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Cardlines Guide To The Returning Candidates On The 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

While the completion of the 2023 World Series means that the 2023 season is now officially in the history books, November marks the start of hot stove season.

This is the time of year when we talk trades, free agent signings, and dream of Opening Day. Spring training starts on February 22nd, btw!

It’s also one of our favorite times of year around here at Cardlines, Hall of Fame season.

It’s the time to debate the merits of some of the great players in the recent history of the game, and advocate for those we think deserve the ultimate honor that can be bestowed on to a player – election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In this article, we will take a look at the the returning candidates on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, including their credentials, negatives to their candidacy, and of course, their rookie cards!

A quick refresher on the Hall of Fame Election process

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY has 342 elected members. Of those 342, 270 are former players. 40 executives/pioneers, 22 managers and 10 umpires make up the rest of the membership.

The Hall of Fame holds elections every year, with the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who have been active for 10 or more years receiving the right to vote.

These voters will receive their ballot around December 1st and must vote and return the ballot by December 31st. Voters can vote for up to 10 candidates, submit a blank ballot, or vote for any number in between.

To become eligible to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot, a player must appear in parts of 10 major league seasons and be nominated to the ballot by the selection committee. The player is first eligible to appear on the ballot five years after they retire.

A player is elected to the Hall of Fame if they receive 75% or more percent of the vote. A player falls off the ballot if they receive less than 5% of the vote. A player receiving between 5% and 75% of the vote can remain on the ballot for up to 10 years.

The Hall of Fame voting results will be announced on January 23, 2024. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on July 21, 2024 in Cooperstown, NY.

The returning candidates

Let’s take a closer look at each of the returning candidates, working from the highest vote total in 2023 to the lowest.

Todd Helton

Position: 1B
2022 Result: 72.2%
Career WAR: 61.8

Last year, Helton appeared on 72.2% of the ballot, just 11 votes short of election. Could this be his year? With a little luck, Helton will get over the 75% threshold on his 6th go-around on the ballot.

Helton was a 5-time All-Star, won 3 Gold Glove awards, four Silver Sluggers, and won a batting title. He put up a .316/.414/.539 line during his career, good for a .953 OPS and 133 OPS+.

He finished his career with 2,519 hits, 369 HR, and 1,406 RBI. Those career power counting stats may feel light to some, but the rate stats are certainly there.

Helton’s 61.8 career WAR ranks 17th among first basemen all time. It is slightly below the average of all Hall of Fame first basemen (65.5), but that number is skewed slightly by Lou Gehrig’s insane total of 113.6.

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton #19T5,988PSA 10 = 1,136PSA 10 = 125-225

While it wouldn’t be his rookie card under modern RC standards, Helton’s 1993 Topps Traded “Team USA” card is considered his rookie card and appears three years before his first major league card. While 19% of all PSA-graded cards are 10s, the reasonable going rate makes this a solid buy.

Looking for a tougher Helton rookie? Check out the 1993 Topps Bazooka Topps Traded, which has been graded by PSA only 162 times, with 39 PSA 10’s. A PSA 10 copy sold recently for $1,275. The Best Rookie Cards And Early Career Cards Of Todd Helton

Todd Helton 1993 Topps Traded rookie card

Billy Wagner

Position: RP
2022 Result: 68.1%
Career WAR: 27.7

Billy Wagner was the model of consistent excellence during his career, a tall order for closers. While he never led the league in saves, Wagner’s 422 career saves ranks 6th all-time. He was a 7-time All-Star and finished his career as a 2.31 ERA.

Billy Wagner ranks 14th on Baseball-Reference’s list of relief pitchers by WAR, but if you remove pitchers who started 100 or more games, he quickly jumps to 8th. His career WAR is in the neighborhood of Hall of Famer Lee Smith (28.9), Trevor Hoffman (28.0), and Rollie Fingers (25.6).

The knocks against Wagner are that he’s a reliever, and has fewer than 1,000 career innings pitched. But if you think a modern closer can be a Hall of Famer, Wagner is likely the best candidate out there.

