Welcome back to the Mets Beat newsletter! Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007, including the past 13 seasons full-time on the beat.
For the seventh consecutive year, no player with Mets ties was voted into the Hall of Fame as balloting totals were announced on Tuesday for the Class of 2023. That didn’t come as a surprise, despite several Mets plotlines of note. Most prominently, Jeff Kent fell off the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s ballot following 10 years of scant support; if he wants to make it to Cooperstown, he’ll need to enter via the Hall’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
Other than Kent, which Mets could still make it? Here’s a look at the next names of prominence.
(Note: For this exercise, we’ll be excluding players such as Gary Sheffield, who briefly played for the Mets but are far better known for their associations with other teams.)
Billy Wagner: Next up?
Billy Wagner’s Hall of Fame pursuit speaks volumes about how both the voting bloc and the ballot have changed over the last decade. When Wagner was first eligible in 2016, he received just 10.5% of the vote. Then, after voters cleared eight players off backlogged ballots in 2018-19, Wagner saw his support leap to 31.7%. His numbers have been increasing ever since, up to 68.1% this year. Wagner’s voting totals have jumped by an average of nearly 13% per year over the last four balloting cycles, putting him on track to make the Hall in 2024. If nothing else, he appears to be a near-lock to enter by his final year of eligibility (2025).
The turnaround isn’t only due to voters who couldn’t support him earlier due to the Hall’s limit of 10 votes per writer. It’s also because of a shift in attitudes as the bloc has become younger and more progressive. Wagner’s case is an analytical one, relying largely on his stats over a 16-year career while ignoring his relative lack of counting stats (and his complete lack of postseason success). Every year that goes by, that school of thought gains additional members.
Carlos Beltrán: Does the punishment fit the crime?
Were it not for his implication in the Astros’ cheating scandal of 2017, Carlos Beltrán would have either been a first-ballot Hall of Famer or close to it. His numbers are above the usual threshold for Cooperstown, particularly when considering his defensive contributions in center field for the bulk of his 20-year career.
But Beltrán was the only player named in Major League Baseball’s report. He lost his Mets managerial job because of it, and he hasn’t been employed by a team since.
It’s possible that issue will prevent him from making the Hall, but more likely, it will merely elongate his time on the ballot. The fact that he received 46.5% of the vote in his first year of eligibility speaks volumes; Barry Bonds, by comparison, received only 36.2% of support in his first year, and that rose to 66.0% by his final year of eligibility. Most voters consider Bonds’ links to performance-enhancing drugs far more serious than Beltrán’s rules violations, which occurred at the end of his career and likely didn’t have a significant impact on the back of his baseball card. That’s not to say the punishment is unwarranted. It’s just an indication that, eventually, Beltrán is likely to reach Cooperstown.
Of greater question is whether his rocky ending with the Mets will affect which cap he wears on his plaque.
David Wright: Too short a career
Mets fans should enjoy a dose of nostalgia when next year’s ballot is released with David Wright’s name on it. From the ages of 21 to 30, Wright was on a Hall of Fame career arc, finishing in the Top 10 in National League MVP voting every year from 2006-08. Had he stayed even moderately healthy into his 30s, he would have shattered the Mets’ all-time home run record and produced enough counting stats to earn significant Cooperstown consideration.
Instead, back, neck and shoulder woes limited Wright to 77 games after his 32nd birthday. He finished with 1,777 hits and 242 homers -- impressive numbers, but a shadow of what they could have been. (For reference, Don Mattingly hasn’t made it to the Hall despite a similar career arc and résumé.) Wright’s career 49.2 bWAR is well below the average of 68.3 for third basemen in Cooperstown. (Again, for reference, Scott Rolen needed six years to get into the Hall with 70.1 career bWAR, and his election was a matter of spirited debate.) Many others above Wright on the list, such as Graig Nettles, Robin Ventura and Ron Cey, never came close to earning the requisite 75% of the vote.
All that is a long way of saying that Wright will likely have to settle for being a Mets Hall of Famer and having his No. 5 retired at Citi Field. Both of those well-deserved honors are coming.
Jacob deGrom: Questions linger
The active player most likely to enter Cooperstown as a Met … is no longer a Met. Jacob deGrom’s move to Texas won’t erase his accomplishments in Flushing, but the fact is that he has significant work to do if he wants to make the Hall. Like Wright, deGrom is not close to the average WAR of Hall of Famers at his position, largely because he broke into the Majors late and didn’t become truly elite until his age-30 season. deGrom’s peak has been as spectacular as that of any pitcher this generation, but it also hasn’t been long enough to make him a surefire Hall of Famer.
Realistically, deGrom needs a few more healthy seasons -- and ideally some additional playoff success -- to bolster his résumé.
As for the rest …
Among current Mets, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are shoo-ins, but they will always be better known for their work with other organizations. They’re too old to change that narrative. … Francisco Lindor is the next-closest thing to a Hall of Famer in Flushing, but he’s going to need to remain productive for another decade or so to warrant realistic consideration. … Younger players such as Pete Alonso and Edwin Díaz have the skills, but still must add significant bulk to their bodies of work.
What was Tom Seaver’s vote total on his lone Hall of Fame ballot?
Asked recently by MLB Pipeline about his goals for the upcoming season, Mets top prospect Francisco Álvarez answered in his usual confident way.
“The first thing is I want to be 100% with my ankle, in order to be able to give 100% on the field,” Álvarez said, referring to the injury that sidelined him for several weeks last September. “I also want to be the team’s starting catcher. I’m going to work for that. I feel ready for that. And learn a lot about everything that’s coming this year.”
For more on Álvarez, check out MLB Pipeline’s full interview with him.
THIS WEEK IN METS HISTORY
Feb. 1, 2008: The Mets finalized their trade of four prospects to the Twins for two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. As a stipulation of the deal, the Mets were given an exclusive negotiating window, which they used to sign Santana to a new six-year, $137.5 million contract that took him through the end of his MLB career.
Seaver received the most enthusiastic voting support in Cooperstown history when he was elected in 1992. His mark of 98.8% remained the record until Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3%) passed it in 2016. Three years later, Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer.
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