Predicting each MLB team’s next Hall of Fame inductee: Clayton Kershaw, Ichiro, Carlos Beltrán and more

We start off with an incredibly difficult one, due to the youth of the franchise and lots of player movement. If Paul Goldschmidt ends up getting to Cooperstown, it’s possible he’ll be wearing a Cardinals cap. Of course, he already has eight years of experience with the D-Backs and just three in St. Louis. If anything, he fits the qualification of this team being a reason he has a blank cap. I think he’s going to end up short, however. No, the answer here is going to be Curt Schilling. I’ll say the Today’s Era Committee puts him in relatively soon. Though he played nine years with the Phillies and four each for the Red Sox and D-Backs, he had so much value and fame in those latter two stops that he’s surely going in with a blank cap. Speaking of, Zack Greinke could end up counting here, too (see the Royals entry for more), but I’ll guess Schilling. Andruw Jones is trending in the right direction on the BBWAA ballot, but he still has an uphill battle. I do think he’ll make it eventually, but will some other Brave beat him to the punch here? Dale Murphy is probably going to get a pretty good look with the Modern Day Era committee. One of these two is going to be the next one wearing a Braves cap in the Hall of Fame (apologies to Freddie Freeman, who won’t be eligible for another decade-plus), but there’s a guy here is going to beat them both for this exercise, in my opinion, only it’ll be with a blank cap. I have a hunch Fred McGriff is likely going to make it this December via the Today’s Game ballot and it’s long overdue. He played five seasons for the Braves, Blue Jays and Rays each. As such, it might be boring to repeat answers, but he’s going to take the honors for all three teams in this exercise. This is a really tough one. There isn’t anyone obvious on the ballot or coming soon. Among current players, the best shot would be Manny Machado, but by the time his current deal is up in San Diego, he’ll have had seven seasons with the Orioles and 10 with the Padres, not to mention that he’ll need to accrue a bunch of value on the Padres’ end. Plus, he won’t be Hall eligible for a long time. Are we waiting to see if Adley Rutschman eventually makes it? What about Bobby Grich? As time passes and our understanding of stats evolve, it’s becoming more obvious that Grich was totally under-appreciated in his era (he played from 1970-1986) — and that’s even with him making six All-Star teams and winning four Gold Gloves. He’s eighth in JAWS at second base, above the average Hall of Famer and ahead of Frankie Frisch, Ryne Sandberg and Jackie Robinson. That doesn’t necessarily mean he was better, but it certainly means he has a case for enshrinement. A strong one. He played seven years for the Orioles and 10 for the Angels, though he amassed more WAR with the Orioles. He’s a blank cap candidate with a strong Orioles’ feel. Bobby Grich the pick. I said there weren’t many easy and obvious ones, but the Red Sox are. It’s David Ortiz. Whether that’s this year or next, he’ll be the next Red Sox player in. Other would-be candidates would be Dustin Pedroia on the BBWAA vote, soon, and perhaps Luis Tiant, Roger Clemens and/or Dwight Evans via era committees. This is a really tough one. Kris Bryant didn’t quite keep the Hall of Fame track rolling after 2017 and now if he builds a case, he might have a lot more value elsewhere. Among active players, the remaining hope would then shift to Willson Contreras and that doesn’t look great either. Something interesting can be found on the list of JAWS for shortstops. Amid a sea of current Hall of Famers sits Bill Dahlen. He’s well above the average Hall of Fame shortstop, sitting ahead of Derek Jeter and Barry Larkin. He’s gotten some love on the era committees, but fell short this past December. He might be the next entry from the franchise, but he never actually played for the Cubs. The franchise was known as the Colts and then the Orphans when he played for it (1891-98). There weren’t even logos on the hats then, so we’re moving on. I think I’m going with Jon Lester here. He had three more years and more overall value with the Red Sox, but his story with the Cubs is enough to push him into blank cap territory and he’d have a massive Cubs gathering in Cooperstown for an inauguration. Will he make it? That’s a tough call, but I don’t really have anywhere else to turn here. First off, no, I don’t think Shoeless Joe Jackson is going to be added any time soon. Also, Minnie Miñoso has been added very recently, but since he’s already in we can look ahead to the next one. Mark Buehrle is on the ballot, currently, and deserves a longer look due to pitching in an era where his workhorse durability set him apart. He only got 11 percent of the vote in his first try, though. If he doesn’t get in, might our eyes move over