Hall of Fame
One of the unspoken parts of the Francisco Lindor extension discussions was Steve Cohen and the New York Mets had the opportunity to add another Hall of Famer to the franchise. With the 10 year/$341 million contract, the Mets did just that.
Point is, it doesn’t matter where your career began. What matters is where you spent the bulk of your career and had the greatest impact. With a 10 year deal, Lindor will be in line to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Make no mistake, Lindor will be a Hall of Famer.
Consider for a moment, the average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 43.1 WAR7 and a 55.3 JAWS. So far, through five-and-a-half seasons, Lindor is at a 27.9. If he continues his 5.3 WAR/year production over his first five years, he’ll hit a 37.4.
That’s right behind the 43.1 mark. However, it should be noted Lindor is entering his prime. He’s entering his prime after already establishing himself as a 30 home run, 100 RBI shortstop.
Shortstops with 125+ HR and 8+ dWAR before their age-27 season:
• Cal Ripken Jr.
• Francisco Lindor pic.twitter.com/4OxSlb4wWE
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) March 31, 2021
#Mets Francisco Lindor has played 777 career games.
Through first 777 games:
Francisco Lindor – .285/.346/.488
896 hits, 344 extra-base hits, & 138 homers
Cal Ripken Jr. – .292/.355/.489
873 hits, 320 extra-base hits, & 125 homers
Lindor tops Ripken in stolen bases, 99 to 8.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) January 7, 2021
Now, Lindor is with a New York franchise where his profile will be even higher. He’s also at a place more invested in analytics and getting the right data to players to help them perform at their peak. In some ways, Lindor finds himself in the position Gary Carter once did.
New York will be the place Lindor shows just how much of a leader he is. He’ll show his enthusiasm and love for the game on a bigger stage. God willing, this will be the place he leads the Mets to the World Series.
When all this happens, there will be no doubt Lindor should have his number retired, and he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He will wear a Mets cap on his plaque.
All that will be made possible because Steve Cohen stepped up to give Lindor the extra million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. received. It was possible because Cohen understands value. It was made possible because Cohen purchased the Mets.
Opening Day starts a new era in Mets history. It’s no longer just the start of the Steve Cohen Era. It’s now the start of the Francisco Lindor Hall of Fame Era in Mets history.
With Mike Piazza hinting more numbers are going to be retired, there were renewed calls for Keith Hernandez‘s 17 to be retired. Previously, the Mets had only retired the numbers of players who wore a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque meaning the Mets first captain did not have his number retired.
One of the biggest issues with that is Hernandez should have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by now.
To put things in perspective, according to Baseball Reference, the average Hall of Fame first baseman has a 66.9 WAR, 42.7 WAR7, and a 54.8 JAWS. For his part, Hernandez is just a hair behind those marks with a 60.3/41.3/50.8. However, that is part of the story.
Currently, there are 24 first basemen in the Hall of Fame. Of those 24, only 10 of those players were above the 66.9 WAR mark. There were 11 above the WAR7 mark, and there were nine above the JAWS mark. The main reason for this is because Lou Gehrig, Cap Anson, and Jimmie Foxx skewed those numbers upwards. Notably, Gehrig’s and Anson’s careers were over before World War II, and Foxx has already played 16 years out of a 20 year career before the war began.
When you look at it, Hernandez has a higher WAR mark than eight of the first baseman inducted in the Hall of Fame, and he is 0.1 WAR behind Harmon Killebrew. Hernandez has a higher WAR7 mark than nine of the first baseman in the Hall of Fame including his being 1.2 ahead of Eddie Murray. His JAWS is better than 10 of the first baseman in the Hall of Fame including his being 0.4 behind Hank Greenberg.
When you look at the numbers of first baseman inducted into the Hall of Fame whose careers occurred post World War II and post Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, Hernandez is right in the mix of that group. In many ways, the two things that hurt Hernandez was he did it a different way than most of those first baseman.
Hernandez was not a slugger at the position in a traditional sense. Rather, he was more of a gap hitter who hit for average. Still, he was a good hitter with a 131 wRC+. That mark is good enough to tie him with Orlando Cepeda and put him ahead of Murray and Jim Bottomley.
Looking at traditional numbers, Hernandez had 426 doubles putting him ahead of players like George Sisler and Willie McCovey. His OBP is higher than Sisler and McCovey as well as Killebrew. The only ding against Hernandez is the power numbers you see with homers, RBI, and SLG where he would trail most Hall of Fame first baseman.
