The HyperTexts

Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best Candidates

Who are the best players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, who should be admitted? Who are the top candidates for the Hall of Fame? We have included players with known steroid "issues" in a separate category at the bottom of this page. Personally, we think they should all be judged on what they did on the field because the Hall of Fame is far from a company of angels. Some of the best players were of questionable character and actions, including four of the biggest names: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby and Cap Anson. Perhaps put an asterisk by their names, but keeping great players out of the HOF because of "morals" makes no sense to us, considering some of the players who are already in. In any case, here are our rankings, for whatever they're worth ...

Please be sure to check out our capsule bio: Why Reggie Smith is a LOT BETTER than you probably think.

BREAKING NEWS: Buster Posey is the fastest climber in our HOF rankings, with his magnificent resurgence as an MVP candidate at age 34, after three "down" years by his standards. Other "mature" players who helped their HOF chances in 2021 include Joey Votto and Evan Logoria. We lobbied long and hard for Larry Walker to make the HOF on his last try, and he did. We predicted that Derek Jeter would be elected on his first try, and we were correct again, although that was an easy call. However, we have Jeter ranked around 15th at shortstop and think a first year induction was more about popularity than elite-ness. Ted Simmons has also been elected to the HOF, something we have been advocating for years. Simmons has more WAR (50.3) than seven HOF catchers, including Mickey Cochrane, Buck Ewing and Ernie Lombardi, and ranks second at the position in hits (2,472), doubles (483) and RBI (1,389); third in games (2,456) and plate appearances (9.685); sixth in runs (1,074); ninth in walks (855); and twelfth in homers (283). We had Simmons in our all-time top ten catchers, after Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Gary Carter, Ivan Rodriguez, Carlton Fisk, Gabby Hartnett, Mike Piazza and Cochrane. So we are three-for-three on recent picks and are hoping the HOF will consider our top ten forthwith!

PREDICTIONS FOR 2022: We thought Curt Schilling would have a good chance to be elected to the HOF in 2022, but since he asked to have his name removed from consideration that seems less likely now. In his capsule bio, we question whether David Ortiz may have something he hopes to keep covered up that prompted his "snitch" accusation against Mike Fiers in the wake of the Astros sign stealing scam. Will there be revelations about Big Papi and the Red Sox that hurt his HOF chances? If not, his chances seem good. Alex Rodriguez becomes eligible but seems likely to suffer the fate of the other PED users. The most impressive new names are A-Rod, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon. This is the final year of eligibility for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.

Did you know: Albert Belle averaged 40 homers and 130 RBI per 162 games for a decade. He retired early due to arthritis, but then so did Sandy Koufax. Todd Helton slugged .539, which is higher than Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Mel Ott (and the latter had an even bigger home field advantage). It wasn't "all about the thin air" because Helton slugged .469 on the road, which is higher than Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie and Carl Yastrzemski for their careers.


Top Ten Regardless of Era and "Issues": Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Curt Schilling, Lou Whitaker, Rafael Palmeiro
Top Ten "Snubs" Who Should Be Elected: "Bad" Bill Dahlen, Jim McCormick, Kevin Brown, Bobby Grich, Jack Glasscock, Kenny Lofton, Scott Rolen, Reggie Smith, Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso
Already In or Close: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Adrian Beltre, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Joey Votto, Chris Sale
Young Guns: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich, Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor, Jose Altuve, Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper
On the Bubble: Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Chase Utley, Omar Vizquel, Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Andruw Jones, Billy Wagner, C. C. Sabathia, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte
Rising: Buster Posey, Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones
Falling: Robinson Cano, Curt Schilling, Carlos Beltran, Cody Bellinger
Stalling: Omar Vizquel, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens
Short and Sweet (*): Smoky Joe Wood, Thurman Munson, Albert Belle, Dizzy Trout, Bret Saberhagen, Dale Murphy, George Foster, Roger Maris, Don Mattingly, Tony Oliva, Eric Davis, Charlie Keller, Pete Browning, Dave Stieb, Will Clark, Dwight Gooden, Gavvy Cravath, Mike Donlin, Benny Kauff, Dave Orr

(*) "Short and Sweet" players had shorter careers with super-high peaks and/or suffered injuries in their primes. Why not induct the very best players with shorter careers, since that's already been done with players like Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean, Ralph Kiner, Hack Wilson, Hank Greenberg, Joe Gordon, Earle Combs, George Wright, Ross Youngs, Kirby Puckett, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Monte Irvin?

Needless to say, in a few years Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw will head the list below. For now I have a separate category for younger players where I rank them within their age groups by the WAR they've accumulated. Trout is so far ahead of everyone in his age group that he seems to be playing an entirely different game, on some planet where the laws of gravity don't apply. At the tender age of 28 he'd already passed 180 hall-of-famers in WAR, most of them in half the playing time or less. So it should come as no surprise that none of Trout's peers are remotely close to him. And Trout keeps widening the gap, with one 10-WAR season after another. Recently, I've been amused to hear alleged "experts" talk about Trout being in a "slump" in 2019. They must not comprehend statistics like OBP, OPS+ and WAR, because Trout's worst "slump" is better than nearly everyone else's best season ever. From what I've read, he's never gone more than two games without getting on base. What sort of "slump" is that? But in any case, I'm going to start off with eligible players and players who should be eligible aside from highly dubious "morality" issues other than PEDs, plus superstars who will be retiring soon. Then I will get to Mr. Trout and explain why my WAR-per-age analysis makes me suspect he's an alien ...

No-Brainers

(#1) Pete Rose is the all-time leader in games played, winning games played, plate appearances, at-bats, hits and times on base. Anyone who thinks he "wasn't dynamic" hasn't been paying attention. Rose's WAR7 puts him squarely between Al Simmons and Ralph Kiner, and ahead of Goose Goslin, Tim Raines, Billy Williams, Joe Medwick and Willie Stargell. If they were dynamic players, as they obviously were, then quite obviously Rose was too. Yes, he gambled. So did Rogers Hornsby, whose bookie sued him. Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker actually rigged a late-season game to get and split player bonuses, then bet on it. Keeping Rose out of the HOF at this point is a triumph of hypocritical puritanism over common sense. Rose was super-productive in his time, He did exactly what he was supposed to do, which was get on base and set the table for the Big Red Machine's stable of sluggers. He scored LOTS of runs: 2,165 to be exact. He had more total bases than Gehrig, Foxx, Ott and Mantle. Hell, he finished just 47 total bases short of Babe Ruth. Who cares if anyone likes him? Lots of people didn't like Cobb and he was the first player elected to the HOF. Pete Rose is a baseball immortal. Let him in!

(#2) Shoeless Joe Jackson. Ditto the argument above. Shoeless Joe Jackson has the second-highest OPS+ and WAR per 162 games among right fielders, trailing only Babe Ruth. He compares with Tris Speaker, who conspired with Ty Cobb to fix the game I mentioned above. The Hall of Fame is not a Hall of Angels. End the freakin' hypocrisy. Shoeless Joe Jackson is a baseball immortal. Let him in!

(#3) Albert Pujols should be a "mortal lock" as a first-ballot inductee into the HOF. He has 100 career WAR to go with a glittering 148 OPS+. Even in his declining years and with bad wheels The Machine continued to crank out 20-30 homers and 80-100 RBI per year. Pujols compares with Jimmie Foxx, Mike Schmidt and Frank Robinson as an all-time slugger. Pujols is still active as I write this.

One Foot in the Door

(#4) Adrian Beltre was one of the most productive third basemen of all time: 91.5 WAR, 3,166 hits, 477 homers, 1,707 RBI, 116 OPS+. Beltre was also exceptional defensively, with five Gold Gloves. He compares with Ron Santo but played longer and had more HR and RBI. He also compares favorably with a recent inductee, Chipper Jones. Beltre will become eligible in 2024.

(#5) Justin Verlander is looking more and more like a lock for the HOF: 69.8 WAR, 221-128, 3.34 ERA, 128 ERA+. While he and Schilling seem like "stat twins" at the moment, Verlander is still capable of putting up major WAR if he's healthy. His third no-hitter puts him in a very select group of pitchers with names like Ryan, Koufax and Feller.

Why Reggie Smith is a LOT BETTER than you probably think: We are not going to assign him a number because he is not currently eligible for voting, but we think Reggie Smith ranks above the other players on this list. Here’s why: First, my favorite stat for comparing players is WAR per 162 games. Some players piled up huge counting numbers, but how many games and at-bats did it take them? WAR/162 tells us how effective players were. And Reggie Smith was a top ten right fielder, according to WAR/162:

Right Field: Babe Ruth (10.48), Mookie Betts (8.66), Hank Aaron (6.70), Mel Ott (6.56), Frank Robinson (6.00), Larry Walker (5.92), Elmer Flick (5.81), Roberto Clemente (5.37), Reggie Smith (5.27), Harry Heilmann (5.20)

Reggie Smith’s career OPS+ of 137 is well above average for the HOF (where the average OPS+ is around 125). That 137 is better than a host of HOFers, including luminaries like George Brett, Home Run Baker, Joe Medwick, et al. And Smith was far from a one-trick pony. He was a plus defender who won a Gold Glove, and he stole 137 bases, so he had good speed as well. Roberto Clemente, who knew something about strong arms, once said that Smith had the best arm in baseball. According to David Halbertram, opposing players would gather around to watch him make throws during pre-game warm-ups. Reggie Smith’s OPS+ is very similar to those of Reggie Jackson, Vladimir Guerrero and Chuck Klein, but Smith was better defender with a canon arm and above-average speed. He was as good on offense and a better all-round player. Smith’s 64.6 career WAR puts him 15th among right fielders. The top 13 are all in the HOF. There are 16 right fielders in the HOF who have less WAR than Smith, and some of them substantially less, including recent inductee Harold Baines (38.7). Another recent inductee, Guerrero, has more respectable WAR (59.5), but still trails Smith by more than an all-star year. But in any case, if Baines belongs in the HOF, then Smith definitely does. Smith finished fourth in the NL MVP voting twice, despite playing on a loaded Dodgers team with Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes and Tommy John soaking up votes. In 1977, Smith finished behind only George Foster (52 HR, 149 RBI), Greg Luzinski (39 HR, 130 RBI), and Dave Parker (.338 BA, 215 hits). In 1978, Smith finished behind only Parker, Garvey and Larry Bowa, and once again was splitting votes with several teammates.

(#6) Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012 and was even better the following year. Cabrera is still active but has slipped a bit in these rankings due to reduced performance as he ages. I find it amusing that some Cabrera fans think he is one of the all-time best first baseman and a slam-dunk first ballot inductee. What follows is my argument for Miguel Cabrera to be in the Willie McCovey class of sluggers. These players are tied with an OPS+ of 147, which ranks 40th all-time: Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Edgar Martinez, Jim Thome, Sam Thompson, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera. A 147 OPS+ is impressive, but I think these players have to be downgraded further because they were mostly one-dimensional hitters who didn't run well, steal bases, or add a lot defensively. Some were defensive liabilities. Therefore players with somewhat lower OPS+ numbers are substantially above them in WAR. For example, Eddie Collins (142), Albert Pujols (145), Eddie Mathews (143), A-Rod (140), Paul Goldschmidt (141), et al. When I consider Cabrera's shorter prime (just four consecutive years with 6.5 WAR or higher) and one-dimensional play, I can't put him in the top 50 players, and even the top 100 seems like a "stretch" (pardon the first base pun). These are the first basemen who rank ahead of him in WAR7: Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Johnny Mize, Hank Greenberg, George Sisler, Roger Connor, Jeff Bagwell, Dan Brouthers, Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmeiro, Eddie Murray, Todd Helton, Joey Votto. I would add Cap Anson with 94.4 WAR and Jim Thome with 73.1 WAR and 612 homers. That puts Cabrera around #15 in my personal rankings of first basemen. Cabrera's WAR7 of 44.8 is only slightly above average for HOF first basemen (42.7) and is almost identical to Willie McCovey's. For me, Cabrera's closest HOF comparisons are McCovey, Stargell and Martinez. That's very good, but not top 100.

