Jones received votes on 58.1% of the ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and Wagner garnered 68.1% of the votes. Both remain shy of the 75% needed for election. But they have accelerated toward that number over the past few years.
Wagner actually fell just 27 votes shy of election.
Scott Rolen was the only player elected by the BBWAA this year. Former Braves first baseman Fred McGriff was elected via the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee in December. They will both be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame on July 23 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Rolen’s vote total jumped from 10.2% (2018) to 17.2% (2019) to 35.3% (2020) to 52.9% (2021) to 63.2% (2022) to 76.3% (2023).
This ascension enhances hope for both Jones, who is eligible to be on the ballot four more times, and Wagner, who has two more years of ballot eligibility. Here’s a look at the progressions of their vote percentages:
Another former Brave still bidding for election is Gary Sheffield, who received 55% of the votes this year. Sheffield’s 10-year stay on the ballot will expire after next year.
Jones batted .254, tallied 434 home runs and had an .823 OPS over a 17-season career that included five All-Star appearances and the NL Hank Aaron Award in 2005, when he finished second to Albert Pujols for the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. The only other outfielders to win as many as 10 Gold Gloves are Ichiro Suzuki and four Hall of Famers -- Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline and Ken Griffey Jr.
Jones was the author of an uneven career that started with a bang and ended with the thud created by the steep decline he experienced late in his career. He produced MLB's third-best fWAR from 1998-2007. The two men who ranked ahead of him in that span were Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. The man ranked immediately behind him was Chipper Jones, his longtime Braves teammate who was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in ’18.
Jones led all Major Leaguers with a 26.7 defensive bWAR during his 11 full seasons (1997-2007) with the Braves. Ivan Rodriguez ranked second with 16.5 during that span.
From 1995 (debut seasons for Wagner and Mariano Rivera) through 2010 (Wagner’s final season), Rivera led all relievers in fWAR with 34.9. Wagner ranked second with 24.1, and Trevor Hoffman ranked third with 24.0.
The baseball world has wisely minimized the significance of pitching wins. Maintaining this same line of reasoning in relation to Wagner -- who had 422 career saves, as opposed to 652 for Rivera and 601 for Hoffman -- there’s reason to argue voters have placed too great of a significance on save totals when evaluating a reliever’s qualifications.
Hoffman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018, and Rivera was unanimously elected in ’19. While Hoffman totaled 179 more saves, Wagner had a better ERA (2.31 vs. 2.87), a higher strikeout rate (33.2% vs. 25.8%) and a lower OPS surrendered (.558 vs. .609).
Sheffield is one of 20 players to produce at least 500 homers and a .900 career OPS. David Ortiz is one of those players. The only members of this group not yet elected to the Hall of Fame are Sheffield, Bonds, Rodriguez, Pujols, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera.
Sheffield is also one of 46 players to produce a 140 OPS+ and a bWAR of 60 or higher. He stands with Bonds, Rodriguez, Ramirez, McGwire and Shoeless Joe Jackson as the only retired members of this group who have not been elected.