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Mini baseball Hall of Fame preview before tonight's announcement, with answer to trivia question

Tuesday 1/23/24

I had meant to do an entry breaking down the baseball Hall of Fame ballot, but I couldn't fit that in, though I've touched on certain things here and there, like Gary Sheffield's candidacy and chances. The announcement is tonight.

Adrian Beltre will become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Everyone knew that that was going to happen. I had thought that Todd Helton and Billy Wagner would get in this year (though I don't think Wagner should be a Hall of Famer, in part because he's one of the worst postseason pitchers in the game's history), based on their ballot percentages from last year--Helton came in at 72.2% and Wagner 68.1%--but that is looking like a miscalculation on my part. What surprises me is how close that Joe Mauer is going to be this year, with his first time on the ballot.

I think he's a Hall of Famer. A catcher wins three batting titles and you can't really keep him out. I did not see him being a first-ballot guy, though. He looks more likely for 2024 than Helton or Wagner. A guess: Beltre and one of the other three get in. Call it Beltre and Mauer. But it could be three guys, all four, or just Beltre.

I've let this go too long as well: the answer to that trivia question--or sort of a trivia question--from a while back about the pitcher with the mediocre stats who stayed on the ballot for what at the time were the full fifteen years was Don Larsen. Why? Well, if you know anything about baseball history, you know why: for his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. That--and that alone, really--was what kept him on the ballot all of that time. One game.

I was actually looking at posts in a baseball history forum from back in 2006 about Beltre's chances of someday becoming a Hall of Famer, and just about everyone said there was no way that was ever going to happen. And here he is, someone who is going to receive like 95% of the vote on his first try. Pretty neat. Excellent player who found this second gear in his career and kept going with it.

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