By: Noah Wright
In the last MLB Hall Of Fame ballot, Mariano Rivera received the first unanimous ballot of any MLB player to get elected into the Hall. Before him, Ken Griffey Jr., and Tom Seaver just barely missed the unanimous ballot. Currently, there are plenty of MLB players who are going to either going to be on the ballot within the next year or so, or are already looking like Hall Of Fame players. But will the following reach the unanimous ballot election into immortality?
- Derek Jeter:
Plenty of fans think Derek Jeter will reach the Hall on a unanimous ballot. I mean, he was a top 5 offensive shortstop of all time. His all-time OPS ranks 7th among SS, he has more hits than any other shortstop, he is in the top 100 of all time WAR, and he’s one of 5 shortstops (one of them being Alex Rodriguez who played third base for a good portion of his career) with 200 stolen bases and home runs. Plus, Jeter is 5th in shortstop home runs. But Jeter was never great with the glove at shortstop. In his career, Jeter has a -8.3 dWAR, -66.1 UZR, and -153 DRS at shortstop. Throughout his 20 MLB seasons, he’s only ever been truly above average with the glove in 3 seasons; that being 1997, 1998 and 2009. All the other years, Jeter was either average, or below average. Jeter more than likely won’t receive a unanimous call to the Hall, but he will make it in first ballot based on bat alone.
- Albert Pujols:
Albert Pujols is to me, one of the greatest sluggers of all time. Pujols is one of 31 players with a WAR at or higher than 100. Pujols is part of the 600 home run club, and is only 1 RBI away from 2000. As long as nothing absolutely catastrophic happens to Pujols within the next few days or so, Pujols will be one of 3 players to reach 600 home runs and 2000 RBI’s, joining the legendary Hank Aaron, and Alex Rodriguez as the only other players to reach that milestone. While he does have a -2.2 dWAR, Pujols also has 143 DRS at first base to back him up as well. Though the former MVP he has regressed in the past handful of years, The Machine should definitely be a first ballot Hall Of Famer and he has a legitimate case for a unanimous ballot.
- Ichiro Suzuki:
Ichiro’s longevity alone puts him into Hall Of Fame conversation. When Ichiro came from Japan to the MLB, he wasn’t a young kid. He was already 27, and had played professional baseball for nearly 1000 games beforehand. But that didn’t stop Ichiro from being amazing. For 19 years, Ichiro collected 3089 hits, and reached 509 stolen bases. In his primary OF position of right field, Ichiro racked up 103 DRS. Though his .759 OPS doesn’t shout Hall Of Fame, it should be noteworthy of all his accomplishments in the MLB. He 1 of 2 players to win both Rookie Of The Year and MVP in the same season, and has more hits than Pete Rose if you combine his hits from Japan. Though Ichiro is likely a first ballot Hall Of Famer, I don’t see him getting in unanimously.
- Miguel Cabrera:
Miguel Cabrera did something a player didn’t do since the 60’s, when he hit for a triple crown in 2012. But overall, Cabrera has been a very noteworthy player. He has a career OPS of .943, and ranks 35th all time in home runs. Miggy is just 44 long balls away from being the 28th player of joining the 500 home run club, while also being just under 300 hits from the 3000 hit club. Cabrera’s OPS+ of 150 ranks 33rd all time, and just above Jeff Bagwell who had a 149 OPS+. But Cabrera’s career defensive numbers aren’t all that pretty. Throughout his career, Miggy has a -16.5 dWAR, -28 DRS at first base, -88 DRS at third base, and -13 DRS in the outfield. Left field is the only position he’s ever had positive numbers in DRS with, at 5. Miguel Cabrera’s bat will easily carry him to the Hall Of Fame, but his defense prevents him from even smelling a perfect ballot.
- Mike Trout:
Unlike most names on this list, Mike Trout isn’t nearing, or already retired, and still has a large portion of his career ahead of him. But Trout is already a legendary player in and of himself. Almost every single full year of his career, you can make an argument that Trout should have won MVP. His lowest MVP placement since 2012 has been 4th. That’s when he was injured for part of the year, and played just 114 games. Currently Trout has a 66.9 career WAR. He is only 2.7 WAR away from breaking the top 100 in all time WAR. Speaking that he has a 2.7 WAR through the first month and a week of the season, Trout should easily reach the top 100 in WAR by July at the latest. Note, this will all be in his age 27 season, and he will play until he is at least 38 years of age. 2012-2018 Trout is very comparable to 1954-1960 Willie Mays. Trout has a .001 difference in OPS on Mays, a higher OBP, a higher WAR than Mays, and a better OPS+ than Mays in that time span. So long as Mike Trout doesn’t fall off a cliff in his career, Trout will more than certainly be a unanimous Hall Of Fame player.
- Clayton Kershaw:
If you asked me back in 2015 if Kershaw was a first ballot, unanimous Hall Of Fame pitcher, I would probably say, yea he has a pretty good chance. However 2015 Kershaw is not the same as 2019 Kershaw. While he still is a dominant pitcher, the Dodger ace needs to stay healthy more often. He has only reached more than 25 starts once since 2015, and hasn’t reached 30 starts in a season since 2015. While I do not believe this is the end for Kershaw (though he does have a 3.62 FIP to start 2019), Kershaw still has the strikeout stuff, and control he had back in 2015. I don’t see Kershaw being a first ballot Hall Of Fame pitcher-as of now. But if he puts up some vintage Kershaw numbers, I could see a decent case to be made.