50 MLB Stars Who Will Never Make the Hall of Fame
The Baseball Hall of Fame has made it clear that they don't want to let those under the steroid cloud in; one only has to look at Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro's numbers.
While they may not get in, that doesn't mean those with merely good careers will. Not only that, but those who have great power numbers but little else in this era will likely just get a quick glance and that's all.
The following 50 players have had good careers—some with elite careers—so far, but with A-Rod as possibly the only exception, given that he's been able to play after the PED issues, these players are never going to make it into Cooperstown.
50. R.A. Dickey
It's a shame that it took Dickey until 35 years old to become a great pitcher; before then he was 22-28 with an ERA over five. Now, he's winning the pitching triple crown in the NL and already has 11 wins.
Unfortunately, even if he wins a Cy Young and has a few more great years (since he's a knuckleballer he has a bit more life), he's not going to come close to 150 wins, and he'll simply be remembered as a very late bloomer.
49. Colby Lewis
Colby Lewis has established himself as perhaps the best postseason pitcher in baseball right now. He's dominant, and he's the pitcher you want in a tight situation.
That being said, he hasn't even hit the 50-win mark at age 32, and he wasn't any good until 30. Even an elite second half of his career won't get him inducted.
48. Vernon Wells
If there's one thing you can say about Vernon Wells, it's that he's overpaid. It's almost hard to believe he was once a feared power hitter who fared well in MVP voting.
That well dried up long ago, though, and he's only had one great year since 2006. At this point he's flamed out, and he would have been a borderline case even if he still was putting up very good numbers.
47. Derek Lowe
Derek Lowe is remembered for his great performances is Boston, especially in the 2004 playoffs. He has 173 wins and has kept his ERA under four despite some bad seasons, plus he's been durable—something that I can't say about many on here.
However, he's had two All-Star appearances and only one really elite year as a starter. The rest of his seasons have ranged from great to good to just flat-out bad, namely last year with Atlanta. His last four seasons have done him no favors for the Hall if he had a shot before that.
46. Bartolo Colon
Up to age 32, Bartolo Colon looked like he was on track for the Hall of Fame. He won a Cy Young Award, he was putting up great numbers and he was nearing the 150-win mark.
He fell apart after that, and nearing 40, he's got a 167-120 record and a career ERA over four. He lost any durability he had after the Cy win, costing him any shot he had at the Hall.
45. Brad Lidge
Brad Lidge's career appears to be over after his tenure with the Washington Nationals went so poorly. Still, in his career he had a few seasons as closer that were elite.
Unfortunately, those elite seasons were mixed with plenty of struggles. While he had great stuff, he never seemed to get it going for long periods of time, and a losing record with 225 saves in 11 years shows that.
44. Rafael Furcal
Rafael Furcal is one of those players who has nice all-around numbers. He has over 1,000 runs and over 1,750 hits, and his WAR of 37.8 is probably higher than you were expecting.
Those numbers are surprising to see because he's never really been considered elite. He won Rookie of the Year in 2000, but since then he has had just a string of good seasons. Perhaps WAR isn't the only stat that's needed to evaluate talent.
43. Francisco Cordero
Francisco Cordero has been a mainstay at closer this past decade. He has 329 saves and, until this year, has never had a bad closing season.
While it's great to be consistent, he's also never had an elite season. His ERA of 3.24 isn't great for a closer; even one sub-2.00 ERA season where he pitched 50 games would have been nice to see. He was simply a good closer, and that's all.
42. Dan Haren
Dan Haren has been a great, perhaps underrated, pitcher with the Diamondbacks and Angels. Outside of his rookie year he's never really had a bad season, and he did make three All-Star appearances in a row.
His record is only 111-91, and while his K/BB ratio is the best among active players and one of the best of all time, it takes a lot more than that. The fact that he's not even an ace (taking a backseat to Jered Weaver) says he's not an elite pitcher, so there's no reason to put him in the Hall.
41. Francisco Rodriguez
Francisco Rodriguez has 292 saves at age 30 and, honestly, should be on his way to the Hall of Fame. A 2.58 ERA and amazing strikeout numbers make him look like a candidate on the surface.
