Odds for MLB's Top 50 Active Players Getting Inducted into the Hall of Fame

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

Odds for MLB's Top 50 Active Players Getting Inducted into the Hall of Fame

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    The odds of getting into baseball's Hall of Fame are pretty long.

    According to Baseball Almanac, 17,742 players have made an appearance in the majors. Only 208 of those players have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, representing just 1.17 percent of the total number of players since 1876.

    Only the best of the best make it.

    The average career for an MLB player is 5.6 years. One of the rules of eligibility for inclusion in the Hall of Fame is that a player has to have played at least 10 years. That only makes them eligible—it's not even close to guaranteeing election.

    So, just what does that mean for the best of the best in MLB that are still active?

    Last week, I wrote an article ranking the top 100 players in MLB today.

    We'll take a look at the top 50 players from that list and give an estimate as to their odds for Hall of Fame induction.

50. Aramis Ramirez: Milwaukee Brewers

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    Odds of Making the Hall of Fame: Two Percent

    Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez continued to produce last season, hitting .300 with 27 home runs, 105 RBI, a .901 OPS and a league-leading 50 doubles.

    For his career, Ramirez has amassed 342 home runs with a .285 batting average. Certainly solid production, but not enough to be considered Hall of Fame worthy.

    Ramirez has only two All-Star selections to his credit and just one Silver Slugger Award. Ramirez's defense likely won't win him many votes either—he's amassed a -21.9 UZR rating throughout his career.

    While he's been a solid performer throughout his career, solid just isn't good enough to get Ramirez to the Hall of Fame.

49. Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Odds of Making the Hall of Fame: Two Percent

    Zack Greinke may be armed with the richest contract ever for a right-handed pitcher, but he has a ways to go before being considered worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    Greinke still has time—he's only 29 years of age. However, he'll have to make great use of the next decade.

    Through nine seasons, Greinke has a 91-78 record and 3.77 ERA and a Cy Young Award to his credit. He'll need to crank it up in his 30s if he wants to be considered among baseball's greatest.

48. Chase Headley: San Diego Padres

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    Odds of Making the Hall of Fame: One Percent

    San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley clearly figured things out last year, coming through with a career year in his sixth season.

    He needs at least another nine years with the same levels of production, however.

    Averaging close to last year's totals for the next decade isn't impossible for Headley, but taking six years to reach those levels doesn't help his case for future HOF consideration.

47. Fernando Rodney: Tampa Bay Rays

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    Odds of Making the Hall of Fame: Zero Percent

    Fernando Rodney put up an incredible season statistically for the Tampa Bay Rays. His 0.60 ERA, 48 saves, 0.777 WHIP and 9.2 K/9 rate were indeed astounding.

    However, Rodney's first nine years suggest nothing even close to Hall of Fame potential. At 35 years of age, he's already run out of time.

46. Pablo Sandoval: San Francisco Giants

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    Odds of Making the Hall of Fame: One Percent

    Thus far in his career, injuries and weight issues have dogged Pablo Sandoval through his first five years in the majors.

    While the numbers suggest an elite player when healthy and in shape, Sandoval would have to overcome both of the above factors for the rest of his career if he's to see his plaque up on the walls of the Hall of Fame.

45. Jason Heyward: Atlanta Braves

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Three Percent

    There's a whole lot about Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward that suggests greatness.

    Heyward finished second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2010. After experiencing the dreaded sophomore slump, Hewyard bounced back nicely last season, hitting .269 with 27 home runs and 82 RBI while collecting his first-ever Gold Glove Award.

    Former Brave and Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron was a big fan of Heyward's back in his rookie year.

    "He can certainly bring the excitement back, not only for Atlanta but also for African-American players," Aaron said at the time. "We do need to have many, many more Jason Heywards."

    It will certainly take a lot more than Aaron's encouragement for Heyward to develop a Hall of Fame career. However, at just 23 years of age, he's certainly off to a good start.

44. Adam Jones: Baltimore Orioles

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Three Percent

    After five seasons, center fielder Adam Jones has become the face of the franchise for the Baltimore Orioles.

    Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. have all shared the same distinction, and all are in the Hall of Fame. Could Jones join them someday?

