Scott Rolen was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, preventing a BBWAA ballot shutout for the second time in three years.
None of the other 27 players on the Hall 2023 ballot crossed the 75% threshold for election, although there were a few near misses. The ballot results were revealed Tuesday during a broadcast on MLB.com.
Rolen, a longtime third baseman, was named on 76.3% of the ballots in his sixth year of eligibility to win entrenchment. Just missing was former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who received support on 72.2% of the ballots in his fifth attempt at the election.
Players can appear on the ballot for 10 seasons after a five-year waiting period after retirement, provided they are named on at least 5% of the ballots during a voting cycle.
“You don’t think about it,” Rolen said on MLB Network. “You think you’re doing your best, playing for your team and playing the game the best you can and it’s a long road. I never thought Hall of Fame would be the answer.”
Rolen was a seven-time All-Star during his 17-year career, playing for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. His eight Golden Gloves are fourth for a third baseman. The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year was a member of the Cardinals when the club won the 2006 World Series.
Rolen, who ranks fifth in WAR among career third basemen according to Baseball-Reference.com, was named on just 10.2% of ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2018, but quickly gained support with each voting cycle.
The same upward trajectory held true for Helton, who started 16.5% in 2019. A career .316 hitter in 17 seasons, all with the Colorado Rockies, Helton was a four-time Silver Slugger winner. and three-time Gold Glover for his work at first base.
Other players named on at least half of the votes cast included Billy Wagner (68.1%), Andruw Jones (58.1%) and Gary Sheffield (55%).
Wagner, one of the most dominant relievers of his era, steadily rose in popularity. He won the support of 51% of the ballots last year. Next year will be his ninth season of eligibility.
Rolen’s narrow election means the BBWAA has consistently refused to elect new members only nine times in the history of the ballot. The writers also didn’t elect anyone in 2021. Last year, only Red Sox great David Ortiz was selected by the writers.
The three-year period in which the BBWAA elected only two players is a historic low. Since annual voting became permanent in 1966, the sponsors have never failed to elect at least two players over a three-year period. They also only elected two players in the three-year periods ending in 1968 and in each season from 1996 to 1998.
Ironically, the scarcity of elected officials comes only a few years after a particularly fertile period of writers’ votes. In the three-year period ending in 2019, the BBWAA elected 11 new Hall of Famers and in the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, 17 new Hall of Famers were nominated by writers.
Unlike 2021, when no new Hall of Famers were elected by the writers or a committee at the time — the first time since 1960 that had happened — there will be at least two new inductees speaking a speech in Cooperstown during the induction ceremonies on July 23. The soft-spoken Fred McGriff will enter the room alongside Rolen after being selected by a then-committee during the winter meetings in December in San Diego.
Progress has been slow for a few more controversial candidates whose performances meet traditional Hall of Fame standards but have had their cases undermined by associations with DEPs.
Alex Rodriguez, who racked up huge career totals of 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, was named on 35.7% of the ballots in his second year of eligibility, down from 34 .3%. Rodriguez missed the 2014 season under suspension for violating MLB PED policies.
Likewise, Manny Ramirez, who hit 555 homers while amassing a career batting average of .312 but was suspended twice for PED violations, made little progress in his seventh ballot appearance. After landing at 28.9% last year, Ramirez has moved up to 33.2% this time around.
Conversely, the formidable Sheffield slugger has gained some momentum in his ninth year of eligibility. It was 40.6% last year. Sheffield, who hit 509 homers but was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report, has never been disciplined for using PED. Next season will be his 10th and final opportunity to be elected via the writers’ vote.
Among the 14 new voters, only two received the necessary 5% support to be postponed for consideration next time.
One of those debutants was Carlos Beltran, who got 46.5% of the ballots. Beltran’s Hall case is solid on the back of a career that saw 435 home runs, 312 interceptions, 2,725 hits and one of baseball’s most sparkling playoff records.
Beltran was a central figure in the controversial sign-stealing scandal that tainted the 2017 World Series title of the Houston Astros, for whom Beltran played. His association with controversy led to him later resigning as manager of the New York Mets ahead of his first season in that role.
While it’s unclear what role the scandal played in Beltran’s absence from his first round of voting, his level of support bodes well for the future and, perhaps, for the running for office. come for other stars of this Astros team.
The other newbie who will remain on the ballot is reliever Francisco Rodriguez, whose 437 saves were enough to put him on 10.8% of the ballots.
While voters have been stingy in recent years, next year could see a more active induction week with a number of interesting candidates becoming eligible. The roster of newcomers is led by third baseman Adrian Beltre, catcher Joe Mauer and second baseman Chase Utley.