With the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame vote in the books, let’s take a look ahead. No, not towards 2024, but the future. There’s a wide array of incredible talent currently active in MLB, but which players have the best case towards heading to Cooperstown. Let’s take a look at nine players that we think have the best shot of the Hall once their careers are complete.
No pitcher currently active in Major League Baseball possesses a Hall of Fame resume like Justin Verlander. The righty has been a force since his MLB debut, as Verlander recorded 14 seasons in which he’s won at least 10 or more games in a season since 2005. As far as accolades are concerned, the 39-year-old won two ERA titles, the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and the AL MVP in 2011 — a season in which Verlander completed the pitching triple crown. Verlander added to his stout resume in 2022, when the righty won his second World Series title and third Cy Young award.
Sitting at 244 career wins, no active pitcher has as many wins or strikeouts (3,198) than the nine-time All-Star. Regardless of what Verlander does for the rest of his MLB career, the former Tigers star is a lock for Cooperstown.
Verlander’s ex-Tiger teammate Max Scherzer also possesses a strong case for the Hall of Fame. “Max Max” has also won three Cy Young awards in his career, and is just one of 120 pitchers to win at least 200 games in his career. The 38-year-old currently ranks 13th on the all-time strikeout list, as he will enter the 2023 campaign with 3,193 in his pocket.
Those numbers, along with a World Series championship in 2019, should push one of the most intimidating pitchers in the modern era to the Hall of Fame once his career officially ends.
Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera will play his final season in 2023, capping off an outstanding career. Cabrera’s career started off with a bang, as the Venezuelan native cracked 12 home runs in his first regular season in 2003, and then four more in the postseason for the World Series champion Marlins. After that season, Cabrera turned into one of the game’s most prolific power hitters. The 39-year-old posted ten 30+ home run campaigns, highlighted by a career-high 44 in 2012. The 2012 season also saw “Miggy” led the AL in home runs, RBIs, and batting average, a combination that won Cabrera the first American League Triple Crown since 1967 (Carl Yastrzemski).
A World Series champion and the only active players with at least 500 career homers and 3,000 career hits, Miguel Cabrera should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer come 2029.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has essentially done it all throughout his 15-year MLB career: three NL Cy Young awards, an NL MVP in 2014, five NL ERA titles, a pitching triple crown, and is the active leader in career ERA. The left-hander has mowed down hitters with ease throughout his career, thanks to a powerful arsenal that includes two devastating breaking balls.
At the age of 34, Kershaw continues to pad his Hall of Fame resume. Entering the 2023 campaign, the left-hander needs just three wins to reach 200 for his career. Not to mention, Kershaw also needs 197 strikeouts to join the 3,000 strikeout club — an honor only achieved by 19 pitchers.
RHP Zack Greinke may not have the same exact resume of the likes of Kershaw or Scherzer, but it’s close. The right-hander was a force in the late 2000s to mid 2010s, including in 2009. Greinke won the AL Cy Young in 2009, a season in which the righty struck out 242 and posted a sparkling 2.16 ERA over 229.1 IP. Greinke’s career accolades include that Cy Young award, six All-Star nominations, two ERA titles, and six Gold Gloves. Plus, Greinke’s 223 win total stands as the second-most among active players.
Should Greinke pitch in the Majors in 2023, the 38-year-old has a chance to further pad his resume. The righty sits just 118 strikeouts shy of reaching the 3,000 strikeout plateau.
Legendary Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen will enter the Hall in 2023, and it’s highly likely that another St. Louis infielder will join him after his playing days end. Nolan Arenado has been arguably the game’s best defender since his debut in 2013 — he’s won a Gold Glove in each of ten career seasons. At the plate, Arenado ranked among the top ten in total hits (1,520) and RBIs (968) from 2012-22.
Arenado has accumulated a career WAR of 52.2, good for 12th in the league among active players. It’s an impressive figure for someone who’s been in the league for ten seasons, but very few in the league can match his ability to pound baseballs and play terrific defense.
Clayton Kershaw isn’t the only active Dodger with a legitimate shot at the Hall. Right fielder Mookie Betts has been one of the game’s premier stars since his debut in 2014. The six-time All-Star has posted seven 20+ home run campaigns in his career thus far, including a career-high 35 in 2022. Betts’ career accomplishments include five Silver Slugger awards, six Gold Gloves, two World Series titles, and an AL MVP in 2018.
Entering the 2023 season, Betts possesses a career WAR of 56.4. That total sits as the 11th-best among all active players, and it should only rise as the right fielder continues his career.
Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve has been nothing short of incredible throughout his career. Since his first callup in 2011, no players in MLB has more career hits (1,935) or a higher batting average (.306) than the 32-year-old infielder (min. 3,500 PA). Altuve’s resume includes six Silver Sluggers, eight All-Star appearances, an AL MVP, and two World Series titles.
Given his career pace, it’s highly likely that Altuve joins fellow legendary Astros second baseman Craig Biggio in the Hall of Fame once his story is complete.
We can’t forget about Mike Trout. At the age of 30, Trout is the current active leader in WAR (82.4). No one in Major League Baseball has been able to match Trout’s accomplishments since 2012: an AL Rookie of the Year, nine Silver Sluggers, ten All-Star nominations, and three AL MVP awards. The star outfielder has already cranked 350 home runs in his career, and the New Jersey native was the only player from 2012-22 to hit at least 250 homers and steal at least 200 bases.
Even if Trout were to hang it up at this moment in time, Trout still boasts a resume that would almost certainly put the Angels star in the Hall.