Detroit Tigers: Is Torii Hunter Hall of Fame worthy?

Detroit TigersIt wasn’t too long ago that Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter was one of the best center fielders in baseball, at the plate and in the field.

Hunter, now 39 years old, won nine-consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001-09, patrolling center field for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels.

He dominated the position for the good part of a decade.

As Hunter plays in the final year of his contract with the Tigers, it’s becoming more evident that the mileage on his body is limiting his performance on the field.

There has been no indication that this will be Hunter’s last season as a professional baseball player, but the end of the road is nearing.

When any great player is inching towards retirement, the Hall-of-Fame debate surfaces and Hunter is no exception.

In order to solidify my final judgement, I wanted to examine Hunter’s career in three comparisons: to Hall-of-Fame outfielders, outfielders who didn’t quite make the Hall of Fame and future Hall-of-Fame eligible outfielders.

Hall-of-Fame outfielders

In order to compose a relevant list of HOF outfielders, there are two criteria that players have to meet: (1) The player has to be selected into the HOF by the Baseball Writers Association of America and (2) be an active player as recently as 1980.

Here is how Hunter compares to the nine players that meet the above criteria:

Detroit TigersObviously this list of players includes some of baseball’s all-time greats, each individual being successful in their own way. Hunter doesn’t necessarily have jaw-dropping career statistics like most of these players, however, his numbers are very comparable to those of Jim Rice.

Notable snubs

Using the same criteria as previously, I wanted to see if Hunter’s statistics were more comparable to those who were not voted into the Hall.

Detroit TigersBy examining the numbers alone, it appears that Hunter’s career statistics are more easily comparable to those who fell short of being inducted.

With that being said, the numbers don’t always paint the entire picture.

Future eligible outfielders

The final comparison that I find necessary is to look at other outfielders who played in the same era as Hunter.

Detroit TigersCrossing into the “Steroid Era” makes the debate a little more tricky. For the sake of this argument, my judgement will be based solely on the statistics alone.

Numbers alone, Hunter would be the fifth outfielder on this list that I would cast a vote for.

Final judgement

Aside from Ken Griffey Jr, Hunter was the best center fielder of the 2000’s.

For the majority of the decade, Hunter was the best defensive center fielder and could hit anywhere in the top-half of the batting order.

Not only are his numbers worthy of making him a member of the HOF, but his character and the way he plays the game makes him a Hall-of-Famer in my eyes.

Unfortunately, I don’t find it likely that the BBWAA will agree with me. He played his career during the heart of the long-ball era, and failing to reach the 400 career homers plateau could single-handedly ruin his HOF chances.

If Hunter finds a way to reach 400 homers, his chances would greatly improve but if he retires following this season, his odds of being voted in are slim.

For more Tigers news, rumors, and opinion check out our Detroit Tigers team page and follow us on Twitter

  • KING

    Think Torii Hunter is a HOF…Still hitting the ball strong. He gets to 400 HR & 2500 hits… Those are important benchmarks. Should finish close to 1500 RBI. Has quietly put up HOF numbers. 10 Gold Gloves would be nice round number.Probably will DH some with Twins. Just a solid player. Won’t be 1st ballot but will make it to MLB HOF someday. What you say about Torii Hunter & Carlos Beltran HOF? KING

  • Metsfan93

    Yeah, Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds were better centerfielders in the 2000s, while Grady Sizemore shined brighter. More recently, guys like Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout are better than Hunter has ever been. I would actually put Hunter – rather easily – behind all of the OF in the “recent” section besides Johnny Damon and Brian Giles for sure, and even those two can easily be argued. Ichiro Suzuki is also a clear-cut HoF outfielder that you left out. Also, yeah, you left out Carlos Beltran, who should waltz right into Cooperstown without much debate considering his regular season career in conjunction with his postseason heroics, despite no ring.

  • Lil Bibby

    Carlos Beltran was by FAR the best CF of the 2000s.

    2000-2009 WAR:

    Beltran: 51.8
    Hunter 35.2


  • Tevin

    Torii hunter we love you I am so pround

  • KING

    I think Torii Hunter has done more in last 5 years to become a HOF than anybody I can remember. When he passes Joe DiMaggio on the career HR list & reaches 400 career HR, that should put Torii in HOF.9 gold gloves doesnt hurt either.

    • Metsfan93

      Torii Hunter has no chance to get to 400 HR, considering he probably has just two seasons left and he’s 69 away. If I had to guesstimate where he ends up, it’s a bit short of Ralph Kiner/Todd Helton on the all-time HR list. I think he’s got another ~35 HR in him over 2015-2016, which gives him twenty mostly full seasons and ~366 HR, just above Joltin’ Joe.

  • Andersen Marx

    The Hall of Fame is not just about production at the plate. Torri won 9 gold gloves in a row. That alone seperates him from the pack. Also Barry Bonds may not even make it into the hall until his last chance. Torri is a third ballet Hall of Famer.

    • Metsfan93

      His name is Torii, not Torri. If you’re going to undeservedly anoint him as a HoFer, at least spell his name correctly. Beltran, Edmonds, McCutchen, Trout, Andruw, Griffey, Lofton were all better centerfielders. Hunter is closer to Johnny Damon/Bernie Williams territory than the other guys, who’re all HoF-caliber, except AMC & Trout, who have elite, HoF-worthy seasons/peaks already.