The results of the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot were just announced a few minutes ago on MLB Network, and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America has decided to grant Scott Rolen a place in Cooperstown. Rolen received 76.3-percent of the vote, just five votes above the 75-percent threshold needed for enshrinement. He will join Fred McGriff, selected earlier this year by the Contemporary Era Committee, as the members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
It’s been a long road to Cooperstown for this year’s BBWAA inductee. Third baseman Scott Rolen, who spent time with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Reds over the course of his 17-year career, finally received recognition in his sixth year of eligibility. Known for his elite defense at the hot corner, Rolen won eight Gold Glove Awards, but he was no glove-first player: he posted a career .281/.364/.490 slash line, with 316 home runs and 517 doubles. It’s taken him a while — he earned just 10.2-percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility — but it’s a worthy honor.
Coming 11 votes short was Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who has yet to overcome the voters’ bias against Coors Field in his fifth year on the ballot. Even so, both Rolen’s and Helton’s steady climbs in recent years — they each had less than 53-percent of the vote just two years ago — bode well for Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner.
In many ways, Wagner, in fact, once again represents the biggest snub of the year. From 1995 to 2010, the left-handed reliever was one of the most dominant closers in the game. His 422 saves put him sixth all-time, and he had just one season (2000, with the Houston Astros) with an ERA above 2.85. While the clock is ticking — 2024 will be his ninth and penultimate time on the ballot — his 15-percent jump from last year bodes well for the hard-throwing southpaw.
Former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received just 35.7-percent of the vote, a slight increase over his 2022 debut. From a purely statistical standpoint, the former infielder is about as slam-dunk a case as it gets: he played elite defense at two positions, won three AL MVPs, and of course, his 696 home runs have been topped by only four players. But, much like most players associated with PEDs, the stain of the scandals has kept him out of the Hall for at least another year.
This year also saw a number of former Yankees outfielders on the ballot. Of those, the aforementioned Jones came the closest, earning 58.1-percent of the vote, while Gary Sheffield (55.0), Carlos Beltrán (46.5), and Bobby Abreu (15.4) each have their work cut out for them. Beltrán’s candidacy will in upcoming years be particularly interesting; like A-Rod, his numbers indicate a sure-fire Hall of Fame career, but his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal has given him a hill to climb after his first time on the ballot.
Regarding other players of interests to Yankee fans, fan favorite Andy Pettitte remains on the ballot after earning 17-percent of the vote, while catcher’s interference extraordinaire Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the 12 players who did not reach the five percent minimum to remain on the ballot.
For those interested, here is the full breakdown.
Scott Rolen makes it to Cooperstown by 5 votes. Todd Helton unfortunately comes 11 votes short, but at least he's in good shape to get in next year as Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer & Chase Utley join the ballot. pic.twitter.com/UidmFspXsQ— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) January 24, 2023
If you’re interested in how the writers here at Pinstripe Alley would have voted if we received ballots, you can check out Jake’s post from earlier today. As is our usual pattern, we voted in a much larger Hall than the BBWAA did.
Next year, 3,000-Hit Club member Adrian Beltre will headline the new arrivals (also featuring strong candidates in Joe Mauer and Chase Utley). They will join the 14 who will remain from this ballot, though this is it for slugging second baseman Jeff Kent. He was in his final year of BBWAA eligibility and, like McGriff before him, will have to hope for a better fate from the Contemporary Era Committee.
Once again, congratulations to Scott Rolen.