The issue is that, for whatever reason, he's not a closer at the moment. He's behind John Axford in Milwaukee and, as a result, is starting to unravel. If he can get a great free-agent deal and become an elite reliever again, he has a chance to work off this list.
If he spends the next five years as a setup man, though, he can kiss Cooperstown goodbye.
40. C.J. Wilson
C.J. Wilson came out of nowhere in 2009 to be a great reliever, then a great starter in 2010 and an elite one a year later. He's been continuing that so far with the Angels, and he could very well have a great decade ahead of him.
However, he currently only has 51 wins, and even though he's putting up great numbers now, the lack of anything until he was just about 30 is going to hurt him; he will have to be completely dominant for the next eight years or so to have any shot, and that's too much to ask of any pitcher.
39. Joe Nathan
The last of the closers, Joe Nathan didn't start being a reliever until 28, but in six seasons as Minnesota's closer, he was dominant—and perhaps the best closer in baseball.
As elite as he was, he hasn't been the same since having Tommy John surgery. He's fighting back this year, but even with some great seasons and 275 saves, I don't see him making the Hall since his track record as a great closer just hasn't been long enough.
38. Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher is the guy you plug in to gain a lot of power in your lineup, and he's been consistent in providing that. He can hit 30 doubles, 25 home runs and 80 RBI with little difficulty.
While he does have an All-Star appearance and his power numbers are good, his .254 average is far from Hall of Fame quality, and he's just reaching the 1,000-hit mark now in his 30s. He's fun to watch, but he'll be lucky if he gets a vote for Hall induction.
37. Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly had been a consistently good pitcher throughout his career and has had seasons that have been very good, perhaps elite. His staying power would certainly merit at least a discussion.
Once his stats are looked at, though, that discussion is done. No Cy Young votes, 130 wins at age 36 and a 4.13 ERA throughout his career tell the whole story. He was a good pitcher; that's about it.
36. Kevin Youkilis
Kevin Youkilis was a great player to watch at his peak, as he was regularly an All-Star and put up great numbers for the Red Sox—especially with his high walk totals.
It looks like his peak was far more abrupt than would be accepted in the Hall, and for a guy who's not even at 1,000 hits at 33, he's not making it in.
35. Aramis Ramirez
Aramis Ramirez is, like many on the list, someone who put up very good power numbers for many years, but all that does is put him in a sea of others just like him.
He has nearly 1,900 hits and 343 home runs in his career, and the lack of strikeouts is big for me—but he's never been elite, merely great at his peak and good otherwise. Besides, he's only 33, yet it seems like he's slowed down already; Hall of Famers need staying power.
34. Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter is one of those players who follows a pattern you'll see a lot of in the list. He had a slow start, yet had a great peak in his early 30s. Still, does he have the overall numbers?
A Cy Young win and great numbers with the Cardinals helps, and a 144-92 record is nice. Missing most of 2007 and 2008, as well as this year, cost him any hope he may have had; with those three years he may have had a small chance, and his Toronto years did him no favors for the Hall at all.
33. Placido Polanco
Anytime you have a player with a career .300 average and 2,000 hits, they at least have to be discussed for the Hall. Placido Polanco has that, and now that his defense has been great in recent years, he should have another few years left to add to his numbers.
That being said, he's never really been elite. Two All-Star appearances doesn't cut it, and he has only played 150 games once. You can't put a position player in the Hall who rarely played every day.
32. Josh Beckett
Josh Beckett, when he's on, is one of the best pitchers in the game. If he were to have a six- or eight-year span where he pitched like he did last year or in 2007, then we would be a Hall of Fame pitcher.
However, in between his great seasons are some decent ones, as well as flat-out bad ones. He's got three All-Star appearances and has the talent to be a Cy candidate again, but the window to have his best seasons is closed, and at best he'll squeak to 200 wins.
Would 200 wins be enough if he kept his ERA down? It's possible, but with how he's been pitching recently, it's a very tall order.
31. Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson seemingly came out of nowhere to have a dominant year last season, and so far this year he has been on a tear, hitting home runs left and right.
