Ranking the 5 Minnesota Twins players with the Best Chance at the HOF
By Otto Johnson
The Minnesota Twins currently don’t have any players on the Hall of Fame Ballot, so we took at the five players that have the best chance of making the Hall.
Yesterday we took a look at five of the best players in Minnesota Twins history that aren’t currently in the Hall of Fame. We made a few notable inclusions, as there were some players who aren’t yet eligible.
Those players, coupled with a few others have not yet bet inducted into the Hall, still have a chance of making it into the Hall of Fame over the next fifteen years. In honor of that, we break down five players who have a really solid chance at making it into the Hall of Fame and we make the case for their inclusion. Let’s get started.
Minnesota Twins Honorable Mention:
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 2022
Making the Case For: Justin Morneau becomes Hall of Fame Eligible in 2022 as part of a top-heavy group that includes Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira, and several other players with WARS in the 20s. If several holdovers make it into the Hall in 2021, a weak class will help Morneau’s chances in getting enough votes to stay on the ballot.
Making the Case Against: Morneau isn’t really a Hall of Fame level player. His MVP award helps, but his numbers are merely very good for a first baseman and his peak wasn’t exceptional. He may make it on the ballot, but he’ll be gone within three years.
Final Prediction: Misses the Hall of Fame after two years on ballot. Despite being a star for a time, Morneau joins Kent Hrbek and Joe Judge as first basemen for the franchise in the Hall of Very Good.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 1%
No. 5: Minnesota Twins’ Joe Nathan
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 2022
Making the Case For: You may be surprised to see Joe Nathan on this list, as relievers aren’t often Hall of Famers. The exception is when they rack up a lot of saves, something Nathan did a lot of. Nathan is ninth all-time in saves, and four of the players ahead of him are in the hall, with a fifth one continuing to rise up the leaderboards (Billy Wagner).
Nathan also benefits from weak classes from 2020-2023, where he stands out as the most dominant reliever added to the ballot until Craig Kimbrel is eligible. This all greatly benefits Nathan, who would be helped even more if Wagner makes it in.
Making the Case Against: He’s a reliever, and he didn’t break four hundred saves in his career. Nathan didn’t become a closer until he was traded to the Twins at the age of 29. He also was only great for about nine years and they weren’t all consecutive. Never winning a title hurts his case too.
His only Hall of Fame indicator that looks good is his Hall of Fame Monitor, as his JAWS and Gray Ink marks are okay at best. Plus, with Wagner on the ballot he has to compete with another reliever, hurting his chances.
Final Prediction: It will take years, but Nathan waits patiently until Wagner makes it in, making Nathan far and away the best reliever on the ballot. Nathan then continues to build momentum before being elected in one of his later tries on the ballot.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 45%
No. 4: Minnesota Twins’ Torii Hunter
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 2021
Making the Case For: They say defense wins championships, so Torii Hunter will need to take that claim to the Hall voters. Hunter won nine Gold Glove awards, was a five-time All-Star, and won a Silver Slugger twice. It also helps that he hit 353 homers and built an excellent career as a lovable star in the league.
He benefits from being the top player in a very poor 2021 class, with Tim Hudson, Aramis Ramirez, and Mark Buerhle the only players who might stick on the ballot with him. The 2022 class isn’t much better, allowing Hunter a couple of years to establish himself as the top vote-getters Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds finally make the leap.
Omar Vizquel is a player who has worse stats than Hunter but his defense, likability, and weak competition have helped get 52.7% of votes in just his third year on the ballot. A similar movement could help Hunter.
Making the Case Against: Similar to Morneau, Hunter’s stats aren’t THAT good. 353 homers doesn’t set him very high. He only had 195 steals and a .272 batting average. His career defensive WAR is just 4.0. These aren’t marks that will get him in as a lock.
2022 is a weak class, but at the same time the top is very heavy. He will be leapfrogged by Rodriguez, Ortiz, Teixeira, and probably Jimmy Rollins. If he isn’t established by 2023, Carlos Beltran joins the list and Beltran has a World Series win and better offensive numbers.
Final Verdict: Hunter has a good shot at the Hall of Fame due to his defense. However, despite being a better player than Nathan, Hunter’s road to the Hall is a bit rockier. He still does have the Veterans Committee afterwards, so keep an eye on him.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 30%
No. 3: Minnesota Twins’ Jim Kaat
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 1989
Making the Case For: We talked about Jim Kaat and his chances of making the Hall, but we’ll go a little more in depth here. One of the better pitchers in the 1960s and 1970s, Kaat was a stellar defender that has taken home 16 Gold Glove awards and won a World Series.
His defense alone should have helped him land a spot in the Hall, and his Hall of Fame monitor put him at a 130, well above the likely Hall of Fame number of 100. Unfortunately he never received more than 29.6% of the vote over his fifteen years and was sent to the veterans committee.
Kaat is a member of the Golden Days and is voted on by the Golden Days committee and has ten of the twelve votes needed to be inducted in. The committee votes this year for the first time since 2014, and if Kaat gets two more votes, he’s in.
Making the Case Against: Kaat’s stats aren’t that fantastic and he didn’t come close to making the Hall of Fame from BBWAA voting. It’s even harder to make it in through the specific committees, as only one player has been elected by the Golden Days committee: Ron Santo in 2011.
In addition, Kaat has remained at ten votes in both of the last two elections, while two players have jumped ahead of him in the voting. He has a legitimate shot, but there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic.
Final Prediction: Kaat misses the cut in 2016 as the two players ahead of him make it in instead. Kaat then is finally elected when the Golden Days committee votes again in 2025.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 75%
No. 2: Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 2024
Making the Case For: Joe Mauer is a six-time All-Star with three batting titles, three Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger awards, and an MVP to his name. His seven-year peak at catcher rank him seventh all time according to JAWS.
He was the face of a successful franchise (during his peak) and was on pace to being a first ballot player before his knees gave out. Mauer was a solid first baseman from 2014 on, hitting for good average and playing very good defense.
Making the Case Against: The flip side to everything listed above, is that his knees did give out. Mauer struggled over the back half of his career, and never made it to the World Series. He wasn’t Hall of Fame quality at first, and again his team didn’t win.
Final Prediction: He won’t be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but Mauer is almost a lock to make the Hall. If he fails to make it during his fifteen years on the ballot (which could be likely), he will easily be inducted by the Today’s Game Committee.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 90%
No. 1: Minnesota Twins’ Tony Oliva
When is Player Ballot Eligible: 1982
Making the Case For: Tony Oliva is thought of as one of the best players to not make the Hall of Fame. Oliva was a very well-rounded player who (like Mauer) was a shoe-in for the Hall before knee injuries slowed him down.
Regardless, an eight time All-Star and three-time batting champ should have received more than 47.3% of the vote. Oliva now waits for the Golden Days committee to decide for him whether he will make the Hall, and his odds look good.
In the two Golden Era (it was changed to Golden Days recently) votes prior to this year’s upcoming one, Oliva went from eight to eleven votes, just one shy of the twelve vote threshold. All he needs is one more voter to join his side.
Making the Case Against: The same argument against Kaat works against Oliva. Very few players are elected through the committee process, so it is isn’t easy. But Oliva only needs one more vote, so he should have a better shot.
Final Prediction: Oliva finally makes it over the hump in 2020, becoming the Minnesota Twins’ eleventh Hall of Famer. If he doesn’t make it this year, he’ll make it the next round. He’s a lock.
Chance of Making it into the Hall of Fame: 100%