Blog Entry

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:52 pm
Barry Bonds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If steroids have clouded the Hall of Fame voting the last few years, a hurricane is coming in 2013. 

While the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor for a baseball player, we all know there's a difference between the Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays Hall of Famers and the Phil Rizzuto, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice Hall of Famers. While Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were probably better than the later group, they certainly don't belong with the former. That changes next year.

Hall of Fame coverage

In December, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America that are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame will receive their ballot and on that ballot will be baseball's career home run leader and perhaps its greatest pitcher. While most voters agonize over their votes and research each and every name in front of them, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens shouldn't take time. In a perfect world, a world where the only considerations are on the page, more time would be spent putting ink to paper than actually breaking down the candidacy of Bonds and Clemens.

This, as we know, is not a perfect world. And the Hall of Fame debate, which has always been hotly contested, takes on a different debate with the class of 2013. For the first time not only will Bonds and Clemens be eligible for the Hall, so too will Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. While Sosa and Piazza aren't in the same class as Bonds and Clemens, they do have 1,036 homers between them and without allegations of steroid use, they'd be no-doubters as well.

As long as the Hall doesn't have any guidelines for the voting bloc, there will be a mixture of four types of voters when it comes to steroids:

1. Hardline no: These are the folks who don't vote for Bagwell. If there's even a rumor about a player having a zit on their back, these defenders of the Hall will keep a player out.

2. Proof only: Here's where it gets tricky -- some voters want hard evidence before they keep a player out. But what's the line here? Is it a failed test like Palmeiro? Or is it overwhelming evidence such as the cases against Bonds and Clemens? And then what about the Mitchell Report? Is that good enough? And then there's other ties, like Sammy Sosa, who was never suspended and not in the Mitchell Report, but just about everyone suspects he used.

3. Worthy before PEDs: Then there's the "he was a Hall of Famer before steroids." This is the argument you can use to OK Bonds and Clemens, while rejecting the likes of McGwire and Sosa. This, though, assumes you can tell when a player started using steroids just by their head growth or some other assumed symptom.

4. Numbers voters: Finally there are those who say the only thing we know is the results that were on the field. We don't know the extent of steroid use during the so-called steroid era or how much the results were changed by their usage or even who exactly did or did not use them. 

In the end, the results are likely to say more about the voting bloc than the players themselves -- and as many people who get upset about the voting every year will get louder next year as the steroid question will divide almost all baseball fans. Here's a quick look at the new players who will be on the 2013 ballot:

Craig Biggio -- Biggio finished his career with 3,060 hits and nearly 300 home runs (291). The seven-time All-Star put up a career line of .281/.363/.433. He started his career at catcher before moving to second base and was the face of the Astros, playing 20 years in Houston. And despite his close association with Bagwell during their playing days, he hasn't been associated with Bagwell's alleged steroid use. In the end, his squeaky-clean image could do as much to aid his Hall candidacy as his numbers.

Barry BondsBarry Bonds -- And this is where it gets real. Bonds has more home runs (762) in the history of the game, had a career OPS of 1.051. A seven-time MVP, Bonds may be the best hitter in the history of the game. And then there's Game of Shadows and BALCO -- the baggage surrounding Bonds is as big as his batting helmet. The common belief is Bonds didn't start using steroids until seeing the hoopla around Sosa and McGwire in 1998, and by that time he already had three MVPs under his belt. A great player and future Hall of Famer before the 1998 season, he hit 351 home runs from 1999-2007, breaking McGwire's single-season mark with 73 home runs in 2001.

Roger Clemens -- Like Bonds, Clemens had a Hall of Fame career before suspicion of steroids. Clemens had three Cy Young Awards in his first eight seasons, before going on to win four more later in his career. Clemens finished his carer with a 354-184 mark, a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third all-time after Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Steve Finley -- The outfielder had a solid 19-year career, picking up 2,548 hits, 304 home runs and 320 stolen bases, to go along with five Gold Gloves. A fine career, but not a Hall-worthy one.

Julio Franco -- Franco's a better candidate for Ripley's Believe It or Not than the Hall of Fame. Franco played his last game at the reported age of 49 in 2007. In his 23 seasons, he hit .298/.365/.417, collecting 2,586 hits. In addition to his 23 seasons in the big leagues, he had two years in Japan, another in Korea and played his last season in Mexico. A three-time All-Star, he also won a batting title in 1991 with a .341 average. He won't be voted into the Hall, but he had one amazing career.

Roberto Hernandez -- A closer, Hernandez finished his career with 326 saves and a 3.45 ERA. He had a good career, but is unlikely to stay on the ballot more than one year.

Kenny Lofton -- Because Lofton played in the steroid era, his talents may be under-appreciated. A leadoff man, Lofton finished with a .299/.372/.423 line, stole 622 bases and had 2,428 hits. He also had 130 homers, winning four Gold Gloves and appearing in six All-Star Games. A premier defensive player, Lofton has a better case than you'd think at first glance.

