Baseball is a game that requires skill, and while we’re not sure who the best player at every position would be (let’s say Babe Ruth), here are some of the greatest players in baseball history.

The “best football players not in the hall of fame” is a list of the best player at every position.

The best player not in the Baseball Hall of Fame at every position

For more than a decade, the Hall of Fame has been at a crossroads about how to treat what I call the PED Five, a band of outlaws who used to loot stagecoaches and saloons in Dodge City: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez have now been added to the list of players.

To make the Hall of Fame discussions even more confusing, the numerous veterans committees have gotten immensely — what’s the correct adjective here? — powerful in recent years. — benevolent in their choices Don’t get me wrong: Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, and Gil Hodges were all great ballplayers, and seeing Kaat and Oliva, both in their 80s, be inducted this summer will be extremely delightful. It’s also fair to claim that none of these players improved the Hall of Fame’s overall standing. Kaat has the most lifetime WAR of the bunch, with 50.5, which is more than 18 of the 30 players on this year’s vote had.

No, it’s not the Hall of WAR, before you get on my case. Although career value and numbers have traditionally been the talking points for a player’s candidacy — not celebrity or popularity or even postseason performances — that’s only one yardstick to evaluate.

In other ways, the absence of a clear threshold has turned off some admirers of the process, including myself. Although I am still a few years away from voting age, my overall attitude is as follows:

(1) Bud Selig, John Schuerholz, Pat Gillick, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, all of whom enabled, disregarded, or just didn’t care about PEDs in baseball. I don’t understand how Bud Selig, who supervised over baseball throughout the drug era, can be inducted into the Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds.

(2) Does this player enhance the Hall of Fame’s average level?

With that second aspect in mind, there is one more issue to consider: who is the finest non-Hall of Fame player at each position? Each contender should not be judged on their own merits. So, for each position, let’s take a look at the top players who aren’t presently in Cooperstown:


Yadier Molina is the catcher.

When he’ll most likely be admitted: 2029

Late last season, Molina said that 2022 will be his last season, leaving him available for the ballot in 2028. I’m not sure whether he’ll be a first-ballot pick, so I’m putting him in a year later.

Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, and Jorge Posada are the next players in line.

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Mauer and Posey seemed to be probable inner-circle Hall of Famers early in their careers, with outstanding offensive catchers and Gold Glove-caliber defense. Posey earned three World Series titles in his first five seasons with the Giants, and each won MVP awards. Early on in St. Louis, Molina seemed to be the next Tom Pagnozzi or Mike Matheny. He didn’t get his stride until later in his career, and he’s remained one of the most dependable backstops of all time. Indeed, he has caught more games than both Mauer and Posey put together, and Hall of Fame voters have historically favored longevity over peak value.

Each player, including Posada, who has the greatest career counting numbers of the bunch with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBIs, has a big challenge:

Molina: His lifetime OPS+ of 97 indicates that he has been a below-average hitter throughout his career (not to mention his lack of speed on the bases).

Posey: When he retired in November, I wrote about Posey’s Hall of Fame case, but with just 1,371 career games, he would certainly have the shortest MLB career of any Hall of Fame position player since Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

Mauer: He has the best career WAR of the four at 55.2, but he has only played catcher in less than half of his games.

Posada: He had a bad reputation on defense, and his career WAR of 42.7 isn’t exactly a differentiator.

Keep in mind that the criteria for Hall of Famers varies based on your position. Catchers don’t play as many games, they get hurt, and so much of what they do isn’t accounted for in WAR figures (at least the Baseball-Reference version). If you don’t vote for any of these four, you’ll be without a Hall of Fame catcher for the whole post-Mike Piazza/Ivan Rodriguez age, which doesn’t seem fair.

Mauer is up for re-election in 2024, and Posey is up for re-election in 2027, so any or both might go in before Molina, but I believe Molina is the strongest possibility, or at the very least the simplest to anticipate a route to Cooperstown for. In some ways, Molina is the Ozzie Smith of catchers, maybe the finest defensively at his position ever; it won’t matter that he wasn’t a terrific hitter, and it’s evident that WAR doesn’t tell the entire story of his worth to the Cardinals. Consider this scenario: All three are elected in the same year. Posada is already off the ballot, so he’d have to be chosen by the Veterans Committee (he should get in when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are on the committee).

What this implies for the 2022 election: There will be no change. The lone catcher on the ballot is A.J. Pierzynski.


Albert Pujols plays first base.

When he’ll most likely get admitted: 2028

Pujols has said that he wants to play in 2022, and considering that he smashed lefties in 2021 (.294/.336/.603), maybe a club will consider him as a platoon DH/bat off the bench. In this day, a player of that caliber doesn’t have much of a role, but let’s assume he gets in a few games someplace and then retires after the season, placing him on the ballot in 2028.

Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Keith Hernandez, Todd Helton, Dick Allen, and Fred McGriff are the next in line.

