With just 314 elected members, 217 of which are former players, Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame remains one of the most prestigious honors in all of sports. Over time, baseball’s Hall of Fame has developed a reputation as one of the hardest Hall of Fames to get into. Until this point, Cooperstown has been notorious for only enshrining the best of the best. This has, in turn, left many excellent players out of the hall.
Baseball’s Hall of Fame has also been incredibly tough on suspected PED users, leaving some of the best players of all-time out. However, early ballot returns from 2017 voters have shown an indication that voters are starting to consider more PED users than ever before. Two of baseball’s best players of the 90s and 00s, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, have been left out of the hall thus far due to PED suspicion. Along with an increased consideration for PED users, a younger wave of voters has created a voting body that considers more advanced statistics, opening the door for candidates like Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Jeff Bagwell. The 2017 vote should be one of the most interesting to date. Here is every MLB Franchise’s most deserving candidate for induction.
*Please note that one candidate eligible for induction as of 2018 was included*
30 Arizona Diamondbacks: Curt Schilling
A franchise that has only been around since 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks lack strong contenders for Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. One of their best former players would likely not enter the hall with a Diamondbacks cap, however Curt Schilling is one of the best pitchers the franchise has ever seen. Schilling spent his big league with five big league franchises, with his second longest tenure coming in Arizona. Schilling’s case for the hall is strong, but he lacks some of the standards voters seek. Over his 20-year career, Schilling notched 216 victories with a 3.46 ERA. His 3116 strikeouts and 3261 innings are some of his best career accomplishments bolstering his case. Schilling earns most of his hall support from his excellent postseason performances, most notably his ALCS “bloody sox” performance in 2004 against the Yankees and 2001 postseason run with Arizona. Schilling was 11-2 in the postseason with a 2.72 ERA. Schilling’s hall percentages have been rising, but early returns from 2017 ballots suggest that his Schilling’s controversial tweets and political stances are costing him votes.
29 Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones
Probably the best player on the 2018 ballot, Chipper Jones is almost sure to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Jones finished his career with 2,726 career hits, falling short of the 3,000-hit mark, however the rest of career resume is about as good as it gets. Jones finished with a career slash line of .303/.401/.529 and a career OPS+ of 141. The switch-hitting Jones also belted 468 home runs. His 85 career WAR, World Series championship and 1999 most valuable player make Jones an easy first ballot selection. Jones also is one of the rare cases of a player who could walk more than he struck out. Jones finished his career with more walks (1,512) than career strikeout (1,409), a feat not many players with his power numbers can say.
28 Baltimore Orioles: Mike Mussina
Quite possibly the most notable pitching snub from the Hall of Fame, Baltimore Orioles’ and New York Yankees’ star pitcher, Mike Mussina, should be an easy induction to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Mussina’s career numbers line up with most pitchers in the hall, and in some cases, are better. For the early part of his career, Mussina pitched for some average Baltimore teams which made him fly under the radar a bit. However, by career’s end, his numbers were worthy of Cooperstown. Mussina finished his career with 270 wins and a 3.68 ERA. He totaled nearly 3000 strikeouts in his career with a 3.57 FIP and 1.19 WHIP. He racked up a career WAR of 82.7, which is good for 24th best for a pitcher. He was a five-time all-star and won seven Gold Glove awards and nine times finished in the top ten of Cy Young voting.
27 Boston Red Sox: Roger Clemens
The 7-time Cy Young award winner, Roger Clemens, has all the necessary stats to belong in the Hall of Fame. PED suspicion paired with a multitude of old-school voters who have been unable to look past Clemens history of suspicion have kept “The Rocket” out of the hall thus far. Clemens is probably the best pitcher of his generation. You’d be hard-pressed to find another pitcher in his era with comparable statistics. His career holds a laundry list of accomplishments that can match up with almost any pitcher in the Hall of Fame. An early influx of 2017 results gives an indication that Clemens’ percentages are on the rise. It’s still rather unlikely he’ll make the cut this year, but it appears he is on the cusp.
