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SI:AM | Three New Hall of Famers—and Who Could Be Next

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Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I’m glad Hall of Fame voters have started electing more players in recent years. Roughly a quarter of voters used all 10 spots on their ballot this year.

In today’s SI:AM:

The HOF’s three-man class

📝 Verducci reveals his ballot

🏈 The excellence of Mahomes and Kelce

If you’re reading this on SI.com, click here to subscribe to receive SI:AM in your inbox every weekday.

Welcome to the Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed three new members yesterday as Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer and Todd Helton were inducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Beltré was an overwhelming selection, appearing on 95.1% of ballots, while Helton (79.7%) and Mauer (76.1%) narrowly cleared the 75% threshold. Beltré and Mauer were first-ballot selections, while Helton, who had barely missed induction last year, was elected in his sixth year on the ballot after seeing support for his candidacy increase steadily over the years.

Here is each player’s résumé, via the Hall of Fame:

  • Beltré: 2,759 games at third base (second only to Brooks Robinson), 636 doubles (11th all time), 3,166 hits, 477 home runs
  • Helton: Five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, one batting title, .316 career batting average, one of two players in history with multiple seasons with 400 total bases
  • Mauer: Six-time All-Star, one MVP award, three batting titles (the most by a catcher), the only catcher in MLB history with at least 2,000 hits, a .300 career batting average and .380 on-base percentage

The player who came closest to earning election was Billy Wagner, who fell just five votes short. Next year will be Wagner’s last on the ballot, and he should be able to get over the hump.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Gary Sheffield. In his final year on the ballot, Sheffield received 63.9% of the vote. His exclusion from the Hall appears to be primarily based on allegations of steroid use. He told Sports Illustrated in 2004 that he used the BALCO product known as “the cream” before the ’02 season but did not know that it contained steroids. Sheffield told USA Today in December that he used the product only once and did so because he was told it would help stop the bleeding after the stitches popped in his surgically repaired knee during a workout. Sheffield is one of seven Hall of Fame-eligible members of the 500-home run club not to be inducted. The other six—Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramírez—all have ties to steroid use.

Other players who came close to being inducted include Andruw Jones (61.6% of the vote) and Carlos Beltrán (57.1%). No other player earned more than 35% of the vote.

Beltrán’s case is an interesting one. He seemed like a shoo-in for the Hall when he retired after the 2017 season, but his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal has apparently harmed his standing with voters. This was only his second year on the ballot, though, so he has eight more years to garner enough support. Jones also presents a fascinating case. He came dangerously close to falling off the ballot in his first two years, only narrowly clearing the 5% threshold required to be included on the next year’s ballot. His number of votes has increased significantly since then, but after receiving 58.1% of the vote last year, it’s possible his support is plateauing.

Wagner, Jones and Beltrán will be the names to watch on next year’s ballot, along with a couple of newcomers. Next year, Ichiro Suzuki and CC Sabathia are likely to get in on the first ballot. Others who will be eligible to be included on the ballot include Dustin Pedroia, Félix Hernández and Troy Tulowitzki.

The best of Sports Illustrated

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

The top five…

… things I saw last night:

5. Dontrelle Willis’s self-deprecating tweet about Adrián Beltré getting into the Hall of Fame.

4. Beltré’s pretending he wasn’t going to answer the phone when the Hall of Fame called.

3. Daniel Sprong’s spinning assist to Alex DeBrincat.

2. Russell Westbrook’s three-pointer with one shoe on.

1. The way Zion Williamson flew through the air on this alley-oop.

SIQ

Which elite contact hitter, known for his small stature, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA as part of the museum’s fourth class on this day in 1939?

  • Lefty O’Doul
  • Billy Hamilton
  • Willie Keeler
  • Dan Brouthers

Yesterday’s SIQ: Klay Thompson set an NBA record on Jan. 23, 2015, by scoring how many points in the third quarter of a game against the Sacramento Kings?

  • 29
  • 33
  • 37
  • 41

Answer: 37. He finished the game with 52 points in total.

Thompson went positively nuclear in the third, hitting all 13 of the shots he took, including nine from behind the arc. As a team, the Golden State Warriors went 14-of-20 from the floor in the quarter. The only other player to make a basket was Draymond Green, who scored on a layup assisted by Thompson. (Stephen Curry made two free throws.)

Thompson broke the record of 33 points in a quarter previously shared by George Gervin and Carmelo Anthony.

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