The voters seem to be coming around to this. He has a shot at getting over the 75% threshold in this election, although he may have to wait for next year, his final on the ballot.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1994 Bowman Billy Wagner #64270PSA 9 = 45PSA 9 = $75
1994 Bowman’s Best Billy Wagner #19151PSA 9 = 50PSA 9 = $75

Don’t adjust your screen, those low PSA pops are accurate. These Wagner’s can be tough to find graded. If you are interested in a Wagner rookie, I suggest if one comes up in the grade you’re after, pick it up if it’s reasonable.

It’s a bit amazing to me to see the 1994 Bowman selling in that price range. I bought my PSA 9 copy for $10 back in early 2018.

Andruw Jones

Position: CF
2022 Result: 58.1%
Career WAR: 62.7

Andruw Jones hit 434 home runs in his career, and was one of the top defensive center fielders in the history of the game.

An intro like that may make him seem like a slam dunk Hall of Famer, but Andruw Jones is an imperfect candidate, although I do believe he should and will eventually make it, although it may not be with the writer’s vote.

Jones won 10 Gold Glove awards, was an All-Star five times, and won a Silver Slugger award. His 62.7 career WAR put him in the Hall of Fame conversation but is lower than some other candidates such as Kenny Lofton (68.4) and Carlos Beltran (70.1).

His career batting average was only .254, however, and while the first part of his career was full of soaring highs, the latter half was lacking. He accumulated 58 WAR before turning 30, but only 4.7 WAR thereafter. He also had some post-career legal troubles that turned some voters off.

Jones had a nice bump in the last election, leaving him at 58.1% of the vote. In his 7th year on the ballot, he has time to get to 75%. It feels unlikely he’ll make that jump in 2024, but he should eventually be inducted.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1995 Bowman Andrew Jones #232,300PSA 10 = 357PSA 10 = $150-250
1995 Bowman’s Best Andrew Jones #73,429PSA 10 = 375PSA 10 = $200-375

Gary Sheffield

Position: RF
2022 Result: 55.0%
Career WAR: 60.5

Gary Sheffield saw his vote percentage jump 15 points, up to 55%. He’s on the ballot for his 10th and final time this year. While he should see a slight bump in his vote total in his final year, it’s unlikely he’ll gain the 20% required for election. His case will pass to the veteran’s committee for consideration.

Sheffield was one of the most feared right-handed sluggers of his era. While he didn’t have much defensive value, few could match him as a hitter.

Sheffield finished his 22-year career with 509 home runs and 1,676 RBI to go with a .292/.393/.514 line, good for an OPS of .907 and a 140 OPS+. He even racked up 252 stolen bases in his career.

His career WAR of 60.5 is right around the borderline of Hall of Fame discussions. Sadly, Sheffield’s candidacy is not without issues. Sheffield was exposed in the BALCO investigation as a user of performance-enhancing drugs.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1989 Upper Deck Gary Sheffield #138,936PSA 10 = 2,685PSA 10 = $40-50

The 1989 Upper Deck Sheffield has a fairly high PSA pop at 8,936, and roughly 30% of those were graded PSA 10. The high pop and the cloud of PEDs keep this one very reasonable, even in PSA 10.

A Loving Tribute To The 1989 Upper Deck Set

Carlos Beltran

Position: CF
2022 Result: 46.5%
Career WAR: 70.1

Carlos Beltran debuted on the ballot in 2023 and garnered a respectable 46.5% of the vote. That number suggests he’ll eventually get elected, but would have likely been higher if not for his involvement in the 2017 Houston Astros “trash can” cheating scandal.

So far, other names associated with the scandal are getting rehired, so hopefully, the situation doesn’t affect Beltran’s candidacy long-term.

Beltran, an excellent defensive center fielder (3 Gold Glove Awards) is one of five players with 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases in their career. A 9-time All Star and a 2-time Silver Slugger winner, Beltran was a bit of an under-the-radar excellent player who played for seven different teams.

Don’t let the under-the-radar thing suggest that Beltran wasn’t great. His 70.1 career WAR ranks 8th all-time among center fielders. Of those in front of him, only Mike Trout is not yet already a member of the Hall of Fame. Trout, of course, will be as soon as he’s eligible.

