How many current Nationals are bound for the Hall of Fame?

Washington Senator Walter Johnson was in the first ever Hall of Fame class. How long will Washington baseball fans have to wait for another Hall of Famer?
Washington Senator Walter Johnson was in the first ever Hall of Fame class. How long will Washington baseball fans have to wait for another Hall of Famer?

Braves fans were rewarded this week when Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.  This is an experience Nationals fans will have to wait for–the price of rooting for a new team.

But how long will that wait be? How many current Nationals are on track to be Hall of Famers?

Even though the future is difficult–if not impossible–to predict, here are the Nationals most likely to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

1. Bryce Harper

Age: 21

Seasons: 2

Career stats: 260 H, 42 HR, 117 RBI, 9.0 WAR

Achievements: NL Rookie of the Year; 2 All-Star appearances

Comparables: Mickey Mantle*, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Conigliaro

Comment: The Nationals youngest star is also their most likely Hall of Famer. At 21, Harper is on a historic pace. The only players to match his production at his age are Hall of Famers (Conigliaro’s career was derailed by a freak injury).

Verdict: Highly likely, but he’s far away

2. Ryan Zimmerman

Age: 29

Seasons: 9

Career stats: 1266 H, 179 HR, 672 RBI, 33.9 WAR

Achievements: All Star appearance, 2 Silver Sluggers, Gold Glove

Comparables: Gary Sheffield, Harold Baines, Carl Yastrzemski*

Comment: What Zimmerman lacks in dominance (he’s rarely been considered the best 3B in the game), he will have to make up for in longevity. If Zimmerman avoids injury and continues to produce, he has a shot.

Verdict: Closer than you think, but he will need to remain highly productive well into his 30’s and maybe even 40’s to get the overall numbers. At the end of the day, he probably won’t get there.

3. Ian Desmond

Age: 28

Seasons: 5

Career stats: 630 H, 67 HR, 279 RBI, 9.7 WAR

Achievements: All-Star appearance, 2 Silver Sluggers

Comparables: Jeff Blauser, Miguel Tejada, Michael Young

Comment: Desmond broke through at age 26, and the past two seasons he’s been the most productive shortstop in baseball. Right in the middle of his prime, he’s set for several more great seasons.

Verdict: Possible. At any other position, Desmond wouldn’t have a chance, but future HOF voters might value his production at such an important position in the field. He’s got a long way to go, though.

4. Jayson Werth

Age: 34

Seasons: 11

Career stats: 1051 H, 170 HR, 577 RBI, 27.1 WAR

Achievements: All-Star appearance

Comparables: Trot Nixon, Kevin Youkilis, Raul Ibanez

Comment: Because of injuries, Werth didn’t break through until his age 29 season. If he hadn’t started so late, he might have eventually compiled Hall of Fame numbers.

Verdict: Nope

5. Stephen Strasburg

Age: 25

Seasons: 4

Career stats: 29 W, 2.96 ERA, 504 K, 8.4 WAR

Achievements: All-Star appearance; Silver Slugger Award

Comparables: Fergie Jenkins*, Jim Bouton, Roy Oswalt

Comment: Pitchers are harder to predict because their careers are often dictated by health. Young superstars often flame out due to injury (Kerry Wood) or other reasons altogether (Dwight Gooden). Sometimes they just inexplicably lose their stuff (Tim Lincecum). Strasburg is off to a great start, but who knows where he goes from here?

Verdict: Your guess is as good as mine

6. Jordan Zimmermann

Age: 27

Seasons: 5

Career stats: 43 W, 3.40 ERA, 557 K, 11.9 WAR

Achievements: All-Star appearance

Comparables: Rick Aguilera, Gaylord Perry*, Pedro Astacio

Comment: While pitchers are inherently volatile, Zimm has shown steady progression and pretty good durability in his short career, suggesting that he has the makeup to put together a long career.

Verdict: He’s certainly on the right track but, like any pitcher, has to stay healthy

7. Gio Gonzalez

Age: 28

Seasons: 6

Career stats: 70 W, 3.59 ERA, 910 K, 14.7 WAR

Achievements: 2 All-Star appearances; Top-3 NL Cy Young

Comparables: Chan Ho Park, Kevin Millwood, Kerry Wood

Comment: Like his two co-aces, Gonzalez is off to a good start.  But he’s also avoided injuries, which is a good sign for a long career.

Verdict: Possible, but he’ll need to keep it up for another decade.

* denotes Hall of Famer


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