If Herbert Hoover were the MLB commissioner, rather than Bud Selig, he would say "there's a chicken in every pot," and by "chicken" I mean "Hall of Famer" and "pot" I mean team. Monday, Adam Darowski over at BTBS posted an intriguing look at the percentage of plate appearances and innings pitched by HOFers: 9.1% of PAs and 7.6% of IPs. One out of 11 PAs essentially means a lineup regular (accounting for brief injury stints, pinch-hitters and pinch-runners, and defensive replacements). One out of 14 IPs is 111 innings--about half a starting pitcher. I'll take the next leap: on each team, who is the HOF batter and pitcher?
This post is about the AL East. I'll tackle the AL Central and West, and then the NL divisions later. I welcome your agreements, disagreements, thoughts on my picks -- who do you think each team's HOFers are?
Before I start naming names, a caveat: HOF voters seem to care about the traditional counting stats rather than the wOBAs and xFIPs of the analytic world. So yes, I'm using HRs, hits, wins. Some OPS+ for relative comps. A lot of Baseball-Reference.com comparisons. Sorry, but that's how the voters are still voting. Do you think that will change by the time any of these guys are eligible? Also, the names listed below do not imply that named players go in wearing that team's hat or after playing only exclusively for that team. Just, of the current rosters, which are bound for the HOF?
HOF batter: No offense to their more talented hitters Adam Jones (otherwise not a bad guess) and Nick "Oh Look I Hit Another Double" Markakis but they have a new teammate. Jim Thome is their HOF batter. 609 HRs. Career OBP .402. Monster. Aesthetically he looks like he played in 1926. And he just drew another walk.
HOF pitcher: I take it back, the O's must have two batter HOFers. None of these pitchers could be on track for anything close to HOF-worthy. Adam Jones, congratulations on your eventual election to the HOF.
HOF batter: I came up with four options but then in looking them up, decided to rank them this way, in terms of likelihood David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez. Why Ortiz: counting stats, two WS, career rebirth from the scrap-heap in 2003, continuity as he ages. (His 2012 168 OPS+ would be the 2nd highest of his career if it holds.) Why maybe Pedroia: B-R lists three HOFers as comparables through age 27 or by age. (Though one is Steve Lazzeri, who Adam Darowski reminds us wasn't good enough for the HOF.) Why not Gonzalez: this is a guy in his age 30 season, whose 6-year peak WAR is only 26. But at age 30, we've seen players of his profile (B-R has some favorable comps like Bagwell and unfavorable ones like Kevin Mitchell) stretch that "peak" sometimes another 5-8 years, but given his 2012, who expects that? Why not Ellsbury: There's sort of an outside shot that 2011 is his actual talent level and if he can do that 3-4 more seasons, then we're talking about a guy with 300+ SBs, a good defensive rep... but man, he's always injured. Just don't think he can maintain an OPS+ of 145 for the next 6-8 years.
HOF pitcher: Despite how many in the current fanbase view these guys, this comes down to Jon Lester or Josh Beckett. Could either of them pitch to age 40? It would take that for them to get the counting stats. Lester has 81 wins in his age 28 season. His comps include no HOFers, but he had the cancer thing which wiped out most of his '06/'07 campaigns. He might get extra credit for that. In contrast, Beckett's up to 130 wins in his age 32 season. His comps are to good counting stats pitchers -- Kevin Millwood, Jason Schmidt. I'm leaning Lester here but if Beckett gets to 250 wins...
HOF batter: Only one? There are two definites here (Jeter, Rodriguez), and three maybes (Jones, Teixeira, Cano) depending how their careers play out and the voters view them in hindsight. Cano we can move to the first tier soon. Otherwise, Granderson has an outside chance at 400 HRs. Maybe the reason there are so many innings pitched and plates appeared, is because of the Yankees? They take your team's future HOFer?
HOF pitcher: Mariano Rivera is the easy choice but he only pitched 8 1/3 innings for them this year. If the requirement is "pitching currently" then we're down to Andy Pettitte, on his way back from the ankle injury this month (is this disqualifying?) and his 243 wins, or CC Sabathia. Pettitte has some good HOFers as comps (Marichal, Hunter, Ford). But, CC has 185 wins at age 31. If he can win 17/year for the next 6.5 seasons he hits 300. That number alone puts him above Pettitte. CC's been durable, he'll always pitch for NYY, and NYY will always spend to win. My vote is with CC over Pettitte especially given Pettitte's "cloud." (Not intended as troll bait.)
HOF batter: Tampa over the past years has picked up "old dudes that wished they retired," but this year's edition doesn't have one. That makes this harder, but still not really that hard. Evan Longoria is young, mashes, and retrieves stolen hats. If he can get healthy and stay that way, he's in line for a top 5 (?) all-time 3B career. A weak case could be made for BJ Upton if he pulls it all together and goes nuts. If there can only be one, there's no debate, it's Longo.
HOF pitcher: They trade them away when young, which means there's actually a lot of choices among their young talented trade bait pitchers. (Intended as troll bait.) David Price is the best bet: 26, and 24% better than league average 2010-2012 while starting a lot of games. Comps to only one HOFer that I've never heard of but has plenty of time to pile up wins and Ks if the Rays can stay competitive before they trade him to the Mets. (Troll bait.)
HOF batter: What a fun lineup. Jose Bautista, if he found his groove at 24 instead of 29, he'd have 364 HRs in his age 31 season and we'd be all like "Bautista = Pujols." But he has instead only 183. Maybe he can get to 400? Edwin Encarnacion, same issue, though at least he had "pretty good" power pre-age 29. 142 HRs to this point. Brett Lawrie is oozing with potential, slams helmets to the ground, and is so young B-R has no comps for him. Maybe this is proof that I long too many stocks, but I'm going BL as their HOF batter.
HOF pitcher: Did you know Darren Oliver has appeared in 692 games? That's good enough only for 9th on the active list. I'll pick the youngest guy, Henderson Alvarez, instead, because the rest of them... nope. Maybe they'll trade for a future HOFer?
So what do you think?
Coming up next: The AL Central's HOF batters and pitchers, or "Indians players the Yankees will trade for or sign."