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1995 Topps Traded Carlos Beltran #18T2,270PSA 10 = 299PSA 10 = $115
1995 SP Top Prospects Carlos Beltran #111234PSA 10 = 23PSA 10 = NA

When he eventually is elected to the Hall of Fame, Beltran will be the only player who has only one rookie card and whose rookie card doesn’t even picture him on it. That’s right, Beltran’s 1995 Topps Traded card actually pictures another player, Juan LeBron. Still, the card sells well, with PSA 10 examples selling for $125-150.

1995 Topps Traded Carlos Beltran rookie card

Alex Rodriguez

Position: SS/3B
2022 Result: 35.7%
Career WAR: 117.6

Sadly, the story with Arod is not about his performance, it’s about performance-enhancing drugs. Based purely on his stats, Arod would be a Hall of Fame lock. While his vote total is up to 35.7%, his ties to PEDs means he’s unlikely to be elected to the Hall of Fame anytime soon.

The PED crowd may eventually start to gain enshrinement, but that’s not likely to happen in the short term, and Arod is unlikely to be the first inducted.

Arod ranks 4th all-time in home runs (696), 4th in RBI, 8th in runs scored, 7th in total bases, and 22nd in hits. He put up 117.6 WAR in his career and won 3 MVP awards while playing in 14 All-Star games.

Will opinions on PED users and the Hall of Fame continue to evolve? Yes. Will it happen fast enough for Arod to make the Hall of Fame via the writer’s vote? Time will tell.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1994 Upper Deck Alex Rodriguez #249,737PSA 10 = 390PSA 10 = $125

Arod’s rookie cards used to be some of the most popular and high-priced in the hobby. Sadly, this led to high pops, and when he became associated with steroid use, the bottom fell out.

The 1994 Upper Deck Arod is still hard to find in PSA 10, but 9s are very affordable. Even less than 4% of these in PSA slabs are still affordable.

1994 Alex Rodriguez Upper Deck rookie card

Manny Ramirez

Position: LF
2022 Result: 33.2%
Career WAR: 69.3

In a similar vein to Arod, by the raw numbers, Manny Ramirez would be a Hall of Famer. He hit .312/.411/.585  with a .996 OPS and 154 OPS+. He hit 555 HR and drove in 1,831 RBI. But like Arod, while Manny may someday make the Hall of Fame, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Sadly, Manny Ramirez also tested positive for steroids and was banned for using them. Twice. AFTER the league instituted testing. Sadly, it will be a long time before Manny makes the Hall of Fame.

Steroids took a big chunk out of the value of Manny’s rookie cards. The 1992 Bowman has a high-ish pop and close to 20% of the population is PSA 10s. Any time you can buy the 30-year rookie card of a player with 555 home runs in a PSA 10 slab for around $25, you know something is up.

Manny Ramirez 1992 Bowman rookie card

Omar Vizquel

Position: SS
2022 Result: 19.5%
Career WAR: 45.6

Vizquel, a defensive wiz (11 Gold Gloves) who played long enough to compile 2,877 career hits, looked to be on the path to election, hovering around 50% of the vote in 2020-21.

Domestic assault allegations have since surfaced, which torpedo Vizquel’s vote total and Hall of Fame outlook. Vizquel was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, with 52.6% back in 2020. Now it’s very unlikely he will make the hall anytime soon.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1989 Upper Deck Omar Vizquel #7871,816PSA 10 = 1,132PSA 10 = $15-20

PSA has graded 1,883 copies of Vizquel’s rookie card. A shocking 60.9% of these were PSA 10s. Because of this crazy high percentage and the allegations against Vizquel, a PSA 10 copy can be had for less than the cost of grading. 

Andy Pettitte

Position: SP
2022 Result: 17.0%
Career WAR: 60.2

Andy Pettitte’s vote totals have been slowly climbing, although in his 6th year on the ballot, he now has a long way to go. I think that Pettitte will eventually make the Hall of Fame, but it will likely come via the veteran’s committee, not the writers’ vote.

Pettitte had a 256-153 record and a 3.85 ERA (117 ERA+). He made three All-Star teams, and played on five world championship teams with the New York Yankees. He put up 60.2 WAR in his career and twice won 21 games.

