Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by Jason A. Churchill
Over the weekend, MLB.com’s Will Leitch penned a piece picking the most likely player in every MLB organization to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Now, I hate almost every hall of fame conversation, for reasons I won’t get into here and now, but I disagreed with six of Leitch’s picks so I thought I’d do one of my own.
Let’s go by league and division, starting in the American League and moving East to West.
American League East
I get the pick of Guerrero here but he’s likely to spend a lot of years as a DH and despite Edgar Martinez breaking down some walls in that regard a few years back such a tag puts a lot of pressure on the offensive numbers.
Bichette also has an early advantage over his teammate. At 22, he has posted two stints — 46 games in 2019 and 29 games in 2020 — where he’s batted .300 or better, slugged .500 or better and has showed well enough at shortstop.
Leitch: Adley Rutschman
The Orioles are simply devoid of such talents right now, so their top prospect will have to do. Rutschman is a future star, though, so it’s a good pick and the best bet by far.
Tampa Bay Rays
Leitch: Wander Franco
Same as with Rutschman and the Orioles, Franco is the lone star-level talent in the organization with a chance to be a superstar.
Boston Red Sox
Leitch: Rafael Devers
Chris Sale is 31, coming off Tommy John and is probably 91 wins from garnering serious HOF consideration. Xander Bogaerts, at this pace, would probably need to play 10 more years to reach such status — and be very very good for most of them.
Devers is 24, has 74 career homers and 433 hits and the last full season produced 32 long balls and a 132 wRC+. If he sticks at third long-term, he has the best shot in the org. For now.
Stanton has 312 homers, 796 RBI, has four 30-homer seasons and a 59-homer campaign. But he’s 31 and already starting to run into the IL quite a bit the last two seasons, which threatens his career numbers and may push him to a lot of DH work the rest of the way.
Judge, too, has run into some injury issues despite being three years younger than Stanton, but he has every bit the power and is a better overall hitter than Stanton, suggesting a better shot to produce well into his 30s.
American League Central
Leitch: Jose Ramirez
He’s 28, has been a top-5 MVP candidate three times in four years and should be able to stay on the field for most of his career where he’s a very good third base glove.
Kansas City Royals
Leitch: Salvador Perez
Perez is the defacto pick here since there’s no one else reasonably close to the conversation, but he’s been an above-average bat just twice since 2013, and one of those is a 37-game sample from 2020.
Leitch: Miguel Cabrera
A no-brainer. He’s 37 now and complete toast but he’s 13 homers shy of 500, has driven in 1729, owns a .391 career OBP and won back-to-back MVPs. He’s getting in.
Leitch: Josh Donaldson
Donaldson isn’t getting in, either, but unlike Perez is a consistent all-around performer with an MVP on his resume.
Despite the MVP in 2020 (which he shouldn’t have won), Abreu is not quite a hall of famer. He’s 33, has hit 198 homers and owns a .294/.350/.520 slugging percentage.
Anderson, a fine shortstop, is just 27, has a batting title, 74 homers, 73 stolen bases and the last two seasons has posted a .357 OBP. He has a significantly better chance to post the kinds of numbers a shortstop needs to garner serious consideration than does Abreu versus first base standards.
American League West
Leitch: Matt Chapman
Chapman is Oakland’s best player, will be 28 in April and is among the best third basemen in recent memory. I don’t think he has much of a shot, but he’s far more likely than anyone else on the roster.
Leitch: Justin Verlander
The case for Lewis has a leg up since he’s performed a bit in the majors, but he’s 25 and Kelenic is likely to make his MLB debut before he turns 22. He’ll also enter the bigs with a better hit tool, which lends tons more confidence he’ll hit for the long haul.
Leitch: Joey Gallo
Gallo may hit 500 homers and have a legit shot, but it’s probably going to take more than that if he continues to struggle to hit for average. In five of Gallo’s six seasons — three full, three part — he’s batted .209 or under.
National League East
Freeman just won an MVP and will enter 2021 with a career .295/.383/.509 triple-slash with 240 homers. But he’s 31 and not yet halfway to some of the counting stats it’s likely to take. The one caveat is his 2020 season. If he puts up .341/.462/.640 a few times in full seasons, everything changes.
Acuna, though, is just 23 this week, has a 40-homer season under his belt and was on another 40-homer pace in 2020 despite missing 14 games. The power alone may get Acuna in, and it helps that he’s been a passable center fielder and should remain a solid corner-outfield defender for the next 10-plus seasons. Oh, and he’s swiped 61 bags in 313 career games.
