A Look at Current Players Who Will Head to the Baseball Hall of Fame
When you take a good look at the roster of every Major League team, you see a total of 12 names of players that will end up in Cooperstown for sure. This article looks at those 12 guys who have locked up a spot in the Hall.
It's important to note that this article is going by Hall of Fame rules, so to be eligible for this article a player has to have already played in 10 seasons. That's the reason why stars like Miguel Cabrera aren't included. I also decided to stay away from borderline Hall of Fame candidates, as there will be another article to debate their worthiness.
Whether you love the Yankees or hate the Yankees, it's hard not to respect Derek Jeter. The Yankee captain has done it all from winning five World Series titles and an impressive collection of awards from 11 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, a World Series MVP and an All-Star MVP among others.
It's not just the awards or the championships that make Jeter a special player, but the fact that he's a great hitter and defender at a premium position. Jeter is a career .313 hitter who has collected more than 3,000 hits with 240 homers and 339 steals.
Jeter's not only a great player, but he's a very clutch player who has had plenty of big postseason moments. His postseason average is slightly down from his regular season average at .307, but he has hit 20 homers in October.
Ivan Rodriguez is a career .296 hitter with 2,844 hits, and 311 homers. He's a 14-time All-Star with seven Silver Slugger Awards and a MVP Award to his name. Still, "Pudge" is best known for another reason.
Rodriguez is widely considered to be the best defensive catcher in the history of the game, capable of handling a pitching staff and shutting down opposing run games with his cannon arm. His abilities behind the plate led two teams to World Series appearances, winning one title with the 2003 Marlins.
Rodriguez is among the best catchers to ever play the game and deserves to end up in Cooperstown. There just aren't many catchers able to excel the way he did on defense and at the plate.
At just 31 years of age, Albert Pujols is easily the youngest player to make this list, but he's already completed 11 seasons with the Cardinals due to an early start to his career.
Pujols started with the Cardinals in 2001 as a little known rookie, but after hitting .329 with 37 homers and 130 runs batted in, he was quickly a household name. Pujols never slowed down after having one of the all time great rookie years, which is why he has a real shot at the all time home run record.
The free agent-to-be is a career .328 hitter with 445 homers and 1,329 runs batted in to go with three MVP Awards and a World Series ring. Those would be impressive career numbers for anyone, but considering he still has a good four or five years left, Pujols' career stat line could end up being very scary.
Chipper Jones has had a great career in Atlanta, but one has to wonder if he could have had an even better career if not for injuries. Jones tore his ACL, causing him to miss the 1994 season and delay his rookie season to 1995 in addition to a rash of injuries he has suffered the last seven years.
Still Jones has won a World Series, MVP Award and a batting title. He's a career .304 hitter with 2,615 hits, 454 homers, 1,455 runs batted in and 149 steals. The seven-time All-Star still has a chance to reach 3,000 hits and 500 homers, but since he will be 40 years old at the start of the 2012 season, it's not likely he plays long enough to reach those marks.
Jones isn't a likely first ballot Hall of Fame guy, but he's already punched his ticket to Cooperstown. There wouldn't be as much of a question on this a few years ago, but his numbers have been down since his body began to break down in 2004.
Mariano Rivera is simply the best closer in the history of the game. There is no question about that or the fact that he's been an extremely clutch performer in October.
Rivera is the current all time saves record holder with 603. His 2.21 ERA is impressive, but not as impressive as the fact that he has racked up a total of 11 seasons with sub 2.00 ERA's in 16 seasons in the bullpen.
As if that's not good enough to explain why Rivera is a first ballot lock, his October performance answers any remaining questions. The five-time World Series champion has 96 career playoff appearances, pitching 141 innings and going 8-1 with 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA.
Omar Vizquel is arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball history, winning a total of 11 Gold Glove Awards at the toughest defensive position. Vizquel's defensive ability is the reason he is still playing today at the age of 44.
Vizquel isn't just a glove only player, as he has 2,841 career hits and a .272 average across parts of 23 seasons in the Majors. Vizquel's never been much of a power threat, but has stolen 401 bases and made three All-Star teams.
Vizquel isn't likely to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he should end up in the Hall at some point.
