitte – who’s a fair distance below the S-JAWS standard — for the first time.

Meanwhile, other voters appear to have strategically dropped one of these workhorse lefties. In fact, six of the eight returning voters who dropped Buehrle after voting for him last year did so while voting for 10 candidates, though only three of the eight returnees who dropped Pettitte could say the same; both drew a handful of mentions from voters who said they would have been included if they could do so for more than 10, and I more or less said the same about Buehrle in my explainer. With CC Sabathia and Félix Hernández both debuting on the ballot next year, the topic of starters and standards will be at the forefront… but the top of the ballot will be a crowded one. Real progress is going to take time.

[Update: In the last couple minutes of my spot discussing this year’s results on Wednesday’s MLB Now with Brian Kenny, we discussed my choice of Pettitte for my ballot as well as the need to reconsider our pitching standards.]

Bobby Abreu (5th, 14.8%, down 0.6%)

You probably have to be something of a “large Hall” voter — if trying to maintain historically similar levels of representation can be said to be large Hall — to view Abreu as a strong choice for Cooperstown in the first place. Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise that of the seven returning voters who dropped Abreu, five did so while voting for 10 candidates, generally while saying they were removing him for strategic purposes in their ballot explainers. But even if none of the seven voters who dropped him had done so, he still wouldn’t have cleared 20% for the first time. He also went just 2-for-103 among public voters who included seven or fewer names on their ballots. Sigh.

Jimmy Rollins (3rd, 14.8%, up 1.9%)

The addition of Rollins’ longtime double play partner Chase Utley produced something of a coattail effect, though it was a modest one. Seven returning voters added Rollins after not voting for him last year, with four of those also voting for Utley. Meanwhile one Utley voter actually dropped Rollins, which, ouch, and the second baseman nearly doubled the support of the shortstop, which, double-ouch. And unlike Hunter, Rollins didn’t have significantly more support on unpublished ballots than on published ones, with just a 0.4% public-versus-private differential.

Omar Vizquel (7th, 17.7%, down 1.8%)

With the domestic violence charges against him dropped and the lawsuit against him for sexually harassing an autistic minor league batboy settled out of court, Vizquel mounted something of an effort to rehabilitate his image, making himself available on Twitter and for any puff pieces that might blow in his direction. Absent from his effort was any attempt at introspection or accountability (“My conscience is clean and clear that I’m not the kind of person that they are saying about Omar,” he told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale), so it didn’t exactly work. Vizquel lost ground for the fourth straight cycle, though not in as dramatic a fashion as when he fell from 49.1% to 23.9% from 2021 to ’22, producing the largest drop in modern BBWAA voting history. Having received 26.5% worth of support from unpublished ballots compared to 11% from those revealed prior to the announcement, his 15.5% public-versus-private differential was by far the largest of any candidate. That number will change as more ballots are published post-election, but it tells me that most voters aren’t enthusiastic about voicing their support for him, and that his candidacy is pretty much dead even if he has enough support to remain on the ballot.

Chase Utley (1st, 28.8%)

On the one hand, Utley’s final level of support may seem disappointing given that he received 60% from the first 30 published votes, was in the mid-40s at the 160-ballot mark, and was above 40% until the last batches of ballots were published. On the other hand, in last year’s post-election Tracker VIP poll, I predicted he’d get just 17%, and for as meager as his support was, it was larger than the first-year shares of Helton (16.5% in 2019) and record-holder Scott Rolen (10.2% in 2018) put together. His -24.2% public-versus-private drop (39.3% public, 15.1% private) was the largest of any candidate.

All of which tells us that his supporters have work to do to convince the rest of the electorate that he’s worthy. Even given that he’s short of the 2,000-hit mark — below which the BBWAA hasn’t elected a candidate whose career crossed into in the post-1960 expansion era — the progress of Andruw Jones and the looming candidacy of Buster Posey could deal that precedent a solid one-two punch in the coming years. Rolen and Helton were both elected in their sixth year of eligibility, so I think something like a 2029 election for Utley is possible.

Manny Ramirez (8th, 32.5%, down 0.7%), Alex Rodriguez (3rd, 34.8% down 0.9%)

Timing and nuance matter to some voters, which is why the two suspended sluggers aren’t making any real progress toward 75% while the BALCO-implicated Gary Sheffield, whose bat wasn’t quite their equal, at least crossed the 60% threshold in his final year on the ballot. At this point neither of these guys have very large public-versus-private differentials (-4.1% for the former, -6.1% for the latter), suggesting that they don’t have a subgroup of voters producing some small amount of momentum in their favor.

Carlos Beltrán (2nd, 57.1%, up 10.6%)

Beltrán was the ballot’s biggest gainer among the returning candidates, and the only one with a double-digit percentage gain, as at least some of the voters who left him off last year did not view his involvement in the Astros’ 2017 electronic sign stealing scandal as permanently disqualifying. I did find it particularly notable that Tom Verducci — a high-profile PED hardliner who didn’t even add Mike Piazza to his ballot until 2016, and who hasn’t voted for Sheffield since at least ’21 — not only flipped but included Beltrán on his five-person ballot. His -20% public-versus-private drop-off (66.4% to 46.4%) was the third-largest of the cycle, suggesting that not everybody is ready to let go of his transgression so soon, and it may be that there’s a hard cap on his support that could slow his progress upward. Still, he has eight years of eligibility remaining, which leaves a lot of time for turnover within the electorate, so as a supporter I’d view the glass as half-full here.

Andruw Jones (7th, 61.6%, up 3.5%)

After three double-digit jumps in the last four cycles — including 16.7% last year — Jones made only a modest gain this year, which probably owes something to the traffic. He received a couple “more than 10” mentions in ballot explainers, and a few of his drops by returning voters (including one by colleague David Laurila) were from those who included 10 candidates. That said, I know of at least a few voters who left him off because of his domestic violence arrest and guilty plea, and it may be that some voters view that as disqualifying. He had the fourth-largest public-versus-private drop-off (-18.4%, via 69.4% public and 51% private), and notably went just 2-for-27 on ballots that included four or fewer candidates, compared to 6-for-27 for Beltrán and Sheffield. I still think he’ll get in via the writers’ ballot, but it’s not going to be the smoothest sailing.

Gary Sheffield (10th, 63.9%, up 8.9%)

As expected, Sheffield had too far to climb and too strong a headwind against him in his final go-round to reach 75%; in fact, he got less than half of the 20-point gain that he needed, and had the second-largest public-versus-private drop-off (-22.3%, via 73.5% public and 51.2% private). He was entertaining and revealing in his publicity tour, noting that he was called as a witness to testify in front of the BALCO grand jury, not as a culprit, and that he called for commissioner Bud Selig to investigate PEDs within the sport. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t resist revisiting old beefs such as his one with former Yankees manager Joe Torre regarding the 2004 ALCS, because it’s Festivus every day for a man willing to air his grievances.

Anyone who understands nuance should be able to see the separation between Barry Bonds, for whom we have voluminous evidence of PED usage, albeit at a time before MLB had testing and penalties in place, and Sheffield, for whom we have much less evidence as well as the aforementioned testimony that he stopped training with Bonds and Greg Anderson once he learned that what he was being given was illegal. But in late 2022 we saw the way that the Hall of Fame’s choice of Era Committee members guaranteed the burial of Bonds and Clemens to the point that they received “fewer than four votes” despite their statistical superiority. That’s why, despite the vocal respect of peers such as former teammate Fred McGriff, I’m not wildly optimistic that Sheffield will break through via that route anytime soon, even though a 63.9% share would normally be a robust one to take into the process. Still, I’m fond of reminding people that “never” is a very long time when it comes to the Hall of Fame, and I think that someday, Sheffield and his 509 home runs and menacing bat waggle will have their place on a bronze plaque.

Billy Wagner (9th, 73.8%, up 5.7%)

I was braced for this disappointment, noting at the outset of this cycle that only 14 of the 30 candidates who received between 65% and 70% and still had eligibility remaining were elected the next year. Wagner seems to have been braced for it as well, forgoing the usual sit-by-the-phone routine advised by the Hall for candidates who could get the call they’ve been waiting for. “It’s not like I can say that I’m definitely going to be in so I can have friends over [Tuesday] for the announcement and celebrate,” he told the New York Post. “I can’t do any of that. I will look like a big jackass if I have people over and I don’t get a call.” Instead Wagner spent the afternoon coaching high school varsity baseball.

Still, I ache for him and any candidate who misses by such a narrow margin, and I’m disgusted by one voter ostentatiously dropping Wagner after supporting him in 2023, and then even more ostentatiously writing a column about the blowback (which was about more than just how he handled Wagner). If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Wagner was dropped by only three public voters, and that he tied Helton for the second-highest rate of support (92.3%) from among the 13 first-time voters. Whether he closes the gap next year or has to wait for an Era Committee, he’s too close not to be elected someday soon, and I expect a year from now we’ll be celebrating his great comeback story.

Joe Mauer (1st, 76.1%)

Though he made it by a mere four votes, Mauer did become just the third catcher to be elected by the writers on the first ballot, after Johnny Bench (1989) and Ivan Rodriguez (2017, by just four votes as well). You know what they call guys who do that?

Hall of Famers.

