Baseball Hall of Fame candidates: Here are the best MLB players eligible for Class of 2025

It’s been a lean few years for the Baseball Hall of Fame, with just four players elected by the BBWAA across the first four years of the 2020s.

Two were surefire Hall of Famers in Derek Jeter and David Ortiz, while Larry Walker and Scott Rolen punched their tickets to Cooperstown after a handful of years on the ballot.

Hall of Fame voters got some fresh options in 2024. Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer and Chase Utley have all been popular first-year candidates on this year’s ballot, with Beltre and Mauer on track to be inducted in July. 

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More big names are on track to hit the ballot in 2025, with one expected to cruise to election in his first year of eligibility. Here are some of the best candidates joining the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot next year.

Baseball Hall of Fame candidates: Best first-year eligible players for 2025

Next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ballot won’t be formally revealed until November, but here are some of the names you can expect to be on it.

Ichiro Suzuki

There’s no doubt Ichiro Suzuki will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, even as someone who didn’t make his MLB debut until age 27. 

Suzuki earned MVP honors in his rookie season in 2001. The Japanese star quickly established himself as an all-time great contact hitter and setting the single-season hits record in 2004. 

The Mariners great started his career with 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons and finished with 3,089 hits despite getting a late start on his career in the U.S. As far as first-ballot candidates go, Suzuki could rank among the biggest locks in recent memory.

CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia is less of a lock than Suzuki, but he has quite an intriguing case himself.

The left-hander put together a 20-year career, primarily with Cleveland and the Yankees, highlighted by a Cy Young Award in 2007 and a World Series win in 2009. Sabathia was a workhorse for much of his career, throwing more than 190 innings in 11 different seasons, and he would finish with 251 wins plus a career 3.74 ERA.

Sabathia’s ERA is higher than most Hall of Fame starters, though Mike Mussina — who got in on his sixth attempt — earned election with a career 3.68 ERA. Sabathia also sits 18th all-time with 3,093 strikeouts, and only four pitchers above him on the all-time list aren’t in the Hall of Fame: Max Scherzer (active), Justin Verlander (active), Roger Clemens (steroid allegations) and Curt Schilling (off-field concerns).

Considering his terrific peak and the strength of his career numbers, Sabathia seems likely to find himself in Cooperstown at some point. Whether he has a chance to sneak in on his first ballot could be the biggest storyline of 2025 voting.

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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia is a “what if” player, as he certainly seemed to be on track for a Hall of Fame career before injuries derailed him. The former Red Sox star earned MVP honors in 2008 and won two championships in Boston, racking up 1,683 hits through his age-33 season, but his body struggled to hold up late in his career. 

With 1,805 hits, 140 home runs and a career .299 batting average, Pedroia’s overall body of work likely isn’t Hall of Fame-worthy. With that being said, he might not be as far off from former Phillies second baseman Chase Utley as many believe, and Utley could be on track for an eventual election to Cooperstown.

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez is another player who seemed like a Hall of Fame lock early in his career. The Mariners ace won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award and had a terrific 3.07 ERA through his first 10 seasons in Seattle. 

Injuries and overall fatigue brought Hernandez’s career to an early end, as the right-hander began struggling in 2016 didn’t look like an MLB-caliber starter over his final two campaigns in 2018 and 2019. 

With a 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts across 15 seasons, Hernandez’s body of work along with his peak will be enough to keep him on the ballot long-term. There just might not be enough to make him a Hall of Famer when all is said and done.

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Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler might not be as notable of a name as Pedroia, but he has more hits and a higher career WAR. The four-time All-Star racked up 1,999 hits across 14 MLB seasons, spending eight years with the Rangers and going to the World Series twice with Texas. Kinsler hit 257 home runs and had a career .777 OPS while earning two Gold Glove awards.

With no top-10 MVP finishes in his career, Kinsler isn’t on track to come close to election even if he does stay on the ballot for multiple years.

Brian McCann

Quality catchers are treated well by Hall of Fame voters, as Joe Mauer is finding out this year, but Brian McCann faces an uphill battle as an offense-first player. 

McCann earned seven All-Star selections with the Braves, recording ten 20-home run seasons and finishing his career with 282 home runs. 

With a stronger defensive profile, 282 home runs and a .789 OPS would get McCann a close look from Hall of Fame voters. His body of work, however, is short of what is likely required to be a serious contender for a trip to Cooperstown.

Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson was a three-time All-Star, hitting 344 home runs and posting an .803 OPS across 16 seasons primarily with the Tigers, Yankees and Mets. He recorded exactly 1,800 hits, including 95 triples, and won three Silver Slugger awards.

While a 47.2 career WAR and 10 seasons of 20 home runs are more than respectable for Granderson, his case is similar to that of Torii Hunter, who has barely been able to stay on the ballot since he became eligible. 

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Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez was one of baseball’s most exciting players at his peak with the Marlins, but he couldn’t sustain the impressive contact bat he flashed early in his career. The shortstop hit .319 with a .925 OPS from 2007-10, but Ramirez would hit .267 with 147 home runs and a .794 OPS over his final 10 seasons, including a largely unsuccessful stint in Boston. 

While an .847 career OPS is impressive, Ramirez’s lack of defensive impact for much of his career and his inability to even get to 300 home runs figure to put the Hall of Fame well out of reach.

Troy Tulowitzki

Like Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki saw his best days come early in his career. Tulowitzki earned five All-Star selections with the Rockies, hitting .309 with a .938 OPS from 2009-14, and he impressed with his glove as well.

Unfortunately, injuries derailed Tulowitzki’s career. He started to miss considerable time before even turning 30, and a trade to the Blue Jays in 2015 marked the beginning of the end for a player whose body failed him.

Tulowitzki’s .290 AVG, .856 OPS and 225 home runs are impressive considering the amount of time he missed, even with the Coors Field factor, but he didn’t stay healthy long enough to stay in serious Hall of Fame consideration.

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