Blog Entry

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 am
 


By C. Trent Rosecrans

The whispers and suspicions of steroid use have already seem to keep one player with no-doubt, sure-fire numbers out of the Hall of Fame. Despite a lack of concrete evidence or failed drug test, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home run, career OPS+ of 149 and 79.9 WAR is left outside of Cooperstown and will likely still be on the outside after results of this year's balloting are announced on Tuesday.

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Next year's ballot will have the greater test of what the use of performance enhancing drugs means to the Hall of Fame -- if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can't get into the Hall because of their ties to PEDs, it's unlikely anyone will.

But we've seen Bonds and Clemens in federal court. Mark McGwire admitted his use and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive. The only test Bagwell has failed is the eyeball test. And that mark has kept him out of Cooperstown. It's unlikely he'll be the last to fail that test.

As we continue the look at the future of the Hall of Fame and the candidacy of players active today, there's no more interesting category than the asterisk guys -- some who have tested positive for PEDs, some who have been rumored to have used them, some who have been suspected and some who just don't pass the eyeball test.

Ryan Braun -- No matter what happens in Braun's appeal or the rest of his career, he will always wear the scarlet letter of a failed drug test on his chest. Braun isn't the first MVP winner to be linked to steroids, but he is the first to fail a test in the same year he won the MVP.

At 28, Braun's exploits on the field are yet to be Hall-worthy, but like Bagwell he already has a Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as an MVP by the time he turned 27. There's nothing in Braun's Baseball-Reference.com page that suggests he won't someday have a case to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his first five years in the big leagues, he's averaged more than 30 homers a season, finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, bringing home the trophy this year. In each of his first five seasons, he's earned MVP votes and he's seemingly getting better and better every season.  If it weren't for the news of his failed MVP test, he'd certainly be on Saturday's list instead of this one.

Jason Giambi -- A very good player with a good career, Giambi will instead be defined as one of the poster children for the steroid era. Even without the asterisk, Giambi's bid for the Hall would be difficult. Even playing in an offensive era, Giambi was an exception offensive player, putting up a .281/.404/.525 line through the 2011 season, hitting 428 home runs. 

In the minds of many, Giambi's case is shut by his performance with the Yankees, where he failed to meet expectations after signing a seven-year, $120 million deal before the 2002 season. The Yankees didn't win a World Series during his tenure with the team, appearing in just one World Series. And then there's the fact the team won a World Series the year after he left.

And then there's the steroids. Giambi reportedly admitted to using steroids during the offseason from 2001 to 2003 and also using human growth hormone in 2003. Giambi's best seasons -- from 1999 to 2003 -- are suspect in the timing of his use of steroids.

Manny Ramirez -- One of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, Ramirez was a controversial figure before being suspended twice for failing drug tests. While there are reasonable objections to Rafael Palmeiro's case as a mere compiler of stats and milestones, Ramirez was a force of nature on the field and an enigma off of it.

Ramirez, who is attempting to play in 2012, has 555 career homers and a .996 career OPS. With 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI, 1,544 runs and a .312/.411/.585 line, not to mention a stretch of eight consecutive seasons where he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and two World Series rings, Ramirez was a transcendent talent. He will be remembered by any fan of baseball, he just won't be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Alex Rodriguez -- Rodriguez's case will be much like Barry Bonds -- there's no question he's one of the elite players in the history of the game, but there are also the steroid questions. Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Rangers.

Like Bonds, there will be those who say Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly used steroids. And like Bonds, he may finish his career as the career leader in home runs. But unlike Bonds, Rodriguez has admitted to his use of steroids. If Bonds gets in, Rodriguez has a chance. If Bonds doesn't, he doesn't.

Ivan Rodriguez -- Jose Canseco claimed to have personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while the two were teammates in Texas, which is more indictment than anything that has been pinned on Bagwell.

What's different, perhaps, about Rodriguez is that the shadow of steroids is often cast on home run hitters, and while Rodriguez was a very good offensive player -- hitting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 2,844 hits -- during his career, his defense has always been his calling card. Rodriguez is on the short list with Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game -- and has caught 201 more games than any other player in the history of the game. While steroids may not have helped him throw out 46 percent of baserunners during his career, if he did use them, they would certainly help his day-to-day recovery and dealing with rigors of catching so many games.

Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest.

Miguel Tejada -- Even without steroid accusations, Tejada would be a borderline Hall of Fame selection at best. With his name in the Mitchell Report and connected to Palmeiro's fall, there's probably zero chance he gets in.

Tejada will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history, hitting .285/.336/.457 with 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in parts of 15 seasons, winning the MVP in 2002 and finishing in the top 20 six other times. Only Cal Ripken Jr. (345) and Rodriguez (344) have hit more than Tejada's 291 homers as a shortstop.

On the other hand, Tejada at his best was a below-average defensive shortstop and his career OPS+ is 108 and his (Baseball-Reference.com) WAR is 42.5, 22nd among active players behind the likes of Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew. Tejada is unlikely to earn a plaque in Cooperstown, and steroids are probably only part of the reason.

Coming Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles 

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Comments

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:45 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Right on.



Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:43 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Having Braun in this discussion is silly...he's just starting.  Giambi and Tejada are not HOF'ers, steroids or not.  Good careers, but not HOF worthy.  ramirez is a HOF'er if not for the steroids.  And in Manny's case, he multiple positive tests...one done in the post-steroid era where everyone supposedly knew better.  Manny's only real claim to the Hall is his HR total as well.  He is short of 3,000 hits, and if you take A-Rod's numbers in 2001-03 compared to his career trajectory as an indication of the "steroid jolt" to power numbers, then you need to reduce Manny's 555 HR's by 20-25%.  That brings his total for his whole career down to 416-444.  That's really, really good...but not HOF-worthy.

FYI: A-Rod was averaging 40 HR per year in the 3 years before 2001-03 and the three years after.  So you would figure that he would have hit 120-130 HR's in 2001-03 when he actually hit 156.  That's a difference of 20-25%.  Through 2011, A-Rod has 629 HR's.  If you discount the steroid jolt in 2001-03, he's at 593-603 right now, or definitely HOF-worthy. 

What about Bonds?  If you adjust his 762 down by 25% for his whole career (likely an over-est.), he still clocks in at 572, or HOF-worthy, right?  Nope.  Because he never admitted to using them, and that should count.  A-Rod came clean, and that should count, esp. given the politcs of the steroid era.  A-Rod did the right thing.  Palmeiro, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and McGwire?  Dirtbags all. 



Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:40 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

LENNON4EVER:  You must be a Brewers fan because your defense of Braun is weak at best.  Braun did not test positive for Steroids or PEDs, but he did test positive for something that acts as a masking agent for them (See Manny Ramirez).  Palmeiro's body never changed and if Braun has been taking some kind of PED since he started, then there would be no dip in production because he has never been clean.  I am a Braun fan and not saying he did take Steroids or PEDs, but it is hard for you to defend him as you are without knowing the details.



Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:37 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

"Im not sure but i would bet money that if the players in the golden age could of got their hands on steriods when they started to age they would of used them also."  --Cainon

They COULD get their hands on and abuse ILLEGAL PED's and did so at least as far back as the early fifties. Also, they could and did abuse emery boards and tobacco spit and petroleum jelly and who knows what all else, all against the rules of the game, none of which prevented the induction of Perry and Niekro and any number of old-timers. What's certain is that these dusty, crusty souls have no interest in shutting out the ghosts of their own boyhood idols. Crapping all over the kids of today is fine and dandy though, because it's all it's all about 'the good of the Game' and all for 'the Children'.

In a pig's *ss it i! Bloody hypocrites. 



Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

There will and should be some PED users eventually in the Hall of Fame.  But they should be made to wait.  If Roger Clemens pitches to Mark McGwire and they are both juiced, who has the advantage?  

I'm more concerned with those who have been overshadowed...Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Bill Freehan, albeit these all Tigers (my favorite team) all deserve membership to the hall of fame.  Trammell was by far the best shortstop in the AL just behind Ripken...but, because Ripken got all the accolades, Trammell is overlooked.  I can't think of a better secondbaseman during Whitakers days in the AL, maybe Alomar, but Alomar came along later.  And Freehan was the best AL catcher in the 1960's...something like 12 all star appearances?!



Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:29 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Pudge is also a first-ballot HOF'er.  Steroids enhance muscle and increase stamina.  The first is important to a power hitter (not Pudge) or a pitcher (not Pudge).  The latter can help anyone, and yes, it can help a catcher catch more games.  But Pudge's career numbers do not show abnormailities in terms of how many games he caught.  Could you argue it would have been a lot less without steroids?  Sure...but then you are arguing that Pudge would have been sub-par in stamina compared to other catchers and that is a stretch.  Pudge gets in because he has a stellar BA for a catcher (which is about hand-eye coordination...contacts help that, not steroids), because he was a demon behind the plate in terms of handling the game (which steroids would theoretically diminish), and because he had an accurate arm (again, steroids might help you throw the thing further, but they won't helo you put the ball on the SS's glove low on the 2B side of second).  Pudge goes into the Hall.



Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:24 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

"Who is this bonehead writer? It has already been told that Ryan Braun did not take a PED or steriod. Repeat, did not. His body hasn't changed, his numbers didn't spike."  --Lennon4ever

Questions of fact mean little to these people. In Salem, the Puritans will always find witches. It's one of the ways in which those from the 'right side of the tracks' wield their power over the rest of us. Fake moral outrage and kangaroo courts are just two of the many tools by which the wellborn remind uppity trash that their newfound success shouldn't go to their heads. They still don't REALLY belong--and they'd best not forget it.

This similarly accounts for some of the rage among fans. In the old British Royal Navy, there was no officer more likely to be despised by his troops than one risen from the ranks.* You see, the True Serf ever knows his Master, but will balk at the notion that he bend his will to another like himself. Human nature, although not the prettiest part of it.

*He did so knowing full well that the punishment for such crime was typically some number of lashes by a cat-o'-nine-tails at Mast, followed by a stanching of the blood by an abrupt shower of cold, salty seawater.



Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:22 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

A-Rod and Bonds are in two categories.  A-Rod admitted, Bonds did not.  A-Rod's 2001-03 numbers are inflated compared to his career trajectory, and thus the impact of steroid use is easy to track.  Bonds never admitted to when he used them, so it is not possible to know where his numbers are inflated.  A-Rod was never indicted or found guilty of off-the-field legal matters; Bonds has been.  Bonds will never get into the Hall; A-Rod should be a HOF'er.  And I'm sayingt his as a Phillies fan who hates the Yankees.



Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:08 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

elprophet: Well and good enough, but what's the accepted standard of proof? A single positive test? Two? Three? Or do we just go on the uncorroborated word of Jose Canseco, as Rosecrans suggests might be done with Pudge?

I have a novel suggestion. Turn their plaques toward the wall. Isn't that what we do with misbehaving children?  

Add this: (1) While Big Mac and Slammin' Sammy were were bringing baseball back from the abyss into which the owners had put the game, Bud Selig was feeding the pig, all the while knowing full d*mn well that they and others were using. It was only a combination of the publication of Canseco's book and the work of two (and only two!) reporters that the slimy candy*ss went all preacher man about it. If the players don't get into the Hall, then neither does this creep. Mind, the writers don't get a vote, so they should grow a pair and refuse to vote ANYONE else in until such time as the rules for the suits are changed to give THEM the power over Bud's future candidacy. (2) Because the tribe of sportswriters ALSO soft-sold the whole thing until they were embarrassed into their current fake 'outrage' by those two colleagues of theirs, the baseball writers from that era should ALSO be banned from both their own profession's awards and membership in the wing of the HOF to which some of them are admitted. Fair's fair.



Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:00 pm
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks

Who is this bonehead writer? It has already been told that Ryan Braun did not take a PED or steriod. Repeat, did not. His body hasn't changed, his numbers didn't spike.


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