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Next Stop: Cooperstown

Today, we look at the players who are nearing the end of their deals, on one-year deals, or just simply getting up there in age and talk about their careers at a glance, see where they fall currently among other Hall of Famers and personally if I think they will get the nod when it's their time for their numbers to be called. We are starting with the guys on the bump, and next week, we will follow it up with position players.


Copyright: Major League Baseball

Justin Verlander- Going into his age 40 seasons, after signing a 2yr/86.67MM deal with the Mets with a 2025 Vesting option, and coming off winning a Cy Young in a season in which he was coming back from TJ surgery. Verlander is an MVP, 3x Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Triple Crown, 9x All-star, 2x World series champ, 2x ERA Title, 2017 ALCS MVP, and a 1x Major League Player of the Year; he is set to be an enshrined in Cooperstown when its all said and done.

JAWS(Jaffe WAR Score system) Starting Pitcher (20th):

77.6 career WAR | 50.4 7yr-peak WAR | 64.0 JAWS | 64.0 S-JAWS | 5.5 WAR/162

Average HOF P (out of 66):

73.0 career WAR | 49.8 7yr-peak WAR | 61.4 JAWS | 56.8 S-JAWS | 4.5 WAR/162

JV ranks the highest among active players compared to Hall of Fame pitchers. JV is the first ballot Hall of Famer when it's his time.

Clayton Kershaw: Going into his age 35 seasons on a 1yr/$20MM deal. Kershaw is an MVP, 3x Cy Young Winner, Triple Crown Winner, 9x All-Star, 2020 World Series, Gold Glove Winner, 5x ERA Title Winner, and a Major League Player of the Year award Winner. A career 75.9WAR, 197W, 2.48ERA, 2807K over 2581.00IP(all stats as of 3/14). If this is his last season, Kershaw will become one of the GOATs.

JAWS(Jaffe WAR Score system) Starting Pitcher (24th):

75.9 career WAR | 49.7 7yr-peak WAR | 62.8 JAWS | 62.8 S-JAWS | 6.4 WAR/162

Average HOF P (out of 66):

73.0 career WAR | 49.8 7yr-peak WAR | 61.4 JAWS | 56.8 S-JAWS | 4.5 WAR/162

With an all-time rank of 24th among starting pitchers, only Justin Verlander has a higher rank at 20th among active pitchers in the MLB. Kershaw should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Zack Greinke: Back for another 1yr/8.5MM deal with the Royals, the 39yo, 1x Cy Young winner, 6x All-star, 6x Gold Glover, 2x Silver Slugger, 2x ERA Title. Greinke has a 76.5WAr, 223W, 3.42ERA, 2882K over 3247IP(stats as of 3/14).

JAWSStarting Pitcher (25th):

76.5 career WAR | 48.4 7yr-peak WAR | 62.5 JAWS | 62.5 S-JAWS | 4.8 WAR/162

Average HOF P (out of 66):

73.0 career WAR | 49.8 7yr-peak WAR | 61.4 JAWS | 56.8 S-JAWS | 4.5 WAR/162

Greinke ranks only behind Verlander and Kershaw among the active pitchers on this list. He falls just behind Kershaw and is 25th all-time. Grienke certainly will be a Hall of Famer, likely on his 2nd to 3rd time on the Ballot.

Max Scherzer- Coming into his age 39 season, Scherzer is pitching in the 2nd year of his 2yr/$86.67MM and is likely looking to pick up his 2024 player option. Scherzer might have few career awards; however, he is a 3x Cy Young, 8x All-star, and a 1x World Series champ(2019). Mad Max has a career of 71.6WAR, 201W, 3.11ERA, 2682IP, and 3193K(stats as of 3/14) and is genuinely dominant each time he takes the mound.

JAWSStarting Pitcher (30th):

71.6 career WAR | 47.4 7yr-peak WAR | 59.5 JAWS | 59.5 S-JAWS | 5.7 WAR/162

Average HOF P (out of 66):

73.0 career WAR | 49.8 7yr-peak WAR | 61.4 JAWS | 56.8 S-JAWS | 4.5 WAR/162

Only a few players have 3 Cy Youngs to their names, and if they do, they are in the Hall of Fame, except for Schilling and Clemens; however, among active players, he falls slightly behind the only other two on this list that do. With at least two years left playing in the MLB, Mad Max can only move higher on the all-time list and cement his way into Cooperstown.

Adam Wainwright: The 41yo Cardinals starter is playing on what's expected to be his last deal as he plays through his 1yr/$17.5MM deal. Waino is a 3x All-star, 2006 World Series winner, 2x Gold Glove, and 1x Silver Slugger; Waino has had a great career. With a 46.7WAR, 195W, 3.38ERA, 2147K, over 2567.1IP(stats as of 3/14).

JAWSStarting Pitcher (124th):

46.7 career WAR | 36.1 7yr-peak WAR | 41.4 JAWS | 41.4 S-JAWS | 3.7 WAR/162

Average HOF P (out of 66):

73.0 career WAR | 49.8 7yr-peak WAR | 61.4 JAWS | 56.8 S-JAWS | 4.5 WAR/162

While the stats are low, the incredible longevity, the fact he got to pitch to Yadi for his entire career almost, and he pitched behind great Cardinals teams will be arguments against him. While Waino will make it, it could take 5-7 rounds on the Ballot.

I didn't forget: Don't worry; I didn't forget about deGrom, Sale, and Strasburg, among the great pitchers in the game. However, each player isn't getting close enough to be genuinely in this conversation.

Highly honorable mentions: Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel

Other old guys/2024 free agents who won't make it- are Rich Hill(44), Hyun Jin Ryu(37), Carlos Carrasco(37), and Jesse Chavez(41). While each player is old, they have had promising careers; sadly, none will find themselves enshrined in Cooperstown. Rich Hill will find himself off ballots in the future.

Honorable mentions: Johnny Cueto, Corey Kluber, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Charlie Morton. All have club options I need help seeing being picked up and their careers continuing. However, these players will only be in the Hall of Fame.


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