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: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:39 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

As far as Clemens goes, no there is no "proof" that he took anything, but there is enough circumstantial evidence that suggests to me he should not be allowed in the Hall.

His name was mentioned 82 times in the Mitchell report. Two of his former teammates, as well as his personal trainer, claim he took performance enhancing drugs. His trainer stated he injected Clemens himself with them.

The FBI is investigating whether Clemens lied under oath about the drug usage in front of the bipartisan House committee when he appeared. A federal grand jury indicted him on at least 6 counts on his lying to Congress about it. For sure the case ended in a mistrial, but he will be retried again, and the prosecution will get it right this time.

All these actions tell me that William Roger Clemens is a major scumbag, that he DID take performance enhancing drugs, that he IS a filthy liar, and that he does NOT belong in the Hall of Fame under any circumstances.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:31 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

kenny lofton deserves to be in the hall of fame.  he was a game changer and, in the steroid era, played a completely different game than the norm and was still the best of his time.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:28 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Syeely3000 so it is OK to doctor baseball to gain an advantage which is clearly in the rulebook as cheating then get into the hall of fame? Cheating is cheating. With that said who broke the rules of baseball? Perry, Sutton and Neikro or Clemens and Bonds? Then just the rumor of using steroids is enough to keep a guy out? Come on.....cheating by breaking rules directly is just as bad as PEDs which is indirect cheating. A bad player isnt going to be great by taking steroids.  Learning how to throw a doctored ball makes a HUGE difference.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:18 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Biggio for sure should get in, on the first ballot. Kenny Lofton is an interesting one, he is quite borderline. Mike Piazza should get in, unless there is controversy surrounding his name; I haven't heard any frankly. The others don't get in, either because they didn't play that well to merit it, or their career is clouded by steroid controversy.

Now I am a little tired of hearing about Gaylord Perry and what a cheater he is. I don't think you can equate throwing spitballs with steroid using. They are two different animals.

We can't possibly assume that most of Perry's 314 career wins were due to cheating. We can however throw doubt on many of the 762 home runs of Barry Bonds. Bonds bulked himself up with steroids, which allowed him to hit all those home runs. Perry may have thrown spitballs, but there is nothing to suggest he did it all the time in any one season.

One can suggest that cheating is cheating; if that is the case than they should just close up the hall. Batters who kick dirt over the batters box are cheating. Pitchers who balk and don't get caught are cheating. Fielders who trap a fly ball and claim they caught it are cheating; phantom double plays are cheating; where does it end???

There is a huge difference with illegal drug use. This is a serious crime to society and needs to be stopped. It has stopped with not letting McGwire in, it will continue with Bonds and Sosa and Clemens, as it should.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:13 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Richfall did I miss something? When was it proven Clemens used anything? I didnt think the case went to court again after the prosecution's ineptitude caused a mistrial. Please understand regardless of what you are popular opinion is Clemens has never been proven to use anything and has consistently denied it. He is being accused of being an alleged user by a liar backed up by another liar. In fact every avenue the government took rto substaintiate and find proof of his use turned up negative. Did he use I cannot clearly support or deny use. But, the concrete facts and evidence does not support it at this time. Perhaps the genius of the US Givernment causing a mistrial so they can continue to spend MILLIONS of our dollare to come up with evidence will be successful. Unitl then he is purely alleged not proven. Once agin if you have evidence otherwise please share.

Since: Apr 21, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:06 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Enough already!  The drug issue is a ruse.  The Hall should reward achievement; nothing else matters.  If Clemens and Bonds had quit baseball in 1998, before the clear rise of PED,  their stats would have gotten them into the Hall.  Put pre-1998 stats aside for the moment.  The records are only a matchup of players vs. players in the era they played.  The ball has changed.  The height of the pitcher's mound has changed. The parks have changed. Conditioning has changed. The rules have changed.  In an era that the best pitchers and best position players were apparently on PED there was no apparent advantage of being on PED.  The best players of the era deserve to be in the Hall because the reality is that no one is "cheating" if nearly everyone is "cheating." And Yes,  Rose and Shoeless Joe should get into the Hall as well based on achievement--  nothing else matters when achievement is the one common denominator of all the members of the Hall .  Unfortunately, many of the Hall voters will ignore achievements and vote against admission to the Hall for the greatest players of the era based on  fuzzy, non-legal, moral and ethical assumptions.

Since: Feb 10, 2010
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:05 pm

2013 Hall class to raise questions

if the hall lets clemens and bonds in they sre hypocrits. both are proven cheaters. pete rose did nothing worse than they did. hell lets just put the entire chicago black sox team in! what a joke baseball is!

Since: Sep 25, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:56 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

I used to love the game of baseball until the 24/7 media blitz took away the ability to enjoy the actual game.  In every era, players have bent, stretched and even broken rules to gain a competitive advantage.  (Sharpened spikes by Ty Cobb, Doctoring Baseballs by Gaylord Perry, Energy Supplements, Greenies, and Uppers by 1960-1980's players, and now the PED's.) all of this because MLB and the owners want to make every possible Dollar off of the fans.  The writers and fans need to just face the facts that there are not any Cal Ripkens, Craig Biggios or Barry Larkins around anymore.  162 games a year plus expanded playoffs and the pressure to perform takes a lot of common sense out of the discussion.  The system needs to be updated so that as things change and testing gets better that the past when things were either legal or not tested (Bonds, McGuire, Sosa) for instance dont get penalized for a bias by a voting member who dod not get the signed baseball or tickets they wanted from a reluctant superstar.  The numbers are what they are.  If they put them up and they are above their peers give it to them.  Add all of the asterisks you want by era and move forward.  Baseball just is not the moral compass of America any more and these discussions dont change the exploits on the field.  I watch 2-3 games a year now instead of 15-20 just because of this.  How can you get excited about any team when the vultures are out there just trying to sell a paper or protect their own team, player, source.  Watch the college game.  Much cheaper and without all of the drama. 

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:36 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Rauol and Ink just a few questions: How many wins did Perry, Sutton and Neikro get of their 300+ because they cheated? Why is it OK to cheat and be in when clearly breaking the rules of baseball but not OK to take PEDs which were not aganist the rules? Please spare me the illegal in society aspect because "greenies" are illegal in society also. I wowould love an answer to these two questions by anyone.

Since: Jul 27, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 11:05 am

2013 Hall class to raise questions

InkMeister, I applaud you. (In other words you got in and said some of what I wanted to say before I had a chance).

Tha Hall of Fame is designed to be a venerable place. The likes of Bonds, Mcgwire etc will have their place in the statistical record books (potentially with an asterisk) and that is the reward for the NUMBERS.

But the Hall should be for something else - the players that grandparents tell their their grandchildren about, the players who had a presence and "were" the team, not just a highly paid individual who showed up, showed off, and went home.

Barry Larkin this year - well done to the voters. The epitome of what the Hall is meant to represent in my opinion.

To that end, who should go in next year?

Biggio - a 1 team player (a rarity these days) who was consistently excellent and the face of a team. How does he not get in?

Jack Morris - if you did not see him play, you missed what baseball was all about.

Curt Schilling - I feel less of a personal yearning that he deserves it (unlike my first 2), but he almost certainly does.

Personally I think Piazza should get in, and also Jeff Bagwell. I think they are less deserving than my 3 above, but less deserving does not mean not deserving.

Oh, and I think Pete Rose should be added, with immediate effect. Just to stir a hornets' nest...

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