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: Jun 28, 2009
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:38 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

@johnU11... yes, I'm surprised Ichiro isn't included on this list of players who would be a lock for the HOF if he hung it up right now.  There's no way Ichiro isn't making the HOF with his current resume.

Since: Apr 27, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:32 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

You were doing just fine until you hit Omar Vizquel.  Really?  We already have one too many Rabbit Maranvilles in the HOF.  We don't need another. 
Omar Vizquel has a career combined (offense and defense) WAR of 42.3.  Same as Chase Utley's career WAR.  So, if Omar gets in, these guys must also be slam dunk Hall of Famers:

Miguel Tejada.............42.5
Jorge Posada..............44.7
J.D. Drew...................45.9
Mike Cameron.............46.7
Adrian Beltre...............47.6
Lance Berkman............51.2
Jason Giambi...............52.7
Bobby Abreu...............58.7
Andruw Jones..............60.4
Carlos Beltran.............60.8

Not such a great Hall of Fame then, is it?  Fully expect the writers to say "No" to Omar Vizquel. He's just not worthy.
I really hate it when people start with the WAR crap on how to decide if anyone is worthy of anything. WAR is a MADE UP stat..period.

Not only that...How's this Hall of Fame look?

Omar Vizquel 42.3
Luis Aparicio 49.9
Bobby Doerr 47.7
Nellie Fox 44.4
George Kell 33.6
Tony Lazzeri 48.3
Bill Mazeroski 26.9
Joe Tinker 49.2
Johnny Evers 48.4
Phil Rizzuto 41.8
Roger Bresnahan 41.6
Jim Rice 41.5
Red Schoendienst 40.4
Lou Brock 39.1
Chuck Klein 39.2
Hack Wilson 39.1
Ernie Lombardi 39.0
Rabbit Maranville 38.2
Roy Campanella 36.2
Jim Bottomley 32.4
Lloyd Waner 24.3

That looks like EVERY one of them is in the Hall of Fame..except Omar Vizquel on this list? WOW! WAR is really impressive?

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:13 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

This list of 5 is pretty good and I'd agree that Ichiro ought to be included.

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 8:51 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Barry Larkin, Dave Concepcion and Alan Trammell aren't "worthy" but Phil Rizzuto is ?
People love bringing up Phil Rizzuto.  Rizzuto was NOT voted in by the writers.   He was put in by the veterans' committee.  Barry Larkin will get in sooner rather than later.

Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:56 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

mattingly would of been first ballot if back didnt give out.too bad,guys like will clark and donny bball will never have chance while, in time, cheaters like mcgwire and bonds will get in.if they took ped's it would of helped recovery from injuries and given them the years they needed to put up the numbers.

Since: Aug 9, 2010
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:22 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Thome is automatic... Ichiro will be, if he gets to 3000... But ANYONE who says Don Mattingly deserves the Hall is plain ignorant. He never reached ANY milestones. 2153 hits, 222 HR and 1009 RBI with a .307 AVG? Tod Helton beats all of those and he is still a maybe. Yankee fans can't seem to read numbers.

Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:16 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

hutch,are you on crack?did you just compare rbi totals to ichiro and thome?duh,ichiro was a leadoff hitter,thome a power hitter.i have always suspected thome as being on ped's,but give him a hof pass seeing as there is no smoking gun.but ichiro has been a classic 5 tool player his whole career,and will pass 4000 career hits(japan included).both will make it,but tell me who you'd really pick first.should be easy decision.

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 6:26 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

Are these people sniffing glue that are saying Ichiro over Thome?  ichiro's RBI numbers are pathetic.  600 homers 1674 Rbis, since when is that not good enough?   I guess you have to take guys like Mike Schmidt out of the hall of fame then, because Thomes numbers are better. 

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:53 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

I love Jim that he's too old to do damage to my Tigers any more.  But, is he HOFer? Borderline.  I have doubts about all the sluggers from the steroids era.  He may or may not have ever participated, but there is always in my mind a question about it.  So, I eliminate from my ballot all Home Run Hitters.  If you batted .326 for a career and had as many all star and gold glove appearances as Ichiro...He should definately be added to this list.  And, it may be early in his career, but Roy Halladay is just about a sure thing in my opinion as well.

By the way, can someone tell me why the A.L.'s best catcher of the 1960's, Bill Freehan, is NOT in the Hall of Fame? 

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:24 pm

Five active surefire Hall of Famers

I don't believe that Thome should be replaced necessarily... but there is no doubt whatsoever that Ichiro should be on this list!!!

Listen to these numbers....

11 seasons .326 avg.
2x Batting Champ
10x All star
10x Gold Glove winner
1x All Star game MVP
2428 hits... (That is on average 220 hits per season. over 200 hits 10x!)
1127 runs scored
423 stolen bases

Not to mention in his Rookie season his was both the AL Rookie of the Year along with the AL MVP!!!

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