I was asked this the other day: How many players from this year's All-Star Game will be Hall of Famers?
My quick answer: Probably more than you think. Before we answer that question, let's look back at some games of the past for reference (* indicates player started).
Hall of Famers (10): Roberto Alomar*, Wade Boggs*, Frank Thomas*, Kirby Puckett*, Cal Ripken*, Paul Molitor, Tony Gwynn*, Ozzie Smith*, Greg Maddux*, Barry Larkin.
Future Hall of Famers (3): Ken Griffey Jr.*, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson.
Probably make it (4): Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza*, Mike Mussina, Ivan Rodriguez*.
Who knows (1): Barry Bonds*.
Has an argument (3): David Cone, Lee Smith, Fred McGriff, Kenny Lofton.
That was some American League starting lineup -- five guys are already in the Hall of Fame and Griffey and Rodriguez will make it, assuming Pudge skirts past PED allegations that will pop up. The only non-Hall of Famers in the AL starting nine were Joe Carter and Jimmy Key.
By the way, the game itself was a good one. McGriff hit a two-run homer off Lee Smith in the bottom of the ninth to tie it for the National League and then they scored off Jason Bere in the 10th to win 8-7 (Moises Alou doubled in Gwynn). Rosters were smaller then -- only 28 players on the AL squad, which didn't even include a second shortstop. Ripken and Rodriguez played the entire game as did Gwynn. Maddux actually pitched three innings.
Hall of Famers (16) -- Tony Gwynn*, Ozzie Smith*, Ryne Sandberg, Gary Carter, Goose Gossage, Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson*, George Brett*, Eddie Murray*, Cal Ripken*, Dave Winfield*, Jim Rice*, Carlton Fisk*, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Bert Blyleven.
Probably make it (2): Tim Raines, Jack Morris*.
Who knows: Pete Rose.
Has an argument (3): Dale Murphy*, Lou Whitaker*, Alan Trammell, Dave Parker.
In the previous All-Star Game in Minnesota, the AL starting lineup featured seven Hall of Famers -- the most for any league since 1960. And Morris probably makes it eventually via the Veterans Committee. That leaves only the underrated Whitaker, certainly deserving of consideration if you like career WAR, so it's possible that someday all nine AL starters will make it. That has happened before: All nine 1934 AL starters are Hall of Famers -- Charlie Gehringer, Heinie Manush, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey and Lefty Gomez. The NL squad that year was pretty good as well, with Wally Berger as the only non-Hall of Famer. (Not coincidentally, the 1930s are the most overrepresented era in the Hall of Fame.)
Anyway, the NL won 6-1 in 1985 behind starter LaMarr Hoyt and Ryan, who each pitched three innings.
Hall of Famers (15): Mike Schmidt*, Dave Winfield*, Steve Carlton*, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry, Bruce Sutter, George Brett*, Jim Rice*, Carl Yastrzemski*, Nolan Ryan*, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson.
Has an argument: Dave Parker*, Dave Concepcion, Keith Hernandez, Ted Simmons, Bobby Grich, Tommy John.
Who knows: Pete Rose.
The game I attended as a kid has 15 Hall of Famers, plus Rose and a few others who could eventually draw support via the Veterans Committee (although Parker, Concepcion, Simmons and John have already appeared on the VC ballot and failed to get elected). The game was one of the best All-Star Games ever.
Hall of Famers (19): Luis Aparicio*, Carl Yastrzemski*, Frank Robinson*, Harmon Killebrew*, Jim Palmer*, Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Catfish Hunter, Willie Mays*, Henry Aaron*, Tony Perez*, Johnny Bench*, Tom Seaver*, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, Hoyt Wilhelm.
Also: Joe Torre (elected as a manager, but borderline as a player).
Who knows: Pete Rose.
This was the famous game when Rose barreled over Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning. What's forgotten is the NL scored three runs off Hunter and Fritz Peterson in the bottom of the ninth to tie it.
Hall of Famers (17): Mickey Mantle*, Harmon Killebrew*, Brooks Robinson*, Al Kaline, Luis Aparacio, Whitey Ford, Roberto Clemente*, Billy Williams*, Orlando Cepeda*, Don Drysdale*, Bill Mazeroski, Ron Santo, Henry Aaron, Willie Stargell, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal.
Note that 11 of the 17 Hall of Famers were from the National League -- the Senior Circuit had a big talent advantage back then. Johnny Callison hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to cap a four-run rally as the NL won 7-4. Steve Wulf wrote a great feature on Callison's hard-knock life last year.
OK, so what about 2014? History would suggest we'll have at least 15 future Hall of Famers, maybe more. Of course, we also have more All-Stars to choose from, as rosters have expanded in recent years to 34 active players, plus others who were replaced.
Here's a guess:
Locks (2): Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera.
If this year's game seemed particularly lacking in big stars, this is probably why: I see only two locks.
Building strong cases (2): Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Yadier Molina.
Borderline veterans (2): Tim Hudson, Chase Utley.
On the right path (6): Mike Trout, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton.
After that? It's a crapshoot. Adam Wainwright has 111 career wins but is already 32. Mark Buehrle will be viewed more as a compiler. It's too early to judge some of the other young players -- David Price, Yu Darvish, Paul Goldschmidt, Yasiel Puig, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner and so on. But some of that group will emerge down the road.
It does make me wonder if the talent right now is skewing young; also, we're in a pitching era, which deflates some of the hitter stats. But pitchers also have a tougher time making the Hall of Fame, at least by current standards.