Baseball Hall of Fame: The 25 Best Current Players With No Shot at Cooperstown
The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2011 inducted two very different, yet (in my mind) two very deserving players. Roberto Alomar was perhaps the premier all-around player of our time, and Bert Blyleven was a strikeout machine who could at least keep his team in games, even if they didn't get the win.
While the Class of 2012 will likely be empty, there are many active players who seem like sure things when their time comes. Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, and Joe Mauer are examples of players who will probably have no trouble.
There are a few borderline cases as well, such as Andy Pettitte or Jim Thome (though 10 years ago, he'd have been in on the first ballot)
The following are 25 great players who are either great now or on the tail end of their careers. Unfortunately for them though, they will not be a part of the Hall of Fame for various reasons unless the Hall goes crazy like they did in the late 1960s/early 1970s (the inductions of Rube Marquard, Jesse Haines and Paul Waner really hurt the Hall).
25. Johnny Damon
Reason: Unimpressive resume
Damon makes this list thanks to his 2500+ hits, which is among the top active players. Anyone will tell you, though, that it takes more than that to get into the ball.
He was great during his time on the Boston Red Sox, but only had moderately good stats outside of that. He will likely fail to break the 5 percent threshold.
24. Derrek Lee
Reason: Unimpressive resume
Derrek Lee was amazing in 2005, and if he had many seasons like that, it may be worth it to try discussing him. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
He only had one other All-Star appearance, a few other good seasons, but even if he revives his career, he has no chance even to break 5 percent.
23. Jamie Moyer
Reason: Never dominant
Jamie Moyer was a good, even very good, pitcher for many years. Few can pitch effectively for 24 seasons, and a 267-204 with 4,000 innings pitched sounds fairly impressive.
Only one All-Star selection, a 4.00+ ERA, and few seasons of greatness that you can point out makes him a good pitcher who ended up very good due to longevity.
22. Miguel Tejada
Reason: Mitchell Report
Right now, if you've been convicted of steroid use or are named in the Mitchell Report, the Hall of Fame isn't happening. Even if it were okay, Miguel Tejada still doesn't have the resume for it.
He had a solid peak with many All-Star bids and an MVP win, on top of being a workhorse for the Orioles. A very good player, but not elite.
21. Scott Rolen
Reason: No great peak
Scott Rolen was a very good player for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds during some seasons when he was healthy. The fact that I had to put all those modifiers on will discount any chance he has of making the Hall.
A Rookie of the Year award is nice, as are multiple 100-RBI seasons, and he seems to have found a second wind with the Cincinnati Reds, but aside from perhaps the 2004 season, Rolen never really had an elite season.
20. Paul Konerko
Reason: Never dominant
Paul Konerko has been great for the White Sox, and I could easily see him being a part of the White Sox Hall of Fame at the rate he's going. If we're talking about the Hall of Fame though, he doesn't have the dominance for it.
He had a few great power seasons, namely this year and in 2004-05, hitting both for power and average. Beyond that though, he's just been another good power bat, same as five or seven who are in the league at any given time.
19. Carlos Zambrano
Reason: Peaked early
Here's the first speculative one, since he is 29 and, hypothetically, he could have an amazing career after 30 and squeak in, but I see no chance of this happening.
Zambrano had a great start to his career, getting in the Cy Young discussion a few times and passing the 100-win mark while keeping his ERA low.
A 116-74 record and a 3.50 ERA isn't half bad, but after two very questionable seasons, I'm not convinced that he can go back to being as good as he was in his early-mid 20s.
18. Jimmy Rollins
Reason: On downswing already
Jimmy Rollins has been a cornerstone of the Phillies organization for the past decade. At 32, he has 1700+ hits, an MVP season, and a huge number of triples to line up his resume. The only problem for him is that his stats are already dwindling.
Yes, he was injured for part of 2010, but in the past two seasons, he's struggled to keep his batting average over .250. His other stats still look solid, but if he starts being unable to hit the ball, then those stats aren't going to help.
17. Adam Dunn
Reason: Lack of hardware
Adam Dunn is perhaps the most feared "three true outcomes" hitter in baseball. He can top both 100 walks and 150 strikeouts while hitting 40 home runs. He could certainly retire with 500 home runs.
However, aside from looking at his other stats (he was never much of a fielder, and a .250 career batting average is not good), he just doesn't have the gold Cooperstown likes to see.
One All-Star bid without a top-ten MVP finish warms you up to nobody. Even if he ended his career with 600 home runs, I couldn't see him getting in the Hall.
16. Mark Buehrle
Reason: Never dominant
Mark Buehrle is an exciting pitcher to watch, and he's one of the most consistently good pitchers in baseball. For Hall of Fame discussions, the key word there is good.
A 148-110 record is very good, as is a 2.85 ERA given the era, but no 20-win seasons hurt, and he only had one Cy Young near-win in 2005.
Great pitcher to have on your team, not a good pitcher to put in the Hall. He would suddenly have to become dominant a la Cliff Lee to have any shot whatsoever at the Hall, which I don't see happening.
15. Zack Greinke
Reason: Slow start
Zack Greinke's move to the Milwaukee Brewers will hopefully channel his 2009 self, and he'll end up returning to greatness. At this point though, he's only 27, but may have worked his way out of any Hall discussions.
A 60-67 record with only the one great season won't cut it, and given some of the mental issues he's had, I don't think he would be able to post Hall numbers continuously.
