The debate over whether a player is Hall of Fame worth has taken some twist and turns in recent years. Not only are his accolades considered, but by and large, the way he arrived at them is also scrutinized as well. While that is more often speculative than it is legitimate, what still has to be there is the numbers. While there are always the clear case, “five years to the day” of his retirement guys, there are also those that are on the borderline.
The line in-between greatness and immortality is one that is often decided by the idea of the beholder. Some believe in a larger Hall of Fame, that recognizes greatness comparative to era. Others believe in a truly elite HOF, were greats are measured against only other Supermen of the game. I myself am for the median of this; I think there is a point where you reach an immortal level, which is relative to how you dominated your era. For example, I surely wouldn’t hold back Tom Glavine and his 300 wins in the 90’s/00’s from Hall recognition just because he didn’t win 400 games in the style that Walter Johnson did. It’s a different era, yet there is still a certain measuring of greatness.
Anybody who saw Glavine pitch knows he was as good as it gets, and that’s what this series here at CSP is out to set a measurement of: who playing now is truly among the immortals…and who is “just” a really good player. There will be some surprises, and there will be some absolutes as well. The rules for it are simple: the player in evaluation has to be past his 30th birthday, or have 10 service years in the MLB. At that point, four points of analysis will be presented: a case for the player, a case against him, presentation of similar players and finally, the likelihood of them reaching Cooperstown.
For all of the criticism of the Hall of Fame in recent years, it still stands as the greatest measuring mark of a career. There are currently 236 players of the more than 17,983 that have played an inning of Major League Baseball all-time. Certainly, this is the top of the pops when it comes to a career, and taking a solid look at who is currently worthy, as well as who has setup a legitimate shot thus far to make it there…but still has to keep pushing.
Who’s under examination?
By my estimation, currently in the MLB, there are only three players that would get ushered into the Hall today, if they never played another game: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Albert Pujols. This may seem small, or even a slight against others, but there are no other players that could end their career today, and have unchallenged entry into the Hall. With Chipper Jones, Randy Johnson, Ivan Rodriguez and Ken Griffey, Jr having left the game in the last three seasons, there is a very small group of immortals playing right now. But there are certainly more on the way. Here are the players that will be focused on in this series:
Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Torii Hunter, Paul Konerko, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins, CC Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira, Justin Verlander, David Wright, Michael Young
That’s the group that will be under evaluation, all either over 10 years into their career or past the age of 30 and mid-prime, in the years that will define their chances later on. Join in the debate here, starting next week.
For more on the moment as it develops, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.