A guy who can hit both triples and home runs is a good one to look at for the Hall, but a .266 batting average isn't that great. Besides, the Yankees moving forward are Robinson Cano's team, and unless Granderson can play just as well, the Hall is not going to call for him.
30. Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista was baseball's biggest out-of-nowhere story in 2010, and he has since had two MVP near-wins while leading the league in home runs to go with an all-around great game.
However, the great plate discipline from 2011 might be a fluke. His home run numbers remain great, but he's struggling to hit the ball. Unless he can average .300 the second half of his career, he's not getting in.
Father Time is working against him anyway, since he didn't really get going until 29 and won't even hit the 1,000-hit mark until late 2013 or possibly 2014.
29. Carl Crawford
During his nine seasons with Tampa Bay, Carl Crawford put up great numbers, and after a career year it looked like he could easily reach 3,000 hits as he headed into his peak years.
He had a bad 2011 with Boston and has missed all of 2012 so far. Even when he comes back, they are not going to get 2010 Crawford, and it would take several years of that player for him to make it into Cooperstown.
28. Carlos Lee
Carlos Lee has been a great player for the Houston Astros, and may have been one of baseball's most overlooked stars. He hit .300 most of his peak, and has nearly 2,200 hits and 353 home runs to his credit.
He's never really been recognized as elite, though, and has only three All-Star appearances and no top-10 MVP finishes. Those who are fans of WAR will point out that a career WAR of 25.2 is just barely All-Star-caliber, let alone Hall of Fame-worthy.
27. Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano is a player who could potentially have new life with the Miami Marlins—but even if he has a great second half to his career, he's not quite there.
Zambrano has 129 wins at age 31, which is a nice number, but it's been several years since he's been elite, and with Miami he's merely bounced back to good. There's nothing wrong with being a solid No. 2 or 3 pitcher, but that doesn't get you into the Hall.
26. Miguel Tejada
Miguel Tejada had a great career with the Baltimore Orioles, and hitting 304 home runs and nearly 2,400 hits to go with an MVP win at least merits discussion.
In reality, Tejada is a borderline case, and even if he wasn't, he was named in the Mitchell Report, which defeats any chance he had at making the Hall.
25. Adam Dunn
Adam Dunn is the type of player the Hall of Fame usually doesn't induct given his poor numbers outside of home runs. Still, he should have no trouble hitting 500 career home runs.
Even if he does hit that mark, though, the game has changed and that number no longer magically gets you into the Hall. Even if Adam Dunn his 500 home runs over his career, he's not making it in the Hall.
24. Chase Utley
So far, Chase Utley has had a great career, and if you were to mirror his stats with him playing elite ball through 40, you would in fact have a Hall of Famer.
Having said that, his knee issues tell me that he's done as an elite player. He could come back and be more than serviceable, but he's not going to be a perennial All-Star again, and that kills his Hall chances.
23. Josh Johnson
I love watching Josh Johnson pitch, and you can tell he has elite stuff. When he's on, he's one of the best. Unfortunately, he not only has bad luck wins-wise, but he can't stay healthy.
This will be his fourth full season if he completes it, and while he has great career numbers so far, his injuries pop up so frequently that I have no confidence that he has the staying power to put up Hall numbers.
22. Jimmy Rollins
Jimmy Rollins has an MVP trophy to his credit, and that's actually more than can be said about most on this list. A few Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances help his Hall case, as well.
That being said, offensively he doesn't hit for a good average, and his speed is nearly gone already. His power is merely solid, so unless he goes on a tear and reaches the 3,000-hit plateau, he's not getting in.
21. Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon potentially could have made it into the Hall if he reached 3,000 hits, and he was hitting well enough through last year for that to be possible.
He's been bad for the Indians this year, and it looks like he's done. He has no top-10 MVP finishes and just a couple All-Star appearances. His 51.9 WAR is nice, but even with that he's not making the Hall.
20. Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle has been a workhorse throughout his career, and even in his down years he's still a quality pitcher. As consistently good as he's been, though, he's never been dominant.