I get that Mauer’s credentials, for as strong as they were, were hardly perfect given that he caught just 921 games and spent the last five years of his career as a more-or-less league average first baseman. I get that Mauer’s Twins went 0-and-10 in the postseason while he slashed a meager .275/.341/.300. He still had a long enough stretch where he absolutely kicked ass as a catcher like few in the game’s history — he’s the only backstop to win a slash-stat Triple Crown, the only one to win three batting titles, and one of two to lead the league in on-base percentage twice. He’s seventh in JAWS and fifth in seven-year peak (all from his years as a catcher). That’s worthy of Cooperstown, and I’m glad he won’t clog the ballot with a few years of drawing 60-some percent before getting in.

On the subject of the postseason, MLB Network researcher extraordinaire Jessica Brand offered some interesting insights, noting that Mauer is either the 13th or 15th player to be elected without having participated in a single victory, depending upon whether one counts pitchers who lost their World Series appearance but were on the winning side. The last one was Phil Niekro, who was elected in 1997, and the company also includes Ernie Banks, another player who finished his career as an average first baseman after a stellar run at a much more important position.

As noted within my initial reaction piece, Mauer may have benefited from something of a reverse coattail effect in relation to Posey, much as Edgar Martinez benefited while David Ortiz’s candidacy loomed. “[I]f Mauer gets in, he owes steak dinners to Bay Area scribes, who are using him as Buster’s setup man,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler in his ballot explainer, while editor Christina Kahrl penned a whole article on the topic. Within an electorate of nearly 400 voters, I’m sure they’re not alone in thinking that way.

Todd Helton (6th, 79.7%, up 7.5%)

Helton’s advancement past last year’s 72.2% wasn’t as easy as expected, at least based upon the sluggish net flip rate among public voters; he missed by 11 votes overall last year, then received nine adds and five drops from among returning voters. In the end, he made it by 18 votes, which was enough for him to post a higher share than Mauer. As noted on Tuesday night, he moved into second place behind Rolen for the lowest first-year percentage received by a modern (1966 or later) candidate who went on to gain entry via the writers, at 16.5%.

That Helton needed “only” six years where former teammate Larry Walker needed the full 10 may be evidence of the increased acceptance of advanced statistics, at least when it comes to Coors Field. It’s worth noting that Walker, whose candidacy ran from 2011–20, got bogged down early amid some of the strongest ballots of modern voting history, but I bet we won’t have to wait even six years or expend nearly as much breath debating Nolan Arenado when he eventually lands on the ballot.

Adrián Beltré (1st, 95.1%)

My guess that we’d be able to count the number of ballots that Beltré was left off on one hand proved to be off base, a rare example of me wildly overestimating the support a candidate would receive instead of underestimating it. His pre-announcement public-versus-private drop of 9.3% (from 99.1% to 89.8%) still wasn’t nearly as steep as those of Pedro Martinez (17.7%, from 98% to 80.3% in 2015) or Roy Halladay (17.2%, from 92.2% to 75%), to cite a couple of examples, but good gravy, it doesn’t speak well of a voter when 3,166 hits, 477 home runs, and defense like Beltré’s isn’t good enough either to vote for or to put one’s name beside.

Still, that shouldn’t lessen the joy of Beltré’s election. The former all-time leader in hits among players born outside the United States — he overtook Ichiro Suzuki in 2018 and then was surpassed by Albert Pujols in ’22 — is for now the owner of the second-highest share of the vote by any non-U.S. born player behind Rivera. Even if Ichiro supplants him next year, their plaques will still hang in close proximity.

As for those upcoming ballots, I’m already very much looking forward to next year when we’ll have the careers of Ichiro, CC, King Félix, and more to delve into, hopefully while watching Billy Wags get over the hump. I’ll be back in my next installment with my five-year electoral outlook.

Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

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Chip Lockemember
3 months ago

RE: Beltre drop for unpublished voters – this likely wouldn’t apply to all unpublished voters, but if I am waiting til the last moment to vote and also not writing a column to try and defend myself, I think it makes sense to not vote for Beltre when you see he is tracking at ~99 with 40% of ballots in. He’s going to get in, he won’t get 100%, so might as well add someone to your ballot who you otherwise would leave off.

Again, this likely doesn’t apply to all or maybe even most of the unpublished, but I think the strategy makes sense and it is what I would do if I were a voting member in a class with 10+ vote-worthy candidates.

The Duke
3 months ago
Reply to  Chip Locke

I’m not sure how many people really do this. Does anyone think helping David Wright limp over the line will allow him space to turn the electorate. I could maybe see that with a Buerhle who has a legit case, but this type of voting can’t be common.

Chip Lockemember
3 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

I agree, it’s probably not a huge population, but if even 5 writers who don’t publish have this psychology, it would explain the big drop.

3 months ago
Reply to  The Duke

I think it could have been a real thing ago back when the backlog was huge. Kenny Lofton or Jim Edmonds easily have gained support but were lost in the shuffle. Andruw Jones is likely to get voted in, and he could have similarly been cut with voters making slightly different choices in his first year.

Left of Centerfield
3 months ago
Reply to  TKDC

Lofton falling off after one year continues to piss me off. Yeah, there were lots of names on the ballot but here’s a list of people who got votes that year: Sandy Alomar (16), Julio Franco (6), David Wells (5), Steve Finley (4), Shawn Green (2), Aaron Sele (1). That’s 34 votes wasted on candidates who were nowhere near as good as Lofton.

Joe Brady
3 months ago

Some of these writers are idiots. Rolen and Wagner were both at about 10% when this started. HOF Ted Simmons didn’t make it past the first year. Grich, with the 7th highest fWAR for 2Bs, and the 5th best fWAR/PA, got even less.

3 months ago
Reply to  Joe Brady

To be fair, most advanced metrics weren’t created yet back when Simmons and Grich were on the ballot.

3 months ago

David Wells probably doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. But he was not a ridiculous person to vote for. His peak is low, but his 58.3 career fWAR is higher than Todd Helton, Joe Mauer, Jim Palmer, Sandy Koufax, and many other legit Hall of Famers.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
3 months ago
Reply to  BenZobrist4MVP

Yeah, David Wells is very much in the Pettitte/Buehrle/Jack Morris HoVG vein.

3 months ago
Reply to  BenZobrist4MVP

& Steve Finley is not a HOF’er either, but, if you look at traditional stats (which more voters did in 2012-13), he had 2500 plus hits, over 300 HR, over 300 SB & won 4 GG in CF.

More of a compiler than a star & advanced stats don’t like him or his defense like they do Lofton or Edmonds, but, his raw #’s were surpisingly high.

That said, not sure how a person votes for Sandy Alomar or Sele or Lofton.

3 months ago
Reply to  Chip Locke

It’s really a shame about Petitte and Buehrle. They both should be in the HOF.

Every year, in real baseball, we see how valuable really good starting pitching is. How expensive it is and how hard it is to acquire.

If we’re not voting in these guys what starting pitchers are we gonna vote in?

Verlander, Sabathia, Kershaw, Scherzer, Greinke? That’s it? De Grom?

That’s so strange.

Last edited 3 months ago by roob
3 months ago
Reply to  roob

I don’t think we have to worry about not inducting Pettitte or Buehrle. Verlander, Scherzer, Kershaw, Sabathia, and Greinke are all clearly better candidates. It’s what happens after those guys that worry me.

3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

One thing that’s struck me (and I mentioned this in another article about a week ago) is that the average fastball velocity is now 94. In the 80s that was elite velocity. The average fastball was ~high 80s. It was also when people thought no one would hit 50 HRs in a season ever again.

It’s no wonder all these guys are out of games and IP so much earlier. They’re just working so much harder. The HOF will have to adjust. I expect a great deal of kicking and screaming.

3 months ago
Reply to  synco

Yeah, future pitching votes may have to be on the basis of hardware and peak performance rather than milestones. I expect every other pitcher of this era to get screwed, though. The adjustment won’t be fast.

3 months ago
Reply to  EonADS

I’d love to see Jay do a piece on HOF odds for current starting pitchers. After the Verlander/Scherzer/Kershaw/Greinke group who out there has > 50% odds of making it? I’d say Cole and deGrom do (assuming continued health for Cole and voters weighing deGrom’s insane peak) but it’s a steep drop from there where you find yourself hoping Nola/Wheeler/Gausman have a few more great years in them.

Adam Smember
3 months ago
Reply to  synco

I read that they changed where they measured velocity — closer to the mound — which added 3-5 MPH to everyone’s fastball.

3 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Besides Sabathia, who I expect to get in within 2-3 cycles; Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester and David Price are the top starting pitchers debuting over the next few years. I don’t see any of them getting in.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
3 months ago
Reply to  kevbren849

Hamels should stick around for a while as the standout of that group (like it or not, analytical voters use rWAR).

Adam Smember
3 months ago
Reply to  Chip Locke

All ballots have to be mailed by 12/31, so no one is looking at the tracker with 40% counted deciding how to vote.

The theory that people leave off slam dunk candidates to make room for someone else has been kicked around for a while. But no one has ever released a ballot with 10 names, not including the 95+% guy, or publicly explained such a strategic non vote.

It’s almost certainly a sincere (if misguided) view that Beltré is not a Hall of Fame player or perhaps he’s not a FIRST BALLOT Hall of Famer. If you believe that the Hall should have fewer than 100 players or that Beltré isn’t in the top 100, you should give up your Hall of Fame ballot.

3 months ago
Reply to  Chip Locke

The ballot deadline is before many (if any) ballots get published. Exactly at what point was it confirmed that he wasn’t getting 100% of the votes?