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Each Team’s Next Hall of Famer: American League Central

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As more Hall of Fame ballots get released, Major League Baseball and its fans await the next class joining the fraternity of MLB greats.

While that element is relevant, I figured it’d be a bit of fun to look at every team in the league and determine which active player on each team is the most likely to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, as well as elaborate on why each player was selected.

This is Part 2 of a six-part series, one per division. We have already taken care of the American League East, so now it’s time to cross off the American League Central.

Disclaimer: I am not predicting this based on which hat they’ll put on their plaque. It is simply based on which team they are on to start the 2020 season.

Minnesota Twins: Josh Donaldson – 3B

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The Twins benefitted greatly over the past few days, signing Josh Donaldson to a four-year contract. As a result, he becomes their most likely next Hall of Famer.

Donaldson has an interesting case carved out for himself already, despite his counting stats not being the most impressive. In 4,476 career plate appearances (1,038 games), the 34-year-old third baseman has a .376 wOBA, a 139 wRC+, and has a 6.0 fWAR/150 rate. That being said, he has just 219 career home runs and 1,048 hits in his nine-plus seasons in the MLB.

He’d need to have a huge contract with the Twins to get in, but his 41.4 fWAR has him sitting pretty for now.

Cleveland Indians: Francisco Lindor – SS

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Lindor isn’t the best hitter on the planet, but among shortstops, he certainly is in the elite tier.

Even after a down season in 2019, the 26-year-old still managed to produce 4.4 fWAR along with a .234 ISO.

Through his first five seasons, Francisco Lindor has yet to produce less than four wins and has a career slash line of .288/.347/.493 with a .354 wOBA and a 119 wRC+. But his value lies much greater than his offensive capabilities as he is also one of the best defensive infielders in the league.

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Having played only five seasons, Lindor is already in the top 20 for defensive runs saved among shortstops (44), and already has more five-win seasons than Hall of Fame ballot tenant, Omar Vizquel (three to one).

Chicago White Sox: Lucas Giolito – RHP

The White Sox are a weird team. They have a lot of talent on their roster, and most of their superstar talent is young. Making a decision between the likes of Giolito, Anderson, Moncada, and even guys like Cease and Kopech was not easy to.

Ultimately, I settled on Giolito.

His first three abbreviated seasons in the big leagues weren’t too kind to him (5.48 ERA, 5.68 FIP, 5.27 SIERA), but in 2019, Giolito saw his numbers jump from “bust” to perennial All-Star and potential Cy Young hopeful. The 25-year-old right-hander showed why he was the top prospect in baseball when he dazzled to the tune of an 80 xFIP-, a 3.57 SIERA, and a 32.3 percent strikeout rate.

There’s a chance he’s just a flash in the pan and will regress back to the Lucas Giolito of 2016 through 2018, but I think his run of dominance is just beginning.

Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler – DH

I actually like what Dayton Moore and co. are building in Kansas City. While the on-field product won’t be great for the next few seasons, the Royals have a fun group of young players who are developing into productive MLB stars.

There is no greater example of that than reigning American League home run leader, Jorge Soler.

We all knew the kind of power the 27-year-old possesses, but he was never able to put it together with the Cubs. He received a fresh start in Kansas City, and it paid immediate dividends.

In his three abbreviated seasons with the Royals, Soler slashed .252/.342/.510 with a .356 wOBA, a 122 wRC+, and a 123 OPS+. This dude can absolutely mash a baseball into another dimension, and it was nice to watch him finally put it all together for a full season in 2019.

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera – 1B/DH

This one is obvious. Miguel Cabrera is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when all is said and done. While his career has come to a screeching halt over the past few seasons, one cannot deny that Cabrera is one of the most-feared hitters this league has ever seen.

In 17 seasons, Cabrera is slashing .315/.392/.543 with a .395 wOBA, a 146 wRC+ and had a 5.0 rWAR/150 before the 2017 season.

Hopefully, Cabrera can regain some of the power he’s lost in recent seasons so he can reach the 500 home run plateau––he needs 23 more but only has 31 over past three seasons––but nothing can really make Cabrera’s Hall of Fame status anymore of a sure-thing in all reality.

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