- Super Bowl Profile – Kansas City Chiefs - February 8, 2024
- Making The Grade – NFL Coaching Hires - February 5, 2024
- A Way Too Early Look At Next Year’s National Baseball Hall Of Fame Ballot - February 2, 2024
The National Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced that three players would be inducted as part of the class of 2024. Former Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton and former Minnesota Twins catcher and first baseman Joe Mauer all received the call that over the summer. They’ll be forever enshrined in baseball’s grandest hall.
So, as soon as the voting ends for one year, speculation about next year’s class begins. With some returning names such as outfielders Carlos Beltran, Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter, as well as infielders Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Alex Rodriguez, the ballot for 2025 should be interesting. However, all eyes will be on the first year players.
So let’s take a look at some of the more popular names hitting the first ballot and where they may stand.
Ichiro Suzuki, Outfielder: Let’s be honest, is there anyone in baseball that doesn’t know the name Ichiro? Arguably the greatest contact hitter in baseball history, as well as one of the greatest defensive outfielders of all time, Ichiro has done it all in the game. In his career he has ten Gold Gloves, ten All-Star appearances and three Silver Slugger awards. He was a two-time batting champion and even won the Most Valuable Player award and Rookie of the Year in the same year.
Translation, Ichiro should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
CC Sabathia, Pitcher: He may not have broke 300 career wins, but CC Sabathia quietly put together a stellar career. While pitchers like Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and others were building their Hall of Fame careers in the limelight, Sabathia racked up 251 wins and 3,093 strike outs.
Felix Hernandez, Pitcher: It’s good to be king, just ask Felix Hernandez. At a time when the Seattle Mariners were in a constant state of rebuild, “King Felix” was the one bright light the team had. A six-time All-Star, a two-time Earned Run Average leader, a wins leader and a Cy Young Award winner, the diamond was the king’s court and we were his spectators.
Hernandez may not get in first ballot but he should be in before he gets through the first half of his ten year eligibility period.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Baseman: Boston Red Sox fans dispute if Pedroia belongs in Cooperstown. On the one hand, he had a near .300 career batting average, four Gold Gloves, four All-Star game appearances, a Silver Slugger and an MVP award. On the other hand, 150 home runs and 725 RBI doesn’t really scream “Hall of Famer.”
Realistically, Pedroia’s best chance may be on a weak year, but even then it’s close. There’s a chance he could get in later on in his eligibility but it’s a tough determination.
Brian McCann, Catcher: There weren’t many catchers better at the plate than Brian McCann when he played. Seven All-Star appearances and six Silver Sluggers tell the story of McCann’s career. What kills McCann is that his defense made him a liability.
It’s likely a long shot that the former Atlanta Brave and New York Yankees catcher sees himself on a plaque, but there’s still a case to be made.
Adam Jones, Outfielder: It is true that Adam Jones was a five-time All Star, four-time Gold Glover, and a Silver Slugger award winner, but the question of “is it enough” comes into play. Jones was always a good outfielder but never a great one and that’s part of the problem. When you play a position that often features three players at the position, you need to stand out to be considered great.
Still, there’s a slight chance he does get in. Not enough to bet the family farm but still a chance.
Ian Kinsler, Second Baseman: A four-time All Star and a two-time Gold Glover winner, Ian Kinsler was one of the better second basemen when he played. A solid glove and a solid contact hitter made him a reliable player in the middle of the field. The problem is that he was just solid.
When Kinsler played, it was at a time when Dustin Pedroia, Chase Utley, Robinson Cano and a few other better players at the position were in the league. Pedroia is seen as a fringe, Utley is still battling to get in and Cano has the performance enhancing drug user label slapped on him. While it should open the door, it really doesn’t. Kinsler is realistically a long shot that’s barely above the final category.
Curtis Granderson, Outfielder: There was a point where Curtin Granderson looked poised to make the Hall of Fame. Good pop in his bat, solid speed and even lead all of baseball on RBI for a season, you can make a case that the former New York Yankee and Detroit Tiger was underrated. Then he slowed down.
Realistically, Granderson probably should have finished better than he did, perhaps even with over 1,000 RBI, but he ultimately didn’t and as such, remains a long shot.
Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop: Time stops for no man, and Troy Tulowitzki may be one of his biggest victims. After winning two Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards early on in his career, as well as getting five All-Star nods, Tulowitzki looked destined for the Hall of Fame. Then injuries set in.
Despite being a great shortstop, he only played 140 games in a season three times in his thirteen seasons in the league. Had Tulowitzki been able to stay healthy, there’s a good chance he’d be on the fringe list. Unfortunately, he wasn’t and is more than likely missing an induction.
Hanley Ramirez, Shortstop/Outfielder: Once upon a time, Hanley Ramirez was the number one prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. After making his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 2005, he would be traded to the Florida Marlins as part of the Josh Beckett trade. Ramirez would ultimately go on to establish himself as an elite hitter, winning of the Rookie of the Year in 2006, two Silver Sluggers and would be the National League batting champion in 2009, to go along with his three All-Star appearances.
Unfortunately, his defense would hinder his progress further, eventually being moved to left field, where he was worse. Hanley was a great hitter but didn’t find a position he could excel at. It’s a shame but sometimes it happens in baseball.