John Tomase

My (bloated?) 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot reveal

John Tomase sees eight worthy candidates on this year's ballot.


I am a self-professed Small Hall guy. I smirk contemptuously when voters whine about the constrictions of the 10-man limit and the agony of strategic selections to keep players on the ballot so we can preserve their candidacies for future generations. It's the Baseball Hall of Fame, not a captain's award.

My ballots generally range from four to six players, but this year something strange happened and I'm not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. I checked eight names, including one I had ignored for his first five years on the ballot.

I feel like a traitor to my own cause, and in one case I legitimately question if I've succumbed to online groupthink, but I reserve the right to change my mind, because I've got another year to ruminate.

In any event, here's my ballot, and as usual, you can leave your objections in the comments, which I wouldn't read even if they weren't disabled sometime around 2018.

Carlos Beltran

I find it laughable that Beltran has been denied enshrinement for his "role," singular though it wasn't, in the Astros cheating scandal. Beltran's primary sin was retiring, which meant he could have a team-wide scheme dumped conveniently on his shoulders, thus sparing current All-Stars like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, or Alex Bregman a suspension.

Beltran was stealthily one of the best five-tool players ever, with a Rookie of the Year, nine All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves, 400 homers, and 300 steals. He was also a postseason monster. Easy vote for me.

Adrian Beltre

I may be a Small Hall guy, but anyone leaving Beltre off their ballot also probably believes the last true Hall of Famer was Mickey Mantle. Beltre is one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all-time, he hit for power, and you may believe 3,000 hits is an arbitrary number, but I kinda like it, and he reached that mark, too.

More than numbers and accolades, however, the Hall also exists to recognize personality and style, and Beltre played with plenty of both, from his distinctive straight-legged bare-handed throws to his massive hacks while falling to one knee.

I am also contractually obligated to mention the whole don't-touch-my-head-thing, I suppose, but Beltre was one of a kind, and Cooperstown should recognize that.

Andruw Jones

I struggled with Jones' candidacy for a couple of years until a moment of clarity. The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize greatness, and that needn't necessarily mean most complete or well-rounded, although Jones certainly has a case there, with his 400-plus homers and 10 Gold Gloves.

What it comes down to for me is this -- Jones is one of the premier defenders ever at a premium position, and that's got to count for something.

Add a 50-homer season, his unforgettable postseason heroics as a teenager in 1996, and his place on all of those powerhouse Braves teams, and he may not be an automatic choice (man, that post-30 fade), but he's one I'm comfortable making.

Joe Mauer

Here's the one vote that candidly makes me wonder if I just didn't want the internet to yell at me. There's little question of peak Mauer's Hall of Fame worthiness -- the MVP, the three batting titles and Gold Gloves, the superstar aura at the game's most demanding position -- and he had a great story, too, as the St. Paul kid who never left his hometown team.

Then came concussions, and a move to first base, and a long career that settled into more of a Dustin Pedroia phase -- gutsy and effective, but clearly diminished.

In the end, I'm choosing Mauer's relatively short peak over that of someone I left off my ballot, Colorado's Todd Helton, because Mauer packed more greatness into eight years than Helton did in six, and because he did it at a more valuable position. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Andy Pettitte

OK, what is happening?!? This is a big-picture vote that perhaps a Patriots fan could understand, as their two-decade run remains woefully underrepresented in Canton, outside of Ty Law and Richard Seymour.

The late-90s Yankees were baseball's last dynasty, and yet only two regulars are Hall of Famers -- the Captain, Derek Jeter, and the closer, Mariano Rivera.

There's been no room for anyone in between, from Paul O'Neill to Jorge Posada to Bernie Williams to David Cone to, yes, Pettitte. That's partly because his numbers suffer from a historical perspective, with "only" 256 wins and an ERA of 3.85 that's Jack Morris levels of unsightly, but allow me some context.

For one, we need to recalibrate our standards around starting pitchers, who don't throw 300 innings or win 300 games anymore. For another, we should recognize not only the overwhelmingly offensive era in which Pettitte toiled, but also the division.

The AL East featured murderous lineups from the Red Sox and Blue Jays, and this might've been the height of the DH Era, between David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, and Jim Thome. There were no nights off, and yet Pettitte thrived.

I understand the case against him, but add 19 postseason wins, the 2001 ALCS MVP Award, and his place as the best starting pitcher throughout the course of baseball's last true dynasty, and let's make room for him in upstate New York.

Manny Ramirez

I feel like just cutting and pasting what I write every year, but here's the shortened version: If baseball doesn't want steroid users in the Hall of Fame, remove them from the ballot. Otherwise, the sport deserves to reap the whirlwind.

Ramirez is an all-time idiot for failing two drug tests, but he's also an all-time great right-handed hitter. The Hall can hang his plaque in the basement if it finds his election distasteful.

Alex Rodriguez

See Ramirez, Manny above.

Gary Sheffield

We all have our causes, and sadly, my watch has ended with Sheffield's last year on the ballot. Much like enshrining Jones for his glove, I'm putting Sheffield in Cooperstown for his bat.

Am I biased because I caught so much of his renaissance in person during unforgettable battles with the Red Sox in 2004, when his menacing bat waggle made every swing must-watch? Probably. But I also believe Sheffield belongs on the list of 30 most dangerous hitters ever, with over 500 homers, more walks than strikeouts, and a style all his own.

He began his career by nearly winning a Triple Crown with the Padres, and he fittingly ended it with an intentional walk in his final plate appearance at age 40. In between, he was a beast who helped define an era.

"Oh, but he couldn't field to save his life," you say, to which I reply, with all due respect, go to hell.

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