A few days ago I read an article about Barry Bonds’ playing days.
Normally I would link to the article, but I’m not sure where I read it. I asked, via Twitter, the person that I thought had written it if they had written it, but they weren’t sure. It doesn’t matter, though. Let’s move on.
Whoever it was that wrote it was musing about watching Bonds play and realizing, even then, that he was watching something very special. He was watching a Hall of Fame career.
Barry Bonds was the Albert Pujols of his day. A once-in-a-lifetime player that did things that no one else was doing. Unfortunately, Bonds started using steroids later in his career. Now he’s considered a cheater by most and the odds are against him ever joining baseball’s elite in Cooperstown.
It got me thinking, though. Is there any one player currently on the Rangers’ roster that has a legitimate shot at the HOF?
The first guy that springs to mind is the team’s new closer, Joe Nathan. Nathan has been a legitimate 9th inning guy for several years and has racked up saves at an impressive clip. The problem, though, is that he is not our guy. If he ever went into the HOF, he would probably go in as a Minnesota Twin.
The most truly obvious answer is Captain Face of the Franchise, Michael Young. Young has been an impressive hitter for over a decade now, but the Sabermetric community* seems to have a real problem with him. If he did one day make it into Cooperstown, it would probably be on the 14th or 15th ballot. It would require one of those slow and steady climbs that we’ve seen more and more of in recent years.
*People who prefer to look at baseball through the lens of numbers and statistics.
Adrian Beltre probably has a shot, considering what he does on both sides of the ball, but the odds of going in as a Ranger are basically 1-in-3. If he puts up more seasons like last season there’s no reason he can’t be considered to have HOF potential, though.
Hamilton, Cruz, and Napoli are all great players that probably started the great part of their careers too late. None of them have been doing it since they were 23 or 24 years old and part of being in The Hall is being great for a long time.
Andrus could get there one day if he becomes more like Derek Jeter, supplementing his defense with a little more offensive pop. Feliz could get there one day if he turns into something like Justin Verlander, racking up wins and strikeouts in his years as a starter.
Mike Adams is great, but not immortal.
Yu Darvish? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Thus, we come to my pick, Ian Kinsler. Kinsler brings a lot to the table, especially as a 2nd baseman. He can hit for average and he can hit for power, but often not at the same time. His defensive range is stellar*, but often overlooked. He steals bases and he can hit anywhere in a line-up.
*He should probably win a Gold Glove or two when it’s all said and done, but Gold Gloves rarely go to the people that deserve them.
Kinsler should be considered an elite player, based on his place on the field and what he can do on both sides of the ball. He is often overlooked, even in Texas, but that shouldn’t be the case.
If he keeps doing what he’s doing, I honestly believe that he’s got a legitimate shot at making a HOF case. We should all stand up and take notice.
Who knows? Maybe after another 10 or 15 years, Ron Washington will even shake his reputation as a dunderhead and make a case for his own enshrinement in Cooperstown.