On any given day of the Major League Baseball regular season, except for September expansions, there are 750 major leaguers across the country either playing, or waiting to play their next game. Out of those 750 players, very few of them will end up being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The past three years, fans have seen Hall of Fame bound players – such as Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Paul Konerko, and Derek Jeter – retire, and there are still more to come. Personally, I am a “small hall” type person, so I believe that there are very few active players that will make it to the Promised Land. But after some extensive research and collaboration with a close friend who knows the sport more than anybody I know, here is a list of who will be making it into Cooperstown:
First Ballot Hall of Famers:
To get into the Hall of Fame is one thing, but to get in on one’s first time on the ballot is an honor all in itself. Very few players get in on their first time on the ballot, and only the best of the best are able to do so.
Albert Pujols: In order to be nicknamed Prince Albert, a player must be a superstar, and Pujols does not fail to meet this qualification. In an age of pitching dominance, Pujols has already hit 520 homeruns in his young career. He has a career slash line of .317/.403/.588, and also has a .991 OPS. Pujols’ current contract goes through the 2022 season, and at the age of only 34, the sky is still the limit for what some consider is the greatest first baseman of all time. The former National League Rookie of the Year and three-time National League Most Valuable Player winner is no doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer, and will end up being forever enshrined with a St. Louis Cardinals ball cap on his plaque.
Ichiro: By far the greatest Japanese export to ever play in the Major Leagues, Ichiro should be a unanimous inductee into the Hall of Fame (except it is almost impossible for that to happen). In his first year in the majors at the age of 27, Ichiro won both the American League Rookie of the Year Award and the American League Most Valuable Player Award. He also led the American League in hits in 2001, 2004, and 2006-2010, 2004 being a year in which he broke the record for the most hits in a single season. Ichiro won a Gold Glove Award and made an All Star Game appearance in each of his first 10 seasons, but has not received any awards since 2010. The term “destiny” is almost an underrated word when describing Ichiro and his future wearing a Seattle Mariners cap in Cooperstown.
Miguel Cabrera: Three words – Triple Crown Winner.
Just because a player does not get in on the first ballot does not mean that they will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Most players are on the ballot for years before getting their face in the Hall, but they only have 10 years to do so after the recent changes in the Baseball Writers Association of America voting system.
Mike Trout: He may only have been in the majors for a few years, but Trout has shown that no matter what, he will continue to thrive and destroy the competition. Trout has already won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, American League Most Valuable Player Award, led the league in walks, stolen bases, runs scored, and OPS+. He has also come close to winning a batting title and has made an All Star Game appearance and won the Silver Slugger Award every year so far in his career. Pending how he preforms in the rest of his career, Trout may end up a first ballot Hall of Famer, but for now, he will be in Cooperstown with his Angels cap after his first year on the ballot.
Joe Mauer: When Mauer’s name was brought up during the Hall of Fame conversation between my friend and me, we were a bit hesitant to agree to put him on the list. However, after a few minutes of thinking about Mauer’s career, his name seemed more and more intriguing, and made its way onto the list. Mauer has had a historical career, but injuries have held him back from being the iconic player he once was. Mauer was on pace to be the best hitting catcher of all time, but he is now a first baseman, and has had difficulty with concussions for the past couple of seasons. Despite that, Mauer has led the league in batting average three times at this point in his career, finished in the top 10 for American League Most Valuable Player voting four times, and brought home the MVP award in 2009. So, despite his injuries, Mauer will get into the Hall of Fame, but will spend a large amount of time on the ballot before getting in.
Tim Hudson: Hudson leads all active pitchers in wins, and has pitched over 3,000 innings in his career. Hudson has a .250 BAA and a 1.23 WHIP to go along with four All Star Game appearances and a second place finish in the 2000 American League Cy Young Award voting. According to baseballreference.com, Hudson is the 54th best pitcher ever to play the game, and has a career HR/9 ratio of just 0.7. In 1999, Hudson came close to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award and in 2000 he finished in the top 15 in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Hudson also is the active leader in complete game shut outs with 13 total. By all means, he deserves to be honored with a plaque in the Hall of Fame.
Although potential was a slight factor in this process, I tried to keep away from putting a player on this list who still has more to prove. This refers to players such as Troy Tulowitzki and Clayton Kershaw, because although they are superstars, they both have to show more consistency before getting into the Hall of Fame. This, by all means, will be a heated discussion between every fan of the game, so let me say this: Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and David Ortiz could have made the list, but missed out by a hair width of a margin.