We've been focusing on the Baseball Hall of Fame vote for the past six weeks or so and the announcement Wednesday puts to bed the discussion period for the 2017 vote. So let's have a little fun and take a look at the current players and their chances to one day be enshrined.
What follows is a look at many players at different points in their career and my estimation of how the BBWAA voting body would treat the player -- not my personal feelings on if a player will or should be inducted. Using data and voter tendencies we know along with some educated guesswork, this is an objective look at where these guys stand right now.
These are players who could retire right now and make the Hall of Fame, absent unforeseen circumstances.
Albert Pujols - Three MVPs, two rings, Rookie of the Year, 591 homers, 1,817 RBI, 602 doubles, 2,825 hits. C'mon.
Ichiro Suzuki - Despite not coming to MLB until his age-27 season, the hit machine still has 3,030 career knocks. He led the majors seven times. He's still a career .313 hitter, too.
Miguel Cabrera - Though only through his age-33 season, Miggy is already over 2,500 hits with 446 homers and 1,553 RBI. He has two MVPs and a career slash line of .321/.399/.562 (155 OPS+). He's gonna end up over 500 homers and 3,000 hits, but he's already in the Hall.
Robinson Cano - Some will disagree, but I think he's already good to go. He's already fifth among second basemen in home runs and 13th in RBI with a .307/.355/.498 line. The 2,210 hits and 479 doubles look good, too. Even if you think he's not there yet, he'll get there. The six top-eight finishes in MVP voting matters.
Adrian Beltre - An outstanding all-around player, Beltre is only 58 hits away from the hallowed 3,000 mark. He also has 591 doubles (19th all-time), 445 homers and 1,571 RBI. He'd have more than the five Gold Gloves if the AL third base field hadn't been so tough through his career.
Yadier Molina - His numbers aren't there, but it doesn't matter. We have no true way of measuring defensive value at catcher, particularly working with pitchers and providing on-field leadership. Anyone who has ever coached, played with, pitched to or covered Molina heavily in the media believes he has Hall of Fame chops on this front. He'll get in easily.
Carlos Beltran - One of 33 players ever with 1,500-plus runs and RBI. One of four players ever with over 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. He also has over 500 doubles and more than 2,600 hits.
These players are getting near or fully past-prime and it's hard to get a read on if they'll make it or not
Joe Mauer - Interestingly, Mauer's above the JAWS threshold of an average catcher in the Hall. He's still a .308/.391/.446 hitter in his career and also has an MVP. I think he's already starting to be punished in terms of how we collectively view him based on the decline the last three years and that's not likely to stop. A very interesting case here.
Chase Utley - Will being a late bloomer hurt him? He wasn't a full-timer until age 26 and his time as a regular is finished now. The counting stats will leave a lot to be desired for most, with 1,777 hits, 381 doubles, 250 homers and 977 RBI. Absent a late surge, he might be out.
Jimmy Rollins - The rate stats are leaving something to be desired (.264/.324/.418, good for a 95 OPS+), but he did rack up 2,455 hits, 511 doubles, 115 triples, 231 home runs, 1,421 RBI and 470 steals. I don't think he makes it.
Work to do
Long-time veterans either in decline or close to it who have work to do.
Joey Votto - The career slash line is exceptional at .313/.425/.536 (157 OPS+). He's finished in the top seven of MVP voting five times and won the award once. But he's also a 33-year-old first baseman and sitting with only 1,407 hits, 310 doubles, 221 home runs and 730 RBI. He's got some compiling to do.
Adrian Gonzalez - He'll surpass 2,000 hits this season. He already has 415 doubles and 308 home runs with a good slash line (133 OPS+). He turns 35 in May, though.
Dustin Pedroia - A career .301 hitter with an MVP, Rookie of the Year, two rings and plenty of love to come from Boston. He needs to up those counting stats (1,683 hits, 375 doubles just to name two), though. He's 33 right now.
Ian Kinsler - Through his age-34 season, this is a tall order. Kinsler's got a 111 OPS+ with 1,696 hits, 353 doubles, 212 homers, 211 steals and 1,059 runs.
David Wright - It's not happening. His body just isn't cooperating.
Evan Longoria - Might come down to longevity here. Longoria's only through his age-30 season and has 1,311 hits, 302 doubles, 241 home runs and 806 RBI along with great defense and a Rookie of the Year.
Troy Tulowitzki - There's a real shot here, I think. Through age 31, Tulo has over 1,300 hits, 250 doubles and 200 homers with mid-700s in runs and RBI at a premium defensive position -- at which he's excellent. He's a .292/.364/.501 hitter and, yeah, Coors Field, but that's a 120 OPS+, which adjusts for ballpark and era. He needs to have several strong seasons in his 30s, though.
Andrew McCutchen - Through last season, Cutch was a career .298/.388/.496 hitter with four straight top-five MVP finishes. He had a big-time down year in 2016, but he only recently turned 30. If he gets back on track, there's a chance.
Matt Holliday - He's a .303 hitter with a 134 OPS+. For a corner outfielder with poor defense, though, I don't think his counting stats are there (1,995 hits, 448 doubles, 295 home runs), considering he's 37 years old.
Justin Verlander - In this particular grouping, here's my strongest bet. He has a Cy Young (you could argue he should have three) and MVP along with some huge postseason moments (albeit earlier than the World Series). He sits 173-106 with a 123 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP and 2,197 strikeouts. He'll be 34 next season, but he gets to 3,000 strikeouts and probably 225-plus wins, right?
Zack Greinke - One Cy Young, 155-100 record, 3.42 ERA (120 ERA+), 2,021 strikeouts. He's 33. It's possible.
Felix Hernandez - King Felix was one of baseball's best pitchers for about seven years. He has two ERA titles and a Cy Young. He's 154-109 with a 3.16 ERA (126 ERA+) and 2,264 strikeouts. He'll be 31 this year, but he has to stave off what looks like the beginning of a decline.
Cole Hamels - A little behind (136) in wins here, but I suspect that matters less and less as we trudge forward. Hamels has a 3.31 ERA (125 ERA+) and over 2,000 strikeouts through his age-32 season. He has a World Series MVP, too.
Max Scherzer - He's 32 now and got a late start to dominance, but he's been top-five in Cy Young voting the past four years, including winning it twice. If this surge continues, he'll get there.
Jon Lester - Three top-four finishes in Cy Young voting, a 146-84 record and a 3.44 ERA (124 ERA+). Oh, hey, he also has three rings (with the Red Sox and Cubs, of all teams) with a 2.63 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 133 2/3 postseason innings.
David Price - Three top-two finishes in Cy Young, including a win. He's 31 and a bit behind in innings and strikeouts, though. I'd also guess that awful postseason resume hurts him, too.
Francisco Rodriguez - He's 35 and has 430 saves. In two years, he could be in third place on the all-time list with over 500.
Craig Kimbrel - He turns 29 next season and already has 256 saves. Only two closers ever have over 500. Kimbrel's also been ridiculously dominant, posting a 1.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 14.5 K/9. He's taken steps backward in each of the last two years, so he needs to reverse that.
Clayton Kershaw -He's through nine years and you have to play 10 to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, but those nine years include three Cy Youngs, an MVP, three more top-five finishes in Cy Young voting, four ERA titles and a ridiculous 2.37 ERA (159 ERA+). Through age 28, he's already struck out 1,918 hitters and his 1.007 WHIP is fourth all-time among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.
Mike Trout - One of the top five (full) season starts in baseball history, Trout has two MVPs and was runner-up the other three times. He's a .306/.405/.557 hitter already having led the league in runs (four times), RBI, stolen bases, OBP, slugging, OPS and OPS+ (three times). Thanks to good defense in center and excellent baserunning, WAR loves him. So much, in fact, that he's already 17th in JAWS among center fielders.
I'm not sure if there's a path forward where these two don't make the Hall of Fame. They've already built that good a case. Just get to 10 years without falling apart and the rest is just racking up the counting stats as gravy. As things stand, they are on track to be inner-circle Hall of Famers.
Off to a good or great start
Players in their 20s who have what looks like a foundation of a Hall of Fame case, but it's too early to know for sure.
Upper tier: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Jose Altuve, Manny Machado, Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts
A combination of an incredibly deep foundation (Posey, Bumgarner and Sale) along with some immense-upside youngsters like Bryant and Seager. These are just the best stabs at some of the guys who are still either works in progress in their 20s or just getting started. If Stanton seems out of place, he's one of 16 players ever with 200-plus home runs through age 26.
For the record, I'm a strong believer here in Posey, Bumgarner, Altuve and Machado already being on a steady track. Let's look above and keep in mind, though, that Mauer once seemed like a lock. That's how things go sometimes.
Some of the guys are a bit behind the curve for their age here or haven't shown Hall of Fame chops as much as "good for his age" just yet. But I wouldn't count any of them out.