Four All-Star appearances and 166 wins are nice, but only once has he garnered Cy Young votes, and consistently good pitchers are just that—good and not elite. Unless he explodes with Miami and wins a couple Cy Youngs, he's not making the Hall.
19. Jamie Moyer
Jamie Moyer is the active pitching leader in virtually every category. He has 269 wins, nearly 2,500 strikeouts and has been a force for longer than I've been around.
His ERA of 4.25 is much too high for the Hall, though, and a guy who plays that long and only has one All-Star appearance clearly has not been elite.
18. Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko has been a force for the past couple seasons, and now that he has a league-leading batting average at age 36, can baseball's perhaps most overlooked star start some Hall of Fame discussion?
Well, between his first peak and recent surge he had a few average seasons, and while 2,100 hits and over 400 home runs are very nice numbers, it's going to take three or four career years to get people talking, and I don't think he has enough left in the tank for that.
17. Bobby Abreu
Bobby Abreu is one of the many who put up very good power numbers in the midst of the steroid era, hurting his Hall chances. Still, he has nearly 2,000 hits and wasn't solely a power hitter, so does he have a chance?
While a high WAR, two All-Star appearances, no top-10 MVP finishes and very few league-leading numbers make him a clear candidate for the Hall of Very Good, even hitting five percent in the HOF ballot might be tough.
16. Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi is, perhaps surprisingly, still an active player. He's been playing just often enough in Colorado to keep his home run numbers going, and he is very close to the 2,000-hit mark.
That being said, he has the steroid mark on him, and outside of his dominant peak, he was not that great a player. Certainly a guy hitting over 400 home runs could have done better than an average around .280.
15. Carlos Gonzalez
Coming up are a couple big time Colorado Rockies players, since it's clear that the BBWAA looks closely at the effect Coors Field has on bats, and that could spell doom for those relying on hitting.
Carlos Gonzalez nearly won MVP in 2010 and has been having another great season. At age 26, he's hitting .300 and should be on pace for the Hall, but away from Coors Field his numbers are just solid. Unless he plays elsewhere and remains elite, he's not making it in.
14. Scott Rolen
With the exception of "player" in the title of the article, Scott Rolen easily has the highest WAR of anyone on the list—seven All-Star appearances show that he can play. How does he have no shot?
He's had a few really nice seasons, but hasn't been healthy all that often. Plus, he's only had a couple of seasons that you could really call dominant, namely 2004. He had a very nice career, and while third basemen are underrepresented, I would pick Adrian Beltre before Rolen.
13. Tim Hudson
Those who are fans of WAR will likely champion Tim Hudson as a Hall candidate upon retirement. His win percentage of nearly .650 is one of the best, and his WAR of 50.2 is in the top five for active pitchers.
However, even with 185 wins, he doesn't have the hardware. Only two All-Star appearances and three top-four Cy Young finishes are not going to get people talking.
If he can push his win total to 200 while keeping his losses at a minimum, then there's a very small chance he makes it in, but I still don't see it happening.
12. Michael Young
On the surface, Michael Young has numbers that at least merit Hall discussion. He's hitting .302 in his career with over 1,000 runs, over 2,100 hits and seven All-Star appearances.
That being said, he's never really been discussed as an elite talent, and the best he's done in MVP voting is eighth. At age 35, he seems to be slowing down. The Rangers would gladly have several of him, but it doesn't mean he's a Hall of Fame candidate.
11. Todd Helton
Anyone who's a power hitter in Colorado is going to have a much larger mountain to climb for the Hall of Fame, since one's stats are inflated there. Take Todd Helton, who has a .321 average, 254 home runs and nearly 2,500 hits.
Needless to say, his stats fall across the board away from Coors Field, with his average being around .290. It's been what is keeping Walker out of the Hall, and he only played for part of his career at Colorado; a career Rockie without an MVP win isn't going to make it in.
10. Tim Lincecum
I'm going to get chewed out by Giants fans for this one, but I feel that Tim Lincecum's slump is more than that, simply put. Hopefully I'm wrong, but Lincecum's star is fading fast.
