Baseball, Columnists, Sports

On-Deck Circle: Three all-time greats headline newest Hall of Fame class

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

Three players were named on the most recent installment of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot. 

Last Monday, Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer and Todd Helton passed the 75% voting threshold needed to be inducted into Cooperstown, enshrining their names in baseball forever. 

For both Beltré and Mauer, it was their first year on the ballot, Helton in his sixth. 

Beltré played 21 seasons in the Majors, playing for the Dodgers, Mariners and Red Sox. His unorthodox yet iconic knee-bend swing captivated baseball fans for years. 

Mauer played 15 seasons for his hometown Minnesota Twins, locking down the catcher position but later moving to first base due to injury. He won the American League Most Valuable Player award in 2009, hitting a .365 batting average and winning the batting title. 

Lastly, Helton spent 16 seasons in Colorado with the Rockies, making six All-Star game appearances and winning five Silver Sluggers. 

While these three players were wholeheartedly deserving of making the Hall of Fame, there was certainly room for more. 

First, Billy Wagner, an all-time relief pitcher who spent 16 seasons in the big leagues with various teams, fell five votes short of making the list. He deserved to be inducted as only one of seven pitchers in history to record double-digit seasons of 25 or more saves

Ranking sixth all-time in saves, he only has one more year left to be inducted. After ten years of being on the ballot, if a player is not inducted, they are taken off the ballot for good. 

Wagner measures up there with the best relief pitchers in history, and to me, he deserves to be with them in Cooperstown. 

While the legendary closer Mariano Rivera is in a league of his own, Wagner is right behind him. 

According to, Wagner’s career ERA was 2.31. His career ERA+ was 187,  meaning he was 87% better than an average pitcher in the MLB. 

Mariano Rivera’s numbers?

2.21 ERA and 205 ERA+. The only pitcher, not just a relief pitcher, that was better than Wagner. 

While Wagner was just below the percentage (73.8% of 75% votes) needed, and he will likely be inducted in 2025’s ballot — it should not take ten years to induct a generational pitcher. 

Additionally, a superstar slugger, Gary Sheffield, was left off the ballot in his final year, finishing with 63.9% voting. 

The nine-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger winner was left just short of Cooperstown due to allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the Mitchell Report, a 2007 report that found more than 85 current and former Major Leaguers used PEDS. 

Sheffield joined players like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens as players who have yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to allegations of PED use. 

The use of PEDS has been a prevalent issue in Major League Baseball for decades. Bonds fell short of the 75% mark all ten years on the ballot, and with 2022 being his final year on the ballot, he now must wait until 2027 for a possible induction from the Contemporary Era Baseball Committee. 

Many argue that players who have been accused of PED use should still be put into the Hall of Fame.

To me, once a player is caught using drugs to perform better, they should be removed from any Hall of Fame conversation, regardless of how long they used the drugs or how influential the use of drugs was in their on-field performance. 

On multiple instances, including in 2003, 2006 and 2007, evidence was found that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs such as THG and amphetamine. 

According to Bleacher Report, after training with Bonds in the 2001 offseason, Sheffield received PEDs directly from Bonds himself. In 2004, Sheffield admitted to using a testosterone-based cream as well as in pill form. 

A player like Sheffield using drugs to play better is similar to a player like Pete Rose, who allegedly bet on MLB games, even ones he managed. 

Because of allegations of betting, Rose was banned for life from baseball in 1989 and subsequently not inducted into the Hall of Fame, even as the leader in career hits.

If Rose was banned from the league and kept out of the Hall of Fame for influencing games, why should any player caught using PEDs be inducted, having rigged games, albeit in a different way?

Yearly Hall of Fame inductions should celebrate the players who were voted in, not a reason to advocate for the induction of players who unleveled the playing field, like Sheffield, Bonds, and more. 

Players like Beltré, Mauer and Helton, who all played the game the right way — fairly — are the rightful inductees to Cooperstown this year, as players who cheated their way to success sit on the outside looking in. 

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