Will we see any Detroit Tigers reach Hall of Fame in next decade?


Will we see any Detroit Tigers reach Hall of Fame in next decade?

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Michigan native and former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will join another Michigan native, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker and Marvin Miller in the 2020 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And while Jeter was a lock to get the call from Cooperstown, the future classes aren’t as clear cut. 

ESPN writer David Schoenfield dusted off his crystal ball to predict which players will make the Hall of Fame from 2021-29. 

The biggest question for Detroit Tigers fans continues to be: will Lou Whitaker ever get in? The second baseman of the 1984 World Series champs was denied entry both through the traditional vote and via the Modern Era committee vote last month. 

But, according to Schoenfield, Whitaker should clear his calendar for 2023. That is the next time the Modern Era will have a chance to add to the Hall. 

Lou Whitaker (Photo: Taro Yamasaki, DETROIT FREE PRESS)

“Lou Whitaker was on the 2020 ballot and received six of the 16 votes, but he’s an extremely well-qualified candidate (75.1 WAR) and had the long career the veterans committee seems to like. Dwight Evans is a personal favorite and received eight votes in 2020, so he just needs to sway three more committee members, but I think Whitaker leapfrogs him into Cooperstown,” Schoenfield wrote.

[ Tigers do the right thing for Lou Whitaker that the Hall of Fame refused to ]

The writer has Whitaker being joined by former Red Sox designated hitter David Oritz, who, like Jeter, has a celebrated postseason history – just ask the 2013 Tigers – but has a PED history that has hindered Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds from Hall of Fame entry.

(Side note: 2022 will be the last year for Clemens and Bonds on the ballot if they don’t get in next year, and the first year for another steroid superstar, Alex Rodriguez. Schoenfield doesn’t have any of the three getting in.)

Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera gets set to bat in the first inning on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski USA TODAY Sports)

In 2024, Schoenfield has another former Tiger getting in, along with former infielders Adrian Beltre (in his first year of eligibility) and Jeff Kent. 

“Jim Leyland has yet to appear on a ballot and while his .506 career winning percentage isn’t great, he’s 17th on the all-time wins list, won a World Series, made eight trips to the playoffs and was always popular and well respected,” Schoenfield wrote.

Fast forward to 2029, the final year covered, and the first year for Miguel Cabrera. Schoenfield assumes that Cabrera will hang ’em up after the 2023 season, when he’ll be 40. The writer has Cabrera as a no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Fame, hard to argue considering the Triple Crown and the pair of MVP awards.

How this for a possible Hall of Fame class of 2029: Cabrera, Joe Mauer, Kenny Lofton and Terry Francona (who was a coach with the Tigers, once upon a time).

More on Miggy: Slugger works out in preparation for 2020 season with … Gronk?

Tigers Manager Jim Leyland on the first day of Tiger Spring Training in Lakeland, Florida on Friday February 16, 2007.  (Photo: JULIAN H. GONZALEZ, Detroit Free Press)

Pitcher signed

The Tigers signed left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago to a minor-league deal and have invited him to spring training. Santiago, 32, has 139 career appearances, 65 starts, and has a 47-50 record with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.389 WHIP.

He was 1-1 with a 6.68 ERA and a 1.901 WHIP in 19 appearances between the Mets and White Sox, including two starts for Chicago.

Top prospects

Baseball America has ranked the top 100 prospects entering the 2020 season, and five players in the Tigers organization have made the list. 

Right-handed pitchers Casey Mize and Matt Manning are in the top 20, at No. 13 and 17 respectively. Mize, the top pick in the 2018 draft and regarded the team’s top prospect by Baseball Prospectus, and Manning, the ninth overall pick in 2016, were in the Erie rotation in Double-A last season.

[ Will Mize, Manning pitch for Tigers in 2020? Avila: ‘I would say yeah’ ]

Lefty Tarik Skubal, who also splashed in Double-A last season, is ranked 34th. Outfielder Riley Greene, the Tigers’ first-round pick last summer, is 49th. Infielder Isaac Paredes checks in at 100. 

All the prospects listed, except Greene, have been invited to major league spring training.

Contact Kirkland Crawford: kcrawford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.

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