The Way-Too-Early Hall of Fame Debate


The recent Baseball Hall of Fame election has led to debate over which active players and managers are building a case for induction in Cooperstown.

CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder has sparked an interesting debate this week with two columns of his. On Thursday, it was the surefire Hall of Fame members amongst active players. Friday’s column took a look at those players in their prime and pre-prime.

There were a few current and former members of the St. Louis Cardinals featured in the Thursday column. It should come as no surprise as the column considered those veterans “who could either retire right now or after another good one to three seasons have a playing resume fit for the Hall of Fame — or at least one good for serious contention in the vote.”

Yadier Molina was one of two catchers considered by Snyder. Molina is a six-time All-Star over eleven seasons. His case is helped by the fact that he’s won seven Gold Gloves and finished twice in the top five for the National League MVP award. Throw in the fact that Molina has played in four World Series and has two rings.

What Snyder says:

"I don’t think he could retire right now and make it, but he likely only needs about two more good years — maybe three — and that should do it. He certainly seems headed that way."

This brings us to first baseman Albert Pujols. He’s a lock for the Hall of Fame if he were to retire today. He’s one of only two active players that Snyder says could make the Hall doing just that. The other player being Ichiro Suzuki. Back to Pujols, we’re talking about a player whose numbers are above of: 500 home runs, 1500 runs, 1500 RBI, 500 doubles. His JAWS rating ranks him second out of all the first basemen: 97.0 career WAR/61.6 7yr-peak WAR/79.3 JAWS. I don’t even need to remind you of two World Series rings, a Rookie of the Year award, and three MVP Awards.
What Snyder says:

"It’s already a complete Hall of Fame career. Everything else is just gravy on the counting stats front while he tries not to harm his rate stats too much."

Carlos Beltran certainly has a case although he won’t be duplicating his 2012-13 seasons anytime soon. Beltran has been selected to eight All-Star games and also has had the advantage of playing for both teams in the New York market. His postseason numbers should certainly help his cause.

What Snyder says:

"If he pushes the RBI/run totals over 1500, the hits over 2500, the homers over 400 and the doubles over 500, I think there’s something to seriously discuss."

Matt Holliday wasn’t looked at in Snyder’s article on the veterans but as long as he doesn’t repeat the 2014 season, I think he’s looking fine for making a valid case.

Looking at those players in the prime and pre-prime, there’s a few Cardinals under consideration. Keep in mind that some players could be building a great foundation in their first few years and it could unravel shortly thereafter. It could be vice versa. Snyder reminds us of both Dwight Gooden and Randy Johnson.

Jason Heyward won’t turn 25 until this August and has the foundation in place. That said, Heyward hasn’t exactly been the same player since 2012.

As far as pitchers go, Adam Wainwright is 33 years old. Will he be able to put up the kind of numbers he needs in order to make a strong case? Through nine seasons, Wainwright owns a 119-66 record with 1306 strikeouts. If not for missing the 2011 season, Wainwright would be closer than where he is right now. He has yet to win a Cy Young Award but has finished in four times in the top three.

Yesterday, CBS Sports baseball writer Mike Axisa looked at the active managers. What kind of case does Mike Matheny have? He’s listed under building a case:

"Matheny has a higher career managerial winning percentage than Girardi (.566), but he’s only been behind the bench for three years and 486 games. During those three years, he’s won two division titles and the 2013 NL pennant. Matheny still has a lot of work to do before being Cooperstown worthy, but his managerial career is off to a very nice start."

What do you think?