    It's certainly possible, but he's got a ways to go yet. Jones' youth (27) is a plus and he's certainly developing into one of the elite hitters in the American League.

    If he can stay healthy and continue putting up numbers similar to or better than last year, Jones could join his fellow Orioles in Cooperstown some day.

43. Michael Young: Philadelphia Phillies

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    After spending the first 13 years of his career with the Texas Rangers, Michael Young will embark upon a new chapter in his career with the Philadelphia Phillies.

    What he does with his new chapter could very well determine his Hall of Fame worthiness.

    Young has seven All-Star selections and a batting title to his credit already, along with 2,230 hits. His versatility in the field and a Gold Glove Award works in his favor as well.

    However, Young's offense slipped in 2012, hitting just .277 with just eight home runs. If he can experience a resurgence of sorts with the Phillies and continue his steady and consistent offensive production for the next three-to-four years, he could be considered worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown.

42. Mariano Rivera: New York Yankees

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 100 Percent

    New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera doesn't even have to return for the 2013 season—his Hall of Fame status has already been decided.

    No question that Rivera's ticket to Cooperstown is already punched.

    Rivera isn't just the all-time leader in saves (608 and counting), he's arguably the best clutch pitcher in MLB history. Rivera has posted a 0.70 ERA in postseason play with 42 saves.

    The only question remaining now is which Hall of Fame voters would be stupid enough to leave Rivera off their ballot in his first year of eligibility.

41. Jose Reyes: Toronto Blue Jays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Five Percent

    Much like Michael Young, shortstop Jose Reyes is embarking on a new chapter in his baseball career as well.

    Reyes will look to help the Toronto Blue Jays get to the postseason for the first time in 20 years. Reyes was one of the key figures in the trade between the Jays and Miami Marlins, and he will be heavily relied upon as the new leadoff hitter in the Jays' lineup.

    Reyes has four All-Star selections, a Silver Slugger Award and a batting title to his credit already. At just 29 years of age, Reyes could certainly be considered Hall of Fame worthy if he plays well into his 30s and continues to produce at a high level.

    Still, as with many players on this list, the odds are still long. Reyes has to remain healthy, something that's not always been his strong suit. If he can in fact stay healthy and continue using his legs to power his game, Reyes has a shot.

40. Edwin Encarnacion: Toronto Blue Jays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: One Percent

    Edwin Encarnacion put up a career year last season for the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting .280 with 42 home runs, 110 RBI and a .941 OPS.

    Encarnacion just celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday. Unless he goes through his 30s with numbers similar to last season, Encarnacion will just be another good-but-not-great player who will be on the outside looking in.

39. Stephen Strasburg: Washington Nationals

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Two Percent

    It's literally impossible to predict a player's chances at making the Hall of Fame—as mentioned before so variables come into play that can affect each player's odds.

    In the case of Stephen Strasburg, those variables definitely come into play.

    Greatness is certainly there, that's been in evidence since the day he debuted in the majors back in 2010.

    Age is certainly on Strasburg's side—he'll only be 24 years of age in his fourth professional season. At this point, it's the durability factor. Can his surgically-repaired right elbow stand up to the test of time?

    No one will question Strasburg's make-up, or his talent and poise on the mound. If he's still throwing hard and showing dominance in six or seven years, his odds will have greatly increased.

38. Johnny Cueto: Cincinnati Reds

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Two Percent

    At 26 years of age, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto is on his way to becoming one of the elite pitchers in baseball.

    After posting a 9-5 record and 2.31 ERA in 24 starts in 2011, he followed up with a 19-9 record, 2.78 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in 33 starts last season.

    As with any pitcher on this list at or near Cueto's age, durability and consistency will decide his Hall of Fame candidacy.

37. Jacoby Ellsbury: Boston Red Sox

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Zero Percent

    I'm just going to go out on a limb here with Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

    Thus far, Ellsbury's career has been sprinkled with great promise, one tremendous season and a pile of questions.

    The questions are what will ultimately doom Ellsbury's Hall of Fame candidacy. He missed almost the entire 2010 season with fractured ribs and three months of the 2012 season with a separated shoulder. Unless Ellsbury can completely quiet his critics by playing injury-free for the rest of his career, there will be no HOF conversation.

36. Evan Longoria: Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Five Percent

    It's no coincidence that the Tampa Bay Rays became a winning franchise starting in 2008—it coincided with the arrival of third baseman Evan Longoria.

    Last year was certainly evidence of Longoria's importance to the team—the Rays were 47-27 when he played and 43-45 without him in the lineup.

    Longoria is only 27 years of age—if he continues dominating offensively and manages to stay healthy, he has a shot at Hall of Fame immortality.

35. Tim Lincecum: San Francisco Giants

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Seven Percent

    If this question had been posed two years ago, the chances of San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum making the Hall of Fame would have been considerably higher.

    Last year's regular-season performance throws up some red flags on that conversation, however.

    Lincecum has revamped his offseason conditioning program designed to strengthen his shoulder and add a little bulk.

    If he can regain the velocity on his fastball and return to the form that led to two consecutive Cy Young awards, the above odds will again increase significantly.

34. Cliff Lee: Philadelphia Phillies

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: One Percent

    Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee may be a $25 million pitcher on today's market, but nothing about his career thus far suggests he's bound for the Hall of Fame.

    Lee did capture a Cy Young Award with a brilliant season in 2008. However, he has only reached the 17-win mark three times in his 11 seasons. And time is running out.

    Lee is now 34 years of age. He'll have no shot at the Hall of Fame if he doesn't at least reach the 200-win plateau in his career.

    For all of those sabermetric fans out there, wins still matter to Hall of Fame voters.

33. Dustin Pedroia: Boston Red Sox

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 10 Percent

    Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has already proven he's a gutty, gritty player—winning a Rookie of the Year and MVP award in his first two seasons.

    Whether or not he can continue on being that same type of pesky player who consistently produces year after year remains to be seen.

    Only one second baseman in Red Sox history—Bobby Doerr—has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame. Pedroia could be the second if he remains healthy and continues producing in the manner that he has thus far through his first six-plus seasons.

32. Matt Holliday: St. Louis Cardinals

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Seven Percent

    Thus far in his nine-year career, St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday has averaged 29 HR and 109 RBI each season.

    He's going to need to continue maintaining those averages if he wants entry into the Hall of Fame.

    Holliday has a batting title, six All-Star selections and four Silver Slugger awards to his credit. Much of that was during his days at hitter-friendly Coors Field, which could work to his disadvantage.

    The next five years will likely determine Holliday's candidacy.

31. Ryan Zimmerman: Washington Nationals

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Six Percent

    In looking at the career numbers of Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, he's certainly built a solid foundation.

    Whether or not that foundation leads to a Hall of Fame selection is up for debate.

    Zimmerman has won two Silver Slugger awards and one Gold Glove Award,but has only one All-Star selection to his credit.

    Age is on his side, he'll be just 28 years old entering his ninth season. Health and continued production will determine Zimmerman's Hall of Fame candidacy. A few more accolades and awards wouldn't hurt, either.

30. Troy Tulowitzki: Colorado Rockies

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Three Percent

    For Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the phrase "when healthy" will be a factor in determining his worthiness for the Hall of Fame.

    When healthy, he's a dynamic player, capable of winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and meriting MVP consideration.

    However, in six full seasons, Tulowitzki has only played in at least 150 games twice. Health will be a major factor for him moving forward.

29. Gio Gonzalez: Washington Nationals

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Three Percent

    At just 27 years of age, Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez took a huge step last season.

    His first year in the nation's capital was a huge success. Gonzalez posted a major league-leading 21 wins, an NL-best 9.3 K/9 rate and a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts.

    Gonzalez earned his second consecutive All-Star selection and finished third in Cy Young Award balloting.

    Once again, a big "if" here. Health, durability and consistency throughout the rest of his career will tell the tale of Gonzalez's Hall of Fame candidacy when his career comes to an end.

28. Yadier Molina: St. Louis Cardinals

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 20 Percent

    St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has already defined himself as the best defensive catchers in baseball. The offense is starting to catch up as well.

    Molina's five straight Gold Glove Awards and four straight All-Star selections are proof of his current status as one of the game's great backstops.

