FanPost

Honoring the Veterans- Hall of Fame edition (NL)

I recently discussed which current American Leaguers are future Hall of Famers. Now I'll do so for the National League, which has numerous candidates as well. Repeating the ground rules:

1. We are only examining players who are still active and playing with a team.

2. I am not discussing players below the age of 30.

Now let's get into it.

***

Chipper Jones, 3B/LF

Chipper Jones is a very interesting case, and some people think he's a borderline case, but I think he's a Hall of Famer. I don't think he'd get in on the first ballot like his former pitcher teammates, but he'll get there. Why's that? He was among the best players in baseball for 14 years, a long time to be sure. He hit .310 with 408 home runs in that span, an average of 29 per year. He also put up terrific 4,017 total bases in that span, with 448 doubles to accompany all of those home runs, as well as an average WAR per year of 5.3. Not too shabby to be sure. He was also a member of one of the greatest dynasties baseball has ever seen. His Atlanta Braves won 15 consecutive division titles, and he was the key offensive player on 11 of those teams. One can't really blame him for the Braves' struggles in the playoffs, as he hit 13 postseason home runs and put up a solid .288 batting average. In his rookie season, he hit .363 in the playoffs as well. His recent decline is bringing his career batting average down, but it should still end up over .300 (currently at .306). Chipper also showed himself to be a team player in 2002 when the Braves signed Vinny Castilla to play third and Chipper agreed to move to left field for him. He was one of the stars of the team; he easily could have made a huge fuss about it. But he didn't, and he was back at third two years later. He won an MVP in 1999 and won his first batting title at age 36 in 2008 with a .364 average. I think Chipper's a Hall of Famer. Few players have matched his production over the years (in addition to no talk of PEDs around him).

Best season: 1999 (ATL): NL MVP, .319/.441/.633, 1.074 OPS, 168 OPS+, 7.0 WAR, 41 2B, 45 HR, 110 RBI, 116 runs, 25 SB

***

Ivan Rodriguez, C

Pudge Rodriguez is arguably the best defensive catcher of all time. It's either him or Johnny Bench, and when people can compare you to Mr. Bench, it means you've had a damn good career. He's been among the elite catchers in baseball for 20 years now, starting as a 19-year old with Texas in '91. No one in the history of baseball has caught more games or recorded more putouts at the catching position than Pudge. He's also recorded 1,176 assists, mostly from gunning down baserunners via caught stealing or pickoff. In his career, he's thrown out a startling 46% of baserunners. So for about every two times baserunners ran on him, they were caught. Wow. It's due to this that he's won 13 Gold Gloves (which are to be taken with a grain of salt, but still). I've written a lot about his defense and haven't even gotten into his offensive prowess yet. He has a .299 career batting average, terrific for a catcher. He's hit 306 career home runs as well as 559 doubles (the active leader and 23rd all-time). If he continues to play another two years (possible since he has been very durable), he has a shot at 3,000 hits (currently at 2761).

Pudge was one of Texas's key offensive players in their three division title winning teams in '96, '98 and '99. There have been some whispers that he may have juiced with Rafael Palmeiro & Juan Gonzalez, but there has been no evidence too concrete yet, so I think he deserves the benefit of a doubt. He helped carry the Florida Marlins to the World Series title in 2003 with 17 RBI in the playoffs including 10 as the MVP in the NLCS 3-1 series comeback against the Cubs. I-Rod was also instrumental in the recovery of the Detroit Tigers' franchise. He was ballsy enough to sign with them after their 119-loss season in '03 and got them back to respectability and the '06 AL Pennant. Even though Yankees fans remember his lousy time here in '08, he's a Hall of Famer without a doubt. Anyone who says otherwise will be thrown out by Mr. Rodriguez.

