The Immediate Future Hall of Famers (2020)

As you may have heard, two players were recently elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This marks a record streak of years in which multiple candidates reached the 75% threshold by the writers’ vote. Learning this fact inevitably brought me to the question of whether this streak will continue. Venturing more down this train of thought, I was compelled to take a look at the players who will be making their ballot debuts in each of the next five years. What you, the reader, will be receiving from this is a brief overview of all of the notable candidates (notable being defined as in the top 50 in JAWS at their position, or top 200 for starting pitchers) entering the voting from 2021-2025.

For the sake of brevity, I will be assigning a singular number to the Hall of Fame case for each of these players. This number is one of my own creation, coming from a metric, hsScore, used to evaluate careers. hsScore is WAR-based, and is designed to answer the questions: How good was a player at their best? How long were they definitively above average? What did they do game-for-game? The number you will see, hsS100, is a comparison of hsScore to that of Hall of Famers at the same position. In this system, players receiving a hsS100 of at least 100 are suggested to be clearly Hall of Fame worthy. Those players from 75-99 are strong candidates most likely deserving, the 50-74 range houses candidates needing serious consideration but unlikely to be deserving. Players with scores under 50 probably have no reasonable case.


  • Mark Buehrle (SP), hsS100: 35
  • Tim Hudson (SP), 36
  • Torii Hunter (CF), 22

Summary: These three first-timers are all considered fairly weak candidates by my system. It’s likely all three will fall victim of the 5% rule, not as a means to degrade their careers, they just fall short of being legitimate candidates.


  • Carl Crawford (LF), 15
  • Joe Nathan (RP), 123
  • David Ortiz (DH), 80
  • Jonathan Papelbon (RP), 101
  • Jake Peavy (SP), -21
  • Álex Rodríguez (SS), 366
  • Jimmy Rollins (SS), -38
  • Mark Teixeira (1B), 27

Summary: This class includes a probable first ballot electee in David Ortiz, someone actually underrated by my system due to his DH status, so still shown to be a Hall of Famer. Álex Rodríguez is one of the top 20 players of all-time, but we all know the PED-related issues there. Take the hsS100 for the relievers with a grain of salt, as they require a different kind of consideration, yet Nathan appears to be a worthy candidate, and Papelbon looks like he needs serious consideration. The other players are clear votes no, and will probably all only spend a year on the ballot.


  • Carlos Beltrán (CF), 97
  • Mike Napoli (C), -91
  • Francisco Rodríguez (RP), 40

Summary: With all due respect to Napoli and K-Rod, the only real contender this year is Beltrán. As a great postseason hitter and often visually appealing player, he likely would have been inducted within his first three or four ballots as of a few days ago, and could still do so. Now with the Astros scandal, it may take him longer, but he’s a pretty easy pick for Cooperstown nonetheless.


  • José Bautista (RF), 40
  • Adrián Beltré (3B), 131
  • Bartolo Colon (SP), 5
  • Matt Holliday (LF), 54
  • Victor Martinez (C), -22
  • Joe Mauer (C), 126
  • Chase Utley (2B), 142
  • David Wright (3B), 65

Summary: This ballot has both volume and heft in its ranks. To start with the obvious, Beltré will be elected on his first ballot, and is well above the standard on my system, one that ranks him as the 68th greatest player of all-time. Right behind him, at 69th, is his ballot-mate Chase Utley. Utley passes the standard of hsS100 easily, yet the “Rule of 2000” will hinder his case, and he’ll likely be a down to the wire candidate in his 9th and 10th years. The same can be said about Wright, who fares much worse compared to his positional peers, though his popularity and captain status may boost his vote totals. Joe Mauer squeaked by that magical 2000 hit mark, and will garner serious support quickly, probably receiving his 75% within 5 years, a decision my system would obviously endorse. Holliday and Bautista both have stronger cases than I thought they would, but both are still pretty short of the enshrinement standard.


  • Brian McCann (C), 80
  • C.C. Sabathia (SP), 96
  • Ichiro Suzuki (RF), 87
  • Troy Tulowitzki (SS), 10

Summary: How much do you like framing? That’s the determining factor in McCann’s case, as the update to FanGraphs WAR last year to include framing is what pushed him just above the line. I suspect he’ll flounder on the ballot, and votes both ways for him are certainly defensible. The same cannot be said for Sabathia and Ichiro, both of whom were widely regarded as future Hall of Famers by the ends of their respective careers, and should both achieve this honor very quickly. Sadly, injuries prevented Tulowitzki from making this a quartet of deserving candidates, as he undoubtedly would have if healthy, but instead he will almost certainly only last a year on the ballot.

Sean Huff

Sean is an applied psychology graduate student in his third semester at Fordham College of Arts and Sciences. He is a lifelong baseball fan with a nominal affinity for the Phillies. You can follow him on Twitter at @srhkthew2 for occasional comments on baseball and assorted esoterica.

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