The results of the 2023 BBWAA portion of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote have been revealed and Scott Rolen is now a Hall of Famer, having received 76.3 percent of the vote. Here are the full results with official vote percentages. Players needed 75 percent of the vote to make it and at least five percent of the vote to remain on the ballot for next year, up to 10 years.
Let's dive deeper into the bigger takeaways from our Hall of Fame season.
1. This is actually a two-man class
First of all, the Contemporary Era committee already selected Fred McGriff. There will be a Hall of Fame ceremony honoring two players this coming summer. McGriff is 59 years old while Rolen is 47. Both played for a handful of teams and it should make for a fun event weekend.
2. Rolen's case can provide hope
In 2018, on a much more crowded ballot, Rolen got just 10.2 percent of the vote. But as the ballot cleared over the years with inductions of Hall of Famers and big-name players falling off without induction, spots cleared on the ballots of voters for Rolen. There was also a swell of support from several corners of the internet, pointing out Rolen's defense deserved a lot more credit and that showed up in stats like WAR.
Rolen's move from 10.2 percent of the vote to making it via the writer vote was the biggest in history. It's a record that might not stand long, as there are a few players we'll discuss below making a move similar to Rolen.
Certainly, big moves after pretty small beginnings is a theme with several of the prominent candidates on this ballot.
3. Helton right on the precipice
As I detailed in discussing Rolen last month, it's incredibly rare for players to top 62 percent with time to spare on the ballot and not get voted in shortly thereafter, whether just one or two more rounds of voting. Rolen was over that mark last year and made it this time around. Next up, Todd Helton.
Helton, in his fifth year, got 72.2 percent. It would be unprecedented for a player to get to that level of the vote in his fifth year and not be inducted into the Hall.
Using the available data, zero public ballots had 10 votes that did not include Helton. This is to say that even with players like Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer coming on the ballot next year, the overwhelming majority of voters either voted for Helton or have spot(s) available to add him. There will be new voters. Some voters will lapse due to not covering the game anymore. Some voters reconsider their stance on players once they get this close to the 75 percent marker.
For all those reasons, Helton is almost certainly going to be voted in next year.
4. Beltrán has hope
Carlos Beltrán has a statistical dossier that belongs in the Hall of Fame, but since his retirement, the sign-stealing scandal has clouded his Hall of Fame chances (full breakdown here).
The good news here for Beltrán is he's starting at a pretty decent number: 46.5 percent of the vote in his first try.
It's not the best comparison to loop in PED-connected players, but it's the best we've got. The players who have been held out of the Hall of Fame due to being tied to PEDs started in the mid-30s in percentage or lower. Most of them were lower, actually, it was really only Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in the mid-30s.
With Beltrán starting out here, he's already in much better position. Anecdotally, I've also read several columns from prominent writers who said they are planning to reconsider in future years after not voting for Beltrán here in his first time on the ballot. And some people really do hold up "first-ballot Hall of Famer" as a sacred honor.
In all, I think the results for Beltrán are a net positive. We'll see how much headway he makes next time around -- with the "first ballot" thing not being attached and possibly a few of those aforementioned writers reconsidering his case -- without making any sweeping declarations, though.
5. A-Rod has less hope
The Hall of Fame case for Alex Rodriguez is complicated. We all already knew that. Before the vote last year, we couldn't be sure how exactly the vote would start shaping up for him. This was his second go-round on the ballot and it was his first without the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Bonds could be the best road map here between the PED connections and all-time great numbers by a position player, though Bonds never was suspended under MLB's JDA and A-Rod was nailed with one of the biggest punishments in history. Bonds started in the mid-30s and topped out at 66 percent in his final year. The voting body will continue to evolve toward a more new-school mindset, but there are future voters who would've voted in Bonds and won't go with A-Rod due to the suspension.
Well, A-Rod got 34.3 percent of the vote last year and 35.7 percent this time.
That's probably within the range of stagnation, right? I know I often mention things about the voting body changing, opinions evolving and stuff like that, but he barely moved.
Simply, while things could change, he seems to be stuck.
6. Wagner, Jones in decent shape now
Billy Wagner started off in 2016 with around 10 percent of the vote (take note of the Rolen section above). Through four rounds, it was just 16.7 percent, but he's on the move now.
Wagner still has two ballots left and a real shot at getting home. It might even happen next year. He's really close now.
Not quite as close, but moving in range nonetheless is Andruw Jones. He started off having to sweat out just staying above five percent. He got just 7.5 percent in his second ballot, but then he started to get some traction.
This was Jones' sixth time on the ballot, so he's got four more voting cycles to make up less than 20 percent. If so, he would snap Rolen's record with ease.
Still, with both players but particularly Jones since he's further away: There's always the danger of plateauing. That is, a player can get to a certain percentage and then stagnate. It varies player to player because, well, every single Hall of Fame case is unique and they are all being voted on by an ever-changing electorate.
Overall, though, things are looking up for Wagner and it really seems like Jones has the momentum to get him in eventually. Someone who plateaued in recent years who had a possibly-great night was an all-time great bat waggler.
7. Sheffield within range?
This was Gary Sheffield's ninth time on the ballot. He made big gains in 2019-21, going from 13.6 percent to 40.6, but he got exactly 40.6 percent again in 2022. It looked like maybe all hope was lost. Instead, he's moved into the possibly-overused-but-still-fun "so you're telling me there's a chance" range.
Sheffield got 55 percent of the vote this year.
Perhaps there will be a nice final-year bump? Kent got a boost of more than 13 percent, though that wouldn't be enough. One of the largest single-year, final-ballot jumps ever seen was Larry Walker, who leaped from 54.6 percent in his ninth year to 76.6 to get in on his final try.
If Sheffield can make such gains with the voting body next year, he'll get in. That's a very tall hill to climb, obviously, but it's possible.
8. Kent falls off the ballot
Jeff Kent was the one player on this ballot for the 10th time. As such, it was his proverbial swan song. We knew he wasn't going to get close, but he did establish a new high with 46.5 percent of the vote, more than 10 percentage points above his previous high of 32.7 percent. It's a feather in his cap to get nearly 50 percent of the vote while hanging around on the ballot for a decade. It's tough just to get on the ballot and Kent can rest easy knowing he obviously made a mark on baseball history.
Plus, my hunch is Kent will fare much better with the committee votes (like McGriff), so this could be a blessing in disguise. I'd wager he's in the Hall within the next decade.
9. Possible reason for optimism?
The following players are lower on the ballot but have a chance to catch lightning in a bottle the way Rolen did (and similar in fashion to how it appears Helton, Jones and maybe Sheffield and Wagner are).
- Andy Pettitte jumped from 10.7 percent to 17. This is his fifth year on the ballot, so he'll need some bigger leaps, but it's a starting point.
- Bobby Abreu went from 8.6 to 15.4 percent in this his fourth year. It's a very nice bump.
- Jimmy Rollins went from 9.4 to 12.9 percent. Very modest indeed on the gains and vote percentage, but it's only his second ballot and Chase Utley is coming soon. It's always possible when discussing Utley and Rollins together on the ballot that there's a mutual push in voting for the double-play combo. It didn't work for Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, but the times are changing.
- Mark Buehrle went from 5.8 to 10.8 percent. I dove into his case as an all-time workhorse recently and maybe more will continue to come around on him.
- This was the ballot debut for Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. He started with 10.8 percent of the vote. While Rolen's entry provides hope for all players, the movement of Wagner is particularly telling with K-Rod and other elite-level closers moving forward. It's much more difficult for closers to make the Hall, but Wagner getting in next year could help clear the way for some momentum for K-Rod.
10. No-man's land
Now onto the players who seem to not have a chance at induction even though they continue to linger on the ballot.
- Manny Ramirez actually went from 28.9 percent to 33.2 percent, but he's still not even halfway home and has only three ballots left. I just can't see enough room for improvement there.
- Omar Vizquel's descent continues. From 52.6 in 2020 to 49.1 to 23.9 and now to 19.5 percent in his sixth try. There's a better chance he'll fall off the ballot before his 10 years are up than turning things around and gaining enshrinement.
- Torii Hunter went up from 5.3 to 6.9 percent, but he's still awfully close to being five-percented after a very small gain in his third year. He probably needs to get up over 10 percent next year to have any sort of hope, but my guess is this is all a formality.
The following players failed to reach five percent of the vote, meaning they are removed from the ballot moving forward: Bronson Arroyo, R.A. Dickey, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Huston Street, Matt Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth. Notably, these were all first-timers. Every holdover got at least five percent of the vote.