26 Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa
In the 2016 Hall of Fame vote, Sosa mustered just 7.0 percent of the vote. Unlike other PED users, Sosa’s chances of election seem rather unlikely. However, with the induction of other suspected PED users and the increase in voting for some of the most notorious users in the game’s history, Sosa’s chances may reemerge. Based off just his pure baseball numbers, Sosa is a no doubt Hall of Famer. His 609 home runs and 1,667 RBIs ranked him eighth and 28th respectively. He’s failed to gain much traction in his time on the ballot, as he’s slipped from 12 to 7 percent, but if other PED users are gaining traction, why shouldn’t Sosa? Sosa’s home run chase with Mark McGuire in 1998 captivated the nation and was one of the most intriguing storylines in sports. Sosa’s best chance will likely have to come from the Veterans Committee.
25 Chicago White Sox: Harold Baines
Baines fell off the ballot in 2011 when he earned just 4.8 percent of the vote, however Baines has a strong career resume that should have earned him much more consideration. Baines did earn a chance to be elected to the hall through the Veterans Committee this season, but he fell short of induction. He has long been an underrated and undervalued player and his numbers are worthy of consideration. Baines had a .289 career batting average, with nearly 2,900 hits. He finished with 384 home runs and over 1,600 RBIs. Baines matches up really well with other players from his era. From 1980-1999, Baines racked up 2,763 hits, good for fifth in that period and his 1,583 RBIs rank second to only Eddie Murray. Possibly his best argument is his total bases. In that same period, he finished with 4,474 total bases, which ranked third.
24 Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose
Although he’s been banned from baseball for nearly 25 years, it appears that Pete Rose is gaining traction towards his reinstatement. If current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred were to reinstate Rose, there is little doubt he would earn his way into Cooperstown. During his playing career Rose was a hit machine. Rose’s 4256 all-time hits record is one that will likely never be surpassed. The man nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” was one of the best pure hitters of his generation. Rose’s pure hitting talent and his incredible track record of consistency make him an easy selection for baseball’s biggest honor. The only thing holding back Rose is his ineligibility to the Hall, but one day Rose’s lifetime ban may be lifted and Hall of Fame voters will have a hard time keeping him out.
23 Cleveland Indians: Manny Ramirez
Although Ramirez became a household name for his days in Boston, his tenure with Cleveland was just as good. Due to two PED suspensions, Ramirez will be another tough sell for the hall and with this being his first year on the ballot, he will likely be on the outside looking in. Although his PED use looms in the mind of many voters, Ramirez was one hell of an offensive player throughout his career. The argument can even be made that Ramirez is one of the best right-handed hitters in the past 50 years. Over 19 seasons, Ramirez slashed .312/.411/.585, good for a 154 OPS+. He belted 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs while collecting 4,826 total bases. Manny ranks eighth all-time in slugging and OPS. If other PED users get the call, Ramirez should not be far behind them.
22 Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker
Walker’s candidacy is hurt by his low traditional counting stats, however advanced analytics prove that Walker’s stats do line up with other Hall of Famers. Walker has struggled gaining support from voters, but as time has passed, he has been getting more support. The Candaian-born Walker was quite the all-around player, winning three batting titles, seven Gold Gloves and earning five all-star appearances throughout his career. Walker’s career was plagued by injuries and there’s little doubt that is one of the limiting factors on his resume. Walker finished his career with 383 home runs, 1311 RBIs and a .313 average. He had a career slugging percentage of .565 and finished with a total of 72.6 WAR, which is good for 56th all-time, and should earn him more support than he has received.
21 Detroit Tigers: Alan Trammel
Last year Trammel fell short of election for his 15th and final attempt, removing him from the Hall of Fame ballot. A deeper look at Trammel’s stats show that he belongs in Cooperstown. For the longest time, shortstops in baseball were known strictly as players that should help the team because of their defense. Once baseball hit the 1980’s, and Cal Ripken Jr. and Robin Yount debuted, that notion was quickly dispelled. Both Ripken and Yount were enshrined in the hall, but Trammel, an excellent shortstop form the same generation, has yet to be. Similar to Yount and Ripken, Trammel was an excellent defender and could carry his weight offensively. Trammel accumulated a 70.4 career WAR, good for 62nd all-time and one of the highest totals for any shortstop. His career 62.4 offensive WAR ranks him 82nd all-time. Trammel won four Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger awards and a World Series MVP.
