Major League Baseball has the most discussed, controversial sports Hall of Fame. In a yearly debate among sportswriters, media members, bloggers, and water cooler attendees, the cases for HOF-eligible ballplayers are dissected ad nauseum...as if to leave someone out of the HOF were to disavow everything they had ever done. There are constant comparisons to current inductees - if Goose Gossage is in, then Rich Sutcliffe must get in, and if Rich gets in then Jack Morris is a lock. This game of comparison is played more often in the voting for the MLB HOF than in any other sport. Amongst all this chatter there is the stone-cold fact that not one player in the history of the game - incl. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Honus Wagner, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio - has ever received 100% of the vote; Tom Seaver is the all-time leader with 98.84%. Joe DiMaggio only received 88.84% of the vote; that's less than Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, and Roberto Alomar. This is one of the many failures, in my opinion, of the Baseball Writers of America, whose opinions are the only votes that count. This group, made up of hundreds of journalists from around the country, votes yearly. If a player receives 75% of the vote, they're in. Many have called into question the issues of journalistic integrity and unbiased fandom in response to how the MLB votes for the HOF. Despite my love for the old-fashioned nature of the game, its HOF voting is an archaic process that needs updating. No, I don't have a solution, but perhaps it can be something akin to a sentient being from another planet that possesses the ability to instantaneously value both on-field statistics and off-field fame, calculating everything down to a simple ‘1' (yes) or ‘0' (no). If this were so, Dwight Evans would be in.
Baseball also has the unenviable task of deciding whether known cheaters, users of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, will be allowed into the hallowed shrine to America's Pastime. America may not be built on fair play, but in my opinion baseball should be. We're currently in the infancy of voting for known cheaters, yet already there are decisive lines drawn by those in favor of electing cheaters and those against it. Personally, I am full-fledged against it, but I whole-heartedly believe that voters will favor leniency as the years pass. That is why I created two new categories for this list: HALL OF SHAME I (known cheaters who probably will get inducted) and HALL OF SHAME II (known cheaters who probably won't get inducted).
Finally, since my NBA HOF list was met with as much vitriol as it was debate, I must note that my opinions are based on the players' numbers to this date and my projections for the remainder of their careers. It is not enough to say that a 24-year-old with a .330 career BA or a 26-year-old with two straight 20-win seasons is a lock for the HOF. Consistency and longevity count, and the possibilities for injury or regression to the mean must be taken into account. If I feel a player has done enough to this point of their career, they'll be higher on the list. Guys who have more ground to cover, but project to stay healthy and continue excelling, and guys who I don't think will cut it over the remainder of their careers are placed accordingly.
*All stats are current as of June 30, 2011.
In my humble opinion as a fan and student of the game, here are my selections for current players and coaches, and a few recently retired ones:
LOCKS (100%, and if you vote ‘no' you deserve to have your right to vote revoked):
Greg Maddux - The greatest control pitcher of all-time. This man was a textbook on pitching, each start a chapter. He's 8th on the all-time win list with 355 victories. He's the only pitcher in history to win 15 or more games in seventeen straight seasons. He's the all-time leader in Gold Glove Awards, at any position, with 18.
Derek Jeter - He'll finish his career north of 3,000 hits and, possibly, 2,000 runs scored, with a good shot at maintaining a lifetime BA over .300. He'll also have at least five championship rings. He is the most famous Yankee since Mickey Mantle, and possibly the most talented.
Mariano Rivera - He's the greatest closer of all-time. His cut fastball is one of the greatest pitches of all-time. He'll most likely finish his career as the all-time saves leader (passing Trevor Hoffman), and if he does, I'll make the unequivocal statement that he will never be surpassed.
Pedro Martinez - Pitched probably the greatest season of the past 30 years in 1999, finishing 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. He has only 219 wins, but he currently has the 5th-best winning percentage of all-time and one of the lowest career ERAs (2.93) of the modern era.
