by C.C. McCandless
The CBA’s fledgling Hall of Fame is still finding its way, with career benchmarks and individual standards under close scrutiny from the astute voter base. This year could see the HoF ranks swell, thanks to a solid class of nominees. But who might be on the ballot a decade from now? Let’s throw some darts and try to pick five hitters that will be up for inclusion in the Class of 2045. In no particular order:
DAVE “MÖTLEY” KRUGER, 3B/1B. At age 27, the former second round pick has posted a solid career start, already taking home a Rookie of the Year award, one Coke Blak Surge trophy, and three DDDs. His offensive output can only benefit from his recent move to Detroit. He’s never suffered a major injury, and there is every indication that his steady production could keep cranking along until his early 30s. Seven more strong seasons, then calling it a day in 2042? It wouldn’t be shocking.
ROGER “J.” COLE, SS. Another 27 year old with five major league seasons under his belt, Cole certainly appears to be on a Hall of Fame course now as he stacks up individual honors and both black and grey ink numbers. Issues with a herniated disc in his back could become more problematic as he ages, but his athleticism makes him a prime candidate to remain a plus fielder into his 30s. We can certainly see him posting seven more great years, maybe with a position change for the last one or two.
DAVE BUCKLEY, 1B. Wichita’s reliable slugger shows no signs of slowing down at 28—in fact, his 2035 WAR of 5.5 was a career best. His leaden base running and limited range will become liabilities at some point, but his “old man” skills at the plate could very well keep him around until he’s 35. He has already eclipsed 1,000 hits and is closing in on 250 HRs. Seven more halfway-decent seasons to pile onto those numbers would make him a near lock for inclusion in the Hall.
MATT PRESSLER, 3B. Indy’s man at the hot corner was a loaner gun-for-hire from 2032-2034, with single season stints at three different stops. With the Hawks on the rise and the 28 year old still two seasons away from free agency, Pressler certainly could figure into the club’s long term plans. He has won awards with his bat and his glove, and a transition to 1B when he ages shouldn’t see him lose much value. He projects to cross 20 career WAR next season, and there is no reason to expect him to deviate from his methodical success for years to come.
NICK PANKOW, 3B/SS. Forecasting the rest of Pankow’s career is a difficult proposition. The former #1 overall pick is now 33, and his bat could become a serious liability at any point. But he’s already closing in on 30 career WAR, and the durable veteran has had no problem bouncing from one club to the next. He looks poised to hang around for at least a few more years, and might be the type of player overlooked on a first ballot, but one that eventually gains traction as his career is put into perspective.