About 1,000 players will Don a big league uniform this year. That means there are about 15 players in the big leagues right now who will make it to the Hall of Fame. Assuming three of them are young guys just starting their careers or early in their careers, 12 are established veterans.
Here’s my thought on which those players are.
1. Clayton Kershaw: Easily one of the ten best starting pitchers of all time. 59 WAR
2. Albert Pujols: Launched 600-plus home runs during three-time MVP career. 99 WAR
3. Miguel Cabrera: Two-time MVP and 11-time All Star who will likely earn 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. 69.9 WAR
4. Adrian Beltre: Owner of 3,000 hits and likely member of the 500 home run club. 92.4 WAR
5. Mike Trout: He’s played just seven seasons, but already owns two MVPs, and led the league in stolen bases and runs batted in. 52.4 WAR
6. Ichiro: One of the most exciting players in the game, he tallied more than 3,000 hits and stole 500 bases. 59 WAR
7. Carlos Beltran: The nine-time All Star has put up a quietly remarkable career that includes 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. 70.5 WAR
8. Joe Mauer: A catcher with three batting titles is impressive when you realize he has more batting crowns than all the catchers in big league history combined. Don’t like batting titles. Mickey Cochrane is the only Hall of Famer with a higher on-base percentage. 51.7 WAR
9. CC Sabathia: it’s easy to forget how good he was. A Cy Young winner and 6-time All Star. 60.7 WAR
10. Felix Hernandez: The youngest of a group of borderline starters that includes Cole Hamels, Justin Verlander.
11. Dustin Pedroia: There’s a tight group of second basemen who are knocking on the door in Pedroia, Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler. But it’s doubtful any gets in without 2,000 career hits. Pedroia’s the youngest of the bunch and most likely to get there.
12. Joey Votto: Recently, several first basemen with the credentials for induction have been held out. Votto probably breaks through.
Of the guys mentioned but not listed, I’d assume Utley has the best shot, followed by Verlander.
* I’d argue this number will go up to about 2 percent. When you look at individual years, the number is often higher. In the National League alone in 1979 for example, there were 15 Hall of Famers. So I think Verlander, Utley and another veteran have a decent shot of getting in when those numbers go up.