In a sport in which you can fail 70 percent of the time and still be considered an all-time great, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame still remains one of the most difficult clubs to join. To date, only 300 players have ever made it to Cooperstown, which is staggering considering Major League Baseball dates back to the late 1800s.
A player making the Hall of Fame may be tougher than ever now, especially when taking into consideration the use of performance enhancing drugs. Last season not a single player was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America for the first time since 1996. Players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were all denied entry despite their impressive career numbers.
Given that thought, are there any current players in baseball who could earn the 75 percent vote in order to make it to Cooperstown? Here is a list of 30 players representing all 30 teams who could one day earn the call to the hall.
Editor's Note: Stats all made courtesy of baseballreference.com
The youngest player on this list, Manny Machado stands the best chance of any of the current Baltimore Orioles to one day earn a shrine in Cooperstown.
Machado has yet to play a full 162 games at the major league level, but has made the most of his short time in the big leagues. So far, Machado owns a career line of .297/.327/.467 and is considered one of the best defensive third basemen in the game today.
So far in 2013, Machado has hit 39 doubles in 91 games and is currently on pace to break Earl Webb's 82-year-old record of 67 in a single season. If Machado can keep pace and break that record at the age of 21, he could be well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. For Machado, the doubles record could be the first of several milestones for the young Baltimore third baseman.
Listed at 5'8" and 165 pounds, Dustin Pedroia measures up as one of the smallest players on this list, but his career numbers have measured much larger than his frame.
Pedroia burst onto the scene in 2007, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award batting .317 with eight home runs and 50 RBI to go along with one of the best infield gloves in the game. By the next season, Pedroia elevated his game to even higher levels by getting elected to his first All-Star Game, winning his first Gold Glove and his first Silver Slugger, and taking home the AL MVP Award.
Over his career, Pedroia has never batted lower than .288 over the course of a season and ranks across the board as one of the best second basemen in baseball both offensively and defensively. Pedroia embodies the spirit of the city he plays for and has truly become the face of the Boston Red Sox organization.
With all due respect to "The Captain" Derek Jeter, it is hard to overlook a player who is seen as the greatest to ever play his position.
Mariano Rivera will go down in history as the best closer to ever play the game. There are enough impressive stats about Rivera that we could easily make an entire slideshow discussing his credentials to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Rivera is the all-time leader in regular-season saves, is the all-time leader in postseason saves, earned run average and games played, and even ranks in the top 10 in strikeouts—as a closer.
But what may be the most impressive thing about Rivera is the fact that he was able to do all of these things with essentially one pitch: his cutter. Of all the players on this list, Rivera may be the most deserving of hearing his name called in Cooperstown.
Evan Longoria has essentially been the biggest face of the Tampa Bay Rays organization ever since it debuted in the league back in 1998.
Even though the Tampa Bay didn't draft Longoria until 2006, the Rays' recent string of success has largely been attributed to the performance of Longoria at third base. Over his career, Longoria has hit .277/.361/.516 with 147 home runs and 506 RBI in 725 games.
Longoria also holds several awards to his name, including the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2008, two Gold Gloves, three All-Star selections and finishing in the top 20 in the AL MVP award on four separate occasions.
If Longoria can avoid the injury problems that have plagued him periodically through his young career, he will stand the best chance of becoming the first Tampa Bay Ray in the Hall of Fame.
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the first teams on this list that were a little more difficult to pick from. The Jays have several good players on their current roster including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, but which of them stand the best chance of reaching the hall?
After careful consideration, Jose Reyes stands out among current Blue Jays as the player most likely to make the Hall of Fame. Reyes, a four-time All-Star, is a .292 hitter and has brought a unique blend of speed and power to the shortstop position.
Reyes has several accolades to his name, including hitting the double-digit mark in triples seven times and stealing more than 30 bases seven times over his 11-year career.
Paul Konerko has been the face of the Chicago White Sox since his debut with them in 1999 and has been one of the best offensive first basemen over the last decade.
Over his 17-year career, Konerko owns a .282/.358/.495 slash line to go along with 429 home runs and 1,366 RBI. Konerko has been a fixture in the middle of the White Sox lineup for his entire career and was the ALCS MVP for the White Sox in 2005 en route to helping Chicago win its first World Series title in 88 years.
Konerko's 429 home runs currently ranks 45th all-time in Major League Baseball history.
Jason Kipnis, similar to other players on this list, is in the very early stages of his career, but has all the tools to become one of the best second basemen in baseball.
Kipnis has progressively gotten better at the plate in his first two-and-a-half seasons and is in the midst of his best season yet at the plate. This season marks Kipnis' first of what could be many All-Star selections for the 26-year-old second baseman.
Another one of the most obvious choices in this slideshow, Miguel Cabrera has turned himself into the best all-around hitter in all of baseball.
Cabrera won the AL MVP Award last season after accomplishing the first triple crown season since 1967 and has followed it up with yet another monstrous season. Much like Mariano Rivera earlier, diving into Miguel Cabrera's stats could take up an entire article to itself.
Instead, take a look at the list of players Cabrera compares to through his age-29 season statistically according to Baseball Reference. That should all but end any argument against Cabrera being a future Hall of Famer.
In another difficult pick, James Shields stood out as the Kansas City Royal who was most likely to make it to Cooperstown at the end of his career.
Nicknamed "Big Game," Shields has made a career of shining the brightest when it matters the most for his ballclub. His record may not reflect that as well as it should, but Shields has been the definition of a workhorse on the mound, throwing at least 200 innings in all but one of his seasons in the big leagues.
For his career, James is 91-79 with a 3.83 ERA and 1362 strikeouts over 1584.1 innings pitched in eight seasons.
Ever since being the first overall pick back in the 2001 draft, the homegrown Joe Mauer has been the face of the Twins organization and arguably the best all-around catcher in baseball.
Defensively, Maurer has been spectacular, winning three straight Gold Gloves from 2008-2010. Offensively during that span, Maurer won the batting title twice, including a career-best .365 average in 2009 when he brought home the AL MVP Award.
Maurer has been named an All-Star six times in his 10 seasons in the majors and owns a lifetime batting average of .322, which is first among all active players.
Jose Altuve gets the distinction of being the most likely to make the Hall of Fame of the current Houston Astros for two reasons.
First of all, Altuve has become one of the most underrated second basemen in baseball over the last two years. His slash line of .285/.326/.379 is nothing to scoff at, and he was the lone representative for the Astros in the All-Star Game last season.
The second reason Altuve is on this list is the lack of current talent on the Houston Astros roster. It's nothing personal against the Astros or Altuve, but Houston is in the midst of a full-on rebuild.
Though this spot may one day belong to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols is the most likely Angel to be enshrined in Cooperstown when all is said and done.
Pujols falls into the same categories of Mariano Rivera and Miguel Cabrera when it comes to stats, as Albert Pujols' player comparisons are simply incredible. When your name gets tossed around with the likes of Mays, Aaron, Ott, Gehrig, Foxx, Robinson and Mantle, you truly earn the distinction of being one of the best to ever play the game.
Take this into consideration: In his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols finished outside the top three in MVP voting only three times. Pujols has all but cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
On a team filled with hard-nosed scrappy players, Yoenis Cespedes stands out from the rest as a potential future Hall of Famer.
In his first full season in the big leagues, Cespedes burst onto the scene by finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting and 10th in the AL MVP vote. His rare combination of power and speed makes him one of the most dangerous players in all of baseball.
Though Cespedes has only played a season-and-a-half in the big leagues, he has shown the potential to one day become one of the best outfielders in the game.
Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the game today and is the most likely Mariner to wind up with a plaque at the end of his career.
The King burst onto the major league scene as a 19-year-old rookie in 2005 and hasn't looked back since. Hernandez's win-loss record isn't the best, but a lot of that can be attributed to the Seattle Mariners' anemic offense. Needless to say, Felix could easily have more than his current 107 wins if the Mariners had been able to score for him consistently over the last nine seasons.
Felix is a four-time All-Star and has placed in the top four in AL Cy Young Award voting three times, including winning it in 2010. For his career, Felix is 107-80 with a 3.18 ERA and 1623 strikeouts over 1751.0 innings pitched.
For the biggest surprise on the slideshow, Joe Nathan may have just enough credentials to make a case for him in the Hall of Fame over the likes of Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish.
Obviously the biggest argument against Joe Nathan is his position. For many, the closer conversation stops after names like Rivera, Hoffman, Fingers and Eckersley. But over his career, Nathan has quietly amassed the 13th most saves in history and trails only Rivera among active players.
From 2004 to 2009, Nathan was one of the most dominating closers in all of baseball, finishing in the top five in the AL Cy Young Award twice and making four All-Star teams.
Even more impressively, Nathan has collected a career 25.2 WAR, which includes the four seasons he spent as a starter slash setup man. Though he may not be the best closer in the history of baseball like Rivera, Nathan has certainly made quite the career for himself.
Of all the young talent currently inhabiting the Braves roster, it is one of the older players on the team that is the most likely candidate to be enshrined.
