Now that the 2017 Hall of Fame class is set, it’s time to look ahead to next year. In addition to the holdovers from this year’s ballot, there will be an impressive group of newcomers.
That list is topped by Braves legend Chipper Jones, who could have started making plans for his 2018 induction when he stepped off the field for the final time in 2012. But it doesn’t stop with Chipper.
Next year’s most notable first-time candidates, with their chances of Cooperstown enshrinement:
THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsJohn Munson
Larry Wayne Jones spent his entire 19-season major-league career with the Braves, winning the NL MVP Award in 1999, the NL batting title in 2008 and earning eight All-Star berths. The third baseman was a pivotal piece for a franchise that won the 1995 World Series and 14 consecutive division titles. He hit .303/.401/.529 with 468 homers and 1,623 RBI in his career – with nine 100-RBI seasons and eight 100-run seasons.
Outlook: A lock for first-ballot induction
USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
The powerful left-handed-hitting slugger ranks seventh all-time with 612 homers over his 22 major-league seasons. Thome topped 100 RBI nine times and hit at least 40 homers six times. A five-time All-Star with three different franchises, Thome finished with a .276/.402/.554 slash line and 1,699 RBI. He also ranks seventh all-time with 1,747 walks and did it all without any suspicion of PEDs, something that will earn him even more support from voters. In 71 postseason games, Thome went deep 17 times.
Outlook: A sure thing as a first-timer
USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
A defensive magician, Vizquel earned 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop, including nine consecutive from 1993-2001 with the Indians. However, Vizquel also hit .333 in 1999 and blasted a career-best 14 homers with 72 RBI in 2002. He was a speedy baserunner, finishing with 404 stolen bases and nearly as many triples (77) as homers (80) over his 24-season major-league career. The three-time All-Star finished just shy of the 3,000-hit plateau with 2,877, and he is the majors’ all-time leader in games played at shortstop (2,709).
Outlook: Will get in but might have to wait a couple years
USA TODAY SportsDavid Richard
The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with the Phillies was among the best defensive third basemen in history, winning eight Gold Gloves. Rolen topped 100 RBI in five different seasons and had 30-plus homers three times. The seven-time All-Star hit .421 with a homer in the 2006 World Series for the victorious Cardinals. Over 17 major-league seasons, Rolen hit .281/.364/.490 with 316 homers and 1,287 RBI.
Outlook: Not on the first ballot but headed to Cooperstown
He burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old in 1996 and homered twice for the Braves that season in the World Series, hitting .400 in that Fall Classic. Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves (1998-2007) in center field and was a five-time All-Star during his 17 seasons in the majors. He finished with 1,933 hits, 434 homers and 1,289 RBI while hitting .254/.337/.486. His 51 homers led the majors in 2005 and his 128 RBI were tops in the NL that season.
Outlook: Has a strong case as a future Hall of Famer
USA TODAY SportsJonathan Dyer
A two-time World Series champion (2004 Red Sox, 2009 Yankees), Damon also was a two-time All-Star. He finished with 2,769 career hits and 408 stolen bases over 18 major-league seasons, during which time he batted .284/.352/.433. In 59 postseason games, Damon hit .274/.323/.452 with 10 homers and 33 RBI. And he also brought back the beard.
Outlook: Will stick around on the ballot but will come up short of induction
USA TODAY SportsGreg M. Cooper
The 1998 NL Rookie of the Year was a two-time All-Star who led the majors with 266 strikeouts in the 2003 season. Wood is one of four major leaguers (joining Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Max Scherzer) to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game, doing so as a rookie. Injuries forced Wood to the bullpen permanently in 2007, and he saved 63 games. Over his 14 seasons in the majors, the righty won 86 games, struck out 1,582 (10.3 K/9 ratio) and posted a 3.67 ERA.
Outlook: The injuries are too costly to his resume
USA TODAY SportsJerry Lai
A two-time AL Cy Young Award winner with the Twins, Santana won the pitching Triple Crown in 2006 with 19 wins, a 2.77 ERA and 245 strikeouts. He also has a 20-win season, three strikeout titles, three ERA titles and the first no-hitter in Mets’ history on his resume. Unfortunately, his career never was the same after that no-no in 2012 – the last time he appeared in the majors – because of injuries. Over 12 seasons, Santana won 139 games with a 3.20 ERA and 1,988 strikeouts.
Outlook: A great MLB career but not a Hall of Fame career
THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsJohn Munson
The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner earned 95 of his 144 career wins with the Cardinals from 2004-2012. Included in that span were two World Series championships, three All-Star appearances and an NL ERA title. Carpenter finished in the top three in NL Cy Young voting three times and was the 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year after pitching in just five games the previous two seasons. He finished with a 3.76 ERA and 33 complete games over 15 major-league seasons with St. Louis and Toronto. And in 18 playoff starts, he was 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA.
Outlook: An absolute bulldog, but simply too many injuries
USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
The Cuban sensation finished second in the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year voting despite making only 17 starts for the Marlins. The two-time All-Star was a workhorse, leading the league in innings pitched three times, tossing at least 200 innings in 10 seasons and pitching 50 complete games. Hernandez went 7-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 career postseason games and was the 1997 World Series MVP for the champion Marlins. He pitched for nine franchises in 17 major-league seasons, winning 178 games with a 4.44 ERA and 1,976 strikeouts.
Outlook: A revolutionary pitcher but not a Hall of Famer
USA TODAY SportsBrad Mills
The ageless lefty pitched until he was 49 years old in 2012 – his 25th season in the majors, when he set a record for being the oldest pitcher to win a major-league game. Incredibly, 197 of Moyer’s 269 career wins came after he turned 34. His two 20-win seasons came at age 38 and 40, and he finished in the top three of the AL Cy Young Award voting three times between 1999 and 2003. An All-Star for the only time at age 40 in 2003, Moyer finished with a 4.25 ERA and 2,441 strikeouts with eight franchises.
Outlook: The "quantity not quality" argument will hold him back