    If he can continue along that path, the Hall of Fame will be knocking.

27. R.A. Dickey: Toronto Blue Jays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: One Percent

    Is it already too late for R.A. Dickey?

    Last year's National League Cy Young Award winner is already 38 years old. Certainly nothing in Dickey's career before last season suggested anything even remotely close to Hall of Fame worthiness.

    Dickey would likely have to pitch until at least the age of 43-44 and dominate over that period of time to be considered at all.

26. Roy Halladay: Philadelphia Phillies

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 30 Percent

    With his next victory, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay will reach the 200-win mark in his career.

    With two Cy Young Awards and five other top-five finishes, there's no question Halladay has been a dominant pitcher for much of his career.

    If he can pitch effectively for four or five more years and reach the 250-win mark, I believe it's more than enough to earn his Hall of Fame induction.

25. CC Sabathia: New York Yankees

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 30 Percent

    CC Sabathia will likely reach the 200-win mark sometime during the 2013 season. Sabathia was bothered somewhat by elbow pain last season that required offseason surgery, but he still managed to post a 15-6 record and 3.38 ERA in 28 starts.

    Sabathia is just 32 years of age. If he can win just over 15 games for the next seven years, he's knocking at the door of 300 wins.

    He'll also be knocking on the doors of the Hall of Fame as well.

24. Cole Hamels: Philadelphia Phillies

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 10 Percent

    Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels has built a solid resume in his seven-year career thus far. A 91-60 record and 3.34 ERA is certainly an excellent start.

    Just 29 years of age, Hamels will likely need to exceed what he's done thus far over the next 10 seasons to merit Hall of Fame consideration.

    For argument's sake, he'll need to average 16-17 wins over his next 10 seasons, maintaining close to his career .603 winning percentage and sprinkling in Cy Young Award consideration along the way.

    If his last two seasons in particular are any sort of indication, Hamels could someday merit that HOF consideration.

23. Adrian Gonzalez: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Ten Percent

    Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez would be considered a big-ticket item. His $21 million average salary over the next six years warrants that designation.

    Gonzalez will have to live up to that big-ticket salary for the entire length of the contract if he hopes to be knocking on the doors of Cooperstown.

    Gonzalez is only 30 years old, so he certainly has time to continue building a case for Hall of Fame consideration.

    Playing at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium might hurt his overall power numbers, and his OPS slipped a full 150 points last season. He'll need to reverse that trend and continue producing at closer to the numbers produced from 2007-2011, however.

22. Derek Jeter: New York Yankees

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 100 Percent

    If New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced today that he was retiring, he will only have to wait five years for his Hall of Fame induction.

    Jeter has already guaranteed his selection with a brilliant 18-year career. With 13 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove awards, 3,304 total hits and five World Series rings, Jeter will go down as one of the finest shortstops ever to play the game, regardless of when his career ends.

21. Felix Hernandez: Seattle Mariners

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 40 Percent

    Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez already has a Cy Young Award, a perfect game and 98 wins to his credit.

    And he's only 26 years of age.

    Hernandez may not have even reached his prime yet.

    On any other team, Hernandez would have well over 120 wins. Poor run support from a team that's finished last in the American League for four straight seasons hasn't helped Hernandez's bottom line.

    Still, there's no question as to his overall dominance, and that dominance is likely to continue.

20. Giancarlo Stanton: Miami Marlins

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    Ordinarily, I would be very hesitant in giving any player with just three seasons under his belt anything more than a few percent in terms of odds for making the Hall of Fame.

    But in the case Giancarlo Stanton, the signs of greatness are already there.

    Stanton led the majors with a .608 slugging percentage last season and already has 93 home runs to his credit at the age of 23.

    The only questions concerning Stanton at this point would concern his health over the course of his career. If he answers that question in the positive, he could dwarf last year's production (37 HR, 86 RBI) and build a career worthy of the Hall of Fame.

19. Matt Cain: San Francisco Giants

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    With a 16-5 record, a 2.79 ERA and a 1.040 WHIP in 32 starts last year, San Francisco Giants Matt Cain has emerged as one of the premier right-handed pitchers in the National League.