toward first base and José Abreu? He doesn’t have the counting stats at all, but he didn’t get to MLB until he was 27 years old. Will his Cuban stats (.341/.456/.622 with 178 homers and 583 RBI) give him any boost? Should they? If we get past Buehrle and Abreu, we’re onto Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Yoán Moncada and Lucas Giolito. You know what? I’ll go with Mark Buehrle. I think a starting pitcher push will start happening within the next eight years. While I’d love to get into a whole thing with the Pete Rose Cult for what would seem like Round 4,256, he’s still permanently banned by Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame hasn’t given any indication it has plans to stray from the ruling. I don’t care to re-litigate it right now, either. No, let’s talk about the Reds who haven’t received a permanent ban. I could be wrong, but I kind of feel like the case has been settled with Dave Concepcion being left out. Aside from him on retired players, I’m not seeing a ton of vet committee guys and there isn’t anyone on the current ballot. No, I think the next Reds Hall of Famer is currently on the team. He’s signed through 2023 and especially in light of the power renaissance last season, we’re going with Joey Votto. Again, no Shoeless Joe (he actually had more value with Cleveland than Chicago in the same number of years). There doesn’t look like an upcoming candidate in BBWAA balloting will get much trraction, including Omar Vizquel, so are we looking for someone from Francisco Lindor (frankly, if he makes it, his Mets years might have more value), José Ramírez and/or Shane Bieber? Nah, I don’t think so. I’ve got Kenny Lofton getting in via Today’s Game Era committee, hopefully this coming December along with McGriff. He hit .299 with a .372 OBP, scored over 1,500 runs, is 15th all time with 622 stolen bases and sits 10th in center field JAWS. His 3.2 percent of the vote in his only try on the BBWAA ballot was a travesty. He spent 10 years with Cleveland and one year with 10 different teams. While it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Nolan Arenado’s career unfolds, I think we already have our answer here. Todd Helton is tracking toward induction here in the next few years. This one might come down to timing. There are three names on the table. Many (myself included) believe Lou Whitaker should already be a Hall of Famer, but he fell off the BBWAA ballot in his first try (2001) and then in 2020 got just six of 16 votes (needing 12 for induction) on the Modern Baseball Era committee vote. That committee next votes in December of 2023. It votes again in December of 2025. If Whitaker doesn’t make it on either of those, there’s a shot it’s Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera. Verlander is now signed through 2023 with the Astros, but that would still only give him parts of six seasons in Houston compared to 13 in Detroit. Cabrera is also signed through 2023, which would give him 16 Tigers years compared to five Marlins years. All paths point to both wearing a Tigers cap upon induction. Who gets there first? I’ll go with Miguel Cabrera. I think Verlander holds on longer as an active player and Whitaker gets left out in the cold a few more votes while Cabrera flies in with ease on his first ballot. You know what, though? The most fun outcome could be all three in the same class.  Here’s a really tough one. If Billy Wagner can make it, he’s the easy pick. It’s just that this time around is his seventh on the ballot and it looks like he still might not crack 50 percent. Maybe the Today’s Game Era takes up his case immediately after he falls off the ballot? If not Wagner, we’re likely looking at the current crop of players. Verlander and Gerrit Cole will have too much value elsewhere (if Cole even pitches his way into the conversation). George Springer and/or Carlos Correa? I’m not so sure it works. Among players signed long-term, will Alex Bregman get there? How about Jose Altuve? As noted, this is very tough. I do think Altuve is going to get there. But I’ll say Billy Wagner beats him, likely via committee vote before Altuve is retired long enough to hit the BBWAA ballot. There are two strong possibilities coming soon. Carlos Beltrán is hitting the BBWAA ballot next voting cycle and I think he’ll be a first-ballot guy. He played seven years for the Mets and Royals apiece. With big contributions elsewhere, he’s a prime “blank cap” guy and counts here. If Beltrán ends up in a Mets cap — I’m not seeing it, but it’s plausible — Zack Greinke would be next. Though he’s been good everywhere he’s been, he pitched 1,108 innings for K.C. with the next highest total being 714 2/3 (Arizona). His lone Cy Young came with the Royals, too. If his value with the D-Backs and Dodgers is great enough to warrant a blank cap, so be it. He’s still a Royals Hall of Famer. Carlos Beltrán is the