Are They Hall of Famers?
Derek Jeter– Just six hits away from 3,000 hits, plus the high average and World Series heroics, Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Chipper Jones– The dominant third baseman of his era, Chipper Jones was not just a winner, but he posted All-Star production annually. Jones has already surpassed 440 home runs and 2500 hits, all while batting .305 for his career. It will also be interesting to see how long Jones plays considering he remains one of the top bats in the Braves lineup to this date.
Jim Thome- Just seven home runs shy of 600 home runs, Thome has never been linked to steroid abuse.
Ivan Rodriguez– His extended career has driven down his batting average, but Pudge was as dominant a catcher as we’ve seen. He is just 162 hits shy of 3,000 with 311 career home runs, all from a catcher who was also best known for defense.
Ichiro– One of the greatest hitters to ever take the field, had Ichiro come to the States sooner, he probably would have challenged Pete Rose’s all-time record for hits.
Albert Pujols– He has dominated the Majors for 10 seasons, which is enough already to warrant inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Mo Rivera– The greatest closer of all-time, Rivera has kept his ERA sub-2.00 for seven of the last eight seasons. He is just 25 saves shy of 600 for his career. By the time he retires, he may have 700 under his belt.
Up for Debate:
Vladimir Guerrero– An MVP who has played in nine All-Star games and boasts a .318 career average. Guerrero may have been a DH late in his career, but in his prime he boasted the best arm in baseball. He offered a great blend of power and speed, all while hitting for a high average. He was the dominant right-fielder of his era.
Alex Rodriguez– This is not about the statistics, but whether the Hall of Fame voters are willing to enshrine an admitted steroid abuser. The counter argument is that he played the second half of his career clean at a Hall of Fame level.
Jorge Posada– Certainly one of the top catchers of his era, but by no means the dominant catcher (think Pudge, Piazza, and Mauer). That explains why he only played in five All-Star games throughout his career. While Posada will get plenty of credit for playing on a winner, it is worth noting that the Yankees catcher was actually at his worst when it came to playing in the post-season. His career statistics don’t measure up to Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter. I don’t see Posada as a Hall of Famer, though he will be honored plenty by the Yankees for years to come.
Omar Vizquel– Still playing in the Major Leagues as a surprisingly high level, Omar Vizquel is a very underrated shortstop who is worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. He dominated defensively during his era with 11 gold-glove awards, while also making three All-Star teams.
Vizquel compares very well to Ozzie Smith, but lacks the big personality. Vizquel has accumulated 1,423 runs, 2,823 hits, and 401 steals while batting .273 for his career. Not bad at all for someone who earned his paycheck with his fielder’s glove.
Unless he reaches 3,000 career hits by the time he retires, I see Vizquel hanging on the Hall of Fame ballot for nearly a decade before he finally earns the ticket to Cooperstown.