The 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame process reached its arduous conclusion on Tuesday night. Adrian Beltré, a Hall of Very Good member until he turned 31, sailed in on the first ballot. Twins legend and repetitive playoff series loser (sorry) Joe Mauer skated in by just a few votes. Both men were joined by Todd Helton, after the BBWAA got their six years of bluster about Colorado air out of the way and accepted the obvious.
That leaves us in ... 2025 Hall of Fame season, when two ex-Yankees will join forces in an attempt to keep Dustin Pedroia out of Cooperstown.
Ichiro Suzuki will almost certainly be a near-unanimous inductee next year, and will almost certainly not be wearing a Yankees cap (though fans in the Bronx can certainly lay claim to some of his fun moments). CC Sabathia, the far more likely first-timer to celebrate the day in pinstripes, should have an airtight case, especially if the so-called "first-year bias" is becoming less and less of a factor. 3,000+ strikeouts, a .609 winning percentage, 250+ victories, 62.3 bWAR, and a ring (which he contributed significantly to) feels like more than enough, though surely some folks will quibble with his readiness (as if his case is poised to get better in 2028 for absolutely no reason).
Sabathia just has to hope that group of quibblers represents 25% or less of the electorate. And he's really hoping, because as Greg Joyce of the New York Post noted, the Big Man certainly isn't shy about how much he wants to claim the place among the immortals that he richly deserves.
Yankees' CC Sabathia: "Damn, I really want to be in the Hall of Fame."
"After spending 11 of those seasons in The Bronx, eight in Cleveland and half a season in Milwaukee, Sabathia recently said he began to consider what being inducted into the Hall of Fame would mean following a trip there with his son a few years ago.- Greg Joyce
'That was the first time I really, really, really thought about it,' Sabathia said at the winter meetings last month. 'I was like, ‘Damn, I really want to be in the Hall of Fame.’ I never thought about being in the Hall of Fame when I was playing. But going up there, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this is cool.’"
Sabathia's day is coming; the only question is how long he'll have to wait before getting the recognition his career earned him.
Mauer's swift ascent into Cooperstown this winter proved that we don't really know everything we think we do. Consensus was that Mauer would be a long-term play, slowly gaining year-over-year. Instead, he dominated public ballots enough to scrape by on the private ones and earn election in his first year of eligibility. Sabathia could certainly chart the same course. There are "dings" on his resume (ERA, mid-career dip) that stingy, small-Hall private voters could use against him, whereas his overwhelming popularity (and, let's face it, obvious Hall case) could lead to an early buffer from publicly revealed ballots.
If Sabathia had finished his career in Cleveland, ringless, he might've had a tougher case to parse, even after compiling some all-time whiff numbers. But he was dealt to Milwaukee, where he had the type of certified moment down the stretch in '08 that voters love. Then, as a Yankee, he posted series ERAs of 1.35, 1.13, and 3.29 en route to a title as the leader of a three-man rotation. He did it on the biggest stage this game has to offer: Yankee Stadium in October. He's got Andy Pettitte's postseason case with Mike Mussina's regular season numbers. He should be in the clear.
And, for his sake and ours, we'd prefer it happens sooner rather than later.