Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Second in a six-part series ...

Last week, we examined the "hometown" AL East in terms of who among active players is headed to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Now, while staying in the junior circuit, we switch to the left coast to examine the same likelihoods for players on the four teams in MLB's smallest division.

Once again ...

... to be absolutely clear -- this is not a prediction or a projection, but just an off-the-top starting point. I'll miss some stuff -- last week's too-low placement of Nick Markakis drew some ire from Box readers, as did the supposed slighting of hometown hot corner hero Scott Rolen.

So as we move ahead, each team's Hall possibilities are broken down into six, (no longer just five -- see #3 below) categories ...
  1. Absolute slam-dunk mortal lock, also known as The Schmidt-Seaver Level
  2. Certainly on pace to make it, or The Rod Carew in 1977 Level;
  3. Borderline case, makes for a good argument in and of itself, or -- in deference to a candidate we will meet today -- the Omar Vizquel Level;
  4. Will get some votes, but probably never get inducted, or The Steve Garvey Level;
  5. Solid player, but no real chance at enshrinement, or The Larry Bowa Level; and
  6. Too early to tell, but worth watching, or the, um, Is He Ruben Sierra or Dave Parker or Hank Aaron? Level.
Again, just as a refresher:
  • That last one is the toughest. There are many players who are off to incredible, obviously Hall of Fame starts, but will they flame out like Sierra? Have a nice career but not quite Hall-worthy, like Parker? Or become part of the pantheon, like Aaron?
  • There are very few players in that first "slam dunk" category, which refers players who could retire right now and rest comfortably while drafting their acceptance speeches.
  • There are just about as few in the "on pace to" category that acknowledges the current greats who just haven't been around long enough yet to get the plaque-makers busy. There are many players at the fourth and fifth levels -- solid, but not Hall-category guys, though some will at least get some support from voters.
  • As for that "Too early to tell" category, it's not really at all just for rookies or brand-new players; as you saw last week, it includes names like Pedroia and Longoria, too.
This is all pretty random. Feel free to jump in with "How could you not even mention ...?" comment.

The list only considers active players, though if you really want to make a shout-out for a manager, umpire, front office guy or even a recently-retired player, please feel free to do so.

One final note -- there is no consideration given below to whether or not a player also belongs in The Mark McGwire Level ... use of PEDs, suspected, confirmed, or even admitted, is not one of our criteria. So those of you who niffed last week that Alex Rodriguez is never getting into the Hall of Fame, whether or not I disagree, that is not a consideration here.

Methodology ... I scanned rosters and drew unscientifc, non-statistical knee-jerk conclusions. You got a problem with that? I freely admit this almost certainly missed someone(s) really obvious, that I misplaced or miscategorized ("Markakised") others, etc. So what? This is a discussion starter. Go to it!

  • Absolute slam-dunk mortal lock: Nobody
  • Certainly on pace to make it: Michael Young
  • Borderline case: Omar Vizquel
  • Will get some votes, but probably not: Andruw Jones
  • Solid player, but no real chance: Kevin Millwood, Hank Blalock
  • Too early to tell, but worth watching: Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton
  • Absolute slam-dunk mortal lock: Vladimir Guerrero
  • Certainly on pace to make it: Nobody
  • Borderline case: Nobody
  • Will get some votes, but probably not: Nobody
  • Solid player, but no real chance: John Lackey, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter
  • Too early to tell, but worth watching: Nobody
  • Absolute slam-dunk mortal lock: Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Certainly on pace to make it: Nobody
  • Borderline case: Ichiro Suzuki
  • Will get some votes, but probably not: Nobody
  • Solid player, but no real chance: Adrian Beltre, Mike Sweeney
  • Too early to tell, but worth watching: Felix Hernandez
  • Absolute slam-dunk mortal lock: Nobody
  • Certainly on pace to make it: Nobody
  • Borderline case: Nomar Garciaparra
  • Will get some votes, but probably not: Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday
  • Solid player, but no real chance: Orlando Cabrera, Eric Chavez
  • Too early to tell, but worth watching: Nobody
Thoughts ... This is a weak division ... On the "may be placed too high" level, toughest calls were Young and Garciaparra ... On the other end of the spectrum, "may be placed too low," that'd be John Lackey and Matt Holliday ... There were a number of players, especially pitchers, who almost earned a spot in the "Solid but no chance" area, but Vicente Padilla is too inconsistent, and do Jay fans really want me to "honor" Kelvim Escobar and Miggy Batista? ... Okay, take your best shots. Who'd I leave out and where'd I screw up?
Who's headed to Cooperstown? (AL West edition) | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ryan Day - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 12:29 AM EDT (#199691) #
I think Ichiro gets in. He'll have at least 2,000 hits, 400 steals, an MVP, (at least) 8 all-star teams, 8 gold gloves... and he didn't even start his American career until he was 27. It wouldn't surprise me if he's an effective player until he's 40, which gives him a shot at 3,000 hits. And I think he'll benefit from the steroid era, with the reputation of a clean, hustling ballplayer who didn't need to bulk up and hit 40 homers.
Anders - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 12:54 AM EDT (#199692) #
Michael Young I think has about as much of a chance of making it as I do. A poor fielding shortstop with a career ops+ of 104... pass. I think Ichiro is a pretty good bet to make it. He'll get credit for his Japanese seasons, and he's one of the best pure average men of all time. Throw in the ++ defense and the steals, the MVP... I think he'll make it for sure.
dfp - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 01:16 AM EDT (#199693) #
I agree with the above posters that Ichiro should be upgraded and Young downgraded. I personally think Ichiro is certainly on pace to make it and Young is a solid, but no real chance of making it. I think Matt Holliday actually belongs in the too early to tell, since no one is 100% certain what level of hitter he is moving away from coors.
Glevin - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 04:46 AM EDT (#199699) #
Vizquel will make it. He certainly shouldn't, but he has constant HOF talk surrounding him and he just feels like a player who is going to make it. Hitters either make it because of perceived great offense or perceived great defense (as if the two are equal). Vizaquel has the latter. Michael Youn, on the other hand, has neither. He's not known for his defense and 122 HRs in this era is nothing. The idea that either of these two would get in before Trammell is jaw-dropping. Ichiro will get in and probably deserves it. I know you can't count his Japanese stats, but you can factor in the fact that he did play there at an incredibly high level and didn't come to the MLB until he was 27. Japense players generally are not allowed to come over before then. Plus being a great fielder and great base-runner helps. Of course,  fewer than 25% of voters voted for Tim Raines who is far more deserving, so what the hell do I know?
Magpie - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#199701) #
I agree - Ichiro Suzuki is a slam dunk. The Ty Cobb of our time (without all the psychosis.) He may even make it to 3000 hits. I regarded Suzuki and Michael Young as definite long shots to make it to 3000 when I examined the issue a couple of years back. He hasn't done anything to hurt his chances since then, and if he plays until he's 40 he should definitely get there - but Suzuki doesn't need 3000 hits to walk into Cooperstown.

I do think Michael Young needs to make it to 3000 hits to get in. Problem is, like Suzuki, Young needs to keep averaging 200 hits a year until he's 40. If he manages that, he's a viable 3000 hit candidate. But no one has done that. Ever. (Yet - Suzuki and Young are both working on it!) Also, Young has never missed any time with an injury - you have to think that's going to change as he moves into his mid-30s. So he's much more likely to end up with 2600 hits or so, which probably won't cut it.

I don't think Omar Vizquel is an all-time great, but he's got a very good chance of getting in. Especially if a lot of the recent sluggers are effectively blscklisted. But if Vizquel goes in and Fred McGriff is still on the outside...

Dark Horse Pick - John Lackey.
Mike Green - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#199703) #
I'd move Andruw Jones to "too early to tell".  If he ended his career in the next year or two, he'd probably be on the outside.  On the other hand, he might make the Chili Davis transition from centerfield to DH in his 30s. 

He was a great, great player in his 20s, with defence being the big item.  Right now, he's at 58 Wins Above Replacement, according to Sean Smith (i.e. right where Rolen is, but a year younger).  He could very well end up at 70-75 WAR.  If he has that second career as a DH, he'll get the sabermetric crowd with his age 20s defence and the others with 550-600 homers.

lexomatic - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 01:28 PM EDT (#199709) #
i feel like Vladi isn't really a mortal lock..yet. he's been great, and he's definitely on pace.. i just don't think he'd get voted in if his career stopped now because of injuries... or if he became very inneftcive and ended his career on a whimper. I think that for the voters he doesn't have big enough career numbers. I'm not saying that's how it should be, I just think that's what would happen. I'm going to check his stats now just to see if it backs up my gut feeling on this.
I also think people forget just how yougn Adrian Beltre was when he started -19 - and he can be reasonably good until very late, he will have big numbers. Consistency over greatness is a mark of Hall of Very Good -still an amazing accomplishment but not immortal. I remember though that when Winfield was near the end of his career, I rememeb heareing "But he never had that really BIG year...He was too consistently good." Winfield was a much better player in my mind.. but again 3000 hits is a number that seems much harder than 500 homeruns now..averaging 140 hits until you're 40 seems doable.. especially with some big years. 3000 hits 400 home runs would be difficult to argue against, especially considering how many 3b men have ever done that.

3000 hit guys who played 3b: Molitor, Boggs, Brett, Ripken, Kaline.
That's 5. Brooks Robinson, Tony Perez, Rorgers Hornsby & Frankie Frisch all had between 2700-2930 hits.
Of those 10 or so.. how many had 400 home runs? Ripken lead wiht 431.. Kaline had 399. Neither was a full time 3b.

400+ HR 3b: ARod, Schmidt, Thome, Foxx, Matthews, Dave Kingman, Darrell Evans, Chipper Jones,
Jason Giambi's at 399 (only 70 games at 3b) , Nettles is at 390, Perez 379, Matt Williams 378.

