clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Which retired Yankees will appear on future Hall of Fame ballots?

Several former Yankees will make their names known on the next few ballots in Cooperstown.

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Now that the baseball world as a whole knows who will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer, some eyes have already turned to the future. The potential 2025 ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame is stacked with players who wore pinstripes at some point, but it thins out a bit in subsequent years. Yankee representation on this list ranges from guys like Ichiro Suzuki, who stopped by in twilight years, to guys like Brett Gardner, who were Yankee lifers.

Seventy-five percent is a very high bar, so the majority of these guys won’t get in, but they’re all excellent players in their own right. So which former Yankees could we see penciled in to make a bid for Cooperstown?

2025

Brian McCann: 1,755 games, 6,850 PA, 282 HR, 1,018 RBI, .262/.337/.452, 54.5 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2014-16

McCann and Russell Martin kick off the discussion of pitch framing with reliable metrics to back it up. Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe has already offered some fascinating insight on the these players in particular, back when they were wrapping up their careers in 2019. Such an unprecedented leap forward in our estimation of catchers should become a hot topic in Hall of Fame voting, especially with a popular defense-first candidate coming up just a couple years after this one in Cardinals legend Yadier Molina.

With the current formula, McCann added 18.8 fWAR over the span of 16-year career with his subtlety in the art of framing. I don’t think it’s fully appreciated at large that an elite framer can tack on 1 WAR per season for his team, and this effect stacked up over a long career is staggering. He was also a reliable lefty power threat with at least 20 homers in eight consecutive seasons from 2008-16. McCann might be more of a Bobby Abreu-esque long shot with a more statistical case over fame, but at the very least, his case is an interesting one to think about.

Russell Martin: 1,693 games, 6,648 PA, 191 HR, 771 RBI, .248/.349/.397, 54.9 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2011-12

Martin’s resume seems less robust than McCann at first glance because of his limited longevity, but his cumulative play was actually a little more valuable than the former. In 2011 with the Yankees, the All-Star put up 5.3 fWAR with only a 100 wRC+, the definition of an elite defensive catcher and a great example of how catchers add premium value.

Ichiro Suzuki: 2,653 games, 10,734 PA, 117 HR, 1420 RBI, .311/.355/.402, 58.1 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2012-14

Ichiro’s reputation precedes itself. While MLB stats only are relevant to his ballot standing, the man racked up 4,367 hits between Japan (1,278) and MLB (3,089). He was a generational master of his craft, and his 2001 season ranks as one of the best rookie campaigns of all time: 242 hits, 56 stolen bases, and an MVP. He also played 157 or more games in 11 of his first 12 seasons. In the decline phase, he got dinged for bad defense, which brought down his WAR a bit. Still, he should be close to unanimous.

CC Sabathia: 561 games, 251 wins, 3,577.1 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3,093 K, 66.5 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2009-19

Sabathia represents a highly compelling Hall of Fame case — his 251 wins are a large part of his qualifications, though it remains to be seen how those will be valued by voters in the future. Two hundred fifty-one is a formidable number in any case. He’s a member of the 3,000-K Club, his 66.5 fWAR is plenty, he won a Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 2007, earned national renown for his dogged determination in dragging Milwaukee to the 2008 playoffs, and his status as a Yankee legend works in his favor. CC should get over the hump, but first-ballot could be dicey.

Curtis Granderson: 2,057 games, 8,306 PA, 344 HR, 937 RBI, .249/.337/.465, 47.2 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2010-13

Fan-favorite Yankee Granderson holds a special place in all of our hearts, and he’s right up there with the nicest guys to ever play this sport. Over four seasons in pinstripes from 2010-13, he hit 115 home runs, with the peak coming at 43 home runs in 2012. The Grandy Man’s 2011 campaign was even better, as he finished fourth in AL MVP voting with 6.9 fWAR and a 146 wRC+, plus 41 dingers. His 47.2 fWAR in total isn’t a shabby number by any means, and he’ll get some merited down-ballot votes.

Other Maybes: Melky Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Martín Prado

2026

Edwin Encarnación: 1,960 games, 8,126 PA, 424 HR, 1,261 RBI, .260/.350/.496, 33.2 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2019

Can we say with a straight face that oh-so-brief Yankees slugger Edwin Encarnación is a Hall of Famer? No, probably not. But with more dingers than all but 52 players in MLB history, an iconic playoff bomb in Toronto, and eight consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers, he’ll at least easily pass the screen to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

2027

Brett Gardner: 1,688 G, 139 HR, 943 R, 578 RBI, 274 SB, .256/.342/.398, 38.6 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2008-21

A Yankees great in his own right, Gardner was one of the most well-respected players in the league and the longest-tenured Yankee for a good while. He could swat his share of homers from the left side, but was never a stat accumulator. His most obvious on-field skills were more subtle: speed and defense. Still, Gardy did everything asked of him at every turn, from rookie to vet. Maybe he’ll land in Abreu or Mark Buehrle territory, between 8 and 15 percent his first go-round with room to grow. But at the very least, he’ll have his day in the sun on the ballot.

Maybes: J.A. Happ, Todd Frazier, Andrew Miller

2027

Robinson Canó: 2,267 games, 9,550 PA, 335 HR, 1,306 RBI, .301/.351/488, 58.1 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2005-13

Another Top 100 Yankee, the second baseman fell a little short of the most impressive counting stats (361 hits shy of 3,000), but his weaker defensive positional group helps immensely with his value. Five consecutive top five MVP finishes is a fairly high peak, and the .301 career batting average is a nice touch. Canó was named the AL Silver Slugger at second base in four of those years, and the smooth defender won a pair of Gold Gloves as well. 2017 was his last full season of production, and his reputation went to shreds when he got suspended for PED use in May 2018 ... and then again for all of 2021. He has a solid case by the numbers at the keystone, but if the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez aren’t sniffing Cooperstown due to the suspensions on their records, then Robbie isn’t even coming that close.

Zack Britton: 442 games, 641 IP, 154 saves, 3.13 ERA, 532 K, 9.8 fWAR
Yankees tenure: 2018-22

The Yankees acquired Britton in 2018 toward the end of his dominant run as a closer. He was elite in pinstripes in ‘18, ‘19, and ‘20 before going downhill after that, but was a top three closer in baseball for almost a decade. As always, fWAR for a reliever can mostly be chucked out the window. Billy Wagner had a very compelling case for getting in this year, but fell just short, showing once again how flawed the perception of relievers is in the Hall. Britton will most likely make an appearance on the ballot for a single year.