With Andruw Jones’ current voting numbers, it doesn’t look promising that he’ll succeed Chipper Jones as the next Braves’ player in the Hall. Could time on the ballot benefit him? Absolutely, but let’s assume the voters continue to think that his early exit and 67 career fWAR isn’t enough to enshrine him. Who could be next? The obvious answer would be Freddie Freeman, but is it so obvious?
First, let me address that it will probably not be Tim Hudson. Tim amassed 52 career fWAR in his 18 year career, which puts him with the likes of Mark Buerhle, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Appier, Roy Oswalt, and Bartolo Colon, guys that probably won’t make the Hall. Of more historical examples, you’ve got Vida Blue and people you probably haven’t heard of because, of course, they weren’t noteworthy enough to make the Hall. Luis Tiant, perhaps a name you’re more familiar with, produced a few more fWAR, and he couldn’t get through the committee. So we probably won’t see Tim in Cooperstown.
As a point of formality, I don’t see anyone else eliciting a conversation. Andrelton Simmons, entering his age-28 season, has already amassed 19.7 fWAR, but let’s not re-open those wounds. If he played until he was 41 like Ozzie Smith did, and his bat continues to develop, he could get into the 70 fWAR territory that really gets players some consideration. But even if he did, he wouldn’t have Atlanta on his cap, so it’s moot.
So, really, it’s Freddie. He’s entering his age-28 season, and he’s accumulated 25.3 fWAR so far. By Chipper Jones’ age-28 season, he was at 27.4 fWAR, and he debuted at age 23 like Freddie did. Within that time, Chipper had produced two 7 fWAR seasons, something Freddie has not been able to do, but Chipper would not have another one until a resurgent age-36 season. So let’s assume that Freddie continues to have a 5 fWAR peak for the next 5 seasons, then he begins a traditional decline. That would give him around 50 fWAR by age-33, then it would depend on how he declines. If he can muster a graceful decline for the next 5 seasons at 3.5 fWAR, then he’ll end his age-38 season with 67.5 fWAR. At that point, he would be right on the bubble with guys like Jim Thome (69 fWAR and currently receiving 93% of the vote) and Edgar Martinez (65.5 fWAR and currently getting 80% of the vote).
Is fWAR too simple to determine a player’s Hall of Fame credentials? Have I over-stated or under-stated his peak and/or decline? Heaven forbid, did I forget anyone?