(#6) Buster Posey has risen to a tie with Miguel Cabrera in our HOF rankings, for a simple reason. Posey compares better with the top ten catchers of all time than Cabrera does with the top ten first basemen, although Cabrera has the more impressive counting numbers. And Posey is playing like an MVP candidate in 2021, while Cabrera is producing negative WAR. So we expect Posey to break the tie and end up the eighth or ninth best catcher of all time. Posey currently ranks #3 among HOF catchers in OPS+ with an impressive 129, and #8 among HOF catchers in WAR7 with 39.9 (which could rise if he keeps playing like gangbusters despite his rationed playing time). Posey compares favorably with Ted Simmons, who was recently elected to the HOF, and with Mickey Cochrane. That puts him close to the top ten, with prospects of moving up at least a notch or two, if not more.

(#7) Scott Rolen has been vastly underrated: 70.0 WAR, .281/.364/.490, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 122 OPS+. Rolen produced HOF-level offense for a third baseman, and added eight Gold Gloves. A top-ten third baseman according to WAR, he and Ron Santo are nearly identical "slash twins." (And Santo was a beast!) Offensively, Rolen's OPS+ is higher than that of a number of HOF third basemen: Brook Robinson, Pie Traynor, Freddie Lindstrom, George Kell, and Jimmy Collins. It's hard to understand why Rolen doesn't have more votes. He was at 10.2% in 2018 and 17.2% in 2019, but is now up to 52.9% so he's trending positive and looks like a real contender. 

Bubble Boy

(#8) Curt Schilling has the stats: 79.5 WAR, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 127 ERA+. Schilling also has a great postseason record (11-2, 2.23 ERA). His ERA+ ties him with Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. But Schilling has been "controversial" and may have been penalized by baseball's hyperactive moralists. Schilling has asked to be removed from consideration in his last year of eligibility, so his odds of being elected may have dropped considerably. We have dropped him for #5 to #8, but continue to believe that he should be elected due to his performance on the field.

Outside Looking In

(#9) Todd Helton has a brilliant resume: 61.2 WAR, .316/.414/.539/.953, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 133 OPS+. All the numbers are there, but are they enough to overcome the Denver "thin air" stigma? Helton's 46.5 WAR7 puts him in the top ten at first base, meaning he had a super-high peak. (That's quite a coincidence that Andruw Jones and Todd Helton ended up side-by-side in my rankings, and had exactly the same WAR7!) Helton was a three-time Gold Glove winner who finished with the second-most assists and third-most double plays turned by a first baseman in MLB history. He compares with Jeff Bagwell, Roger Connor, George Sisler and Willie McCovey. Bill James says Helton should be in the Hall of Fame, even accounting for the "Denver effect." Helton was on 16.5% of ballots in his first year of eligibility and is now up to 44.9% and trending well. He is in a similar situation to Larry Walker and Walker's election may be a very good sign for Helton.

(#10) Andruw Jones 62.8 WAR, .254/.337/.486, 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 steals, 111 OPS+. Andruw Jones offers stellar defense with ten Gold Gloves and considerable power, but did his offense fizzle out too soon? He started to struggle as a hitter at age 30 and would never reach 20 homers or 50 RBI afterward. Will voters remember his struggles and lackluster .254 career batting average more than his glory years? Jones's 46.5 WAR7 is ninth all-time among centerfielders, putting him not-so-far behind Joe DiMaggio and Duke Snider. That is a high peak, indeed.  Jones was only at 7.5% in the 2019 voting, but has since risen to 33.9%, so he remains a contender trending in the right direction.

(#11) Billy Wagner 28.1 WAR, 422 saves, 2.21 ERA, 187 ERA+ Wagner's 187 ERA+ is better than every HOF reliever not named Mariano Rivera. His 422 saves are sixth best in MLB history. Among pitchers with at least 800 innings, Wagner’s strikeout rate of 11.9 per nine innings and his opponents' batting average of .187 are the best ever. Since relief pitchers can't be judged by WAR, Wagner should appear much higher on this list, probably around #14 with Todd Helton because Wagner was at 16.7% of the vote in 2018, in a virtual tie with Helton, and is now up to 46.4% and trending up. Wagner compares with Lee Smith in terms of the number of saves, and some of his other metrics are off the charts.

(#12) Chase Utley 65.4 WAR, .275/.358/.465/.823, 117 OPS+ and 154 steals with a phenomenal success rate. Utley's 49.3 WAR7 puts him ninth in the second base ranks, just behind Rod Carew and ahead of Ryne Sandberg. Utley's 5.47 WAR per 162 games is better than that of Sandberg, Carew, Robinson Cano and Charlie Gehringer. Utley will become eligible in 2024.

(#13) C. C. Sabathia: 63.5 WAR, 251-161, 3.74 ERA, 116 ERA+. Sabathia is one of only three lefties with more than 3,000 strikeouts, and that may add to his appeal for HOF voters. While Sabathia's 3.74 ERA seems high, in ERA+ and wins he compares with Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, Eppa Rixey and Red Ruffing. Sabathia retired at the end of the 2019 season. He feels like a long-shot right now.

Popularity Counts

These are four players with lower WAR who could leapfrog players above them.

(#14) Ichiro Suzuki could certainly hit and run: 59.3 WAR, 3,089 hits, 509 steals, .311/.355/.402/.757, 107 OPS+. Suzuki's slash line doesn't absolutely scream HOF, in my opinion. But the batting average, hits, steals and ten Gold Gloves could get him admitted. And it doesn't hurt his case that he's an iconic player—a Japanese superstar who was the AL MVP in his rookie season, then went on to set the all-time record for hits in a single season with 262. Suzuki may leapfrog several players above him on this list. In fact, I would place him toward the top in terms of "traditional" performance measures, popularity and "star appeal." Suzuki will become eligible in 2025.

(#15) Joey Votto is still building his resume, but it already looks HOF-worthy: 58.8 WAR, .308/.424/.524/.948, 152 OPS+. Votto should be destined for the HOF with that stellar slash line. His 152 OPS+ is higher than that of Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Ralph Kiner, and most of the HOF. It's also higher than all his contemporaries other than Mike Trout, and that includes Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. Votto is still active.

(#16) Joe Mauer could really rake for a catcher: 55.0 WAR, .307/.390/.443/.833, 126 OPS+. As a catcher, the position where he had his best years, Mauer compares with Bill Dickey, Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Ernie Lombardi. Mauer will become eligible in 2024.

(#17) David Ortiz could slug with the best of them: 55.4 WAR, 541 HR, 1,768 RBI, 141 OPS+. He averaged 36 homers and 119 RBI per 162 games. Ortiz is 27th all-time in secondary average (.419) and compares with Frank Thomas, Willie McCovey and Tony Perez as a power-hitting RBI man. He will become eligible in 2022. But there is a possible roadblock. Does Ortiz have something he hopes to keep covered up that explains his "snitch" accusation against Mike Fiers? Fiers helped expose the Astros' sign stealing scandal. Why would Ortiz use crime-gang lingo to attack someone who told the truth? Is there some other truth that he wants to keep under wraps? Something that requires a Mafia-like "code of silence"? The Red Sox have been accused of cheating like the Astros. Ortiz was included in baseball's Mitchell Report for testing positive for PEDs in 2003. Will there be revelations about Big Papi and the Red Sox that hurt his HOF chances? If not, he seems like a candidate to rise in these rankings. If so, who knows?

Rounding Out the Top Twenty

(#18) Jeff Kent was a premier slugger at second base: 55.4 WAR, .290/.356/.500/.855, 377 homers, 1,518 RBI, 123 OPS+. Kent compares well with a number of HOF second basemen, including Joe Gordon, Babe Herman, Bobby Doerr, Nellie Fox, Tony Lazzeri and Johnny Evers. Among second basemen, Kent holds the record for home runs, is second only to Rogers Hornsby in slugging percentage, and is third in RBI behind only Hornsby and Nap Lajoie. Kent was on 32.4% of ballots in 2020, with only two yars left, so he has a lot of ground to make up.

(#19) Carlos Beltran also has the stats: 69.6 WAR, 2,725 hits, 435 homers, 119 OPS+, and 316 steals with the highest success rate of all time for players with more than 300 steals. Beltran and Andre Dawson are "slash twins." But Beltran also compares with players who haven't made it yet, like Scott Rolen and Bobby Grich. His postseason heroics should help, as should nine All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves. On the other hand, his involvement in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal will no doubt hurt his chances. There are reports that Beltran "steamrolled" Astros players who objected to the cheating. Will Beltran's prominent role cost him his shot at the HOF? Time will tell, but right now we think Beltran has dropped from "possible" to "unlikely." Beltran will become eligible in 2023. We have dropped him from #13 to #19 in our rankings.

(#20) Omar Vizquel: 45.3 WAR, .272/.336/.352, 2,877 HITS, 1,445 RUNS, 82 OPS+. Vizquel offers great defense with 11 Gold Gloves and the hits and runs help, but a truly lackluster OPS+ hurts his case. Vizquel was named on 42.8% of 2019 HOF ballots, and that was up from 37.0% in 2018, so he seemed to be trending positive. He jumped to 52.6% of the votes in 2020, but then fell to 49.1% in 2021, so the jury remains out. An investigation of domestic violence allegations may be working against his election.

(#20) Gary Sheffield took a major step forward, from 30.5% to 40.6% in his seventh year of eligibility. He has the offensive chops: 60.5 WAR, 140 OPS+, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI ... but does he have the votes?

Players who remained alive with at least 5% of the votes and no know PED issues include: Mark Buehrle 11.0% (1st-timer), Torii Hunter 9.5% (1st-timer), Bobby Abreu 8.7% (up from 5.5%), Tim Hudson: 5.2% (1st-timer).

Top Newly Eligible Players by Year

The 2020 class had one sure bet:

(#1) Derek Jeter (72.4 WAR, 115 OPS+) was elected on his first ballot, as we expected and predicted
(#2) Bobby Abreu (60.0 WAR, 128 OPS+) remained eligible with 5.5% of the vote
(#3) Jason Giambi (50.5 WAR, 440 homers, 139 OPS+, 21st all-time in secondary average at .429, but has PED issues)
(#4) Cliff Lee (43.5 WAR, 143 wins)
(#5) Alfonso Soriano (28.2 WAR, 412 homers, 289 steals)
(#6) Paul Konerko (27.7 WAR, 439 homers)
(#7) Adam Dunn (17.4 WAR, 462 homers, 14th all-time in secondary average at .450)

In 2021, the top new candidates were Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle and Torii Hunter, but none seem likely to get elected to us.

In 2022, the top new candidates will be Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira and Jimmy Rollins. This is the final year of eligibility for Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa.

In 2023, the strongest new candidates are Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Chase Utley, Bartolo Colon, and Francisco Rodriguez. Beltran is in a downward spin due to the sign-stealing scandal, and that may help Suzuki, who could make it on his first ballot. Utley is worthy, but will he have the initial votes? It's the last year of eligibility for Jeff Kent, who could get a Larry-Walker-like final year boost. We think Kent should have a decent shot, but only time will tell ...

