Who should be elected to the class of 2023 MLB Hall of Fame?

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Hall of Fame
27 July 2014: Joe Torre, part of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony gives his acceptance speech and breaks down in tears at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York.

There is a lot of conversation going on in the baseball world about the Hall of Fame. With accredited baseball writers submitting their ballots for the 2023 MLB Hall of Fame, we have begun to see what players have a chance of becoming immortal this season.

Every player on this list deserves at least consideration of joining the all-time greats of this sport.

Matt Watson’s HOF Ballot

Bobby Abreu

The age-old phrase “if you bat .300, you go to the Hall of Fame” has been something that has been uttered millions of times by baseball fans for generations. Hitting .300 is not as valued in today’s game as it once was, but the idea of hitting this mark is still very impressive.

Bobby Abreu may not have hit exactly .300, but a career batting average of .291 is pretty damn good and one of the many reasons Abreu should receive consideration on this year’s ballots.

Bobby is currently 19th all-time in career WAR for right fielders. This puts him ahead of future Hall of Famers like Ichiro Suzuki and current Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero. Abreu is also 4th all-time in doubles for a right fielder, behind Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and Paul Warner. He sits directly in front of Tony Gwynn and hits 31 more doubles than one of the greatest hitters of all time.

His offensive production is undeniable, and his numbers speak for themselves. Bobby Abreu deserves consideration for the Hall of Fame.

Carlos Beltran

A longtime Phillies rival, Carlos Beltran, is another player deserving of the MLB Hall of Fame. Beltran spent 20 years in the MLB, an accomplishment on its own. The former centerfield spent time with the Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, and Rangers. The outfielder’s best seasons were spent in Queens with the New York Mets.

Carlos ranks 9th all-time in WAR for Center Fielders. Of the 8 players ahead of him, 7 are in the Hall of Fame. Mike Trout, who ranks 5th, will certainly hear his name called into the Hall once his career ends.

Carlos Beltran is a Rookie of the Year award winner, a 9-time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove award winner, and a 2-time Silver Slugger. For centerfielders, he is 3rd all-time in doublers and 5th all-time in homeruns. He had 2725 career hits and did win the World Series in 2017 with the Astros.

The last part I mentioned in the previous paragraph is one of many hangups on whether Carlos should be in the Hall of Fame. Like other players cheating on their ledger, I have always followed the same mindset. If you can remove the year(s) of cheating from their statistics, are they still a Hall of Fame player? I believe that this applies to Carlos, who, at the age of 40, was more of a bench coach than a productive player.

Despite the small blunder in his last season, I believe that Carlos Beltran is a Hall of Fame player, and he would earn my vote.

Todd Helton

The Coors Field argument is getting stale, and the major argument against Todd Helton for the Hall of Fame is that he played in Colorado is a bad take.

Helton was one of the best-hitting first-basemen in the history of the game. Todd was not the prototypical slugging first baseman but more of an all-around hitter who could do it all.

The Rockies legend hit .316 for his career average, well above the .300 threshold I spoke of with Bobby Abreu. Helton is a five-time all-star and a four-time Silver Slugger award winner. Helton had 2519 hits in his career, 369 of those were homeruns. From 1998 to 2007, Helton had a .333 batting average that peaked at .372 in 2000. He also ranks fourth all-time for doubles as a first baseman.

In today’s game, the batting average stat isn’t as highly regarded as it once was. However, it is impossible to ignore the numbers that Todd Helton produced in his prime. In 17 seasons, all with Colorado, Helton accumulated a career WAR of 61.8. This places him 15th all-time, with 10 Hall of Famers ahead of him. Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto are three players ahead of Helton that all have had Hall of Fame careers.

Todd Helton should be elected to the Hall of Fame this year, and it would be a disgrace if he has to wait another year before becoming immortalized in Cooperstown.

Andruw Jones

Another player getting overlooked on the Hall of Fame ballot is Andruw Jones. Jones is arguably one of, if not the greatest defensive center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball. While offensive stats are essential, the defensive aspect of the game must hold some weight, especially in the Hall of Fame.

Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards in center field for the Atlanta Braves. Jones was an anchor on their division title teams and is 11th all-time in WAR for a center fielder. Andruw trails Willie Mays (12) and is tied with Ken Grifey Jr (10) for the most Gold Gloves for a center fielder.

Andruw also flashed power in a position that isn’t known for its homerun hitters. Jones hit 434 homeruns in his career, placing him 6th all-time for the position. 4 of the 5 players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame, and Carlos Beltran, the other player, should be as well.

With 1933 hits in his career, his power at the plate, and his elite defensive skillset, Andruw Jones is one of the more unique cases for the Hall of Fame. While Jones might not check every box, his play speaks for itself, and If I had a vote this year, Andruw Jones would receive one on my ballot.

Jeff Kent

A bit of a late bloomer, Jeff Kent’s career shows that not everyone has to be a Hall of Fame talent in their first couple of seasons in the big leagues.

The second base position is underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. Just 20 players have reached Cooperstown at the position and have one more elect than catchers do, which is the lowest amount in the Hall of Fame.

