Scott Rolen elected into Hall by 5 votes: Who’s been enshrined with fewer votes, previewing 2024 class
Scott Rolen was the lone player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) on Tuesday. He received 76.3 percent of the 389 votes cast in 2023 after missing out on induction last year with 63.2 percent of the 394 votes cast in 2022. Rolen made it into the Hall of Fame by five votes, becoming only the seventh player to be inducted by that small of a margin.
Twenty-seven other players were on this year’s ballot, and longtime Rockies’ first baseman Todd Helton fell 11 votes shy of the required 75 percent. In his fifth year on the ballot, Helton jumped to 72.2 percent of the vote total this year after receiving 52 percent last year.
Rolen will join Fred McGriff in this year’s class, as McGriff will be inducted into the Hall in July following his election by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee in December.
Here’s everything you need to know about the selection process, who got in with fewer votes than Rolen and who could make next year’s list:
How are players selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Members of the BBWAA — who have been active baseball writers for at least 10 consecutive years — vote on eligible players each cycle. The 2023 ballot was sent to approximately 400 BBWAA voting members, the Hall announced in November. Players need 75 percent of the votes in order to be enshrined and are removed from the ballot if they are named on less than 5 percent of the ballots or have been on the ballot 10 times without election.
A committee selects those on the ballot, which is released in November. To be eligible for selection, candidates must have been an active major-league player during a period beginning 20 years before and ending five years prior to the election. They also must have played in 10 major-league seasons, some part of which must have been within the aforementioned period.
Players on MLB’s ineligible list are not considered. Additionally, if an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five years dies and is otherwise eligible, they’ll be eligible in the next election occurring at least six months after the date of death or at the end of the five-year period, whichever comes first.
Per the BBWAA, voting is based on a player’s “record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s)” on which they played.
More details on the election process can be found here.
Who was on this year’s ballot?
Fourteen players debuted on the BBWAA ballot in 2023: Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltrán, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, Francisco Rodríguez, Huston Street, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth.
Fourteen former players also returned to the 2023 BBWAA ballot (after receiving at least 5 percent of last year’s vote): Rolen, Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle and Torii Hunter.
Which other members were elected to the Hall of Fame with 5 votes or fewer?
One player, Al Simmons, earned just enough votes to hit the 75 percent threshold in 1953. Ferguson Jenkins (75.4 percent in 1991), Ralph Kiner (75.41 percent in 1975) and Willie Keeler (75.55 percent in 1939) were all enshrined with just two votes to spare.
Early Wynn entered the Hall in 1972 with 76.01 percent of the 396 votes while Ivan Rodriguez got 76.02 percent of the 442 total votes cast in 2017.
Three players, Cy Young (76.12 percent in 1937), Ryne Sandberg (76.16 percent in 2005) and Catfish Hunter (76.27 percent in 1987) had lower percentages than Rolen when they were voted in.
What happens when no players reach 75 percent?
The Hall of Fame didn’t add any members in 2021 due to no players receiving enough votes, a year which included Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on the writers’ ballot. Those three returned to last year’s ballot and missed the cut, along with Sammy Sosa, during their 10th and final year listed.
The BBWAA also didn’t choose anyone in 2013, 1996 and 1971.
Who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
The Baseball Hall of Fame features 340 former players, including seven inducted last year: Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Buck O’Neil and David Ortiz. Fowler, Hodges, Miñoso and O’Neil were posthumously elected.
Who could be elected next year?
First-time eligible players for the 2024 class could include José Bautista, Adrián Beltré, Bartolo Colón, Adrián González, Matt Holliday, Jim Johnson, Víctor Martínez, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, José Reyes, James Shields, Chase Utley, David Wright and Brad Ziegler.
Players who didn’t earn a place in the Hall but still received enough votes to remain on the ballot in 2024 include Todd Helton (72.2 percent), Billy Wagner (68.1 percent), Andruw Jones (58.1 percent), Gary Sheffield (55 percent), Carlos Beltrán (46.5 percent), Alex Rodriguez (35.7 percent), Manny Ramirez (33.2 percent), Omar Vizquel (19.5 percent), Andy Pettitte (17 percent), Bobby Abreu (15.4 percent), Jimmy Rollins (12.9 percent), Mark Buehrle (10.8 percent), Francisco Rodriguez (10.8 percent) and Torii Hunter (6.9 percent).
Jeff Kent earned 46.5 percent of the votes needed but was in his final year of eligibility.
Helton made huge strides, missing out by just 11 votes after receiving just 52 percent of the votes needed in 2022. He will be a strong candidate for enshrinement in 2024.
Beltré, a four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner, is also a likely selection. He’s the only major-league player with at least 3,000 hits and 450 homers among those who appeared in at least half of their games at third base.
Mauer, a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time Gold Glover Award winner, and Utley, a six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, have the best chance of joining Beltré as first-ballot selections.
The 2023 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for July 23. Future Hall of Fame inductions are scheduled for July 21, 2024; July 27, 2025; and July 26, 2026.
(Top photo: Albert Dickson / Getty Images)