Hall of Fame Projections through 2023

The hardest thing to predict is when the first player with PED issues gets elected. Presumably the dam will then burst. Since it's hard to say when the dam breaks, I am assuming they will all be nixed for now.

(+) Derek Jeter (2020, first ballot, we were correct)
(+) Larry Walker (2020, final ballot in a squeaker, we were correct again)
(+) David Ortiz (2022, possible first ballot)
(+) Ichiro Suzuki (2023, possible first ballot)
(+) Scott Rolen (2023+, we think he has a good shot, but it may be a close call)
(+) Todd Helton (2023+, possibly helped by Larry Walker's election)
(+) Billy Wagner (2023+, great stats and he's starting to gain momentum)

(?) Curt Schilling (we thought Schilling could gain entry if he played his cards correctly, but apparently he decided to fold)
(?) Omar Vizquel (maybe, maybe not, we are guessing not)
(?) Jeff Kent (time is running out, with just two votes left, but a final burst of support may help)
(?) Andruw Jones (qualified, but quite a bit of room to make up)
(?) Chase Utley (will he have enough initial votes to build momentum?)

(-) Barry Bonds
(-) Roger Clemens
(-) Manny Ramirez
(-) Sammy Sosa
(-) Gary Sheffield
(-) Andy Pettitte

(-) Mark Buehrle 11.0% (1st-timer)
(-) Torii Hunter 9.5% (1st-timer)
(-) Bobby Abreu 8.7% 
(-) Tim Hudson 5.2% (1st-timer)

(-) Carlos Beltran (we have downgraded Beltran's chances due to the sign-stealing stigma)
(-) Cliff Lee
(-) Alfonso Soriano
(-) Francisco Rodriguez
(-) Bartolo Colon (Shades of Jamie Moyer!)

Eligible Players with PED Issues, at some Unknown Point in the Future

(+) Barry Bonds (Mortal lock, when the time comes)
(+) Roger Clemens (Mortal lock, when the time comes)
(+) Alex Rodriguez (Mortal lock, when the time comes)
(?) Manny Ramirez (He has the numbers, but does he have the votes?)
(?) Gary Sheffield (He has the numbers, but does he have the votes?)
(-) Sammy Sosa (I'm not sure he'll be elected, because he was not on a HOF track before using PEDs)
(-) Andy Pettitte (Maybe not)
(-) Jason Giambi (Probably not)

The Best HOF Candidates Including Players Still Active and/or Eligible w/o PED Issues

(#1) Mike Trout, (#2) Albert Pujols, (#3) Clayton Kershaw, (#4) Mookie Betts, (#5) Adrian Beltre, (#6) Curt Schilling, (#7) Justin Verlander, (#8) Zack Greinke, (#9) Max Scherzer, (#10) Miguel Cabrera, (#11) Chase Utley, (#12) Todd Helton, (#13) Scott Rolen, (#14) Billy Wagner, (#15) Joe Mauer, (#16) Joey Votto, (#17) Andruw Jones, (#18) Butch Posey, (#19) Ichiro Suzuki, (#20) Evan Longoria, (#21) Yadier Molina, (#22) David Ortiz, (#23) Jeff Kent, (#24) Chris Sale, (#25) Ian Kinsler, (#26) Carlos Beltran, (#27) Bobby Abreu, (#28) Craig Kimbrel, (#29) C. C. Sabathia, (#30) Omar Vizquel

The Best Hall of Fame Candidates by Position, Regardless of Era

Catcher: Joe Mauer (55.0), Wally Schang (48.0), Gene Tenace (46.8), Thurman Munson (46.1), Bill Freehan (44.8), Jorge Posada (42.8)
First Base: Albert Pujols (100.1), Miguel Cabrera (69.4), Todd Helton (61.2), Keith Hernandez (60.4), Joey Votto (58.9), John Olerud (58.2), Will Clark (56.5)
Second Base: Lou Whitaker (75.1), Bobby Grich (71.1), Willie Randolph (65.9), Chase Utley (65.4), Ian Kinsler (57.0), Jeff Kent (55.4), Dustin Pedroia (51.7)
Shortstop: Bill Dahlen (75.4), Jack Glasscock (62.0), Bert Campaneris (53.1), Jim Fregosi (48.7), Vern Stephens (45.5), Omar Vizquel (45.6), Dave Concepcion (40.1)
Third Base: Adrian Beltre (95.6), Scott Rolen (70.0), Graig Nettles (68.0), Buddy Bell (66.3), Ken Boyer (62.8), Sal Bando (61.5), Darrell Evans (58.8), Dick Allen (58.7)
Left Field: Pete Rose* (79.7), Sherry Magee (59.3), Indian Bob Johnson (57.3), Lance Berkman (52.1), Minnie Minoso (50.5), Roy White (46.8), George Foster (44.2)
Center Field: Mike Trout** (150 est.), Carlos Beltran (69.6), Kenny Lofton (68.3), Willie Davis (60.7), Jim Edmunds (60.4), Andruw Jones (62.8), Johnny Damon (56.0)
Right Field: Shoeless Joe Jackson (62.2), Dwight Evans (67.1), Reggie Smith (64.6), Bobby Abreu (60.0), Ichiro Suzuki (59.4), Bobby Bonds (57.9)
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (55.4), Jose Cruz (54.4), Jack Clark (53.1), Fred McGriff (52.6), Charlie Keller (43.1)
Starting Pitcher: Curt Schilling (79.5), Jim McCormick (76.2), Rick Reuschel (69.5), Zack Greinke (69.2), Kevin Brown (67.8), Tony Mullane (66.5), Luis Tiant (66.0), Clayton Kershaw (65.3)
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner (27.7), Joe Nathan (26.7), Dan Quisenberry (24.7), Francisco Rodriguez (23.9), Jonathan Papelbon (23.5), John Franco (23.4), Craig Kimbrel (20.1)

* Pete Rose could make the Hall of Fame at five different positions: first, second, third, left or right. He played at least 500 games at each position and was an all-star at all five. He also played center at times, and he was baseball's last player-manager.

** Although Mike Trout is still a relative babe in the woods, having just completed his age 26 season in 2018, he has already passed most Hall of Fame centerfielders in WAR and seems destined to challenge Willie Mays for all-time supremacy at the position.

These are other fan favorites according to Ranker and other sources. Please note that the "fan favorites" tend to favor players for larger-market cities like New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. Some of the higher-WAR players have been linked to PEDs, and that has kept them out HOF to date. Fan favorites include: Barry Bonds (162.8), Roger Clemens (139.2), Alex Rodriguez (117.8), Rafael Palmeiro (71.9), Manny Ramirez (69.4), David Cone (62.3), Mark McGwire (62.2), Tommy John (61.5), Gary Sheffield (60.5), Andy Pettitte (60.2), Bret Saberhagen (58.8), Sammy Sosa (58.6), Robin Ventura (56.1), Orel Hershiser (56.0), Jim Wynn (55.9), Chet Lemon (55.6), Vada Pinson (54.3), Ron Cey (53.8), Jerry Koosman (53.6), Dwight Gooden (52.9), Cesar Cedeno (52.8), Norm Cash (52.0), Jim Kaat (50.4), Fred Lynn (50.2), David Wright (50.4), Dizzy Trout (49.6), Bernie Williams (49.6), Mickey Lolich (48.0), Ron Guidry (47.8), Dale Murphy (46.5), Vida Blue (45.1), Gil Hodges (44.8), Nomar Garciaparra (44.2), Jack Morris (43.4), Tony Oliva (43.1), Amos Otis (42.8), Don Mattingly (42.4), Fernando Valenzuela (41.4), Andy Messersmith (40.1), Albert Belle (40.1), Dave Parker (40.1), Smoky Joe Wood (40.0), Maury Wills (39.7), Eddie Stanky (39.3), Kirk Gibson (38.4), Roger Maris (38.2), Bill Madlock (38.2), Steve Garvey (38.1), Don Newcombe (37.6), Eric Davis (36.1), Riggs Stephenson (32.1), Elston Howard (27.0)

Passovers: The best player for each team who has been "passed over" by the HOF so far, without PED issues, with career WAR in parentheses

Reds: Pete Rose (79.7), George Foster (44.2), Dave Concepcion (40.1), Eric Davis (36.1)
Cubs: Bill Dahlen (75.4), Rick Reuschel (69.5), Mark Grace (46.4), Derek Lee (34.6), Riggs Stephenson (32.1)
Tigers: Lou Whitaker (75.1), Norm Cash (52.0), Dizzy Trout (49.6), Mickey Lolich (48.0), Bill Freehan (44.8)
Angels: Bobby Grich (71.1), Chuck Finley (52.2), Jim Fregosi (48.7), Tim Salmon (40.6)
Indians: Kenny Lofton (68.3), Wes Ferrell (60.7), Omar Vizquel (45.6), Albert Belle (40.1, 144 OPS+)
Yankees: Graig Nettles (68.0), Willie Randolph (65.9), Roy White (46.8), Don Mattingly (42.4), Roger Maris (38.2)
Rangers: Kevin Brown (67.8), Buddy Bell (66.3), Juan Gonzalez (38.7), Josh Hamilton (28.3), Michael Young (24.6)
Red Sox: Dwight Evans (67.1), Luis Tiant (66.0), Nomar Garciaparra (44.2), Smoky Joe Wood (40.0)
Cardinals: Ken Boyer (62.8), Jim Edmunds (60.4), Keith Hernandez (60.4)
Mets: David Cone (62.3), John Olerud (58.2), Daryl Strawberry (42.4, 138 OPS+)
White Sox: Shoeless Joe Jackson (62.2, 170 OPS+)
Athletics: Sal Bando (61.5), Indian Bob Johnson (57.3), Bert Campaneris (53.1)
Dodgers: Tommy John (61.5), Willie Davis (60.7), Ron Cey (53.8), Gil Hodges (44.8), Steve Garvey (38.1)
Phillies: Sherry Magee (59.3), Dick Allen (58.7, 156 OPS+)
Royals: Bret Saberhagen (58.8), Amos Otis (42.8)
Braves: Darrell Evans (58.8), Dale Murphy (46.5)
Giants: Will Clark (56.5, 137 OPS+), Eddie Stanky (39.3)
Rays: Fred McGriff (52.6)
Astros: Lance Berkman (52.1, 144 OPS+)
Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez (51.8)
Browns: Vern Stephens (45.5)
Twins: Johan Santana (51.7), Tony Oliva (43.1)
Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado (44.4, 138 OPS+)
Padres: Adrian Gonzalez (42.2)
Orioles: Mark Belanger (40.8), Boog Powell (39.0, 134 OPS+)
Pirates: Dave Parker (40.1), Bill Madlock (38.2)
Nationals: Tim Wallach (38.5)
Marlins: Hanley Ramirez (37.9)
Brewers: Cecil Cooper (36.0)
Rockies: Andres Galarraga (31.7)
Mariners: Jay Buhner (23.0)

Bill James Hall of Fame Candidates

These are players Bill James has on the cusp of the HOF, with his personal vote: Dan Quisenberry (24.7 "yes"), Dave Parker (40.1 "maybe"), Steve Garvey (38.1 "probably not"), Tommy John (61.5 "no"), Dave Concepcion (40.1 "no")

However, Ryan Pollack of Beyond the Box Score called Dave Concepcion a "pretty bad snub" so the experts don't always agree.

Highest Hall of Fame Monitor Ratings

The Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor is an "early indicator" of which players have the best chance of making the Baseball Hall of Fame. Right now, according to comments made by Bill James about the players in the previous section, it seems there is a "cusp" around 125. The fact that Mike Trout ranks as high as he does in his age 27 season is truly astounding!

