While watching baseball, I often think about which of today’s players will end up enshrined in the Hall of Fame. There are a number of players that seem like no brainers (ex. Mike Trout) while others are borderline candidates (ex. Carlos Beltran). There are some that were easily first ballot but have harmed their chances (ex. Alex Rodriguez) while some were headed in the right direction until injuries steered them off course (ex. Adam Wainwright).
As a thought experiment, I decided to examine the current 40 man rosters of each team in the American League Central and highlight the players on each team with the best chance of making it all the way to Cooperstown, New York. I have avoided players who have accumulated one full year or less of service time with their pro club due to the lack of stable data from such a small sample. Today’s post focuses on the Minnesota Twins.
Joe Mauer: Age 33. Resume: First pick of the 2001 draft, 6 All Star selections, 1 MVP award (and one additional Top 5 MVP finish), 3 Gold Glove awards, and 5 Silver Slugger awards. Mauer is a 3 time batting champ and has a .311 career batting average with a career WAR of 50. He was on the fast track to Cooperstown but injuries have derailed Mauer’s ‘no-brainer’ status. He is going to need every counting statistic he can get as his career begins to wind down. In his 13th season, Mauer has only one season of 20 plus homers (129 for his career), has zero 100 runs and zero 100 RBI seasons, and stole more than 10 bases once. Unfortunately for Mauer, these are traditional stats that Hall of Fame voters often focus on when measuring a career. Additionally, his permanent move from catcher to first base in 2014 has made his lack of power more noticeable than when he played behind the dish. Mauer is a fan favorite and will score some additional backing from the voters if he remains a Twin for the remainder of his career. He needs to stay healthy, maintain his strong batting eye, and compile, compile, compile! Hall of Fame chance: 40%.
Glen Perkins: Age 33. Resume: 3 All Star selections and 120 career saves. Shoulder surgery ended Perkins’ 2016 season after only two appearances and the track record for pitchers coming back from shoulder issues is not great. Perkins officially moved into the closer role in 2012 (age 29 season) which put him at a disadvantage for gaudy career save totals. Additionally, Perkins never dominated hitters as his Ks per 9, WHIP, and ERA reflect. Hall of Fame chance: less than 1%.
Brian Dozier: Age 29. Resume: 1 All Star selection, one 20/20 season, three consecutive 20 plus homer seasons, and 16 career WAR in what is currently his 5th season. Great power from a middle infielder and Dozier also possesses solid speed. However, Dozier’s batting average and OPS are lower than what he’d need to be on a solid path to Cooperstown (although 2016 is a bit improved than past seasons). His stats are somewhat bi-polar with runs and homers helping his case while RBI, batting average, and OPS hurting his case. At 29, Dozier is going to have an uphill battle and time is definitely not on his side. He will need to extend his prime for many more years to position himself to make a real run at the Hall. Hall of Fame chance: 9%.
Miguel Sano: Age 23. Resume: 38 homers in less than 600 career at bats but 247 career strikeouts in this same time period. Sano is extremely young and extremely strong but also extremely strikeout prone. He is going to have to improve his ability to take a walk if he is going to continue to whiff at his current rate. Sano’s health is also a question. He has already had one Tommy John surgery and has missed time (MRI examination) on the elbow in 2016. His build, fielding ability, and health make it appear that Sano is destined to be a designated hitter. If he doesn’t play the field, the Hall’s voters will likely hold it against him. It will be an uphill battle but he has youth on his side. If skills grow (especially the batting eye), his power remains elite, and he can stay healthy in his prime, he’ll have a fighting chance. Hall of Fame chance: 14%.
For a look at the previously profiled NL Central: