Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Ben Verlander

Ben Verlander

FOX Sports MLB Analyst

One of the best days on the baseball calendar is here. 

At 6 p.m. ET, the 2024 National Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced, and if publicly available ballots are any indication, we’ll be welcoming more than one MLB legend into Cooperstown and immortality.

I don’t have a Hall of Fame ballot and have spoken before about my issues with the current voting system, one which I believe is archaic and needs change. But that’s not going to stop me from filling out a hypothetical ballot of my own as we await the 2024 class of inductees. I’m now at the age where I vividly remember watching this pool of candidates in their primes and absolutely loved going through their careers for this exercise. 

With that said, let’s dive into my hypothetical 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and my nine selections.

1. Adrián Beltré
– 1st year of eligibility
– 93.5 bWAR, 477 HR, 1,707 RBIs, .286/.339/.480, 116 OPS+

I guarantee this will be my least controversial pick. Beltré is a newcomer, but — spoiler alert — he’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. He finished with the third-most home runs by a third baseman in MLB history, behind just Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews. He’s also one of the best defensive third basemen in history, with five gold gloves and two platinum gloves to his name. Most importantly, throughout his career, you could tell that nobody had more fun playing baseball than Beltré. I’m glad he probably won’t need my vote to get into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but I would vote for him in a heartbeat.

2. Todd Helton
– 6th year of eligibility
– 61.8 WAR, 369 HR, 1,406 RBIs, .316/.414/.539, 133 OPS+

Helton is the greatest player in Colorado Rockies history and should already be in Cooperstown. Numbers-wise, he’s absolutely a Hall of Famer — there is zero argument to be had. But Helton is getting ripped off because he played his whole career for Colorado, with some voters believing his incredible career statistics are inflated by 17 years worth of home games at high-altitude Coors Field. That’s ludicrous. Why are we holding that against someone with a career .316 batting average? I believe Helton will get his overdue Hall of Fame nod this year after being made to wait for no good reason.

3. Joe Mauer
– 1st year of eligibility
– 55.2 WAR, 143 HR, 923 RBIs, .306/.388/.439, 124 OPS+ 

Mauer assembled one of the greatest careers by a catcher in modern MLB history. He’s one of four catchers over the past 50 years to win an MVP award, joining Ivan Rodriguez, Thurman Munson and Buster Posey. Mauer is one of the first names to come to mind when you think about great catchers we’ve seen in this generation, and if he were to somehow not get into the Hall of Fame, it would be a catastrophe. This is a guy who won three batting titles in four years as a catcher and consistently got on base. That’s not supposed to happen. Catchers aren’t supposed to hit as well as Mauer did with everything else they have to do on a baseball field, but he was somehow both an elite catcher and an elite hitter in his prime. That erases any question in my mind — Mauer is a Hall of Famer.

Ben Verlander’s 2024 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot | Flippin’ Bats

Ben Verlander's 2024 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot | Flippin' Bats

4. Billy Wagner
– 9th year of eligibility
– 27.8 WAR, 903 IP, 2.31 ERA, 1,196 K, 187 ERA+, 422 saves

I’ll never understand why great closers struggle to get into the Hall of Fame, and Wagner is another guy who should have already been inducted. He is sixth all time in saves and made seven All-Star teams. He has an incredible story, too. Wagner grew up playing baseball as a right-handed thrower but broke his arm at 7 years old and thus learned how to throw left-handed instead. Like me, Wagner is from Virginia, so his Hall of Fame case is close to my heart, and I’ve been outspoken about it on social media over the past few years. 

5. Andruw Jones
– 7th year of eligibility
– 62.7 WAR, 434 HR, 1,289 RBIs, .254/.337/.486, 111 OPS+

This really hits home for me. I grew up a Braves fan, and my favorite players were Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones. Andruw was such a crucial part of that Braves team that won 14 straight division titles in the 1990s and early 2000s, and practically carried them to the NL East crown in 2005. He’s also maybe the greatest defensive center fielder of all time. He won 10 (consecutive) Gold Gloves, and only Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays have more overall among outfielders. I believe the reason he’s fallen short in the voting is because he wasn’t good at the end of his career before retiring at just 35 years old. But that’s not taking into account the fact he was called up at only 19 and immediately made a huge impact for a pennant winner. Jones absolutely gets my vote.

6. Gary Sheffield
– 10th year of eligibility
– 60.5 WAR, 509 HR, 1,676 RBIs, .292/.393/.514, 140 OPS+

This vote will be interesting. According to the ballots publicly available as of Monday evening, Sheffield looks like he’s right on the verge of clearing the 75% threshold needed to get into the Hall of Fame. This is a frustrating case for me because even though Sheffield was a slugger at the height of the steroid era and has been linked to steroids, his use has never been proven, and Sheffield himself continues to deny those claims. If you look past that smudge on his résumé and just at his numbers, Sheffield is easily a Hall of Famer.

Top 50 MLB Players for 2024: 15-11

Top 50 MLB Players for 2024: 15-11

7. Carlos Beltrán
– 2nd year of eligibility
– 70.1 WAR, 435 HR, 1,587 RBIs, .279/.350/.486, 119 OPS+ 

Beltrán has the fourth-most home runs by a switch hitter in MLB history and is one of the best to ever do it from both sides of the plate. While he remains on the outside looking in when it comes to current voting totals, he’s trending up. I think it’s only a matter of time before he’s elected. The blemish on Beltrán’s résumé is how he was implicated for having a central role in the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, which caused him to lose a managerial opportunity with the New York Mets in 2020. I understand why the Mets did that at the time, but I believe Beltran deserves to eventually be a manager — and a Hall of Famer.

8. Álex Rodríguez
– 3rd year of eligibility
– 117.5 WAR, 696 HR, 2,086 RBIs, .295/.380/.550, 140 OPS+

You know the accolades. It’s time we stop pretending: Rodríguez is an obvious Hall of Famer. He has the fifth-most homers all time, won three MVPs and made 14 All-Star Games. He ranks among the best ever at his position in MLB history whether you consider him a shortstop or third baseman. I also think A-Rod deserves a lot of credit for turning around his public image, in large part due to the fantastic job he does as an MLB analyst here at FOX Sports. It’s past time to put him in.

9. Manny Ramírez
– 8th year of eligibility
– 69.3 WAR, 555 HR, 1,831 RBIs, .312/.411/.585, 154 OPS+

Ramírez is one of the best right-handed hitters of all time and one of the most fun personalities the sport has ever seen. This is another vote of mine that goes against the steroid penalty that Hall of Fame voters have levied against guys from that era — one that I believe is arbitrary. There are known steroid users in the Hall of Fame. I don’t condone steroids. I hated when MLB players took them, and I especially hated when I saw guys I played with in the minor leagues taking them. But I believe the Hall of Fame is ultimately a museum for the greatest baseball players that ever lived. And such a place is not complete without guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Álex Rodríguez, Manny Ramírez and many others.

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Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.

 

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