It's a special day around the baseball world as the newest induction class into the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced today. A question that began to be asked around here is what current member of the Baltimore Orioles has the best shot at one day making the trek to Cooperstown once his career is over?
It is a very tough question to answer because so much of it depends on the health that the current players can maintain throughout the rest of their careers, along with whether or not they can keep up or even improve their current production rates.
Having said that, it was a fun question to ponder, and our answer may end up surprising you in the end, but let's first touch on the players that got consideration, but were not chosen as the most likely current member of the O's to end up in the Hall of Fame.
Some may even be surprised to see that he got consideration, but we have kept in mind his age, 31, and the fact that he is a terrific defensive player. Shortstop is one of those position where great defensive ability can help increase your chances in getting into the hall, Ozzie Smith for example. Now we are not saying that Hardy is of the defensive caliber of the Wizard, but keep this in mind, Hardy currently has the fourth best fielding percentage at shortstop all time, yes all time and incase you were wondering, Smith ranks 14th all time.
His offensive numbers will continue to rise as he will not turn 32 till August of this year and he currently has 158 home runs, 527 RBI and a .260 career average. His offensive numbers are the main reason we were reluctant to give extreme consideration for Hardy, but if he were to hit an average of 20 homers for the next six years, he would end up with just shy of 300 homers, which is impressive for a guy who primarily plays shortstop and also boasts such a regarded glove.
There is no question that Davis had one heck of a 2013 and let's not forget his 2012 was not too shabby either. He will turn 28 this March and still has a decade or more left in his career, barring injuries, and the fact that he already has 130 home runs gives him a good start. His current 162 game average is 35 home runs per season, but for argument sake, because it is unlikely that he would play 162 games a season for the next 10 years, we will use a 30 homer average. If he were to average 30 homers a season for the next ten years, he would have 430 home runs at age 38 and with the designated hitter spot being a virtual career extender for guys like Davis, it is not unconceivable that he could eclipse the 500 home run mark.
It is becoming more clear now that simply getting 500 home runs does not automatically put you into the Hall, thus for Davis to realistically have a shot at making it to Cooperstown, he would have to continue the the type of season he had in 2013 in regards to batting average, on base percentage and OPS.
We may start surprising you now, Jones is not our choice, but did strong consideration. At age 28 (will turn 29 in August), Jones has put together a good five year stretch as he has hit at least 19 home runs in each of the last five years and has hit .277 or better as well. He has increased hit home run total in each of the last three years, which include back-to-back seasons of over 30 homers, and the fact that he has also won three Gold Gloves helps his case as well.
The downsides for Jones are many, and mainly due to his inability to draw walks as his on base percentage is much lower than many of the centerfielders currently in the Hall of Fame, which in turn makes his OPS suffer as well. As the years pass, the more sabermetrics becomes the major influences to voters, and the all mighty WAR stat does not bode well for Jones who has never had a season over 4.4.
Hold your breath, here is our choice as the most likely current Orioles to make the Baseball Hall of Fame……
OK, so you may already be asking yourself, the guy is 21 years old, how could you possibly put this label on him? We understand that stance, and again, as we mentioned before, a lot of this depends on so much of future health and production that it is almost impossible to clearly make a choice, but Machado does get our nod.
He has one thing going for him that is such an advantage to the others players considered that it was too tough to ignore. His age. Machado is just 21 years old and already has 207 career games under his belt, and is already considered one of, if not the best defensive player in the game. Machado hoisted a Gold Glove award and earned an All Star selection in 2013, not to mention he led the American League with 51 doubles.
In his first full season in 2013, Machado hit .283 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, 71 RBI, and a total of 189 hits. Do not get us wrong, we understand that he has only played one full season in the big leagues, but in that first full season, he ranked tenth in WAR for position players at 6.5, and we already mentioned how much sabermetrics are being factored into the voting process now.
Just for fun, let's project some career numbers for Machado, and we will do so without getting extreme. If he were to play till he is 38 years old and averages 15 homers, 75 RBI and 35 doubles over the next 17 years he will complete his career with a .279 average (his current career average), 276 home runs, 1,372 RBI, and 654 doubles. The 654 doubles would rank Machado eighth in MLB history. Admittedly, we have probably under-estimated the home run and RBI averages as many feel he is going to gain more power as he matures and he will eventually be a middle of the order hitter as opposed to a number two, which would increase his RBI output. Lastly, if he remains at third base, he would go down as one of the greatest third basemen of all-time if he ended up around those numbers, especially considering it is not unfeasible that he could end up with 13 or more Gold Gloves.
When you add in the defensive ability, along with his estimated offensive production, Machado is our choice for the most likely current Oriole to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Who is yours? Should Matt Wieters have gotten more consideration? Let the debate ensue by posting a comment!
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