That said, all of those first baseman are a clear step behind Hernandez defensively. In fact, Hernandez was the best defensive first baseman to ever play the game.
This isn’t just the eye test, although when you look at plays like that, it helps. Hernandez is the all-time leader in Total Zone with a 121 mark. That puts him significantly ahead of Roger Connor, who has the second best mark at first base.
Keep in mind, when looking at defensive stats, Total Zone is the best one to look at when analyzing players across generations. On that note, here is the TZ leaders for each position across baseball history:
- C Ivan Rodriguez
- 1B Keith Hernandez
- 2B Bid McPhee
- 3B Brooks Robinson
- SS Ozzie Smith
- LF Barry Bonds*
- CF Willie Mays
- RF Roberto Clemente
With the exception of Bonds, who is not in the Hall of Fame purely due to steroids, the best defensive player at each position is in the Hall of Fame. Well, that’s everyone except Hernandez.
It’s not just the stats. There is also Gold Gloves. Again, we see Hernandez and Bonds as the only players to have the most Gold Gloves at their position not be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame:
- P Greg Maddux
- C Ivan Rodriguez
- 1B Keith Hernandez
- 2B Roberto Alomar
- 3B Brooks Robinson
- SS Ozzie Smith
- LF Barry Bonds
- CF Willie Mays
- RF Roberto Clemente
Really, when we look at baseball history, we have seen a number of players inducted into the Hall of Fame due to their ability to play defense at a virtuoso level. Smith is the classic example. It was the argument for inducting Bill Mazeroski. Yet, for some reason, that argument has not been advanced to push Keith Hernandez into the Hall of Fame.
Remember, Hernandez wasn’t just a glove at first base. As noted above, he contributed offensively. He won the 1979 batting title. He led the league in runs twice. In his career, he also led the league at one point in doubles, walks, intentional walks, and OBP. In his career, he won two Silver Sluggers. Hernandez was also an 11 time Gold Glover, five time All-Star, and the 1979 NL MVP. Hernandez also won two World Series titles in his career.
Another important point was Hernandez was seen as a leader in his playing days, and he was the first captain in Mets history. When you look at Hernandez, he had a Hall of Fame caliber career in every single sense of the word. As you see with his broadcasts on SNY, this was a player who loved baseball and understood it better than just about everyone.
All told, Hernandez is one of the best defensive players in baseball history, and he is one of the best first basemen to ever step foot on the field. He did it different than most others at this position, but all told, he did it better than almost everyone. Next time he is eligible for the Hall of Fame, he should be inducted.
Once again, Jeff Kent gained in the Hall of Fame vote, and once again, he is far short of the trajectory he needs to make it to the Hall of Fame. Going from his now 27.5% to induction in two years is entirely unprecedented.
The shame in that is Kent had what should have amounted to a Hall of Fame career.
At the moment, Kent is the all-time home run leader at second base. That makes him the only non-steroid tainted Hall of Fame eligible home run leader at his position not in the Hall of Fame.
It’s more than that. Kent and Todd Helton are the only two players who are in the top five in doubles at their position who are not in the Hall of Fame. In terms of Helton, he’s received a higher percent of the vote and has more years remaining on the ballot.
Looking at RBI, and again putting steroids aside, he’s the only player in the top three at his position not in the Hall of Fame. In fact, he’s the only one in the top ten at his position not inducted.
When you dig deeper, every single non-first baseman (who didn’t get implicated by steroids) with at least 1500 RBI has been inducted. Everyone except Kent.
Kent has the second best SLG among second baseman all-time. Removing steroids from the equation, and every player who is eligible and in the top two are in the Hall of Fame.
Kent has a 123 wRC+. All of the Hall of Fame eligible second basemen ranked higher are in the Hall of Fame. Looking at the top 13, only Kent and Lou Whitaker (a continued baffling oversight) are not in the Hall.
When you look at players with at least 9,000 PA, Kent and his 123 wRC+ makes him the 74th best hitter of all-time. Of that list, there are only 10 middle infielders. Kent is the only eligible player who has not been inducted.
Somehow, Kent built a career where he had vaunted himself amongst those names in the record books. Arguably, he established himself as the best slugger at the position. Looking at the homers, he did something no one at the position has ever done.
