Nationals Baseball: Reworking "Future Hall of Famer" list

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Reworking "Future Hall of Famer" list put out a future Hall of Famer list that generated some interested conversation. Everyone felt the list was far too deep in that there aren't 40 guys with a legit shot at the Hall active today. Others felt that it was FAR FAR FAR too deep and the list ended with maybe 7-8 guys.  So as a public service I'm going to rework the list. First the no-work part

The absolute no-doubt tier

Albert Pujols, Mike Trout

These are the guys that if they retired today they are in first ballot and no one is thinking about it. There would be a couple snide remarks about Pujols' falling off a cliff and Trout's lack of post-season success but what's there is there and can't be denied 

The gonna get in but enough will vote against 

Miggy, Kershaw, Scherzer, VERLANDER

These guys all have had runs of dominance which spell HoF.  Miggy and Kershaw will probably end up with close to the numbers people like to see (3000 hits for Miggy, Kershaw at 250+ wins). Max won't get there but a 3 Cy Youngs and a Top 5 vote seven years in a row is definitely worthy. Still someone will poke holes - Miggy with the terrible back end. Kershaw with his post-season travails. Max with no career numbers. But they'll get in. Maybe first, likely first, depends on the rest of their careers. Also Verlander fits here (who I forgot to add initially)

The eventually he'll have to 


Stats are there and he feels like the type of pitcher that could go another 7 years on guile alone. If he does that he'll move up. Otherwise it'll be a situation where anyone you compare falls short of him and you got to let him in.


Also two other no-thought tiers

The catcher tier 

Posey, Molina

Catchers are a different species of player. These are two guys with different skill sets, Posey more the hitter, Molina more the defender, who were arguably the most important player through multiple titles. I'd bet they both get in 

The reliever tier

Chapman, Jansen

Who knows? The voters don't seem to have a good grasp on this yet - maybe in a decade when these guys come up they will 

OK for everyone else this list misses the important point of age. WAR is nice but age at current WAR is a better indicator.  Also pitchers and hitters are different.  So what I did was create an index that lists a low end and high end WAR guess for the age and compared it to each batter and pitcher. These indexes (the Dawson-Pujols and Mussina-Kershaw indeces to be precise) give us an idea of who is on track, who is technically close and who is a joke. 

On track batters

Everyone young (up to 25): Correa, Bellinger (surprised me but he did win an MVP last year at 23), Acuna, Soto and Tatis Jr.  Correa has his own issues with the cheating - we'll find out soon if that's what puts him on here.  There are some Nats fans I know that think the Acuna to Soto comparison is a joke. Soto is a much better hitter, Acuna is a better all around player but not enough to account for the bat difference as of now.  Ultimately though think of this as a Frank vs Mays type thing going on. Acuna may not be Soto but he's no joke so far. 

Lindor - and at his position this bodes well. 

Machado, Bryce, and Betts - Bryce and Manny aren't slouches but Mookie has blown by these guys in the last few years and he has the rings.  He has a real good chance.  Bryce and Manny though are solidly in line and if they stay healthy there is no reason to think they won't have favorable career numbers that get them in. 

On track pitchers

Cole - Being on the Yankees should help him rack up Ws. Some award and some titles though will go a long way or else he's got to keep doing what he's been doing for another whole decade

Technically close batters (within a couple great years of getting into the range)

Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Rendon, Altuve, Stanton, Yelich, Ramirez, Bogaerts, Bregman, Seager

Some of these surprised me - Yelich really crushed it in 18-19 and never has had a bad year. And some are closer (Stanton) than others (Goldschmidt) but all have a chance.  Obviously the older you are the worse your chance. Sorry Votto. You might be the greatest walk machine of this generation but another couple years with your weakening bat and you won't have .400/.500 to fall back on. 