Best season: 1999 (TEX): AL MVP, .332/.356/.558, .914 OPS, 125 OPS+, 6.0 WAR, 116 runs, 199 hits, 29 2B, 35 HR, 113 RBI, 335 TB, 25 SB

***

Manny Ramirez, RF/LF/DH

Heh. There was no way I was gonna put Mr. Ramirez in a Sox uniform on this site. I think he had his best season in Cleveland anyway. But regardless of what Manny may have been putting in his body, he's one of the best pure hitters I've ever seen. He's hit 554 homers in his career and though he's slowing down, he might hit 600. From his beginnings with the Indians (31 homers in '95 as a 23-year old) to his slugging days attacking the Green Monster with the Red Sox (142 homers and 131 double all-time at Fenway) to his rejuvenation of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.396 average and 17 homers in 53 games down the stretch in 2008), he has been arguably the most dangerous hitter on each time. He's also been the most prodigious slugger the expanded postseason has ever seen, with 29 home runs in 111 games, the all-time record. His career batting average is .313 and he's eighth all-time in slugging percentage with a .589. Few players have been quite the character Manny has been and love him or hate him, he's one of the best hitters of the generation. A Hall of Famer for sure.

Best season: 1999 (CLE): .333/.442/.663, 44 HR, 165 RBI, 131 runs, 173 OPS+, 1.105 OPS, 8.0 WAR

***

Trevor Hoffman, CL

Trevor-time is one the best relief pitchers of all-time. At 596 saves, he is the all-time leader, and though the previous all-time save leader is not in the Hall (Lee Smith), I am quite sure that a much-more-deserving Trevor will be there in eight years or less. He was healthy for nearly his entire career, and as a result, he's had 14 seasons of 30+ saves. Few people know he actually was drafted as a shortstop by the Cincinnati Reds. Fortunately, they soon moved him to the mound, where he slowly rose until the Florida Marlins claimed him in the expansion draft, then traded him in '93 to the San Diego Padres, where he would excel as the second best closer in baseball for 15 years. His changeup was one of the most devastating pitches in baseball in that timespan, and batters have hit just .210 against him over his career. He’s simply one of the best closers in baseball history.

Best season: 1998 (SDP): 73 IP, 1.48 ERA, 53 saves, 265 ERA+, 0.849 WHIP

***

Albert Pujols, 1B/OF

Yep, this guy's a surefire Hall of Famer already. He just turned 30 in January and he qualifies, but I think few people would argue against this man anyway. Even if he got badly injured and his career ended tomorrow, he would be a Hall of Famer. Don't believe me? Check his stats right now and compare them to the famous Pirate Ralph Kiner.

Pujols: .332/.427/.623, 382 HR, 1163 RBI, 171 OPS+

Kiner: .279/.398/.548, 369 HR, 1015 RBI, 149 OPS+

The stats are better already and Pujols still has plenty of baseball left in him. He could end up very high on the all-time home run list. He also has 403 doubles, 1,800 hits, 1,163 RBI, and 1,112 runs scored. He has had at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in every year he's been in the bigs, starting in 2001, a Rookie of the Year season. His career WAR is already 79.3. Yikes. After not having a set position for a couple years, he has proven himself to be a great defender at first base as well, which is just gravy. Pujols also has been incredibly clutch, with 13 postseason homers to carry the Cardinals to playoff success, including the 2006 World Series. The season I picked as his best was not even an MVP season (he's won three). What's staggering is that we don't even know if he's hit his peak yet... Prince Albert will be a Hall of Famer.

Best season: 2003 (STL): .359/.439/.667, 212 hits, 137 runs, 51 2B, 43 HR, 124 RBI, 187 OPS+, 394 TB, 10.9 WAR (This is the stat that did it for me. Wow. Almost 11 wins above a replacement player)

***

So those are my Future Hall of Famers. Including the last list, we have:

Derek Jeter

Mariano Rivera

Alex Rodriguez

Jim Thome

Ichiro Suzuki

Vladimir Guerrero

Chipper Jones

Ivan Rodriguez

Manny Ramirez

Trevor Hoffman

Albert Pujols

***
Note: Yes. I know there are no starting pitchers. But frankly, there are no starting pitchers currently pitching in the big leagues with such incredible career numbers that I think they would a be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. The starters I came closest to putting on were Roy Halladay (50.9 career WAR) and Andy Pettitte (49.8 WAR, 100 games over .500), but neither are definite.

FanPosts are user-created content and do not necessarily reflect the views of the writing staff of Pinstripe Alley or SB Nation.

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