In Major League history, Kent was better at something than anyone else has since the first ever Game was played in 1845. Being the absolute best at something which has been played for 176 years is just astonishing.
In the end, this should make Kent a worthy Hall of Famer. So far, it hasn’t equated to that, and based on trends, he won’t be. At least, he won’t until the Veteran’s Committee convenes to weigh his case. That’s a shame too because he is worthy.
When you look at Curt Schilling‘s career, he’s undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. Between the numbers and the moments, he was the epitome of a big game pitcher who was headed to Cooperstown.
Except, it hasn’t happened, and with one year remaining on his candidacy, he’s not likely going to be headed there. The real reason why was Schilling was just unable to keep quiet.
There was his receiving multiple suspensions from ESPN leading to his eventual firing. There has been his posting memes for lynching reporters and other Nazi related memes. This past month, he’s defended the mob which broke into the Capital.
You really just have to wonder what he is thinking. It’s not just about what he says. No, it is about what he is doing to himself and others. There’s no defending what he’s doing. He has not only harmed others, he’s also harmed himself.
Think about it. If Schilling just could’ve shut up just once over the last five years, he’d be in the Hall of Fame. As it stands, he fell just 16 votes short. Now, you have to wonder if he’s sabotaging himself on purpose with his letter saying he wants to be removed from the ballot because he doesn’t deem the BBWAA worthy of judging his career.
No matter how you look at it, something is very wrong with Schilling. He knows he’s harming himself and others, and he just can’t stop doing it. Right now, it’s costing him the Hall of Fame. Who knows what it will mean for him in the future.
Time and again, we see feelings get in the way of what should largely be an objective Hall of Fame voting process. We see Kirby Puckett be a first ballot player while Kenny Lofton failing to garner the requisite 5% to stay on the ballot despite Lofton having a significantly higher WAR.
Much of the reason for that disparity in the voting was how voters felt about the players. Puckett felt like a Hall of Famer while apparently the vast majority felt Lofton didn’t.
That’s partially the hurdle Bobby Abreu is facing right now.
In Abreu’s 18 year career, he was an All-Star just two times. He was never in the top 10 in MVP voting, and he only received MVP votes in just seven seasons. He won just Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Abreu had just two 30 home run seasons, and he batted over .300 six times.
Abreu was a player exposed in the expansion draft. He was obtained from the Tampa Bay Rays for Kevin Stocker. A rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies team basically just contract dumped his salary on the New York Yankees. Late in his career, he was released by the Los Angeles Angels in the midst of a contract most felt was a gross overpay at its inception.
Much of Abreu’s career was spent talking about what he wasn’t more than what he was. There was more talk about his purported fear of fielding balls by the wall than his range. There was talk of his not having the prototypical home run totals for a right fielder while ignoring his doubles and OBP. Fair or not, these were all factors which worked against Abreu in how he was perceived during his playing career. Fair or not, it is something which has seemingly worked against him in Hall of Fame voting.
We see that disparity in how he was perceived against a contemporary player in Vladimir Guerrero. Guerreo was a player who felt like a great player and a Hall of Famer. He had a cannon in right field. He could hit the ball no matter where it was pitched. He was an All-Star nine times, and he was an eight time Silver Slugger.
Guerrero was the 2002 AL MVP, and he had received MVP votes in 11 different seasons finishing in the top 10 five different times. He had eight 30 home run seasons and two 40 home run seasons. He hit over .300 in 13 different seasons. Overall, in his playing days, Guerrero not only felt like a great player, but he also had the aura of a future Hall of Famer. That came to fruition when he was inducted on the second ballot.
During their playing days and even know, Guerrero was seen as the better player. The interesting thing is when you actually break it down, Abreu might’ve been the better player.
Looking at the two players, Abreu’s 60.2 WAR is higher than Guerrero’s 59.5. Abreu has more runs, doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases while having a higher OBP. Abreu was arguably a better defensive player and base runner than Guerrero. Looking at the expanded Hall of Fame stats, Abreu’s 41.6 WAR7 and 50.9 JAWS were better than Guerrero’s 41.2 and 50.3
So, again, when we are looking at contemporary players with a similar electorate far and away the disparity we are seeing between the two players is how we feel about each player. In the end, Guerrero did the things to reach his WAR totals which felt more comforting to the Hall of Fame voter. By and large more homers and a higher OPS+ or wRC+ were of more importance to get to a smaller WAR number than Abreu’s which was fueled by better on-base skills, base running, and defense.
