The Hall of Fame on Monday unveiled the ballot it is mailing out to eligible voters in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America this week.
There are 28 players, but probably not any new Hall of Famers, at least not this year.
Of the 14 newcomers to the ballot, only Carlos Beltrán can make a good case for Cooperstown based on his accomplishments on the field. He’s a nine-time All-Star with three Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the Year award, and a World Series title on his resumé.
Ah, about that title. It was with the notorious trash-can-banging 2017 Astros. Further, Beltrán was the only Astros player named in the report assembled by commissioner Rob Manfred in 2020.
Beltrán had retired by the time the report was issued and was preparing for his first season managing the Mets. He was quickly fired and has been out of baseball since, outside of some announcing work with the Yankees.
Beltrán now faces a jury of Hall voters. Whether his choice of cheating is treated similarly to the use of performance-enhancing drugs remains to be seen. But at best he will need a few years to pull 75 percent of the voters over to his side — if he ever does.
Beltrán could need time for the electorate to get a little younger and, theoretically, more permissive before he reaches the Hall.
Former Red Sox players Bronson Arroyo, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lackey, and Mike Napoli are among the other new candidates. That none are likely to get the required 5 percent of the votes required to remain on the ballot doesn’t change what were terrific careers.
Arroyo pitched parts of 16 seasons and won 148 games. Lackey was a three-time champion on three different teams. He’s the first pitcher to do that since Dave Stewart.
Lackey, Ellsbury, and Napoli were all members of the fabled 2013 Red Sox.
Napoli was a legend for his actions on the field and off that season as he partied deep into the night after the title was won.
Ellsbury may still be in line for an Oscar for persuading the Yankees he cared enough about baseball to merit a seven-year, $153 million contract.
R.A. Dickey could well be the last knuckleballer to land on the ballot, which is a shame. The pitch has vanished from the majors in recent years.
The other newcomers are Matt Cain, Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta, Francisco Rodríguez, Huston Street, Jered Weaver, and Jayson Werth.
Of the 14 holdovers on the ballot, only Jeff Kent is in his 10th and final season of eligibility. He has topped out at 32.7 percent and soaring to 75 percent won’t happen.
With Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling falling off the ballot and now in the hands of the Contemporary Era ballot, Scott Rolen will have the spotlight.
Rolen debuted at 10.2 percent in 2018 and has climbed steadily to 63.2 percent. That strongly suggests the eight-time Gold Glove winner at third base will eventually get in.
But Rolen is only five years into the process and it’s unlikely voters who have passed on him so far will feel any pressure to change that decision.
The same is true for former Colorado Rockies slugger Todd Helton, who reached 52 percent last year in his fourth year on the ballot. Billy Wagner was just behind him at 51 percent. He has three years remaining.
It’s likely the BBWAA throws its second shutout in three seasons unless Rolen makes a big jump. There were 394 votes cast last season and he received 249 of them. Rolen would need 47 of those voters to change their minds or gain support from the handful of new voters.
BBWAA ballots are due Dec. 31. The Contemporary Era committee will make its choices, if any, known Dec. 4 in San Diego after it votes. Its ballot has Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, and Rafael Palmeiro. Like the BBWAA slate, there is no obvious choice there.
One way or another, somebody will likely find their way to the stage in Cooperstown in July. For now, it’s hard to tell just whom that may be.