All of this Hall of Fame talk has made me think about current players and whether or not they’re going to be automatic HOFers or are going to have to wait as long as Jim Rice did. The following lists are broken up team-by-team (and if a player is an unsigned free agent, he’s listed with the team with whom he concluded 2008). The categories are as follows based on my opinion:
Automatic: meaning they’re already in no matter what else they do.
Likely: if they have two or three more big years, they’ll get in.
Borderline: depending on the voter’s moods and interpretations.
On The Way: Too early in their careers to be automatic, but well on the way.
PED Questionable: if their possible usage of performance enhancers will keep them out even though they have the numbers.
No: They’re not getting in.
- Tampa Bay Rays: None applicable.
- Boston Red Sox:
Dustin Pedroia—-On The Way: A Rookie of the Year and an MVP in his first two seasons, plus a World Series win and a Gold Glove.
Josh Beckett—-On The Way: Two World Series wins; World Series MVP; ALCS MVP; if he strings together some 15-17 win years with a couple of 20s in there, he’ll get in easily.
Jonathan Papelbon—-On The Way: Will be recognized as the best closer in baseball once Mariano Rivera retires and the mantle is passed.
David Ortiz—-Borderline: He’ll have to start another 3-5 year streak of the massive numbers he put up from 2003-2007; that he’s a pure DH will hurt his candidacy.
Curt Schilling—-Likely: Schilling’s going to be a fascinating case study because he’s not particularly well-liked and his post-season resume is great, but his numbers may not really be there to make it as an automatic. He’ll get in eventually and have to wait awhile to do it. I’d advise him to just keep his mouth shut and not complain, but he won’t listen and whining might keep him out entirely depending on how far he goes with it.
- New York Yankees:
Derek Jeter—-Automatic: The Yankees captain; will have at least 3500 hits before he’s done; etc. etc.
Alex Rodriguez—-Automatic: No explanation needed.
Jorge Posada—-Likely: A catcher with his power numbers? Far better than Carlton Fisk ever was.
Mike Mussina—-Automatic: I’ve made my case for him before. An innings-eating winner who is having his inability (before 2008) to win 20 games unfairly scrutinized.
Andy Pettitte—-Borderline: He has a case, but that he played for such a great team will lead to the implication that he was along for the ride despite his post-season success. A very high ERA as well.
Ivan Rodriguez—-PED Questionable: His power numbers fell off the planet at the exact time they started testing for PEDs. He’s not getting in despite deserving numbers.
Mark Teixeira—-On The Way: He might wind up with 600 homers and a stack of Gold Gloves, plus he’s well-liked.
C.C. Sabathia—-On The Way: Has 117 wins and is still only 28. Will get to 300 wins if he stays healthy.
Roy Halladay—-Likely: Two or three more seasons of 15-18 wins should do it.
- Baltimore Orioles: None applicable.
- Chicago White Sox:
Jermaine Dye—-No: If he hangs around long enough to hit another 150 homers, he’ll be in the Andre Dawson-boat; I don’t think Dye’s a viable candidate.
Jim Thome—-Likely: The one thing that could keep him out are the era of PEDs, even though he’s never been mentioned as a culprit. I think he’s a HOFer without question.
Mark Buehrle—-On The Way: Laugh if you want, but he’s an innings-eating winner who’s going to rack up 250+ wins if he continues his current pace; a very respectable ERA for the time.
- Minnesota Twins:
Joe Mauer—-On The Way: A catcher who puts up those average and on base numbers? All he has to do is stay healthy.
Justin Morneau—-On The Way: An RBI machine who’s starting to become an annual MVP candidate.
Joe Nathan—-Borderline: It’s hard to judge closers, but his numbers have been brilliant in recent years. He’ll have to maintain them into his late 30s to have a shot. He may get lost in the shuffle.
- Cleveland Indians:
Grady Sizemore—-On The Way: His numbers will warrant it with the power/on base combination; plus he’s going to rack up the Gold Gloves.
- Kansas City Royals: None applicable.
- Detroit Tigers:
Miguel Cabrera—-On The Way: He’ll end up with over 600-700 homers and even if he spends the last ten years of his career as a DH, he can’t be denied entry.
Magglio Ordonez—-No: If he gets to 400+ homers, he’ll have a shot; I don’t see it
Gary Sheffield—-PED Questionable: The numbers will warrant it, but his reputation and that he was involved with BALCO may keep him out entirely.
- Los Angeles Angels:
Vladimir Guerrero—-Automatic: An annual MVP candidate who’s probably going to hit 600 homers and get well over 3000 hits.
Torii Hunter—-No: Respectable hitting numbers and a Gold Glove winner year-after-year, but he’s more closely comparable to Mike Cameron than he is to Andre Dawson.
- Texas Rangers: None applicable.
- Oakland Athletics:
Matt Holliday—-On The Way: If he proves he can put up the numbers away from Coors Field, he’ll end his career with over 400 homers, a career .300 batting average and a high OBP.
Jason Giambi—-PED Questionable/No: He may end his career with close to 500 homers, but even though he was the only guy to stand up and tell the truth, his poor defense and declining batting average will counteract his power/on base numbers even if he’d been clean.
- Seattle Mariners:
Ichiro Suzuki—-Automatic: He’ll have a .320 career batting average, a Rookie of the Year and an MVP, plus he’s going to get close to 3000 hits in the States. I don’t think he’s as productive as he could be (he’s a pure singles hitter), but the numbers can’t be denied.
- Philadelphia Phillies:
Ryan Howard—-Borderline: He started his big league career relatively late; strikes out so much and his batting average will be mediocre, but if he continues hitting homers at the rate he does, he’ll have a Reggie Jackson/Willie Stargell-like case.
Chase Utley—-Likely: If his hip problem doesn’t hamper him, he’s only going to get better and he’s already a truly great hitter, possibly the best in baseball.
Jimmy Rollins—-Borderline: He could go the Alan Trammell route and be ignored; or he could go the Ryne Sandberg route and make it. He’s going to have to put up a few more years similar to his MVP year of 2007.
Jamie Moyer—-No: In the boat with David Wells as having some credentials, but not really being close.
- New York Mets:
Carlos Delgado—-PED Questionable: Delgado’s never been mentioned seriously as having been a suspicious character, but he may get caught up in the wave of guys being kept out and wind up in the netherworld of Fred McGriff. He’ll have the power numbers, but may have to wait awhile to get in and may find himself forgotten even though he’s got the credentials.
David Wright—-On The Way: All he has to do is stay healthy.
Jose Reyes—-On The Way: He’ll have the stolen base and all around hitting numbers to warrant induction if he stays healthy.
Carlos Beltran—-Likely: He should get close to 500 homers with a stack of Gold Gloves and a high enough batting average/OBP to make him a lock.
Johan Santana—-On The Way: He’ll have to get to 200 wins, but with two Cy Young Awards and the strikeout numbers, he’ll get in.
Billy Wagner—-No: He’s along the lines of John Franco and Lee Smith, good closers who aren’t worthy of the ultimate honor.
Pedro Martinez—-Automatic: Three Cy Young Awards and pure dominance when he was at his best.
- Florida Marlins:
Hanley Ramirez—-On The Way: He’ll have massive offensive numbers before he’s done.
Luis Gonzalez—-PED Questionable: Looked at on their own, Gonzalez has similar credentials to Jim Rice, but his sudden burst of power at the time it happened makes him an unlikely candidate to get any consideration whatsoever.
- Atlanta Braves:
John Smoltz—-Automatic: Brilliant starter and a great closer with a post-season resume beyond compare.
Tom Glavine—-Automatic: Two Cy Young Awards, 300+ wins, etc.
Brian McCann—-On The Way: It’s a bit early in his career, but with the power numbers he puts up as a catcher, he’ll make it if he stays healthy.
Chipper Jones—-Automatic: A switch hitter with the power numbers, batting average and on base numbers he’ll have? First ballot easily.
- Washington Nationals: None applicable.
- Chicago Cubs:
Derrek Lee—-On The Way: He’ll get over 400 homers and possibly close to 500 with a bunch of Gold Gloves and a high batting average/OBP.
Aramis Ramirez—-On The Way: He’ll get close to 500 homers and there are so few third basemen in the HOF, that he’ll have a legitimate case by the time he’s done.
Alfonso Soriano—-No: Could have a case with his total number of homers, but his defense is atrocious and his OBP/batting average will probably put him in the Vada Pinson category of not quite.
Jim Edmonds—-Borderline: Has a surprisingly strong case with his defense and power numbers, but it’s going to be tough for him to ge
t the support.
- Milwaukee Brewers:
Prince Fielder—-On The Way: He’ll be a DH in the American League sooner rather than later, but he could get close to 600 homers unless he gets too fat to swing the bat.
Ryan Braun—-On The Way: 71 homers, a .300 batting average and a flair for the dramatic after two years in the big leagues, he’s just got to keep it up.
- Houston Astros:
Lance Berkman—-Automatic: An unknown superstar whose power/OBP/batting average numbers go up every single year.
Miguel Tejada—-PED Questionable: Will have viable numbers (especially for a shortstop), but he’s not going to get much, if any, support.
Carlos Lee—-Borderline: He could get to 450 homers with a solid batting average, respectable OBP and huge RBI totals, but he may get lost in the shuffle.
Roy Oswalt—-On The Way: If he gets to 200+ wins, he’ll make it.
- St. Louis Cardinals:
- Cincinnati Reds: None applicable.
- Pittsburgh Pirates: None applicable.
- Los Angeles Dodgers:
Manny Ramirez—-Automatic: One of the best pure hitters ever.
Russell Martin—-On The Way: He’ll have an easier time if he’s left behind the plate, which is currently being debated whether or not that’s going to happen.
Jeff Kent—-Likely: People talk as if he’s automatic, but much of his success was attributable to hitting behind Barry Bonds. He may have to wait awhile, but will get in eventually.
Nomar Garciaparra—-PED Questionable: Became injury-prone and his numbers absolutely collapsed after 2003.
Greg Maddux—-Automatic: He might get close to the Tom Seaver level of nearly 100% support.
- Arizona Diamondbacks:
Randy Johnson—-Automatic: In the same boat as Maddux only overpowering and frightening—-Sandy Koufax-level dominance.
Brandon Webb—-On The Way: If he stays healthy, he’ll have the numbers and the hardware.
- Colorado Rockies:
Todd Helton—-PED Questionable: He’ll easily have the offensive numbers, but what’s happened to his power in the last four years? It can’t be attributed to the Colorado-humidor alone.
- San Francisco Giants:
- San Diego Padres:
Adrian Gonzalez—-On The Way: Already a superstar that few are aware of. Before his career is over, he’ll have at least one MVP, a stack of Gold Gloves and excellent power numbers.
Jake Peavy—-On The Way: He has to stay healthy; with his current team, he might find himself in a Bert Blyleven situation unless he goes to a better, more supportive team and racks up some wins.
Trevor Hoffman—-Borderline: Talked about as an automatic, but may have to wait awhile—-longer than Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter did. He may get caught up in the glut of closers and not make it.