Randy Johnson - The most intimidating pitcher since Bob Gibson and one of the most unique due to his size and velocity. He retired with 303 victories (22nd all-time) and 4,875 strikeouts, 2nd on the all-time list. The Big Unit has the Big Key to the Big Hall.
Iván Rodríguez - His terrific offensive numbers and phenomenal defense as a catcher make his induction a certainty. I must note that he has been implicated by a former teammate as a steroid user, but nothing was ever proven (therefore, I will not list him with the known cheaters).
Tom Glavine - The second-winningest pitcher of the 1990s behind teammate Greg Maddux. Retired with 305 victories, good for 21st on the all-time list. He was a five-time 20-game winner and a two-time Cy Young winner.
Ichiro Suzuki - Over his career, has averaged 228 hits-per-season, leading the league in seven of his ten seasons. He also holds the MLB record for consecutive 200-hit seasons (10). He didn't come to the Majors from Japan until he was nearly 28 years-old, yet he may still reach 3,000 hits before he retires. If you combine his 2,335 MLB hits with the 1,278 he got playing professionally in Japan, he's sitting pretty with 3,613, which would be good for 5th all-time.
Frank Thomas - He retired last year as one of the greatest hitters of all-time, one of four players (the others being Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams) to have at least a .300 batting average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks in a career. He was known as The Big Hurt, and he was a big guy, so the inevitable questions will be raised, however there is not a soul alive that has accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Craig Biggio - He is 20th all-time in career hits - 3,060 - and is respected for excelling at catcher, second base, and the outfield, three very distinct positions. He's the only retiring player from 2007 that deserves any consideration, so I believe he's a lock on his first ballot.
Chipper Jones - Beloved by guys who love the game, he plays the game the right way. He'll finish a shade under the standard HOF numbers (500 home runs, 3,000 hits), but he'll be the only switch-hitter in the HOF with a .300 BA and 400 home runs, if his BA holds up (currently at .304).
Albert Pujols - He's the current face of the league and has otherworldly numbers, so he'll get in. Personally, I see the effects of performance-enhancing drugs, but I don't want to get sued, so I'll add a huge * to this opinion. Everyone the league has tried to protect - McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, ARod - everyone who was supposed to save the game of baseball for the common fan, has fallen flat on their face, busted time after time for using performance-enhancing drugs. This is only my belief and nothing factual has tied Pujols to performance-enhancing drugs, but I will draw one parallel between this all-time great and the former single-season home run leader and 1998 league savior, Mark McGwire - their manager, Tony La Russa. I find it decidedly interesting that La Russa was the long-time manager for both men, and defends McGwire to this day, even giving him his first post-retirement (i.e. banishment) job in baseball, as hitting coach to Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals. Why do I believe Pujols is a cheat when I defend Frank Thomas as clean? Call it a hunch, the same hunch that had me telling friends that McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, and ARod were all cheaters, and that LeBron James was a self-glorifying a-hole long before he moved to Miami. I have a good bullsh!t gauge located in my cynicism vector.
NEAR-LOCKS (97% there, but some fools could vote ‘no'):
John Smoltz - His win total is low (213 wins) due to his time spent as a closer after recovering from an arm injury, but his time as a closer was spectacular and his overall resume is HOF-worthy. He is the second pitcher in history to have both a 20-win season and 50-save season in his career, the other being HOFer Dennis Eckersley. He also has 3,000 strikeouts, which has always been an important number for pitchers (along with 300 victories), but with Curt Schilling sitting at 3,116 strike outs and (in my opinion) not likely to be inducted, the number may no longer guarantee induction. Smoltz is the all-time post-season strikeout leader, and no active player is within striking distance. If there is any hesitancy in his selection it will be his time spent as a closer, as I'm sure certain voters will see that as a sign of weakness or diminished talent. They could not be any more wrong.
Roy Halladay - 2 Cy Young Awards, and a third seems to be on its way. The highest career-winning percentage of any active pitcher (min. 1,000 innings). He's a horse, consistently leading the league in complete games. The sole reason I don't have him a 100% lock is because he may never reach 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts, and those are still the career milestones associated with a HOF pitcher (though they are becoming less important as WAR and other advanced stats become more prevalent). If Halladay were to retire today, he'd be a borderline first-ballot HOFer. If he keeps up with what he's currently doing (i.e. earns his third Cy Young), he'll be a sure-fire first-ballot HOFer.
Jeff Bagwell - He missed the cut this past year, but I believe he will get in. He has to. He's one of the greatest offensive players of his era and he has never been officially accused of abusing performance-enhancing drugs, though some bloggers and lesser reporters have mentioned his name and steroids in the same sentence. Time, and additional discussion, will reflect well upon Mr. Bagwell, who retired with a .297 BA, 449 home runs, and 1,529 RBIs. His numbers are skewed by an arthritic condition in his throwing shoulder that ended his career early. His peak years are more impressive than his career longevity, but enough so that he'll get elected.
Jim Thome - He's been remarkably consistent his entire career, dating back to the mid-1990s. If someone were to ask me off-the-cuff: Jim Thome, HOF? I'd say: no. But I'd be wrong. He has 600+ homeruns and 1,600 RBIs. His career average (.277) is low and his defense non-existent, but he has the numbers. Performance-enhancing drugs will be discussed alongside his candidacy, as his main power years, 2001-04, are in the peak of the steroid era, right before testing began.
Trevor Hoffman - If Goose Gossage is in, then... I don't believe it's a guarantee, but I think he'll sneak in on his second go-round. The position of closer will be widely discussed over the next 20 years, as it is a situational role akin to the DH (which is also under recent discussion, due mostly to Edgar Martinez's eligibility). How much weight can and will voters put on closers' career numbers? Mariano Rivera is a no-brainer, but where will the line be drawn?
FUTURE LOCKS (51% there, steady as she goes):
Joe Mauer - If he stays healthy as a catcher, he's a lock. Health is a big "if" with this guy. He's been on the DL a number of times in the past three seasons - back pain, leg pain, arm pain, numbness. If the Twins don't believe he can stay healthy while catching, they'll have to move him to outfield or DH (first base is already taken by an All Star, Justin Morneau). He'll have to continue hitting at an extraordinary pace while learning his new position, as more is expected offensively from outfielders and DHs. But if he stays a catcher and continues with his offensive averages, he's a future lock.
Vladimir Guerrero - He's close to 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns and his batting average is currently .318, but I don't know if he's a HOFer. Health and age will be issues in his pursuit of the hitters' milestones. I have him in this category because I believe if he reaches the milestones he's in, but if he doesn't get to 3,000 and 500 he'll be left out. He's that much on-the-fence, and therefore, I cannot list him as a near-lock. Dave Winfield is a comparable HOFer, so let's take a look: Winfield finished 22 seasons with 3,110 hits, 465 home runs, a .283 BA, and no MVP; Vlad, in his 16 seasons, has 2,505 hits, 442 home runs, a .318 BA, and one MVP Award. Based on that comparison, perhaps he is a lock. PEDs will be discussed, as his prime years and biggest home run tallies were in the heart of the PED era.
ON THEIR WAY (37.5% there, don't derail):
Cliff Lee - His peak years are phenomenal, but he may not have the career longevity to warrant induction. He was a postseason terminator (7-0) until he ran into the SF Giants last year in the World Series (0-2). If he were to retire today, his selection would be a debate between yearly versus career statistics. Sandy Koufax was inducted for his yearly dominance over a short career, but Lee is not Koufax. In his 10-year career (to date), Lee is 111-66 with a 3.76 ERA. In his 12-year career, Koufax was 165-87 with a 2.76 ERA. Lee has time to continue building his career numbers, which is why I put him in this category.
Tim Lincecum - 2 Cy Young Awards, 1,020 strikeouts, and 3.05 ERA in four seasons is a phenomenal start to a career. And he proved his playoff mettle by pitching wonderfully for the Giants on their way to the 2010 World Series, twice out-pitching Cliff Lee. He's too young to list as a lock though, with the injuries that can occur to pitchers and the fact that 2-time Cy Young winner Brett Saberhagen didn't even get enough votes to stay on the HOF ballot past his first year of eligibility. Four years isn't a career.
Ryan Howard - He has a chance for 500 homeruns and 1,700 RBIs, and if he gets that, he's in. To me, he's a lesser Frank Thomas, not as good a pure hitter, and I don't project him to finish with equal career numbers. He'll go down as a great slugger and RBI machine. Will that be enough to get him into the HOF? Also, will his career follow the path of Frank Thomas (lasting greatness) or Cecil Fielder (fleeting greatness)?
Miguel Cabrera - He is well on his way to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, if he can avoid any law- or alcohol-related setbacks. He will most likely finish his career as Manny Ramirez-lite, which is great as long as it includes an avoidance of steroids.
CC Sabathia - Fatbathia has an outside shot at 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, especially being on the Yankees, but I don't see him holding up physically over the next 8 years (which will bring him to his 38th birthday). Many "very good" pitchers are left out of the HOF. Just ask Luis Tiant, Jack Morris, Tommy John...
Félix Hernández - 79 wins. Over 1,000 strikeouts. A 3.21 ERA. A Cy Young Award. He's only 25 years old. He pitches for a team with an anemic offense, which has already hurt his overall win total. He has a great nickname: King Felix. He's well on his way. Wait until he hits free agency and signs with a powerhouse club like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Angels, or Phillies. As long as he stays away from the Mets, his future is decidedly rosy. Isn't that right, Johan?
AN OUTSIDE SHOT (20% there, with ground to cover):
Mike Mussina - It's odd having a retired player in this category, as there is nothing Mussina can do on the field to help his cause, so his ‘ground to cover' will be done entirely within the realm of sports debate. He'll be given serious consideration, having retired with 270 wins, 2,813 strikeouts, 7 Gold Gloves, and a 3.68 ERA, but I think it hurts his candidacy that he's in the same retirement class with Greg Maddux, one of the all-time greats. However, he may benefit from he and Maddux being the only two players from that class deserving of any consideration (next best player, Jeff Kent). If he's inducted, he won't by any means be the worst pitcher in the HOF, but it will be a lowering of the overall standards.
Omar Vizquel - He'll be a close vote, being within 200 hits of 3,000, but I don't see him getting in. Managers and players will lobby on his behalf, which may be enough to convince the voters, but I believe he's very good, not great.
Justin Verlander - 2 no-hitters, 93 wins and nearly 1,100 strikeouts by age 28. For pitchers it's all about keeping it up. Can he keep it up? The no-hitters alone will not get him in. He seems to be getting better with age. We'll see.
Carl Crawford - He needs an additional 7 great years, with 40+ stolen bases, 20+ triples, 20+ homeruns, and solid outfield defense, and he may get all that, stuffed away in a deep Boston lineup. He's halfway to 3,000 hits and only 29 years old, but what do the next ten years hold? His first year in Fenway is off to an inauspicious start.
Dustin Pedroia - In his first four full seasons, he has a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP, three All Star selections, a championship, and has led the league in runs scored twice. Pedroia plays the game the right way and may just hustle and grit his way into the HOF.
Robinson Canó - He's become the future of the Yankees. He is tremendously talented offensively and defensively. The first six years of his career sort of mirror those of Derek Jeter, with additional power and fewer strikeouts. His upside screams Hall of Fame. Let's see if he can live up to it.
Johan Santana - Seemed well on his way to the HOF, but he has been an injured disaster since coming to the Mets. When healthy, he's a great pitcher, but his numbers don't currently warrant consideration and if he doesn't stay healthy and pitch well for another four to five seasons, he'll go down as a very good pitcher who couldn't stay healthy.
José Reyes - His injuries over the past few seasons derailed what could have been a HOF career, in my opinion. He's seems to be entirely healed and back at the top of his game, but he lost too much time.
Jon Lester - 70-29. 3.56. 812. 27. Win-Loss. ERA. Strikeouts. Age. If he stays healthy and he stays on the Sox, he has an outside shot.
GOOD, BUT NOT... (12% there, but not likely to make it):
Roy Oswalt - His career winning percentage is fourth-highest of any active pitcher (behind Halladay, Tim Hudson, and Sabathia) and he is a two-time 20-game winner, but he is a bland candidate for the HOF. I don't mean to insult him by labeling him as bland, but does Roy Oswalt, or Tim Hudson, for that matter, seem like a HOFer to you? He's good, no doubt, but not special enough to warrant inclusion, though he will receive some votes, I'm sure.
Magglio Ordóñez - A .309 career average with an outside shot at 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. At one point in his career he seemed like a future lock, but he has slipped a bit due to recent injuries. His consistent BA throughout his 15+ seasons will bolster his candidacy, but will his overall numbers look good enough? I think he'll get a push in his first year or two of eligibility, but he'll eventually fall off the ballot.
Matt Holliday - He's a solid offensive player who has seven more years on his current contract with a powerhouse club. He has a shot, but he has to continue at his current pace, if not raise it a level.
Scott Rolen - Nothing about him jumps off the page, besides maybe his consistency. He's never led the league in anything, offensively or defensively, and his overall numbers aren't impressive enough for this day and age. He's well-liked and plays the game the right way, but he's not a HOFer.
Todd Helton - His fantastic offensive numbers are buoyed by playing in Colorado. After 15 seasons, though, he's only at 2,308 hits and 342 home runs, which, while impressive, do not put him in the HOF.
Mark Teixeira - Fantastic defensive first baseman with an outside shot at 2,500 hits and 450 home runs. Is that enough?
Johnny Damon - If he plays for another three years he has a shot at 3,000 hits, and voters will give serious consideration to him based solely on that accomplishment. Only Pete Rose, Craig Biggio, and Rafael Palmeiro have reached 3,000 hits and not been inducted; Rose and Palmeiro for good reason, and Biggio I consider a lock. Johnny's peripherals don't add up though, so I don't consider him anything more than a very good ballplayer.
Kevin Youkilis - He has two championships and is an offensive threat and defensive presence. I don't believe he'll have the career numbers, but there are some years left in his career.
Adrian Gonzalez - He doesn't project to reach any of the milestones that offensive players usually need to reach the HOF. But he is a fantastic defensive player, and he just signed with the Red Sox for the next seven years, so let's see what damage he can do in Fenway. Hitting .400 for a season will bolster his candidacy. At Fenway, with his all-fields swing, it's unlikely but not impossible.
Carlos Beltran - Injuries, and signing with the Mets, derailed his train to the HOF (similar to Johan Santana).
Josh Hamilton - I only add him because I predict others will accuse me of overlooking him. I'm not. He's already 30-years old and has barely four seasons of ball under his belt. MVP or no, he'll never have HOF numbers.
YOUNG-ENS (5% there, but a long way to go):
Prince Fielder - He has to raise his batting average (which he's doing in his contract walk year) and hit 287 more homeruns (at least), but if he stays healthy, he will climb the list.
Joey Votto - Have another 10 seasons like your MVP-season in 2010 and we'll talk.
Ryan Braun - He's been a top-25 MVP candidate in each of his first four seasons. That means he's good, right? He needs another 15 seasons, but he has the tools.
Zack Greinke - If he wins three more Cy Young Awards and gets his career winning percentage over .500, perhaps.
Evan Longoria - He's a stud, and any team would take him, but I don't see his career ending with a HOF bust. If it did, if he keeps up what he's doing for the Tampa Bay Rays, he would be the unequivocal superstar of that franchise for the foreseeable future, and its first legitimate HOFer (Wade Boggs doesn't count!).
Hanley Ramírez - He was on his way up until the past two seasons. He may be battling injuries or tailing off after an impressive beginning to his career. Either way, he'll have to battle age and his attitude as his career continues.
Adam Wainwright - He has a good winning percentage (.653) and a low ERA (2.97), but at the age of 29 he only has 66 wins and 724 strikeouts. He won't come within spitting distance of any of the pitching numbers that mean anything.
Josh Johnson - A 48-23 record and 2.98 ERA at age 27. He won't get 3,000 wins or 3,000 strikeouts, but if he stays consistent and makes a name for himself, he may have a shot. His low number of wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched don't put him in Jon Lester's class.
Jason Heyward - His sample size is only one year, but he has the tools, he plays for a great franchise, and he should have his shots in the post-season. Give it time.
Stephen Strasburg - Too early to tell. If he stays healthy for the next 15 seasons, he'll get well over 3,000 strikeouts, but will he get the run support in Washington to be a winner? And will he stay healthy? HOF players need hype (they exceed it). He has that. All-time busts also need hype (they don't live up to it). Ask Kerry Wood. It's a definite double-edged sword.
Buster Posey - He was an exciting player before the gruesome leg injury this season. In one full year in the bigs, he had a Rookie of the Year Award and a World Series title. Here's hoping he recovers fully and plays a long time.
Tommy Hanson - He's 30-19 with a 3.05 ERA, and he's only 24-years old. That's a good start.
THANKS, BUT... (so close, but never quite made it):
Curt Schilling - If there were a Post-Season HOF, he'd be in it. He excelled in the post-season (11-2, the third-best all-time post-season winning percentage, with a 2.23 ERA). He was a gritty, gutsy pitcher who showed up for big games. He has 3,116 strikeouts, good for 15th all-time. He was a joy to watch pitch (as long as you weren't rooting for the other team), but his career numbers aren't enough; only 216 wins and a 3.46 ERA. He'll have to make due with his bloody sock being in the HOF for years to come. After reading this paragraph time and again I'm beginning to talk myself into moving him to the category of Near-Lock. But I won't. I'll stick with my gut.
Edgar Martínez - For a player who spent the majority of his 18 seasons at DH, his offensive numbers are not impressive enough to make him a HOFer. His numbers are most comparable to players not in the HOF - John Olerud, Will Clark, Moises Alou, Bernie Williams - and he contributed nothing defensively.
Jim Edmonds - Good player, fantastic defensive center fielder, but he's shy of 2,000 hits and 400 home runs.
Nomar Garciaparra - His career lacked the longevity needed to be seriously considered.
Alfonso Soriano - Never lived up to his potential. Or was it the hype of being the next best thing in NYC that did him in? Either way, he looked like a future lock at one point in his career, which is why it is so difficult to make this list.
Jorge Posada - Numerous championships for the Yankees led former catcher Yogi Berra (3-time MVP) into the HOF, but it wasn't enough for Thurman Munson (1-time MVP) and won't be enough for Posada (0-time MVP), whose career numbers are average.
Carlos Delgado - Finished 27 home runs shy of 500. That's like falling 27 votes shy of induction. Nothing else in his career says HOF. Fred McGriff, a comparable all-around player, finished seven home runs shy of 500 and received an average of 19% of the vote in his two years of eligibility.
Mike Piazza - Alleged by multiple parties to have been a steroid user, but nothing was proven. He apparently admitted his use to an unnamed journalist, but has kept his mouth shut since retiring. He was a talented offensive player, but his career probably didn't warrant induction even without the cloud of steroids hanging over him.
Kenny Lofton - He's only 15th on the all-time stolen base list and there are a number of non-HOFers ahead of him. If you look at his numbers (only 383 doubles, 116 triples, .372 OBP), he is clearly not a HOFer.
