By The Common Man
As you probably are aware from the title, this is part 4 of our attempt to project the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting out for the next 25 years. This installment covers 2027-2031. Parts 1, 2, and 3 are here, here and here. Part 5 is here, and here's our wrap-up.
Just so Bill knows, The Common Man plans to over throw his space-regime in 2027, with the help of a robot butler named Ken Phelps Jr., the sage advice of the still-living head of Joe Torre, the strength and daring of unfrozen Evan Longoria and the gumption and inspiration instilled by the ghost of Marvin Miller. We will install a space-theocracy, based around the divinity of the Great Mauer, and make all unbelievers shag fly balls. Praise be the Mauer. The Mack and Stieb Leagues will continue uninterrupted, except that half the DHs will be shot.
We continue to cleave very closely to each other in the players, if not the years of selection here:
The Common Man: Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols
Bill: Pujols, Hanley Ramirez
There is no player playing today, on either of our lists, who is more sure of induction than Albert Pujols. He's about one to one-and-a-half seasons away from being the second best 1B of all time. Any writer who doesn't vote for Albert should have his vote stripped.
Teixeira's kind of a stealth Hall of Famer. He's a star, and has been excellent since his second season, but he's only had one or two major seasons. However, he's still only 30, he's durable, and he's got a great opportunity to add additional postseason glory to his resume.
Bill says: So we're assuming, basically, that Pujols gets the ten-year contract he wants, plays it through, and then calls it quits. If he does that, and he's still a passable starter at the end of it, it's hard even to imagine what his career numbers will look like.
The Common Man: Hanley, Carl Crawford
Bill: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright
Hanley Ramirez is an enigma. He's on a Hall of Fame career path at the moment, but a down 2010 have a lot of people questioning his attitude and motivation. At just 26, there's still plenty of time for him to recover and keep going. He'll either be Derek Jeter or Nomar Garciaparra. Both are good careers, but only one is going in the Hall.
When it's all said and done, it's entirely possible that this pick of Crawford will look ridiculous. But he's about to be 29 and already has almost 1500 hits, so he's a virtual lock for 3000. His skills will probably age gracefully, and his stolen bases will be appealing for an electorate who won't have another legitimate speedster to look at after Raines goes in. And all those triples will at least seem to harken back to an earlier age. Even if his value isn't particularly high, he will have the counting stats that make the voters weak. Crawford's either going to me The Common Man look like a genius or a moron.
Bill says: Nope. Not seeing how picking Crawford is some big gamble at this point, for all the reasons you state. You'll either look like the guy who made a kind of obvious pick and was right, or like a guy who made a kind of obvious pick and was wrong. Doesn't have quite the same ring.
The Common Man: Cabrera, Matt Wieters
Bill: Crawford, Gary Sheffield
Depending on how he handles his problems with alcohol, Miggy could still become one of the top 10 1B ever. He's athletic enough to be able to contribute in the field for years to come and he already has 247 homers at age 27. Plus, he's got a mean combination of the batting average traditionals love and the on-base skills coveted by stat-heads. And at 1400 hits so far, he's probably going to get 3,000 of those as well. But he'll have to keep the booze in check, lest he see a rapid decline in his 30s. For now, he's probably the second-greatest 1B who happens to be an alcoholic behind Jimmie Foxx.
The Common Man still believes in Matt Wieters, and thinks he'll break out presently. Glory and praise to his name.
Between his attitude issues, unpopularity with writers, PED allegations, and ugly exit from Milwaukee, there's no way Sheffield makes it in through the writers. His best chance will be with the Veterans Committee.
Bill says: right, Sheffield's an obvious no, but Wieters is in. Makes sense. The writers have elected all kinds of guys who were unpopular with the writers when they played. If you're banking on the PED nonsense to abate to the extent that Manny Ramirez gets in within his first couple years of eligibility, there's no reason Sheffield can't go in. I'm just going to pretend the words "ugly exit from Milwaukee" were never typed. I could just delete them, and no one would know, but I want you to have to live with your humiliation.
The Common Man: Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki
Bill: Teixeira, Jim Edmonds
Evan Longoria's career thusfar has been amazing to watch. He was terrific as a rookie, and upped the ante in each of the last two season, showing off a terrific glove to match his bat. If there's a 3B today with any shot of beating out Mike Schmidt as the best 3B of all time, it's Longoria. It's sad more people don't watch his games. And even sadder that those that do don't realize they're looking at the most valuable player in the American League.
Tulowitzki's got to stay healthy. He's two-for-four in that category so far. He too could be on the Nomar career path, where injuries just start robbing him of a little bit of his effectiveness each time. A terrific ballplayer if he can stay on the field.
Bill says: As you'll see tomorrow, I agree with everything you say about Longoria (except that I think most of the Rays fans appreciate how great he is), but you have him retiring a little earlier than I do. The last year he could play to be eligible in this class is 2024, his seventeenth season, age 38. Certainly plausible, but I suspect he lasts a couple years longer than that.
Worth noting that this is Edmonds' 15th and final year of eligibility. I'm not optimistic, but it really should happen.
The Common Man: Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman
Bill: Zimmerman, Brian McCann
Verlander is exactly the sort of pitcher that so many voters think Jack Morris is. He's a big, nasty bonafide ace who controls the game and dominates hitters. He's actually a lot like John Smoltz, in terms of his look and his repertoire on the mound. And like Smoltz, is just going to be able to keep pitching and pitching until he decides to stop. And until the day he finishes, he's going to be damn good at it. He misses a lot of bats, is incredibly durable, and plays for a team and owner that seems willing to keep providing him with competitive clubs, which will help his win total.
Originally, TCM totally forgot about Zimmerman, but the Adam Wainwright injury conveniently opened up a spot on TCM's list. Zimmerman is going to suffer from the comparison of not being Evan Longoria (consider him the neo-Ron santo to Longoria's Brooks Robinson). But he'll get in before too long, as voters have taken Santo's lesson to heart.
Bill says: only one of us picked McCann, who is so much more likely to wind up a Hall of Famer than Wieters at this point that it feels kind of silly to discuss it. Twenty-six years old (just two years older than Wieters), five full seasons, five-time All-Star (and deservedly so, except the once). If Weiters has four years in his entire career like the four good ones McCann has had before turning 27, he should consider himself very, very lucky.
On the other hand, only one of us picked Verlander, and I should've found room for him.