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 Baseball-Reference.com 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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Comments

Since: Feb 27, 2010
Posted on: January 11, 2012 7:05 am
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

@patriotnation

Breaking the LAW is your criteria for non-inclusion? I thought we were talking about the rules of BASEBALL. But, fine, if you want LEGALITY in terms of the LAW, then you might need to buckle up and get ready to drop a whole load of sacred Hall members, including the Babe. Seems like there was this little law, back in the days, that made alcoholic consumption illegal. It was said to be immoral. It wasn't against the rules of baseball, though, and a bunch of them sinners made their way into the Hall, and somehow, the children of the time and beyond have survived thinking of Babe Ruth as a legend. How did that happen?

The kids watched the games, just like today...and any kid old enough to understand about the steroids issue is well beyond the age where you can sit em down and tell em a little sage tale of honor and integrity. For God's sake man, be serious. This isn't a story of cheating...the rules of baseball weren't broken. The wailing and gnashing of teeth about it now is pure garbage.

There is no justice if Barry Bonds makes the Hall of Fame? Dude...please. There is no TRUTH if Barry makes the Hall? You do realize we are talking about a SPORT, right?

And don't even try go down the path of the advantages of today's equipment, blah, blah, blah. Compare athletes vs their peers and sift out the dominant ones and voila! there are your hall of famers. It's an easy concept.

As far as my son, NOPE, I would not dispense an illegal drug to my son. But then again, trainers and other's inside the clubhouses and front offices were well aware of steroids and other supplements...and THEY DIDN'T STOP IT THEN, and it's HYPOCRITICAL NOW the way BASEBALL treats the issue now. Wake up. Don't be such a follower.





Since: Oct 8, 2009
Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:31 am
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I think all the Steriod users listed should be in the hall of fame....make a new wing and Pete rose and Shoeless Joe go in there to.  It tells the story of baseball, and can provide lessons to future generations and explain how the game has evolved.  The HoF should be more then about greatness, it should tell baseballs story.  But there should be a different wing or even building you could still have the writers vote on it too.  Personally I would put Tommy John in that other wing as well, as the game changed because of him & his doctor, but he is not worthy of of the greatness hall, but he would help tell baseballs story.

Just my opinion.



Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:54 am
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

At this point, it's safe to assume that PED's, whether we're talking about Hgh, andro, creatine, deca/testosterone, were prevalent throughout MLB for roughly 25 years.  But here’s a fact that nobody wants to hear:  MLB’s history has been littered with cheating, questionable rules and imperfections. 

So-called “purists” have mythologized the old-time players to the point where they ignore so many other factors that gave similar advantages/disadvantages (depending on how you look at it) throughout the game’s history (i.e. the dead-ball era, drastic differences in the size of stadiums, limiting the talent-pool by excluding non-white players, doctored balls, sandpaper, spit-balls, corked bats, popping greenies, and the list goes on and on).  Steroid-use was just the latest in a long line of questionable elements/imperfections that have persisted throughout the game’s history for one reason and one reason only:  MLB’s rules, or lack thereof, have allowed them to.  These players we’re talking about played within the rules of the game that existed during their careers - the fact that they were never "disciplined" or "punished" attest to this.

We’ve already established beyond a reasonable doubt that PED’s were a major part of the game during this period.  Therefore, players that played during "The Steroid Era" should be judged based on their performance in comparison to their peers, period, end of story.  Guys like Bonds and Clemens should be no-doubters because they *dominated* their Steroid-era peers over a long period of time.  That’s what the HOF is all about – celebrating extraordinary performance over a sustained period of time, and this can only be determined by comparing and contrasting players to those who played with them and against them during the same era. 




Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:48 am
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

At this point, it's safe to assume that PED's, whether we're talking about Hgh, andro, creatine, deca/testosterone, were prevalent throughout MLB for roughly 25 years.  But here’s a fact that nobody wants to hear:  MLB’s history has been littered with cheating, questionable rules and imperfections.  So-called “purists” have mythologized the old-time players to the point where they ignore so many other factors that gave similar advantages/disadvantages (depending on how you look at it) throughout the game’s history (i.e. the dead-ball era, drastic differences in the size of stadiums, limiting the talent-pool by excluding non-white players, doctored balls, sandpaper, spit-balls, corked bats, popping greenies, and the list goes on and on).  Steroid-use was just the latest in a long line of questionable elements/imperfections that have persisted throughout the game’s history for one reason and one reason only:  MLB’s rules, or lack thereof, allow them to.  I understand the constant back-and-forth that exists when it comes to identifying problems and formulating rules to address those problems as they arise, so this is not necessarily a knock on MLB, only an important point to consider.  Most of these players we’re talking about played within the rules of the game that existed during their careers.  Most of these guys never failed a drug test.  However, even if they did, we’ve already established beyond a reasonable doubt that PED’s were a major part of the game during this period.  Therefore, players that played during "The Steroid Era" should be judged based on their performance in comparison to their peers, period, end of story.  Guys like Bonds and Clemens should be no-doubters because they *dominated* their Steroid-era peers over a long period of time.  That’s what the HOF is all about – celebrating extraordinary performance over a sustained period of time, and this can only be determined by comparing and contrasting players to those who played with them and against them during the same era. 




Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: January 11, 2012 1:21 am
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I don't think that Barry Bonds Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa or anyone believe to used steroids has a good chance getting in the hall of fame, they have the stats to get in the Hall but they just won't get enough votes to get in. 



Since: Sep 22, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:42 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

By actual results there have been years where no player was voted into the Hall.  1945, 1946, 1950, 1958, 1960, 1971, 1996 had no one voted in.



Since: Oct 24, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:36 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

You have to put Bonds in the hall. He was a hall of famer before steroids. The reason Mcgwire isnt in is because he shouldnt be. No defense, mid 260's lifetime average, only 1600 plus hits. Maris wasnt in the hall so Big Mac shouldnt be. Besides if steroids makes you a better player then Ozzie Canseco, and Jeremy Giambi should be in the hall



Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:33 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

no way lofton is a hall of famer.period!!!he didnt hit enough and you cant compare him to ozzie smith defensively.ozzie changed the way the position was played,loften was just another really good center fielder.he was nowhere near as good as andrew jones in his prime,and wasn't better than edmunds either.is edmonds a hofer?i believe he hit better than lofton,tho i dont have numbers handy.i believe we are starting an era where fringe hofer's will get in that wouldn't of 20 years ago because they played with guys who used steroids,which is a shame.it waters down the hof.because the writers can't vote for bonds,sosa,palmeiro,piazza,who were suspected of steroid use,they vote for a guy like lofton,who normally wouldn't get consideration.i really think larkin was a nice player,but wouldn't call him a hof guy.that said,anyone who failed a test should automatically be voided from consideration.



Since: Sep 22, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:28 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I tend to be less whiny than other people about the media when it has to cast votes ( annual awards, HOF, and whatever else ) and will keep the whininess down especially for this situation. 

The idea of character is one thing to consider for the voters, but the whole packing of things to consider is left in the eyes of the beholders.  It's a judgment call for them.  In some ways I wouldn't have it differently.



Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:24 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

What percentage of players juiced during the steroid era? Was it only the players mentioned in this article? Probably not. So, in a league full of juicers, these guys did what most everyone else did, and then performed at a higher level. Now, while the others have gone undetected, unaccused, and unaffected, the likes of Clemens and Bonds are being villified -- again.


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