Baseball Hall of Fame first-timers: Who should be in and who should be out

With 12 first-time players on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, let's see which ones are worthy of being enshrined in Cooperstown.

Chase Utley
Chase Utley / Elsa/GettyImages

There are 12 first-timers on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Let’s look at them (alphabetically) one by one to see who should make the cut when votes are made by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

José Bautista – I like Bautista. He played with a swagger that was hard to match. He was a great hitter when healthy with a 124 OPS+. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough. He just didn’t play enough games (1,798). But he does have one of the most impressive, and memorable, bat-flips in history.

Adrián Beltré – Beltré is the one shoo-in of the newcomers. It doesn’t matter what stats you like. He amassed a 93.5 WAR and a 116 OPS+. He had 477 home runs and 3166 hits. He was an absolutely brilliant defender at third. If that’s not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I don’t know what is.

Bartolo Colon – Everyone has fond memories of Big Sexy. He played seemingly forever. Even though he was a very good pitcher, he’s not Hall worthy. His 4.12 ERA and 106 ERA+ just aren’t good enough. In fact, his hitting might be more memorable than his pitching. His at-bats were comic genius and his one home run was a thing of beauty.

Adrián González – González was an elite hitter in his day. He had more than 2000 hits and 300 home runs on his way to an .843 OPS and a 129 OPS+. If he had kept it up for four or five more years, he’d be a lock. However, as it is, he belongs in the Hall of Very Good.

Matt Holliday – Matt Holiday was a lot like González. In fact, all of his stats are slightly better. That won’t be enough, though, as he played even fewer games than González. The counting stats just aren’t there.

Victor Martinez – Martinez was a great hitting catcher. According to OPS+, he was 18% better than the average hitter. For a catcher that’s extraordinary ... but it isn’t enough to get him into the Hall.

Joe Mauer – Mauer is in the conversation for the best hitting catchers of all time. Plus, he always seemed like one of the nicest guys in the game. Unlike most hitting catchers, his defense wasn’t a liability. He amassed more WAR (55.2) than both González and Holliday in fewer games. I think he gets in, although it may not be on the first ballot.

Brandon Phillips – I don’t have much to say about Phillips. He was a nice player, as anyone who played 17 years in the bigs is. But not even close to Hall of Fame worthy.

José Reyes – The same is true for Reyes. He had a very nice career with flashes of brilliance, but he was only about a league average hitter. Nothing makes him stand out.

James Shields – Shields was dubbed “Big Game James” by Joe Maddon. He certainly had his moments, but a 4.01 ERA and only 145 wins won’t get him close.

Chase Utley – Utley might be the most interesting player on this ballot. I loved watching Utley play, but, at the same time, I never looked at him and thought, “Chase Utley – future Hall of Famer.” But when you dig into his stats, he has a real shot. His 64.5 WAR is second only to Beltré on this list. I think he makes it, but not this year.

David Wright – Wright was a great player who just wasn’t on the field enough. He played in significantly fewer games than anyone else on this list. His stats are great, but he won’t make the cut.

There you have it. Beltré is the only newcomer who will definitely get in this year. Mauer and Utley have a shot, but they may have to wait a year or two. It’ll be interesting to see how these predictions pan out