Predicting the next 20 years of Hall of Fame inductees

In his seminal 1994 book The Politics of Glory, later retitled Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?, Bill James memorably predicted 25 years worth of Hall of Fame inductees. It’s fun to go back now and see where James was spot-on and where he absolutely whiffed [Ruben Sierra, anyone?]

In the same spirit, I spent a few hours today coming up with some predictions of my own. The next 20 years of the Hall of Fame ballot, particularly the next decade look like a mess, but I figured someone ought to make sense of it looking forward.

I’ll preface this by saying I made my picks assuming the Veterans Committee will keep its current election structure, having three sub-committees for different eras that rotate with one sub-committee getting to vote each year. I wouldn’t be surprised if this voting structure is tweaked in the next decade, as Veterans Committee processes change often, though I have no idea what the new voting practice will be. I also think the players I suggested have a good shot of going in regardless of when the Veterans Committee allows them to be voted on.

One other thing– I didn’t mess around predicting managers, executives or Negro League selections [though I’d like to see Buck O’Neil and Double Duty Radcliffe enshrined at some point.] That’s for another post.

Anyhow, without further adieu, here is who I see going into the Hall of Fame over the next 20 years:

2015: Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson in their first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Craig Biggio in his third year of eligibility

2016: Ken Griffey Jr. in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; John Smoltz in his second year of eligibility; Mike Piazza in his fourth year of eligibility; Bill Dahlen through the Veterans Committee

2017: Trevor Hoffman in his second year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Jeff Bagwell in his seventh year of eligibility; Jack Morris through the Veterans Committee

2018: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in their first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Minnie Minoso through the Veterans Committee

2019: Mariano Rivera in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Curt Schilling in his seventh year of eligibility; Jack Glasscock through the Veterans Committee

2020: Derek Jeter in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Mike Mussina in his seventh year of eligibility; Alan Trammell through the Veterans Committee

2021: Ichiro Suzuki in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Omar Vizquel in his fourth year of eligibility; Dick Allen through the Veterans Committee

2022: Roy Halladay in his fourth year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Jim McCormick through the Veterans Committee

2023: Todd Helton in his fifth year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Tommy John through the Veterans Committee; a newly-appointed Steroid Era Committee will enshrine strongly-suspected or confirmed PED users whose eligibility with the BBWAA has expired, namely Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. It’s lame it might take another decade to begin to resolve the steroid mess on the Cooperstown ballot, but I don’t see it happening sooner. There isn’t huge incentive to take drastic action, for three reasons:
1. This year’s selections of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas showed that top-tier clean candidates can be enshrined their first year of eligibility even with suspected and admitted steroid users clogging the writers ballot.
2. I don’t see the Hall of Fame and Veterans Committee overstepping the authority it’s granted the BBWAA beyond the Hall’s recent move to shorten the window of eligibility for players on the writers ballot from 15 years to 10.
3. It’s not like players stop being eligible altogether for Cooperstown under current voting rules. It’s perfectly logical that the Hall of Fame will allow more time– as much as it deems necessary and then some– for emotions to settle from this period in baseball history before deciding how to honor it.

2024: Vlad Guerrero in his eighth year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Billy Wagner in his ninth year of eligibility; Jim Kaat through the Veterans Committee

2025: Jimmy Rollins in his second year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Andruw Jones in his eighth year of eligibility; Harry Stovey through the Veterans Committee

2026: Albert Pujols in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Tim Raines through the Veterans Committee

2027: Yadier Molina in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Adrian Beltre in his third year of eligibility

2028: Joe Mauer in his third year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Tony Mullane through the Veterans Committee

2029: Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander in their first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Lee Smith through the Veterans Committee

2030: Robinson Cano in his second year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Dustin Pedroia in his third year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Luis Tiant through the Veterans Committee

2031: Jose Reyes and Jered Weaver in their third year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Pete Browning through the Veterans Committee; another meeting of the Steroid Era Committee will enshrine Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, Ivan Rodriguez and David Ortiz

2032: Andrew McCutchen in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Edgar Martinez through the Veterans Committee

2033: David Wright in his fifth year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Pete Rose, in a sympathy vote from the Veterans Committee shortly after his death

2034: Felix Hernandez in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Paul Goldschmidt in his second year of eligibility

Did I miss anyone? Let me know…

Will get in sometime after 2034, but not too long: Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel

Wouldn’t mind seeing these guys go in, but it seems unlikely in this timeframe: Carlos Beltran, Ken Boyer, Will Clark, Jim Edmonds, Dwight Evans, Bobby Grich, Keith Hernandez, Gil Hodges, Tim Hudson, Jeff Kent, Kenny Lofton, Evan Longoria, Dale Murphy, Graig Nettles, Tony Oliva, Dave Parker, Scott Rolen, Bret Saberhagen, Johan Santana, Ted Simmons, Cecil Travis, Chase Utley, Larry Walker, Smoky Joe Wood

0 thoughts on “Predicting the next 20 years of Hall of Fame inductees”

  1. Great job, and an interesting Steroids HOF… and Pete Rose after he’s passed. I’m loving the Tigers getting Trammell, Morris, Verlander in.

  2. Hello Graham–

    I’m not sure that you missed any of the eligible players, but there are a few questionable candidates–questionable not because of their performance on the field or because of anything they did off the field that should ensure their exclusion, but simply due to the capricious nature of conventional wisdom:

    19th century players are frequently passed over because few if any remember seeing them in action and what remains of them are statistics compiled in a competitive context quite different from today’s . The honored dead and the dearly departed are enshrined; ghosts, on the other hand, are only whispered about. And if that ghost should have spent his playing days in the American Association, he’s not likely to get even lip service: in the history of the Hall of Fame, no player who played the majority of his games in the Beer and Whiskey League has ever received serious consideration–not Browning (usually dismissed because of his eccentricities, alcoholism, erratic fielding, and eventual institutionalization), not Stovey (whose stats are difficult to evaluate and compare as his best seasons came in the 1880s), and not Mullane (who exists in that pitching limbo we may call the 280 club: half of the half-dozen hurlers in this group–Blyleven, Jenkins, and Roberts–are in Cooperstown and half–John, Kaat, and Mullane–are not and never likely to be so long as those evaluating their careers insist on using 21st century metrics [i.e., wins don’t matter] to a period when the completion of games and, therefore, the accumulation of decisions was a very important measure).

    Some of your veterans committee candidates have a very good chance: players like Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans who have maintained strong ties to the club on which they enjoyed their glory days have the advantage of strong corporate advocacy; for players like Dick Allen, however, prospects are dim. With all the ill-will Allen built up over the years either with his drinking (Gene Mauch said Allen “liked high fastballs and fast highballs”–although Dick certainly doesn’t seem to have been alone in this regard) or his outspokenness (“A ballplayer should be paid for his production, not seniority. Seniority don’t drive in any runs.”), he lacks concerted organizational support. And because people keep repeating the same factoids about Allen harming team harmony without any substantive proof–this despite the enthusiastic endorsements of such notable players as Jim Kaat, Goose Gossage, and Mike Schmidt–his entry into baseball’s Valhalla seems unlikely.

    One last note concerning the Negro Leagues: those of us who pored over Robert Peterson’s _Only The Ball Was White_ back in the 1970s have watched Cannonball Dick Redding’s stock decline precipitously over the following half century. To read Peterson’s account one could not help coming away with the impression that Redding was the Mordecai Brown to Smokey Joe Williams’s Christy Mathewson; today, he’s been passed over in favor of pitchers of more recent memory like Andy Cooper. With a paucity of accessible stats to substantiate his reputation his is, I fear, fading into the mists of time….

    Buck and Double Duty belong in the hall–you’ll get no argument about that from this quarter–but the roster of immortals is incomplete without the Cannonball.

  3. Two things:

    “Further ado,” not “further adieu.” It’s a pet peeve of mine.

    Second, Adrian Beltre will likely end up with 3000 hits. I’m shocked you see him taking 3 years to get in. I’ve got him as first-ballot now. Otherwise, neat post!

    1. @David– thanks for the kind feedback. My bad on “further ado.” I should’ve Googled it before publishing! As for Beltre, 3,000 hits doesn’t seem like automatic first ballot anymore. I also think some voters will ding Beltre for generally being good, not great, and for his struggles in Los Angeles and Seattle.

  4. I wondered what you thought of Carlos Delgado? A career slash line of .280/.383/.546 with 473 HR and 500 more XBH is pretty awesome. I know he was a quiet guy who played at the height of the steroid era on some bad Toronto teams, but do you think there’s a chance that, given time and his clean record re:PEDs that he’ll warrant some more consideration? Should I start a grass roots campaign?

  5. Not bad until the likes of Billy Wagner, Jimmy Rollins, Andruw Jones, and Jose Reyes somehow became great. As for the PED crowd, I think their prospects will remain bleak until a new wing, right next to the infamous Writer’s Wing, is built for them to be fake inductees.

  6. Great article. A ton of thought and research had to be done.

    RE: Jack Morris. Is the veteran’s committee really there to induct players who just got shutout, after 15 years on the ballot, just three years earlier?

    Having said that, do the baseball writers understand that SS, 2B, and C are much more difficult positions to play than 1B, RF, or LF? During the 35 year period where I really followed baseball, 1960 through 1995, Ryne Sandberg is tied, with Joe Morgan, as the best all around secondbasemen I ever saw. Yet he doesn’t get in on the first ballot? This is my comment regarding Trammell, Whitaker, and Simmons. And what made Barry Larkin Hall-worthy, but not Trammell or Whitaker?

