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Checking in on former Yankees’ Hall of Fame chances

With ballots trickling in, how are our former friends faring?

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Gary Sheffield
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Hall of Fame season is upon us, and we are less than two weeks from the 2024 class of inductees being announced on January 23rd. As has been then case for some time now, there are plenty of deserving candidates on this year’s ballot depending on who you ask. There are also eight former Yankees on the list, which includes some likely one-and-done-ers, some intriguing debates, and a final-year push for Cooperstown.

Thankfully, Ryan Thibodaux and company keep us out of the dark with their handy Hall of Fame tracker, which keeps a running log of all public ballots, to see where the former big-leaguers stand. So, let’s use this to see where some former pinstripers stand in their quest for the Hall.

A Slight Chance

Gary Sheffield (10th, final year; NYY 2004-06)

In his final year of initial eligibility, Gary Sheffield and his patented batting stance are making a decent run at baseball immortality. With 151 ballots in the tracker at the time of writing this, the 500-homer threat is toeing the line with a precarious 75.5 percent as of now. Of course, it is important to note that everyone addressed here will likely see these numbers take a dip after the final results are released. Voters who keep their ballots private tend to be a bit more conservative with their check marks.

In 2023, Sheffield wrapped up pre-result public ballots with 63.5 percent, but all told finished with 55, 8.5 percentage points lower. Thibodaux made this handy graph to compare Sheff’s last six years on the ballot through 150 ballots, along with the last two years for Larry Walker, who got in on his 10th and final try.

Ryan Thibodaux/@NotMrTibbs

Realistically, with Sheffield already dangerously close to sub-75, his chances of actually being elected this year are low. Although I would argue that he has a very valid case, he will have to find another way in aside from the standard induction. Considering that modern Veterans Committees have not treated players with any known PED ties well, that is not promising.

Maybe in a Few Years

Andruw Jones (7th year; NYY 2011-12)

Jones has made up some serious ground in recent years, and he is certainly trending in the right direction for eventual election.

Ryan Thibodaux/@NotMrTibbs

As of now, Jones sits above 70 percent, which is a good sign for things to come, if not for this year. Pre-results, he was at 66.5 lasts year, and dropped by nearly the exact same amount as Sheffield when it was all said and done. Also much like his peer of the late ‘90s and 2000s, Jones has minimal chance to get in this year, but he can certainly maintain hope. With three more years of eligibility remaining, Jones is in a good spot. Larry Walker, who was elected in his final year, sat at 22.3 percent on public ballots in his seventh year, so Jones has much less ground to cover in the same amount of time.

Carlos Beltrán (2nd year; NYY 2014-16)

Beltrán finds himself in a similar situation as Jones, sitting at a solid 68.2 percent at the time of writing this. He is outpacing his numbers from last year, where he finished at 46.5 percent overall.

Ryan Thibodaux/@NotMrTibbs

Beltrán has the benefit of even more time than Sheffield and Jones, while sitting at a comparable percentage with public ballots thus far. His case is certainly a convincing one, but his brief but apparently important role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal will almost certainly delay his probable induction by a couple of years.

A Chance Someday, if You Squint

Alex Rodríguez (3rd year; NYY 2004-16)

This is a tougher one to feel out. A-Rod is doing marginally better than he was on public ballots in 2023, but not enough to fully indicate an eventual election. Currently sitting at 39.7 percent, that may not seem bad compared to others in their third year, but Rodríguez comes with his own set of caveats.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The fifth-place all-time home run leader has the PED cloud hanging over his head, for starters, and isn’t exactly the most beloved player of all time (not that this should really be a deciding factor, but it probably is in reality). On paper it could seem promising (Walker had just over 20 percent in his third year) but convincing voters over the PED wall is a much taller task than simply boasting a player’s on-field merits. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens hit a hard ceiling in their past candidacies, and they didn’t have the on-record suspensions that tarnish A-Rod’s case in the eyes of many. It’s not impossible, but if Steroid Era sluggers begin getting elected, I doubt A-Rod will be the first domino to fall.

Bobby Abreu (5th year; NYY 2006-08)

Staring down the midway point of his candidacy, Abreu has a decent way to climb. He finished the 2023 election with 15.4 percent of the vote, and currently stands at 18.5 percent in the tracker this time around. Per Thibodaux himself, Abreu doesn’t have a public progress chart like the ones above for Sheffield, Jones, and Beltrán, primarily because it’s so static that it’s extremely boring. In recent years, he’s just sort of hung around a 12.5-to-22.5-percent range, and he’s actually faring a smidge worse than at this point in 2023.

Abreu does not have the controversy hanging over him that some others might, but he is also not one of the most thrilling players in history despite a nifty stat case. Election this year or really any of the next few are out of the question, but he does seem to fit the bill as a potential final-year guy. His production on the field was done in an unsung, OBP-heavy style, and it could take some time and passionate campaigning to get the job done. Despite the major differences in their careers, I would guess he has an equal or maybe better shot at standard election one day than Rodríguez.

Andy Pettitte (5th year; NYY 1995-2003, 2007-10, 2012-13)

The stable Yankee southpaw is also in his fifth year, and sits with a comparable percentage to his contemporary Abreu. Pettitte actually improved his numbers with the final count last year, finishing at 17 percent. Though this year has not been as fruitful, as he currently sits at 13.9 percent. He could once again make some strides in the private ballots, but the results likely won’t differ all that much from last year.

Pettitte’s case is an interesting one, relying mostly on longevity, consistency in a high-flying offensive era, and playoff glory.

Still, with PEDs involved in Pettitte’s past as well — not to mention few truly standout seasons — it will take some serious ground-making to have some hope at election. A future Veterans Committee might offer a better shot since his PED use is generally brushed off more than others.

One and Done

Matt Holliday (1st year; NYY 2017)

Look, being on the Hall ballot is a cool accomplishment in its own right. But, some people just quite aren’t up to snuff, not to take away from their impressive accomplishments. Former All-Star and brief Yankee Matt Holliday fits this bill quite well. He had some awesome years with a handful of teams, but ultimately will more than likely fall off the ballot, finishing below the 5 percent minimum. He has received one vote thus far, which is a decision for sure, but hey, good for him. Maybe his sons will be Hall of Famers one day instead.

Bartolo Colon (1st year; NYY 2011)

Much of the same goes for the big right-hander. He was a four-time All-Star, and has a Cy Young Award on the mantle, but Colon just doesn’t quite have the resume to pave his path to Cooperstown. His impact on the game, particularly in a cultural and comedic way in the twilight of his career is undeniable, but he will likely have to be remembered just in that way, seemingly also headed for a first-year exit off the ballot. Bart, too, has received one lone vote this year.

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