Growing up, a lot of young men want to be a professional athlete.
With that comes countless hours in the backyard honing your sport and doing a play-by-play with you at the plate, the three-point line as the clock hits zero, or catching a winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
After that comes the dreams of being a superstar in that sport and becoming one of its best.
Then, comes the speech you'll give when you're being inducted into the Hall of Fame. You got through countless drafts as a young kid, dreaming of how cool it would be to live in immortality.
For a few baseball players, that dream will become a reality in just a few short days. They will be announced as the 2012 Hall of Fame class for Major League Baseball, living what most kids dream of.
All through their playing days, some felt they were destined for greatness, while others feel honored to just get Hall consideration.
Undoubtedly, many big-league players will watch or listen to that announcement with much anticipation. Because for many, it's a dream that they hope becomes a reality for them years down the road. Some, are shoo-ins, some we're still not sure of.
Here's a look at the top 10 players who are shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame at this point in their careers.
This is an obvious choice.
In my opinion, Pujols will break the all-time home run record and be in the top five of runs batted in.
He currently has 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI. He's average 40.5 home runs a season through his first 11 years, which means if he can keep that pace up over the next 7-10 years, he'll end his career with more than 800 home runs.
Playing in the American League, where the opportunity to be a DH will allow him to still get at-bats in the later part of his career, Pujols has the opportunity to become one of the top 10 baseball players of all time.
With 188 wins already to his credit, Roy Halladay has been one of baseball's best pitchers since 2002.
With the 2003 AL Cy Young and 2010 NL Cy Young to his credit, Halladay has shown he can pitch well in both leagues.
By the end of his career, the right-hander should easily surpass the 3,000-strikeout mark and 250 wins, if not more.
Since coming over to the National League a few years ago, Halladay's ERA has been even better, not going over 2.50 in his two seasons in Philadelphia.
At the rate Halladay is going, he could definitely be considered one of the top 10-15 pitchers of all time.
Many people might scratch their head at this, but when it comes to switch hitters, Chipper Jones is one of the best to ever play the game.
With 454 career home runs, Jones ranks only third to Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray in home runs for a switch hitter. And, although he won't hit more than 500 home runs, the rest of his stats speak for themselves.
With 2,615 hits, Jones is close to the 3,000 mark. If close enough, he just might come back for the 2013 season, depending on how he feels after this year.
His career includes seven All-Star appearances, the 1999 MVP award and two Silver Slugger awards.
He's been the face of the Braves' franchise, the same way Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy and John Smoltz have been.
Rivera is the best closer in the history of the game—Case Closed!
With 603 saves, 1,111 strikeouts, a career ERA of 2.21 and a career WHIP of 0.998, there is nothing that suggests Rivera won't be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Add in there 45 career postseason saves, Rivera has gotten it done for years.
For years, Rivera has been the player the Yankees have called on to come in and close games. He is synonymous with closing games for the Yankees.
When he does retire, whoever takes the role of Yankees' closer will have the same pressure on them that the backup shortstop to Derek Jeter will, and whoever takes over for Chipper Jones at third base in Atlanta.
Following a great player is one situation not many people can handle successfully. For the Yankees, that could spell disaster for the best closer of all time.
Derek Jeter is the New York Yankees.
Growing up a Yankees fan, Jeter got to live every kid's dream of playing for their hometown team and have a Hall of Fame career.
He may not have the home run totals with only 240 over his career, but he has the hits (3,088), runs scored (1,769) and career average (.313).
Depending on how much longer until he retires, he'll lead all Hall of Fame shortstops in career hits and runs scored.
Couple that with a Rookie of the Year, 12 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers, Jeter is going to be considered one of the best shortstops of all time.
Sabathia still has a lot of mileage left in his career, and he's had success everywhere he's been thus far in his career. So, I have no doubt that he'll continue that success.
Currently, he has 176 wins and will hit the 200 mark near the end of the 2012 season or at the beginning of 2013.
After the 2012 season, he should also move into the top 50 for career strikeouts, with a good chance at 3,000 career strikeouts before he retires. Currently, he sits at 2,017.
Although his career with the Yankees and Indians will be remembered by those fans for years to come, all baseball fans will remember the 2008 postseason run he made with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he went 11-2 in 17 games started, pitching on three days rest for most of the last month of the season.
Sabathia only ranks behind Roy Halladay as the best pitcher in baseball.
Like others on this list, Cabrera still has a long way to go to be in the Hall of Fame, but if he continues to put up the numbers he does, he'll be in that conversation very shortly.
Only 28, Cabrera still has at least 10 more years in the league. If he continues to hit for his average home runs and RBI each year, he'll end up with more than 600 home runs and 2,000 RBI.
Those numbers alone should get him into the Hall, but if that's not enough for you, then how about his six All-Star appearances thus far, a .317 career batting average (including .344 last year) and, most importantly, 3,000 hits.
By the end of his career, Cabrera could join Albert Pujols in the top 10 first basemen ever.
This may be one of the hardest to explain, but here goes.
Over the last few years, Cliff Lee has shown the consistency that is expected out of a Hall of Fame pitcher.
There's no doubt in my mind that he will be enshrined one day, even though I don't think it will be first or second ballot.
Currently, Lee has 119 wins but could get up to 200 wins and 2,000 strikeouts by the end of his career. Plus, since he'll be staying in the National League for years to come, look for him to continually keep his ERA under 3.00 each year. That should take his career total down to 3.20-3.30.
Although it doesn't look like he has the current numbers to be enshrined, just give it time and there will be no doubt about it.
Ichiro is without a doubt the best Japanese import to ever come to Major League Baseball.
Not known for power, Ichiro gets on base, plain and simple.
Only two people have won Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year, and Ichiro is one of them. He's been an All-Star every year of his career, except last year. Add in there 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers, Ichiro has gotten it done throughout his career.
At the current rate he's going, Ichiro should have more than 3,000 hits by the time he retires and 1,500 runs scored.
His numbers and accolades stand alone for Hall induction.
One of the most likeable guys in the history of the league, Thome is everything that is right with baseball.
There's never been any question about if he's played the game right. He been consistent throughout his career. He was great in his prime and has showed signs of slowing down as he's progressed in his career, which is the way things are supposed to happen.
Thome will likely retire after this year. And, what a way to go out as he returned to Cleveland last year (where he started his career), and going back to the Phillies, where he experienced a lot of success from 2003-05.
Currently, Thome ranks eighth in all-time home runs with 604 and will move up to seventh with six home runs this year.
Just for the fact that this guy was great and did it the right way, should be enough to put him into the Hall. I'm even going to go out on a limb here and say he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Where's Alex Rodriguez?
I know that's the first question many will ask.
Currently, A-Rod has 629 home runs, 1,893 RBI and 2,775 hits. Normally, those numbers would be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
However, after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2009, Rodriguez's shoo-in bid is not as much of a shoo-in anymore.
It was once thought that Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were automatic, but after admitting to performance-enhancing drug use, they are far from locks. In fact, both former players are going to struggle to get the 75 percent of votes required for induction.
While some players are not as obvious as others, still some fans will look at players from their favorite team and feel like they will be in the Hall of Fame at the end of their career.
So, let the complaints begin.