20 Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell
The early returns from 2017 ballots show that Jeff Bagwell might be on his way to the Hall of Fame. The former Astros’ star was an elite offensive player who could also hold his own with the glove. Bagwell was a hitting machine throughout his career, accumulating 449 home runs, 1529 RBIs , 488 doubles, and a career slash line of .297/.408/.540. Bagwell had an excellent mix of on-base skills and pure power. He raked to the tune of career .948 OPS and a staggering 149 OPS+. Bagwell also stole over 200 bags in his career. He finished with a 79.6 career WAR, ranking 38th all-time, and six times finished in the top-ten of the league in WAR, while leading the league twice, including his 1994 MVP season.
19 Kansas City Royals: David Cone
Although Cone spent most of his career with New York teams, some of his best seasons came with the Kansas City Royals. Cone started his career in Kansas City right after the Royals won the 1985 World Series. A string of bad luck injuries and bad timing probably cost Cone from much greater consider for the hall. While Cone was on the rubber, he was pretty damn good. Cone’s 1994 strike shorten season was one of his best. Cone racked up 16 wins in just 23 games started that year with a strong 2.94 ERA and an already near 7 WAR. Cone finished off his career with a WAR of 61.7, an ERA just under 3.5, a 3.57 FIP, a 1.26 WHIP and 2668 strikeouts.
18 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Vladimir Guerrero
One of the best bad ball hitters of all-time, Vlad Guerrero appears to be a near lock for the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Guerrero could not only hit for power, but could also hit for a high average. Early in his career, Vlad was a threat on the bases, posting two seasons of 37 or more steals and was also an elite defender in the outfield, with a rocket for an arm. Guerrero finished with a career .318/.379/.553 slash line with a .931 OPS and 4506 total bases. Vlad was a nine-time all-star, eight-time Silver Slugger award winner, 2002 NL hits champ and 2004 American League MVP. Vlad shouldn’t have to wait long to get his call to the hall.
17 Los Angeles Dodgers: Kevin Brown
From 1992-2001, Kevin Brown was one of the most dominating pitchers in his league. During that span, Brown ranked fifth in ERA+ (park adjusted ERA) and fifth in WAR. The only pitchers that ranked ahead of Brown were: Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Brown twice led the league in ERA and once in wins and his 1998 seasons was excellent. Brown finished that year going 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA and a staggering 8.6 WAR, which led the entire league. Brown’s career WAR ranks 31st all-time for pitchers with a total of 68.5 and he finished in the top ten of ERA seven times, six of which were top five rankings. Brown was a six-time all-star and finished with over 200 career wins.
16 Miami/Florida Marlins: Derrek Lee
2016 is the first year the tall, lengthy, former first basemen will be eligible for the hall. As a franchise that has only been around since 1997, the Florida Marlins lack quality candidates for the hall. One of their best candidates is their former all-star slugger, Derrek Lee. Lee finished his career with a slash line of: .281/.365/.495. His career OPS of .859 is rock solid and is 122 OPS+ is a nice mark for any player. Lee had some wonderful individual years, including his 2005 campaign with the Chicago Cubs that saw him threaten for a triple crown. He finished that year slashing .335/.418/.662 with an OPS+ of 174. Lee could even steal a bag back in his prime, finishing with more than 15 three times.
15 Milwaukee Brewers: Ted Simmons
Although Simmons did most of his career damage with the Cardinals, he spent five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, were he was still a very good player. Simmons retired as the all-time leader in hits and doubles among catchers. However, after just one shot at Cooperstown, Simmons fell off the ballot. Simmons had eight seasons with 90 or more RBIs and six seasons with more than 20 home runs, both of which are impressive stats for a catcher in any era. Simmons’ career .785 OPS and 118 OPS+ are both good marks for a catcher. Simmons had a lifetime WAR of 50.1, was an eight-time all-star, six times finished in the top-ten in the league in batting average and belted 248 career home runs.
14 Minnesota Twins: Tony Oliva
Oliva is one of the best players to ever don a Twins uniform. His case for baseball’s Hall of Fame however is hurt by only playing 15 years in the majors, 11 of which were only considered to be full seasons. His full seasons were good and placed him in some well renowned territory. Oliva hit over .300 in six seasons, and finished his career with a .304 lifetime average. He could also get on base at a high rate, finishing with a mark of .353, while slugging .476 over his career. Oliva racked up over 3,000 total bases in his career as well. He four times earned his way in to the top-ten in the league in offensive WAR, won three batting titles and seven times finished in the top-ten in the league in slugging percentage.
