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Phillies prove making Hall of Fame is really hard

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The Phillies just finished a five-year run of dominance that included two World Series appearances and one world championship. Yet, are any members Cooperstown-bound?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Four players were elected to the MLB Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez all enter Cooperstown in their first year of eligibility, while former Houston Astro Craig Biggio gets in on his third try.

For once, the baseball writers got it mostly right, although 2.7% of the writers decided not to make The Big Unit a unanimous choice because they are horrible. Players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell continue to be excluded simply because some assume they used performance enhancing drugs during their careers, despite the lack of evidence. And players like Tim Raines and Alan Trammel continue to be on the outside looking in, although the prospects for Rock Raines should improve over the next few years.

But what this whole process should tell you is just how monumentally difficult it is to get into the Hall of Fame. When guys like Piazza, whose 427 home runs is the most ever by a catcher in the history of the sport, and Raines, who is the only player in history with 100 or more triples, 150 or more homers and 600 or more steals, are being made to wait to get into the party, it should make a simple truth very obvious.

It's going to be monumentally difficult for any members of the 2007-2011 core Phillies to get into the Hall of Fame.

Of all the players likely to get in, certainly Roy Halladay leads the list. He's almost certain to get in, and will probably do so in his first year of eligibility. But Halladay was only with the Phils for two of those five playoff seasons, and isn't really considered part of the core that group.

If Cliff Lee returns to health and has another five good years, he would have a chance, especially if writers continue to look away from a pitcher's wins as a viable consideration for induction. Lee comes into 2015 with just 143 career victories.

The only other viable candidates from that terrific Phillies run are Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. And right now, all four are a longshot.

If Hamels continues on the path he's on, he has a shot. He's still young, just 31 years old, and potentially has another decade of pitching in him, if he's lucky. He certainly has the postseason accolades to his credit, and he's widely regarded (other than by Fangraphs) as one of the elite pitchers in the game.

But Hamels also doesn't have a Cy Young to his credit (his best finish was fifth place in 2011), and has made just three All-Star teams in nine seasons. His win total will hurt him among some writers as well. Cole has a lot of work to do, and needs a sterling finish to his career to be thought of as a serious contender for Cooperstown.

Among second baseman all-time, Utley's 59.2 fWAR ranks 16th in MLB history, ahead of such luminaries as Jackie Robinson and Jeff Kent. During the height of his success, from 2005-2010, Utley put up 42.5 fWAR, far and away better than any second baseman in baseball (Brian Roberts' 23.9 was second). He was, for a period of six years, the best second baseman in baseball.

But is that enough? Are his 1569 hits enough? Are his 228 home runs (11th among all-time second basemen) enough? Is his .370 wOBA (20th among second basemen all-time) enough? What about his .858 OPS (4th-best)? Is that better?

Chase has never finished higher than 8th in MVP voting, a fact which will certainly hurt his case. But he has a chance to get in if he stays healthy and remains productive for another two or three years, and if voters continue to value wins above replacement, defensive ability and baserunning skills when considering players for enshrinement.

Rollins has some of the counting stats many voters look for, but never had a peak that made you think you were watching one of the very best players in baseball.

Obviously, there was his insane MVP-season in 2007, when he hit 38 doubles, 20 triples, and 30 homers with an .875 OPS. And he certainly has provided a lot of pop for a player at his position. His 216 career homers is 10th all-time, one behind Nomar Garciaparra, among shortstops.

But herein lies the problem. Garciaparra appeared on just 5.5% of ballots this year, and when you compare Rollins to Nomar, you see a lot of similarities.

Player PA Hits 2B HR SB OPS bWAR
Jimmy Rollins 9511 2306 479 216 453 .751 45.7
Nomar Garciaparra 6116 1747 370 229 95 .882 44.2

So, if Nomar is struggling to even stay on the ballot, unless Rollins does something phenomenal the next couple years, it's hard to see how he makes it in, too.

As for Howard, he had a pretty impressive peak as well. From 2006-2011, Howard averaged 44 homers a season, and hit 262 in a six-year span. That would have put him on pace for 500 in just shy of 11 and a half years. Unfortunately, injuries to his legs killed any shot at 500 dingers, with Howard at 334.

Obviously, the players mentioned above have all had great careers. They are all terrific players, the best of the very best in the world. But when you consider how great players like Hamels, Utley, Rollins and Howard were, and how unlikely it is they will get into Cooperstown, it makes you realize something.

Getting into the Hall of Fame is really, really, really hard.

That's good. That's the way it should be. Even if that means some of your favorite Phillies may not ever get the call.