Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss players who they think will definitely be inducted into the Hall of Fame and players who are debatable.
Based on his statistics, Manny Ramirez should be a Hall of Famer. He has 2574 hits, 1831 RBI and 555 home runs in his career. He is a 12-time All-Star and has two World Series rings (’04, ’07) and nine Silver Slugger awards. However, his use of PEDs has tarnished his statistics and will keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
Though Albert Pujols is struggling a bit this season with the Angels, he has already cemented a spot in the Hall of Fame. He has 2,142 hits, 456 home runs and a .325 batting average in his career. He is a three-time MVP (’05, ’08, ’09) and a nine-time All-Star and has won two World Series (’06, ’11), six Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Glove awards.
Like Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki‘s numbers are down this season, but he deserves induction into the Hall of Fame based on his past performances. He has 2,504 hits, 432 stolen bases and a .323 average in his career. The 10-time All-Star also won MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in 2001 and has earned 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.
Derek Jeter is another player who is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. The 12-time All-Star has 3,177 career hits, 344 stolen bases and a .313 career average, as well as five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. Above all, he is a big-time winner with five World Series rings.
Chipper Jones, set to retire at the end of this year after 19 seasons, is certainly Hall of Fame-bound. He has 2,650 hits, 459 home runs and a .304 average in his career, in addition to an MVP award (’99), seven All-Star selections and two Silver Sluggers.
Alex Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star and three-time MVP, is another player whose Hall of Fame candidacy is in question due to PEDs. However, it can be argued that after the steroid era ended, A-Rod still put up good enough numbers to warrant induction. He has 2,841 career hits and 640 home runs, and is 76 RBI away from 2000 for his career. He has one World Series ring (’09), 10 Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves.
Jim Thome is headed for the Hall of Fame with his 608 career HR. The five-time All-Star has had 12 seasons of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI but he is not just a home-run hitter. He has 1,710 walks, ranking 10th all-time.
Mariano Rivera is another player already in the Hall of Fame. He is the all-time saves leader with 608 and has a 2.21 career ERA, good for 13th all-time. He is the greatest closer of all time and one of the most clutch performers in sports. Despite being 42 years old, Rivera was as good as ever before his season was cut short by a torn ACL.
Jamie Moyer sits at 269 wins as he is currently pitching in AAA and trying to make another comeback, this time with the Baltimore Orioles. If he returns shortly and assuming he pitches every fifth day, he could potentially start 19 games and could pick up the six wins he needs to reach 275 for his career. If the 49-year-old can somehow keep pitching into his fifties, he could have a shot at 300 wins and the Hall of Fame.
Johnny Damon‘s easiest path to the Hall of Fame is to get another 254 hits to reach 3,000 for his career. If he gets just 54 more hits and 17 more home runs, he would join Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio as the only players to have 2,800 hits, 250 home runs and 400 stolen bases. At the moment, he is one of five players to have 230 home runs, 400 stolen bases and 2,700 hits.
Scott Rolen is one of three third basemen to hit above .280 and hit 300 or more home runs, and one of four third basemen to have 8,000 or more plate appearances and an OPS of .850 or better. At 37 years old, if Rolen can collect 77 hits the rest of this season and average 100 hits over the next four years or 133 hits over the next 3 years, he would reach 2,500 hits. In addition to his defense, position and more than 300 HR, he would have a very strong candidacy.
Todd Helton‘s chances to make it into the Hall of Fame may be hurt by playing at Coors Field. However, if the 38-year-old can hit 46 more home runs over the next five years, he’d reach 400 home runs and have a strong case with 2,500 hits and 400+ home runs, a feat only 25 Major Leaguers have accomplished. He has hit 227 home runs at home and just 138 home runs on the road, so he may need to do more than most for people to believe in his Coors-tainted candidacy.
Vladimir Guerrero needs just 51 home runs to reach 500 for his career. Among players with at least 8,000 career plate appearances since 1950, his average of .318 ranks sixth behind Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Ichiro Suzuki and Todd Helton. he is one of only seven players in history with at least 350 home runs, a batting average of at least .310 and at least 2,500 career hits. Among the six others, only Manny Ramirez is not already in the Hall of Fame.
If Lance Berkman stays healthy and plays into his early 40s, he has a shot at reaching 500 home runs. If he can hit nine home runs the rest of this season, he’ll have 132 to go, which would mean four full seasons at his career pace of 33 per 162 games.
Tim Hudson has one of the 10 lowest ERAs of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings pitched since 1990 and is tied for the fourth-most wins among active pitchers with 185. He also has the lowest home-run rate of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings pitched since 1950.
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by Eno Sarris //
Perhaps the title provides a little clue about the probability that this move works out well for St. Louis. While the deal was short (one year), the dollars were perhaps surprisingly high ($8 million) for a move that flies in the face of some poor trends in Lance Berkman‘s production over the past few years.
Age is a bitter beast that comes for us all. Since Berkman turned 32 in 2006, he’s turned south in a pronounced way. He had 665 plate appearances that year, right in line with his career production. Then, in 2009, he stepped to the plate 563 times. Last year? 481 times. Along the way, he had knee surgery and had some arthritic changes in the joint that don’t bode well for his mobility in the outfield.
Though defense doesn’t factor in to fantasy numbers directly in most leagues, it can have secondary effects. Berkman may find that he can’t play daily in the outfield on that knee – he hasn’t patrolled the outfield regularly since 2007, and that was only for 31 games. He also hasn’t been rated as a positive defender in the outfield since 2003 – what happens when Tony La Russa gets tired of watching Berkman muff fly balls?
All of this is before we even look at Berkman’s offensive statistics, which have also shown decline. Since 2008, Berkman has seen his isolated power decline (.255 ISO down to .166) while his BABIP has also dropped (.341 down to .282). While BABIP is often used as a stat to suss out luck on batted balls, players do have some control over the number, usually tied to their speed and their ability to rack up line drives. The numbers, in this case, line up with what we can see with our eyes: Berkman has lost a step and a little bat speed.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Only 18 first basemen over 35 have put up better than an .800 OPS since 1975, and only Mark McGwire, Andres Galarraga, Jeff Bagwell and Carlos Delgado hit more than 30 home runs beyond that age. Berkman failed to put up an .800 OPS for the first time since he’s become a major league regular, so he’s in danger of repeating that feat. As for the second part, he’s only managed 30 home runs five times in his career – the last was in 2007. He probably won’t make that group a quintet.
The Big Puma has always had a great approach at the plate, so in leagues that count on-base percentage, he may still be a boon this season. More traditional leagues should spend no more than a late-round pick on Berkman.
By Eriq Gardner //
By Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise & Regression Alert: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson was a revelation in an otherwise poor season for the Astros; Houston scored the third-fewest runs in baseball in 2010. His .308/.337/.481 rookie batting line is in the books, but can he make a repeat performance in 2011? It’s not likely. His minor league isolated power (ISO) was only about average (.152, major league average is .150), so the power he showed last year (.173 ISO) was a little high – not impossible to replicate, but don’t bet on it either. The bigger issues: Johnson’s plate discipline (4.2% career BB%, 26.7% career K%) and elevated 2010 batting average on balls in play (.387 BABIP last year, a number that trends towards .300 across baseball), point to a big potential drop in batting average next year.
Biggest Bust: Lance Berkman
Tommy Manzanella was terrible, but he was mostly known for his defense anyway. Carlos Lee also had a poor season, but turned it on late to get to 24 home runs and some respectability – at least from a fantasy perspective. Michael Bourn didn’t have a great batting average, but still stole 52 bases. That leaves Lance Berkman. He was injured much of the season, and didn’t crack 500 plate appearances for the first time since his sophomore season in 2000. His knee condition may be degenerative, and he’s seen a three-year decline in slugging and on-base percentages now. He’s best left for the deepest of leagues until he shows life again.
2011 Keeper Alert: Brett Wallace
Hunter Pence is the only no-doubt keeper on this offense, but Brett Wallace is the only interesting player who has yet to establish himself in the major leagues. Coming off his minor league record, in which he put up a .304/.375/.487 batting line, more was expected of him than his rookie-year stats (.222/.296/.319). Then again, many of his better power years in the minor leagues came in high-run environments, so his power might be suspect. In his 159-plate appearance major league debut, he didn’t show the ability to take a walk (5%), struck out too much (34.7%) and didn’t show any power. He’s a deep-league sleeper and an NL-only dynasty keeper at most, but he’s also a name worth remembering, if only for potential help in the batting average category if and when he gets going.
By R.J. Anderson //
One of the weekend’s biggest trades brought Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees from the Houston Astros for two minor leaguers. Berkman was in the lineup on Saturday night; batting second while starting at DH. That seems to be the lineup slot and position he’ll likely man during his tenure in New York. Does that make him an attractive option in AL-only leagues?
Berkman’s switch-hitting ability meshes well with the rest of the Yankees’ lineup, which features three other switch-hitters in Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Jorge Posada. Throughout his career Berkman has hit righties better than lefties, however. With a sky-high .307 AVG/.423 OBP/.591 SLG versus righties, but just .262/.366/.415 vs. lefties. The good news for current and potential Berkman owners is that he’ll be spending a lot of time batting from the left-handed batters’ box, meaning the short porch in Yankee Stadium’s right field could be in play often.
It’s easy to look at his career interleague numbers (which feature a .295/.390/.511 slash line with 30 home runs in 711 plate appearances) and assume he’ll continue to hit that well in the AL. The reality is, those numbers are meaningless. Berkman has been playing baseball in the majors since 1999. He’s appeared in nearly 1,600 games. He has 6,720 career plate appearances. To separate 711 over a span of 12 seasons and assume they’re meaningful doesn’t make sense. He may have faced more weak teams than strong teams and played in friendly hitting environments on the road, or had other factors skew his performance. He’s also past his prime at this point, making some of his peak performance look dated.
Graphic courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
What we know is that the level of competition in the American League East far outweighs that of the National League Central. It would be nonsensical to assume Berkman’s projected performances couldn’t slip based on competition alone. The move into Yankees Stadium will help. Being surrounded by great hitters will help when it comes to scoring runs. But there is no guarantee he will light up the league.
That doesn’t mean he’s not worth your time. With the deadline passed, you might as well break your free agent acquisition budget. But if you’re looking to give our offense a big lift, consider making a trade or two to augment the size of your potential offensive boost.
For more on Lance Berkman and his new team, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office