Jeff Kent - Had a few solid years during the heart of the steroid era, but his overall numbers and place in the game are underwhelming.
Jason Varitek - He'll be remembered, but not as a HOFer. His number #33 will be retired with the Red Sox though, and that's a feat only eight have achieved (incl. Jackie Robinson).
Joe Torre (currently: retired, 29 years experience) - Lock. Retired 5th all-time in victories. The six managers directly trailing him are all HOFers. 2nd-most playoff appearances in history, one behind Cox. 4 World Series titles, tied for 3rd-most titles in history.
Tony La Russa (currently: St. Louis Cardinals, 33 years experience) - Lock. 3rd all-time in victories, and likely to finish second. 3rd-most playoff appearances in history, behind Cox and Torre, with two World Series titles. I don't condone his handling of his players (Canseco and McGwire) during the steroid era, but it cannot be proven to which extent LaRussa knew, so he gets a pass from the voters.
Bobby Cox (currently: retired, 29 years experience) - Lock. Retired 4th all-time in victories. The seven managers directly behind him are all HOFers, with Joe Torre being a lock in my book. Most playoff appearances (16) of any manager in history, but only one World Series title. Easily the worst ‘World Series to playoff appearances' in history (1/16). Will his sole World Series victory be held against him? Not likely, as only 69 managers in the game's history have even won one title. In 29 seasons he got his team to the playoffs 16 times. That's incredible.
Lou Piniella (currently: retired, 23 years experience) - Highly likely. Retired 14th all-time in victories, surrounded by current and probable HOFers. Seven playoff appearances, one World Series title.
Jim Leyland (currently: Detroit Tigers, 20 years experience) - Highly likely. Currently 19th all-time in victories, with a slew of HOFers surrounding him. Won one World Series title.
Dusty Baker (currently: Cincinnati Reds, 18 years experience) - Highly likely. Currently 22nd all-time in victories, with a slew of HOFers surrounding him. Never won a World Series title, even with Bonds in his PED prime. Can he win with the Reds? Many managers got in without any titles.
Terry Francona (currently: Boston Red Sox, 12 years experience) - Possibly. Currently 60th all-time in victories, a shade under 1,000, yet he already has two World Series titles. Do the iconic World Series titles with the Red Sox aid his case? He's only twelve seasons into his career, averaging 90+ victories over the past eight seasons. Let's see how many more titles he can win.
Bruce Bochy (currently: San Francisco Giants, 17 years experience) - Possibly. Currently 30th all-time in victories, with a World Series title under his belt. However, he has only three 90+ victory seasons out of his seventeen, countered with nine below .500 seasons.
Mike Scioscia (currently: Los Angeles Angels, 12 years experience) - Possibly. He's has a pretty good win-loss percentage (.548) that puts him in the top-5 active and he has won one World Series title. He has just as good a shot as the guys around him on this list.
Charlie Manuel (currently: Philadelphia Phillies, 10 years experience) - Possibly. Won one World Series title, but has only been managing for ten seasons, so it's difficult to estimate his career totals. In that ten year span, he has fewer victories than Ron Gardenhire, who isn't on this list (due to not having won a World Series).
Felipe Alou (currently: retired, 14 years experience) - Not likely. I know there is a voting bloc out there that loves Alou and will shower him with adoration come voting time, but it's hard to overlook that he only made the playoffs once and his career winning percentage is .503, good for 134th in history, below Mike Hargrove, Jerry Manuel, and Don Zimmer. No modern-day manager has been inducted with a lower career winning percentage. Sorry, Felipe. We must bid you Alou.
HALL OF SHAME I (known cheaters who probably will get inducted):
Alex Rodriguez - By the time he is eligible to be inducted (five years after retirement - sometime around 2022), I expect the voters to be more lenient in regards to steroids and cheating than they are now. Voters will convince themselves that everyone was on something during the era, and with a level playing field of cheaters, the best will still rise to the top, and ARod was one of the best. The merits for his induction are clear-cut, like everyone else in this section, and, just like everyone else in this section, there is the sad truth that he was HOF-worthy prior to cheating, which just goes to show the overall lack of judgment and propriety by many of today's top athletes. Ego rules!
