Carlos Beltrán brings his own baggage to next year’s Hall ballot

Robert Deutsch, USAT via Imagn Content Services, LLC

With Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling off the ballot, next year’s Hall of Fame vote figures to be a bit less contentious.

Then again, the top newcomer arrives with his own recent baggage. Forget about steroids for a minute, it’s time to talk about sign stealing.

Carlos Beltran is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2023, and although the sweet-swinging outfielder had a distinguished career at the plate and in the field, he was implicated in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. It cost him a managing job with the New York Mets.

It’s unclear whether voters will treat Beltran as harshly as they have Bonds, Clemens and various other stars whose accomplishments have been called into question by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. All of Bonds’ home runs and Clemens’ Cy Young Awards weren’t enough for either to reach the 75% threshold for induction to the Hall in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and they were both rejected in their 10th and final year on the ballot.

Schilling turned off voters with his behavior in recent years, including social media posts about Muslim extremists, transgender people and journalists. He and Sammy Sosa also fell short in their 10th year in the voting announced Tuesday. David Ortiz was the only player elected.

Needless to say, next year’s ballot will look a lot different.


Beltran stands out on next year’s eligibility list: A nine-time All-Star, his 20-year career included 435 home runs, 312 stolen bases and some impressive postseason numbers. Beltran finally won a World Series in his final season – with Houston in 2017.

When that team was later investigated, MLB said Beltran was among those involved in the illicit use of electronics to steal signs. The Mets, who had hired him to be their manager, parted ways with him before he was even in charge a single game, although A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora – two other managers who were cut loose amid the fallout from that scandal – are now back in charge in big-league dugouts.


Scott Rolen is the top returning player on next year’s ballot after receiving 63.2% of the vote this time around. He was in his fifth year under consideration and improved from 52.9%.

Ryan Thibodaux, who runs an online Hall of Fame ballot tracker, said sometimes if a player’s support surges among voters who release their ballots publicly, it takes a little longer for his support to grow among voters who keep their choices private.

“You saw it with (Tim) Raines and you saw it with Edgar (Martinez) and you saw it with Larry Walker. When those guys made their big jump, they still didn’t make a big jump on the private ballots,” Thibodaux said. “But that did happen the next year. But the only caveat with that is that the private-ballot jump with all of those guys was always their 10th year on the ballot. So with Rolen, he’s got five more years after this year. There’s no real imperative, time-wise.”


It was a mixed bag for some of the game’s top relievers this year. Billy Wagner improved from 46.4% to 51%, but Joe Nathan (4.3%) and Jonathan Papelbon (1.3%) fell off the ballot on their first try.

Next year, Francisco Rodriguez is eligible for induction. He is the single-season record holder with 62 saves in 2008.


Aside from Beltran and Rodriguez, it’s hard to see any other newly eligible players getting much support, although Matt Cain, Jayson Werth and Mike Napoli had their share of memorable moments during their careers.


Voters are allowed to choose a maximum of 10 players for induction, and this year, 33.8% of the electorate used all 10 slots. That was up from 14.5% the previous year.

That wasn’t a huge surprise, given that nobody was voted in by the BBWAA last year, and none of the players were in their 10th year of eligibility either.

“Nothing got cleared off the ballot at all, so there was just not a lot of openings for the sort of `big Hall’ voters,” Thibodaux said. “Obviously, that will be kind of the most interesting thing next year. The ballot is kind of going to be wide open with just Beltran coming on as kind of the main newcomer.”

Indeed, with Ortiz voted in and Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa out of eligibility, voters who used all 10 slots this year could have some openings they’ll want to fill. Don’t assume someone like Rolen will benefit that much, however. Of the 92 ballots on Thibodaux’s tracker that had all 10 spots accounted for, only six of them omitted Rolen, so he may not have a lot of room to improve among that group of voters.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”