Should Andruw Jones succeed next year after just missing this year, the Class of 2025 at the Baseball Hall of Fame will include two of the five outfielders with 10 straight Gold Gloves.
Ichiro Suzuki, who spent most his U.S. career with the Seattle Mariners after starring in the Japanese major leagues, is considered a lock for election – and could even join Mariano Rivera (Class of 2019) as the second unanimous selection and first by a position player.
In addition to Jones, who fell short of the required 75 per cent of the vote announced Tuesday, and Ichiro, who compiled a record 4,367 hits in his professional career, the other three players with 10 straight Gold Gloves are Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and Ken Griffey, Jr. All already have plaques in the Cooperstown gallery.
Although Jones, Gary Sheffield, and fellow outfielder Carlos Beltran fell short, two first-time candidates and a holdover from last year’s ballot were elected to the Hall of Fame Tuesday.
First-timers Adrian Beltre, a third baseman with 3,000 hits, and Joe Mauer, the only catcher to win three batting titles, were chosen, along with Todd Helton, a first baseman with a .317 lifetime batting average who twice collected 400 total bases in a season.
They will join former manager Jim Leyland, chosen by the Eras Committee in December, in a four-man Class of 2024 to be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 21.
On a ballot that had 14 newcomers among the 28 candidates, Beltre led the field with a 95.1 per cent of the vote. The first Dominican to reach 3,000 hits, he also had more hits than any other third baseman. A key man on the 2011 Texas team that went to the World Series, the 4-time All-Star also had five Gold Gloves.
Mauer, the only catcher to win three batting titles, also won an MVP award, three Gold Gloves, and six trips to the All-Star Game.
Like Mauer, who played exclusively for the Minnesota Twins, Helton played his whole career for one team, the Colorado Rockies. He was a National League All-Star five times.
Billy Wagner, a compact southpaw closer with 422 saves, finished five votes short of election but will get another shot next year, his l0th and final shot on the ballot.
Jones, who hit 434 home runs, and fellow slugger Gary Sheffield, who hit 509, missed garnering the 75 per cent required for election.
Jones will have three more tries but not Sheffield, who was in his 10th and final season in the annual voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America [BBWAA]. He will now be considered by the Eras Committee when it votes on players whose major contributions came after 1980.
Wagner finished the election with 73.8 per cent, while Sheffield got 63.9 per cent and Jones inched closer to election with 61.6 per cent.
After picking only one player in each of the last two years, the baseball writers chose three. The only year in which as many as five were picked was 1936, when the initial Hall of Fame class consisted of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.
The Class of 2024 brings the total Cooperstown membership to 346, including 273 former players, 40 pioneers and executives, 23 managers, and 10 umpires.
Wagner, Jones, and Carlos Beltran will be the best of the ballot holdovers getting another look next year, when Ichiro and CC Sabathia will top the list of newcomers.
Players must be retired five years to be considered by the voting writers. This year’s election was the 80th held by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Enshrinement in the Hall of Fame invariably provides players post-career windfalls, since adding the letters “HOF” after their signatures inflates the value of their autographs and increases demand for paid appearances.
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