Beyond this, there is an interesting debate to be had about Abreu’s Hall of Fame case. His WAR fells fairly well short of the 71.9 average for Hall of Fame right fielders. He didn’t crack 300 homers, but he did have 574 doubles which is fourth most all-time at the position. He’s in the top 20 in OBP at the position. He is very clearly one of the best right fielders in MLB history, but the question for him right now is whether he is truly in that upper echelon who belongs in the Hall of Fame.
For Guerrero, the answer was a resounding yes, but for Abreu, so far, that has been a fairly decided no. When you break it down, the real reason is more because of how people felt about his career while he played and not and not so much because of how he really stacks up against players of his generation and other Hall of Famers.
When it comes to Omar Vizquel‘s Hall of Fame case, it’s predicated more on opinion than anything substantive. Essentially, some people liked his defense, so they want to vote for him.
It took Vizquel 24 years to accumulate 45.6 WAR. That 45.6 number is well below the 67.5 which is the average from Hall of Famers at that position. When you realize he’s averaged less than 2.0 WAR per season, you really have to wonder where the love for him is deriving.
Sure, he won 11 Gold Gloves, but he was nowhere near the defender or player Mark Belanger was, and Belanger is still on the outside looking in for Hall of Fame voting. Also, considering Keith Hernandez is on the outside looking in, it’s not like winning 10+ Gold Gloves guarantees entry.
Then, we have the character clause issue.
In a report by Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Vizquel was accused of repeated acts of domestic violence by his wife Bianca during their divorce proceedings. There were also multiple police investigations.
It should be noted Vizquel denies the allegations. That said, many see that as a reason to not vote for Vizquel, which is quite understandable.
What is curious is this is seen by many as disqualifying for Vizquel but not Barry Bonds. Most likely, that’s because the accusations against Bonds is well over 25 years ago.
When Bonds was divorcing his first wife, she testified, “Barry was this big man who loved me one minute and the next minute was beating me up, and I didn’t know what to do.” (Ken Hoover, SF Gate).
In the divorce proceedings, she talked about being “habitually beaten” over the course of their six year marriage. Like with Vizquel, there were police reports. The incidents purportedly included getting “pushed to the ground and kicked while eight months pregnant.”
Like Vizquel, Bonds denied the allegations. However, as noted, unlike Vizquel, this isn’t an issue with Bonds’ candidacy.
This isn’t an isolated instance either for Bonds. During BALCO, it was discovered Bonds was verbally (but not physically) abusive and controlling of mistress Kimberely Bell. Voicemails included threats of mutilation and beheadings.
Overall, Bonds has more allegations and testimony against him than Vizquel. There are also voicemails. However, it’s not getting the same attention or publicity.
If you believe the accusations disqualify Vizquel, it should also disqualify Bonds. While Bonds’ 762 homers may have people overlook his PED usage, it shouldn’t also have voters look past his violence towards women. It’s the same with Vizquel and his 11 Gold Gloves.
Ultimately, if you don’t believe Vizquel should be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to the domestic violence allegations, you should also believe it serves as a barrier to Bonds’ induction.
The reason Schilling isn’t going to be inducted is Schilling. His post playing career has just been mired in controversy. In the end, it’s become too much for voters as evidenced by Sean Forman of Baseball Reference.
Last year, I didn't vote for Schilling. I've decided not to again this year. Given his past comments on Muslims & the LGTBQ community, I will not support giving him a broader platform. I see his statements as being over a line I can implicitly support.
— Sean Forman (@sean_forman) December 4, 2020
Voters who feel this way are well within their rights, and there is a specific clause in play which permits them to act upon their personal objections to Schilling’s behavior and statements
What’s curious is why Schilling faces the brunt of the character clause in a way others don’t.
Yes, that clause was been weaponized against PED users. That’s a large reason why Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others haven’t been inducted. However, Bonds and Clemens haven’t been subjected to the character clause in the same way Schilling has.
Both Bonds and Clemens were charged with perjury related to their testimony regarding steroid use. While Clemens was initially cleared, it took Bonds two appeals to have his conviction overturned.
During his first marriage, Bonds was accused of abusing his wife, and there was “at least once during the marriage.”
Clemens has never been accused of abuse. However, he has had rumors of affairs. That includes an inappropriate relationship with a minor, which both sides attest did not grow to become physical until she was of age.
