By Nick Ertmer & Tyler Tjelmeland
This is a list of current Major League Baseball players that we expect to go to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The highest ranked is who is most likely to make the HOF. We have decided to leave out players who have reportedly used performance enhancing drugs. All stats are as of April 16th, 2011
1. Albert Pujols (#5, First Basemen, St. Louis Cardinals)
Credentials: 3 Most Valuable Player Awards( 2005, 2008, 2009), 9 All-Star Games, National League Rookie Of the Year, Silver Slugger: 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2 Gold Glove Awards (2006, 2010)
There is absolutely no question that Albert Pujols is on a fast-track to Cooperstown and it is pure blasphemy to disagree. Along with the 3 MVP’s he has won, he got second 4 other times, 2 of those to juiced out Barry Bonds, and another to Ryan Howard, in a year in which most Cardinals fans will tell you he deserved to win over Howard. El Hombre has a career batting average of .331 which ranks 31st all-time and 1st among active players. His OPS (OBP + Slugging %) comes in at an incredible 1.047, which ranks 5th all-time and 1st among active players. He ranks 45th all-time in homeruns with 412, and he is only 31 years old and looking to possibly sign one of the biggest contracts in the history of the game that could exceed even the jaw-dropping salary that Alex Rodriguez (Not on the list due to performance-enhancing drugs) is getting paid in New York. Albert Pujols is the overall best player in Major League Baseball currently and he will be a first-ballot inductee into Cooperstown and live for eternity among the legends.
2. Mariano Rivera (#42, Relief Pitcher, New York Yankees)
Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time (Sorry Trevor). As soon as he retires, his jersey will be on display in Cooperstown and his number will be retired across all of baseball (retired currently since it’s the number Jackie Robinson wore). His 2.22 career earned run average actually does not explain how dominant he was because it included his 10 career starts which were not very good. He has finished with a sub 2.00 ERA ten times and led the league in saves three times. These totals garnered him MVP votes in 9 seasons and Cy Young Award votes in 5 seasons. After retiring, he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame forever and anyone who has faced him will remember his cut fastball for just as long.
3. Ichiro Suzuki (#51, Outfielder, Seattle Mariners)
Ichiro revolutionized the left-handed batter in Major League Baseball. Ichiro came into the league in 2001 and immediately made his presence known by becoming the second player in history to win the ROY and MVP awards in the same season, the other being Fred Lynn. Ichiro is the only player to ever record 200+ hits over 10 straight seasons and he has maintained a .421 batting average in the postseason, which is 2nd all-time. Not only has he done it with his bat, but he has been lights-out in the outfield and has demonstrated arguably the best defensive skills of any current player in Major League Baseball.
4. Derek Jeter (#2, Shortstop, New York Yankees)
Credentials: AL ROY, 10 ASG, 4 SS, 5 GG, .313 Career BA, 2938 Hits (1st among Active, 31st All-time), 1693 runs (2nd Active, 27th All-time), 185 Hits in the Postseason (1st All-time), 101 Runs in the Postseason (1st All-time), 283 TB in the Postseason (1st All-time), 30 2B in the Postseason (1st All-time).
Derek Jeter maybe the most famous Yankee captain in history. His leadership, ability, and will to win has helped the most winning franchise in sports history to five more World Series Championships (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009). Jeter’s consistency has made him a member of the Steinbrenner family and I suspect he will have his very own memorial at Yankee Stadium soon after his retirement. He deserves to be in the exclusive group of Yankee legends with the like of Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, etc. Personally, I feel lucky to have watched this guy play, whether it’s his patented jump throw from the hole in the left side of the infield or his lean across the plate on a pitch outside.
5. Roy Halladay (#34, Starting Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies)
Roy Halladay is probably the best pitcher in baseball right now playing on one of the best teams in the game. He has a career ERA of 3.30, a career WHIP of 1.178, and he has placed himself into the elites of Major League pitching with an incredible work ethic that sports reporters are not shy to discuss. He was one of the most sought after free-agents in 2009 and when he became a member of the Phillies, they automatically became even more of a contender than they already were with their lethal line-up. He has struck out more than 200 batters in 4 of his 14 seasons and Roy Halladay will have his jersey hanging in Cooperstown exactly 5 years after he decides to call it quits.
