It's no surprise that the New York Yankees payroll includes a cluster of future Hall of Famers. But just how many is subject to debate. The way I see it, you could conceivably make an argument for anywhere between 2 and 7 present day Yankees (or up to 8 if you want to count Ichiro Suzuki, who the Yankees recently acquired). Any number outside of those boundaries, and you're gonna need a strong case to convince me.
As of now, Jeter and Rivera are the only two Yankees who could retire today with guaranteed plaques in Cooperstown. Both players boast illustrious resumes, and have managed to avoid any major scandals throughout their careers. Not that I have to build a case for either, but just for kicks:
Derek Jeter - The only New York Yankee in history with 3,000+ hits (3,231), 5 World Series championships, .307 career postseason average.
Mariano Rivera - Career leader in saves (608), 2.21 career ERA, 42 postseason saves, and a .70 postseason ERA.
The Probable: Alex Rodriguez
Here's where things start to get a little tricky. A-Rod has arguably the strongest resume of any current Yankee (and if you take Mo out of the equation, it's not even close.) His 644 career home runs rank 5th on the all-time list, and he will almost certainly have well over 2,000 RBI by the time his career is over.
But we've already seen some of the best power hitters of an era denied entry to Cooperstown because of steroids, and as an admitted user, A-Rod could suffer the same fate for the foreseeable future.
The Question Marks: Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia
Three impressive careers, but which can withstand the test of time?
At age 29, Cano is the youngest of this group. Through just 7 1/2 seasons, he's already jacked close to 200 home-runs, and is just a few hits shy of 1,400. If he can keep pace for a few more seasons, Robbie will have a great shot at the Hall.
Teixeira and Sabathia are each 32, still plenty young but past their primes in "baseball years."
Tex has racked up 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI in 8 of his 9 full Major League seasons. With another 7 or 8 productive, injury free seasons, he could reach 500 home runs, baseball's golden standard that all but guarantees induction.
C.C. may lack the consistency of the game's greatest hurlers, but has demonstrated sharp improvement with age. His 3.51 career ERA is impressive, and with 187 wins to date, 300 is not out of the question. He's remained healthy for the most part, but I have to wonder how long his 290 pound frame can withstand the rigors of a Major League career. The answer to that might ultimately decided Sabathia's fate in Cooperstown.
The Long Shot: Andruw Jones
Jones is currently entering the twilight years of a remarkably solid baseball career. Smart money says Jones will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but funnier things have happened. You could make an argument for his 432 career home runs (to date) but his .255 lifetime batting average would rank among the lowest of all non-pitcher inductees. Even with 10 Gold Gloves under his belt, Andruw Jones remains a longshot.
Sources: all stats from baseball-reference.com
Joe is an avid New York Yankees fan.