When Pujols departed the Cardinals following the 2011 season, it looked like he would ultimately overtake Lou Gehrig as the best first baseman of all time, if not one of the top ten players. He had 86.6 career WAR as he entered his 32nd season, which placed him 27.1 WAR behind Gehrig. It’s not a sure thing, but it’s feasible. Of course, that didn’t happen, and Pujols now has a WAR of 99.6, making him one of the best 20 or 25 players in baseball ever.

It’s worth noting that Dick Allen is at the bottom of the list. Yes, Pujols, Cabrera, and Votto aren’t eligible yet, but Allen isn’t definitely the greatest eligible first baseman who isn’t in. He had a great peak worth as a batter, but his career was cut short.

What this implies for the 2022 ballot: Helton might beat out Pujols for a spot in Cooperstown. He’s the only one of the aforementioned players still on the ballot, and he received 44.9 percent of the vote last year. After the elimination of Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Sosa off the ballot, he should get more support as the ballot thins down.


Lou Whitaker plays second base.

When he’ll most likely get admitted: 2024

Whitaker was only on the BBWAA ballot for one year, collecting 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Modern statistics have aided in a better understanding of his career worth — 75.1 WAR. After collecting six votes from that committee in 2019, he should appear on his second Modern Era ballot in December 2023, six votes shy of the required twelve (out of 16 voters).

Robinson Cano, Bobby Grich, Willie Randolph, Chase Utley, and Jeff Kent are next in line.

Candidates for the borderline Hall of Fame fall into one of two categories: those who, like Helton, had a brief period of dominance but not enough longevity, or those who, like Whitaker, were mainly excellent for a long time but never dominating. Take a look at the latest Veterans Committee appointments and you’ll see why Whitaker seems to be a shoe-in for re-election. Whitaker has the most career WAR of any of the nine players picked since 2018, with only Alan Trammell, his former Tigers double-play partner, coming close, and he possesses the longevity that helped Morris, Baines, and Kaat be elected.

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Whitaker made the game seem simple. He didn’t have any special abilities, yet he did everything well. Whitaker was overshadowed by Ryne Sandberg and subsequently Roberto Alomar during his own time, yet he had the greatest career WAR and OPS+ (117 to Alomar’s 116 and Sandberg’s 114) of the three, demonstrating the importance of offensive context (Alomar played in a higher run-scoring era, Sandberg at Wrigley Field).

What it means for the 2022 ballot: I’ve been surprised by Kent’s lack of support over the years — he’s the all-time leader in second baseman home runs, won an MVP Award, and only Nap Lajoie and Rogers Hornsby drove in more runs — but despite his impressive power numbers, he might be the sixth-best second baseman not currently in, which makes me a little less enthusiastic about his candidacy. Grich and Randolph, like Whitaker, are underestimated, and Utley’s extraordinarily high peak will make him a compelling contender in a few years.


Adrian Beltre plays third base.

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What this implies for the 2022 election: Rolen is on his sixth ballot, having received 52.9 percent last year. He’ll keep gaining ground until he reaches the 75% electoral threshold. While his great two-way game makes him a strong contender, it would assist him if he could get in next year before Beltre’s ballot, since head-to-head comparisons may often stymie a player’s advancement. So he may not get in till 2025, but I think he will finally get in.


Alex Rodriguez (shortstop)

When he’ll probably get in: Umm…

On the public votes, Rodriguez is presently polling at less than 50%. It looks that, like Bonds and Clemens, we’ll be debating his merits for the next ten years.

Bill Dahlen, Jimmy Rollins, and Omar Vizquel are the next in line.

Dahlen is one slot ahead of Jeter in WAR among shortstops, but that isn’t to say he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than Jeter. He was dubbed “Bad Bill” for his propensity for being ejected from games (65 times as a player and manager), although he was a capable two-way player who began his career in 1891. Dahlen was on the most recent Early Baseball ballot and had minimal support, and he won’t get another shot for another ten years.

What it means for the 2022 election: Vizquel received 49.1% of the vote last year, but his popularity has plummeted in the wake of domestic violence allegations from his second wife, as well as a lawsuit filed in August by a former Birmingham Barons batboy accusing Vizquel of sexual harassment while he was the team’s manager in 2019. (At the time, the White Sox investigated the allegations and ended their association with Vizquel.) Early results for 2022, on the other hand, show Vizquel falling all the way to 10%.

Vizquel was always going to be a tough choice, having won 11 Gold Gloves and being featured on SportsCenter for his web gems. He lasted an eternity, playing his last game at the age of 45 and amassing 2,877 hits. His defensive numbers don’t quite match his reputation, with a lifetime WAR of 45.6, much below Hall’s norm. Vizquel will ultimately go to a Veterans Committee, since his support from the BBWAA seems to be in jeopardy, and he’s exactly the sort of player they’ve appreciated in the past. We’ll see how he’s received in the future.


Barry Bonds, Mike Trout (! ), and Carlos Beltran are in the outfield.

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Bryce Harper, Ken Griffey Jr., and Bo Jackson all exceeded expectations. Gregg Jefferies and Todd Van Poppel? Not at all. Here’s the one player we thought would be your team’s next big thing. Schoenfield, David

The focus of Jones’ case is on his defense. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves in center field, demonstrating that he was the finest since Willie Mays — and maybe even better than Mays. He pitched shallow, had incredible first-step intuition, and improved the legendary Braves rotation. In addition, he blasted 434 home runs, including 51 in 2005, when he placed second in MVP voting. Those stats were amazing, but they occurred at a time when many other players were putting up much more spectacular figures. Only once did Jones rank in the top ten in his league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, or OPS — in his 51-homer season, he was sixth in slugging. His counting numbers aren’t up to par for a Hall of Fame outfielder since he crashed at the age of 30.

Abreu was undeniably one of the most underappreciated players of the last quarter-century, with astonishing pace despite his stature. He was a competent right fielder early in his career, was durable, hit for average (six.300 seasons), got on base owing to his great eye at the bat (.395 lifetime OBP), drove in 100 runs eight times, stole 400 bases, and was a solid right fielder. However, Abreu’s best years were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the offensive climate was very hostile. He was only selected to two All-Star teams and never placed in the top ten in MVP voting. From 1998 to 2004, he had seven consecutive 5-WAR seasons, but never a 4-WAR season after that. He’s your typical underestimated candidate, but his case is built on that seven-year high point.

What it implies for the 2022 election: Jones and Sheffield are the two to watch, with both polling slightly around 50%. According to history, once a player reaches 50%, he will finally be admitted. Sheffield is on his ninth ballot, so time is running out for him, at least in terms of the BBWAA component of the process. Ramirez is in PED purgatory, while Abreu’s PED level is in the low teens, which is enough to keep him on the ballot, but he has to demonstrate some growth.


Roger Clemens is the starting pitcher.

When he’ll probably get in: Umm…

Keep in mind that McGwire has previously been turned down by the veterans committee on many occasions. Granted, Bonds and Clemens were much better athletes, possibly the finest position player and pitcher of all time, but the Hall of Fame players, who normally make up half of the 16 electors, seem to be adamantly opposed to PED users.

Justin Verlander, Curt Schilling, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Kevin Brown, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and David Cone are the next pitchers in line.

There are four pitchers:

Pitcher A: 213-155, 3.33 ERA, 125 ERA+, 3473 IP, 66.4 WAR; Pitcher B: 213-155, 3.33 ERA, 125 ERA+, 3473 IP, 66.4 WAR

Pitcher B has a 203-105 record, a 3.38 ERA, a 131 ERA+, 2749 innings pitched, and a 65.4 WAR.

Pitcher C has a 211-144 record, a 3.28 ERA, a 127 ERA+, 3256 innings pitched, and a 68.2 WAR.

Pitcher D has a 219-132 record, a 3.41 ERA, a 123 ERA+, 3110 innings pitched, and a 68.0 WAR.

John Smoltz is the starting pitcher (elected on first ballot). Roy Halladay is Pitcher B. (elected on first ballot). Pitcher C is a brown pitcher (lasted one ballot). Greinke is pitcher D. (could be elected on first ballot).

What this implies for the 2022 election: Schilling received 71 percent of the vote last year, and he should have been elected five years ago, before he set his own case on fire. He wanted to be removed off this year’s ballot, but was rejected, and it now seems that his percentage will drop. Schilling is considerably above the average Hall of Fame pitcher, particularly given his playoff record (11-2, 2.23 ERA over 133 innings). I believe the Today’s Game committee will include him — maybe in December.


Billy Wagner (relief pitcher)

When he’ll most likely be admitted: 2025

He’s on his sixth ballot now, with a tiny upward trend but still hovering around 50%. In 2025, he could get that last-ballot push.

Joe Nathan, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenley Jansen are next in line.

Nathan is on his first ballot, and despite having a career that is quite comparable to Wagner’s, it seems that he will not get the 5% required to stay on the ballot. Kimbrel’s prospects of being inducted into the Hall of Fame seemed to be fading until 2021. With some of the most dominating bullpen seasons of the modern closer era, Wagner is currently eighth on the all-time saves record, but the knock against him is that he only has 903 career innings, whereas Kimbrel has 628. Schilling, for example, pitched nearly 500 innings in only the 2001-02 season.

What this implies for the 2022 ballot: If Wagner can reach 50%, I think he has a good shot, particularly since the ballot’s general quality has deteriorated with the departure of Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Sosa (and possibly Ortiz, if he gets in). For a borderline player like Wagner, the fewer choices the better. Keep in mind that most people prefer to elect players: While the BBWAA may have thrown that shutout, the average ballot has 7.8 votes so far, indicating that the voters can’t agree on who players to vote for.

The “baseball players who will never be in the hall of fame” is a list of baseball players who were great at their positions, but are not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Frequently Asked Questions

What pitcher has the most wins not in the Hall of Fame?

A: That would be the pitcher, Jered Weaver. He has 147 wins not in the Hall of Fame and is currently a free agent.

Who has the most home runs without being in the Hall of Fame?

A: Babe Ruth has the most home runs without being in the Hall of Fame. he retired after their 1938 season and died before his plaque was erected in Cooperstown, New York

Who has the least hits in the Hall of Fame?

A: The player with no hits in the Hall of Fame is Giantz.

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