History suggests that roughly 50 active major leaguers will eventually make the Hall of Fame.
Some of them might currently be mid-career players who haven’t yet built enough credentials for the Hall, such as Felix Hernandez or Joe Mauer or Miguel Cabrera. Some of them might be young players who appear to be on their way, such as Andrew McCutchen or Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw.
And, of course, history hasn’t had time to sort out the Steroids Era, which is going to alter the parameters for Hall of Fame induction.
Hopefully, some of the eventual inductees will be honored while they’re alive — unlike everybody in this weekend’s ceremony.
But let’s say that Bud Selig decided today to declare every game a tie and bring an end to the major leagues. Which active players would have your vote for the Hall of Fame, based upon what they have done to this point in their career?
Here’s my list — who I would vote for, not who I think will be inducted — in order of excellence:
1. Mariano Rivera. I wrote about Rivera last week. Not much else to say, other than to reiterate that his postseason ERA is 0.70. I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives the highest vote percentage of any inductee in history.
2. Albert Pujols. Some people are wondering what happened to Pujols once he left the Cardinals, but he still has a .321 career batting average, more than 1,400 runs, nearly 1,500 RBI, more than 1,000 walks, and a .599 slugging percentage. He now ranks as the third-best first baseman in history.
3. Derek Jeter. Because of his overwhelming fame and the success of his teams, Jeter tends to be overrated. But he stands as one of the 10 best shortstops in history, and he is the active leader in hits, times on base, and games.
4. Alex Rodriguez. You could write a novella about A-Rod’s shortcomings, but that would be to ignore his 647 homers, 1,950 RBI, 1,898 runs, 318 stolen bases, and 2,901 hits. The Runs Created formula says he has generated 2,138 runs in his career, the 13th-highest total in history.
Rodriguez ranks as the second-best shortstop in history behind Honus Wagner, but I still might rather have Jeter on my team. We’ll dock A-Rod a little for the steroids use, but only a little, and before the latest scandal I thought he would be the first known user to go into the Hall of Fame.
5. Ichiro. He’s not my type of player, with little power and few walks, but Ichiro is perhaps the most entertaining player of his generation. He receives bonus points for the fact that he was a great player for several years before coming to the United States.
On the other hand, it will be disappointing when Ichiro goes in while the now-retired Bobby Abreu, who was a superior player, has no chance of induction.
o o o
And . . . that’s it. Looking at the career statistics for active players, I can’t justify voting for more than five of them.
The toughest call was Roy Halladay, who is now over 200 wins, has the highest career winning percentage among active pitchers, and has a postseason no-hitter. But he was below average last season and is 2-4 with a 8.65 ERA this season; if he’s finished, he hasn’t earned my vote.
Undoubtedly, some active starting pitchers will go in. One more decent season from Halladay or Andy Pettitte or Tim Hudson or CC Sabathia could push them over the top. But they aren’t there yet.
The same could be said for position players Carlos Beltran, Chase Utley, and Lance Berkman.
But for now, the roster of active players with Hall of Fame credentials remains slim. Hey, it’s a difficult standard. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it.