14. David Ortiz
Reason: Not dominant outside of peak
David Ortiz was the one guy the Boston Red Sox could count on between 2004 and 2007. He hit 54 home runs one year, 100 RBI each year, 100 walks twice, and a .300 average three times in those four seasons.
Had he kept some semblance of that the rest of his career, we may have a hall discussion for this DH.
Instead, he didn't really do anything in six seasons with the Minnesota Twins, and after those four seasons, he's reverted to just being a good DH.
13. Michael Young
Reason: Never acknowledged as a great
In my mind, Michael Young's probably the most underrated player in baseball, and I watch Shin-soo Choo daily. If you look at his resume, it's not half bad.
At 34, he has a career .300 average, nearly 2,000 hits, and six All-Star appearances.
Would he be on any lists of active best players? Haven't seen him on any. Only way he would get in is if a veterans committee looks back 50 years from now and can't figure out why he wasn't acknowledged.
12. Tim Hudson
Reason: Lack of recognition as great
Here we start getting to perhaps the more controversial selections. Tim Hudson has a resume that, on the surface, could be Hall worthy with a bit of work. A 165-87 record, a 3.42 ERA, and a Cy runner-up finish is certainly very good.
Unfortunately for Hudson, great win-loss records aren't the meal ticket into the Hall one would think. A couple near-Cy wins is good, but as he's never won, that might keep him out, as well as no 20-win seasons after his second season.
11. Adrian Beltre
Reason: Only dominant in contract years
Adrian Beltre has now had two great seasons, one in 2004 with the Dodgers, and one in 2010 with the Red Sox. His tenure in Seattle though was just good, and certainly nowhere near the elite level they were expecting.
Now that he has signed a multi-year deal, expect a few more Seattle-type years, and while some people will argue he should be in due to 1,900 hits at only 31 years old, even if he makes it to 3,000, I'm not really sold on him.
10. Todd Helton
Reason: The Colorado Effect
Todd Helton's career is coming to a close. He has three years left on his deal, but after a poor showing in 2010, it's a matter of time. He had an amazing peak to his career, and on the surface, his career does sound Hall-worthy.
He has a .324 batting average, 2,236 hits, and 333 home runs. However, look at the problems Larry Walker is having getting in the Hall, and he has a more compelling case than Helton; people consider Walker's numbers inflated due to Coors Field, and they'll say the same for Helton.
9. Chris Carpenter
When healthy and playing, Chris Carpenter is one of the top pitchers in the league. He won the Cy Young Award in 2005, and had great years in 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010.
Had he pitched like that in Toronto, or more importantly, stayed healthy, then maybe there can be talk of the Hall.
Missing most or all of three seasons since 2003 and pitching .500 ball in six Toronto seasons knocks him out of the discussion.
8. Jose Bautista
Reason: Slow start, possible one-season wonder
Jose Bautista could end up being the best power hitter of the post-steroid era, or he could be a one-season wonder. Either way, I don't see him getting into the Hall.
He was not an everyday player until 2006, and was never particularly good until this season.
The Hall doesn't look kindly at people with great peaks but practically nonexistent careers otherwise; if it did, Don Mattingly would be a lot closer to induction.
7. Clay Buchholz
Reason: Doesn't seem like he'll last
This one is very speculative, but while keeping an eye on Cy Young discussions this year, Clay Buchholz almost seemed to be pitching in a way to keep him out of the front-runner seat.
He had 17 wins and a 2.33 ERA, yet only had 28 starts and couldn't crack the 200-inning mark.
I hope I'm wrong, but I don't know if he has the build or health to break that 200-inning mark with any consistency, if he even does.
6. Omar Vizquel
Reason: Not acknowledged as elite, lack of hardware
Omar Vizquel, on the tail end of his career, is someone who I would vote for into the Hall.
His offensive stats are only decent, and two All-Stars is just okay, but he is one of the great defensive players of the game.
He might have to force himself to 3,000 hits to convince most to vote for him though; he's 200 away.
5. Matt Holliday
Reason: Not elite
Matt Holliday is another tough one, since he simultaneously seems to get a lot of recognition and very little.
He has four All-Star bids, probably should have won the MVP in 2007, and has continued to play great in St. Louis.
However, he may end up in the shadow of Albert Pujols, and the Hall isn't all that big on bringing in great supporters; just ask Ron Santo.
4. Josh Hamilton
Reason: Health, late start
It's a shame Josh Hamilton had all the problems early in his career. If you add in five solid years to what he has, he could certainly be on the path to the Hall of Fame.
Instead, at 29, he's only played two full seasons.
Yes, those have been amazing seasons, but he does seem to be struggling to stay healthy, missing chunks of the past two seasons.
3. Manny Ramirez
Rafael Palmeiro has Hall of Fame stats, no question about that. He also tested positive for PEDs.
Manny Ramirez also has Hall of Fame stats, and also tested positive. The Hall has pretty clearly shown that they won't vote in any steroid users.
2. Cliff Lee
Reason: No sustained dominance
Cliff Lee has had moments of being an elite pitcher, yes, but in all his seasons, he hasn't had two consecutive years of great pitching.
In between his Cy Young win and a great half a season with Seattle, he barely stayed over .500.
A 102-61 record is nice, but if he wants any chance at the Hall, he needs to be elite for at least the better part of the upcoming decade, which I don't think will happen.
1. Alex Rodriguez
Oh boy...this one is probably dependent on how Bonds' numbers look, but if he is far from getting inducted, A-Rod will be as well.
I would probably induct both myself, but I don't see the Hall doing that, no matter what he accomplishes.