Next Tuesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results of this year’s vote, and if known ballots are any indication that Scott Rollin and Todd Hilton’s induction chances will rest on Moose Edge.
As of this writing, Rolen and Helton are the only candidates currently trending above the 75% threshold needed for induction, according to announced ballots compiled by Ryan Thibodaux and his Hall of Fame tracker team. With approximately 42% of the total known vote, Rolen appeared on 80.1% of the public vote and Helton on 79.5%.
If these trends hold then former St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies stars will join Contemporary Era panel pick Fred McGriff in Cooperstown this summer, but if past results indicate that the preferences of those who keep their votes secret are often different and more eclectic. . For this reason, longtime closer Billy Wagner is likely to fall short even though he also falls within 72.5%.
Like David Ortiz last summer, Rollin and Hilton’s fate can be decided by just a few votes.
Although both candidates have flaws, they each have a compelling case for Hall of Fame honors. Rollin was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time All-Star, had a career-high 316 home runs and a career-high . 855 OPS, and helped lead St. Louis to the 2006 World Series.
Rollin’s 70.1 wins above replacement also surpasses the average of 15 starting linebackers currently in the Hall of Fame and is comparable to Ron Santo and Edgar Martinez.
Helton was also an outstanding two-way fielder, earning three Gold Gloves at first base along with five All-Star selections, though his flashy offensive totals were always discounted by him playing half his games in the thin Colorado air at Coors Field.
Even if you think the slash line for the .316/.414/.539 is magnified by divisions in the house of the beast, his career path of .855 is still quite impressive and Coors Field’s influence can’t explain his completion of the 1.335. walks, compared to just 1,175 strikeouts over 17 years. Helton also has a career-high 61.8 WAR, just below the average of 24 Hall of Fame first basemen but ahead of men like Harmon Killebrew and freshman McGriff.
The two have already seen a huge boost in support since their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. Rolen only got 10.2% of the vote his first year in 2018, but he’s gained consistently since then, jumping from 35.3% to 63.2% in the two years between 2020 and 2022. Helton started with 16.2% his first year in 2019 and reached 52% in 2019. Past. year, and now appear to be making decisive leaps of more than 15 points with players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling no longer commanding votes and attention.
The question for each of them is how far their winnings prove.
Hilton may end up having a better shot of the two since there’s historically little difference between his support on universal and private suffrage. Rolen has been more polarizing, and last year he showed up with 69.8% of the public vote but only 34.2% of the private vote, a difference that cost him 6.6% in the grand total.
A similar disparity this year could easily drop it below 75%, while a slightly smaller variation could bring it over the finish line.
The good news for Rolen and Helton is that even if they fail this year, at this point it’s likely to be little more than a temporary setback. Almost everyone over the 70% threshold eventually got their induction, so if this winter’s trends continue, it should finally be a matter of when, not if, you’ll eventually become a Hall of Famer.