Jon Lester will be the next Cubs player inducted into the Hall of Fame

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Earlier this month, three-time World Series champion and five-time All-Star Jon Lester announced  he was retiring after 16 years in the league. He acknowledged the physical toll that the major league season was taking on his body, and the 38-year-old believed that it was time for him to step away from the game.

The reliable lefty had been a staple of baseball rotations for years. In addition, he was a legend in two huge baseball cities: Boston and Chicago. If that wasn’t enough, his story was a heartfelt one. Lester made his major league debut in 2006 with the Red Sox at 22, but that season was cut short when he was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer.

Lester returned in 2007 and aided Boston in their World Series win that season. For the following six seasons, the southpaw was a big piece of the Red Sox rotation. If the 2007 World Series title wasn’t enough, he went on to help the team win the 2013 crown, as well. Lester owned a 1.56 ERA in a total of five starts that postseason and won his starts in both Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic that year.

Following his tenure with the Red Sox, Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs after hitting free agency. In December of 2014, Lester signed a six-year $155 million deal to play in Chicago. During his time in Chicago, he did what many considered impossible: lead the Cubs to a World Series championship.

Signing Lester was a much-needed reset for the team, and his competitive edge brought him and the Cubs success. In 2016, Lester was runner-up in National League Cy Young voting. He went 19-5, posting a 2.44 ERA over 200 innings. Famous for his signature cutter, Lester was a mainstay of the Chicago Cubs rotation beyond the championship until 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, and Lester never got a proper send-off from fans in Chicago. He spent his last season in the big leagues split between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Reflecting on Lester’s career, and the recent Hall of Fame announcement of Red Sox legend David Ortiz, begs the question: is Lester a Hall of Famer? I’d say so.

Jon Lester will be the next Cubs player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

While many believe that Lester is just short of being a Hall of Famer, I disagree. Over his 16-year career, Lester has accomplished a remarkable feat. Between 2006 and 2021, the only two pitchers that accumulated more wins than Lester were Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, who are also future Hall of Famers. Lester is also the only southpaw among them.

Lester reached over 2,000 strikeouts in his career and more than 200 wins. He ranks 40th on baseball’s all-time strikeout list and 12th among lefties. Only a total of 18 left-handers reached this minimum of wins and strikeouts, and only Randy Johnson and Lefty Grove have better winning percentages.

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All in all, Lester’s 200 wins, five All-Star appearances, and three World Series titles are the makings of a legendary career and the credentials of a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher. Hopefully, we will see Lester elected to Cooperstown once he’s eligible.