Major League Baseball announced in late January that Chipper Jones and Jim Thome were both first-ballot selections to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2018. They’ll be joined by Vladimir Guerrero (second year of eligibility) and Trevor Hoffman (third year of eligibility).
There are other recently eligible players, like Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel, that will likely eventually make it into Cooperstown in the coming years, too. But for this article, we’re talking about first-year eligible players over the next five years.
Remember that it takes five years for a player to be officially retired before they can pop up on MLB’s Hall-of-Fame ballots. So which first-year eligible players can we expect to see on the ballots in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023?
Derek Jeter Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Future Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame Eligible Players Through 2023
These might not be first-year-ballot inductees, but I believe the following HOF-eligible players will get inducted at some point. (The Baseball Hall of Fame determines which team the player will represent with his ballcap, so I make guesses there, as well.)
2019 Eligible — Mariano Rivera, RP, N.Y. Yankees
With Hoffman getting in this past year, Rivera is one of the best first-year locks of the next decade. He took the all-time saves record away from Hoffman, in one fewer season, and the Yankees won five World Series titles on his watch.
Quick, which is the better closer song? AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” or Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”!?!
I think It’s important to point out the Panamanian closer was drama-free for his entire career, and he became one of the most beloved (and consistent) players in baseball!
2019 Eligible — Roy Halladay, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Halladay won a couple Cy Young awards and he even finished runner-up a couple more times in his 16-year career. Fantasy Baseball owners will definitely vouch for HOF-ability, as this horse was an innings-eating beast, posting 200 innings in eight different seasons. He also struck out at least 200 batters in five seasons, with 19 or more wins in five seasons, too. Almost always with a sub-3.00 ERA!
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Andy Pettitte could also get some HOF attention among the 2019 MLB Hall of Fame class. He reset his eligibility when he played baseball in 2012 and 2013. He was never truly elite, and he admitted PED use, but he’s still worth mentioning here.
Lance Berkman, Carlos Delgado, Adam Dunn, Todd Helton and Paul Konerko will likely battle each other for votes, too. But none of these guys are first-ballot peeps.
2020 Eligible — Derek Jeter, SS, N.Y. Yankees
Much like Mo Rivera, Jeter is looking at first-ballot entry into Cooperstown, and this Yankees captain will make it despite the hate from Sabermetricians and people that don’t believe in “clutch” ability or numbers. Jeter hit .310 over his career in 20 MLB seasons at the toughest position in baseball — in the toughest city to play in. Besides being quite the playboy, he had a relatively drama-free career, and the media loved him.
Alfonso Soriano, Jeter’s former teammate, will also be eligible in 2020! He won’t get any first-ballot love, but this is one of just four players to become members of the 40-40 Club (40 stolen bases and 40 home runs in the same season). Unfortunately, two of the other three members of that same club (Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds) aren’t in the Hall of Fame because of steroids! The third member, Alex Rodriguez, will probably get in, though.
Neither Josh Beckett or Cliff Lee stayed healthy or dominant long enough to build a solid Hall-of-Fame foundation. They both won 20 games just once in their careers.
– Derek Jeter has hall of fame career with Yankees
– Derek Jeter becomes owner of Marlins.
– Derek Jeter trades reigning MVP to Yankees. pic.twitter.com/ZDqBrTJZYX
— Spenser Tilus (@Spenser_Tilus) December 9, 2017
2021 Eligible – Nobody!
Yoiks, what an ugly year! The players that retired after the 2015 season didn’t really do enough to cause a HOF stir! Aramis Ramirez, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter and Mark Buehrle were among the best, but this is probably where Mr. Schilling finally gains entry.
This class is onsidered to be one of the weakest first-year classes since 2012, when Bernie Williams was the top first-year eligible player.
Hunter was a Gold Glove beast, winning nine of them in his career, but did he do enough at the plate while other outfielders were crushing it? Probably not.
2022 Eligible — David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
We get it, he was mostly a designated hitter during his 20 seasons in the majors, and he never even won an MVP award (he was a seven-time Silver Slugger, though!). It’s impossible to ignore what he did for a Red Sox team that won three World Series during his tenure, after not having won any titles for the 85 seasons before he got there.
Big Papi also led the American League in RBI in three different seasons, including his final one in 2016!
Steroid rumors will probably bounce off him a little more than other players because of his relationship with the media (AKA HOF voters). Strangely, he’ll be a first-year eligible in the same year as his Yankees counterpart —
Vladimir Guerrero is the first position player from the Dominican Republic to be elected into the Hall of Fame, but he knows plenty more are on their way with David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 25, 2018
2022 Eligible — Alex Rodriguez, 3B, N.Y. Yankees
Ortiz’s name was among the 100 flagged to show a positive test for a substance that is now banned, but he then had a 13-year stretch since 2003 without any failed tests.
Rodriguez, however, was suspended for the entire 2014 season, and while he likely won’t be inducted in his first eligible year, he’s definitely getting in. This is a 14-time All-Star with three MVP Awards, and he played much of his career at the defense-heavy shortstop. He joined Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only three players to post 3,000 hits and 600 home runs in their career.
Many of the old school baseball writers will be replaced with younger baseball writers in the next four years, and those young writers likely played Rotisserie Fantasy Baseball for years. I believe that will help A-Rod’s case.
Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Alex Rodriguez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
It doesn't matter that they cheated. The HoF is a museum, and very few have been a bigger part of baseball history than those 3. https://t.co/LKKCCYIny6
— Tommy (@tgags123HD) January 22, 2018
2023 Eligible – Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle Mariners
Ichiro has yet to retire from the majors, but I think they’re making that decision for him right now. There’s even rumors that he’ll sign to play in Japan again, which should be like a homecoming for one of the greatest contact hitters this game has ever seen.
Ichiro’s numbers are impressive, hitting .312 in his 17-year career, with defensive dominance and great speed on the basepaths. Note that from 2001 to 2011, he averaged 159 games played, 102 runs scored, 221 hits, 38 steals and a .326 batting average!
2023 Eligible – Carlos Beltran, OF, N.Y. Mets
Beltran had a lot of similar attributes as many of the players mentioned above, including the power and speed that Fantasy Baseball owners loved, and a brittle body that Fantasy Baseball owners hated. This 1999 AL Rookie of the Year went on to play for seven different MLB teams, but he made the most damage with the Mets from 2005-11, averaging a line of 79-.280-21-80-14, with a slash line of .280/.369/.500 in that span.
Beltran’s postseason abilities really strike a chord with voters, considering he has a 1.021 OPS in 65 postseason games!
Let me know what you think of these future Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame eligible players? Did I miss anyone? Tweet me @DavidGonos and let me know! Do you think some of these guys won’t make it in? And don’t forget to check out our 33 FREE Fantasy Baseball draft tools to use for this upcoming baseball season!