The two-time Cy Young winner looked like he was on the fast track for the Hall of Fame, but he can't seem to keep batters from lighting it up on him. He'll still strike out batters, but I think opponents have figured him out.
I hope he's not a flameout, and advanced stats do show that he's having some bad luck this year, but it seems like he may merely be a serviceable pitcher the rest of the way given that his fastball velocity is down.
9. Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday is 32 and still mashing the ball well, so there's at least a possibility that he can play his way off the list. That being said, he has not shown sustained dominance in the game.
Holliday has posted big numbers with Colorado and St. Louis, and has a .313 career average so far (though he was .357 in Coors Field), which detractors will note.
His other numbers are very nice, but having to play behind Albert Pujols didn't help much. Now that Holliday's taken over, he's second fiddle again—this time to Carlos Beltran.
8. Omar Vizquel
Omar Vizquel is a case where I think he's actually holding on too long. I love watching him play and would put him in the Hall myself, but there are more factors against him then there are for.
He's perhaps the best defensive shortstop of the 1990s and was great at the position, but only has two All-Star appearances. Yes, he played alongside Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken, Jr., and being the fourth-best shortstop in the AL says all that detractors need.
It doesn't help that offensively he was merely a solid player; nothing special aside from a .333 average in 1999. While 2,851 hits is a nice number, that's not getting him in.
7. Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee has been an asset to the Phillies, even if the offense won't let him win a game this year. At 33, he still has a few years left in him, and will round out a great career.
That being said, he's not making it into the Hall. He only has 119 wins this late in his career, and a 3.64 ERA is not all that spectacular. His K/BB ratio is great and he's got a Cy Young Award, but he was just okay for the first half in his career and that knocks him out of the Hall.
6. Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt is a tough player to pin down. On the one hand, he was dominant in his 20s and has a great strikeout-walk total. On the other hand, he seems nearly done with the game, even though three more full seasons probably could have gotten him to 200 wins.
Having 159 wins isn't enough to make it in the Hall without truly dominant numbers and hardware, which Oswalt doesn't have. He's a first-ballot entry into the Hall of Very Good, but unless he somehow comes back and wins a Cy Young in 2013, he's not making it in.
5. Sammy Sosa
Early in his career, Sammy Sosa was a solid five-tool player for the Chicago Cubs, putting up big numbers. When he hit 66 home runs and earned an MVP win in 1998, he was the face of the late 1990s alongside Mark McGwire.
Sosa continued to put up big numbers, finishing with 607 home runs. His path fits McGwire's very well, though; he sat on the congressional panel and, with the cloud over him, has no shot at getting into the Hall.
4. Mark McGwire
Mark McGwire was one of the key figures who got baseball past the 1994 strike and into the steroid era. His 70 home runs in 1998 set the stage for a wave of offensive prowess but, despite that, he's not going into the Hall of Fame.
While he didn't test positive to PEDs, he later admitted to doing so and is getting rather low ballot numbers. With a wave of elite players set to be on the ballot, it looks like any chance he had is already gone.
3. Rafael Palmeiro
Unlike players such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who basically hit a lot of home runs, Rafael Palmeiro was a great hitter in general and one of a handful to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Why is he doing worse in voting than McGwire? Simply put, he tested positive for PEDs, was suspended 50 games and never played another game after that. It marred his reputation, and he now has no chance at all of getting in.
2. Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez had a great career with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, and I have to think that it's over with his latest release from Oakland.
He has tested positive for PEDs not once but twice, and got a 100-game suspension the second time, which caused him to retire in 2011. That costs him any chance of getting voted into the Hall of Fame, as great as his stats and history were.
1. Alex Rodriguez
Like many of the greats of the Steroid Era, Alex Rodriguez has a mark on his numbers. The performance-enhancing drug issue is one that the Hall of Fame has taken a hard line on in recent years.
Is it possible the top tier of that group, such as A-Rod, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be in the Hall thanks to the Veterans' Committee? It's not impossible, but it's clear that the BBWAA has no desire to ever let such players into the Hall.
It's tough to say never given what could change in the years to come, but in this current environment, A-Rod and the rest under a cloud don't have a shot.