Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Call to the Hall: 2019 Edition


I've got some time today, so might as well write a sequel to a favorite post of mine from 3 years ago.

In 2016, I was a stone's throw from Cooperstown for a few days, and wondered aloud how many active players had a shot at being enshrined eventually, considering that children of the 80s and 90s are getting all their fringe players in the hall at this point. I went down the list of teams, and named the most likely player on that team to make the Baseball Hall of Fame, or at the very least the player with the absolute best HOF chances of any, even if they are unsuccessful.

I think it's a good time to do a sequel now because of the fact that people can look back at 80s Topps or whatever and count 20, or 30 or so Hall of Famers, and think 'wow, all of those guys were playing at the same time, cool!' And it's weird to think that somebody who's a rookie right now could potentially be a Hall of Famer in 24 years...granted, this assumes that the planet will still be here in 24 years, but nevertheless.

So I'm doing it again. For all 30 teams, the best, or most-votes-getting, candidate for the Hall. You'd think there'd be a lot of repeats from 2016, but...a lot has changed since then.

ANGELS: Albert Pujols, who's gotten to the point where everything he's done since like 2015 has sort of have been just for tiny little footnotes on his plaque. He's definitely in, even if he's kind of a non-factor this year. If it weren't for him, it would most certainly be Mike Trout occupying this space.

ASTROS: Justin Verlander. I'm interested to see what the sportswriters will say about this guy. I see him as a Roy Halladay type, where his overall dominance will clear up any blank spots in his award case. And I do think that Verlander's one of the best overall pitchers of this modern era, as he's been a perennial standout since his rookie year in 2006, has come within the top 3 in the Cy Young voting 5 times, has an MVP, a Rookie of the Year, and a Cy Young. This season with the Astros, he's STILL doling out amazing numbers, as he's already leading the league in wins AND WHIP. Unless somebody else (David Price?) challenges him further down the stretch, I'm guessing he'll get another Cy this year. And probably that HOF plaque.

ATHLETICS: Khris Davis. There's a lot of youth on this team, so this was a tough choice, but I went with Davis over Joakim Soria solely because Davis may be the single most consistent power hitter of the decade, a sort of variation on Albert Belle or Cecil Fielder. He's very one-dimensional, and doesn't do much else other than hit homers, but he's exceptional at that one thing. He'd probably get some votes for that alone.

BLUE JAYS: Edwin Jackson. Dude has the longest career out of all of the Jays, has a storied, veteran pitching career, and even if he's a long-shot to get in, has more of a resume than most of this team.

BRAVES: Josh Donaldson. This was a toss-up between him, Markakis and Freeman, but I went with Donaldson because he has an MVP, he's still just an insanely-talented all-around player, and he's still got some big-game oomph with the Braves. Freeman and Markakis have been solid, consistent players, but haven't had the sort of quality that Donaldson's been playing with the past 5 or so years.

BREWERS: Christian Yelich. Yelich's the only guy who's numbers are screaming at me, solely because Yelich might be the best player in baseball right now. And because Cain and Moose might not have great cases.

CARDINALS: Yadier Molina. And then maybe after he gets in, they'll vote in Ted Simmons. Yadi's an all-time-great catcher.

CUBS: This is literally a deadlocked tie between Jon Lester and Cole Hamels. It is so tough to decide who has the better HOF case, because both are some of the best pitchers of this era, and neither have enough credentials to either outdo each other or tangibly receive over 75% of the vote in my eyes. I mean...of the two, Lester has more rings, so maybe his case is a little better, but it's still tough.

DIAMONDBACKS: Zack Greinke. This would have been Adam Jones if I hadn't just...completely forgot Greinke was on this team. Another classic talent.

DODGERS: Clayton Kershaw. Next.

GIANTS: 3 years ago I said Buster Posey, but his HOF case has plummeted since then. Now, I'd have to say Evan Longoria, for being a consistently solid third baseman, and for even staying sharp despite this team's inescapable downfall.

INDIANS: Corey Kluber, because he's the one with two Cy Young awards. Even if he's hurt right now, and has had some down seasons, he's still one of the hardest throwing pitchers of the strikeout era we're in right now.

MARINERS: Felix Hernandez. Would have gone with Edwin, but then I remembered Felix's first decade of baseball.

MARLINS: Curtis Granderson. This is a tough team to make a case for someone for, because everyone is either too young, or too washed-up, to really make a difference right now. Grandy kind of has the best case, because he has the most home runs, has been on a ton of playoff teams, and is one of the most notable humanitarians in the game. But those strikeout numbers would really chase sportswriters.

METS: Jacob de Grom. The strength of this guy's first six seasons in the league bypass career numbers from Robinson Cano and Todd Frazier. If de Grom keeps it up, he'll be an all-time great.

NATIONALS: Max Scherzer. Next.

ORIOLES: oof. Uh. I guess Andrew Cashner has the best HOF case on this team. Which says a lot about the quality of ball playing on the Orioles.

PADRES: On a team with Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado and Wil Myers, would you believe that I'm going with Ian Kinsler? If it weren't for his last 2 seasons, this wouldn't be a stretch, but Kinsler's numbers with Detroit and Texas have been consistently fantastic. He's a great-hitting player, a great defensive shortstop, and a very Scott-Rolen-esque talent...which means, considering how much traction Rolen has gotten on the ballot, that Kinsler might not have a great case.

PHILLIES: Andrew McCutchen. This was a tight race between Cutch, Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper and Jake Arrieta, but I had to go with Cutch due to his star presence, all-around abilities, and the fact that he's one of my favorite players.

PIRATES: Francisco Liriano. Because Chris Archer and Starling Marte don't have very good Hall cases, and because Liriano's been great as a starter AND reliever on multiple teams. He'll get 4 votes, but he's still got more of a definite case than those 2.

RANGERS: Hunter Pence over Elvis Andrus because I love controversy. I put Andrus into the Freddie Freeman category as he's been perfectly solid for 10 years, and hasn't had the huge, league-dominating breakout year that we've been waiting for. Hunter Pence has had a few of those years for different teams. And now he's having another huge year with Arlington after everyone counted him out. Hall voters will enjoy interpreting his career.

RAYS: Charlie Morton. He's got the longest career of anybody on the team, and he's probably the most underrated pitcher of the decade.

RED SOX: I'd put Dustin Pedroia, but I don't know if he's what you'd call active anymore. So instead, I'll put Chris Sale, because he's another insane hard-throwing strikeout artist, he's gonna win a Cy Young anyday now, and he's gonna be this generation's Randy Johnson.

REDS: Joey Votto. Next.

ROCKIES: Nolan Arenado. Props to the person who predicted that he'd overtake this spot back in 2016. You clearly know your stuff. Arenado is another guy who's basically one MVP away from running the MLB. He hits home runs, he's strong at third, he's essentially the team captain in Denver, and he might be their first genuine HOF talent.

ROYALS: Alex Gordon, solely because Perez is injured and nobody else has enough longevity to have a good enough case. Yes, that includes you too, Ian Kennedy.

TIGERS: Miguel Cabrera. Next.

TWINS: Nelson Cruz. He's the post-Ortiz-generation's marquee DH, he's 29 away from 400 home runs, and he's hit for power AND contact.

WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu? I don't know, this one's pretty tough, because I can't say with confidence that any of these guys are really HOF-caliber. Everyone's good enough for right now, but I don't really know if there are any all-time talents.

YANKEES: CC Sabathia. He got his 3000th strikeout this year, and will get his 250th win this year as well. He's also one of the best pitchers of the 2000s, and has jumpstarted a generation of hard-throwing aces. He belongs.

Did I get anything gloriously wrong? Sound off, if you'd like.

Coming Tonight: The best pitcher on the Dodgers right now is not Kershaw, not Rich Hill, not Walker Buehler....but this guy.

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