13 New York Mets: Keith Hernandez
Arguably the best defensive first basemen to play the position, Keith Hernandez has numbers that have built him an intriguing case for the hall. Hernandez was really hurt by the lack of defensive metrics present in game during his playing days. Hernandez was great with the glove but could also swing the bat well. In 1979, he won the MVP while hitting .344 with nearly 50 doubles. Hernandez finished off his career with a strong OPS+ of 128. His career slash line of .296/.384/.436 is comparable to other hall of famers who could not play defense like he did. In total, Hernandez was good for a 60 WAR by the end of his career and he won 11 Gold Glove awards.
12 New York Yankees: Jorge Posada
Another first-year eligible player, Posada earns his first chance on the ballot this year. The former Yankee catcher has a better case than most would expect. Posada had the fortune of playing on some great teams, but his leadership and talent was a big part of those team’s success. Posada made the playoffs every year of his career except 2008. Over 17 seasons, he slashed, .273/.374/.474 with an OPS+ of 121, numbers that are strong for a catcher. Posada was a member of four World Series teams throughout his career and his offensive production at a position known mostly for defense helps give him a strong case for voters to consider. Posada ranks closely with other catchers already in the hall, but will likely be overlooked this year.
11 Oakland Athletics: Mark McGwire
Along with Bonds and Sosa, no other figure represents the steroid era in baseball quite like McGwire. McGwire’s PED use is no doubt what has kept him out of the Hall of Fame. Although McGwire did cheat the game, he is a player that represents an era in baseball that will never be forgotten. The 1998 home run chase is a significant moment to baseball that fans who experienced it will never forget. McGwire had 15 seasons of 20 or more home runs and seven seasons of more than 100 RBIs. He was one of the most dangerous hitters in the game while he played and his power was matched by few players. He could change the game as quick as anyone else ever could.
10 Philadelphia Phillies: Dick Allen
One of the most under-appreciated hitters of his generation, Dick Allen’s career stats are right up there will other Hall of Fame greats. Allen was probably not the best all-around player in the game, but his offensive numbers were elite. Allen belted 351 home runs, while knocking in 1119 RBIs. He had a tremendous career slash line of .292/.378/.534, good for a .912 OPS and amazing 156 OPS+. Allen was a seven-time all-star, seven times ranked in the top five in the league in slugging and on base percentage. He won the 1964 NL Rookie of the year award as well as the 1972 AL MVP. He finished in the top ten in WAR six times and finished first in ’72 with a mark of 8.6
9 Pittsburgh Pirates: Dave Parker
While “The Cobra,” might not have the best case for the hall, Dave Parker had a rock-solid career. Over 19 big league seasons, Parker was a professional hitter and one heck of threat at the plate. Parker finished his career with 2,717 hits, a career .290 batting average, two NL batting titles, three Gold Glove awards, three Silver Sluggers awards and two World Series Rings. Parker won the NL MVP in 1978 leading the league in RBIs with 117. Parker was a 7-win player that season and belted 30 home runs while slashing .334/.394/.585, good for a .979 OPS and 166 OPS +. Parker finished his career with a 121 OPS+ and a career WAR of nearly 40.
8 St. Louis Cardinals: Jim Edmonds
Edmonds had his first chance on the Hall of Fame ballot last year and he earned just 2.5 percent of the vote, thus knocking him off the ballot. Edmonds never got the time of day on the ballot that he deserved. Throughout his 17-year career, Edmonds was always an under-appreciated star in baseball. A player that was overshadowed by the great Albert Pujols, Edmonds could play both sides of baseball well. Edmonds slashed .284/.376/.527 over his career to the tune of a 132 OPS+. Edmonds racked up a career WAR of 60.3 and five times ranked in the top of his league in the category. Early in his career, Edmonds could track down balls in centerfield with the best of them. His bat developed into an elite asset over his career, making him a multi-talented player that should have gotten much more than 2.5 percent last year.
7 San Diego Padres: Trevor Hoffman
Over 18 big league seasons, when opposing teams heard “Hells Bells’ play before the ninth inning, they knew that the game was most likely over. Trevor Hoffman retired as baseball’s all-time saves leader, only to be surpassed by Mariano Rivera. Hoffman made a living throughout his career with his dominant changeup that kept hitters off balance like few other pitches could. Hoffman was a seven-time all-star who ranked in the top seven in the league in saves 15 times in his career. He finished with a 141 ERA+ and a 3.08 FIP. In total, Hoffman locked down 601 career saves, good for second all-time. He should be a near lock for induction this year after earning 67.3 percent last year.
