The Hall of Fame shrugs at Chase Utley and the starless 2008 Phillies

Nov 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel
Nov 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 2008 Philadelphia Phillies joined an elite group – teams that won a World Series title – when they beat the Tampa Bay Rays in five games that October. Now, with release of results from this year’s Hall of Fame voting, those Phillies of 16 years ago are candidates for an even more exclusive club: championship teams that had zero Hall of Famers on their rosters.

In the long history of baseball, only three teams aside from the 2008 Phillies have managed to win a championship without at least one future Hall of Famer on active status. And two of those three – the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers and 1997 Florida Marlins – had a Hall of Fame manager in Tommy Lasorda and Jim Leyland.

Until Tuesday’s vote was announced, that left the 2002 Anaheim Angels alone as a championship club without representation in Cooperstown. In fact, only one member of the 2002 Angels, reliever Francisco Rodriguez, has even survived the 5 percent first ballot minimum. Rodriguez, who became eligible in 2023, got 10.8 percent that year and 7.8 percent in his second opportunity Tuesday.

When they won their world championship, it looked like the 2008 Phillies had at least three plausible candidates for Cooperstown, those being infielders Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

But Howard got only 2 percent support in his 2022 debut and dropped off the ballot. Rollins, who debuted at 9 percent in 2022, got 14.8 percent support in his third year of eligibility Tuesday.

Utley, widely considered the most plausible candidate for enshrinement off that 2008 team, made his ballot debut Tuesday, but despite heavy media lobbying got just 28.8 percent support.

The list of Hall members who debuted with less than 30 percent support does exist, but it is not an extensive one. Over the past 30 years, only seven eventual inductees debuted on the ballot with that low a level of support. Those seven, listed chronologically, were: Bruce Sutter (23.9% in 1994), Jim Rice (29.8% in 1995), Bert Blyleven (17.5% in 1998), Tim Raines (24.3% in 2008), Larry Walker (20.3% in 2011), Mike Mussina (20.3% in 2014) and Scott Rolen (10.2% in 2018).

Since Rollins remains eligible for seven more ballots and Utley for nine, there’s still time for the 2008 Phillies to acquire at least one certified immortal. But over the coming few seasons, it is at least as likely that other star-less champions emerge alongside them.

Two World Series winners since 2009 have already obtained their immortal(s). The 2009 Yankees have Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the 2013 Red Sox have David Ortiz.

At least a couple world champions since 2009 are all but guaranteed Cooperstown representation. Albert Pujols, with the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, is a mortal lock, and Yadier Molina has a good chance. Likewise with the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers, thanks to Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and potentially a few others. Betts may also carry the 2018 champion Red Sox to immortality.

The 2017 Houston Astros have a chance with Carlos Beltrán, who was named on 57.1 percent of ballots Tuesday. When he’s done playing, Jose Altuve may also make it, unless the sign-stealing scandal is held against him the way it has blemished Beltrán.

The 2019 Nats and 2023 Rangers, both with Max Scherzer, are probably good to go, as are the 2021 Braves with Freddie Freeman and possibly others.

And Buster Posey, possibly along with Madison Bumgarner, may put the 2010, 2012 and 2014 San Francisco Giants over the top when they become eligible.

But even if all that happens, it still leaves two recent champions poised to join the 2008 Phillies as teams that won it all without a certified immortal.

The 2015 Kansas City Royals really only have one plausible enshrine, that being catcher Salvador Perez, who is still active. For the present, however, Perez’s 33.0 career and 24.3 peak WARs are both well below the 53.6 career and 34.7 peak standards for Hall catchers.

The 2016 Cubs featured Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, but none appear to be likely enshrines at this point. The best Cub hope may be reliever Aroldis Chapman. But as Billy Wagner can testify, Hall voters view even quality relievers with suspicion, and Chapman’s 20.4 career and 15.5 peak WARs, both well off the 39.1 and 26.0 norms for reliever enshrinees, don’t bode well.

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