pick, though. It’s always tempting to enter “Mike Trout” and call it a day, right? I do think, ultimately, that Albert Pujols goes in as a Cardinal and not with a blank cap, but I still think Trout gets beat here. See the Orioles commentary on Bobby Grich. He’s going to be a blank hat due to time with the Angels and Orioles and I do think he makes it before Trout. Another interesting one to watch is Francisco Rodríguez (“K-Rod”). He’s fourth in career saves, comes on the ballot next year and there might be a reckoning on relievers coming up. Regardless, we’re going Grich here. The Dodgers just got Gil Hodges in December, but since he’s technically now already in, we’re looking for the next one. Gary Sheffield spent parts of four seasons with the Dodgers and earned his most WAR with them. He spent parts of six years with the Marlins and had so many productive years for so many different teams he’s a blank cap guy who just doesn’t feel like a “Dodgers Hall of Famer.” Is it just as easy as saying Clayton Kershaw? It very well might be. Maybe Kenley Jansen retires before Kershaw and beats him in? Seems a stretch. Clayton Kershaw is the pick. Rough sailing here. If Giancarlo Stanton does get there, he’ll likely have a blank cap and count. Sheffield (see Dodgers above) is a possibility, though he doesn’t have much momentum. If he does make it, there’s a chance. He was great with the Marlins and logged more time than with any other team, plus he won a World Series. Speaking of: Kevin Brown? Eh. It was just two years and he spent eight years with the Rangers. We’ll begrudgingly pick Gary Sheffield. The slimmest pickings on the board. Ryan Braun will come up short. There aren’t really any veteran committee types sitting around, either. That means Christian Yelich is going to have to right the ship and keep it cruising for a handful — at least — more seasons. Or maybe Corbin Burnes sticks around long-term in the rotation and racks up a few more Cy Youngs? I guess Christian Yelich is the pick, but there isn’t much confidence behind it.  With Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat now in, things became a lot simpler. It should be as simple as Joe Mauer getting in on his first try in 2024. Joe Nathan is on the ballot now but doesn’t have any momentum. The only way it’s not Mauer is if Johan Santana gets in this coming December via the Today’s Game Era vote — and, really, he should. We’ll stick with Joe Mauer, but Johan could stage a sneak-attack victory. As discussed above in the Royals entry, it looks like Beltrán here. He provided the Mets with a ton of value in his seven seasons and they wouldn’t have even had the chance to see him have that one bad at-bat that so many people focus on if he hadn’t carried the offense the rest of that series. He’s going in next year and is the pick here. I do wonder if there will be veteran committee movement toward the likes of Keith Hernandez, David Cone and/or John Franco in the coming decade, but Carlos Beltrán is going to beat them in. Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodríguez are on the current ballot, though neither look close to enshrinement. CC Sabathia joins the ballot for the 2025 election and I don’t think it takes him long to get in. I wonder about a movement for Thurman Munson before that, though. Munson tragically died in a plane crash at age 32 and had the foundation of a Hall of Fame career. There are other cases where a foundation before a premature death (see Ross Youngs) got someone in, though. Munson rates out really well in JAWS, too, right in the ballpark of Ted Simmons and Buster Posey (Munson is 12th among catchers all-time). Catcher is relatively under-represented as it is. The Modern Baseball Era committee would be tasked with a vote on Munson and meets in December of 2023. I’ll go with CC Sabathia here, but I think there’s a very real chance Munson beats him. Will the Today’s Game Era committee select Mark McGwire? I tend to think the committees might eventually let so-called “PED guys” in, but not just yet. And, man, it’s a short list for the A’s right now. I’m not going to work down to Matt Chapman or Matt Olson right now because they probably won’t be around long. Look at Josh Donaldson. If he does make the unlikely trek into Hall of Fame territory, it’s a Blue Jays cap he’ll be wearing. In a pick that might be an upset here, I’m going with Gene Tenace. He spent eight years with the A’s and four with the Padres. Underrated in his day (1969-1983) due to having a low batting average with a ton of walks and good power (so he’s an OPS guy instead of average and it’s easy to see why we’d value him more now), Tenace has a career 136 OPS+, which is exceptional for a catcher. Sure enough, he’s right with Munson in JAWS, a touch ahead of Posey.  