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: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:12 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Mmac, that is some impressive info about the Mitchell Report...did not know about the abundance of Yankees and lack of Red Sox players. Goes to show how much garbage is fed to the public and the biased media furthers that process along.

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:47 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Whether we like to admit it, EVERY sport in EVERY era had players and coaches that cheated, lied, or try to beat the system. Steroids were one of those things that ballooned out of control for baseball. As the Steroids got better, the statistics got better. We were drawn to these games in awe of the performances on the field. And we can't go back in time to erase the stats. Non-users will be grouped with users based on their playing era alone. Fair or not, anyone who is though to not use steroids (Pujols, Chipper, Randy Johnson), will still have poeple doubting their stats simply by association.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:26 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

You cannto stregthen joints and bones to support the muscle. What you can do is build stronger muscle. Bonds had a history of possible steroid related injuries with kness, elbows etc. Sosa also clemens never did. He was always a big ole form boy. He went from a chubby rookie to big then back to chubby towards the end. Look at his cards the change isnt as dramatic. Bonds is just "unique". Then your head doesnt grow to those dimensions naturally.

Since: Jun 16, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:11 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Hey McGwire - it's even harder for pros to get bigger because of the punishment their bodies have taken by that age.  You can't stengthen your spine to support all of your new muscle and size 13 head.  Bonds' head is easily the funniest thing to watch!  That and comparing his early baseball cards to later ones - Sosa too.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:58 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

younowmyname it isnt impossible to grow bigger after age 35 it is unlikely for regualr people. these are pro athletes who take care of their bodies. Clemens size didnt really grow much over the years. Yes you will see a differenc in his rookie year to when he finished but the same can be said of every player. Clemens had his better numbers early in his career than agian whne he changed league to the national league.

Since: Jun 16, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:50 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I gotta go Piazza, Biggio and Lofton.  Schilling shouldn't get in if guys like Morris can't.  The proof is in the numbers and dates.  Jim Bunning will tell you, players do not hit their prime AFTER 35!  Bonds and Clemens grew bigger and stronger and better later in their careers - impossible without PEDs.  Just look at Nolan Ryan - he started it all! 

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:44 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Smurf I love the fact that you state if you were "mentioned" in the Mitchell report you should be out. Why is it no Red Sox were mentioned in that report? Could it be that Mitchell was on the board of directors of the red sox? Let me guess the rumors of Manny proved true later and rumors of ortiz didnt register? Or did Mitchell selectivley omit the red Sox? In fact why is it there were more yankee players mentioned than any other players? The Mitchell report means next to nothing. I will stand by my fact that the Hall of Fame is FULL of cheaters.

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:25 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

There's really only 3 possibles from this whole list, and that would be Piazza, Schilling and Biggio. The rest have way too many questions surrounding at least the latter part of their career and have too many enemies to make a serious bid. Of these 3, I'd expect Biggio and Schilling to make it, with Piazza going in the 2nd time around.

Since: Nov 5, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:19 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I love when people say he was a Hall Of Famer before he did the juice...give me we really know when they started using...clemens,bonds,mcguire,sosa,palmiero,pettite and the rest of the cheats should NEVER be allowed in the hall...whoever was mentioned in that mitchell report and any other test,document shoulk\d be kept out and that is that...

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:49 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

seely what circumstantial proof? His name was mentioned 82 times in the Mitchell report which was conducted by a member on the board of the Red Sox who coincedentally didnt have a single player in the report not even Manny. He was given all of his information by a drug dealer ex-cop rapist admitted liar so he could stay out of jail. then what TWO players? One is Pettite who himself LIED several times until he was caught. We are now to believe him? The governement did such a bang up job with their open and shut case that they caused a mistrial an hour into the trial by showing evidenced determined to be inappropriate immediatley after being instructed not too. Thsi is the same governement who could not find the alleged picture of Ckemens at the "drug party" or the same FBI who at every turn couldnt prpduce a single shred of concrete evidence no matter how hard they tried? Are these the parties you are basing you judgement on? I find it strange that a guy like Clemens who many many people hate their is no valid concrete first hand knowledge or eye witness acoount other than Macnamee. Is Clemens innocent? Who really know but Clemens and Mac? I am sorry and you. I hope nobody ever accuses you of doing something.

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