I believe we're supposed to look at that list in about 15 years, and I think I actually know where I stashed the sheet of paper I wrote it on, although it's possible it got lost in the move. Now that I think about it further, one name I recall we disagreed on was the prior year's National League Rookie of the Year. Will said yes, he would eventually be a Hall of Famer. I said no.
The player in question was Albert Pujols. So, of course, this means it was the summer of 2002, and one and a half years into his career, Will already had Pujols pegged as a Hall of Famer. Obviously, I am willing to concede I was wrong about that one.
A couple weeks ago, there was discussion in the baseball blogging community about an article by Nate Silver which posited that, at any given point in time, there are 30 to 35 active players who will go on to become Hall of Famers. So, of course, I couldn't resist the urge to try to predict who the current group would be.
To help me with this undertaking, I solicited the opinions of the regular contributors to the always interesting sports discussion that takes place at Pickin' Splinters. The guys "on the pine" turned out to be a good litmus test for a few players whose reputations I may have over-estimated. That is, their feedback reminded me that the outcome of this exercise is not to produce a list of the names I consider most worthy, but rather to predict who will eventually earn the votes necessary to gain entrance to the Hall of Fame.
I also used the Bill James metric called Hall of Fame Monitor, which attempts to determine how likely a player is to make it to Cooperstown, and compared how each candidate's progress measures up with respect to his age. I decided that I would select a minimum of 30 players—with the list maxing out at 35—so I thought it would be appropriate to start with 15 players under 30 years old, and 15 age 30 and up. From there, I would choose up to five additional players, regardless of age.
Before I reveal the list, I thought I'd explain away a few of the close calls that I left off. All of these players have a Hall of Fame Monitor score of 100 or higher. According to James, that is the number above which a player has a strong likelihood of making the Hall of Fame. Personally, I'm thinking this is no longer the case, and that the threshold is now even higher.
Omar Vizquel & Andruw Jones
It seems odd to pair these two together, but if they don't make the Hall of Fame, they'll be the only players in baseball history to win 10 or more Gold Gloves at up-the-middle defensive positions and not get in. Jones flamed out too early, and unless he has a bit of a resurgence, I'm pretty sure he'll be left out. Vizquel draws Ozzie Smith comparisons, and while I don't think the gap between these two is as big as the difference between a first-ballot inductee and a non-Hall of Famer, I just don't think the voters are going to be kind to him.
Miguel Tejada & Jason Giambi
Several of the players who are listed below as my predicted future Hall of Famers have the PED cloud hanging over their heads as well, so I really don't know how they're going to be treated by the voters. But, they're in that otherwise slam-dunk category, and I truly believe those are the steroid era players who will get in. Borderline cases like Tejada and Giambi, I think, will be left out.
Jorge Posada & Andy Pettitte
The lesser half of the Yankees' core four don't quite have the credentials for the Hall, although I don't consider them out of the question either.
Voters are extremely picky when it comes to relief pitchers. Personally, I think Wagner should be a Hall of Famer, but my gut feeling is that Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are the only closers from his era who will be.
I asked Will about Helton the other day, and he compared him to Don Mattingly. Helton's peak lasted a little longer than did Mattingly's, but he also has the pre-humidor Colorado bias to overcome. If Larry Walker's support on this year's ballot is any indication, Helton's going to have a tough time.
Big Papi has two major negatives to overcome: the anti-DH bias and the PED issue. Postseason heroism not withstanding, Ortiz gets left out.
Now, on to the list. Here are the 32 players, active as of the 2010 season, who I'm predicting will eventually be enshrined in the little museum on the southern end of Otsego Lake:
If this site still exists 20-25 years from now, it will be interesting to see how well I do. I'm sure there are a few names I'll be laughing at myself for selecting.