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Even though the class of 2022 has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s never too early to start looking at upcoming MLB Hall of Fame candidates.
Naturally, Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame case will be one of the headliners in 2023 in his second year on the ballot. But the next MLB Hall of Fame ballot is going to include plenty of other strong candidates who voters will have to carefully consider.
Upcoming MLB Hall of Fame Candidates in 2023
But who will be the future baseball Hall of Famers that get inducted into Cooperstown in 2023? Well, there are 14 players from the previous ballot that earned at least 5% of the vote, allowing them to stay on the ballot for 2023.
There are also roughly 50 other players who haven’t played since the 2017 season, meaning they are among the upcoming MLB Hall of Fame candidates for the first time. While we can’t cover everyone, let’s take a closer look at some of the more noteworthy players on the next MLB Hall of Fame ballot and analyze each player’s chances of being part of the Hall of Fame class of 2023.
Scott Rolen is a player who is undoubtedly trending toward the Hall of Fame. This will be his sixth year on the ballot, so time is starting to run out. But he earned 63.2% of the vote last year, an increase of over 10%.
Defensively, Rolen is one of the best to ever man the hot corner, winning eight Gold Gloves. That should help his case and at least get him close to the 75% needed in 2023.
Last year, Todd Helton passed the 50% threshold, earning 52% of the vote in his fourth year. But that was only a modest 7% bump from the previous year, so he still has a long way to go.
The fact that he played his whole career with the Rockies might hurt him. However, we’re talking about a former batting champ and a career .316 hitter who won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards.
This will be Carlos Beltran’s first year on the ballot, and he figures to have the best chance of anyone in this class to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Beltran’s resume is too good not to get to Cooperstown at some point. He played 20 seasons and was a nine-time all-star, winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards.
Beltran was also a 30-30 player and had some memorable moments in the postseason. For his career, he collected over 2,700 hits and 435 home runs. However, he was also connected to the cheating scandal involving the Astros in his final season. Some voters could hold that against him.
When all is said and done, it’d be a shame if Billy Wagner wasn’t in Cooperstown. He was one of the best closers of his generation and a seven-time all-star.
He’s also one of six pitchers to record at least 400 saves, putting him in rarified air. But the former closer has only three years left on the ballot and only reached 51% last year. It doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be a member of the class of 2023, although there could be hope for Wagner if he gets a big bump next year.
The fact that Andruw Jones only earned 41.4% of the vote in his fifth year of eligibility last year is a slap in the face to defense in general. Defensively, Jones was a generational talent, winning 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1998 to 2007.
Nobody was on his level when it came to patrolling center field. The five-time all-star was also a competent hitter, smashing 434 home runs during his career. He’s a long shot to make it in 2023 but should receive a considerable boost, as he surely has a strong case for making it to Cooperstown.
As one of the greatest closers of his generation, it’ll be interesting to see how K-Rod fares in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility. He still owns the single-season saves record with 62 and is one of six pitchers with at least 400 career saves.
Those two facts alone, not to mention his six all-star selections, should get him a long way toward reaching 75%. However, voters haven’t been eager to put relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame, so it may be hard for him to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Gary Sheffield has just two years left on the ballot, so time is running out. He received just 40.6% last year, gaining no ground from the previous year. That might be the best he does, as Sheffield’s name being mentioned in the Mitchell Report and his link to steroids will surely keep him out of Cooperstown.
On the surface, he’s a no-brainer for the Hall with 509 home runs and over 2,600 career hits. Sheffield was also a nine-time all-star, a five-time Silver Slugger, and a former batting champ. But his connection to PEDs will ensure he never gets to the Hall of Fame.
From the day he retired, we knew that Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame case was going to be one of the most intriguing of the steroid era.
Last year was his first year on the ballot and Alex Rodriguez received just 34.3% of the vote. That doesn’t seem to bode well for his chances.
However, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both got to 65% or more by their final year. Perhaps A-Rod will follow a similar pattern and gain support over the years. After all, he is a 14-time all-star and three-time MVP who had over 3,100 hits and 696 career home runs.
Matt Cain is unlikely to get into the Hall of Fame by virtue of his losing record.
However, it’ll be interesting to see how much support he receives and how long he can stay on the ballot. He was a three-time all-star who also pitched a perfect game. Cain also helped the Giants win two championships and finished his career with a 3.68 ERA. That should be worth a few years on the ballot.
It’s the last-chance saloon for Jeff Kent, who received 32.7% of the vote in his ninth year on the ballot in 2022. That doesn’t bode well for his chances, as he’d need more than a 40% boost in his last year of eligibility.
Nobody is saying that Kent is a bonafide Hall of Famer. But it’s puzzling that he hasn’t received more support. He had over 2,400 career hits and a .290 average in addition to being the all-time home run leader among second basemen. Kent is also a former MVP and a five-time all-star and surely deserves more than 32% of the vote.
Manny Ramirez is another player who will be left out of Cooperstown because of his connection to PEDs. His resume makes him a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame.
Ramirez was a 12-time all-star and a former MVP with over 2,500 hits and 555 home runs. He was also a .312 career hitter. But in his sixth year on the ballot last year, Ramirez earned just 28.9% of the vote, which means he’s not going to get close in the years to come.
If only voters cared about defense, Omar Vizquel would at least be a borderline Hall of Famer. He lost more than half of his votes from 2021 to 2022. In fact, he got 52.6% of the vote in 2020 and appeared to be trending in the right direction.
However, Vizquel was down to 23.9% last year.
For an 11-time Gold Glove winner, a three-time all-star, and one of the great defensive shortstops of all time, getting that few votes is beyond disrespectful.
John Lackey will be one of the more interesting first-time candidates in 2023.
At the end of the day, he’s probably not going to be a Hall of Famer. But with a career ERA of 3.92 and 188 career wins, Lackey should stay on the ballot for a few years after a 15-season career.
Winning five World Series rings with the Yankees got Andy Pettitte to Monuments Park, although it might not get him to Cooperstown.
The lefty had a fine career, winning 256 games and posting a 3.85 ERA. But he was also named in the Mitchell Report, which will keep him from getting anywhere close to the Hall of Fame. Pettitte had just 10.7% of the vote last year, which was a decrease from the previous year.
Torii Hunter is yet another player whose defensive prowess has been largely ignored by Hall of Fame voters. He earned 9.5% of the vote in his first year but was down to 5.3% last year. If things continue to trend downward, Hunter could be off the ballot after his third year of eligibility.
For a player who won nine straight Gold Gloves as a center fielder, Hunter is not getting the credit he deserves. Keep in mind he was also a five-time all-star, two-time Silver Slugger winner, and finished his carer with over 2,400 hits. He deserves a lot more votes than he’s been getting.