The Spokane Indians have seen six former players or managers inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with Don Sutton the most recent to join that exclusive fraternity in 1998. Stan Coveleski (1969), George Kelly (1973), Duke Snider (1980), Hoyt Wilhelm (1985) and Tommy Lasorda (1997) round out the list of current HOFers for the Indians. So, who will be the next player from Spokane to earn a plaque in Cooperstown? We recently took a look around the league at some of our former players and here's what we found:
Carlos Beltran (1996): The oldest former Spokane Indians player in the big leagues, Beltran is continuing to produce for the Astros at age 40 as he looks for the one thing missing from his career - a World Series ring. A second round pick of the Royals in 1995, Beltran won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999 and hasn't slowed down since, collecting two Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and nine All-Star game appearances with the Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers.
Beltran was the first switch-hitter in MLB history with 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases and ranks in the top 50 of baseball history for games played, total bases, doubles, HR, RBI and extra-base hits. His 86.4 percent success rate on stolen bases ranks third all-time and is a testament not only to Beltran's athletic ability, but also his cerebral approach to the game.
He would likely be a lock for the HOF with just his regular season numbers, but it's the postseason where Beltran has truly shined. A career .323 hitter in 55 playoff games, Beltran tied Barry Bonds' postseason record of eight home runs with the Astros in 2004 despite the fact that Houston didn't even reach the World Series. Although it doesn't look like he'll reach the mythical 500 HR or 3,000 hit plateaus, Beltran's well-rounded career and playoff exploits should make him the next Spokane Indian enshrined in Cooperstown when he finally decides to hang up his cleats.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Zack Greinke (2002): The mercurial Greinke has had an up-and-down career, but when he's locked in there are few better pitchers in baseball. A first round pick out of a Florida high school in 2002, Greinke reached the majors just two years later and was a serviceable starter for the Royals before his breakout season of 2009. That year saw Greinke make his first All-Star team and capture the AL Cy Young award after he finished with a 16-8 record, 242 K's and a league-best 2.16 ERA.
He was good but not great for the Royals, Brewers and Angels from 2010-12 before rebooting his career with the Dodgers starting in 2013. Greinke put together one of the best three-year runs for a pitcher in history during his stint in Los Angeles, compiling a 51-15 record (.773 win percentage) and 2.30 ERA. He made two more All-Star teams during that time while also capturing a Silver Slugger, two Gold Gloves and finishing in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting all three years. Greinke's last season with the Dodgers in 2015 was his best as he went a remarkable 19-3 with a microscopic 1.66 ERA - somehow finishing second in the Cy Young race to his teammate Clayton Kershaw.
He joined the Diamondbacks last year and won his second career Gold Glove despite a mediocre year on the mound with the second worst ERA (4.37) of his career. Greinke has been considerably better in 2017 (17-6, 3.18 ERA) and was named to his fourth career All-Star team this summer. Still just 33 years old, Greinke has a good chance to finish his career with around 250 wins and more than 3,000 strikeouts - numbers that should grab the attention of HOF voters.
Ian Kinsler (2003): A lowly 17th round pick out of the University of Missouri in 2003, Kinsler has exceeded the wildest expectations for his career yet remains underrated by baseball fans at large. The speedy and powerful second baseman has been selected to four All-Star games and took home his first career Gold Glove last season. Kinsler joined the 200 HR/200 SB club in 2016 and is just one of 40 players in MLB history with career numbers of at least 200 home runs, 1,000 runs scored, 1,600 hits and 200 stolen bases - a group that includes names like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Derek Jeter.
Kinsler has a higher career WAR (54.8) than nine other second basemen already in the HOF and probably still has another 3-4 years to add to that total. If he continues to play at a high level for that time, he could finish his career in the same company as Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar and Ryne Sandberg -certainly making a strong case for his inclusion in baseball's most hallowed shrine.
TOO SOON TO TELL
Odubel Herrera (2010): Although he's struggled a bit this season, Herrera has already accumulated 10.5 WAR in less than three seasons thanks to his stellar work defensively in center field. Only 25 years old, he was an All-Star with the Phillies last year and could push for 3,000 career hits if he stays healthy.
Kyle Hendricks (2011): Hendricks finished second in NL Cy Young voting while leading the league in ERA (2.13) last year and capped off his season with a phenomenal playoff run as the Cubs captured their first World Series since 1908. If he continues to pitch like the second coming of Greg Maddux, a HOF career isn't out of the question for Hendricks.
Rougned Odor (2012): It seems like Odor has been in the big leagues forever, but he's still just 23 years old. He's scuffled in 2017 after signing a big contract in the offseason, but he offers rare power for a middle infielder and already has 88 career home runs. If he can improve his plate discipline and defense, Odor has the chance to carve out his name among some of the best second baseman in the game's history.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.