WSBGM's is venturing outside the realm of Phillies and Pirates baseball this week. Let's be honest, besides some minor moves the squads are pretty much already set heading into spring training. Therefore, Corey and I are going to delve into some various MLB topics- Hall of Fame, steroids, contracts, hot baseball wives...ok, maybe not that last one. First up- the Hall of Fame.
Last week Goose Gossage was voted into the Hall-of-Fame for what many believe to be his pioneering of the modern day closer. I don't necessarily agree with his admission into the prestigious collection of elite players of baseball's past, but at the same time I recognize his attributes. Today I want to look at some current MLB players and check out their status for Cooperstown. The players are split into two categories: "Right Now"- meaning if they retired today, five years down the road they get elected 1st ballot; and "Few More"- meaning they're close, but need a few more seasons to hit some statistical milestones before they get the nod. I originally created four categories with "Maybe's" and "Early Birds", but this list became too tedious and quite the endeavor, so I decided to stick to the players that are near Hall worthiness at their prospective points in their careers. *Not included on this list are steroid scandal babies Bonds and Clemens, recently retired Biggio, and the ambiguously big Sosa.
Manny Ramirez- 11 time All-Star, 8 straight seasons in the top 10 balloting for MVP, 9 time Silver Slugger, career .313 batting average, 24 post season homeruns, and soon to break 500 career homers. Manny may end up being best remembered for "Manny being Manny", but the man can flat out hit.
Greg Maddux- sure umps used to give him 3 feet off the plate, but he is the thinking man of pitchers and is a brilliant control artist that has compiled 347 wins to date; at one time reeling off 17 straight seasons of 15+ wins.
Mariano Rivera- he's a Yankee so you very well may hate him, but the man is the definition of "closer". 443 saves, 2.35 era, and a 1.04 whip all while playing on one of the biggest stages in pro sports; the Sandman has been putting batters to sleep for well over a decade. His post season stats aren't bad either- 34 saves and 0.77 era...yep, less than a run given up per 9 frames- WOW!
Frank Thomas- the Big Hurt is a 2 time MVP, 500 homerun member, has close to 1700 rbi, and a career OPS of .982...DH or no DH, he belongs.
Vlad Guerrero- 11 straight seasons with a .300+ batting average, he's the modern day Tony Gwynn with way more pop, with a .325 lifetime average and to go along with an MVP award and 8 All-Star appearances.
Pedro Martinez- when he first came up the Dodgers thought he couldn't be a starting pitcher because of his slight frame...idiots! 200+ wins, 2.80 era, 3 Cy Youngs, and the best winning percentage of all-time (.692%).
Alex Rodriguez- A-Rod is a 3 time MVP with 11 All-Star appearances, youngest player to 500 homeruns, and is the future Homerun King of baseball and probably going down as baseball's best player ever.
Randy Johnson- injuries may prevent the Big Unit from reaching 300 wins (currently at 284), but he goes down in history as one of the game's all-time gunslingers with nearly 800 more k's than innings pitched. Oh, did I mention he's won 5 Cy Youngs and finished 2nd in the voting three times?
Jeff Kent- many people think he's a prick and remember his lying over his motorcycle accident, but bottom line is he's one of the best 2nd basemen of all-time with a .290 average, 365 homeruns, and nearly 1500 rbi.
Tom Glavine- to think this guy could have played hockey instead, thankfully for the Braves he didn't and went on to win more than 300 games.
Ken Griffey Jr.- the Kid is a natural and was the game's most popular player in the 90's. Injuries have derailed him recently, but he's still going to top 600 homeruns and he made wearing baseball caps backward cool- not some stupid rapper.
Ivan Rodriguez- first their was Johnny Bench and then there was Pudge. He made Rickey Henderson scared on the base paths winning 13 Gold Glove Awards. He can hit too- .303 average, nearly 2500 hits, and 14 All-Star games...possibly best catcher ever.
Mike Piazza- Ivan is a whiz behind the plate, Piazza needed a position. Mike has never really been confused as a solid defensive catcher, but he's the most offensively prolific of all-time.
Derek Jeter- he is so overhyped that I get nauseous when I hear his name, but I got to give the man his respect. He can hit, and hit, and hit, and hit...2356 hits to be exact in just 13 seasons, pretty good by my standards, also has collected 153 hits in the post season.
Trevor Hoffman- if Mariano Rivera is the definition of "closer" than Hoffman is a synonym. He's the all-time saves leader with 524 fires put out and owns a 2.73 era and 1.05 whip.
John Smoltz- 200+ wins and 150+ saves, and really the only Brave I ever liked.
Curt Schilling- if it weren't for a late start in his career he'd be a sure thing by now, but instead Curt has to keep plugging along into his 40's trying to rack up a few more wins and strikeouts. He has a hero complex too, as his 19 post season wins and 2.33 era play into that.
Mike Mussina- never a 20 game winner, but has accumulated 250 wins, is probably good for close to another 20, and has a tremendous winning percentage .635%; also has 23 post season victories.
Jim Thome- one of baseball's good ol' boys does have over 500 homeruns, but because of the Steroid Era, I think Jimbo is going to have to get close to 600; which I believe he can do.
Kenny Lofton- the well-traveled K-Lo may get into Cooperstown as more of a product of longevity than excellence as he has some nice career stats: 2400+ hits, 600+ stolen bases, 100+ triple, 1500+ runs, and a near .300 average. If he can hook on to yet another club and gather some more hits, runs, and stolen bases he's going to be a tough decision come Hall time.
Gary Sheffield- admitted steroid user, but pure hitter nonetheless with more than 1500 rbi and runs, closing in on 500 homeruns, and 2500+ hits.
Ichiro Suzuki- he will get much debate when he's up for election, but how could you deny that he's one of the best hitters at collecting hits of all-time with 7 straight seasons of 200+ hits to make a .333 batting average, also 7 straight seasons of 100+ runs, to go along with 7 straight All-Star games- he's only been in the league 7 seasons.
Albert Pujols- like Ichiro only 7 seasons into his career, but he's doing things that have never been done before. .332 average, 1.040 OPS, 1 MVP 3 times 2nd place, 800+ runs and rbi...if he developed "Albert Pujols" disease and was forced to retire he'd be a lock for the Hall now.
Chipper Jones- where would he rank among the game's best if it weren't for injuries? Regardless, Larry is one of the best switch hitters of all-time, and I like to point out that in an era of players striking out at alarming rates that he has more walks than k's.
Luis Gonzalez- Gonzo like Lofton may get in because of the ability to stick around long enough to reach certain Hall-worthy milestones like 3000 hits. The soon-to-be 40 year old Gonzalez is about 500 hits shy, but I bet he tries to stay around and get there.