Albert Pujols (339), Pete Rose (311), Miguel Cabrera (263), Ichiro Suzuki (235), Todd Helton (175), David Ortiz (171), Adrian Beltre (163), Yadier Molina (160), Albert Belle (135), Don Mattingly (134), Bernie Williams (134), Steve Garvey (131), Mike Trout (129), Carlos Beltran (126), Dave Parker (125), Juan Gonzalez (123), Jeff Kent (123), Shoeless Joe Jackson (122), Jimmy Rollins (121), Omar Vizquel (120), Al Oliver (117), Jose Altuve (116), Dale Murphy (116), Andres Galarraga (114), Tony Oliva (114), Magglio Ordonez (114), Nomar Garciaparra (113), Tip O'Neill (113), Michael Young (112), Carlos Delgado (110), Matt Holiday (110), Andruw Jones (109), Edgar Renteria (109), Mark Teixeira (109), Jason Giambi (108), Jason Kendall (108), Ryan Braun (107), Dave Concepcion (107), Lance Parrish (107), Maury Wills (104), Dick Groat (103), Harvey Kuenn (100), Fred McGriff (100)

Other Considerations for this List

Still in contention, based on the 2019 HOF voting: Curt Schilling (60.9%), Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%), Omar Vizquel (42.8%), Manny Ramirez (22.8%), Jeff Kent (18.1%), Scott Rolen (17.2%), Billy Wagner (16.7%), Todd Helton (16.5%), Gary Sheffield (13.6%), Andy Pettitte (9.9%), Sammy Sosa (8.5%), Andruw Jones (7.5%)

Highest WAR of unelected players regardless of PED and eligibility issues: Barry Bonds (162.8), Roger Clemens (139.2), Alex Rodriguez (117.8), Albert Pujols (100.1), Adrian Beltre (95.6), Pete Rose (79.7), Curt Schilling (79.5), Jim McCormick (76.2), Bill Dahlen (75.4), Mike Trout (73.5 and climbing rapidly), Rafael Palmeiro (71.9), Bobby Grich (71.1), Scott Rolen (70.2), Justin Verlander (69.8), Miguel Cabrera (69.7), Carlos Beltran (69.6), Rick Reuschel (69.5), Manny Ramirez (69.4), Zack Greinke (69.2), Robinson Cano (68.6), Kenny Lofton (68.3), Graig Nettles (68.0), Kevin Brown (67.8), Dwight Evans (67.1), Tony Mullane (66.5), Buddy Bell (66.3), Luis Tiant (66.0), Willie Randolph (65.9), Clayton Kershaw (65.6), Chase Utley (65.4), Reggie Smith (64.6), C.C. Sabathia (63.5), Ken Boyer (62.8), Andruw Jones (62.8), David Cone (62.3), Shoeless Joe Jackson (62.2), Mark McGwire (62.2), Jack Glasscock (61.6), Sal Bando (61.5), Tommy John (61.5), Todd Helton (61.2), Tommy Bond (60.9), Charlie Buffington (60.7), Willie Davis (60.7), Wes Farrell (60.7), Gary Sheffield (60.5), Jim Edmonds (60.4), Keith Hernandez (60.4), Andy Pettitte (60.2), Bobby Abreu (60.0)

Newbies eligible in 2020 or soon thereafter who are not on the list: Bobby Abreu (60.0), Mark Buehrle (59.2), Tim Hudson (58.1), Jason Giambi (50.5), Torii Hunter (50.1), Cliff Lee (43.5), Rafael Furcal (39.4), Eric Chavez (37.5), Josh Beckett (35.6), Alfonso Soriano (28.8), Paul Konerko (27.7), Adam Dunn (17.4)

Still active: Albert Pujols (100.3), Mike Trout (73.5), Zack Greinke (70.7), Justin Verlander (69.8), Miguel Cabrera (69.5), Robinson Cano (69.4), Clayton Kershaw (67.7), C.C. Sabathia (63.0), Joey Votto (60.3), Max Scherzer (60.1), Cole Hamels (59.3), Ian Kinsler (57.2), Evan Longoria (54.1), Dustin Pedroia (51.7), Felix Hernandez (50.6), Ryan Braun (47.7), Curtis Granderson (47.2), Jon Lester (45.7), Ben Zobrist (45.3), Chris Sale (45.1), Troy Tulowitzki (44.2), Josh Donaldson (43.9), Andrew McCutcheon (43.7), Paul Goldschmidt (42.7), Buster Posey (41.9), Mookie Betts (41.3), Brett Gardner (40.8), Yadier Molina (40.0), Giancarlo Stanton (39.8), David Price (39.6), Adam Wainwright (39.4), Russell Martin (38.1), Jose Altulve (38.0), Nolan Arenado (37.6), Freddie Freeman (37.4), Nelson Cruz (37.2), Madison Bumgarner (36.9), Manny Machado (36.8), Andrelton Simmons (36.5), Jason Heyward (36.2), Lorenzo Cain (36.1), Alex Gordon (36.1), Bryce Harper (30.3)

The Hall of Fame's Near Misses since 1980

These are the HOF voting percentages for notable players no longer eligible for "regular" HOF election who received more than 1% of the votes in the years they dropped out. In many cases the percentage is the player's highest vote count, when I was able to determine it, but it was not a perfect process. However, I believe the results show roughly which players came the closest to being enshrined and compare them to other great players who didn't get as much "love" from voters. It's hard to understand how Gil Hodges could get 63.4% of the HOF votes, for instance, while Lou Whitaker got only 2.9% and was ineligible after the first year. It seems playing in New York or Los Angeles may be a factor, as noted below ...

Gil Hodges (63.4%) *LA*
Tony Oliva (47.3%)
Roger Maris (43.1%) *NY*
Steve Garvey (42.6%) *LA*

Bill James has Garvey on the cusp of HOF credentials, but says he wouldn't vote for Garvey himself.

Maury Wills (40.6%) *LA*
Fred McGriff (39.8%)
Harvey Kuenn (33.9%)
Tommy John (31.7%) *LA*
Luis Tiant (30.9%)
Jim Kaat (29.6%)
Don Mattingly (28.2%) *NY*
Ken Boyer (25.5%)
Mickey Lolich (25.5%)
Dave Parker (24.5%)
Mark McGwire (23.7%)
Dale Murphy (23.2%)
Lew Burdette (23.2%)
Minnie Minoso (21.1%)
Elston Howard (20.7%) *NY*
Dick Allen (18.9%)
Rafael Palmeiro (17.6%)
Dave Concepcion (16.9%)
Dick Allen (16.7%)
Curt Flood (15.1%)
Orel Hershiser (11.2%) *LA*
Vada Pinson (10.9%)
Bernie Williams (9.6%) *NY*
Albert Belle (7.7%)
George Foster (6.9%)
Thurman Munson (6.5%) *NY*
Ken Griffey Sr. (4.7%)
Graig Nettles (4.7%) *NY*
Fred Lynn (4.7%)
Keith Hernandez (4.3%)
Bobby Bonds (4.2%)
Juan Gonzalez (4.0%)
Lou Whitaker (2.9%)

Others with more than 1% of votes: Michael Young, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejeda, Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Jamie Moyer, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado, Hideo Nomo, Moises Alou, Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar, Julio Franco, David Wells, Vinny Castilla, Tim Salmon, Kevin Brown, Tino Martinez, Andres Galarraga, Robin Ventura, Mark Grace, David Cone, Matt Williams, Mo Vaughn, Paul O'Neill, Bret Saberhagen, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, Dwight Gooden, Willie McGee, Ozzie Guillen, Hal Morris, Jim Abbott, Darryl Strawberry, Fernando Valenzuela, Joe Carter, Dennis Martinez, Dave Stieb, Darryl Kile, Dave Stewart, Ron Guidry, Lance Parrish, Tom Henke, Rusty Staub, Dwight Evans, Kirk Gibson

Special Cases—Let Them In!!!

Smoky Joe Wood (40.0 WAR) is seventh all-time with an otherworldly 146 ERA+ and he had a staggering 117 wins by age 25 despite only reaching 200 innings twice. What on earth would he have done if he had been healthy? The mind boggles. Smoky Joe got his nickname because his fastball—said to have been faster then Walter Johnson's (including by the Big Train himself)—sizzled as though burning through the air. The only starting pitchers with a better ERA+ than Smoky Joe are Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, and Walter Johnson. When the first all-star game was organized in 1912 to benefit the family of Adie Joss after Joss's untimely death, Smoky Joe started the game and Walter Johnson relieved him. Let's stick that in our pipes and smoke it. After serious injuries cost him two years in his prime and left him unable to pitch, Smoky Joe became an outfielder and hit .283 for the rest of his career. But it understandably took him some time to really excel as a batter. He hit .366 at age 31, drove in 92 runs at age 32, then retired. He could have been the greatest pitcher of all time, if he hadn't had such bad luck. But please consider what he did accomplish. How many pitchers could take two years off, then return to the majors to hit .366 and drive in 92 runs? Only a guy named Ruth did anything like that, and he was healthy. What Smoky accomplished was truly incredible. He has more WAR (40.0) than hall-of-famers like Hack Wilson, Harold Baines, Lefty Gomez, George Kell, Roy Campanella, and quite a few others. And he did it in a LOT fewer games. He only played two full seasons at his best position. When he was able to pitch, he was a superstar for the ages. When he couldn't pitch, he became the best-hitting ex-pitcher of all time not named Babe Ruth. Let him in!!!

Thurman Munson (46.1 WAR) died prematurely in a plane crash, and compares with a HOF catcher, Roy Campanella, whose career was also cut short. Munson's 5.25 WAR per 162 games is third among catchers, after Johnny Bench and Mickey Cochrane. In his brief career Munson was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and one-time MVP. Let him in!!!

Bret Saberhagen amassed 58.8 WAR and had a record of 167-117 despite missing large parts of six seasons due to injuries. His glittering 126 ERA+ puts him in a very select group with Bob Gibson (127), Tom Seaver (127), Justin Verlander (126), Lefty Grove (125), Jim Palmer (125), John Smoltz (125) and Dazzy Vance (125). Saberhagen's situation is similar to that of Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean and Addie Joss, and Saberhagen has more wins and more WAR, so let him in!!!

For nearly a decade, Dale Murphy (46.5 WAR) was either the best major league player, or one of the very best. He was a two-time NL MVP, a seven-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, and the winner of four Silver Sluggers. Other players have been voted into the Hall of Fame for a decade of excellence or less: for instance, Ralph Kiner, Hack Wilson, Joe Gordon, Dizzy Dean, Sandy Koufax, Candy Cummings, Al Spalding, Addie Joss, Amos Rusie, Joe McGinnity, Monte Irvin, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. Murphy had more homers and RBI than Kiner and Wilson, and was a better defender and base-stealer. Sandy Koufax was only "the Left Hand of God" for six brilliant seasons. Candy Cummings and Monte Irvin had five superior seasons, Hack Wilson and Roy Campanella six, Amos Rusie and Dizzy Dean seven, Al Spalding and Ross Youngs eight, Addie Joss and Joe Gordon nine, Joe McGinnity and Ralph Kiner ten. Why not be fair and take into account how good Dale Murphy was in his prime?