Moving in terms of Schilling territory, both Bonds and Clemens have their own issues.
Former MLB player Ron Kittle accused Bonds of saying, “I don’t sign for white people.” Bonds did categorically deny he said that. It must also be noted there have no been similar allegations against Bonds during his career.
On that note, Bonds was not popular with teammates or the media. Going back to college, Bonds was actually voted off his team. Given how many had an axe to grind against Bonds, and how unapologetically outspoken he’s been, if there was more, you’d imagine more people would’ve come forward.
With Bonds, you have unconfirmed accusations. To overlook those is certainly understandable. If a writer wants something more tangible or substantial before acting upon it, it’s understandable.
Clemens doesn’t face hearsay allegations like Bonds. We have statements made by Clemens. Specifically, Clemens made a crack the dry cleaners were all closed in Japan and South Korea during the World Baseball Classic. While some may want to equate that to a misunderstanding, there are other allegations.
Clemens is also a notorious head hunter who injured many players arguably intentionally. It’s something his future Yankees teammates griped about before Clemens joined their team. We know Clemens went so far as to throw a bat at Mike Piazza during the World Series.
There’s more with Clemens as well including his throwing food at a reporter over a story he didn’t appreciate. All in all, on and off the field, Clemens has done things which should invite writers to invoke the character clause against him.
Ultimately, writers are withholding votes from Schilling due to his actions and statements. However, they’re not doing the same with Clemens.
Remember, Clemens has injured players on the field, made racially charged remarks, and has had inappropriate relationships outside of his marriage. For those writers voting for him and not Schilling, they do need to offer an explanation how they find Clemens behavior acceptable and where exactly their line is.
Mark Buehrle is one of those Hall of Fame candidates some immediate dismiss only to keep returning to the name. One of the reasons why is he had a long career where he was at least a good pitcher for 15 years.
It’s amazing to think he had a 15 year career with just two of those years being under a 100 ERA+. One of those years was a 95 and the other a 99. In both of those seasons, he surpassed 200 innings.
For 14 straight years, Buehrle surpassed 200 innings, and he fell just 1.1 innings of hitting that mark in his final season. That 14 year stretch was one short of tying the all-time record jointly held by Cy Young, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, and Warren Spahn.
There’s some more impressive feats and company. Buehrle is tied for third all-time with 15 consecutive 30 start seasons. He’s tied with Perry and behind just Spahn and Young. Notably, in all 15 of those seasons Buehrle won 10+ games.
Buehrle was thrown two hitters with one of those two being a perfect game. That is a feat which has been accomplished only by NUMBER of other pitchers – Sandy Koufax, Young, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Jim Bunning, and Addie Joss. Those are all Hall of Famers.
When you see that group, it gives you some pause and makes you realize Buehrle does merit a closer look. In that closer look, you see he’s been better than some Hall of Fame pitchers.
Both Buehrle and Whitey Ford pitched 16 years with Buehrle having the higher WAR. However, it should be noted Ford had lost two years to military service and had postseason success.
Bunning pitched one more year than Buehrle. Buehrle had a higher ERA+ than Bunning. In fact, Buehrle also had a higher ERA+ than several Hall of Famers. That includes Niekro and Sutton.
That also includes Jack Morris who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee. Looking at these two, Buehrle had the better WAR, ERA, ERA*, and K/BB among other stats.
That’s what so interesting about Buehrle. When you dig deep into the numbers you see a pitcher who compares quite well to pitchers inducted into the Hall of Fame. That includes those inducted fairly recently.
Yes, Buehrle does fall short in a number of areas. For example, the average Hall of Fame starter has a 73.3 WAR, 50.0 WAR7, and a 61.6 JAWS. Buehrle is at a 59.1/35.8/47.4.
Still, Buehrle accomplished things in his career only Hall of Famers have accomplished. He’s consistently in Hall of Fame company when you examine his career.
Ultimately, what this should tell us is Buehrle has a career which merits further consideration. Hopefully, he passes the five percent mark to permit us to do that instead of letting the Veterans Committee take an ad hoc look at him in the future.
Take out Robinson Cano‘s PED suspensions, and he was going to be a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Really, when you break it down, the conversation around Cano wasn’t going to be whether he was inducted, but rather, where he ranked all-time among second basemen. That’s how good Cano has been in his career.
