Now that we know who will get into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020, let’s take an early look at who might gain election in 2021.
On Tuesday, we learned that Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will be the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now that all the speculation is over and we finally got the results, many fans will start looking towards next year to determine who might gain election in 2021.
Next year’s first-time Hall of Fame class looks pretty thin; indeed, it is likely that we won’t have a single first-timer gain election in 2021. Among those who could debut on the ballot, only three have a career WAR above 35.0: Mark Buehrle (59.2), Tim Hudson (58.1), and Torii Hunter (50.1). Four more have a career WAR over 30.0: Dan Haren (35.0), Aramis Ramirez (32.6), Barry Zito (31.9), and Shane Victorino (31.6).
Hudson might have the strongest case among first-timers for 2021, though it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll get in, and he certainly won’t get in on the first try. In an era when starting pitchers aren’t collecting wins like they used to, we’re still determining what the traditional win and ERA stats mean for getting into the Hall of Fame.
Hudson collected 222 career wins (against 133 losses), while his career ERA was a solid 3.49. He also was a four-time All-Star and finished in the top six of Cy Young Award voting four times, though he didn’t place any other time. It’s possible that could be enough to eventually make it in; helping his case is the fact that Hudson is arguably the strongest pitching candidate coming up on the ballot until CC Sabathia appears in five years.
Yet the 58.1 WAR total might not be enough in the eyes of many voters. Baseball Reference lists Kevin Brown as the most comparable pitcher to Hudson, and though Brown’s career WAR was much higher at 67.8, Brown was one-and-done in 2011 (though the fact that he was linked to steroid use certainly hurt his case).