The same argument can be made for George "The Destroyer" Foster (44.2 WAR), who terrorized NL pitchers for a decade as the cleanup hitter for the fabled Big Red Machine. In 1977, Foster had 52 homers, 149 RBI and 388 total bases. Was he the last major leaguer to hit 50 homers without "special sauce"? Foster was the only NL-er with 50 homers from 1966 until a juiced-up Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998. For a span of 32 years, with competition like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Dave Kingman and Johnny Bench, only The Destroyer managed the feat, and he followed up with 40 more dingers in 1978. So he hit nearly 100 in a two-year span. Foster is the only NL-er to win three consecutive RBI titles (1976-1978) since Joe Medwick in 1938. For those three years he averaged 40 homers and 130 RBI, during a down time for hitters. Foster was the 1977 NL MVP and finished 1-2-3-6-12 in the MVP voting, so he was no flash in the pan. He also led NL left fielders in fielding percentage four times. If elected, Foster would rank seventh among HOF left fielders in homers (348) and eleventh in RBI (1,239) and slugging percentage (.480). Foster's WAR7 puts him squarely between Willie Stargell and Jim Rice (a very high peak indeed). The last time I counted, there were 32 HOF outfielders who didn't strike me as better than Foster; the majority of them seemed less good. The only slugging RBI types among the left fielders markedly better than Foster, in my opinion, were Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Simmons, Goose Goslin, Stargell, Billy Williams and Ed Delahanty. That leaves a sizeable list of HOF left fielders with fewer homers and RBI than Foster, and below him in WAR7. Foster's OPS+ is around the HOF average at a healthy 126. If we give him credit for the fact that he did more in fewer at-bats than most of his peers, he looks even better. Why is Foster a notch below Rice in homers and RBI? Well it was hard for him to play left field when it was being manned by 17-time all-star Pete Rose! The Big Red Machine was blessed with a two-decade unbroken string of excellent outfielders: Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Rose, Ken Griffey, et al. When Rose moved to third, Foster was 26 and he only played full-time for ten years. But his 162-game average was 29 homers and 102 RBI. Not many outfielders can say that. Billy Williams averaged 28/96, Carl Yastrzemski 22/90 and Reggie Jackson 32/98. They were great players, and Foster was in the same class for a decade. That should be good enough for HOF enshrinement, since ten stellar years (or fewer) were good enough for the players I mentioned previously. According to the Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor, George Foster is comparable to George Kell, Enos Slaughter, Roger Maris, Tony Lazzeri, Home Run Baker and Tim Raines. According to Baseball Prospectus BWARP, Foster is comparable to hall-of-famers Ernie Lombardi and Charlie Gehringer.

Other "short but sweet" careers of interest ...

Dizzy Trout (49.6 WAR, 3.23 ERA, 124 ERA+, similar in WAR to Sandy Koufax and Ralph Kiner, with a similar short but intense peak)
Charlie Keller (43.1 WAR, 152 OPS+, 5.95 WAR per 162 games, 15th in secondary average, top 25 for AB/RBI, lost four prime years to military/injuries)
Pete Browning (40.4 WAR, .341/.403/.467/.869, OPS+ 163, 258 SB, 954 R, 659 RBI, averaged 5.5 WAR, 225 hits, 131 runs and 90 RBI per 162 games)
Gavvy Cravath (33.0 WAR, .287/.380/.478/.858, OPS+ 151, his OPS+ ranks 30th tied with Honus Wagner, he didn't play full-time until age 31)
Mike Donlin (29.2 WAR, .333/.386/.468/.854, 144 OPS+, 213 SB, 669 R, 543 RBI, averaged 103 runs, 84 RBI and 33 steals per 162 games)
Benny Kauff (29.0 WAR, .311/.389/.450/.838, 149 OPS+, 234 SB, 521 R, 454 RBI, averaged 5.5 WAR, 98 runs, 86 RBI and 44 steals per 162 games)
Tip O'Neill (25.4 WAR, .326/.392/.458/.851, 144 OPS+, 161 SB, 879 R, 757 RBI, averaged 135 runs and 117 RBI per 162 games)
Dave Orr (27.3 WAR, .342/.366/.502/.867, his 162 OPS+ is 14th of all time, comparable to Mark McGwire and Jimmie Foxx, but he only played eight years)
Lefty O'Doul (25.3 WAR, .349/.413/.532/.945, 143 OPS+, 36 SB, 624 R, 542 RBI, didn't really play until age 31 but has the fourth-highest BA of all time)
Sam Mertes (23.3 WAR, .279/.346/.398/.744, 113 OPS+, 396 SB, 695 R, 721 RBI, a great defender who averaged 95 runs, 98 RBI and 54 steals per 162 games)
Bill Lange (23.1 WAR, .330/.400/.458/.858, 123 OPS+, 400 SB, 691 R, 579 RBI, retired at age 28 to marry respectably)

HOF Candidates Derailed by Injuries

An asterisk (*) means the player should definitely be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. And please keep in mind that WAR undervalues catchers.

* Smoky Joe Wood is seventh all-time with a 146 ERA+ and had 117 wins by age 25. After a serious injury cost him two years, he became an outfielder. He hit .366 at age 31, drove in 92 runs at age 32, then retired.
Bret Saberhagen (58.8 WAR, 167-117, 126 ERA+, but missed large parts of six seasons due to injuries)
Dave Stieb (56.8 WAR but virtually done by age 32)
Will Clark (56.5 WAR, 137 OPS+ despite missing large chunks of eight seasons)
Dwight Gooden (52.9 WAR, 194-112, 111 ERA+, his best years were over by age 25 due to injuries and drug abuse)
Dustin Pedroia (51.7 WAR, 113 OPS+, four Gold Gloves, only six seasons with 140+ games played)
Johan Santana (51.7 WAR in a short career, his WAR7 of 45.0 puts him just a tick behind Justin Verlander)
David Wright (50.4 WAR, 137 OPS+, had his last all-star season at age 30)
* Thurman Munson (46.1 WAR, died at age 32, his 5.25 WAR per 162 games is third for catchers, after Johnny Bench and Mickey Cochrane)
Troy Tulowitzki (44.2 WAR, 121 OPS+, two Gold Gloves, only three seasons with 140+ games, had his last all-star season at age 30)
Nomar Garciaparra (44.2 WAR, 124 OPS+, perhaps the best shortstop of his generation when healthy)
* Charlie Keller (43.1 WAR, 152 OPS+, 5.95 WAR per 162 games, 15th in secondary average, lost four prime years to the military and injuries)
* Don Mattingly (42.4 WAR, 127 OPS+, nine Gold Gloves)
Albert Belle (40.1 WAR, 144 OPS+, he hit 30 or more homers eight times and drove in 100+ runs nine times with highs of 148 and 152 before retiring at age 33 with an arthritic hip, his .564 slugging percentage is the 13th highest of all time)
Dave Parker (40.1 WAR, 121 OPS+, the Cobra had a stellar career despite drug, weight and injury issues)
Tony Oliva (40.1 WAR, 131 OPS+, arguably the best hitter in baseball from 1964-1971, Oliva had eight knee operations)
Roger Maris (38.2 WAR, 127 OPS+, derailed by injuries, he had his last all-star season at age 27 and tailed off from there)
Eric Davis (36.1 WAR, in a 162-game stretch between 1986-87, he slashed .308/.406/.622 with 47 homers and 98 steals in 110 attempts!)
Grady Sizemore (27.3 WAR, had his last all-star season at age 25)
J. R. Richard (22.2 WAR, felled by a stroke that ended his career at age 30)
Tony Conigliaro (12.4 WAR, still fourth in homers through age 22, behind only Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews and Alex Rodriguez)

WAR7 Highest Peaks

WAR7 helps us determine which players had the highest peaks. These are the players with the highest peaks at their positions who are not in the HOF and don't have known "PED issues." By comparing total career WAR with WAR7, we can determine the players who not only accumulated a ton of WAR, but who were also the most dynamic at their respective positions during their prime years. The names of the players who did both are bolded below. They deserve strong consideration for the HOF, in my opinion. Minnie Minoso is a good example of an underrated player who had a high peak for his position. According to WAR7, he was comparable to Manny Ramirez and Joe Medwick. That is a high peak, indeed! And Pete Rose's WAR7 tells us that in his prime he compared to Al Simmons, Ralph Kiner and Goose Goslin. Let them both in!

Catcher: Joe Mauer (49.0), Thurman Munson (37.0), Buster Posey (37.0)
First Base: Albert Pujols (61.7), Todd Helton (46.5), Joey Votto (46.0)
Second Base: Chase Utley (49.3), Bobby Grich (46.4), Dustin Pedroia (42.4), Ian Kinsler (40.4)
Shortstop: Nomar Garciaparra (43.1), Jack Glasscock (41.0), Jim Fregosi (41.0)
Third Base: Ken Boyer (46.3), Dick Allen (45.9), Sal Bando (44.4), Scott Rolen (43.7), Graig Nettles (42.4)
Left Field: Pete Rose (44.9), Minnie Minoso (39.9), Lance Berkman (39.3), Ryan Braun (39.2)
Center Field: Mike Trout (63.8), Andruw Jones (46.5), Carlos Beltran (44.4), Kenny Lofton (43.4)
Right Field: Shoeless Joe Jackson (52.5), Ichiro Suzuki (43.7), Bobby Abreu (41.6)
Ye Olde Starting Pitcher: Jim McCormick (68.7), Tommy Bond (62.7), Charlie Buffington (60.2), Bob Caruthers (55.7), Jim Whitney (54.7), Wes Ferrell (54.7), Urban Shocker (44.8), Nap Rucker (44.8)
Modern Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (49.6), Curt Schilling (48.6), Max Scherzer (47.2), Zack Greinke (46.9), Justin Verlander (46.0), Wilbur Wood (45.7), Kevin Brown (45.2), Johan Santana (45.0)

If we're going to elect the most dynamic players who accumulated a lot of WAR for their respective positions, according to WAR7 the order would look something like this, leaving aside pitchers of yore: Mike Trout (63.8 and rising), Albert Pujols (61.7), Shoeless Joe Jackson (52.5), Clayton Kershaw (49.6), Chase Utley (49.3), Joe Mauer (49.0), Curt Schilling (48.6), Todd Helton (46.5), Bobby Grich (46.4), Ken Boyer (46.3), Joey Votto (46.0), Dick Allen (45.9), Pete Rose (44.9), Carlos Beltran (44.4), Scott Rolen (43.7), Jack Glasscock (41.0), Thurman Munson (37.0).

Bradford Doolittle took the basic premise of WAR7 and extended it to ten years of fWAR because that's time frame for HOF eligibility. It's interesting to see which of Dolittle's "snubs" match my lists ...

Kevin Brown (57.8) --- Agree.
Dwight Gooden (56.3) --- I don't have Gooden this high.
Jim Whitney (55.6) --- It's hard to judge 1880s pitchers.
Dick Allen (55.1) --- Agree.
Jim Edmonds (53.6) --- Agree, but I have Kenny Lofton and Andruw Jones higher.
Graig Nettles (52.9) --- Agree.
Sal Bando (52.6) --- Agree.
Bobby Abreu (52.4) --- Agree, but I have other RF's higher.
Bobby Grich (52.4) --- Agree.
Minnie Minoso (51.4) --- Agree.
Bobby Bonds (51.3) --- I have Bonds slightly lower. 
Mickey Lolich (51.3) --- I have several pitchers ranked higher than Lolich.
Keith Hernandez (51.0) --- Agree, although I have Todd Helton higher.
Wes Ferrell (50.6) --- Agree, at this position.
Bob Caruthers (50.4) --- It's hard to judge 1880s pitchers. 
Rafael Palmeiro (50.3) --- Not on my list due to PED issues.
Sherry Magee (50.1) --- Agree, at his position.
Brian Giles (50.1) --- I have other RF's higher.
Ron Cey (50.1) --- Agree, but I have several 3B's higher.

