How many new Hall of Famers will we get this year?

January 23rd, 2024

We will soon learn who will join Jim Leyland on the Hall of Fame stage in Cooperstown this summer. And thanks to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame ballot tracker, we can get a pretty good feel for what the trends are in Baseball Writers' Association of America voting. Judging by how things stand now, we will likely have at least one other member in the Class of 2024.

But how many will we have altogether? Let’s break down the locks, the strong contenders, the coin flips and the longshots to get a sense of how many names we might hear called when the official announcement is made live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

All vote percentages are as of Monday night.

The lock: Adrián Beltré
The question for Beltré isn’t whether he’ll be elected to Cooperstown on his first ballot this year. The question is: How close will he be to a unanimous selection?

Beltré's credentials are impressive -- over his 21-year Major League career, the third baseman had 3,166 hits and 477 home runs, not to mention five Gold Glove Awards at the hot corner.

With about 52% of the vote accounted for in the public tracker, Beltré has received 99%. While he won’t join Mariano Rivera in the unanimous Hall of Famers club, he could very well finish among the top 10 all-time.

The strong contenders: Joe Mauer, Todd Helton
Somewhat surprisingly, Mauer has received 83.5% of the known votes so far, which gives him a great chance to reach Cooperstown on his first ballot. It’s not that Mauer wasn’t expected to be elected someday; it’s just that many didn’t see it happening in his first year of eligibility.

Mauer was a career .306/.388/.439 hitter, won the 2009 American League MVP Award, three batting titles (2006,’08,’09), five Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Glove Awards behind the plate. According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS scoring system to determine Hall of Fame worthiness, Mauer ranks seventh among catchers all-time.

Helton, meanwhile, is hoping to be elected on his sixth ballot. If he does cross the 75% threshold required for election, he’ll become the second Rockies player to be honored with a plaque in Cooperstown, along with Larry Walker (Class of 2020).

Helton posted a career OPS of .953 (133 OPS+) with 369 home runs. From 2000-05, he was one of the very best players in baseball. His 42.1 bWAR was third in the Majors behind only Barry Bonds (52.8) and Alex Rodriguez (51.7).

Unlike Walker, however, Helton spent his entire 17-year MLB career with the Rockies, playing all of his home games in the hitter-friendly altitude of Coors Field. The Coors factor suppressed his vote totals early in his candidacy. But he’s been surging in recent years, seeing his support go from 16.5% in 2019, to 72.2% in ’23. According to the public tracker, he’s received 82% of the vote so far this year.

Generally speaking, private ballots have tended to lower the overall percentages for many candidates selected on publicly revealed ballots in past years. So when all of the votes have been tabulated, Mauer and Helton will likely see their numbers go down. It looks as though it’ll be close, but both stand a strong chance at being elected.

Up in the air: Billy Wagner
Like Helton, Wagner has seen his support increase dramatically in recent years -- in 2019, he garnered just 16.7% of the vote, and last year, he was up to 68.1%.

The flamethrowing left-hander was a seven-time All-Star who notched 422 saves while posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out a third of the batters he faced over 16 seasons, spent mostly with the Astros and Mets.

Just as Helton has had to fight the Coors Field factor in his climb to the precipice of election, Wagner has been hampered by concerns over longevity and a subpar postseason record. Things are more urgent for Wagner than they are for Helton -- while Helton has four years of eligibility remaining after this one, Wagner only has one.

So far, Wagner is tracking at 78%, which means it’ll likely be a close call for him on Tuesday.

The longshot: Gary Sheffield
Sheffield is on his last ballot, and the way things are going, it’s going to be an uphill climb for him to get to 75% before his eligibility to be elected by the BBWAA is exhausted. He is currently at 75%, but again, voting percentages generally dip once the private ballots are included.

There are only four players in AL/NL history with 500 or more career home runs and 250 or more career steals, and Sheffield is one of them (also Bonds, Rodriguez and Willie Mays).

Over a 22-year career, Sheffield posted a 140 OPS+ and finished with 60.5 bWAR. Among non-active players with a career OPS+ of at least 140 and at least 60 bWAR, the only ones not enshrined in Cooperstown are Bonds, Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Mark McGwire.

Several of the names on that list were connected to performance-enhancing drugs, and that has been a major factor keeping Sheffield from being elected to this point as well -- he was named in the Mitchell Report, which was the culmination of an investigation into PED use in baseball.