    Cain is 10 years away from putting up numbers worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, however. While his past four seasons have helped establish his status as a dominant pitcher, he'll need the next decade to pile up numbers that will help his candidacy.

18. Jered Weaver: Los Angeles Angels

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 10 Percent

    Much like Matt Cain before him on this list, Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher has also emerged as an elite pitcher.

    Weaver posted his first 20-win season in 2012 and now has an impressive 102-52 record with a 3.24 ERA in seven seasons.

    He too will need the next decade to build his case for Hall of Fame candidacy. Weaver is also three years older than Cain, so he'll have to make excellent use of the next 10 seasons.

17. Andrew McCutchen: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    Much like Giancarlo Stanton earlier on this list, Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen has already established himself as an elite talent at a young age.

    McCutchen backed up an All-Star year in 2011 with an even-better season in 2012. He hit .327 with 31 home runs, 96 RBI, a league-leading 194 hits, a .953 OPS, his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and a third-place finish in NL MVP balloting.

    At just 26 years of age, there's no reason to think that McCutchen can't continue to get even better and continue building on what has already become a special career.

16. Adrian Beltre: Texas Rangers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 20 Percent

    It's hard to believe that third baseman Adrian Beltre has played for 15 seasons already. However, at just 33 years of age Beltre is still going very strong.

    Beltre has always been considered one of the best-fielding third basemen in baseball, and he continues to shine with the bat for the Texas Rangers as well.

    Provided Beltre stays healthy and doesn't experience regression within the next three to four years, he could be stating a very good case for Hall of Fame selection.

15. Jose Bautista: Toronto Blue Jays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Five Percent

    No one in baseball has hit more home runs (124) than Jose Bautista over the past three seasons. But it could be too little too late.

    Bautista spent the first six years of his career maturing and developing his swing. Now, at 32 years of age, he'll likely need to completely dominate offensively for at least the next six to seven years to merit Hall of Fame consideration.

14. Craig Kimbrel: Atlanta Braves

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: Five Percent

    The Hall of Fame has only enshrined five relief pitchers in its history. Mariano Rivera will likely make it six.

    If Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel continues to dominate the National League the way he has in his first two full seasons, he'll make it seven.

    But he's got a long ways to go before that happens.

13. David Price: Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    After the way his career has started, it's certainly not a stretch to consider David Price worthy of the Hall of Fame someday.

    His Cy Young Award win last season could be just the first of many.

    At 27 years of age, Price has established himself as one of the premier southpaws in the majors. Three straight All-Star selections and a first and second-place finish in Cy Young Award balloting in the last three seasons is more than just a solid start.

12. Prince Fielder: Detroit Tigers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 50 Percent

    Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder had relatively few issues in adjusting to a new league last season. It certainly didn't hurt his future Hall of Fame candidacy, either.

    Fielder has already amassed 260 home runs in his first eight seasons, including four All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, a home run title and an RBI title.

    About the only thing that could hurt Fielder in the future is his weight. As long as he can maintain his physical conditioning, the Hall of Fame will come calling.

11. Mike Trout: Los Angeles Angels

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 10 Percent

    After watching Mike Trout in his full season in Major League Baseball, it would easy to say that he's a lock for the Hall of Fame someday.

    However, it's just one season.

    Trout's rookie year was indeed special. And it wouldn't be a leap to think he can't get better, considering he's just 21 years of age.

    A lot can happen between now and the next 10-15 years. If Trout can keep doing what he did in his first season for that length of time, the above number easily becomes 100 percent.

10. Joey Votto: Cincinnati Reds

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 25 Percent

    Joey Votto missed 51 regular-season games last season. Any player in the majors would be absolutely thrilled to put up the numbers he delivered in a full 162 games.

    Votto is indeed a special talent. He has led the National League in on-base percentage for the past three seasons and in walks for the past two seasons. Votto has already become a player that many pitchers would prefer to pitch around.

    Provided Votto stays healthy and continues putting up the big numbers over the next seven to eight seasons, he'll warrant plenty of consideration for the Hall of Fame.

9. Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 100 Percent

    First baseman Albert Pujols has already punched his ticket for the Hall of Fame.

    Aside from Pujols, only Jimmie Foxx and Alex Rodriguez have achieved 10 consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. In addition, Pujols has the fifth-highest slugging percentage of all-time and the sixth-highest OPS.

