Some of the greatest players of all time have played for the Boston Red Sox. Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Bobby Doerr, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Lefty Grove, Babe Ruth, Rickey Henderson, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams to name just a few. The list goes on and on.
All of those players are in the Hall of Fame. In fact, 33 players have donned a Red Sox uniform and gone on to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
With the current team boasting some of the best players in the league, which of them have a chance of joining those 33 with their own plaque in Cooperstown?
Adrian Gonzalez might be the best all-round hitter in the American League.
Though his home runs are way down this season—he only has 18, after hitting 30, 36, 41 and 31 the last four years—he leads all of baseball in average, RBI, hits and total bases.
If his home run swing comes back next season, and there is nothing to suggest it won't, he could hit over 250 homers over the life of his new seven-year contract.
That would put him within touching distance of 500. With a career average of .292? Yes, those are Cooperstown numbers.
Dustin Pedroia has had an incredible start to his major league career.
He is the only player in major league history to have won the World Series, Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and a Gold Glove in his first four seasons.
A second MVP is within reach this season. He's batting .310, but in the last three months, he has been hitting at a .372 clip.
In 2008 Jacoby Ellsbury was a good player. He hit .280 and stole 50 bases. In 2009, he was a great player, batting over .300 and stealing a franchise-record 70 bags.
In 2011, he has become elite.
A .318 batting average, 19 home runs, 84 runs, 72 RBI, 31 steals and very good play in center field have shown that Ellsbury can be counted amongst the league's best outfielders.
If he keeps it up for another two seasons to free agency, he could be looking at a $100 million-plus contract. If he can make a whole career of this, he will be in Cooperstown.
For some reason, Kevin Youkilis is still underrated. Despite having a slight down-year, he is seventh in the AL in OBP and fifth in RBI.
He has hit .300 each of the last three years, and on his career, he has a .291 average and is a genuine 30 HR, 100 RBI threat.
Jonathan Papelbon is already in the top 40 all-time in saves. Through his first six full seasons, Mariano Rivera had 215 saves. Papelbon has 212 and there are still two months of the season left.
Obviously, you cannot make the comparison between Rivera and Papelbon, but it does show that he is putting up the numbers at a Hall of Fame rate.