Beltrán gains support in second year on HOF ballot

Former Royal receives 57.1% of vote, up from 46.5% in '23

January 24th, 2024

isn’t going to Cooperstown this year, but it sure looks like he’s on track to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the next few years.

The former Royal received 220 votes (57.1%) out of 385 ballots cast by voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer and Todd Helton were elected Tuesday, reaching the 75% threshold and joining Jim Leyland in the Class of 2024 after Leyland’s selection in December by the Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee.

This was Beltrán’s second year on the ballot after he received 46.5% of votes last year. He certainly has a strong Hall of Fame case, and that conversation isn’t over. Candidates may remain on the BBWAA ballot for up to 10 years provided they are listed on at least 5% of ballots cast.

Beltrán began his career with the Royals before going on to play for the Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers over 20 big league seasons. He has a strong analytical case given his 70.1 career bWAR, which ranks eighth all-time among center fielders. Of the 64 AL/NL position players to reach 70 career WAR in the Modern Era (since 1900), all but nine -- including Beltrán -- are Hall of Famers.

Beltrán finished his career with a .279/.350/.486 slash line and a 119 OPS+. He had 2,725 hits, 435 homers, 565 doubles, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He was an October legend, with a 1.021 OPS and 16 home runs in his postseason career (65 games).

But his link to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal from 2017 -- the final season of his playing days -- complicates the case. Because of that, Beltrán was ousted as Mets skipper before even managing a game.

His increase in votes this year, though, indicates Cooperstown could be on the horizon.

Kansas City gave Beltrán his start when the Royals selected him in the second round of the 1995 MLB Draft out of Puerto Rico. He quickly became a young outfield sensation in Kansas City -- his name has come up several times as shortstop phenom Bobby Witt Jr. has broken into the league by breaking many of Beltrán’s records.

Beltrán became one of four in Royals history to win Rookie of the Year after he hit 22 home runs and posted a .791 OPS in 1999 for Kansas City. He finished ninth in MVP voting in 2003, his best year as a Royal; he hit .307/.389/.522 with 26 homers and 100 RBIs that season.

Beltrán was traded to the Astros during the 2004 season, wrapping up nearly seven years in a Royals uniform.

On the ballot for the first time this year were former Royals James Shields and José Bautista, and both fell off after zero and six votes, respectively. Shields spent two years with Kansas City, where he was part of the 2014 American League pennant team and had a 3.18 ERA over 68 starts. Bautista is better known in Kansas City as part of the Blue Jays team the Royals had to beat in the 2015 AL Championship Series, but he did play 13 games in a Royals uniform in 2004.