My biggest "snubs" include Pete Rose (79.7), "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (62.2), Curt Schilling (79.5), Jim McCormick (76.2), "Bad" Bill Dahlen (75.4), Lou Whitaker (75.1), Bobby Grich (71.1), Scott Rolen (70.0), Kenny Lofton (68.3), Kevin Brown (67.8), Ken Boyer (62.8), Andruw Jones (62.8), Jack Glasscock (62.0), Todd Helton (61.2), Keith Hernandez (60.4), Bret Saberhagen (58.8), Dick Allen (58.7), Fred McGriff (52.6), Minnie Minoso (50.5), Dale Murphy (46.5), Thurman Munson (46.1), "Smoky" Joe Wood (39.8)

Old-Timers Who Deserve Consideration

An asterisk (*) means the player should definitely be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. And please keep in mind that WAR undervalues catchers. According to FanGraphs, only one catcher, Johnny Bench, was among the top 60 position players in career WAR. That tells me WAR is missing something where catchers are concerned.

* Jim McCormick (76.2 WAR, 265 wins in just ten seasons ... is there anything to discuss, really?)
* Bill Dahlen (75.4 WAR at shortstop is 7th all-time, comparable to Luke Appling, let him in!)
* Lou Whitaker (75.1 WAR at second is 7th all-time, comparable to Frankie Frisch, let him in!)
* Bobby Grich (71.1 WAR, at second is 8th all-time, 5.7 WAR per 162 games, comparable to Ryne Sandberg)
* Scott Rolen (70.2 WAR at third is 7th all-time, 5.6 WAR per 162 games, let him in!)
? Rick Reuschel (69.5, 214-191, 3.37 ERA, 114 ERA+, only 23 more wins than losses, but he played on bad teams with bad defenses)
* Kenny Lofton (68.3 WAR, 1,528 runs, 622 steals, 5.5 WAR per 162 games, he compares favorably with Tim Raines)
? Graig Nettles (68.0 WAR, but he only hit .248 with 110 OPS+ and just 32 steals ...)
? Dwight Evans (67.1 WAR, eight Gold Gloves, 127 OPS+, he compares favorably with a number of HOF right fielders)
? Buddy Bell (66.3 WAR, 109 OPS+, six Gold Gloves, he compares with Graig Nettles in this list)
? Luis Tiant (66.0 WAR, 114 ERA+, 229-172, 3.30 ERA, 2,416 strikeouts)
? Reggie Smith (64.6 WAR, 137 OPS+, Gold Glove, but lower counting numbers)
? Ken Boyer (62.8 WAR, 116 OPS+, five Gold Gloves, he compares with Bell and Nettles in this list)
? David Cone (62.3 WAR, 194-126, 3.46 ERA, 121 ERA+)
? Sal Bando (61.5 WAR, 119 OPS+, he compares with Bell, Nettles and Boyer)
? Jim Edmonds (60.4 WAR, eight Gold Gloves, .527 slugging, 132 OPS+, his WAR is higher than 8 HOF centerfielders)
? Keith Hernandez (60.4 WAR, eleven Gold Gloves, 128 OPS+, but light on homers and RBI for first base)
* Bret Saberhagen (58.8 WAR, 167-117, 126 ERA+, despite missing large parts of six seasons due to injuries)
* Dick Allen (58.7 WAR, his 156 OPS+ is the ninth-highest since 1947, comparable to Dave Ortiz)
? Eddie Cicotte (58.4 WAR, 209-148, .238 ERA, 123 ERA+)
? "Indian" Bob Johnson (57.3 WAR, 139 OPS+, drove in 100+ runs eight times despite debuting as a 27-year-old rookie)
? Will Clark (56.5 WAR, 137 OPS+, one Gold Gove, but 284 homers and 1,205 RBI are low for a HOF first baseman)
? Orel Hershiser (56.0 WAR, a shooting star, perhaps, but an intensely bright one for six years)
? Vada Pinson (54.3 WAR, 2,757 hits, 1,365 runs, 305 steals, 256 homers, Gold Glove defense)
? Billy Pierce (53.4 WAR, 119 ERA+, 211-169, 3.27 ERA, 1,999 strikeouts)
? Jim Kaat (50.4 WAR with 283 wins and 16 Gold Gloves!)
? Minnie Minoso (50.5 WAR with a stellar 130 OPS+ and three Gold Gloves)
? Dizzy Trout (49.6 WAR, 3.23 ERA, 124 ERA+, Trout is similar in WAR to Sandy Koufax and Ralph Kiner, with a similar short peak)
? Dale Murphy (46.5 WAR, a two-time MVP, seven-time all-star, five Gold Gloves)
? Vern Stephens (45.4 WAR, 119 OPS+, a superior RBI man at shortstop with 130+ ribbies in his prime)
? Gil Hodges (44.8 WAR, 120 OPS+, 370 homers)
? George "The Destroyer" Foster (44.2 WAR, 126 OPS+, was he the last player to hit 50+ homers honestly?)
? Carlos Delgado (44.4 WAR, 138 OPS+, 25th all-time in secondary average at .419)
? Fielder Jones (43.2 WAR, 112 OPS+, 359 steals
? Tony Oliva (43.1 WAR, with a sizzling 131 OPS+, three batting titles, and a Gold Glove)
? Don Mattingly (42.4 WAR with a 127 OPS+ and nine Gold Gloves)
? Darryl Strawberry (42.2 WAR, 138 OPS+, 335 homers, 221 steals, 24th in secondary average at .420)
? Dave Concepcion (40.1 WAR, he compares well with half the current HOF shortstops and won five Gold Gloves)
? Albert Belle (40.1 WAR, 144 OPS+, his .564 slugging percentage is the 13th highest of all time and he had seasons with 148 and 152 RBI)
? Maury Wills (39.7 WAR, 586 steals, two Gold Gloves and an MVP award the year he stole 104 bases)
? Gavvy Cravath (33.0 WAR, .287/.380/.478/.858, his 151 OPS+ ranks 30th tied with Honus Wagner, he didn't play full-time until age 31)
? Charley Jones (26.3 WAR, his 150 OPS+ is 33rd highest of all time, tied with Nap Lajoie)
* Dan Quisenberry (24.7 WAR, see notes below)

Dan Quisenberry's 5.98 WAR per relief appearance over 162 games is the highest of the 43 non-HOFers with at least 200 career saves. He compares well with Bruce Sutter, according to Bill James, who has said he would vote "yes" for Quisenberry.

Other HOF Candidates: Kevin Brown (67.8), Tony Mullane (66.5), Luis Tiant (66.0), Willie Randolph (65.9), Jack Glasscock (61.6), Tommy John (61.5), Willie Davis (60.7), Wes Farrell (60.7), Andy Pettitte (60.2), Sherry Magee (59.3), Darrell Evans (58.8), Urban Shocker (58.3), John Olerud (58.2), Tim Hudson (58.1), Bobby Bonds (57.9), Chuck Finley (57.9), Jim Wynn (55.9), Ron Cey (53.8), Bert Campaneris (53.1), Jack Clark (53.1), Dwight Gooden (52.9), Cesar Cedeno (52.8), Fred McGriff (52.6), Stan Hack (52.6), Babe Adams (52.2), Norm Cash (52.0), Minnie Minoso (50.5), Gil Hodges (44.8), Jorge Posada (42.8), Babe Herman (40.3), Steve Garvey (38.1), Cecil Cooper (36.0), Ted Kluszewski (32.4), Riggs Stephenson (32.1), Don Baylor (28.5), Joe Carter (19.6)

Future Hall-of-Fame Candidates, by Age

Based on my "age analysis" below, I will go out on a limb and predict which active players have the best chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame, starting with the "most confident" and working my down:

Absolute Locks: Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander
Should Be Locks: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer
They Have the Stats: Ichiro Suzuki, Joey Votto, Joe Mauer, Zack Greinke, Robinson Cano, C. C. Sabathia
On the Bubble?: Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey
On Track But Need to Keep Producing: Chris Sale, Nolan Arenado, Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Andrew McCutcheon, Cole Hamels
Contenders: Yadier Molina, Madison Bumgarner, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson, Jason Heyward, Lorenzo Cain, Craig Kimbrel
Young But Immensely Talented: Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Francisco Lindor
Promising But Behind Schedule: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Bryce Harper, J.D. Martinez, Jose Ramirez, Javier Baez, Yasiel Puig
Derailed by Injuries: Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton
Slowing Down Too Soon? Felix Hernandez
Sleepers: Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Ben Zobrist, Brett Gardner, Nelson Cruz

By continuing to rake into his late thirties, Nelson Cruz may be building a case for a serious HOF bid. But he didn't play 100 games until age 28 and didn't play 150 games until age 31, so his "counting" stats are not the best. On the other hand, Cruz has averaged 38 homers, 106 RBI and 312 total bases per 162 games. And his 131 OPS+ is nothing to sneeze at.

I think it's too soon to have confidence in Bryce Harper. He's had one transcendent MVP season, mixed with a number of average-to-good seasons. Can he put everything together for a number of years? That remains to be seen. But he is 23rd in secondary average. Cody Bellinger certainly has the talent to be all hall-of-famer, but it's too soon to say. Aaron Judge has had a late start and reminds me of George "The Destroyer" Foster, the dominant slugger of his day, who didn't play enough to make the HOF.

I have noticed that a "differential" between career WAR and player age seems to be a rough indicator of which players are making the most rapid progress, as long as we keep in mind that there is going to be a "curve" as players get older. I have bolded the numbers that stick out within particular age groups. Mike Trout's 42.3 differential at age 27 is the most stunning, by far. Is he an alien from the Land of Perfect Baseball? These calculations were done on June 21, 2019, as an experiment of sorts. They suggest that it's rare for a player to exceed his age by 10 WAR before his 30th birthday (Trout, Betts, Stanton, Sale). From age 31 to 36, a handful of the very best players will come close to doubling their ages (Kershaw, Greinke, Cabrera, Verlander, Cano). But in a generation from age 25 to 45, not including known PED users, so far there have only been four "outliers" who seem able to challenge 100 WAR: Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout. And Trout is literally flying in another dimension. He has already passed Kershaw despite being four years younger, and is now generating WAR at several times Kershaw's current rate. Trout has already generated 70% of Pujols' WAR, and will probably pass him around his age 30 season. At that point, if he's still playing, Pujols will be 42 years old. So, in effect, Trout will have "spotted" the greatest player of the previous generation 10 to 12 seasons. That is truly unfathomable!

The results below also illustrate that player "rivalries" with Trout fall far short of being materially true. An MVP season is typically around 8 WAR. Trout is at least four MVP seasons better than the best players under age 30. If Trout keeps having 10-WAR seasons, it's impossible for anyone to catch him even if they somehow managed to string together some 11- and 12-WAR seasons. And it's not just his peers that Trout is leaving far behind. In middle of his age 27 season, Trout had already passed 180 hall-of-famers in career WAR, many of them in one-half to one-third the playing time. Here are some of the baseball immortals whose career WAR Trout passed in around one-third the playing time: Lloyd Waner, Pie Traynor, "Wee" Willie Keeler, Joe Medwick, Harmon Killebrew, Yogi Berra, Max Carey, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, Enos Slaughter, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez, Willie Stargell, Luis Aparicio and Sam Rice.

Cody Bellinger (16.3 WAR at age 23) = -6.7

Carlos Correa (21.0 WAR at age 24) = -3.00 this is good for anyone not named Trout

Francisco Lindor (25.9 WAR at age 25) = 0.9 even at age 25 is outstanding
Corey Seager (16.8 WAR at age 25) = -8.2 missed most of his age 24 season
Addison Russell (12.5 WAR at age 25) = -12.5
Luis Severino (11.8 WAR at age 25) = -13.2
Joey Gallo (8.3 WAR at age 25) = -16.7

Mookie Betts (40.3 WAR at age 26) = 14.3
Manny Machado (37.0 WAR at age 26) = 11.0
Bryce Harper (30.1 WAR at age 26) = 4.1 and 23rd in secondary average
Jose Ramirez (22.2 WAR at age 26) = -3.8
Javier Baez (14.8 WAR at age 26) = -11.2
Gary Sanchez (10.8 WAR at age 26) = -15.2
Blake Snell (9.8 WAR at age 26) = -16.2

Mike Trout (72.2 WAR at age 27) = 45.2 = This is insane! crazy! otherworldly!
Christian Yelich (31.1 WAR at age 27) = 4.1
Kris Bryant (23.6 WAR at age 27) = -3.4
Aaron Judge (14.4 WAR at age 27) = -12.6

Nolan Arenado (36.1 WAR at age 28) = 8.1
Yasiel Puig (19.0 WAR at age 28) = -9.0

Giancarlo Stanton (39.7 WAR at age 29) = 10.7 and 28th all-time in secondary average
Andrelton Simmons (35.9 WAR at age 29) = 6.9
Freddie Freeman (35.9 WAR at age 29) = 6.9
Jason Heyward (35.4 WAR at age 29) = 6.4
Jose Altuve (35.0 WAR at age 29) = 6.0
Madison Bumgarner (34.5 WAR at age 29) = 5.5
Anthony Rizzo (31.0 WAR at age 29) = 2.0
Anthony Rendon (23.6 WAR at age 29) = -5.4

Chris Sale (44.7 WAR at age 30) = 14.7
Elvis Andrus (31.3 WAR at age 30) = 1.3
Starling Marte (27.7 WAR at age 30) = -2.3

Clayton Kershaw (65.7 WAR at age 31) = 34.7 = Another alien like Trout?
Paul Goldschmidt (41.3 WAR at age 31) = 10.3 and 31st all-time in secondary average
Justin Upton (35.1 WAR at age 31) = 4.1
J.D. Martinez (22.0 WAR at age 31) = -9.0
Craig Kimbrel (20.1 WAR at age 31, with 333 saves, a 1.91 ERA and 212 ERA+ should be judged on those criteria)
A.J. Pollock (19.5 WAR at age 31) = -11.5

Andrew McCutcheon (43.7 WAR at age 32) = 11.7
Buster Posey (41.2 WAR at age 32) = 9.2
Brandon Crawford (22.8 WAR at age 32) = -9.2
Charlie Blackmon (17.5 WAR at age 32) = -14.5

Evan Longoria (53.2 at age 33) = 20.2
Felix Hernandez (50.5 at age 33) = 17.5
Josh Donaldson (41.0 WAR at age 33) = 8.0
David Price (39.5 WAR at age 33) = 6.5
Lorenzo Cain (35.0 WAR at age 33) = 2.0
Jake Arrieta (26.0 WAR at age 33) = -7.0
Chris Davis (14.4 WAR at age 33) = -18.6

Max Scherzer  (58.8 WAR at age 34) = 24.8
Troy Tulowitzki (44.2 WAR at age 34) = 10.2

Zack Greinke (69.2 WAR at age 35) = 34.1
Cole Hamels (59.4 WAR at age 35) = 24.4
Joey Votto (58.8 at age 35) = 23.8 and 29th all-time in secondary average
Joe Mauer (55.0 WAR at age 35) = 20.0
Dustin Pedroia (51.7 WAR at age 35) = 16.7
John Lester (44.9 WAR at age 35) = 10.0
Brett Gardner (38.9 WAR at age 35) = 4.9
Hanley Ramirez (37.9 WAR at age 35) = 2.9
Alex Gordon (36.5 WAR at age 35) = 1.5
Brian McCann (32.0 WAR at age 35) = -3.0
Howie Kendrick (31.5 WAR at age 35) = -3.5
Jacoby Ellsbury (31.1 WAR at age 35) = -3.9

Miguel Cabrera (69.8 WAR at age 36) = 33.8
Robinson Cano (68.9 at age 36) = 32.9
Justin Verlander (66.6 WAR at age 36) = 30.6

Mark Buehrle (59.2 WAR at age 36) = 23.2
Yadier Molina (38.9 WAR at age 36) = 2.9
Russell Martin (37.7 WAR at age 36) = 1.7

Ian Kinsler (57.7 WAR at age 37) = 20.7
Adam Wainwright (38.8 WAR at age 37) = 1.8
Jose Bautista (35.9 WAR at age 37) = -1.1
Brandon Phillips (31.0 WAR at age 37) = -6.0

C.C. Sabathia (63.4 WAR at age 38) = 25.4
Curtis Granderson (48.8 WAR at age 38) = 9.4
Ben Zobrist (45.1 WAR at age 38) = 7.1
Nelson Cruz (34.9 WAR at age 38) = -3.1

Albert Pujols (100.0 WAR at age 39) = 61.00 = The greatest player of his era, until Trout
Adrian Beltre (96.6 WAR at age 39) = 56.6
Tim Hudson (58.1 WAR at age 39) = 19.1
Torii Hunter (50.1 WAR at age 39) = 10.1

Ichiro Suzuki (59.4 WAR at age 45) = 14.4

The most underrated players not in the Hall of Fame ...

The "most unknown" or "least appreciated" player is listed first ...

Catcher: Wally Schang, Gene Tenace, Bill Freehan, Thurman Munson, Jorge Posada
First Base: John Olerud, Will Clark, Todd Helton, Keith Hernandez, Fred McGriff
Second Base: Bobby Grich, Willie Randolph, Lou Whitaker, Jeff Kent
Shortstop: Bill Dahlen, Jack Glasscock, Jim Fregosi, Bert Campaneris, Dave Concepcion
Third Base: Buddy Bell, Scott Rolen, Dick Allen, Graig Nettles, Ken Boyer, Sal Bando
Left Field: Sherry Magee, Indian Bob Johnson, Charlie Keller, George Foster
Center Field: Willie Davis, Jim Wynn, Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmunds, Andruw Jones, Johnny Damon
Right Field: Reggie Smith, Dwight Evans, Bobby Abreu, Tony Oliva, Roger Maris, Bobby Bonds
Designated Hitter: Jose Cruz, Gary Sheffield, Albert Belle, Lance Berkman
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner, John Franco, Francisco Rodriguez
Starting Pitcher: Jim McCormick, Smoky Joe Wood, Kevin Brown, Bret Saberhagen, David Cone, Roy Oswalt, Tony Mullane, Andy Pettitte, Luis Tiant, Rick Reuschel, Tommy John

Candidates with Steroid Issues, or Possible Issues

The players below are listed in the order that I rank them for inclusion in the HOF. I am not a fan of PEDs or players using them, but as I explained above, I can't see banning one player for life when someone who did far worse things soaks up the glory. I say let them all in, if they deserve it, and perhaps put an asterisk after their names if it can be proved that they cheated. If cheating can't be verified, "innocent until proven guilty" should apply. And what happens if someone elected to the HOF turns out to have cheated? That seems likely to happen, sooner or later.

Barry Bonds (162.4 WAR, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 182 OPS+)
Roger Clemens (139.2 WAR, 354-184, 4,672 SO, 3.12 ERA, 143 ERA+)
Alex Rodriguez (117.7 WAR, 696 HR, 2,086 RBI, 140 OPS+)
Rafael Palmeiro (71.6 WAR, 569 HR, 1,835 RBI, 132 OPS+)
Manny Ramirez (69.2 WAR, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 154 OPS+) nineteenth all-time in secondary average
Robinson Cano (68.8 WAR, .303/.353/.491/.844, 126 OPS+)
Mark McGwire (62.2 WAR, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI, 163 OPS+) fourth all-time in secondary average
Gary Sheffield (60.5 WAR, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 140 OPS+)
Andy Pettitte (60.2 WAR, 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3,316 IP, 117 ERA+)
Sammy Sosa (58.4 WAR, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 128 OPS+)
Jason Giambi (50.5 WAR, 440 HR, 1,441 RBI, 139 OPS+)
Curtis Granderson (47.4 WAR, 339 HR, 920 RBI, 114 OPS+)
Miguel Tejada (47.3 WAR, 307 HR, 1,302 RBI, 108 OPS+)
Ryan Braun (46.6 WAR, 331 HR, 1,083 RBI, 136 OPS+)
Jose Canseco (42.2 WAR, 462 HR, 1,407 RBI, 132 OPS+)

Players in my Previous Top Tens who are now in the HOF, with my comments before their election ...

Derek Jeter should be inducted quickly, probably on the first ballot, when he becomes eligible in 2020. With 72.4 WAR, a .310 career batting average and 3,465 hits, not to mention a clean slate and considerable popularity, a first-ballot induction seems likely. Jeter compares with Barry Larkin and Robin Yount and certainly merits induction, although his 115 OPS+ is not going to challenge Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughn, Ernie Banks or his former teammate Alex Rodriguez for primacy among slugging shortstops.

Larry Walker could and did rake: 72.6 WAR, .313/.400/.565/.965, 141 OPS+. Walker slashed well above the average HOFer. Hell, his .565 slugging percentage is second only to Babe Ruth among right fielders. Should Denver's mile-high air be counted against him, when left-handed hitters thrive in Yankee Stadium? What about Fenway Park and its fabled Green Monster? The three players with the highest home OPSes—Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Jimmy Foxx—played in those parks. And please keep in mind that Walker's "sky-high" OPS+ is adjusted for the ballparks he played in, as is his WAR. There is disagreement, however, as to whether such adjustments account for the entire "thin air effect." On the other hand, Walker slashed a very healthy .286/.386/.518/.905 on the road during his "rocky" years, and there are many HOFers below his road levels. There are also HOFers with similar home/road splits, such as Hank Greenberg and Chuck Klein. Is it fair to penalize Walker when other great hitters have taken advantage of their home parks? There is also the point that Walker was so much better than all the other hitters who could have taken similar advantage of Coors Field. According to Bill James, the player Walker most resembles is Duke Snider. He also compares with Paul Waner, Sam Thompson and Sam Crawford. Furthermore, Walker had nearly the same WAR as Reggie Jackson, in 3,400 fewer plate appearances! He was a five-time all-star and three-time batting champion who won seven Gold Gloves and the 1997 National League MVP award. A true five-tool player, he also had 230 steals. Walker was named on 54.6% of 2019 ballots; that was quite a surge from 34.1% in 2018, so he's still in the running. But in his ninth year of eligibility, he's starting to run short on time. Voters, please do the right thing and let him in!

Ted Simmons should be in the HOF; he's in the top ten catchers of all time, or very close, comparing well with Mickey Cochrane, Buck Ewing and Ernie Lombardi.
Mariano Rivera definitely deserves to make it on the first ballot, being the all-time saves leader with 652, not to mention having a 2.21 ERA and all-time-best 205 ERA+. He compares to anyone, but no one compares to him.
Chipper Jones could be a first-ballot inductee, with strong stats for a third baseman: 85.0 WAR, .303/.401/.529, 468 HR, 1,623 RBI, 141 OPS+. He compares with Eddie Matthews.
Mike Mussina had a 3.68 ERA, which is on the high side for the HOF, but 270 wins and 83.0 WAR help his case. He compares with Ted Lyons.
Jeff Bagwell 79.9 WAR, 149 OPS+, 1,517 runs, 1,529 RBI, 449 homers, 202 steals, eleven consecutive seasons of ~5 WAR or higher, a no-brainer for the HOF.
Jim Thome should be a lock for the HOF, with 612 homers. His stats are impressive: 72.9 WAR, .276/.402/.554, 612 HR, 147 OPS+.
Alan Trammell 70.7 WAR, .285/.352/.415/.767 with 236 steals. Trammell ranks 9th among HOF shortstops in WAR and definitely belongs in the HOF.
Tim Raines 69.4 WAR, 1,571 runs, 808 steals, 123 OPS+, seven-time all-star, one of the top lead-off hitters of all time, should be a sure HOFer.
Roy Halladay should be a lock for the HOF with 64.3 WAR and such a high peak with 50.6 WAR7. He won two Cy Young awards and his 131 ERA+ is in the top 30 for starting pitchers.
Vladimir Guerrero 59.3 WAR, .318/.379./.553/.931, 449 HR, 1,406 RBI with a 140 OPS+. Guerrero has been knocking on the door and seems primed to enter.
Trevor Hoffman was knocking on the door with 74% of the vote in 2017, with great stats for a reliever: 601 SAVES, 2.87 ERA, 141 ERA+. Hoffman ranks second in all-time saves and vastly eclipses the relievers currently in the HOF: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Hoyt Wilhelm.

Players that I had on the Bubble who are now in the HOF, with my comments ...

? Edgar Martinez 68.3 WAR, .312/.418/.515/.933 147 OPS+. Martinez slashes great, but spent a lot of time at DH and had only 309 HR and 1,261 RBI.
? Jack Morris fails to excite with 43.4 WAR, a 3.90 ERA and 105 ERA+, but 254 wins gives him a case, and he had 14 years with 10+ wins.
? Lee Smith 28.9 WAR, 478 saves, 3.03 ERA, 132 ERA+. total WAR is obviously not a good measure of relievers
? Harold Baines 38.7 WAR, 384 homers, 1,628 RBI, 121 OPS+, the most compelling stat is the RBI but Baines never had a 5-WAR season)

High-WAR players no longer eligible in 2019 ...

Fred McGriff 52.6 WAR, .284/.377/.509/.886, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 134 OPS+ (McGriff's ten year window closed in 2019 with 39.8% of the HOF votes.)
Lance Berkman 52.1 WAR, .293/.406/.537/.943, 144 OPS+, 366 HR, 20th in secondary average (Berkman didn't qualify with only 1.2% of votes his first year eligible, in 2019.)
Roy Oswalt 50.1 WAR, 163-102, 3.32 ERA, 2,245 IP, 127 ERA+ (Oswalt has a stellar ERA+ but didn't qualify with only 1.2% of votes his first year eligible, in 2019.)

Other players who didn't make the cut in 2019: Miguel Tejeda, Michael Young, Placido Polanco, Rick Ankiel, Vernon Wells, Jon Garland, Jason Bay, Derek Lowe, John Pierre, Freddy Garcia, Ted Lilly, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, Darren Oliver

Other high-WAR players no longer eligible from prior years, with a plus sign meaning "let him in!" and an asterisk meaning probable or possible PED issues ...

+Pete Rose 79.7, 118 OPS+, the all-time leader in games, wins, hits and times on base
+Jim McCormick 76.2 WAR, 118 ERA+, 265 wins in ten years
+Bill Dahlen 75.4 WAR, 110 OPS+, 548 steals, great defense
+Lou Whitaker 75.1 WAR, 117 OPS+, three Gold Gloves
*Rafael Palmeiro 71.9 WAR
+Bobby Grich 71.1 WAR, 125 OPS+, four Gold Gloves, 5.7 WAR per 162 games
+Ron Santo 70.5 WAR, 125 OPS+, five Gold Gloves
Rick Reuschel 69.5 WAR, 114 ERA+
+Kenny Lofton 68.3 WAR, four Gold Gloves, 1,528 runs, 622 steals
Graig Nettles 68.0 WAR, 110 OPS+, two Gold Gloves
+Kevin Brown 67.8 WAR, 127 ERA+
+Dwight Evans 67.1, 127 OPS+, eight Gold Gloves
Luis Tiant 66.0 WAR, 114 OPS+
Buddy Bell 66.3 WAR, 109 OPS+
Willie Randolph 65.9 WAR, 109 OPS+
Reggie Smith 64.6 WAR, 137 OPS+
Ken Boyer 62.8 WAR, 116 OPS+
David Cone 62.3 WAR, 121 ERA+
*Mark McGwire 62.2 WAR with the fourth best secondary average of all time
Tommy John 61.5 WAR, 111 ERA+
Sal Bando 61.5 WAR, 119 OPS+
Keith Hernandez 60.4 WAR, eleven Gold Gloves, 128 OPS+
Jim Edmonds 60.4 WAR, eight Gold Gloves, .527 slugging, 132 OPS+
Mark Buehrle 59.2 WAR, 214-160, 3.81 ERA, 3,283 IP, 117 ERA+
Darrell Evans 58,8 WAR, 119 OPS+
+Bret Saberhagen 58.8 WAR, 126 ERA+ (Saberhagen dominated when healthy.)
+Dick Allen 58.7, 156 OPS+ (Allen's OPS+ is undeniable; he's tied with Willie Mays and Frank Thomas)
John Olerud 58.2 WAR, 129 OPS+
Chuck Finley 57.9 WAR, 115 ERA+
Bobby Bonds 57.9 WAR, 129 OPS+, 461 steals, 332 homers
Frank Tanana 57.1 WAR, 106 ERA+
Will Clark 56.5 WAR, 137 OPS+
Dave Stieb 56.4 WAR, 122 OPS+
Robin Ventura 56.1 WAR, 114 OPS+
Johnny Damon 56.0 WAR, 104 OPS+
Orel Hershiser 56.0 WAR, 112 ERA+
Jim Wynn 55.9 WAR, 129 OPS+
Chet Lemon 55.6 WAR, 121 OPS+
Kevin Appier 54.5 WAR, 121 ERA+
Jose Cruz 54.4 WAR, 120 OPS+
Vada Pinson 54.3 WAR, 111 OPS+
Jerry Koosman 53.6 WAR, 110 OPS+
David Wells 53.5 WAR, 108 ERA+
Billy Pierce 53.4 WAR, 119 ERA+
Bucky Walters 53.4 WAR, 116 OPS+
Jack Clark 53.1 WAR, 137 OPS+
Bert Campaneris 53.1 WAR, 89 OPS+, 649 steals
Dwight Gooden 52.9 WAR, 111 ERA+
Cesar Cedeno 52.8 WAR, 123 OPS+
Norm Cash 52.0 WAR, 139 OPS+
Luis Gonzalez 51.8 WAR, 119 OPS+
Brian Downing 51.5 WAR, 122 OPS+
Johan Santana 51.4 WAR, 139-78, 3.20 ERA, 2,025 IP, 136 ERA+
Toby Harrah 51.4, 114 OPS+
Brian Giles 51.1 WAR, 136 OPS+
Tony Phillips 50.9 WAR, 109 OPS+
+Minnie Minoso 50.5 WAR, 130 OPS+ (Minoso was a rookie at age 25, due to racism?)
Jim Kaat 50.4 WAR, 108 ERA+ (and with 16 Gold Gloves!)
Jamie Moyer 50.4 WAR, 269-209, 4.25 ERA, 4,074 IP, 103 ERA+
Kenny Rogers 50.4 WAR, 107 ERA+
Fred Lynn 50.2 WAR, 129 OPS+
Mark Langston 50.1 WAR, 107 ERA+
Wilbur Wood 50.0 WAR, 114 OPS+

Other Notable Players: Ellis Burks (49.8), Bernie Williams (49.6), Dutch Leonard (49.0), Mickey Lolich (48.0), Ron Guidry (47.8), Devon White (47.3), Frank Viola (46.9), Matt Williams (46.6), Dale Murphy (46.5), Mark Grace (46.4), Thurman Munson (46.1), Rusty Staub (45.8),  Tony Fernandez (45.3), Vida Blue (45.1), Gil Hodges (44.8), Matt Holliday (44.8), Chuck Knoblauch (44.8), Bill Freehan (44.8), Rocky Colavito (44.5), Carlos Delgado (44.4), George Foster (44.2), Nomar Garciaparra (44.2), Julio Franco (43.5), Fielder Jones (43.2), Tony Oliva (43.1), Charlie Keller (43.1), Dixie Walker (42.7), *Jose Canseco (42.5), Don Mattingly (42.4), Darryl Strawberry (42.2), Curt Flood (41.9), "Sudden" Sam McDowell (41.8), Fernando Valenzuela (41.4), Tim Salmon (40.6), David Justice (40.6), Dave Concepcion (40.1), Dave Parker (40.1), Albert Belle (40.1), Moises Alou (39.9), Reggie Sanders (39.8), Maury Wills (39.7), Lance Parrish (39.5), Boog Powell (39.0), Paul O'Neill (38.9), Juan Gonzalez (38.7), Kirk Gibson (38.4), Roger Maris (38.2), Steve Garvey (38.1), Frank Howard (37.6), Dusty Baker (37.0), Eric Davis (36.1), Dick Groat (36.7), Carl Furillo (35.1), Shawn Green (34.7), Ken Griffey Sr. (34.5), Willie McGee (34.2), Ron Gant (34.1), Bobby Thomson (33.3), Rick Monday (33.1), Rico Carty (32.6), Ted Kluszewski (32.4), Darin Erstad (32.4), Bobby Murcer (32.1), Andres Galarraga (31.7), Marty Marion (31.6), Bill Russell (31.3), Greg Vaughn (30.8), Lew Burdette (28.6), Vic Wertz (27.4), Jackie Jensen (27.9), Dave Orr (27.3), Elston Howard (27.0), Denny McClain (19.3), R. A. Dickey (18.9), Don Larsen (18.4)

For purposes of comparison, here are some HOFers with their career WAR: Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner (24.1), "High Pockets" Kelly (25.2), Jim Bottomley (35.3), Pie Traynor (36.2), Bill Mazeroski (36.2), Roy Campanella (37.0), George Kell (37.4), Lefty Gomez (38.4), Phil Rizzuto (40.8), Catfish Hunter (40.9), Earl Combs (42.5), Rabbit Maranville (42.8), Chuck Klein (43.6), Sam Thompson (44.3), Lou Brock (45.2), Dizzy Dean (45.8), Jim Rice (47.4), Sandy Koufax (48.9), Nellie Fox (48.9), Ralph Kiner (49.4), Tony Lazzeri (49.9)

Pitchers ranked by wins and ERA+

Roger Clemens (354 wins, 143 ERA+)
Curt Schilling (216 wins, 127 ERA+)
Smoky Joe Wood (146 ERA+, on track to be the best pitcher of all time, then came back as an outfielder and excellent hitter after arm injuries)
Kevin Brown (211 wins, 127 ERA+)
Bret Saberhagen (167 wins, 126 ERA+)
David Cone (194 wins, 121 ERA+)
Roy Oswalt (163 wins, 127 ERA+)
Jim McCormick (265 wins, 118 ERA+)
Tony Mullane (284 wins, 117 ERA+)
Andy Pettitte (256 wins, 117 ERA+)
Luis Tiant (229 wins, 114 ERA+)
Tommy John (288 wins, 111 ERA+)

Related Pages: Baseball Timeline, Weird Baseball Facts and Trivia, Weird Sports Trivia, The Greatest Baseball Infields of All Time, Is Mike Trout the GOAT?, Best Baseball Nicknames, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR per Season, Baseball's All-Time Leaders in WAR7, Baseball Hall of Fame: The Best Candidates, Why Pete Rose Should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Big Red Machine Timeline/Chronology

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