Kent is 21st all-time in WAR for a second baseman. In theory, if there are 20 players in the Hall at this spot, he could be the 21st. The numbers don’t work out that way, and Jeff has a higher WAR than 7 of the men who made the Hall before him.

From 1997 to 2005, his age 29-37 seasons, Jeff was among the best hitters in baseball. Racking up 253 homeruns, 356 doubles, and 994 RBIs in those seasons. Kent hit .296, made 5 all-star games, won 4 Silver Slugger awards, and won the 2000 NL MVP award. He is one of the 7 MVP award winners at second base since Jackie Robinson won in 1949, which shows how rare the accomplishment is.

Jeff Kent has the most homeruns for a second baseman, is third most in runs batted in, and fifth in doubles. He is one of the best hitters at his position of all time and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Kent would receive one on my ballot if I had a vote this year.

Francisco Rodriguez

Becoming a Hall of Fame player from the bullpen may be the hardest way to enter the Hall of Fame in Major League Baseball.

For a player that may only pitch two to three innings a week, you almost have to be perfect to get this honor. While Francisco Rodriguez may not have been perfect, he is one of the greatest closers in MLB history.

One of the best nicknames in baseball, “K-Rod,” was an elite closer. Saving 437 ballgames in his career earns him fourth all-time in baseball history. Francisco is the only closer ever to save more than 60 games in a single season, saving 62 in 2008.

He is a 6-time All-Star and was the Reliever of the Year twice during his career. He finished in the top 5 of Cy Young voting three times in his career, which shows you how dominant he truly was during his time. He pitched in 16 big league seasons and finished 677 games.

While K-Rod was one of the best relievers in the game when he played, understanding how hard it is for a reliever to get into the Hall of Fame is something worth noting. It is understandable for voters not to elect to send a closer unless they are the likes of Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

If I had a vote this year, however, Francisco Rodriguez would earn my vote as I look to give relievers another look regarding the Hall of Fame.

Scott Rolen

Before Nolan Arenado, many considered Scott Rolen one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. While Philadelphia might not like it, Scott Rolen is one of the best third basemen of all time and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

A former Rookie of the Year and 6-time All-Star, Scott Rolen has assembled quite a resume. Scott is 10th all-time in WAR for a third baseman with 70.1. Rolen ranks 6th all-time in doubles and has the 4th most Gold Gloves in league history for the third basemen.

Over his 17 seasons in the big leagues, Scott had 2077 hits and 316 homeruns, to go with 1287 RBIs and 1211 runs scored. In seven consecutive seasons between his time with the Phillies and Cardinals, he drove in over 100 runners each season and, in 2002, earned the Silver Slugger award.

Scott Rolen was an all-around solid player, checking many of the boxes Hall of Fame voters look for. His awards and accumulative stats place him among some of the best to play the game. Rolen’s 2000+ hits, .281 batting average, 300+ homeruns, and plenty of hardware to display have earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Rollins

While many people around the Philadelphia area believe that Jimmy Rollins is a Hall of Famer, there is a case to be presented to those from across the country who get the honor of voting for the Hall of Fame.

J-Roll has one of the most interesting cases for the Hall of Fame that we have seen in a while, and Rollins’ unique skill set that given him this positioning.

Rollins had 2,455 hits over his 17 years in the big leagues. Jimmy won the 2007 MVP, was a 3-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove award winner, and a World Series champion. Rollins ranks 14th all-time in hits for a shortstop and 12th in triples. 10th in homeruns, 11th in stolen bases, and 10th in runs scored.

Jimmy also has some unique withholdings in the all-time record books. Jimmy is 7th all-time in leadoff homeruns.

There are 26 shortstops in the Hall of Fame today, and Rollins has placed himself in the top 15 in most statistics for the position, including 26th all-time in WAR.

Rollins was the leader of the 2007-2011 Phillies division winner teams, the 2008 and 2009 NL Champions, and 2008 World Series champions. Jimmy is at the top of most categories in Phillies history, a franchise that has been around since 1883, one of the longest in all baseball. Aside from Mike Schmidt, there is a case that Jimmy Rollins is the greatest Phillie of all time.

Jimmy might not have the same numbers as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, or Cal Ripken Jr, but his placement in an abundance of categories, his franchise standing, and his dedication to the game not only earns my (little biased) vote but should give him more consideration as time progresses.

Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner is the second relief pitcher to earn a vote on my ballot.

Wagner is one of the best closers in baseball history and sits 14th in WAR all-time for a reliever. Wagner’s 27.7 career WAR is just .3 below Trevor Hoffman. Billy pitched in 16 seasons in Major League Baseball, earning 422 saves. This is good enough for 6th in MLB history.

During his career, Billy Wagner spent time with the Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, and Braves. He was a seven-time All-Star and Reliever of the Year in 1999.

Billy Wagner completed 703 games during his MLB career and finished with a 2.31 career earned run average. He pitched in over 70 games four times in his career and struck out 1196 batters. His dominance put him in the same class as Mo Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and the other greats of his generation. Wagner has a stronger case than Francisco Rodriguez, but both deserve the nomination.

As stated before, getting a relief pitcher to the Hall of Fame is extremely difficult, but Wagner is one of those players who deserve the honor.

With my final vote on this year’s ballot, I would give Billy Wagner the nomination to the Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire

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