6. Vladimir Guerrero (#27, Designated Hitter and Outfielder, Baltimore Orioles)
Credentials: MVP (2004), 9 ASG, 8 SS, .319 Career BA, 437 Career HR (5th among Active, 38th All-time), 1437 RBI (5th among Active, 61st All-time), 2442 Hits (8th among Active, 109th All-time), 4291 Total Bases (5th among Active, 55th All-time), 126 Assists as Right Fielder (2nd among Active, 22nd All-time)
Big, bad, Vlad is considered to be the best player in Montreal Expos history after compiling gaudy numbers there over 8 seasons (.323 BA, 234 HR, 702 RBI, 123 SB, .390 OBP, .978 OPS). Not too bad for a 16-year old who showed up for a pro tryout in the Dominican Republic, arriving on the back of a motorcycle and with two different sized baseball spikes. Guerrero is one of the greatest natural athletes on earth. He has made a living off of swinging at any pitch he believes he can crush and his strike zone is somewhat arbitrary after that. He has never worn batting gloves throughout his career and he used to have the best arm from right field in the game (42 runs better than replacement and I witnessed a missile at old Comiskey Park). Vlad is truly old school, fun to watch and will be a Hall of Fame inductee.
7. Larry “Chipper” Jones (#27, Third Basemen, Atlanta Braves)
Chipper Jones has been on some incredible ball clubs. He played a huge role in the Braves’ 14 season division winning streak as he came into the majors in the 5th year of the streak. Chipper has a career batting average of .306, with 972 extra-base hits, which ranks 38th all-time. He had become the face of the franchise that made a run every year under soon-to-be hall-of-famer Bobby Cox. Chipper Jones has had an incredible career and there is absolutely no doubt that he will be honored with the greats in the hall.
8. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (#7, Catcher, Washington Nationals)
Nobody in Major League Baseball history has played the catcher position in more games than Pudge Rodriguez (2398) and very few have performed as well offensively and defensively. While his offensive numbers are very impressive, defensively he had the highest caught stealing percentage in the league 9 times and this included a streak of 6 straight seasons from 1996-2001. He is also the most durable catcher to have ever played and he proved that by playing more than 140 games five times in his career. It is hard to believe this backstop was drafted before I was born, but he is still playing and helping out the Washington Nationals.
9. Jim Thome (#25, First Basemen and Designated Hitter, Minnesota Twins)
Jim Thome has some incredible power numbers. He is 8th all-time in homeruns with 590 bombs, and he ranks 29th all-time in runs batted in with 1629. Thome’s career has been plagued by injury, but he has still managed to hit the ball over the wall with great consistency, hitting over 30 homeruns in 13 out of 15 seasons in which he actually played the whole year without being injured. Thome will rank among the great designated hitters as well, having reached an OPS of over 1.000 2 times since moving to the American league, the only 2 times in his career. Jim Thome has been one of the best big bats in the game over the past two decades and he will be rewarded handsomely in Cooperstown with his number on the wall and a spot in history.
10. Tim Lincecum (#55, Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants)
When was the last time a 5’11” 165 pound hurler was intimidating on the mound? Yes, Pedro Martinez, and he is going to the Hall. The “Freak” is by far the youngest player on our list and we fully understand that if his career ended right now, he would not be a Hall of Fame inductee. However, he is on an amazing pace now pitching in his 5th season in the Major Leagues. With 70 more strikeouts he will reach 1000 which puts him on pace to be at 3000 in nine and a half more seasons. His accomplishments already have him as one of the best pitchers in Giants history. Lincecum check list: All-Star Starter, 2-time Cy Young Award Winner, and World Series Winner. We expect his list to increase and have hall of fame on it over the next decade.
Omar Vizquel, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Todd Helton “The Toddfather”, Felix Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera