Last week I dove into who I thought were the most likely Hall of Famers in each American League organization. I say organization because a few teams didn’t have a candidate on the 25-man roster (or in the Royals’ case, even employed by the team as of yet).
Today we’re looking at the NL, which like the AL as some slam-dunks and but also some head-scratchers. Again, we’re operating on the recent standard that the HOF has set in terms of who’ve they’ve inducted (Jack Morris, Harold Baines, etc.)
Statistics via Baseball Reference. All current stats as of 5/16/19
Atlanta Braves – Freddie Freeman (HOF Chances: On The Right Path)
Freeman doesn’t fit the mold of a typical slugging HOF first-baseman; he’s only got one career season over 30 HRs. But, in an age where high-average hitters are fewer and fewer, Freeman consistently produces above-average AVG & OBP numbers, along with plus defense. Already the owner of a couple top-5 MVP finishes, as Freeman heads into his 30’s he has a chance to lock up an eventual HOF enshrinement with 4-5 more excellent seasons.
Philadelphia Phillies – Bryce Harper (HOF Chances: Strong)
Sure, there have been some ups & downs of late for Harper, including his strikeout-ridden beginning to 2019. However, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 26 and already has an MVP & 27.8 career WAR under his belt. According to Baseball Reference, batters similar to Harper at this point in his career include Frank Robinson & Ken Griffey Jr. A decade from now a 36-year-old Harper should be closing in on 500 home runs & 60 career WAR.
New York Mets – Robinson Cano (HOF Chances: Lock***)
The biggest knock against Cano is his 80-game PED suspension in 2018. Not a great look for his chances. However, Cano is also one of the best second basemen of all-time, with an on-paper easy case for Cooperstown. I’m counting on the 10+ years down the road to ease into PED users, with Cano being an early beneficiary.
Washington Nationals - Max Scherzer (HOF Chances: Lock)
One of the top-three RHP of his generation, and still building his resume.
Miami Marlins – Monte Harrison (HOF Chances: ?)
Harrison is the best wide receiver recruit on this list (4-star per Rivals) and is also hitting .287 as a 23-year-old in AAA. Your Miami Marlins, ladies and gents.
Cincinnati Reds – Joey Votto (HOF Chances: Lock)
Joey Votto is a damn HOFer. I’ll drive the bandwagon to Cooperstown myself. He’s got a higher career OBP than Mickey Mantle and a higher career OPS than Willie Mays. I know he’s a first baseman, but put the man in.
Milwaukee Brewers – Christian Yelich (HOF Chances: Strong)
Arguably the current holder of the BPBT belt (Best Player Besides Trout), Yelich has gone from excellent young player with potential to offensive powerhouse. He looks like he’s got a chance to be a top-five player in the game for at least the next five years, which could get him in.
St Louis Cardinals – Paul Goldschmidt (HOF Chances: Potentially A Path)
Goldy broke out at age-25, not ideal when building a HOF resume, and also plays first base, which requires gaudy offensive numbers. However, he has been one of the best hitters in baseball for the better part of a decade now. He’s already 31, but if he can fight Father Time to continue to mash until his mid-30s he’s got an outside chance.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Ke’Bryan Hayes (HOF Chances: ?)
For a club that isn’t necessarily terrible, the Pirates might’ve been the toughest team to pick. Taillon & Bell are talented, but both potentially too old to build a HOF resume. Chris Archer’s career has flatlined, and while there are a couple promising prospects in the system, no one really stands out. Here’s hoping Hayes is a 12-time Gold Glover with quality offensive stats.
Chicago Cubs – Cole Hamels/Jon Lester (HOF Chances: Lock)
Here are two guys who in the past, I’m not sure they’re getting in on paper. Both have been good pitchers for a long time; reliable guys with flashes of brilliance. But neither has won a Cy Young (Hamels hasn’t been top-five in over five years) and both seem like borderline candidates. However, both carry a higher career WAR than Jack Morris, with certainly better peripheral stats (and each has World Series pedigree, like Morris), plus likability, so at some point I think both get in.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw (HOF Chances: Lock)
Spent seven years as the best LHP in baseball. Is still really, really good when healthy. He’s got three Cy Young awards & an easy ticket to Cooperstown.
Colorado Rockies – Nolan Arenado (HOF Chances: Strong)
Arenado is definitely on the right track, with time on his side. At 28 he’s already sailed over 30+ WAR (he’s likely to pass HOF inductee Harold Baines by the end of this season) and is still in his prime while playing in a hitters’ paradise. Arenado will also get brownie points for his incredible defense at third base, which really means he only needs a few more years of stellar production to eventually find his way into Cooperstown.
San Francisco Giants – Buster Posey (HOF Chances: Strong)
Posey is another who likely gets in just based off a general argument of “Well, he was better than this other guy who’s in, so we’ve got to add him.” Posey’s peak was phenomenal, as he was arguably the top offensive catcher in baseball for seven years. At 32 he appears to be on a rapid decline (not surprising for a guy with that many innings behind the dish) but between his incredible peak, World Series success, and general popularity in the sport, Posey probably eventually finds himself in the Hall.
San Diego Padres – Manny Machado (HOF Chances: Strong)
See Harper, Bryce. At roughly the same age, Machado has built an arguably more impressive HOF resume than Harper. No MVP, but a couple Gold Gloves and more consistent production. We’re again looking at a scenario of at least 10+ years of continued quality production from Machado, as he’s just now reaching his athletic prime. It’s not hard to envision that his next five years cement him as a HOFer.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Zack Greinke (HOF Chances: Lock)
Greinke’s resume is Hall-ready at 35, but it looks like he’ll keep padding it, as he’s started out 2019 hot (aside from a disaster Opening Day outing). Pretty incredible from a guy who had to walk away from baseball at one point and once lost 17 games in a single season (not always true harbinger of performance, but he definitely didn’t throw well that year). Greinke has put together an excellent career and should glide into the Hall, with the only question being which hat he dons.
By Kyle Bandujo