Now let's take a look at next year's election.
The 2025 Hall of Fame voting cycle will feature two powerful rookies on the ballot, the last chance for a dominant closer, long-time superstar outfielders continuing their push toward Cooperstown and more. (Note that the 2025 Hall of Fame voting is not yet official.)
Here are seven Hall of Fame storylines to watch out for in the 2025 election.
1) Will Ichiro be the next unanimous Hall of Famer?
Ichiro will be in the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2025, and the only question isn't whether he's a Hall of Famer… It's not even about whether he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer… It's about whether whether he will be one of the next unanimous Hall of Famers.
Mariano Rivera is the only unanimous Hall of Famer. But if anyone has a chance to join him, it's Ichiro. The Mariners icon is one of the greatest pure hitters the game has ever seen – a 3,000-hit club member despite only entering the MLB at age 27, a lifetime .311 hitter and MLB hits record holder all in one single season.
Additionally, Ichiro's impact on baseball extends beyond his MLB career. He's beloved in America, but he's an even bigger legend in Japan, where he racked up 1,278 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball before moving to the Major Leagues, bringing his total career professional hits to an incredible 4,367.
2) CC can break the starting pitcher drought
CC Sabathia's inclusion on the ballot in 2025 will be the first likely Hall of Fame starting pitcher to be eligible for the BBWAA ballot in some time – he is the greatest starting pitcher to be on the ballot since Roy Halladay, who won the first round election in 2019.
The fan-favorite left-hander recorded 251 career wins and 3,093 strikeouts in his 19-year career with the Indians, Brewers and Yankees, winning a Cy Young Award in Cleveland and a World Series championship in New York. Sabathia's club membership with 3,000 strikeouts and his ace status over two decades with three franchises should ultimately make him a Hall of Fame choice. But can he make it on the first ballot like Halladay?
With CC coming in, we could also expect another starting pitcher drought in the Hall of Fame voting. There may not be another Hall of Fame starter until Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw finally retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame five years later.
3) Last chance for Wagner
Billy Wagner narrowly missed election to the House of Representatives that year, receiving 73.8% of the vote and falling just five votes short of Cooperstown. Next year will be his tenth and final year. Can he do it?
He seems to have a good chance. Wagner continues to increase his share of the vote every year – in the last three election cycles alone, he's gone from 51% to 68.1% to 73.8%, and once a player reaches that point they tend to move up.
With Beltré, Helton and Mauer all excluded from the ballot, Wagner will be one of the Big Three in the 2025 election alongside Ichiro and Sabathia. The dominant closer collected 422 career saves, with a 2.31 ERA, 11.9 K/9 and a 33.2% strikeout rate, among the best marks of all time.
We've also seen some successful Hall of Fame forays recently by players in their final year of eligibility – Larry Walker made it in his 10th year on the ballot in 2020, as did Edgar Martinez in 2019.
4) Beltrán hopes for another step forward
In purely numerical terms, Carlos Beltrán's Hall of Fame case is very compelling. His career 70.1 Wins Above Replacement ranks eighth among all-time center fielders, he had 435 home runs and 312 stolen bases, and he was an elite offensive and defensive center fielder.
That hasn't translated into Hall of Fame voting in his first two seasons — likely due to his connection to the Astros' sign-stealing scandal in 2017 — but he's on the right track. After receiving 46.5% of the vote in his first year in 2023, Beltrán shot to 57.1% of the vote in 2024.
After crossing the 50 percent mark so early and considering his big growth from year one to year two, Beltrán is in a good position to make it to Cooperstown in the next few seasons. We will see if its upward trend continues towards the 75 percent threshold in 2025.
5) Does King Félix have a chance?
Félix Hernández will be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Sabathia in 2025, but does the longtime Mariners star have a chance in Cooperstown?
King Félix enjoyed an extraordinary run of dominance as one of the best pitchers in the MLB from 2009 to 2015 – culminating with his Cy Young Award in 2010, when he won the MLB ERA crown with a 2.27 mark, 232 Batter struck out and led the American League with 249 2/3 innings. He even played a perfect game. But Hernández's Hall of Fame case might be far-fetched.
Hernández has something of a Hall of Fame parallel case with Johan Santana, who won two Cy Young Awards and a Triple Crown for the Twins and was the best pitcher in the world at his peak – his peak was just way too short. Johan dropped out of the Hall of Fame ballot after his first year. King Félix has slightly better scoring stats than Santana, with 2,524 career strikeouts to Santana's 1,988, but he still may not have had the longevity to get into the Hall.
6) Second base stacked with Utley, Pedroia and Kinsler
Chase Utley entered the election alongside Mauer as a similar candidate – he was also one of the best of his time at his position, with a peak performance as one of the best players in baseball, but limited longevity.
But the Phillies' great second baseman didn't receive the same appreciation as Mauer in his first year as a Hall of Fame player, receiving 28.8% of the vote when Mauer was elected. Utley still has a long way to go to reach Cooperstown, but it was a promising start — more promising than recent inductees like Helton and Scott Rolen — so the Hall of Fame is certainly within the realm of possibility.
In 2025, Utley will be joined by two other great second baseman of this generation on the ballot: Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. It will be interesting to see how Hall of Fame voters view this trio. All three finished their careers with over 50 WARs – Utley led the way with 64.5 WARs, followed by Kinsler's 54.1 and Pedroia's 51.9.
As for the two rookies: Pedroia won an MVP Award, a Rookie of the Year Award and two World Series rings with the Red Sox in his 14 seasons in Boston, where he was a career .299 hitter. Kinsler was a four-time All-Star for the Rangers and Tigers and finished his career with 1,999 hits, 257 home runs and 243 stolen bases.
7) Can Andruw Jones make a push in late election years?
Like Beltrán, Jones was a first-class attacking and defensive midfielder. Many consider the 10-time Gold Glover to be one of, if not the best, defensive center fielders of all time, and Jones also hit 434 home runs in his career.
The Braves icon enters his eighth year in the Hall of Fame in 2025, meaning he has three more chances at induction by the BBWAA. And Jones has hope: He has finally begun to generate significant Hall of Fame support in recent election cycles.
Jones received 61.6% of the vote this year, his highest share ever, and he has come a remarkably long way since receiving 7.3% of the vote in his first year in office in 2018. He may have one last push toward Cooperstown in his final election years, especially if Jones can pull off a campaign like Walker did a few years ago.