Which active players are Hall of Fame bound?

CooperstownFor the purposes of this article, it is important to point out that the term “active” refers to current free agents, players currently on Major League rosters, and players on the disabled list.

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.

Post-First Ballot:
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.

16 comments for “Which active players are Hall of Fame bound?

  1. Stephen
    January 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I’m sorry but any list like this has to start with Adrian Beltre. If not start with him, at least list him second behind Pujols. Beltre’s second in career WAR, not counting A-Rod, had a real nice age 35 season and shows no signs of slowing. He’s probably a HOFer if his career were to end today and I put him, Pujols, and few other hitters on that list. Beltran and Miggy would probably make it and I’d think long and hard about Ichiro as well.

    Pitching side of things is tougher.

    • Patrick Albanesius
      January 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Totally agree that Beltre is a very overlooked player who will most likely get into the Hall, he’s aged like fine wine. I don’t see Mauer getting in, and Hudson is very borderline, but a Championship certainly helps his cause.
      My biggest grievances is you say Clayton Kershaw hasn’t be consistent enough, but Mike Trout in all of three years deserves a place in the Hall. What if he snaps his leg tomorrow? A friend of mine thought I was crazy saying that Pujols was a lock for the Hall after only 10 years of his play, and you’re telling me Trout has done it in three?! Ridiculous.
      Meanwhile, Kershaw has won 3 Cy Youngs, finish second in the middle of that run, won a Gold Glove, has lead all of baseball in ERA for 4 straight years, was the best player in the game last year according to bWAR, five straight seasons of 200+ Ks, threw maybe the best no-hitter ever last year, is a two time 20+ game winner, has almost 1400 innings at 26, and won the MVP last year.
      Trout and Mauer are in and Kershaw isn’t? You are officially out of your mind!
      Love the article, no hard feelings.

    • January 8, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Stephen I too would add Beltre with no hesitation. Quiet, unassuming and to me the consummate professional player. Even while playing for a miserable Rangers team he plays hard and gives his team 100% effort. Doesn’t give up or let the poor performance of his teammates affect him.

  2. Eraff
    January 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Quick Takes:
    Mauer…Mattingly…Brillian too Briefly. Mauer has a chance to accumulate, if healthy

    Hudson…David Cone… Just outside the “top”—not enough accumulation

    Konerko? Not sure he’s been truly good enough—Nice, Nice Player… Can you say Ken Singleton? I know you can say Rusty Staub!—and Rusty had better numbers/accumulation in a much tougher offensive era—frankly, may have hit 3000 if not for a late career Met Bench Assignment.

    • Eraff
      January 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Not sure whether he’s permanently outside looking in, but Gooden probably truly belongs

  3. January 7, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Used to be that David Wright was in this conversation.

    • Stephen
      January 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      He will be, in time. But if his career ends today, I don’t think he even survives long on the ballot. He needs to have a productive second half of his career and he’ll get in. If he can do what Beltre has been able to from years 31-35, he’ll be a lock. I think he needs three or four really good seasons and a couple more solid ones after that and he’s on there.

  4. January 8, 2015 at 1:22 am

    I know it’s subjective but Hudson over Kershaw? Even at this early juncture of his career Kershaw is this generations Koufax. The best starter in MLB not just the National league. Ortiz will get in. Maybe not on the first ballot. Mauer is this generations Mattingly and if he gets in then Mattingly deserves to get in as well.

    • Name
      January 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

      I agree. 3 Cy Young’s out of 4 years plus a MVP, and he has a very good case over Dickey in 2012. Two straight years of near 200+ ERA ball…

      He could retire now and i’d probably vote him in.

  5. Bobby
    January 8, 2015 at 3:02 am

    …Konerko? What the hell did Konerko ever do to merit discussion for a Hall of Fame vote, let alone actual consideration?

  6. January 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    They didn’t receive any mentions yet but in my mind Carlos Beltran and Chase Utley are both HOF talents. Unfortunately, neither will have any magic numbers to make their cases for the guys who get to vote. But since it will be at least six years before either is eligible, perhaps more inroads will have been made with the electorate to recognize guys beyond 500 HR or 3,000 hits.

    • norme
      January 8, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Brian,
      Since Utley plays for the Phillies does that qualify him as an active major leaguer?

      He is a no doubt HoFer just as is Beltre. As for Beltran, I’m really not sure.

  7. Eraff
    January 8, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    It’s always been a tough “Hall”. There are many “Great” players who are not Baseball Hall of Famers—no other sport can match the exclusivity of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    The Hall has always rewarded both spectacular talent, and sustained accumulation—- virtually all players in the Hall have tremendous amounts of both factors. Tony Oliva…Rico Carty, Joe Torre…these were Great Players!…and not in the Hall.

    Special cases include Sandy Koufax. I believe the truely special players who didn’t sustain deserve some more attention. As time goes along, I’m much more receptive to guys like Mattingly and Gooden—they were supremely Special and Above for a long run, but not long enough to sustain Hall Status per the present expectations.

    Dale Murphy had 2 MVP’s as a very young CF’er…. Utley has few peers as a 2bman over my 50 years of watching the game— their “special runs” are probably too brief for consideration.

    Strange Guys in?…. Mazeroski. Strange guys without a sniff?…..Johnny Bench was so good that.almost nobody has understood what Ted Simmons was!!! He was an awsome offensive player– 10 time Allstar…hidden by the Glare of Johnny Bench.

  8. January 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Joe Mauer will never make it into the HOF. His stats have declined every year, he’s injury prone ever year, the most games he has played in his career is 147.

    • Name
      January 12, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Declined every year?
      08-10 was his peak, but he rebounded from an average 11 to have 2 good seasons in 12 and 13. 14 was a down year again, but he’s still 31 and could rebound again.
      OPS+ is almost identical to Wright’s.

      While he’s certainly no lock like the writer suggests, he’s also not a lock to not make it as you suggest.
      Like Wright, he’s probably got a 50/50 shot at this point, with injuries being the main factor on whether they can accumulate enough stats to make it in.

      • January 13, 2015 at 12:08 am

        Unfortunately for Wright moving to Citifield has hurt his chances. Hopefully he has that behind him now and can continue to build on his resume. To me Wright has only one third base man ahead of him and that would Andre Beltre. I don’t know who you would consider to be better than Mauer. Though that alone does not necessarily qualify him for the HoF. He needs at least 3 or 4 more years and I wonder if the writers would judge him fairly on his numbers since he’s now playing first base. Different position. Different criteria.

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