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
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
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
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
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.
5. Stephen Strasburg
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
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
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