The Top Three Current L.A. Dodgers Likely to Make It to The Hall of Fame
With the latest installment of Hall of Fame inductees being honored Sunday, the concept of current players with the ability to make it to the Hall of Fame is once again on the minds of fans around the league.
The Dodgers have a talented outfield and some well-known names in the infield. There's a "sure thing," a "quite likely," and a "possibly," on the Dodgers roster when it comes to the Hall of Fame, and some big names that may not make it.
Here are three players I feel have a legitimate chance at finding their way to Cooperstown, and some honorable mentions that might just miss the mark.
The Sure Thing: Manny Ramirez
Love him or hate him, he is a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame after his career is over.
Some may not like that a known performance-enhancing drug user will be inducted into Cooperstown's Major League Baseball Shrine, but here is why he will make it with honors:
As medical science advances, so does the game of baseball. Let's face it. Steroids aren't going away—they will simply be modified and re-invented over the years for athletes to continue to use while attempting to improve performance.
There have always been drugs out there for athletes; enhancers and supplements will always be a part of sports, especially professional sports like baseball, football, and basketball.
So, looking at the career numbers to date: 2,553 hits, 554 home runs, 1,827 RBI, and a .411 on-base percentage.
Manny has a chance of reaching the 600 home run plateau, which is considered to be an automatic ticket punched to the Hall of Fame.
Ramirez has been a fixture in Major League Baseball for 17 years and it's only a matter of time before he's elected to baseball's elite club. He may not be inducted on the first ballot, but he will certainly have his place in Cooperstown.
Quite Likely: Andre Ethier
Andre is still very young, but he already has shown tremendous potential while plowing through the minor league ranks and onto the Dodgers' major league roster.
Now Ethier is a Silver Slugger and a starting All-Star, just the beginning of a list of accomplishments the lefty will achieve in his big league career.
There are certain statistics that Hall of Fame voters look for when discussing inductees. Batting average, home runs, runs scored, stolen bases and runs batted in are among them.
Ethier has the ability to hit for average, hit for power, knock runs in, and score runs. With that kind of offensive production, Ethier will make his case for Cooperstown before his career is over.
If Andre can play as many seasons in the majors as the likes of teammates Ramirez, Blake and Furcal, there is a strong chance his numbers and his personality will make the cut.
Ethier's power numbers are also on the rise, a clear indication his name will be included in elite outfielder discussions for years to come. Look for Ethier to elevate his career even further while being around for years. The Hall of Fame is the likely end result after two decades of baseball.
Possibly: Matt Kemp
Kemp shows all the signs of a classic five-tool athlete: He has the ability to hit for power, hit for average at times, he has great range in the outfield and a strong arm, and can steal a base at any time.
The main concern for Kemp is his health. I'm sure comparing him to Ken Griffey, Jr. may be premature, but Kemp's style of play isn't too far off. He plays with 100 percent effort in the outfield with little regard to his body and overall health.
If he decides to go Griffey's route, he will need to step up the power efforts slightly, but hopefully he will continue to steal bases.
Kemp's personality is electric, and he is a leader and a fire-starter for the Dodgers, a trait that will make him a household name some day.
If Kemp stays healthy, he has a solid chance of making it to the Hall, but, as we've seen with Griffey, that may be hard to do. Griffey was sidelined by arm, hand, and wrist injuries several times in his career. Collisions with the wall and aging hamstrings slowed down the possible all-time home run king.
One thing is for sure: It will be exciting to watch this young star turn into a legend in his career, no matter where he is, but health will certainly be the key.
Honorable Mentions: Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal
Two current Dodgers with above-average careers who will most likely not make it are third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Both players are beloved by fans in L.A. and around the league, but they may barely miss the mark.
Third base has always been known as a power corner, and a third-bagger must be able to drive in runs via the long ball. Blake is just not that guy.
However, Blake plays with heart, sound defense and a reliable bat. He is a veteran leader who can provide insight to young players while maintaining chemistry in the clubhouse. There is no doubt when Blake's career is over, we will look back on it and view it as successful, but probably not Hall-worthy.
Most legendary lead-off hitters to date are known not only for their ability to get on base, but also to steal bases. Furcal has enjoyed years of success at the lead-off position, but he may not have the numbers to make it to Cooperstown.
Leadoff legends, former Dodger Ricky Henderson and Dodger great Maury Wills, each stole over 500 bases in their careers, yet Furcal has only 287 in 10 seasons.
Wills only played 13 Major League seasons, but he had nearly double the number of stolen bases as Furcal.
It may be unfair to compare Furcal's stolen bases to Henderson's, since Henderson spent 24 years in the majors, but Henderson averaged 58 stolen bases a season with a a .401 on-base percentage.
Furcal is just at 29 stolen bases a season with a .352 on-base percentage. There is no question the game of baseball has evolved. Pitchers, catchers and coaches are constantly developing new ways to keep baserunners from advancing.
Today's game requires much more skill, and Furcal has had a great career, but he will likely just miss the cut and may not have many years remaining in his career. Furcal is a great player but may not make it to the Hall of Fame. It's a shame, but it may be a reality.