    Only the best of the best completely dominate a complete decade—Pujols established Hall of Fame residence simply by what he accomplished in the 2000s.

     

8. Josh Hamilton: Los Angeles Angels

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 10 Percent

    If Josh Hamilton hadn't lost the early years of his professional career to substance abuse, the above number would without a doubt be quite a bit higher.

    Now at 31 years of age, Hamilton will have to spend the rest of the next decade building his case for Hall of Fame consideration.

    He'll also have to avoid two-month slumps and make smarter decisions regarding quitting dangerous habits (chewing tobacco) during the season.

7. Robinson Cano: New York Yankees

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 30 Percent

    New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has quickly established himself as an offensive leader on his own team and in the American League.

    The accolades and awards are quickly piling up for Cano—four Silver Slugger awards, four All-Star appearances and two Gold Glove awards in his first eight seasons.

    Another seven or eight seasons similar to the body of work presented thus far should be enough to warrant serious Hall of Fame consideration.

6. Buster Posey: San Francisco Giants

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    Considering what he's done in three seasons, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is on his way towards building a Hall of Fame career.

    His MVP Award and batting title last season put to rest any fears that Posey would struggle following his return from a gruesome home-plate collision that cut short his 2011 campaign.

    Posey could finish his career as a first baseman to help preserve his career, and a lot could happen between now and whenever he retires.

    But the body of work seen thus far has been Hall of Fame-worthy indeed.

5. Clayton Kershaw: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 25 Percent

    He'll be just 25 years old when he begins his sixth season in the majors in 2013, and already Clayton Kershaw has drawn comparisons to a pretty good former Dodger—Sandy Koufax.

    Last year during spring training, Koufax was in camp and was asked about the comparisons between him and Kershaw.

    "If he’s as good as I think he’s going to be, I’m honored," Koufax said.

    Kershaw's numbers over the past two seasons in particular are certainly worthy of comparison. If he continues putting up similar numbers, he'll join Koufax in Cooperstown someday as well.

4. Matt Kemp: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 20 Percent

    In terms of pure raw talent, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp stands at the top of the heap.

    At this point, however, it will depend on Kemp's health.

    After playing in 399 straight regular-season games, Kemp hit the disabled list for the first time in his career last season with hamstring issues. An outfield wall crash at Coors Field in late August led to offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum and frayed rotator cuff.

    The surgery was more extensive than originally thought, so Kemp isn't a lock to start on Opening Day.

    If Kemp can return to the player that nearly won the MVP Award in 2011, he can continue building a case for Hall of Fame consideration.

3. Ryan Braun: Milwaukee Brewers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 15 Percent

    Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has clearly put up numbers that would lead to serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.

    After winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, Braun has five consecutive All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger awards, an MVP Award, a home run title and another second-place in MVP Award balloting.

    There's just that nasty little PED allegation to clear up.

    Actually, Braun already cleared that up. But Hall of Fame voters have already shown they're not nearly as forgiving.

    He could eventually get in, especially if he continues dominating in the National League. But it still might take him a while.

2. Justin Verlander: Detroit Tigers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 50 Percent

    After winning a Rookie of the Year Award, a Cy Young Award and an MVP Award, Justin Verlander has already started stating a case for selection to baseball's Hall of Fame.

    Verlander has only one blip in his career—a disappointing 2008 season—otherwise, dominance has pretty much ruled his career.

    I'm guessing that if Verlander can average 15-17 wins for the next eight seasons and come close to maintaining a .656 winning percentage, his ticket for the Hall of Fame will be punched.

1. Miguel Cabrera: Detroit Tigers

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    Chances of Making the Hall of Fame: 90 Percent

    Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera reached the pinnacle last season.

    His Triple Crown achievement combined with his MVP Award clearly stated the case that he is the most feared slugger in the majors right now.

    Cabrera has now put together eight seasons with at least 30 HR and 100 RBI. If he can surpass those numbers two more times, he'll be in very elite company.

    Just a few more seasons of similar production will absolutely guarantee Cabrera a spot among baseball's greatest on the hallowed walls of the Hall of Fame.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.