Jose Mesa -- Mesa's numbers are just a tick below Hernandez's, finishing with 321 saves and a 4.36 ERA.

Mike PiazzaMike Piazza -- If there are whispers, but no proof, that Bagwell used steroids, there are shouts that Piazza did, despite the same lack of hard evidence. The best offensive catcher of the modern era, Piazza had 427 home runs and hit .308/.377/.545 in his 16 seasons. He wasn't considered a good catcher, but that was beside the point -- Piazza was a middle of the order presence. Without steroids involved in the discussion, there's no discussion of whether he's in or not. But that's not the world we live in.

Curt Schilling -- Jack Morris' candidacy has been built largely on his postseason exploits -- and with all due respect to Morris, he can't hold a candle to Schilling's postseason accomplishments. Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 13 postseason starts. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 in 19 postseason starts, winning four of his seven World Series starts. In 20 years in the big leagues, Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, but that was done in a much better offensive era than Morris' 3.90 ERA. Injuries throughout his career kept his career numbers down, but his candidacy will be heavily debated from both sides -- and in a rarity, it may be an old-fashioned baseball debate, not one about steroids.

Sammy Sosa -- Sosa will likely be remembered as much for his sudden inability to speak English when facing Congress as his 609 home runs. He's the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons, but he didn't lead the league in homers in any of those three seasons. He reportedly tested positive during the 2003 PED survey test. On sheer numbers, he's tough to pass up, but with the steroid question, he's unlikely to get in.

David Wells -- Wells no doubt got bigger throughout his career, but the belief is he did it the old fashioned way -- by eating. Never small, Wells went 239-157 for nine different teams in parts of 21 seasons, but his 4.13 ERA will make him easy to keep out of the Hall of Fame. He was 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 postseason games and 17 starts.

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Since: Sep 29, 2011
Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:51 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I agree Jim....Pete Rose as a player did nothing while this writer debates Bonds who was?  OH...he was great before steriods....WELL HELL'S BELLS GLADYS, wasn't Pete Rose great before the betting as a manager? 

Trent must be one of the few Bonds apologists...hoping to sway other voters for next time like the present to start that Skippy!

Craig Biggio and definately Kenny Lofton.  Jack Morris before Curt Schilling IMO.

Since: Jun 16, 2011
Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:51 am


BA .289 - HITS 2,866 - HOME RUNS 384 - RBI 1,628 - With 1,628 RBI, Baines has the most RBI of any player eligible for the Hall of Fame not currently inducted.  He ranked 7th in AL history in games played (2,830) and 10th in RBI (1,628) upon his retirement.  Baines is tied for 7th in AL history in grand slams (13), 4th in 3-home run games (3), and tied for 7th in major league history in walk-off home runs (10).  Baines hit over .300 eight times and hit .324 in 31 career postseason games, topping the .350 mark in five separate series. A six-time All-Star, he led the AL in slugging in 1984. He held the White Sox team record for career home runs from 1987 until Fisk passed him in 1990; his eventual total of 221 remains the club record for left-handed hitters, as do his 981 RBI and 585 extra base hits with the team. His 1,652 games as a designated hitter are a major league record, and he held the mark for career home runs as a DH (236) until Edgar Martinez passed him in 2004.  STEROID - FREE!!!!

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:39 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

All steroid users should be given the Joe Jackson/Pete Rose treatment.  I'd much rather see Jackson or Rose in the Hall than these guys.  Baseball needs to get tough, like it did after the Black Sox scandal.  Test positive for steroids and get booted from baseball for life.  Kick Braun et al. out.  The emphasis on homeruns and trying to excite non-baseball fans with long homeruns has ruined baseball and needs to stop.  Long games, too many relief pitchers, lopsided scores, little league sized fields, small strikezones, the DH, almost everyone in a lineup having 100-200 strikeouts and hitting 30 homers, no fielding and baserunning, Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds considered great players-- it all needs to stop.  Exciting non-baseball fans might've worked short term with McGwire and Sosa, but where was the excitement with Bonds?  Long term, baseball is losing more fans than it is gaining by its love of offense and the long ball.

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:12 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

OK, I get the Rizzuto barb, but Rice and Dawson?  You're out of your mind.  Rice and Reggie were the two most feared hitters of their day in the AL, and Dawson was, arguably, the most complete player of his time.  I mean, he had all 5 tools.  Rizzuto had what, maybe one?  I'm not even sure he had that.  And Rice?  Well, he had to wait 15 years to get in because he ticked off the writers by not sucking up to them!

So, sure, point out that Rizzuto does NOT belong in the Hall of Fame.  Just don't put dominant players in the same sentence with him.

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 11, 2012 9:12 am

Steroid era irritating.

