Blog Entry

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm

By Matt Snyder

With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Since: Nov 5, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 11:52 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

to me JIM THOME is not a hall of famer...can we please stop watering down the hall....THOME is a stats hoarder thats all...NEVER and i mean NEVER has he been considered as a top player in the game let alone a dominant one....if thats the case DAVE KINGMAN should be a HALL OF HALL Is suppose to be for all time players..i just dont see him as one of them....before we think about THOME try Gil HODGES...hes more deserving than thome....

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 10:05 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

This reads like someone who forgot to write an article and needed to come up with something at the last minute. 5 HOF'ers that noone will debate--big deal. How about writing about the current possibilities, a more interesting group than in a long time. Or soon to be eligible borderline guys. But wasting an article explaining why Jeter and Pujols will be in is worthy only to give a 5 year old an introduction to baseball.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:23 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

The only borderline player listed here is Chipper.  He doesn't have the magic number 500 HR yet, he was often injured, out of all the playoff appearances they mdae, the Braves only won it all once.  I know that last one shouldn't hurt him but......  With Rivera he should be a lock, but when Lee Smith retired he was number one, and he still isn't in yet, why, he's in the top five, very few of these guys named are in the top five of any catagories.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:33 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Nevermind. I found it.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:32 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Well, where is it? It's Friday and I still can't find this article that was coming Thursday.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:08 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

While I cant say I actually met the man but I would like to say that Rivera is not only a first ballot hall of famer but is also a class act.

My son will forever remember the Red Sox vs Yankees Game June 9th 2009 at Fenway. We had seats in section 1 Box 87 which is right next to the visiting teams bulpen and my son who was 11 at the time reached through the railing and Alfredo Aceves grapped his ticket and sharpie, handed it to Rivera to sign it for my son and personally handed it back to him and winked at him. My son who was wearing Red Sox Gear from head to toe was the only one that got an autograph and now is a Rivera fan for life. The people that saw it clapped and gave Rivera a thumbs up for the gesture

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:03 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

I would agree on 4 of the 5. Pujols I would wait on, mainly because of the 5 mentioned, he is the most likely to fail a drug test. Not saying it will happen, and I hope it doesn't. But if it does, then he won't get in. The other 4 are shoe ins, I would agree,

Ichiro gets in if he gets to 3000 hits. Visquel is borderline, but he will probably get in eventually. Vlad Guerrero is also borderline, but he is squeaky clean so I bet he gets in.

Interesting that A-Rod is not mentioned. His tainted past probably keeps him out.

Another player who may get in, if he can get to 500 HR, is Paul Konerko. He is 104 HR away, which is at least 3 seasons.

Since: Apr 21, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2012 3:02 am

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

First off, I want to qualify this by stating I LOVE Jim Thome. I've had the pleasure of being a vendor in one of his home parks (can't say which), and have met him on many occasions. The man is nothing but class, always asking me how my day was going, and wishing me well. That being said, I can't consider him a first-ballot Hall selection. Should he get in? Yes, no doubt. But, knowing how the writers are, it will be said he hung on for 3-5 years as nothing more than a part-time DH. And that might hurt him. I HOPE i'm wrong, and his good-guy image (well deserved) helps him to get in as quick as he can! 

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:53 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Thome was 2nd in ab/hr in 2010 behind only Jose Bautista. That means that he is still cranking out homeruns when there is very frequent mandatory testing for peds. Thome has been hitting them out since 95' with no huge spikes or dips, unlike the known steroid users. 

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:23 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Bill Freehan is just one of many great players from teams that weren't as flashy or forntunate enough to have played in large markets for teams that won more championships. He broke or was second or third in almost every defensive category at his position at the time of his retirement. In addition to being in the 5 of many offensive categories for a catcher. Whether or not it's fair, lesser players on multiple championship teams get into the HOF more often than better players on lesser teams.
His 11 All-Star Game appearances are the most by any eligible player who is not in the . In his 15-year career, Freehan played in 1774 with 1591 in 6073 for a .262 batting average along with 241 , 200 , 758 , and a .340 . In addition to his home runs and total bases, his .412 slugging average and totals of 1591 hits, 706 and 476 all put him among the top five American League catchers to that time. A five-time winner, Freehan held the major league record for highest career (.9933) until .

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