Leaving out Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, which Detroit Tigers player stands the best chance of eventual Hall of Fame induction?
Matt Pelc: Barring injury, Jose Iglesias will be dominating SportsCenter highlights for the next 10+ years. If his career is Cooperstown-worthy that fact will help him get in more than anything else. He will have to hit more consistently, but most compare him to Omar Vizquel, who hit just .272 during his long career. And, oh by the way, Vizquel (a future Hall-of-Famer himself) is on the Tigers’ coaching staff and can be a mentor to Iglesias.
Michael Emmerich: Everyone else on the roster seems a long shot, so I’ll go with the shiny new toy, Nick Castellanos. Hey, his ZIPS projection is quite optimistic and, if he does indeed post a .749 OPS as a 22-year old third baseman, he’ll be off to a great start. Perhaps he can follow the George Kell route: finish with a modest career OPS (Kell’s was .781) and then transition into the broadcast booth for three decades and become a beloved figure in the organization.
Chris Hannum: I don’t see anyone but JV and Cabrera as having a chance at the hall… Hunter is going to fall below 2500 hits and 50 WAR (FanGraphs) when all is said and done. I suppose I’ll have to give a vote based entirely on exuberant optimism: Brad Ausmus (as a manager, of course)
Matt Snyder: Not that I think he is deserving, but I could see Torii Hunter getting into the conversation. He’s at 50 WAR for his career according to Baseball-Reference (which is more than, say, Jack Morris) and won nine gold gloves during his career. He’s currently ranked 24th in career WAR for center fielders, and could climb into the top 20 with a few more relatively productive seasons. The lack of a notable peak is what will separate him from the legitimate candidates, but I’m betting that Hunter gets votes.
Josie Parnell: Looking at the Tigers’ current roster, Torii Hunter seems to me the most deserving of a Hall of Fame nod. Through his career, Hunter has continually been asked to change his role to fit his team’s needs and each time he has excelled in his new role. While his defensive prowess may have waned, he continues to produce offensively and is an incomparable locker room presence.
Tom Zahari: Jose Iglesias is the guy that I could see making a push for the Hall. When you have the defensive capabilities of Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel, you don’t need to hit .300 to get into the Hall of Fame. If Iglesias can hit above .270 and have a long career filled with defensive plays like we saw last year, he could have a place in Cooperstown.
Sam O’Toole: I would have to say Torii Hunter. Nine Gold Gloves, four All-Star teams, over 300 homers and 1,200 RBI. His case isn’t tremendous, but he was one of the best defensive centerfielders for a decade as well as the face of the Minnesota Twins’ franchise. He is 38, but if he can add a couple more good season to his resume (in shape to do so), he has a real shot, especially with how the majority of Hall of Fame voters don’t vote for “steroid guys.”
Josh Paulisin: Besides these two future first-balloters, I’d have to say the next guy that stands the best chance has yet to set foot on the field as a Tiger. Joe Nathan.
With Mariano Rivera hanging it up, Nathan becomes first among active pitchers in saves with 341. By signing a two-year deal in Detroit, the six-time All-Star will have plenty of save opportunities, which gives him a great shot at the 400 save mark. Only five other pitchers in history have reached that plateau. Nathan holds a career 2.76 ERA, including five seasons in which he finished with a sub-2 ERA. If he continues his excellence as a Tiger, there could be a place in Cooperstown for him someday.
Scott Byrne: Probably no one? I would expect that the LeBatard controversy will force some sort of change in the election process…the Steroid Era has shrouded the issue in such uncertainty that a new set of guidelines will have to be established. But I don’t see any players other than the aforementioned that will qualify.