NEW YORK -- Two former Mets made their share of noise in balloting for the Hall of Fame Class of 2023, but neither will be enshrined in Cooperstown -- at least not yet. Meanwhile, a third former Met is off the ballot for good.
Carlos Beltrán earned 46.5 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility, according to results released on Tuesday evening, while returnee Billy Wagner received 68.1 percent. Jeff Kent received just 46.5 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility, and will fall off the ballot.
Three-quarters of the vote is required for induction.
Beltrán’s case is a polarizing one, as he spent two decades as one of the most accomplished all-around players of his generation. His 70.1 career bWAR falls just below the average for Hall of Fame center fielders, directly behind Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr. and Joe DiMaggio, and ahead of Duke Snider and Andre Dawson. Beltrán is one of only five players at any position to amass at least 400 home runs and 300 steals, along with Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodríguez and Dawson.
But like Bonds and Rodríguez, Beltrán’s Hall of Fame case has been weakened by an external factor: his implication in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Beltrán was the only player named in Major League Baseball’s report, and although he was not suspended by the league or made ineligible for Cooperstown, his involvement prompted the Mets to part ways with him as manager less than three months after naming him to that post. He has not been employed by a team since.
Beltrán is the first member of the 2017 Astros to be considered for the Hall, though his tenure in Houston represented only a small portion of his career. He spent his first seven seasons in Kansas City and another seven in Queens, winning the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award with the Royals before making five All-Star teams with the Mets. Overall, he was a career .279 hitter with 565 doubles, 435 home runs and 312 stolen bases, while also playing for the Giants, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers. He won three Gold Gloves in center field and finished as high as fourth in MVP voting in 2006.
Should Beltrán eventually earn induction, it’s unknown if he would enter Cooperstown with a Mets, Royals or some other team’s cap on his plaque.
One of Beltrán’s former Mets teammates, Wagner, has also endured a rocky path to Hall of Fame consideration. All but an afterthought on the stacked ballots of the mid-2010s, Wagner has enjoyed a dramatic increase in support over the past five years, going from 11.1 percent of ballots in 2018 to 68.1 percent in 2023. Although the increased support is promising, Wagner is running out of time to reach the 75 percent threshold, with just two years remaining on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
Wagner’s Hall of Fame case is highly analytical. One of the game’s hardest throwers around the turn of the century, Wagner struck out 11.9 batters per nine innings over a 16-year career, the highest in history among pitchers with at least 800 innings. His 2.31 career ERA and 187 league-adjusted ERA+ are both significantly better than those of Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman, but he has 186 1/3 fewer innings than Hoffman and 179 fewer saves. The relative lack of counting stats has worked against him in the eyes of some voters.
Still, Wagner has received far more support than Kent, a Met from 1992-96 who later won an MVP Award with the Giants. Kent saw his ballot support increase every year from 2018-23, but he never gained enough to make a serious run at the Hall of Fame, despite the fact that he remains the all-time home run leader among second basemen. Kent’s career bWAR of 55.4 is well below the average of Hall of Famers at that position, due in part to his checkered defensive metrics.
If Kent is to earn induction in the future, he will need to do so via the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee -- a group of Hall of Famers, executives and media members that will next convene in 2025.
Other players with Mets ties on this year’s ballot are Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu, R.A. Dickey and Francisco Rodríguez. Of that group, only Sheffield received notable support (214 votes, 55 percent). Abreu also received enough to remain on the ballot (60 votes, 15.4 percent), but Dickey will fall off after garnering just one vote.
Next year’s ballot will include an additional Mets legend, David Wright, whose injury-shortened career figures to prevent him from making significant noise in voting.