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Beltran has struggled with durability issues, but he’s got 421 career homers, three Gold Gloves, nine All-Star appearances and a career 1.078 OPS in 235 postseason plate appearances. Another productive season or two will seal it, but his numbers already compare favorably to other Hall of Fame outfielders, including Andre Dawson.
Cano is still just 34 years old, so the odds he’ll compile a HOF-worthy resume by career’s end are high. Right now, his 278 homers rank fifth all-time among second baseman. Add a career .307/.355/.498 slash line, seven All-Star appearances and six top-10 MVP finishes and he’s got a solid, if not airtight, case right now.
Here’s where we trot out the inevitable Sandy Koufax comparison. In 12 big league seasons, Koufax went 165-87, posted a 2.76 ERA, averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings and won three National League Cy Young Awards and an NL MVP.
In nine big league seasons, Kershaw has gone 126-60, posted a 2.37 ERA, averaged 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings and won three NL Cy Young Awards and an NL MVP.
The symmetry is remarkable. There’s a chance Kershaw would get in today based on his historic peak, just as Koufax did, though BBWAA rules stipulate a minimum of 10 seasons for eligibility.
As a catcher, Mauer’s case is strong. He made six All-Star appearances, won an American League MVP and secured three batting titles. He hasn’t played catcher since 2013, however, and as a first baseman/designated hitter, his 130 career home runs and 1,826 hits are an underwhelming liability.
Molina’s .285/.338/.400 career slash line, 108 homers and 1,593 hits don’t scream Hall of Fame, catcher or no. His candidacy relies on his defensive capabilities behind the dish, highlighted by his eight consecutive Gold Gloves between 2008 and 2015. He was also a well-respected leader for the St. Louis Cardinals during a period when the Red Birds were perennial contenders and won two rings.
Utley didn’t break out until his age-26 season in 2005, but he made up for lost time with a period of sustained high-level production at the plate and in the field. Between 2005 and 2015, Utley paced all position players with 59.5 WAR, according to FanGraphs’ measure. He’s a tad short in the counting stats department with 250 homers and 1,777 hits, but the 38-year-old free-agent second baseman has a HOF argument even if he never plays another inning.