The 7 Current MLB Players Who Are Baseball Hall of Fame Locks Even If They Never Play Another Game
A select few current players are guaranteed to be enshrined in Cooperstown after they retire because of their amazing careers
With 235 players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, only a little over one percent of those who have appeared in at least one big-league game has received the honor. That means that at any given time, the number of future Hall-of-Famers who are active is small. Looking at current rosters, who are the players who would be automatic locks to be voted into Cooperstown on the first ballot if their careers were to end today?
Mike Trout, Outfielder: The best player in baseball has been wowing stat heads and traditionalists alike during his ten-year career. Despite its relatively short length, he has already done more than enough to lock up HOF honors if he were to never play another game. Whether or not you put stock in his impressive WAR (73.1 and climbing), the 29-year-old already has won three MVP awards and finished second four other times (he finished fourth in his only other full season despite missing 48 games that year due to injury). He has hit .305 with 292 home runs and 200 stolen bases, putting his production in the stratosphere with the likes of Aaron, Mantle and Mays. Having achieved Hall-of-Fame eligibility this year by playing in his 10th season, he doesn’t need to do anything else to cement his future induction, but it will be fun to see what he can accomplish before he’s done.
Albert Pujols, First Base: After a meteoric start to his career, he has languished as one of the worst players in baseball over the past few seasons. Now 40, he is playing out the string but holds one of the most impressive resumes the game has ever seen. The three-time MVP winner (he finished second or third five other times) has hit .299 with 659 home runs and 2,083 RBIs in what is now his 20th season. He has also far surpassed the 3,000 hit mark (3,212 and counting) that is typically seen as an automatic marker of a Hall of Famer He also checks all the boxes when it comes to stats, awards and championships (two), not to mention being one of the good guys off of the field.
Miguel Cabrera, First Base/Third Base: One of the best right-handed hitters ever, and perhaps the best of the past 50 years or more, Cabrera has been an offensive wrecking ball throughout his 18-year career. He has hit .314 with 482 home runs and 1,702 RBIs. His mantle is overflowing with four batting titles, two MVP awards (and five other top-five finishes). His 1,076 extra base hits are 26th all-time, and with 2,825 hits and counting, the 37-year-old stands a good chance of surpassing the magical 3,000 milestone. Although he has played on some bad teams during his career, he has been a key member of two teams that went to the World Series, including one that took the championship (The Florida Marlins in 2003).
Robinson Cano, Second Base: The left-handed hitter has been one of the most solid players in the game during his stellar 16-year career. A flashy defender, he has also hit .303 with 325 home runs, 2,584 hits and 1,279 RBIs. He is an eight-time All Star and has also won two Gold Gloves. His 68.4 career WAR is 10th all-time among second basemen and at the age of 37 he isn’t done quite yet. His game has been more about steady excellence instead of flash. Given his dominance at the position, he will sail into Cooperstown when the time comes.
Clayton Kershaw, Starter: The big lefty has a curveball so mesmerizing it could talk a child out of their ice cream cone. He has been easily the best pitcher of his generation, spending all of his 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. During that time, he has accumulated a 170–75 record with a 2.45 ERA and 2,476 strikeouts. Still just 32, he has already won three Cy Young awards and finished in the top-five on four other occasions. He has led the league in wins three times, ERA five times, strikeouts three times and WHIP four times. Although he has battled injuries and a slight drop in production in recent years, his 65.3 WAR is almost identical to legend Bob Feller’s 65.2. Considering he pitched during the height of baseball’s PED era makes his accomplishments are all the more amazing.
Max Scherzer, Starter: Scherzer is the right-handed complement to Kershaw, debuting the same year in 2008. During that time, he has pitched for three teams, racking up a record of 171–90 with a 3.19 ERA, with 2,721 strikeouts. He has also earned three Cy Young trophies and finished in the top five on four other occasions. In fact, he has finished no worse than fifth in Cy Young voting in any season since 2012. With a somewhat unorthodox throwing style where his arm comes across his body, some believed he was destined for the bullpen or significant injury. Instead, he has been a workhorse and a strikeout machine, leading the league in wins four times, strikeouts three times and innings twice. At the age of 36, he still has some time to build on his WAR which currently sits at 59.2. His dominance during the PED era is already more than enough to earn him an automatic trip to the Hall.
Justin Verlander, Starter: The 37-year-old right-hander is in the midst of a Roger Clemens-esque career arc. After a dominant start to his career, he plateaued when he hit his 30s but quickly reinvented himself and became better than ever. In 16 seasons, he has gone 226–129 with a 3.33 ERA and 3,012 strikeouts. He has also won two Cy Youngs (finished in the top five on six other occasions), an MVP and a Rookie of the Year award. An arm injury will likely keep him off the field for most of the abbreviated 2020 season, but with a 72.3 WAR, pretty much everything he is accomplishing now is simply gravy for his Hall-of-Fame resume. Before getting hurt he had shown no signs of slowing down and could be one of the last few pitchers to possibly make a run at 300 career wins.