No news on the Twins’ front in recent days, so to pass the time I’m going to shift into pure speculation mode.
This week the Hall of Fame vote was announced with only Barry Larkin receiving enough votes to make it in. Most writers are considering it a down year and that may have been one reason only one rose to the level of acceptance. That may also be why Jack Morris did significantly better than last year’s vote totals, but not enough to be elected.
With all the Hall of Fame talk, I got to wondering if there are any future Hall of Famers on the current Twins roster.
The past couple of years one could have answered that rather quickly with the almost certainty that Jim Thome will be elected eventually, if not on the first ballot when he becomes eligible.
This year is a different story. Almost every player can be dismissed immediately as not having the tools or record thus far in their career to warrant even consideration. The only exceptions are the two MVP’s, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.
Morneau has had a couple of bad years following the rough end to his 2009 season and he seems very unlikely to rebound to MVP level again. He therefore is a highly improbable candidate.
Mauer has had some remarkable years topped off by his MVP season in 2009 and he still has enough years of potential to continue to rack up the stats and playing time to be considered when he retires. My sense is he will have his best shot if he is able to continue to play as a catcher for several more years. The sooner he moves to another position, the less likely he will be a serious contender for the Hall.
It is his production in comparison to other catchers that makes him so outstanding. At another position, whether it be first base, outfield or even third base, he does not hit for enough power or drive in enough runs to be considered elite.
This coming season is going to tell if he has any chance at all. He will need to put up at least career average numbers at the plate, return to good work as a defensive catcher including throwing out runners, and he will need to play at least 130 games – a hundred or more at catcher – to get back on track. If he can do that and follow it with several more years like it, he might earn the right to be considered.
As of right now, I think the odds are against him having a Hall of Fame career.