Full Predictions for MLB's Next 5 Hall of Fame Induction Classes

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJuly 27, 2014

Full Predictions for MLB's Next 5 Hall of Fame Induction Classes

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    The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be inducted Sunday, with the ceremony beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and airing live from Cooperstown on MLB Network and MLB.com. 

    After zero players were elected in 2013, this year’s Hall of Fame class features three first-ballot selections in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas as well as legendary managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa.

    Meanwhile, the 2015 class is expected to produce at least two more first-ballot Hall of Famers in Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, and there’s a good chance we begin to see holdovers from previous years such as Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell finally receive the recognition they deserve.

    Beyond that, almost every class through 2019 has at least one first-ballot lock, whether it be Ken Griffey Jr. (2016), Chipper Jones (2018) or Mariano Rivera (2019).

    Here are our predictions for who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame over the next five years, including a look at the notable first-time eligible players from each class.


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    Notable First-Year Eligibles

    SP Randy Johnson, SP Pedro Martinez, P John Smoltz, RF Gary Sheffield, SS Nomar Garciaparra, 1B Carlos Delgado, RF Brian Giles


    Predicted Inductees

    Randy Johnson

    2015 will be the year Randy Johnson officially joins Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Lefty Grove and Warren Spahn in Cooperstown as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history.

    Johnson, a 10-time All-Star, won five Cy Young Awards, nine strikeout titles and four ERA titles during an absolutely dominant 22-year career. His 303 wins (fifth among left-handers all time) and his 4,875 strikeouts rank second all time, while his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest average ever among qualified starters, according to the Hall of Fame’s website.

    Johnson pitched in the postseason with four different teams in his career—Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees—posting a 3.50 ERA in 121 innings (19 starts/16 appearances), and he was named MVP of the 2001 World Series after going 3-0 with a 1.04 and 0.692 over 17.1 innings.


    Pedro Martinez

    Pedro Martinez finished his brilliant career with just 219 wins, but a strong case can be made that the electric right-hander’s prime years were among the best of all time.

    From 1997-2003, Martinez went 118-36 with a 2.20 ERA and 11.3 K/9 and won three Cy Young Awards, and the fact that he led the Red Sox to the World Series in 2004 certainly won’t be overlooked when his name appears on the ballot.

    Overall, the eight-time All-Star posted a 2.93 ERA in 18 seasons playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. According to the Hall of Fame’s website, Martinez led his league in ERA five times, WHIP six times and strikeouts three times.


    Craig Biggio (third year on ballot)

    A seven-time All-Star, Biggio is one of the most productive second basemen in baseball history, ranking 15th among the all-time leaders in runs (1,844), 21st in hits (3,060) and fifth in doubles (668). He finished fourth in the MVP voting in 1997 and fifth in 1998.

    Biggio featured an impressive blend of power and speed (291 home runs, 414 stolen bases) during his 20-year career, which he began as catcher before moving to second base and then to center field and then back to second base. Though he was versatile, Biggio’s best position was second base, where he won four consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1994-1997.

    After receiving 68.2 percent of votes in 2013, his first year on the ballot, and then missing the cut by two votes in 2014 with 74.8 percent, Biggio should get in next year as the best offensive player in the class.


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    Notable First-Year Eligibles

    CF Ken Griffey Jr., RP Trevor Hoffman, CF Jim Edmonds, RP Billy Wagner, C Jason Kendall, 1B Carlos Delgado


    Predicted Inductees

    Ken Griffey Jr.

    Ken Griffey Jr. finished his career with 630 home runs, sixth on the all-time list, and 1,836 RBI, and had it not been for repeated injuries during his prime, we may be talking about him as the best player in baseball history.

    However, that didn’t prevent Junior from winning seven Silver Slugger awards and 10 Gold Glove awards and appearing in 13 All-Star Games during his 22-year career with the Mariners, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. He was named the AL MVP in 1997 after batting .304/.382/.646 with 56 home runs and 147 RBI and finished in the top 10 in the voting on six other occasions.  


    Mike Piazza (fourth year on ballot)

    By the numbers, Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher of all time, ranking first at the position with a .922 OPS, 427 home runs, .545 slugging percentage and 143 OPS+. He was a 12-time All-Star and top-10 finisher in the MVP voting on seven occasions during his 16-year career.

    The whole steroid/back-acne thing has kept Piazza out of the Hall of Fame thus far, but after receiving 57.8 percent of votes as a first-time eligible in 2013 and then 62.2 percent in 2014, I think he gets voted in 2016, his fourth year on the ballot.


    John Smoltz (second year on ballot)

    John Smoltz has a very strong case for the Hall of Fame; the only problem is his career is hard to contextualize due to four years in the bullpen. 

    During his 21-year career with the Atlanta Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals, Smoltz recorded 213 wins and 154 saves, while his 3,084 strikeouts rank 16th all time. The right-hander was an eight-time All-Star and won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996 as a member of a historically good Braves starting rotation that also featured 2014 Hall of Fame inductees Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

    Lastly, Smoltz boasts an impressive postseason resume, with a 15-4 record, four saves and 2.67 ERA in 209 innings.

    Smoltz absolutely deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2015, but the fact that he’ll be compared to The Big Unit and Pedro will hurt his stock. However, I like his chances of getting elected in 2016, when he’ll presumably be viewed as the best pitcher in the class.


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    Notable First-Year Eligibles

    C Ivan Rodriguez, LF Manny Ramirez, RF Vladimir Guerrero, C Jorge Posada, RF Magglio Ordonez, C Jason Varitek, SS Edgar Renteria


    Predicted Inductees

    Jeff Bagwell (seventh year on ballot)

    Like so many players from the '90s steroid era, Bagwell has never been linked to performance-enhancing drugs but seemingly is considered guilty by association. That said, he did improve from 41.7 percent to 56 percent of the vote over his first two seasons on the ballot.

    Bagwell failed to reach 500 home runs, but his .948 career OPS ranks 22nd all time, and his 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI distinguish him as one of the top run producers of his 15-year career.

    According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Bagwell is the only first baseman in history with at least 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases and one of two players at the position (the other being Lou Gehrig) to turn in 12 consecutive seasons with at least a 130 OPS+.

    In terms of accolades, Bagwell was the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year, a four-time All-Star and the winner of the 1994 NL MVP Award. He also finished second and third in the MVP voting in 1999 and 1997, respectively.

    I think Bagwell’s stock will gain traction once more of the steroid-era players such as Pudge and Manny—Manny will likely never get in, however—appear on the ballot, which is why his 5-plus percent drop in the voting from 2013 to 2014 doesn’t worry me.


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    Notable First-Year Eligibles

    3B Chipper Jones, SS Omar Vizquel, LHP Johan Santana, LF Hideki Matsui, CF Johnny Damon, CF Andruw Jones, SP Jamie Moyer, 3B Scott Rolen, 1B Jim Thome


    Predicted Inductees

    Chipper Jones

    An eight-time All-Star, Chipper Jones spent his entire 19-year career with the Braves, batting a .303/.401/.529 slash line, 468 home runs and 1,623 RBI. He was the 1999 NL MVP and won a batting title (.364) in 2008 in his age-36 season. From 1996-2003, Jones batted .313/.410/.551 and averaged 32 home runs, 110 runs and 107 RBI.

    The Braves reached the postseason 12 times during Jones’ career and won the World Series in 1995. Overall, he batted .287/.409/.456 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI in 93 playoff games.

    Jones is one of the five best switch-hitters of all time, certainly the best switch-hitting third baseman of all time, and therefore is a lock to be elected in his first year on the ballot.


    Ivan Rodriguez (second year on ballot)

    A 14-time All-Star and winner of the 1999 AL MVP Award, Pudge ranks first in games played (2,427) and hits (2,844) among catchers. Defensively, Pudge was a 13-time Gold Glove award winner, with elite arm strength and an absurdly quick pop time that allowed him to throw out opposing base stealers at a 46 percent clip.

    Pudge won’t be a first-ballot Hall of Famer due to questions about steroids, but after that it should be difficult for the BBWAA to deny of the best catchers in baseball history entry into Cooperstown. Therefore, I’m going out on a limb and predicting that Pudge gets elected in 2018, his second year on the ballot.


    Jim Thome

    A five-time All-Star, Jim Thome crushed 612 home runs over his 22-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles. He had 12 years with at least 30 home runs and went deep 190 times between 2001-2004, highlighted by an MLB-leading 47 home runs in 2003.

    Though he’s a product of the steroid era, Thome was never directly or indirectly linked to steroids during his career. And considering how that worked out for Frank Thomas, logic suggests Thome also should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.


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    Notable First-Year Eligibles

    OF/1B Lance Berkman, SP Roy Halladay, 1B Todd Helton, SP Andy Pettitte, RP Mariano Rivera, INF Michael Young


    Predicted Inductees

    RP Mariano Rivera

    Enter Sandman.

    A 13-time All-Star, Rivera’s 652 career saves during his 19-year career (all with the Yankees) are the most in baseball history, and there’s a realistic chance the record will never be broken. Meanwhile, the fact that the closer finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young Award voting five different times is equally impressive.

    As for his postseason accomplishments, Mo was named MVP of the 1993 World Series and 2003 ALCS, and he helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles. Overall, he appeared in 96 playoff games over 16 seasons, going 8-1 with 42 saves, a 0.70 ERA and 0.759 WHIP in 141 innings.

    It almost would be insulting to vote in another player in the 2019 class besides Rivera, and that says a lot considering the spectacular careers of Berkman, Halladay, Helton and Pettitte, each of whom is a legitimate candidate in his own right.