By Josh Markowitz | | 16 mins
Predicting The Next 10 Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductees
As the MLB betting calendar continues through Summer, baseball begins to take center stage on the sports landscape. Teams have already played a little over half their games and soon enough it will be the All-Star break. Then, just five days after the game's biggest stars play in Los Angeles, the Hall of Fame will honor the seven members of the Class of 2022 in Cooperstown.
First ballot inductee David Ortiz headlines the group, as he was the only one elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), but Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva and Buck O’Neil will also be enshrined into baseball immortality on July 24.
While gaining induction via the Veterans Committee is still a remarkable accomplishment that makes one no less of a Hall of Famer, Ortiz’s selection got Bookies.com thinking about the next 10 likely BBWAA honorees. Future ballots were examined and then a final list was developed using a combination of voter trends, statistical analysis and historical precedents.
All players who received at least 50 percent of the vote in 2022 were included, as every player that is not still on the ballot who has hit this threshold has ultimately gained enshrinement (though some through the Veterans Committee), except for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling (who all had controversies clouding their cases and also just fell off the ballot after the 2022 voting, thus not having had the time to go through the Veterans Committee process).
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Next, candidates were evaluated based on their performance in sabermetrician and FanGraphs author Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, which compares a player's career wins above replacement (WAR) and seven-year peak WAR with those already in the Hall of Fame. Players who exceeded either the JAWS standard or seven-year peak average at their position were included, reflecting the ever-growing importance of these numbers to voters and the value of an elite peak.
Then, players who eclipsed traditional milestones that typically guarantee election were added to the list if they failed to meet the other standards, as certain counting numbers are still valued for enshrinement.
Lastly, any players who met these criteria but have PED associations were ignored, as the electorate’s voting history has made it clear these players will have difficulty earning induction from the BBWAA. The final results were as follows:
Our Next 10 BBWAA MLB Hall Of Famers
(1996-2012: Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Reds)
Rolen started his Hall of Fame process with limited support (he received just 10.2% of the vote in 2018, his first year on the ballot) due to lighter career counting numbers than most inductees, but his two-way excellence is earning more recognition by the year. The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner battled injury issues at times, appearing in over 120 games in just 10 of his 17 career seasons, but still clears every WAR-based threshold for Hall of Fame third basemen.
The position is also currently underrepresented in Cooperstown and Rolen has the highest career WAR of any eligible third baseman not yet inducted into the Hall. Expect this to change next year, where the absence of Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sammy Sosa should free up ballot space and help push Rolen over the 75% needed for election.
(1998-2018: Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, Rangers)
Beltré did not follow a traditional career arc, but his numbers put him among the all-time greats to ever man the hot corner. After debuting with the Dodgers in 1998 just 78 days after his 19th birthday, he broke out in 2004 at age 25, finishing second in the NL MVP voting before signing a five-year, $64 million contract with the Mariners.
He proceeded to hit just 1% above league average during his time in Seattle, but in one of the game's great second acts accumulated over half of his career WAR and recorded seven of his 10 best seasons after leaving the Mariners at age 30. With over 3,000 hits to his name and the second-best defensive metrics of any third basemen, the only question with Beltré is just how high a percentage of the vote he gets on the first ballot.
Despite concussion issues that forced him to move to first base for the final five seasons of his career, where he was merely average, Mauer’s peak as one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time is undeniable. During his 10 seasons behind the dish, Mauer slashed .323/.405/.469, won three batting titles (more than any other catcher) and captured the 2009 AL MVP.
At the time of his first batting title, it had been 64 years since a catcher accomplished that feat and only 11 other catchers have won an MVP award, seven of whom are already in the Hall of Fame. While Mauer only caught 921 games, his best seasons were all at the position and his WAR numbers exceed the average Hall of Fame catcher thresholds, so his achievements should only serve to quicken his enshrinement.
(1998-2017: Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, Rangers, Astros)
Beltrán’s case is suddenly more interesting after his part in the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal that cost him his chance at managing the Mets. While these concerns will certainly cost him some votes, his multi-faceted production is in rarified air, as are his postseason statistics. Beltrán slashed .307/.412/.609 over 256 postseason plate appearances and he is one of just eight members of the 300 career home run, 300 career steal club.
He is also part of the 1,500 run, 1,500 RBI club, which typically guarantees induction except for players connected to PEDs, and he was an above average defender at his peak. The bet here is voters merely punish Beltrán by making the five-tool star wait a few years before election, as the scandal happened in the final year of his career and did not impact his numbers like PEDs.
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Helton’s biggest problem has always been how voters have trouble separating his numbers from his home ballpark. While Helton raked at Coors Field and his OPS was almost 200 points higher at home for his career, his career road OPS matches up well with Hall of Famer George Sisler’s overall production, plus Colorado hitters have been notoriously sapped on the road more than expected over the years.
