There is an interesting slice of history and tradition involved when it comes to the Los Angeles Angels and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It doesn’t exist—at least, not according to the bronzed hat on the plaques of Cooperstown.
To my amazement, a team with such a rich tradition in baseball history—50-plus years—with a World Series title in 2002, one Pennant and nine playoff appearances, has zero players in Cooperstown showcasing the legacy.
Forget Pete Rose, what about the Halos?
Sure, there have been Hall of Fame players come through the Angels’ clubhouse at one point or another during their careers. With the way players jump from team to team, it’s not unusual to see that scenario take place.
But a representation no-hitter, over 50-plus years?
Imagine being a young fan of the game, walking through the hallowed halls in Upstate New York, viewing the likes of Rod Carew, Burt Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Don Sutton and even Eddie Murray without realizing the impact they had on the Halo faithful of their time—even beyond their time.
Because of the instilling nature a specific team’s logo, that scenario is not out of the question.
Until my time covering this team—scouring the history, the franchise records and the names that came with it—I never equated any of those Hall members with the Angels.
And it’s that notoriety that generates the main reasoning we have debates as fans. Not just to make us feel like we are witnessing some sort of historical phenomenon, but also because we like to think the special player we are witnessing is making history as a member of our team.
Currently, there are four players on the Angels’ roster that have a shot at making it to Cooperstown.
More importantly for Angels fans, two of the players have a chance to break the snub-like tradition as future inductees.
Maybe a third player…if you believe he will stick around in Anaheim.
Because we don’t know what kind of shift there will be among writers and the Hall of Fame Committee regarding PEDS, Kendrick’s opportunity should not be voided so soon.
What players get in, and the numbers that get them in, may be drastically different a decade from now.
Kendrick has a lot of ground to cover, no question. The productivity would need to be duplicated in the next eight years or so for him to even have the shot at the Hall of Fame. And his defense would certainly need to remain steady around the current .985—which ranks 31st all-time—for there to be a legitimate chance.
But if he can finish his career with 2000-plus hits, 1000-plus RBI, a .330-plus OBP while hitting close to .300, you would have to consider Kendrick.
Though he may be another traded asset in the offseason—it almost happened at the trade deadline—his tenure with the Angels would probably be lengthy enough to warrant going into the Cooperstown as an Angel.
Kind of like Rod Carew—who went in as a Minnesota Twin and left behind his Angels cap.
If Weaver can stay healthy and give another eight or nine seasons out of his right arm, then he has a chance to get on the ballot.
As it stands today, the right-hander has 110 wins to only 59 losses (.651 W-L percentage), with 1,218 strikeouts. That puts him on the possible pace of 220-plus wins and close to 2,500 strikeouts.
Would that be enough?
Times have changed for pitcher inductees, understanding that 300-game winners are getting less likely by the season. Weaver would certainly fit a newer mold of pitchers going into the Hall the next decade, with 220 to 250 wins, a decent amount of total strikeouts and multiple season where they finished in the top of Cy Young voting.
To that, of course, a championship run wouldn’t hurt.
Like Kendrick, Weaver is an Angel. And that’s a plus.
Even if he was traded in the twilight of his career, the time Weaver spent as the team’s ace is something he would certainly take with him to Cooperstown.
That’s not, however, like the next two possibilities on my list.
Albert Pujols and Mike Trout
I would imagine before you even read the first sentence of this column, probably before you even got past the headline, you probably thought, “oh, great, some stat-filled blog about Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, predicting something over a decade away.”
Pujols is almost shoe-in for Cooperstown. Aside from any revelation of steroid use via future breaking news, the numbers Pujols has put up in his career are worthy of a vote tomorrow—forge the five years after retirement.
He already ranks in the top echelon of offense powers in MLB history, with just over a decade of service. And, regardless of the current struggles—which could be an afterthought by mid-2014—he has been too much of a presence not to earn a first-ballot nod.
When Albert’s day does come, however, I imagine he will be doing so with Tony La Russa at his side, and a Red Bird on his hat, with St. Louis in his heart.
It’s the team that most fans think of Pujols representing, and I doubt he really feels differently.
As for Mike Trout, well…he is 21 years old. That works both for him and against him.
Let’s face it, other than Yasiel Puig, no other player has been seemingly elected to the Hall of Fame more quickly than Trout.
Don’t get me wrong, his talent is incredible—comparable to the likes of a young Ted Williams.
Will he get into Cooperstown? He is certainly on the right path to a first-ballot welcoming.
But the sample size of two seasons and half is too small for any rash judgment on what his career totals will be 10 years down the road.
And, to that, who is to say that road even stays in Anaheim?
With the growing possibility of multi-year deals in the range of $280 million and beyond being offered to Trout from all over the MLB franchise map, I don’t think any fan, executive or fellow teammate should be so certain as to where this talented kid ends up.
Taking your talents elsewhere is not a fading trend in professional sports.
Hopefully, ex-Angels getting into the Hall of Fame while wearing another team’s logo on their hat is.
Note: All stats provided were courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.
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