Dick Allen fell short again on the Golden Days Era ballot, so we’re all still waiting on this wrong to be righted. Schilling remains a possibility and perhaps Bobby Abreu gets in before Chase Utley (I’m assuming it won’t take him long). The answer is going to be Scott Rolen, though. He spent more years with the Phillies and racked up more value with them than any other team, so even if he wears a blank cap on the plaque, he’s a Phillies guy. I think he gets in for the 2023 induction. Oh, and just to drop a line to all the lingering Bryce Harper naysayers, he’ll be there someday. The Phillies just have a long line in front of him. He’d have been the pick on a team like the Brewers or A’s. I don’t think Andrew McCutchen is trending toward the Hall of Fame. Through 2015, it looked like he might, but he hit a bit of a wall. He isn’t off the table, of course, and there’s no one else active who would get a look and have a chance to be in a Pirates cap on his plaque. Will the Modern Baseball Era committee circle back and give Dave Parker a look? The advanced metrics don’t love him, but the committees have elected Harold Baines, Jack Morris and Lee Smith. Dave Parker is the pick. I think Machado is headed that way and if that’s going to happen, he’ll have more years and likely a good amount more value with the Padres, so my selection is Manny Machado. If not him, it looks like our eyes are moving right over to Mr. Fernando Tatis, Jr. That’s pretty fun, right?  No need to think too hard. Ichiro Suzuki debuts on the 2025 ballot. So does Félix Hernández, though I’m not sure he’s going to make it. Ichiro flies in on the first ballot. It looks like Barry Bonds falls off the ballot after this year and I’m not quite sure what the era committees will do with his case. As noted above, I think it’ll be a little bit before the so-called “PED” guys break through that forcefield, but you never know with Bonds. He was that much better than everyone else. Jeff Kent is on his ninth ballot and also looks like he’ll fall shy. My hunch is Buster Posey gets in on his first ballot, but he’s just now entering the five-year waiting period. Will Bonds and/or Jeff Kent make it in between? What about Will Clark on either a Modern Baseball or Today’s Game era ballot? This is a tough one, but I’m gonna play it safe. We’ll go with Buster Posey. Another matter of timing? It looks like both Albert Pujols (easy first ballot) and Yadier Molina (might have to wait a year or two) are likely to play one more year. Ken Boyer has been on a whopping six different veterans committee ballots — suggesting the Hall seems to want him in — so it’s possible he makes it before those two. Also, Jim Edmonds has a case to be made and there will be two Today’s Game era votes before we see Pujols and/or Molina. So it’s not very simple at all, even if I’m going with the easy and obvious pick: Albert Pujols. Given how much player movement takes place in Tampa Bay, that I think Evan Longoria ultimately winds up short of the Hall and that Wander Franco is now signed long-term to a deal that the Rays likely hold onto, I really wanted to be bold. That would be quite the called shot, right? Franco as the next Rays Hall of Famer when he’s only 20 years old. Alas, go all the way back up to the Braves’ entry. I think Fred McGriff is getting in very soon and he spent as many seasons with the Rays as the Braves and Jays. McGriff is the pick — but Franco is my backup! I suppose it’s possible Kevin Brown makes it via the Today’s Game Era ballot before then, but Adrián Beltré hits the 2024 BBWAA ballot and will cruise into the Hall of Fame without having to sweat. He has an air-tight case. He will absolutely be wearing a Rangers cap, too, just so long as no one touches his actual head in the process. Well, we’ve already covered Fred McGriff, haven’t we? He’s the pick for the Braves, Rays and Blue Jays since I think he’ll be named a Hall of Famer within the next calendar year. Can I make a quick case for Dave Stieb, though? Pitchers from the ’80’s are already under-represented in the Hall of Fame compared to other decades. Stieb was one of the best pitchers in the American League from 1981-85 when he had a 2.95 ERA (144 ERA+) while averaging 256 innings per season. He won an ERA title and led the league in WAR three straight seasons (1982-84). There are some longevity in addition to that excellent peak, too. Hopefully the Modern Days Era committee considers him soon. Bryce Harper will end up with a lot more years with the Phillies. If Anthony Rendon gets there, it’ll likely be with a huge push for the Angels. Even so, they’ll get beat to Cooperstown by Max Scherzer. With seven years in D.C. compared to five in Detroit — and a lot more value with the Nats — Scherzer is the easy pick. I don’t even think it’s a blank cap. I think it’s the curly W on Mad Max’s plaque. Also, I wanted to mention Juan Soto here just because. Juan Soto. (Just wanted to say his name again).

Christin Hakim

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