Tim Hudson has been one of the most consistent pitchers in Major League Baseball ever since his debut with the Oakland Athletics in 1999. Surprisingly, despite Hudson's continued success, he was only named an All-Star three times, and only finished in the top five of a Cy Young Award three times as well.
For his career, Hudson is 202-111 with a career 3.44 ERA and 1878 strikeouts over 15 seasons in the big leagues. His 202 wins rank second to only Andy Pettitte among active pitchers, and only one in front of the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay.
Talent-wise, Giancarlo Stanton may be one of the best all-around players in Major League Baseball right now and is the most deserving Miami Marlin for this honor.
Known for his tremendous power, Stanton has put up numbers by the age of 23 that very few baseball players can match. Names like Juan Gonzalez, Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthews and Miguel Cabrera come up as the players who have been statistically similar to Stanton at his age.
Stanton has already been recognized as an all-star by his peers and will continue to get better and better as he gets older. The sky is the limit for Stanton, and he could easily see his name among the greats by the time his career is through.
Though the Mets have recently started to gain young talent like Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler, it is David Wright who stands tall over Queens.
Since his debut in 2004, David Wright has been arguably the best third baseman in all of baseball. In his 10 years in the league, Wright has been named to the All-Star team seven times and has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting on four separate occasions.
Besides his bat, Wright is one of the best with the glove at the hot corner, earning Gold Glove awards in both 2007 and in 2008. Wright has become one of the biggest names in the city of New York in his time with the Mets and is more than deserving of this accolade.
Oh, and he made this catch too.
When speaking of dominant right handed pitchers over the last decade, Roy Halladay is often one of the first names that comes mind.
Roy "Doc" Halladay was the pure definition of a workhorse throughout his career. He is the current leader in complete games among active pitchers with 67, which is a whopping 30 more than the second-place CC Sabathia. He also ranks fourth in innings pitched, third in strikeouts and first in win-loss percentage among active players.
Over his career, Halladay has thrown more than 220 innings in a season on eight separate occasions, has won two Cy Young Awards and has been named to the All-Star team eight times. He is currently 201-104 for his career with 3.37 ERA and 2101 strikeouts over his 16 seasons in the bigs.
When you grace the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16 and get touted as the biggest sports prodigy since LeBron James, you know you are destined for great things. In this case, those great things are a potential trip to Cooperstown for Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
Harper has been touted as the next big thing ever since his high school days in Nevada and has already impressed many with his play at the major league level. Harper debuted in 2012 at the age of 19 for the Nationals, and was later named an All-Star that season on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year Award in the National League.
Harper has all the talent in the world and is already one of the most impressive players in baseball today. The scary thought here is wondering just how good Harper could be when he reaches his prime.
In a tough toss-up between two young stars, Starlin Castro earns the nod over Anthony Rizzo for most likely to make the Hall of Fame for the Cubs.
Only 23 years of age, Castro has twice been named to the All-Star team while showing an impressive approach at the plate and in the field. Sure, Castro's numbers may be down this year, but it doesn't take away from the fact that he is one of the best shortstops in the game today.
Maturity issues have been questioned with Castro, but those issues will disappear as he continues to grow as a person and as a player. With his talent, there is no reason that Castro won't be able to make a strong push to get himself to Cooperstown by the time his playing days are over.
In Cincinnati, Joey Votto is the first name that comes to mind when discussing potential Hall of Fame players. His ability to hit for average and power is matched by few in the baseball today, and he has an MVP Award from 2010 to back it up.
Over his career, Votto has only batted below .300 for a season once in which he happened to bat .297. He owns a career .316/.417/.547 slash line over his seven seasons in the big leagues to go along with his 148 home runs and 497 RBI.
To date, Votto is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game and is well on his way to what could become a Hall of Fame career.
Following an okay rookie season with the Brewers in 2012, Jean Segura has become a household name in 2013 as one of the best all-around shortstops in the game today.
Segura has a very unique blend of speed and power which can be seen with his eight triples and 11 home runs so far in the 2013 season. So far this year, Segura boasts an impressive .320/.356/.487 slash which helped lead him to his first All-Star game as well.
Many people will wonder why Segura is on this list and not outfielder Ryan Braun. Well, the problem for Braun here is that he is currently facing more allegations surrounding the Biogenesis scandal. In fact, Braun will reportedly be facing a potential 100-game suspension shortly after the All-Star game.
Remember, the BBWAA has made it clear over the past few seasons that any players connected to performance enhancing drugs would face a very strong resistance when trying to make it into the Hall of Fame. With that in mind, Braun was not included on this list.
Andrew McCutchen has been one of the faces behind the resurgence of the Pittsburgh Pirates this season and is the most likely of them all to have a Hall of Fame career.
McCutchen is the definition of a "five-tool player" as his combination speed, defense, hitting for average, hitting for power and his arm strength are among the best of current outfielders in baseball today. A former first-round pick of the Pirates back in 2005, McCutchen has been selected to three All-Star games and finished in third in the NL MVP Award last season.
For his career, McCutchen has a .291 average to go along with 91 home runs, 341 RBI and 116 stolen bases. At only 26, McCutchen still has plenty of years left for him to continue to make a run at immortality.
When looking over the Cardinals roster, the first name that pops out to most people is that of Adam Wainwright. A former first-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2000, Wainwright truly burst onto the scene in 2007 when he was converted into a starter for St. Louis.
Since making the move to the rotation, Wainwright has been one of the best right-handed pitchers in all of baseball. He finished in the top three in the NL Cy Young Award voting twice, once in 2009 and again in 2010, and has been named an All-Star twice.
At the age of 31, Wainwright is in the middle of his prime and will continue to be one of the most dominant starters in the game barring any injuries. For his career, Wainwright is 92-53 with a 3.06 ERA and 1034 strikeouts in 1213.2 innings pitched.
When talking about pure power hitters in the game today, Paul Goldschmidt is one of the first names that comes to mind. Measuring in at 6'3", 245 pounds, Goldschmidt is an absolute tank who has truly become a star in 2013.
After hitting 28 home runs in his first 193 games over two seasons for the Diamondbacks, Goldschmidt has already shown his adjustments by cranking out 21 home runs in 89 games this season. More importantly, he has increased his batting average every season of his career and now holds a solid .288 average for his career.
With 49 home runs already at the age of 25, Goldschmidt is quickly making a name for himself as one of the premier power-hitting first basemen in the game today.
If not for a rash of injuries over his career, Troy Tulowitzki's numbers could be even better than what they are today. With that being said, at the age of 28, Tulowitzki still has the chance to go down as one of the best offensive shortstops to ever play the game.
For his career, Tulo owns a .296 batting average to go along with 146 home runs in 805 games over eight years in Colorado. He has finished in the top five in MVP voting on two occasions and has been named to the All-Star team on three separate occasions.
Tulo isn't only about offense, however, as he also took home the Gold Glove award in 2010 and in 2011. Many will say that Tulo's numbers have been aided by the friendly confines of Coors Field, but that simply isn't true. Though his batting average is 38 points higher at home for his career, his power numbers are relatively the same, as 67 of his 146 home runs have in fact come on the road.
The list of dominant, power-throwing left-handed pitchers is a mile long, but the best one in the game today is 25-year-old Clayton Kershaw.
After debuting in 2008 with a 4.26 ERA, Kershaw has yet to have a season in which his ERA was over 3.00, which included leading the National League in 2011 and in 2012. In 2011, Kershaw truly turned into a star, as he went on to win the NL Cy Young Award. He finished that season with a 21-5 record, 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts.
At this point in his career, Kershaw is already a three-time All-Star and will most likely continue to add to that total. With 1,103 strikeouts already in his career, Kershaw is one of the few pitchers in baseball today who have a legitimate shot of reaching 3,000 for his career. Despite being 25, Kershaw still ranks 49th among active pitchers with those 1,103 strikeouts and could potentially go down as one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time.
Though he may be considered a late bloomer on this list, Chase Headley currently stands as the best chance for any current San Diego Padre to make it to the hall.
San Diego's Petco Park has had a reputation of eating most power hitters alive, but that still didn't stop Headley from swatting 31 home runs for the Padres in 2012 on his way to finishing fifth in the NL MVP Award.
Defensively, Headley is one of the best in the game today, as his .968 fielding percentage ranks third among active players and 10th all-time.
Finally, the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey is the last player on this list who could see his name in Cooperstown by the end of his career.
Posey has been everything and then some for the Giants, who took him with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft. It didn't take long for Posey to make it to the big leagues either, as he debuted with the Giants at the tail end of the 2009 season, before taking over behind the plate for San Francisco in 2010.
That year, Posey went on to win Rookie of the Year honors while helping guide the Giants rotation to a 2010 World Series victory over the Texas Rangers. Posey would go on to win the National League MVP Award in 2012 too, as well as take home his second World Series title.
At the age of 26, Posey has already accomplished more than most players in the majors and has established himself as one of the best players in the game. For his career, Posey has hit .315 with 59 home runs with 241 RBI over 393 games. If Posey continues to play at this level, he could easily go down as one of the best catchers to ever play the game.
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