Helton’s peak was exceptional (he had five straight 1.000+ OPS seasons from 2000-2004) and he is also one of just 18 retired hitters with at least 5,000 plate appearances and a career slash line above .300/.400/.500, a club in which every other non-PED connected member is already in the Hall of Fame. Eventually, the voters will get over the Coors Field issue, as they did for Helton’s former teammate and fellow .300/.400/.500 club member Larry Walker, and he will join them in Cooperstown.
(2001-2019: Mariners, Yankees, Marlins, Mariners)
Given he hung around until his mid-40s as a shell of his former self in pursuit of 3,000 major league hits, a goal he ultimately reached Aug. 7, 2016, it can be easy to forget about how dominant Ichiro was in his prime. Blessed with a rocket arm, premium speed and an innate feel for contact, he came to the majors in 2001 at age 27 after spending nine seasons in the NPB with the Orix BlueWave and immediately won both AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP playing for the 116-win Mariners.
Over the first decade of his MLB career, Ichiro hit .331/.376/.430 and recorded over 200 hits every year while also making 10 consecutive All-Star teams and winning 10 consecutive gold gloves. Those are incredible accomplishments and given the recognition of his unique career shape and his status as a legend on two continents, it is conceivable Ichiro is baseball’s next unanimous Hall of Famer.
(1995-2010: Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Braves)
Reliever cases are complicated by nature, so much so that Jaffe developed a different version of JAWS just for relief pitchers, and Wagner’s case pushes the limits of what the Hall has accepted in the past. However, despite pitching fewer than 1,000 career innings (and 139 fewer innings than any Hall of Fame reliever) Wagner’s statistics are spectacular. He’s sixth all time in saves and has better rate stats than any other retired left-handed reliever.
As of now, R-JAWS considers him the best relief pitcher not in the Hall of Fame, and Mariano Rivera (a righty) is currently the only retired reliever with a lower career ERA than Wagner. Changing attitudes towards reliever usage and growing appreciation of Wagner’s historical per-inning excellence should help him gain induction before he falls off the ballot after 2025.
(1996-2012: Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox, Yankees)
Jones is a textbook example of a candidacy carried by peak value. He accumulated just 1.7 WAR after leaving Atlanta following the 2007 season but had already hit 368 home runs and won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves. In his final five seasons he slashed just .210/.316/.424 after hitting .263/.342/.497 during his Braves tenure, and his transcendent defense disappeared.
Even still, he was a historically elite defender who not only ranks as the best centerfielder of all time by the defensive metric with the most years of data, but as the second-best defensive player ever behind only Brooks Robinson. It is going to take voters a few more years to come around to accepting the disappointing end to his career, but the spike in his voting support (he has climbed almost 35 percentage points since his debut at 7.3% of the vote in 2018) indicates the electorate is opening up to recognizing Jones’ special blend of defense and power.
(2001-2019: Indians, Brewers, Yankees)
As starting pitcher usage has declined, it has become increasingly difficult for players to meet the lofty standards for enshrinement at the position. Sabathia may not hit all the typical Hall of Fame thresholds, but his status as one of the premier innings eaters and big-game pitchers of his generation boosts his candidacy.
His 3.74 career ERA would be the third-worst of any Hall of Fame pitcher, ahead of only Red Ruffing and Jack Morris, but park and ERA-adjusted numbers are more favorable to him and he is one of only 19 pitchers with over 3,000 career strikeouts. Considering every other retired pitcher in this club except for Clemens and Schilling are Hall of Famers, the odds are high Sabathia will be one as well, especially since there seems to be a growing understanding of the lack of modern starters in Cooperstown.
(2003-2018: Phillies, Dodgers)
Another player with a shorter career full of peak value, Utley is clearly lacking when it comes to career counting numbers. However, no eligible hitter with a seven-year peak WAR of 49 or greater like Utley and no PED associations has been excluded from the Hall of Fame. He was an all-around force who put up five consecutive 7+ WAR seasons from 2005-2009, through a rare combination of contact skills, power, patience, baserunning and defensive acumen.
Utley somehow never won a Gold Glove despite years of outstanding glovework but took home four Silver Sluggers and was a six-time All-Star. Voters will have to warm up to his deficient traditional stats, but his role as one of the faces of some dominant Phillies teams should help his case much like Andruw Jones’ role during the Braves' run of division titles should help Jones’ case. If Utley does enter Cooperstown in 2027 as predicted, he may not be alone at his ceremony, but that remains to be seen.
*Note that all statistics are from baseball-reference.com