  7. Here’s a neat assignment. Have someone put Jim Hunter’s, Luis Tiant’s, Billy Pierce’s, and Vida Blue’s lifetime records together on a piece of paper or computer screen, without the year by year data, and try to guess which record is the Hall of Famer’s.

  8. Really enjoyed this, and got a good chuckle you used your powers to decide when Rose dies as well. It’ll be fun to look back at this in 10-20 years and see how you did.

  9. Has there been some sort of policy change that limits the Veterans Committees to one inductee at a time? If not, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2018 vote led to both Morris and Dale Murphy getting in.

    1. There’s no policy change but the Veterans Committee hasn’t enshrined two players of the same era in the same year since 1986.

      Also, if Morris goes in alongside another Vets selection, I would think it would be Alan Trammell.

  10. I would think that would make sense (or Trammell and Whitaker together, for that matter) though somehow that seems too tidy for the Veterans Committee, given its long history of zigging when everyone else expects it to zag.

  11. To David Reed; Bill James usually researches things before he writes. He wrote an essay on Dick Allen’s career detailing all the sordid “factoids” involving his effort to divide every team he’s been on.

    BTW, Dick Allen’s faults aren’t hidden in a vault. They are easy to find.

    Also BTW, Bill James wrote that he thinks Allen will eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  12. If there’s a competition to live to 93, Pete Rose might find a way to win. (no one has played in more winning baseball games, btw)

    And I love David Wright as a loyal Mets fan, but it’s hard to see him as a HOFer and nt Carlos Beltran.

  13. Quite interesting and a little disappointing for me because I’m 71 now and most likely won’t be around to see if these latter predicitions hold up. Also, I think Michael Young might get some consideration, at least by the Veterans Committee down the road a piece.

  14. The ones I would have the most quibble with are Hoffman, Smoltz, and Morris. The first two should get in as first ballot inductees. If they don’t it will be confirmation that the great Padres are undervalued, (rare as they are) and that the BBWAA is hamstrung by their own unwritten rules, because Smoltz should be valued over Glavine. I am not sure that Morris gets in that early. The veterans committee currently has a bunch of members who knew him as a person, and who realize that one dramatic appearance does not raise him above the Hall of Very Good status that he currently inhabits. It is sort of the same with Allen, I would imagine. Schilling might get in, but I don’t see it coming that quickly, given the fact that it would take a big Boston/Health issues sympathy vote to overlook the fact that much of his career was not HOF worthy. He could fall through the cracks completely.

    I don’t know if David Wright gets in unless he returns to being the player he was at the beginning of his career.

    As to the “steroids era committee,” why would they bother to create that until after the players involved are dead? Can you imagine the speeches that McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, and Palmeiro would have to make for it not to just be a preposterous spectacle after the decades of buildup? Especially given that none of them are particularly adept at it, given their history? Also Bonds up in front of the crowd, giving a speech that violates the rules of effective oratory because every sentence begins with “I”?

    Not sure that one happens at all. Much like Pete Rose’s potential speech, where it all comes out in one fell swoop.

  15. One highly deserving dead ball era player long overdue for enshrinement that you completely overlooked is pitcher Bob Caruthers. Also, hoping Jim Kaat goes in with this years Veteran’s vote instead of staying in limbo till 2024 (don’t even mention Jack Morris till Kaat is enshrined). Surprised you feel that strongly about Schilling – I see him drifting for a while. You may well be right, but I hope steroid paranoia does not keep Bonds and Clemens out another 10 years – how juvenile! Interesting post. Thanks!

    1. Hi Patrick,

      I didn’t overlook Parisian Bob. He’s one of my favorite 19th century players– I love players who excelled at both pitching and hitting.

      I just don’t see Caruthers going in, primarily because he played the bulk of his career in the American Association, which Cooperstown has been slow to honor. Granted, Pete Browning did this, too, and I have him going in, though Browning hit .341 lifetime and inspired the Louisville Slugger.

      I’d love to be wrong on this, but Caruthers seems like a longshot.

      Best,
      Graham

      P.S. Wrote this on Caruthers in 2010: http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2010/09/30/any-playerany-era-bob-caruthers/

  16. I just discovered this website and this article today on New year’s Day 2016 – so a few minor surprises have already occurred since this article was published in Oct. 2014. (The article is fascinating, by the way.)
    Smoltz was elected to the HOF in his first year of eligibility, 2015, and didn’t have to wait an extra year as the author predicted.
    Ichiro will be back with the Marlins in 2016, so that will delay his HOF induction.
    Richie “Dick” Allen had a huge upsurge of support and went from not being on the 2012 Vets committee ballot to missing HOF induction by one vote and Tony Oliva missed electon by one vote in Dec. 2014 as well. I think they will both be electedti the Class of 2018 and Minnie Minoso will get in by 2021. Unfortunately, Minnie didn’t get the honor in his lifetime and it will be a posthumous election since he passed away 3/1/15.
    I think Donnie Baseball (Mattingly) will be a Vets Committee electee at some point. Don’t underestimate the influence NY writers and Yankee fans have. They got Phil Rizzuto elected (a questionable choice) and they nearly got Allie Reynolds elected (an equally iffy candidate).
    I would hope that it doesn’t take more than 20 years to get Gil Hodges and Ken Boyer elected. Also in that dark horse category: Billy Pierce.
    I also think that rating Jimmy Rollins as a second year eligible electee is overstating his HOF qualifications case a little, and I’m a Phillies fan!
    I don’t think rumors about Ivan Rodriguez will hurt him at all and I think this all-time leader in games as a catcher will be a first ballot electee in 2017.
    I’d also just like to lament the fact that speedy lead0ff batter types, that hit for high averages, steal a lot of bases, but don’t have much power, like Tim Raines, Maury Wills and Kenny Lofton are given so little respect by HOF voters. This is not new – think of how hard a time Richie Ashburn had getting elected (last year in MLB: 1962 – HOF election: 1995. Unfortunately, Richie only got to enjoy his HOF status for 2 1/2 years before passing away suddenly at age 70.
    I may be back with some more comments. I’m still mentally digesting some of the author’s predictions.
    -Great design and scope of the article. Will share it with some bb fan friends.

  17. I’d also like to add that Larry Walker ought to get in through the Veterans Committee after only a few elections once his candidacy progresses to the Vets committee.
    I think Alan Trammell may have a longer wait than the author suggests. I just don’t see much support for him outside of Detroit.
    I’d have to use “The Bill Mazeroski argument” to argue for the election of two sweet- fielding first baseman: Mickey Vernon and Keith Hernandez. What Mazeroski was defensively to second basemen these two guys were to first sackers and Hernandez and Vernon were both batting champions and much better hitters than Maz.
    I would also want to see the HOF have another Negro Leagues Special election.
    I thought that having a Negro leagues election in 2006 and calling it the last chance negro leaguers would ever have to reach the HOF was arbitrary and completely unfair.
    Unless there are some basic changes in the make up of the electorate many deserving players will continue to be denied enshrinement. The 1870s to 1946 period has to be in the hands of expert writers, reseachers and baseball historians otherwise no one from that era will ever get elected (a shutout in this category in 2016).
    I want to also limit HOF ballplayers from voting in any of the era elections as much as possible. They elected no one in four tries when they controlled the Veterans committee. It’s obvious they want to restrict membership to their little private club.

  18. do you think Jorge Posada has a chance? his offensive numbers wouldn’t put him in if he played a corner position or in the outfield, but they look pretty good when compared to historical catchers. other than Piazza and Pudge, what catcher from his era was a better hitter?

  19. With 2015 yielding Smoltz, Biggio, Johnson and Pedro, I hope some of this changes.

    Schilling, Mussina, Edgar all look better now. I’m thinking 2016 will be Griffey and Piazza.

    I really think Hoffman, Bagwell, Raines all set themselves up nicely for election. Trammell could go with Morris in ’17. They both got very nice late BBWAA pushes.

    2017 with Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman would be good with me. Only Raines runs out of eligibility in 2017 with a realistic chance of induction – Lee Smith runs out of time, too.

    2018 gets Chipper and Thome, for sure. I’d like to see Vlad get in and clear the ballot too. I think Edgar, Schilling, Walker, Wagner, and Mussina will continue to gain steam. I’m hoping Edgar can get in in 2019, but Walker for 2020 would take a miracle. I do think Schilling and Mussina can build up enough steam to get in before their eligibility runs out in 2022 and 2023. It’ll be interesting to see what support Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen draw in 2018, and Helton/Halladay in 2019. Lots of good candidates still coming to the ballot over the next few years.

  20. I also think that Carlos Beltran – he of 2450 H, 392 HR now – is pretty quietly going to get in during his BBWAA tenure. His playoff career is incredible and his four Gold Gloves, seasons garnering MVP votes and likely 2500 H/400 HR/300 SB/1500 R/RBI combination will open eyes.

  21. I love it you put Yadier Molina in as a first ballot! Best damn defensive catcher to grace the diamond in my humble opinion.

  22. What’s your thoughts on Steve Garvey? 1974 NLMVP, 2nd in 1978, 10 time All Star, 294 Career AVG, over 2500 hits(2599), 4 time gold glove. Just 1 of the best players of the 70’s.

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