Bill Madden: Active MLB players who should have no problem getting into Cooperstown
Published in Baseball
As we segue from the Hall-of-Fame election to the soon arrival of pitchers and catchers, this is a good time to celebrate the active players who don’t have to do anything more for us to earn a ticket to Cooperstown.
By my count — and I admit to be a hardliner — there are six: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Zack Greinke. And quite possibly after this season, we’ll be able to add Jose Altuve to the “doesn’t have to do anything more” list.
Here are their cases:
MAX SCHERZER AND JUSTIN VERLANDER
Buck Showalter, above all, doesn’t want to hear that neither Verlander nor Scherzer needs to do anything more for us to cash their tickets for the Hall of Fame. The Mets manager, of course, is counting on each of them continuing to perform in the fashion that has allowed them to accumulate so much boldface in their records. In Verlander’s case, it’s three times leading the league in wins, four times in innings pitched, five times in strikeouts, four times in WHIP, two Cy Youngs and three runner-ups. His 244 wins are tops among active pitchers.
If there’s a knock to be found in Verlander’s credentials, one supposes it would be his 1-6, 5.63 ERA in nine World Series starts. Scherzer’s boldface is equally prolific- four times leading the league in wins, three times in strikeouts and complete games, twice in innings, plus three Cy Youngs and one runner-up. The only question on either of these stalwart righties is how high a percentage they will get from the BBWAA voters.
This will be quite the farewell tour for the Tigers slugger who is expected to retire after this season. But for 20 years, we have gotten to witness one of the greatest righthanded hitters of all time — and that is not an exaggeration. Winner of two MVPs and the 2012 Triple Crown, Cabrera has won three batting titles, led the league in on-base pct., four times, and homers, RBI and OPS twice. He is also one of only seven players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, two of whom, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro, got there with the help of PEDs, while another Albert Pujols, just retired and will be flying into the Hall of Fame in five years.
Plagued by injuries in recent years, it is likely Kershaw, who will turn 35 in March, will also be retiring after this year, although he is still the Dodgers’ most effective starter, just in a more limited capacity. He needs three wins for 200, but all his other Hall-of-Fame boxes are not only checked but pure Koufaxian: Three Cy Young awards, one MVP, five ERA titles, three strikeouts titles, three times leading the league in wins and four times in WHIP. Kershaw’s only fault has been the postseason where he has mystifyingly been an ordinary at best starter (13-12, 4.22 ERA) and a big reason why the Dodgers lost two of his three World Series.
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