The best player not in the HOF for every team

January 27th, 2021

With the 2021 BBWAA election results announced Tuesday, MLB.com's beat reporters took the time to rank the five best players from each franchise who are not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Players were only considered for a club if they spent a significant amount of time playing for that team.

Below is a look at the top player from all 30 teams, as well as team-by-team links to more in-depth breakdowns, with the following notations:

* - Not yet on the BBWAA ballot
^ - Currently on BBWAA ballot
# - No longer on BBWAA ballot

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Dave Stieb#, RHP
Key fact: Blue Jays’ all-time leader in wins (175), starts (408) and innings (2,873)

Stieb’s greatness is appreciated by Blue Jays fans -- particularly those who watched the right-hander pitch through the 1980s -- but his name still doesn’t receive the respect it deserves around baseball. The seven-time All Star won 175 games for the Blue Jays and was one of the league’s most dominant starters for a decade. Whether you prefer sustained success or peaks of greatness, Stieb has something to satisfy your argument. More >

Orioles: Rafael Palmeiro#, 1B
Key fact: He is one of six Major Leaguers with at least 3,000 career hits and 500 home runs

We’re considering entire careers more than Baltimore tenures for this exercise, and while there are more iconic lifelong Orioles lower on Baltimore's list, none can match the overall résumé of Palmeiro. The reasons Palmeiro isn’t in Cooperstown are what complicate his legacy: Despite his elite numbers, the first baseman quickly fell off the Hall of Fame ballot because of his ties to performance-enhancing drugs and his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. More >

Rays: Fred McGriff#, 1B
Key fact: He was a five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and a World Series champion who finished his career with 2,490 hits and 493 home runs

McGriff was part of the inaugural Rays team, playing with the franchise from 1998-2001. In his time with Tampa Bay, McGriff was a very productive player, hitting 32 home runs and posting a .957 OPS at 35 years old in ’99. The fact that McGriff was still producing at that age wasn’t a surprise: All he did was rake, and he did it for 19 years. He was on the ballot for 10 years, but he never got enough votes to make the Hall of Fame. More >

*Red Sox: David Ortiz, DH**
Key fact: One of four players all-time with 500 homers and 600 doubles

Big Papi is the rare player who ended his career with one of his finest seasons. In 2016, at the age of 40, Ortiz led the Majors in doubles (48), slugging percentage (.620) and OPS (1.021). Ortiz will be on the ballot for the first time next year. His hitting numbers are obviously Cooperstown-worthy. In fact, as the Red Sox were pushing toward a World Series championship in 2013, teammates started calling Ortiz “Cooperstown.” That ring in ’13 was the third Ortiz secured in his time with the Red Sox, and he hit .688 against the Cardinals in that Fall Classic. More >

*Yankees: Alex Rodriguez, SS/3B**
Key fact: 696 career home runs (fourth all-time)

A-Rod completed his 22-year career with 696 home runs, fourth all-time behind Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714). A three-time AL MVP who collected 3,115 hits, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner and two-time Gold Glove winner. He played a dozen seasons in pinstripes beginning in 2004, compiling a .283/.378/.523 slash line with 351 homers, 1,096 RBIs, a 136 OPS+ and 54.0 bWAR while winning his only World Series title in 2009. He had a 117.5 bWAR overall with the Mariners, Rangers and Yankees from 1994-2016. Rodriguez will debut on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2022, a candidacy that presents an opportunity for voters to weigh his stellar stats against a suspension related to performance-enhancing drug use that cost Rodriguez the entire 2014 season. More >

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Kenny Lofton#, OF
Key fact: One of seven players all-time with 600 steals and 100 homers

Lofton’s career slash line is impressive -- hitting .299/.372/.423 from 1991-2007 -- with 622 stolen bases, 781 RBIs and a 107 OPS+, but it wasn’t enough to convince Hall of Fame voters. Though his numbers did not make him a lock for induction, it was surprising that the former center fielder didn’t receive enough votes to stay on the ballot for more than one year. A case could also be made to feature Manny Ramirez or Omar Vizquel -- each of whom is currently on the ballot -- in this spot. More >

Royals: Frank White#, 2B
Key facts: Five All-Star Games, eight Gold Glove Awards

White’s legacy is that he is one of the greatest defensive second basemen in baseball history. He held Kansas City's club record for Gold Glove Awards until recently, when Alex Gordon tied him with eight. White, the best success story of the once-famed Royals Baseball Academy in the 1970s, had a storied career with Kansas City that included the '80 ALCS MVP Award. More >

Tigers: Lou Whitaker#, 2B
Key facts: 1978 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, five All-Star selections, three Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards

Whitaker’s 75.1 bWAR ranks 80th all-time and 51st among position players. He has a higher WAR than Michigan native and former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 2020 in his first year on the ballot. When Whitaker retired after the 1995 season, he was one of just three second basemen all-time with 1,000 runs, 1,000 RBIs, 2,000 hits and 200 home runs, alongside Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby and Joe Morgan. More >

*Twins: Joe Mauer, C/1B**
Key fact: Will become eligible on 2024 ballot

Mauer still has a few years to go before he will join the ballot, but he clearly represents the Twins' best chance at having another inductee in Cooperstown in the near future. Though concussion issues forced a move from catcher to first base in the later years of his career, both Mauer's accumulation of offensive stats across his 15-year career and his unmatched peak at the catcher position give him a strong case for inclusion. More >

White Sox: Minnie Minoso#, OF
Key fact: Played 17 seasons across five decades

Let’s not just limit this choice to the White Sox. Minoso is one of the best players in the history of the game not in the Hall of Fame. He logged at-bats in 1964 at age 38, in '76 at age 50 and in '80 at 54. The Cuban native, who passed away at age 89 in 2015, was a dynamic presence on the field. Minoso became the first Black player in franchise history, debuting for the White Sox on May 1, 1951, when he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw against the Yankees. More >

AL WEST

Angels: Bobby Grich#, 2B
Key fact: He was a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and one-time Silver Slugger

Grich played 10 of his 17 seasons in the Majors with the Angels, and he is almost universally viewed as one of the most deserving of enshrinement among players not in the Hall of Fame. Grich did just about everything well as an elite second baseman, racking up 71 WAR during his career. That's good for eighth all-time among second basemen and puts him ahead of several Hall of Fame second basemen such as Frankie Frisch, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio. Grich is a member of both the Orioles and Angels Halls of Fame, but the 71-year-old is still waiting for a potential call to Cooperstown, which would have to come via the Modern Baseball Committee at this point. More >

Astros: Lance Berkman#, OF/1B
Key fact: His 52 bWAR is first among switch-hitters with fewer than 1,900 games played

Lance Berkman, an outfielder turned first baseman, performed at a Hall of Fame caliber at his peak in the mid-2000s and played in 1,879 regular-season games in 15 seasons, amassing a .293 batting average, 422 doubles, 366 home runs, 1,234 RBIs and a .943 OPS that ranks 25th in Major League history. Still, he fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2019 after receiving only 1.2% the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote in his first year. More >

Athletics: Mark McGwire#, 1B
Key fact: 583 career home runs (11th all-time)

Through the late 1980s and '90s, McGwire appeared to be a lock for the Hall of Fame as he ascended to superstardom as one of the top sluggers of his generation before his retirement in 2001. But by the time he became eligible for the Hall of Fame, McGwire had been linked to baseball’s controversy surrounding performance-enhancing drugs, with the legitimacy of his dominant statistics being called into question. With his time on the ballot to be voted in having come and gone, McGwire’s only way in now would be a selection through the Today's Game Committee. More >

*Mariners: Alex Rodriguez, SS/3B**
Key fact: 696 career home runs (fourth all-time)

As mentioned above in the Yankees section, this one obviously comes with some controversy -- and we’re certainly not suggesting that Rodriguez will be the next former Mariner inducted into Cooperstown given his association with performance-enhancing drugs and a suspension that led to him missing the entire 2014 season while with the Yankees. Still, in a 22-year career that began with seven seasons at shortstop in Seattle, A-Rod racked up 696 home runs, fourth on MLB’s all-time list behind only Bonds, Aaron and Ruth. He’s also fourth in RBIs behind Aaron, Ruth and Albert Pujols. Rodriguez doesn’t just rank among the best former Mariners, he stands firmly among baseball’s all-time greats and was a 14-time All-Star and three-time MVP Award winner. More >

*Rangers: Adrián Beltré, 3B**
Key fact: One of seven players all-time with 450 homers and 600 doubles

Beltré should be the next Rangers player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He is eligible in 2024. When he retired two years ago, it was fashionable to pronounce Beltré as an automatic first-ballot Hall of Famer. That initial exuberance may fade over the five-year waiting period, but he is one of the best third basemen in the history of the game, so his induction is only a matter of time. More >

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Dale Murphy#, OF
Key facts: Two-time NL MVP Award winner (1982 and ’83), seven-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, five-time Gold Glove winner

Murphy stands with Roger Maris as the only players who have not been elected to the Hall of Fame after winning consecutive MVP Awards. At the end of the 1987 season, a 31-year-old Murphy had compiled 310 homers and an .862 OPS over 6,383 plate appearances. Even when accounting for a steady decline, it was easy to project Murphy would easily surpass the 400-homer mark and keep his career OPS around .850. He averaged 36 homers from '82-87, but he never again hit more than 24 in a season as he battled bad knees while struggling over his final six seasons. More >

Marlins: Gary Sheffield^, OF
Key fact: Hit 509 career home runs, including 42-homer season with Marlins in 1996

A member of MLB’s famed “500 Home Run Club,” Sheffield finished with 509 home runs in his impactful 22-year career. The Tampa, Fla., native played for eight different teams, with his longest tenure coming with the Marlins for parts of six seasons. As a Marlin, Sheffield hit .288/.426/.543 with 122 home runs and 380 RBIs. With his famous bat waggle, Sheffield’s stance was mimicked by a generation of young players, and he certainly looked to do damage every time up. Sheffield’s 42 home runs in 1996 stood as the single-season franchise record until Giancarlo Stanton blasted 59 in 2017. A nine-time All-Star, Sheffield was a big part of the Marlins’ 1997 World Series championship team. More >

Mets: Keith Hernandez#, 1B
Key fact: 11-time Gold Glove Award winner

It is with bewilderment that many around the game accept Hernandez’s continued absence from the Hall of Fame. The 1979 National League MVP Award winner and arguably the greatest first base defender in history, Hernandez was also one of the purest left-handed hitters of his generation. He retired with a .296 career average, 162 home runs, 426 doubles and of course a record 11 Gold Glove Awards as a first baseman over 17 seasons with the Cardinals, Mets and Indians. Anecdotally, he was the soul of the '86 World Series champion Mets. More >

Nationals: Jeff Reardon#, RHP
Key fact: 367 career saves (10th in MLB history)

From 1979-94, Reardon closed out games around the league. The right-hander played for the Expos from ’81-86, as well as for the Mets, Twins, Red Sox, Braves, Reds and Yankees. He earned four All-Star selections, led the National League with 41 saves in ’85 while in Montreal and won a World Series in ’87 with Minnesota. Reardon’s only year on the Hall of Fame ballot came in 2000 when he received just 24 votes (4.8 percent), not quite enough to remain on the ballot. More >

Phillies: Dick Allen#, 1B
Key fact: He earned the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year Award, 1972 AL MVP Award and seven All-Star selections

The late Allen deserves his spot in Cooperstown after slashing .292/.378/.534 with 351 home runs, 1,119 RBIs, a .912 OPS and a 156 OPS+ in a 15-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and A’s. From 1964-74, he posted a 58.3 bWAR, tied with Willie Mays for sixth place among position players in that 11-year span, behind Hank Aaron (68.8), Carl Yastrzemski (68.2), Roberto Clemente (64.7), Ron Santo (60.1) and Brooks Robinson (59.4). Pete Rose (58.0), Frank Robinson (55.3) and Joe Morgan (54.0) rounded out the top 10. More >

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Cecil Cooper#, 1B
Key fact: 30.8 bWAR is fourth in club history behind Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Ryan Braun

Perennially underappreciated on a Brewers team with future Hall of Famers Yount and Molitor, Cooper batted .298 for his career while making five All-Star teams, winning three Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves, topping 200 hits three times, finishing in the top 5 in AL MVP balloting three times and posting career numbers comparable to Don Mattingly’s -- Cooper’s No. 1 comp by Baseball-Reference’s similarity scores. Yet, Cooper dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot without a single vote in his one year of eligibility in 1993. More >

Cardinals: Scott Rolen^, 3B
Key fact: His career bWAR of 70.1 is ninth-best among third basemen all-time

Rolen's Hall of Fame candidacy is on a positive trajectory: he appeared on 52.9% of ballots in his most recent appearance, a significant jump from the 35.3% share he received in 2020 and 17.2% he received in '19. More >

Cubs: Sammy Sosa^, OF
Key fact: Only player in MLB history to hit 60-plus homers in three seasons

Sosa's numbers are undeniably Cooperstown worthy. It seems that the main reason behind the all-time slugger's struggle to gain entry into the Hall of Fame has been lingering suspicions over how he went about compiling his powerful home run feats. Still, Sosa is the Cubs' home run king with 545 of his 609 career blasts coming with the North Siders. In 1998, Slammin' Sammy captivated the nation, alongside Mark McGwire, in the pursuit of Roger Maris' previous single-season record of 61 home runs. Sosa finished with 66 homers (second to McGwire's 70) and won the NL MVP Award. More >

Pirates: Barry Bonds^, OF
Key fact: 762 career home runs (most in MLB history)

Bonds still has a chance to get off this list, but his percentage of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote barely increased from 60.7% in 2020 to 61.8% in '21. The question now is whether a relatively unclogged ballot -- and a lack of obvious first-ballot Hall of Famers, unlike in years past -- will clear the way for players like him and Roger Clemens before they fall off the ballot in '22. More >

Reds: Pete Rose#, OF/1B
Key fact: All-time leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562) and at-bats (14,053)

One of the biggest flashpoints of controversy in any Hall of Fame debate, Rose would have seen his plaque in Cooperstown decades ago had he not been banned from Major League Baseball since 1989 for betting on games while managing the Reds. Although MLB has no say in the voting process, the Hall of Fame determined that any player on the league’s ineligible list is unable to be inducted. More >

NL WEST

D-backs: Curt Schilling^, RHP
Key fact: 2.23 ERA in 19 career postseason starts, including 2.06 in seven World Series outings (split 2001 World Series MVP Award with Randy Johnson)

Schilling failed to reach the 75% voting threshold for election in 2021, and so until that happens, he will top this list for the D-backs. Acquired by then-GM Joe Garagiola Jr. prior to the Trade Deadline in 2000 in what was more of a heist than a trade -- the Phillies received Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla in return -- Schilling took his career to another level in Arizona. More >

*Dodgers: Adrián Beltré, 3B**
Key fact: One of seven players all-time with 450 homers and 600 doubles

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager and rushed to the big leagues at age 19, Beltré's unceremonious departure after 6 1/2 seasons in one of the more ill-advised decisions in club annals left Dodgers fans wondering what might have been. After stops in Seattle and Boston, Beltré went on to a Hall of Fame trajectory with the Rangers: He’s a five-time Gold Glove winner, a four-time All-Star and a four-time Silver Slugger -- but the only hardware he won as a Dodger was one Silver Slugger. More >

Giants: Barry Bonds^, OF
Key fact: 762 career home runs (most in MLB history)

As mentioned above in the Pirates section, Bonds obviously possesses enough credentials to merit a place in Cooperstown, but his Hall of Fame candidacy has been put on hold due to his links to performance-enhancing drugs. He received 61.8% of the vote in 2021 and will enter his final year on the ballot with little momentum propelling him toward the 75% threshold required for induction. More >

Padres: Gary Sheffield^, OF
Key fact: He racked up 509 homers and 60.5 WAR over 22 seasons

Sheffield spent only two seasons in San Diego, but they were two of the best seasons of his brilliant 22-year career. In 1992, Sheffield flirted with winning the NL batting Triple Crown. He settled for the batting title and a .330/.385/.580 slash line with 33 home runs. (Sheffield is still the only Padre not named Tony Gwynn to win a batting crown.) He spent time with eight franchises, amassing 509 homers and a 60.5 career WAR. But perhaps because of concerns over performance-enhancing drugs, Sheffield received 40.6% of the Hall of Fame vote in 2021 and seems unlikely to reach the 75-percent threshold necessary for enshrinement. More >

Rockies: Todd Helton^, 1B
Key fact: One of eight players all-time with at least 350 homers and a .315 batting average

Helton's No. 17 is the only retired number in club history, and his 17-season career -- all with the Rockies -- is one that can compare to the greatest players of all time. For the numbers-oriented among us, Helton’s 61.8 bWAR is the franchise record, and with a .316 career batting average, a .414 on-base percentage, 2,519 hits, 592 doubles and 369 home runs, he's got a strong statistical argument for getting off this list. More >