Leitch: Sixto Sanchez
The Fish are filled with young talents and Sanchez is the best of them all.
New York Mets
Leitch: Jacob deGrom
Cano might have been in the convo here had it not been for a second PED suspension, but deGrom is an easy choice. He’s 32 but already has two Cy Young awards, finished third in 2020 and is showing no signs of slowing down.
deGrom, however, isn’t likely to have the traditional numbers voters have looked for historically, namely wins. He has 70 in seven seasons and has no shot to get to even 200.
Let’s see how voters treat modern day starting pitchers, starting with CC Sabathia in 2025.
Leitch: Bryce Harper
I think he’s going to get in on counting stats, but he does have an MVP and owns a 138 career wRC+. His 232 career homers have come before his 28th birthday and his lifetime .387 OBP makes up for seasons without a high average.
Leitch: Max Scherzer
Mad Max is 36 and has 175 wins, three Cy Youngs and is among the elite starting pitchers of his generation. He’ll get to 200 wins sometime in 2022 and has a shot to surpass 3,000 strikeout if the 2021 is a full slate of games — he’s 216 shy, and hasn’t struck out fewer than 231 in a full season since 2011.
Teammate Juan Soto owns a career .295/.415/.557 slash with 69 homers. It won’t matter much that he’s not a very good defender. Best hitter in baseball and he just turned 22 in October.
National League Central
Leitch: Christian Yelich
The Brewers are without another star at the moment, so Yelich is a runaway winner here. His candidacy is rather weak, however. He’s now 29 and has 151 homers, a 296/.381/.488 lifetime slash and despite his MVP just hasn’t had enough great seasons. At least not yet.
St. Louis Cardinals
Leitch: Yadier Molina
Molina has compiled 54.5 fWAR in 17 seasons and has six season of four wins or more, including two near-8 win campaigns in 2012-13. But he’s been a league-average hitter overall and there’s no inherent value to staying in one organization. He’s likely getting in, but I’m not convinced he should with a career .257/.305/.402 line and 160 homers.
Rizzo is 31, has 229 career homers and a career 131 lifetime wRC+. But he’s finished in the top 5 in MVP voting just twice and has just three top-10 finishes. He’s been very good but has a lot of work to do.
Bryant is three years younger, has 142 career homers, a 136 wRC+, and has spent his career playing third base and left field. He also has three 6-win seasons an an 8-win season. Rizzo hasn’t surpassed 5.3 wins.
Leitch: Ke’Bryan Hayes
He’s played fewer than 30 games in the majors, but he’s clearly the Bucs’ bets bet.
Leitch: Joey Votto
Votto has a career .304/.419/.517 line with 295 homers and he’s 37 years old. I think he gets in with Edgar Martinez setting the precedent for bat value.
National League West
Leitch: Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner is an interesting case. He’s a postseason legend, but has just 119 wins, no Cy Young wins, just two top-5 finishes and is fading fast. But he’s only 31 and has time to find a way to get back. He’s not getting in, but I think he should get more consideration than his win totals suggest.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Leitch: Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw is the no-brainer, but Mookie Betts has accumulated 40.2 fWAR in five full seasons and two partials, including a 10.4 fWAR MVP year in 2018.
San Francisco Giants
Leitch: Buster Posey
He’s a better candidate than Molina, even though he doesn’t catch quite as much an the voter sentiment likely favors the Cardinals backstop. Posey’ 2012 MVP helps, as do the World Series titles, but he’s also just 33 and has a chance to add to his 140 homers, 1380 hits and career .302/.370/.456 triple-slash.
Also, Posey had the easiest swing to project to the majors I’ve seen in 20 years.
San Diego Padres
Leitch: Manny Machado
I think he’s overrated, but he dos have four 5-win seasons, three of them 6-win efforts and has 223 homers at age 28. This past season may be a sign he’s made an adjustment and his experience is finally starting to pay off at the plate by way of more contact, better batting averages and OBPs.
Leitch: Nolan Arenado
I do think Arenado is the best bet right now, having posted 32.2 fWAR, but the edge on Trevor Story isn’t large, especially considering the threshold on shortstops versus third basemen.
- CHURCHILL: Questions About the Mariners’ Rebuild - January 9, 2021
- MLB: Most underrated top prospects include talents from Cubs, Mets, Orioles - December 14, 2020
- Every MLB Club’s Best Bet for a Future Hall of Famer - December 14, 2020