Here is the best player not in the Hall of Fame for every team

February 5th, 2022

Red Sox legend David Ortiz became a first-ballot Hall of Famer on Jan. 25, when the 2022 BBWAA election results were announced on MLB Network. He joined the Hall's Class of 2022, along with six earlier selections from the Golden Days and Early Baseball Era committees.

But there are still many greats from the game's rich history who are not enshrined in Cooperstown. Below is a look at the top player not in the Hall from each of the 30 teams, considering only those who are currently retired and spent a significant amount of time playing for that club.

+ - 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 BBWAA ballot for 10 years, but he never got enough votes to make the Hall of Fame. More >

Red Sox: Roger Clemens#, RHP
Key fact: His seven career Cy Young Awards are two more than any other pitcher has

While Ortiz cruised into the Hall on his first try in 2022, Clemens fell off the ballot after coming up short in his 10th and final year of eligibility. The Rocket's on-field accomplishments have never been the issue -- the Cy Youngs, the two 20-strikeout games, the 354 wins and the 4,672 strikeouts (third all-time). Instead, ties to performance-enhancing drugs kept Clemens from gaining enough support, and his case now will move on to the Hall's Era Committees. 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 debuted on the ballot this year but received only 34.3% support, with voters weighing his stellar stats against a suspension related to performance-enhancing drug use that cost Rodriguez the entire 2014 season. More >

AL CENTRAL

Guardians: 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 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 BBWAA 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 couple 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: Dick Allen#, 1B/3B
Key fact: Among players with 7,000 career plate appearances, his 156 OPS+ places him in a tie for 14th all-time with Frank Thomas

Minnie Miñoso had been the pick here, but he got his long-overdue ticket to Cooperstown in December, via the Golden Days Era Committee. However, Allen fell just one vote shy on that same ballot, having been selected on 11 of the 16 ballots instead of the necessary 12. Allen, who died in December 2020, didn't spend a long time with the White Sox -- just 348 games over three seasons. But one of those seasons was 1972, when he earned AL MVP honors by leading the league in OBP, slugging, homers, RBIs and walks. 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 21st in Major League history (minimum 7,000 plate appearances). 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 Hall of Fame, when he becomes eligible on the 2024 ballot. When Beltré wrapped up his five-year tenure in Seattle after the 2009 season, he was 30 years old and did not appear headed for the Hall. But he turned his career around in Boston in '10, then put together a spectacular eight-season run in Texas. By adding nearly 50 WAR to his career from ages 31-39, Beltré not only put himself on a path to Cooperstown but made himself a strong first-ballot contender. 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

Until Bonds came along, Murphy stood with Roger Maris as the only players who had 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. After receiving 40.6% of the vote in the Hall's 2022 cycle, Sheffield has two more chances left on the BBWAA ballot. 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 Cleveland. Anecdotally, he was the soul of the '86 World Series champion Mets. More >

Nationals/Expos: 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 -- also the White Sox pick above -- 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: Ryan Braun+, LF
Key fact: Brewers' all-time leader with 352 home runs

A six-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger who won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, the NL MVP Award in 2011 and is the Brewers’ all-time leader with 352 home runs, Braun has a statistical case for the Hall of Fame by at least one standard -- Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor. Braun scores 107 in that system, in which a likely Hall of Famer scores 100. But Braun, who was first tied to PEDs in 2011 and was among the players suspended as part of MLB’s investigation into the Biogenesis lab in 2013, said he considers his Hall chances unlikely. He'll join the ballot in 2026. 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 63.2% of ballots on his fifth ballot in 2022, a massive jump from the 10.2% he posted in his first chance in '18. He'll be the top returning candidate in '23, with a realistic chance for induction. Rolen's 70.1 career WAR ranks ninth all-time among third basemen, and all eight eligible players ahead of him on that list are already enshrined in Cooperstown. 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 (he fell off the BBWAA ballot in 2022 after 10 years of eligibility) 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. 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 it won’t come through the BBWAA voting process. In 2022, his final year, Bonds was named on 66 percent of the writers' ballots -- a solid jump from past years, but still well shy of the 75 percent threshold. Bonds' case now will move to the Today’s Game Era Committee, which could consider him as soon as 2023. 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 once again fell short of election via voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in 2022, his final year on the ballot. He could eventually be inducted via the Today’s Game Committee, but 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. He will join the BBWAA ballot in 2024, with a shot to be inducted immediately. 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 dropped off the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballot after topping out at 66 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility, well short of the 75 percent threshold required for induction. His fate now rests in the hands of the Today’s Game Era Committee, which is due to meet this December to consider candidates who made their greatest contributions to the game from 1988 to 2016. 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 2022 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. The fact that Helton climbed over the 50% mark on his fourth ballot in 2022 (receiving 52.0% of the vote) suggests that he has a realistic chance to do just that in the coming years. More >