Many rising young MLB stars have the talent to some day make the Hall of Fame, a list headlined by the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr.
Similarly, the game is filled with guys such as Bryce Harper, Jacob deGrom and Manny Machado who could cement their Cooperstown cases with a few more superstar-level seasons.
But which current MLB players have already punched their HOF tickets and are virtual shoo-ins to make it in their first few years of post-retirement eligibility? Let’s examine a half-dozen all-time no-doubters who fit the bill of future baseball Hall of Famers.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
At age 29, Mike Trout still has a lot of baseball left in him. But if he retired tomorrow, in addition to making a lot of Angels fans weep, he’d be a Hall of Famer.
The rèsumè speaks for itself: Three American League MVPs and four other second-place MVP finishes. Eight All-Star appearances. A career 1.005 OPS and 75.8 WAR (by Baseball Reference’s calculation), the latter of which places him 75th all time, ahead of many HOF inductees.
Quite simply, he’s the best player of his generation. Now, if only the Halos could get him to the postseason, where he’s played just three games.
2. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
If Trout is the best player of his generation, Clayton Kershaw probably owns the title of best pitcher.
There are the three NL Cy Young Awards and one MVP. There’s the career 2.44 ERA and 2,557 strikeouts in 2,364.2 innings. And then there’s the 2020 World Series win, which finally buried any talk of Kershaw as an October choker.
3. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander will miss the entire 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery. But even if the 38-year-old never throws another pitch, his place in Cooperstown is assured.
A two-time AL Cy Young Award winner and one-time MVP, Verlander has posted a career 3.33 ERA and eclipsed the 3,000 strikeout mark, with 3,013.
4. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
With three Cy Young Awards in his trophy case, seven All-Star appearances, a 3.21 lifetime ERA and 2,822 strikeouts in 2,387.1 frames, Max Scherzer’s Hall of Fame case is sealed.
Or, if it wasn’t, Mad Max certainly sealed it by winning the 2019 World Series with the Washington Nationals, adding a ring to his impressive list of achievements.
5. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
With 489 home runs and 2,872 hits for his career, Miguel Cabrera is within striking distance of some notable counting-stats milestones.
But even if the 38-year-old fails to reach either 500 homers or 3,000 knocks, he should start polishing up his HOF induction speech.
A lifetime .313 hitter, Cabrera is a two-time MVP who has made 11 All-Star teams during 19 spectacular MLB seasons.
6. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
Albert Pujols, whom the Angels released on May 6, flexed some old-guy muscles early in 2021, hitting five homers before the end of April. That’s a cool story, but the 41-year-old three-time MVP’s HOF case was settled long ago.
With a career 629 doubles, 667 homers and 2,112 RBI, Pujols will go down as one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen.