Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Nine weeks from today, we’ll find out who gets to live out the weekend of a lifetime next July in magical Cooperstown, N.Y. Spoiler alert: Adrián Beltré’s friends and loved ones had better make those dinner reservations ASAP!

But there were 25 other names on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot that was announced on Monday. And when I looked over those names, I could already see the storylines forming in my brain.

So here they come — my Five Things to Watch on the latest, greatest Hall ballot.

1. Can Adrián Beltré make ballot history?

Could Adrián Beltré really become the first position player to get elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously? It’s a fascinating question to contemplate, isn’t it?

Derek Jeter missed by one vote. Ken Griffey Jr. missed by three. Ty Cobb was four away. Cal Ripken Jr. was eight away.

Babe Ruth wasn’t unanimous. Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Ted Williams weren’t unanimous either. So could Beltré join the great Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Famers? I’ll take the “under,” but what reason could any voter find to not check Beltré’s name?

Who could not vote for a third baseman with 3,166 hits? Who could not vote for a third baseman so smooth that he owns five Gold Glove awards and the most career Fielding Runs of any third baseman in history not named Brooks Robinson? Who could not vote for a third baseman who once led his league in hits and was still winning Gold Gloves and collecting MVP votes at age 37?

Beltré is rolling up 93.5 career WAR, putting him in the legend territory. Even if Beltré isn’t unanimous, he could still rack up the highest first-ballot percentage by a third baseman in history.

2. Are we finally going to have a Hall of Famer who spent his whole career on a Rocky Mountain High?

Four elections ago, Larry Walker knocked down the big billboard at the Colorado state line that used to say: THE ROAD TO COOPERSTOWN — YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. So now that the road is finally open, is it Todd Helton’s turn?

Helton spent 17 seasons playing for the Rockies. He finished his career with a .316/.414/.539/.953 slash line, numbers that only Ted Williams and Stan Musial have topped since 1930.

3. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley: Together again?

They were the Trammell and Whitaker of their generation. Not so long ago, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley hung out in the middle of the infield for an incredible 1,227 games together, the most in National League history. Now, they’re on the new Hall of Fame ballot.

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