The Athletic Toronto Q&A

The Athletic Front Page.pngLike most of the content from the various regional Athletic sites, this one is behind a paywall — just as much of my JAWS-related stuff was back in the Baseball Prospectus days — but I was happy to take some time to answer a set of thoughtful questions from Stacey May Fowles, who called the book “a buzz-worthy, incredibly in-depth dive into the Hall’s storied history.” Here’s a sample:

SMF: Can you leave us with some of your personal Hall of Fame inductee predictions for the next few years? Current players that you believe are Hall of Fame bound?

JJ: After every election I do a five-year outlook, which I have to crumple up and do over the next year because, thankfully, some of these guys are going in faster than I expected. In 2018 I think we could see a four-man class, with newcomers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome joined by holdovers Trevor Hoffman and Vlad Guerrero, both of whom had at least 71% this past year. At worst, one of those guys slips to 2019, when Mariano Rivera will be elected, and, I hope, Edgar Martinez, who after the 2017 cycle is slightly ahead of where Raines was two years ago.

In 2020, it’s Derek Jeter hitting the ballot, and I think by then Mussina will go in. In 2021, I think that’s the year Bonds, Clemens and Schilling all get in. David Ortiz becomes eligible in 2022; I doubt he’s a first-ballot guy but I strongly suspect he gets in eventually even with the handicaps of being nearly a full-time DH and having the leaked survey test results out there.

After that, looking at active guys, Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and now Adrian Beltre, who just go this 3,000th hit, are locks. Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of cracking the top 10 at first base and I’d say he’ll be a lock when it’s all said and done, and Joey Votto too. Robinson Cano, who’s eighth at second base. I’m hopeful Carlos Beltran (eighth in JAWS among centerfielders) and Joe Mauer (seventh among catchers) get in, optmistic about Dustin Pedroia (15th among second basemen), but less so regarding Chase Utley, who’s 11th at second. Utley’s probably going to fall short of 2,000 hits, and the voters haven’t elected anybody from the post-1960 expansion era who’s failed to clear that bar.

Among the younger guys, Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout — the latter’s seven-year peak (WAR7) is already sixth among centerfielders, and he’s played just five full seasons and two partial ones! That’s insane. Buster Posey is already tenth in peak among catchers, so I’d say he’s on his way. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are doing the things at a young age that Hall of Famers do, but they have to keep doing them for a long while.

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