All in all, it points to a borderline Hall of Fame case that probably would have led to eventual enshrinement. Sadly, Pettitte also has the stain of PED use on his record, having admitted to using Human Growth Hormone (HGH) while rehabbing from an injury. That will hurt his chances for the foreseeable future.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1993 Bowman Andy Pettitte #1031,045PSA 10 = 234PSA 10 = $130-180

1993 doesn’t feel like that long ago, so it’s downright surprising that the 1993 Bowman is Pettitte’s ONLY major league rookie card. It’s fairly low pop, and sells well at between $100 and $200 despite HGH usage.

Of note, Pettitte is one of the few players who was identified for PED use and admitted it and apologized. Time will tell how that affects his Hall of Fame chances and card prices.

Andy Pettitte 1993 Bowman rookie card

Bobby Abreu

Position: RF
2022 Result: 15.4%
Career WAR: 60.2

Bobby Abreu’s Hall of Fame candidacy snuck up on a lot of people. Sure, he was a good player…but he only made two All-Star teams, won one Silver Slugger and one Gold Glove. But Hall of Fame?

But if you dig deeper? 2,470 career hits, 288 home runs and 400 stolen bases. A .291/.395/.475 career line. 60.2 career WAR, which ranks 19th among right fielders, just above Hall of Famer, just above players like Ichiro, Vlad Guerrero Sr., and Sammy Sosa.

Abreu debuted on the ballot in 2020 and got 5.5% of the vote, just enough to remain on the ballot. The next two years, he saw that total rise to 8.7% and 8.6%. Last year, that number jumped to 15.4%. It’s a long climb yet, but with a little luck, voters will keep giving him a chance to be considered for a number of years.

His chances of getting elected by the writers feel doubtful unless he sees a big jump soon, but he’s got a chance at eventual enshrinement via the Veterans Committee.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1995 Bowman Best Bobby Abreu #3855PSA 10 = 112PSA 10 = $30-100
Bobby Abreu 1995 Bowman's Best rookie card

Jimmy Rollins

Position: SS
2022 Result: 12.9%
Career WAR: 47.6

Rollins was a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner who won a Silver Slugger award and an MVP award during his career. He had 2,455 career hits, 231 home runs, and stole 470 bases.

Rollins’s career WAR of 47.6 is only 26th all-time for a shortstop, and some will point to his .264 career batting average as a demerit. But the combination of power, defense, and speed is hard to beat. It’s a long climb ahead for Rollins if he is to get elected. It’ll be fun to watch.

With a 12.9% vote percentage in 2023, Rollins at least looks like someone who will hang on the ballot for a number of years.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1998 Bowman Chrome Jimmy Rollins #181741PSA 10 = 329PSA 10 = $150

A surprisingly low population for the rookie card of a popular Phillies player. This is another example of an oddly high PSA 10 percentage (44.4%). Despite all this, it is a strong seller when you can find one.

1998 Bowman Chrome Jimmy Rollins rookie card

Mark Buehrle

Position: SP
2022 Result: 10.8%
Career WAR: 59.1

Mark Buehrle is another guy whose Hall of Fame case may have snuck on you. Buehrle was consistently very good during his career, although from a “peak” perspective he only had one top-5 Cy Young finish and no 20-win seasons.

But he managed to go 214-160 with a 3.81 ERA in his career and was worth 59.1 WAR. That WAR total is right around the point where you start considering a starting pitcher for the Hall of Fame. There are a good number of Hall of Fame pitchers with a lower WAR total, but also several non-HOF pitchers with a higher total.

Add in five All-Star selections and four gold gloves, and maybe. Like Abreu, we can hope he hangs on the ballot a bit longer so the passage of time can provide context.

Buehrle had a 2023 vote percentage of 10.8%, suggesting he as well is likely to hang out on the ballot for a while to give voters more time to consider his career in context.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
2000 Bowman Chrome Mark Buehrle #69 601PSA 10 = 315PSA 10 = $60

Another low population Bowman rookie card with a surprisingly high PSA 10 percentage (52.4%). I’m not sure what was going on with those late 90s and early 2000s Bowman sets, but clearly PSA submitters were really good at only subbing the 10s.

Even in a 10, Buehrle’s rookie card is reasonable buy for an under-the-radar star.