I think it would be imjpossible to ignore him if he plays long enough.
This also might help Young's chances too, though consider that Beltre is 2 years younger and has more career hits.
Magpie - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 02:32 PM EDT (#199711) #
Al Kaline appeared in 2 games at third base over 21 seasons. He appeared at third base the same way Frank Menechino appeared on the pitcher's mound, and absolutely shouldn't be mentioned in the discussion. He has nothing to do with Hall of Fame third basemen.
Magpie - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#199712) #
That said, Beltre is an interesting player. He's got the Norm Cash problem - the one huge fluke season, that puts the rest of his career in the shadows. But because he did start so young, he will definitely have impressive counting numbers. I just don't think he'll be good enough to play until he's 40. I think that by about age 35 or 36, his career will be on a year-to-year basis - one bad year, and it's over. Even so, he should be good for 2500 hits and 350 HRs.

Obviously, none of Dave Kingman, Tony Perez or Jason Giambi have all that much more to do with third basemen and the Hall of Fame than Al Kaline does.

And Cal Ripken, Frank Frisch, and Rogers Hornsby are in the Hall for their accomplishments while playing in the middle of the infield, not at the corner.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 04:13 PM EDT (#199721) #
Well, Perez played nearly 800 games at the hot corner, and was the Reds' regular third-sacker for four seasons before The Trade That Creatted the Big Red Machine.

Though he was clearly primarily a 1B -- never played an inning at 3B after 1971 -- he doesn't really fit that Kingman/Giambi role either. Perez was, at one time, clearly a big league third baseman, while neither of the others was for more than token times.

Magpie - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 04:59 PM EDT (#199722) #
The Trade That Created the Big Red Machine.

I'm wondering - is there anyone who remembers how that trade was viewed when it was made? I remember it happening, barely - but I certainly don't remember what people thought about it at the time. I don't think anyone understood just how much the Astrodome depressed offense. So no one really had much idea what a mighty force Joe Morgan was, or how much Denis Menke had left in the tank.

Cincinnati gave up their first-baseman, a feared and dangerous slugger (Lee May); their second baseman, an acknowledged glove whiz but a lousy bat (Tommy Helms); and a really useful utility guy (Jimmy Stewart, a switch-hitter who could fill in almost anywhere in the infield or outfield.)...

And it looked like they were getting back quantity (five guys!) rather than quality! A couple of unproven young outfielders (Armbrister and Geronimo), an infielder clearly on the downside of his career (Menke), a 28 year old pitcher with a .500 record (Billingham). And Little Joe, of course. Who in the three seasons since his major knee injury had hit .253 with a total of 36 HRs. I don't think anyone suspected at that moment that he was (about to become) one of the three greatest second basemen who ever lived.
AWeb - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 08:01 PM EDT (#199732) #
I think Napoli for the Angels could be at least worth watching. Catchers who hit a lot of homers are pretty rare, and he's not too old to have one of those long-tailed play until 41 catcher careers. I'd put Weaver in the same category for the Angels - he did get an impressive start at age 23, and seems to miss enough bats to make a go of it. If he can develop into a 200-230 IP/year type starter, and stay solidly above average, he's got a shot. Career number-wise, if he puts up a very good year this year, he'll be about where Halladay was at age 26.

The A's with no one in the "worth watching" category seemed harsh, but none of the hitters would seem to fit there, and the entire starting rotation is 25 and under without any appreciable track record to base even an early judgement on. Seriously, that is the least experienced starting rotation I can recall ever seeing. 2 rookies, another guy (Outman) who probably still qualifies for the rookie awards, and two guys with 180 and 250 career IP respectively. In 2-3 years, one or two of them will likely make a list like this, but there's no way to guess right now.

I also think Beltre, with his counting numbers and outstanding defense, has at least a shot.

And Michael Young on pace? I suppose...but he's early in the running, to extend the metaphor.
OBG - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 08:11 PM EDT (#199733) #
Certainly Ichiro -- and perhaps Lackey -- could be rated higher methinks, but I think Mick's list is pretty bang on, and I think he's right about Michael Young. Throw in longevity, another batting title or two and some other peripherals and he's in Biggio country. Still makes me choke on my chicken wing when I hear the name "Loaiza".
Mick Doherty - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 09:01 PM EDT (#199737) #
an infielder clearly on the downside of his career (Menke)
... who two years later the Reds flipped back to the Astros for a young pitcher named Pat Darcy, who -- unfortunately best-remembered for serving up the Fisk foul pole homer -- was a critical back-of-the-rotation double-digit winner for the '75 Reds.
lexomatic - Sunday, May 10 2009 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#199739) #
To reply to Magpie and others, the only reason i listed guys who had so little playing time at 3b (re: Beltre) was exactly to highlight how rare his potential accomplishments could be. I guess in all the rush i forgot to specify that. He really will be an interesting case. Offhand the only person i can think of that might be similar is Phil Cavaretta, who i think was ok, had one huge year, but started at like age 17. I don't really have time to look it up. Last time i tried looking for the similar player lists i couldn't figure out the new baseball-reference. Are those back? i'm really curious now about Beltre.
Shrike - Wednesday, May 13 2009 @ 03:17 PM EDT (#199916) #
Ichiro could retire tomorrow and he'd be a mortal lock. Seriously, this is not close.
Who's headed to Cooperstown? (AL West edition) | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.