The second most irritating crime of the steroid era was that they ruined the career totals of every player before them, almost like they got a marker and wrote themselves in ahead of the greats who didn't have the benifit of steroids. They cheapened 500 home runs as a mark of excellence. They ruined 400 home runs, and 30 home runs and 100 rbi. They made 4.50 eras seem ok and 1.80 era's after 40 years old seem plausible. 
Anyway, I know the 1920's and 30's had big hitting stats for different reasons, it just irked me that all of a sudden in 1996 the back up second baseman for the Marlins or whoever has 35 homers and he's 35th in the league, While, you know, Dave Winfield had 34 in 1979 and he was 3rd in the league.

The first most irritating thing is that now baseball talk will ALWAYS include talk of steroid use and cheating etc.

That is a HUGE thing. It affects millions of us who love baseball and revered it's records.

And it will never go away, so... These guys have damaged the game going forward more than all players before them combined, back to the Black Sox and gamblers of the 1910-20 era.  

That's not really something that should be honored by the hall of fame.  



Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2012 8:40 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

None of them should be allowed into Cooperstown if Pete Rose is not allowed in.
I am not saying what Pete rose did ok because I am not but he did it after he was done playing the game and was a manager.
It had nothing to do with how he played the game or being the all time hits leader.
These other players ( Mcgwire,Bonds,Clemens,Sosa, Rodriguez) all did it while still playing the game....While a couple of them were good players already  they still cheated to give them a advantage.

So until they let Pete Rose in none of them should even be considered!

Since: Mar 6, 2008
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:54 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Here is what baseball should; Have an *asterick HOF vote for those that have tested positive for PED's or whatever is not to be used or those suspected heavily of using. Have a vote and if they pass the election number, they have the ceremony in Utica or Oneonta, a neighboring town or city, but put them in their own wing. There is no question that McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and, in the future A-Rod are among the greatest players of all time. They belong amongst the other great players, but in their own special wing. 

Since: Nov 4, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:49 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

After further review...Schilling's numbers are actually quite impressive, and what he did in the post season will seal the deal. Schilling should go in over Morris for sure. I saw a blog entry on ESPN site that has him compare VERY favorably with Bob Gibson. Search for "schilling hall of fame" on Google. 

You won't be able to keep out Clemens and Bonds for long, because they were THAT GOOD. Both will certainly go in before McGwire, if teh latter makes it at all. Class of 2017 maybe? When is Maddox and Glavine eligible? I thought it might have been 2013. Talk about First Ballot HOF entries...

Since: Feb 27, 2010
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:18 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

@Saint patriotnation

For YOUR clarification, anabolic steroids are legal today, with a prescription. As far as NEVER legal, that would be FALSE...they were deemed a controlled substance in 1990, and I'm pretty sure the world was around prior to 1990, so NEVER is incorrect.

In fact, steroids have been around since the 1930's.

Wikipedia can be your friend. Try it.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:09 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I keep seeing Mark McGwire's name dragged through the mud, over and over, and then I see a story that seems to glorify Sammy Sosa.  Let's put PEDs aside for a moment.  Sammy Sosa broke a corked bat in a game at one point in his career, littering the infield with what normally is not the inside of a wooden bat.  

Last time I checked, Mark McGwire had used Andro, which could be purchased over the counter at GNC in 1998 and which was not prohibited at the time.  In addition, I don't believe he ever failed a drug test during his playing days either.  

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, like it or not, saved the game of baseball with their historic home run record chase that season, when attendance and fan interest revived from the dead.  I agree with some of the other posters, the stories need to be told, and the HOF is where that story, the history, is told.  From the players of the 60s & 70s using amphetamines to era of the 80s & 90s, during most of which taking many of the substances they did wasn't really prohibited and they weren't tested for.  I am sick of the self righteous writers sitting on their high horses and determining who is deserving and who isn't.  Barry Larkin gets in but Alan Trammell & Fred McGriff don't, along with several players who had better numbers than some of the ones who are already in there.  

I thought the game, and its Hall of Fame, was for fans of the game, for parents to take their kids and walk them through the history of the game, and its great players.   Mark McGwire, as a skinny rookie, hit 49 home runs, so I find it hard to believe that ALL his success was attributed to anything related to his use of legal supplements.  I do not believe for one minute that Cal Ripken, another player from that same era, was clean either.  No one wants to go there, though.  Not Cal Ripken.  To that, I say bull.   There is no way a guy can go through that many seasons without missing a game due to a strain or sprain without some help.  

I would like to see the hypocrisy removed from the Hall of Fame debate.  These men played on the field and put up the numbers they did, against pitchers who we know were doing the same things.  Heck, every player in the majors was using stuff to make them stronger and help their bodies, there's no way they weren't or they wouldn't have been competetive.

Take the Hall of Fame out of these putz journalists' hands- like it not, 600+ homeruns and what Clemens did on the field, and not failing a test, deserves some merit.  

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