Barry Bonds - Would have been a lock without ever touching a needle or drug. Now he's just an arrogant man with no friends, and multiple pending lawsuits.
Roger Clemens - Would have been a lock without ever touching a needle or drug. Now he's just an arrogant man with no friends, and multiple pending lawsuits.
Manny Ramirez - I'm write this mere days after Ramirez announced his retirement from baseball, spurred by a second (third, actually (2003, 2009, 2011)) failed PED test. Under baseball's current rules, Ramirez would have to serve a 100-game suspension. Instead of serving that suspension, he quit. Quit. Isn't that a word that goes hand-in-hand with Manny's career? Funny that it rhymes with hit. Those seem to be the two things that Manny did best in his career. Hit and quit. I've listened to a number of baseball commentators in the past few days debate the candidacy of Ramirez, and it seems (right now) that they're ready and willing to treat him differently than the other names in this category. ARod, Bonds, and Clemens get a pass from some commentators because they "cheated" prior to the rules being set in place, thereby negating the cheating aspect of their cheating. To me, semantics. A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. I don't care if baseball had its antiquated rules in place with full blinders on. Steroids, PEDs, and the like equate to cheating. But many voters don't agree with me. Some have cast Manny aside due to his selfishness. Really? Is Manny any more selfish than Bonds, Clemens, or ARod, all players who did their best to put themselves before their teams, and who destroyed their relationships with fans and the league? I believe that Ramirez's career numbers (.312, 555 home runs, 1,831 RBIs) eventually get him in, but not on his first ballot. Being a "second ballot HOFer" will be the punishment. Not that Manny will care one iota.
Gary Sheffield - The debate over his worth will go on for some time, and I strongly believe he is not a first ballot HOFer (damn his 506 home runs), but I do believe he'll get in. He was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report as someone who obtained and used steroids, and he testified in court to using a number of different PEDs. Will his open admittance in court further his case for induction or sabotage it?
HALL OF SHAME II (known cheaters who probably won't get inducted):
Andy Pettitte - His numbers don't warrant inclusion and he is a confessed cheater, having used human-growth hormone to return from injury. However, his confession, apology, and general likeability may force voters to consider him well beyond the time they consider the others in this category.
Mark McGwire - He's toast. Four times he has been denied, never attaining more than 23.7% of the vote (75% gets you in). His supporters are nothing if not steadfast. In his four years, he has received 128, 128, 118, and 128 votes. Those 128 voters need to have their heads examined.
Rafael Palmeiro - Already denied entry once. Won't get in. Finger wagging in the face of the courts and public hurt Palmeiro more than it hurt former President Bill Clinton.
Juan González - Though he has 2 AL MVP Awards, his career numbers don't put him over the top - .295 BA, 434 home runs, and 1,404 RBIs. Two MVP Awards doesn't buy a HOF bust. Just ask Dale Murphy. He has also been implicated, in court and in the Mitchell Report, as having been a steroid user.
Sammy Sosa - Without his steroids and PEDs he was average at best. There is no denying he cheated, so all of his numbers are tainted. Additionally, he was busted using a corked bat in a game. I mean, how often and in how many different ways did this man cheat? He's a disgrace to the game.
Miguel Tejada - Not good enough to warrant more than a passing debate, but was named in the Mitchell Report so I decided to place him in this category.
David Ortiz - Whatever he did at-the-plate and in the playoffs is tainted by the implication that he used PEDs. Even if he were clean he wouldn't be a HOFer, but the PEDs make it an open-and-shut case.
Mo Vaughn - Not good enough to warrant more than a passing debate, but was named in the Mitchell Report so I decided to place him in this category.
Check back in 20 years to see how I did!