2000 Bowman Chrome Mark Buehrle rookie card

Francisco Rodriguez

Position: RP
2022 Result: 10.8%
Career WAR: 24.2

Francisco Rodriguez appeared on 10.8% of ballots last year, his initial year on the ballot. That makes him the only other player beyond Beltran who debuted on last year’s ballot to get over 5% of the vote and carry forth to this year.

What a Hall of Fame closer looks like is still very much up for debate. Billy Wagner is getting very close to election. But Joe Nathan, who I think is also deserving, appeared on the ballot once in 2022 and fell off with only 4.3% of the vote.

If you’re going to put three closers from the modern era into the Hall of Fame not named Mariano Rivera, there’s an argument that Rodriguez would be one of them.

He burst onto the scene at age 20 and helped lead the Anaheim Angels to a championship. He set the single-season saves record of 62 during one of the three seasons he led the league in saves.

Overall, he finished with 437 saves, which ranks 4th all-time. He was worth 24.2 WAR in his career, which sounds low but is respectable for a closer.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
2000 Bowman Chrome Francisco Rodriguez #321154PSA 10 = 43PSA 10 = NA

Rodriguez’s rookie cards appear in 2000 Bowman Chrome and 2000 Topps Chrome. The PSA population count is rather low, and you don’t see these come up available for sale often.

2000 Bowman Francisco Rodriquez rookie card

Torii Hunter

Position: CF
2022 Result: 6.9%
Career WAR: 50.7

Torii Hunter was a very, very good player for a long time. A 9-time Gold Glove winner in center field, he made five All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards. He hit 353 home runs and stole 195 bases while hitting .277/.331/.461 with a .793.

It all adds up to 50.7 career WAR, which is only a hair below that of another former Minnesota Twins center fielder, Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (51.2).

That being said, while I’m a big fan of Torii getting a handful of Hall of Fame votes, the chances of him getting elected don’t look very good.

CardPSA PopRecent Comp PopRecent Pop Price
1994 Bowman Torii Hunter #104138PSA 9 = 36PSA 9 = $45

The tiny PSA pop here probably gives you a good picture of how likely collectors consider Hall of Fame election. Hunter was a very good player for a long time, though, and is a Twins icon. I’m going to guess not a lot of these come out of packs these days, as 1994 Bowman is known for bricking.

1994 Bowman Torii Hunter rookie card

Who gets elected?

Of the returning candidates, who has a shot at election this cycle? It really feels like this is the year for Todd Helton. There are a number of new candidates who will get a significant number of votes, but I still think Helton will make it.

Wagner should get closer and may sneak in. It will be interesting to see how much of a jump Andruw Jones gets. A few percentage points wouldn’t be surprising, whereas

a 10% jump would fast-track him for election in 2025.

I think Beltran get a bump, likely into the 50-60% range, but falls short this year. In his final year on the ballot, Sheffield should get a bump, but I find it hard to believe he’d reach 75%.

Investment thoughts returning 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame candidates

If any of these players make the Hall of Fame, they’ll see at least a temporary bump in their card values. In many cases, at least some of the value bump will persist. The value jump will be more evident in players who surprise some fans and collectors.

I think Helton and Wagner may fall into this category, at least to some degree. Nobody was surprised when Derek Jeter was elected to the Hall of Fame, so his cards got less of a bump. Some of these other players may be a bit more of a surprise.

If you think any of these players will make the Hall of Fame, be in in 2023 or further into the future, picking up most of their rookie cards won’t break the bank, even in a PSA 10 holder.

If you are buying, or trying to determine which to buy, keep an eye on the PSA populations. Many of these cards fall into the total pop range that’s completely reasonable.

A few though, have really high populations (check out that Manny Ramirez card) and other really low populations (some of those Wagner rookie cards are downright hard to find).

Final thoughts on returning candidates for the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Hall of Fame season remains one of the highlights of the baseball calendar. For long-term, buy-and-hold collectors, a player you’ve been investing in for years getting their day in the sun in Cooperstown can be a very fulfilling (and lucrative) part of the hobby.

What’s your take on the returning candidates? Which of these players belongs in the Hall of Fame? Who do you see making it this year? And whose rookie cards are you buying? Let us know at card_lines on Twitter.

More Cardlines coverage of the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame election

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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