With the induction ceremonies coming soon, we are updating the active players at each position to look at how they are strengthening (or not strengthening) their Hall of Fame case. We have four first baseman that qualify based on playing at least ten years and having a significant career. We do have several players in their ninth season as well, but we will ignore them for the time being.
Miguel Cabrera–Detroit Tigers
Father Time is undefeated. The good news is that Cabrera has been healthy this season. He will add over 100 hits and 50 RBI to his resume. He will clearly 2800 hits some time next season if he doesn’t get there this season and will clear 1700 RBI for his career. He is in the Hall of Fame, but the value numbers above reflect that he is merely accumulating numbers at this point.
Of course, the problem for the Tigers is that they have signed him through 2023 with options for 2024 and 2025. If you are Cabrera do you continue to play and collect a paycheck or do you hang it up because you clearly aren’t the same guy? Could he end up with a contender and rejuvinate himself?
Edwin Encarnacion– New York Yankees
In 2012, Encarnacion became Encarnacion. He hit 42 home runs and drove in 110 runs. Between 2012 and 2018 he averaged over 100 RBI a season. He averaged about 35 home runs a season. His OPS was somewhere around .900 over that time as well. 2012 was the only season with five or more wins in BWAR. 2019 is more of the same. No, he likely won’t have a .900 OPS, but he will get to 30 home runs and 100 RBI if he is healthy. That will be eight seasons of heavy production.
As of this writing, he sits at 34.2 BWAR. He likely will be at 35 wins after the season. So, when he finally retires, he will likely be over 2000 hits, 1200 runs, 1400 RBI, and 450 home runs. Yet, he won’t get to 300 in the index. You have to have some fielding value to get into the Hall of Fame. He just doesn’t have it.
Albert Pujols–Los Angeles Angels
Pujols has had a bit of a resurgence this season in that he is actually adding some value. He also surpassed 2000 RBI for his career. He stands fifth all-time in RBI. When you see that he is 19th in runs scored that is a perfect microcosm of where he has been over the past several seasons. It’s why you have to be careful about paying attention to individual numbers. He drives in runs. He doesn’t do much else these days.
With the positive output so far, he is back over 100 wins for his career. That firmly puts him second all-time amongst first baseman to the great Lou Gehrig. He isn’t catching Gehrig. So, he really can’t add to the legacy in any real way beyond creeping up the all-time lists in home runs, hits, runs, and RBI.
Joey Votto–Cincinnati Reds
This is yet another example of what happens when Father Time catches up with you. It’s hard to believe that Votto is 35 and what has happened to him is predictable. He still gets on base at a healthy clip. When this season is over it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him hitting back around .280 and getting on base at a .370 clip. That’s impressive at any age. A sluggling percentage barely over .400 is not impressive at any age.
The question is whether he will add enough value over the next couple of years to get into the Hall of Fame. He will likely get to 2000 hits, 1000 runs, and 1000 RBI, but not much beyond that. He might get to 300 home runs, but he won’t get to 400. It will take imagination to vote for him. He will be a different kind of candidate and it remains to be seen whether the BBWAAA will have the imagination to put him in.