Projecting Whether These Philadelphia Phillies Can Make the Hall of Fame

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIAugust 30, 2013

You don't have to love JRoll to love his Hall of Fame chances.
You don't have to love JRoll to love his Hall of Fame chances.Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

On present form, none of the current Phillies should be considered for honors of any kind. But Hall of Fame consideration is based on a player's entire career.

Therefore, more focus is put on the bright light the player generated in his prime rather than the dark shadows cast by the last years of decline. That is why a floundering team like the 2013 Phillies could boast a player or two who could end up making a speech in Cooperstown somewhere down the line.

Before we get to those guys, though, we might as well rule out the pretenders.

Chase Utley is a lot of fun to watch when he is healthy, and his peak years were dominating, as David Schoenfield detailed at length for last summer.

As of this writing, though, Utley has not reached 1,400 career hits. Getting to 2,000 hits would be huge for his Hall of Fame case, but that probably means he needs to play at least four more seasons, i.e., until he is 38.

Schoenfield answered the question of Utley's Hall of Fame candidacy fairly and accurately like this: "Can Utley build a case for the Hall of Fame around a six-year peak as one of the best players in baseball? Probably not, although many players have been elected on lesser credentials."

Ryan Howard's Hall of Fame chances most likely went up in smoke when he went down with that torn Achilles tendon at the end of the 2011 National League Division Series.

At the end of the 2011 regular season, Howard had 286 home runs and 864 runs batted in. He was about to turn 32. It would have taken four or five more seasons of 30 or more home runs to even get him in the conversation.

Instead, he hit 30 home runs total in the last two seasons. He is out.

You don't think of Michael Young as a Phillie, with good reason. Still, he's on the roster so he is in this analysis. Sadly for Young, there is not that much to talk about.

He is a career .300 hitter as of this writing, but with each passing at-bat, that lofty average is in danger of slipping into the .290s. He has over 2,350 hits and 1,000 runs batted in.

The trouble for Young will be his 185 career home runs. Hall of Fame third basemen are power hitters. Young is a first-ballot Hall of Very Good player, but that's it.

As Gary Matthews might put it, for me, the only Phillies hitter with a good chance to make the Hall of Fame is Jimmy Rollins.

Rollins already has a World Series ring and a National League Most Valuable Player award. If he retired tomorrow, he would do so with more than 2,100 hits, 400 stolen bases, 800 runs batted in and just shy of 200 home runs.

Derek Jeter has skewed offensive statistics from the shortstop position, but Rollins compares very favorably with many shortstops who are already in the Hall. Specifically, it feels like if Ozzie Smith and his 28 home runs earned a bust, Rollins' stats (and his four Gold Gloves) ought to make it.

Rollins should have two or three more productive years before any real decline takes place. And he is already on record with his hope to be a compiler. Rollins is going to the Hall of Fame someday.

As for the pitchers, there are only three worth discussing. The only way Jonathan Papelbon is getting into the Hall of Fame is with a paid ticket.

Cole Hamels is putting together a solid career, but when a pitcher is 29 years old and still has not amassed 100 wins, well, it is just too hard to anticipate the next 100 wins coming fast enough to put him in a Hall of Fame discussion.

This is especially so since Hamels' wins all came with a team that won five division titles and, until this season, contended or finished at least .500 every year. With the tailspin the Phillies are in and given the length of Hamels' hitch in Philadelphia, he might not reach 150 wins, much less 200.

Cliff Lee has a similar problem. Lee is 35 years old and has 134 wins. It just seems doubtful that he will pitch long enough to merit Hall of Fame consideration.

The last pitcher to consider here is Roy Halladay, whose case is complicated by his relatively low win total (204 to date) but bolstered significantly by the decade he spent battling long odds on subpar Toronto Blue Jays teams.

If Halladay can conjure up 20-30 more victories before his shoulder runs out of pitches, he would be a virtual lock. He just might have a good enough resume now though.

Too bad for the Phillies he will almost certainly go to Cooperstown as a Blue Jay.

It is somehow fitting that the greatest era of Phillies baseball is likely to produce only one Hall of Famer the team can truly call its own.

The stars of that run (Howard and Utley specifically) and the team itself did not stay great enough long enough to have it turn out any other way.


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