Technically close pitchers

Sale, Bieber, Buehler

Anyone young (Beiber and Buehler) and Sale who was on track until his 2019 Tommy John

Joke batters

Rizzo, Bryant, Story, Arenado

Come up Trevor Story? That's INSANE.  Rizzo and Bryant are two guys who have been good to very good consistently but little more. They'd need to have surprising career changes.  Trevor Story would have to bribe the voters. Trevor Story... HAHAHAHAHAH

 Arenado may be a different case because of his defense, but his offense isn't dominant. 

Joke pitchers? 

deGrom, Strasburg

I put the question mark there because you can in your head easily make a case for these guys being amont the best pitchers in baseball over the last 5 years. The problem is not quality but quantity. deGrom, who's 2 Cy Youngs are probably one away from forcing the issue, didn't have his first full season until he was 27.  Strasburg who has been a very good to great pitcher since showing up - W totals be damned, and who's post-season success demand he stay in the conversation - has two full seasons in his entire career. The back ends are going to make or break these cases.  If they fall apart now they just don't have enough to get in. If they can throw another full half-decade there will probably be too much great pitching to offset not enough good. This is not a good omen for Stras though currently out with an injury. 

Anyone they are leaving out? 

Bumgarner is the only one that definitely should be on this list. Wins are bad but has individual stats and post season heroics

Hamels has late career compiling potential (but he's not on a roster now so that may be it). Nola has a sneaky good start to his career. Maybe he turns a corner. 

Longoria is in that 3rd base hole where positionally he'll rank well but overall the numbers aren't great. He's never been bad though in 13 years. McCutchen needs to stay healthy and rack up numbers - but also has never been bad in a dozen year (and had some great years). I don't like either really but they aren't any worse list choices than Rizzo and Bryant. So I guess I'm saying leave them out)

Matt Chapman is better than Story. Not that he should be in here but he'd be a better choice


This list isn't TERRIBLE.  It could be pared down by cutting out Bieber, Buehler, Tatis Jr (too early) and Story, Rizzo and Bryant at least. 

Out of the remaining, really I'd say Betts, Bryce, Machado, and Lindor are solid bets and the starts from Acuna and Soto are so impressive you have to keep him in. Pitching wise it's like four coin flips in Cole, Sale, deGrom and Stras.


Treaples69 said...

Harper wouldn't you put Justin Verlander in the same list as Max. Feel like you forgot about him

Harper said...

Yes - I did forget him. He's in that tier

Anonymous said...

I have about a third of these guys with de minimis chances.

Locks: Trout, Pujols, Cabrera, Kershaw, Verlander
Probably in (~90%): Betts, Soto, Acuna, Posey, Molina, Scherzer, Greinke
Good chance (~50%): Harper, Machado, Tatis, Sale
Decent Chance (~25%): Lindor, Votto, Bellinger, Stanton, DeGrom
Outside Chance (~5%): Yelich, Bregman, Strasburg, Cole
Everyone else < 1%

(I have no idea what to do with relievers, so I just ignored them.)

Honestly, I'd take any top prospect or a well regarded rookie over the worst 5 names on this list. And I don't just mean Franco. Hell, I'd take Keiboom over Story or Rizzo and probably over Bryant and Goldschmidht. Not that any those those guys' careers wouldn't be an excellent and way above-expectation result for Keiboom. But at this point we don't know how good Keiboom will get - and with those other guys, we do know and it's some variation of "very good but not good enough for the HOF".

Harper said...

Anon - not me. The chances for a bust out of any of those prospects is too high (Kieboom especially) It's hard for me to take a top prospect / well regarded rookie over a solid player let alone one that can be in the conversation for the Hall of Fame (however strained that might be)

Way overestimating Acuna/Soto just because it's too early. You are probably underselling Bryce, Machado and Lindor but I'm not going to argue they need to be in the next group as you define them. That's too far a leap

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

I think Stras would have to have a Verlander like transformation to be in the conversation. He needs to bring that velo down and start mixing in the offspeed more if he wants to have a prayer of getting any durability out of his arm (and maybe drop the sinker, gotta think that's the elbow killer).

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