Playing his entire career for the Colorado Rockies has made Todd Helton an under-appreciated star in part due to his numbers getting a slight bump from the air at Coors Field. Helton's career numbers are still good enough that he has earned a trip to Cooperstown despite that extra bump.
Over 15 seasons, Helton only made five All-Star teams despite being a career .323 hitter with 347 homers and 1,308 runs batted in. His numbers are clearly better at home, but his road numbers show him still being a .291 hitter with 135 homers.
In addition to the Coors Field strike against him, he has only made it to the postseason twice in his career, which will also hurt his cause to get into the Hall. Still his numbers are too good and his presence in the Colorado lineup too great for him to be ignored by voters.
Japanese import Ichiro Suzuki has had quite an impressive career in America. In 11 seasons, he has 2,428 hits and a .326 batting average. In each of his first 10 seasons, he hit at least 200 hits, a record that will likely never be matched, and one that only ended this year as a 37-year-old.
Not only does the fan favorite hit, but he plays strong enough defense to have also won Gold Gloves in each of his first 10 seasons (this year's have not yet been announced). He also added a total of 423 steals, especially impressive as he missed some of his peak steals years while playing in Japan.
The former MVP is a slam dunk first ballot pick, and one has to wonder how great his numbers could have been if he came over to America prior to age 27. He could have possibly made a run at Pete Rose's all time hits record.
Jim Thome, who has 604 career homers, is possibly the only big slugger from the Steroids Era to not be linked to the drugs. That makes him the only big hitter from the era not to have any question about his numbers. In addition to all of the homers, Thome is a career .277 hitter with 1,674 runs batted in, and is one of the most well-liked players in the game.
He may have some negatives like never winning an MVP or World Series, along with only six All-Star selections and just one Silver Slugger to his name, in addition to spending the last six years as an exclusive designated hitter. Still with his home run total and no links to steroids, Thome will get into Cooperstown.
Over parts of 14 seasons Roy Halladay has won 188 games to only 92 losses. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has a career 3.23 ERA despite spending all but two seasons in the tough American League East. His 66 complete games and 20 shutouts show what made him the most dominant pitcher in the game for a three-year period.
Halladay's only strike against him was that he hadn't reached the playoffs in Toronto, but in five playoff starts for Philadelphia, he has gone 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA helping to erase any doubts about his ability to come through in the clutch.
Halladay may not be a first ballot Hall of Fame selection, but he's going to eventually end up in Cooperstown and still has a few seasons to add to his impressive numbers.
Vlad Guerrero has done a little bit of everything in his career, from being a former MVP to a nine-time All Star to an eight-time Silver Slugger. Although his body is giving out, he is still producing at age 36 this season.
During his 15-season career, Guerrero has hit .318 with 449 homers, 1,496 runs batted in, 181 steals, and 2,590 hits. Guerrero has always been a bit of a free swinger, but that has helped make him one of the most exciting players in the game to watch when he's at the plate because he could reach his bat out and get a piece of any pitch.
Guerrero's only strike against him is that he hasn't been the same player in October. In addition to never winning a World Series, Guerrero is only a .263 hitter with two homers and 20 runs batted in during his 44 postseason games. That may make it hard for Guerrero to get into the Hall on the first few ballots, but he will someday end up where he belongs.
I had a tough time deciding whether to include Alex Rodriguez, but decided to do it anyway. The reason he almost wasn't included is because all of the other players linked to steroids eligible for the Hall of Fame are being passed over at this time. A-Rod has also been a steroid user, but it seems like some have forgiven him, plus odds are that most of the other guys get into the Hall eventually.
Rodriguez has 629 career homers, which places him in position to make a run at Barry Bonds' all time record despite the fact that injuries have slowed his pace the last four seasons. A-Rod isn't just a homer guy, as he's a .302 hitter with 2,775 hits, 1,893 runs batted in and 305 steals.
Rodriguez has his share of people that do not like him because of the steroids and the large contract he signed with Texas (10 years, $250 million), but he has won three MVP's, a batting title, five homer titles, two Gold Gloves as a shortstop and a World Series ring.
Due to his link to steroids, Rodriguez may not be a first ballot selection like his talent suggests, but it's a lock that he will end up in Cooperstown at some point.