6 San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds is probably one of the best two or three offensive players to ever play the game. So why is he not in the Hall? Just like Sosa, Clemens and McGwire, Bonds has been held back by his alleged PED use. Eliminating that from the equation, Bonds’ statistics are out of this world. He slashed .298/.444/.607 for his career, good for an OPS+ of 182. He won 7 MVP awards, 8 Gold Glove awards and 12 Silver Sluggers. Bonds is the all-time home run king with a staggering 762 home runs. Early in his career, Bonds could do it all on the field like few could. The later stage of his career saw him become much more one dimensional as a player. Nonetheless, during his playing days, Bonds was the most feared hitter in the game.
5 Seattle Mariners: Edgar Martinez
Edgar Martinez could straight up mash. Martinez is without question one of the best Designated Hitters to ever play the game. However, the fact that he was a Designated Hitter, is what has held him out of the hall to this point. Martinez was a fierce middle of the lineup hitter all throughout his career. He collected 3718 total bases over his career while knocking 309 home runs and 1261 RBIs. Martinez slashed .312/.418./.515 over his career to the tune of a 147 OPS+. He finished his career with a total WAR of 68.3, placing him ahead of several other Hall of Famers who played both sides of the game. Martinez should be a prime candidate for the Hall of Fame and may get close to induction this year.
4 Tampa Bay Rays: Fred McGriff
Fred McGriff was one of the best cleanup hitters of his generation and a vital part of the 1990’s Atlanta Braves dynasty. Before being acquired by the Braves in 1993, McGriff was already an elite slugger. In five seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, McGriff belted 99 home runs and drove in 359 runs. He slashed an impressive .291/.380/.484 during that time. “The Crime Dog” then bolstered his career numbers with Atlanta, smacking 130 home runs over five seasons to the tune of a .293/.369/.516 slash line. McGriff finished his career with a 134 OPS+ and a career WAR of 52.4. His 493 home runs fall just short of the benchmark of 500 that usually earns players a lock into the hall. McGriff has yet to eclipse more than 23.9 percent of the vote.
3 Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez
One of the all-time great catchers, Ivan Rodriguez will be eligible for the hall for the first time this year. Rodriguez has earned a lot of support from early ballots that have been made public and he should have a strong chance of induction this year. Rodriguez was the ever rare catcher who was both elite defensively and could hold his own with the bat. “Pudge” collected 2844 hits throughout his career, with a lifetime .296 batting average. Rodriguez slugged .464 for his career and collected 4451 total bases. Most of “Pudge’s” Hall of Fame resume comes from his defensive excellence. Rodriguez won 13 Gold Glove awards, including ten straight in the American League. His 28.7 career defensive WAR ranks ninth all-time.
2 Toronto Blue Jays: Dave Stieb
Dave Stieb was a very good pitcher for a relatively long time. Steib had a track record of strong performances that should have earned him more than one chance on the ballot. In a ten-year span from 1980-1990, Stieb lead all pitchers with a 50.8 WAR. In that same time, he was top five in wins, shutouts and ERA+. Perhaps the biggest flaw on Steib’s resume is his lack of longevity and deficiencies in some counting stats. Steib only gather 176 career wins and struck out just 1669 batters. Although Stieb lacks in some key areas, the fact remains that he was one of the best pitchers in the league for nearly a ten-year span. His 57 career WAR is good for 70th among pitchers and he four times finished in the top ten of Cy Young voting.
1 Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Tim Raines
Tim Raines is arguably the most deserving player yet to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Raines has a career that is filled with Hall of Fame worthy stats. Had it not been for Rickey Henderson, Raines may be considered the best top of the order hitter to ever play the game. Raines reached base in his career over 4,000 times. He scored more than 1,500 runs and stole 808 bases, all while collecting a WAR of 69.1. The only players with similar statistics to those are: Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Joe Morgan, Ty Cobb, Paul Molitor and Honus Wagner. Raines is finally starting to get the attention he deserves, as he earned 69.8 percent of the vote last year. Raines’ 808 career steals are fifth all-time and has a career slash line of .294/.385/.425 and an OPS+ of 123.
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