Making the Baseball Hall of Fame is impressive on its own, but being a first-ballot Hall of Famer is all the more special.
David Ortiz is the most recent player to earn that distinction. The Boston Red Sox slugger was enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday alongside six other members of the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
Now, the attention turns to the class of 2023. After Ortiz was the lone inductee voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, how big will next year’s class be?
Baseball-Reference’s Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor (HOFM) only has two players considered “likely” (greater than 100) to ever make it among those who will be new to the ballot next year.
Here are those two players, along with eight more notable players who will be Hall of Fame eligible for the first time in 2023.
Carlos Beltrán has the strongest statistical resume of any first-year-eligible player. He played for seven teams across 20 big league seasons and compiled 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs, 312 stolen bases, nine All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year honor.
Beltrán was on the Houston Astros’ roster during the 2017 championship season in which the team was found guilty of illegal sign-stealing. He never got to manage the New York Mets once he was connected to the scandal, he was never handed a formal suspension from Major League Baseball.
Francisco Rodríguez was a historic closer during his 16-year career, ranking fourth all-time in saves with 437. The three players with more saves than him have all been enshrined in the last four years. Trevor Hoffman (601 saves) joined the class of 2018, while Mariano Rivera (652) and Lee Smith (478) were in the class of 2019.
K-Rod earned six All-Star selections with two seasons standing above the rest. He was the closer for the World Series champion Los Angeles Angels in 2002 and placed sixth in AL MVP voting in 2008 after breaking the MLB record with 62 saves.
Further down on the list of all-time saves is another player who is heading to the ballot in 2023.
Street ranks 20th in MLB history with 324 saves. He earned two All-Star selections during his 13-year MLB career after earning AL Rookie of the Year with the Oakland A’s in 2005.
He went 188-147 in his 15-year career with 2,294 strikeouts and a 3.92 ERA. He also won the World Series with three organizations: the Angels (2002), Red Sox (2013) and Chicago Cubs (2016).
Lackey has the second-highest wins above replacement (37.3) from his career out of anybody new to next year’s ballot, trailing only Beltrán (70.1).
Weaver had a shorter career than Lackey, so his cumulative stats aren’t as high, but he had a lower career ERA (3.63). He made his three All-Star appearances with the Angels from 2010 through 2012.
Ellsbury’s career got off to a blazing start, as he and the Red Sox claimed the World Series title in 2007. The speedy center fielder placed second in AL MVP voting for the 2011 season and he won a second championship in 2013.
His career came to a halt after he switched sides of baseball’s biggest rivalry. He signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2014, but his injury-riddled tenure in the Bronx put his career to an end after the 2017 season.
Peralta made the first of his three All-Star appearances in his ninth MLB season, making three trips to the Midsummer Classic from 2011 to 2015. He also trails only Beltrán in terms of games played among new entries to the Hall of Fame ballot.
He ended his career with 202 homers, 873 RBIs and a .267 batting average.
Like Lackey, Matt Cain was a part of three World Series squads. Cain got all three of his rings with one team: the San Francisco Giants. Cain pitched in two of those World Series, earning a Game 2 win against the Texas Rangers in 2010 and starting the Giants’ Game 4 clincher against the Detroit Tigers in 2012.
Cain ended his career with a 104-118 record, 3.68 ERA and 1,694 strikeouts.
Ethier’s career featured a three-year peak. He won a Silver Slugger award in 2009, made his first All-Star Game in 2010 and followed that up with another All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove award in 2011.
The outfielder spent his entire 12-year MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, tallying 162 home runs and 687 RBIs while batting .285.
After splitting his first four MLB seasons in Toronto and L.A., Werth’s career took off with the Philadelphia Phillies. He won a World Series ring in 2008 and followed that up with his only All-Star appearance in 2009.
Werth hit .267 with 229 home runs and 799 RBIs over his 15-year MLB career. He will be joined with another member of the ‘08 Phillies, catcher Carlos Ruiz, as a new player on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot.