Thursday, August 18, 2016
Call to the Hall: 2016 Edition
A few days ago I was standing in front of Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.'s plaques in Cooperstown. And it felt weird to me, as years before I was collecting their cards in the present tense, and they were still some of the more relevant, impressive ballplayers in the game. And here they were, finished with the ultimate ode of appreciation at their feet. That was a bit weird for me.
I'm gonna have a post up later recapping most of what the Hall's become sometime this weekend (when I get home), but for now... I wanna try something cool that I haven't done in a while.
I want to go down every MLB team and give a player who, in my opinion, has the best chance of entering the Hall of Fame. Again, not every single one of these will, because, as you can tell, I'm not a soothsayer. I'm just saying who has the best odds as of right this second, career-encompassing and everything. Some teams it will be easy...some not so much.
Alphabetical order (sorry Yanks fans):
ANGELS: Albert Pujols. Yes, Mike Trout is wonderful and amazing, but Albert Pujols has over 500 home runs and has no sign of slowing down too greatly. Besides, the thing about Mike Trout is that I have no idea if the next five years will absolutely derail the last five years of him. If I wrote this in 2011, Ryan Howard would be a shoo-in for the Hall. But yes, Albert's had a spectacular career and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
ASTROS: Jose Altuve. I have no idea how the rest of his career will go, but the last few years have been insanely impressive for the little guy, not just as a speedy second baseman, but as one of the most consistent average-hitters in baseball. Altuve might be close to an MVP award this year, and that'd be amazing in itself. Not saying Cooperstown's a definite, because he's young, but he's a definite talent.
ATHLETICS: Ack. Uh...the closest thing to someone who will at least land on a ballot at this point is Coco Crisp. Everyone on the team is either too young to make an opinion on or too over-the-hill to be seriously considered. Crisp is really the only guy I can say that someone with a ballot will vote for right now, though if Stephen Vogt has some more dynamite seasons he could be it.
BLUE JAYS: This is a tough one, as there are four or five fantastic players with great careers on this team, but the frontrunner right now would be Jose Bautista. I was extremely close to putting Josh Donaldson here, but the youth scared me a bit. Joey Bats has been one of the most consistent power hitters of the 2010's, and has turned around what looked like a dead career. Right now he's the guy, but Donaldson could definitely build himself a case in the next five years if he has seasons like the last two on a consistent basis.
Also, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin were all briefly considered. Tulo on any other year would be more than considered.
BRAVES: Matt Kemp, because right now he has a better Hall of Fame case than A.J. Pierzynski, and Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran need 5 more fantastic years before they get the shoo-in. Kemp was, and still is, a fantastic home run hitter and was a great outfielder for the Dodgers. Probably not a Hall of Famer, but has the best case on that team.
BREWERS: Ryan Braun, by far. Even without the steroids, Ryan Braun's had some pretty impressive seasons, even in years where people have counted him out, and he's endured a lot of crap, even coming out of both of his steroid suspensions. He's clean now, or semi-clean, and even now he's holding that entire team together.
CARDINALS: Yadier Molina, over Matt Holliday. Yadi's been one of the most consistently excellent catchers in the NL, and I'm not sure if he'll get in the Hall, as he's more of a Ted Simmons defensive type than a Mike Piazza hitting catcher. Holliday's been fantastic but Molina's had more on-years than him.
CUBS: Oof. Right now it would have to be Jon Lester, because for a little under a decade he was absolutely ruling the roost in Boston, and nabbed two World Series rings by being an INTEGRAL part of some fantastic rotations, as well as still being pretty damned impressive. Apologies to Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Aroldis Chapman and Kris Bryant, but it was the experience factor.
DIAMONDBACKS: Zack Greinke. One of the most dominant strikeout artists that isn't named Clayton Kershaw. The only reason that Greinke didn't get his 2nd Cy Young last year is because of Arrieta's monster 2nd-half. Greinke's on seasons should go up their with some of the greats. I guarantee he'll have 4 or 5 more huge ones, too.
DODGERS:Clayton Kershaw, and I doubt I even have to explain this one. He's one of the greatest pitchers of our generation.
GIANTS: Buster Posey, for being one of the most impressive catchers since Johnny Bench, and for being a huge part of three World Series teams. The Giants would not be where they are right now without this guy, and this I can say with only 7 seasons of experience from the guy. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto came close.
INDIANS: I don't think anyone on the team has enough experience under their belt to be considered seriously for a potential HOF run. By default, Carlos Santana, because he has the most seasons of consistent MLB work under his belt.
MARINERS: Ooooh...since they're both equally qualified, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano. Felix is one of the most consistent and dominating strikeout pitchers in the game, and Robby may be one of the greatest hitting second basemen of all time.
MARLINS: Last year I would have said Giancarlo Stanton, but...you see I can't do that, because Ichiro Suzuki, someone whose entrance to Cooperstown was guaranteed 6 years ago, is on this roster and is still making serious progress in the MLB.
METS: David Wright is already heading up some of the All Time Mets leaderboards, so I have to go with him. Also, he's brought leadership to a team that was in danger of losing everything, and brought them back from the dead so many times, as well as being a solid hitter for a number or years.
NATIONALS: Another incredibly tough race. As of right now it would have to be Max Scherzer. The man has taken strikeouts and mound dominance to a whole new level, and has made it look like his best days were still far ahead, even in a career that's included a Cy Young award. Strasburg and Harper were considered.
ORIOLES: Adam Jones over Manny Machado. Jones has been here for nine seasons, and has transformed himself into one of the best outfielders in the game, not only in average but also in sheer outfield performance. The entire city's rallied around him as an outfielder and team hero. Manny Machado is a few years away from that status.
PADRES: Ungh. Nobody is remotely near that point yet, so, by default, Tyson Ross. That is how horrible the Padres have become.
PHILLIES: Ryan Howard. Sad as it is, Howard's achievements in Philadelphia have been legendary, and even if he hasn't been great in a while, he will probably still get some serious numbers when it comes time for his placement on the HOF ballot. For a five year period he was one of the best hitters in baseball.
PIRATES: Andrew McCutchen, without a shadow of a doubt. Without Cutch, the Pirates would still be in last. His offensive and defensive achievements have been pretty damn legendary, and his hero status has brought a whole new breed of fan back to Pittsburgh. With a few more fantastic seasons this will be a little more concrete.
RANGERS: Carlos Beltran is a definite Hall of Famer, for being a consistent power hitter and a five-tool player that helped a lot of great teams become even better. He barely edges out Adrian Beltre, who is probably also a HOFer, but Beltran has a tiny bit more of a chance than him, and will probably get in a bit sooner.
RAYS: Evan Longoria. Mainly because he's my only option, but mostly because he's been fantastic and has been the constant impressive factor in an up-and-down franchise.
REDS: Joey Votto, also pretty obviously. I don't think he's a definite Hall of Famer yet, but he's definitely capable of having a few more fantastic seasons in order to get there. The MVP should be evident of this, but a fantastic player and one that the Reds should be happy to hold onto.
RED SOX: I'm gonna give one aside from David Ortiz, because I don't think I have to tell you about his Hall of Fame case- he's one of the best DHs of all time. So instead...Dustin Pedroia, who took a 2007 Rookie of the Year season, turned it into a 2008 MVP season, and turned that into one of the most consistent runs for a 2nd baseman in years. He's defensively fantastic, he's offensively average-heavy, and he's not close to done yet- his 2016 is another fantastic season, and with a playoff run it'll be even better.
ROCKIES: Probably Carlos Gonzalez for some amazing Home Run seasons, even if he's not exactly a definite Hall choice.
ROYALS: Alex Gordon has had the most seasons of consistency, and his power in the 2014 season made this contending-Royals thing a possibility. Perez, Hosmer, Moose and Cain don't have enough experience.
TIGERS: Two definite Hall of Famers are on this team, so I'll give you Mr. Obvious- Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters in baseball, and will go down with some of the all-time greats. He's never had a truly bad season in his entire career, and is still very, very far from finished. Justin Verlander will also be seriously considered, especially given his huge return to form in 2016, and Francisco Rodriguez will be considered greatly.
TWINS: Joe Mauer, for being a great hitting catcher, and then becoming a great hitting first baseman. It's not too difficult. He may not be a definite, but he'll get some votes.
WHITE SOX: A lot of potential future Hall of Famers have graced the Sox' bench this year, like Jimmy Rollins and Justin Morneau, but the ultimate choice for Future HOFer is probably Chris Sale, for being one of the best pitchers of this decade, and still being young enough to have even more amazing progress ahead of him.
YANKEES: No A-Rod. No CC. So...it would have to be Mark Teixeira, for being one of the best first baseman in the AL for most of the 2000's, and turning the potential into a World Series ring in 2009. He's not been perfect as a Yankee, but he's had some great seasons, and will definitely be considered for the Hall.
Well..that should be everybody. I doubt I forgot anybody too huge. I mean...I very well might have, and not know it, but those were the ones that stood out to me.
Coming Tomorrow- The Braves' rep.