Naturally, Cano’s PED suspensions changed that. Instead of looking at him as a Hall of Famer, the discussion has shifted. Now, it is seen as a fait accompli Cano will not be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. At this point, there are even some who are at least inferring Cano will be five percented off the ballot when his candidacy arises:
Hall of Fame ballots are arriving. Robinson Cano will likely be on one of those someday. Hard to see him getting any support now.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 18, 2020
While you can excuse the rush to judgment hot takes, in reality, it is bizarre people would hold that position at all. Certainly, Hall of Fame voting has given no indication whatsoever Cano will be a one-and-done when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot.
For that, we have to look no further than Manny Ramirez. Ramirez was the first player to fail two different PED tests. Despite that, he has lasted four years on the ballot. In fact, he has gone from 23.8% of the vote in his first year to 28.2% last year. No, those four gained votes doesn’t truly propel him towards the Hall of Fame, but he is still hanging on the ballot as the continued referendum on other PED users nears its conclusion.
This year is going to be the penultimate year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. At a 61.0% and 60.7% respectively, both players have been at least trending towards induction. Remember, both players debuted on the ballot with relatively low vote totals. In fact, in 2013, Bonds only received 36.2% of the vote, and Clemens received 37.6%.
Both players have steadily climbed, and there have been more than a few voters whose early positions have changed due to Bud Selig and Tony La Russa being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post said when opting to begin voting for PED users, “Selig getting in was a game changer for me.”
Certainly, Bonds and/or Clemens getting in could be game changers for other voters. On that point, no one can be quite sure whether they get in via the BBWAA vote over the course of the next two votes. If they are not inducted by that point, it’s well within the realm of possibility a Veteran’s Committee electorate who not only inducted people like Selig, LaRussa, and Joe Torre, each of whom were propelled into the Hall of Fame due to PED user, but may also may be very sympathetic to PED users will induct Bonds and Clemens on their own volition.
If that were to occur, testing positive will no longer be seen as a bar to induction into the Hall of Fame. If that is the case, we should see players like Ramirez get an uptick in voting. By natural extension, Cano’s chances would then be bolstered as well.
At this point, it is was too early to predict whether Cano will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Really, the only thing we do know is there are a number of test cases ahead of him, and very likely, there is going to be eight more years before this is even up for a debate. When we get to that point, lets see what has happened with Bonds, Clemens, and Ramirez before addressing the topic of what Cano’s second PED test has on his Hall of Fame chances.
Last night on ESPN, there was a documentary about how Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased down Roger Maris and each other to set the single season home run records. During this documentary and the ensuing hours, there was a renewed push and debate about inducting steroid users into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The arguments in favor of their induction remain as flawed today as they did when they were first made.
The first argument is this is a museum which cannot just blot out history completely misses the mark. The Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes these records and events. There is no editing these seasons from their record books. No, all that has happened is it was deemed they did not deserve the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Remember, not inducting someone does not mean failing to recognize a period in baseball history or that it makes the Hall of Fame incomplete. For that, just ask Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and the 1919 Black Sox.
The other argument is Bud Selig, the commissioner who purposefully turned a blind eye, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. What was funny about that is Tony La Russa, who really benefited from steroids with players like Jose Canseco and McGwire, was on the Veteran’s Committee which let Selig into the Hall of Fame.
Make no mistake, Selig’s induction was a complete and utter farce. He doesn’t belong there, but then again, for completely different reasons, neither does Harold Baines, who was also inducted by the Veteran’s Committee. Are we now going to argue since Baines was inducted anyone with a 38.7 WAR or better should be in the Hall of Fame?
No, of course not. With Baines, people are willing to admit it was a mistake which should not be repeated. For some reason, people can’t separate that out in their furtherance of their arguments for steroid users.
The other argument brings us to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Specifically, people try to find a point of demarcation to say when they did and did not start using PEDs, and they then try to say they should or should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame based upon that. Of course, with Rose, the Hall of Fame doesn’t try to parse out when you did or did not cheat because that’s just an absurd exercise to try to push an agenda forward.
Looking at Bonds and Clemens, you do wonder if these same arguments will be rekindled with Carlos Beltran and Justin Verlander, who before the Houston Astros cheating scandal were surefire Hall of Famers. On that note, you do wonder how the same people who vociferously argue for Bonds’ Hall of Fame induction could be so up in arms about the Astros cheating scandal.
If you want Bonds inducted into the Hall of Fame, you are admitting you have no problem whatsoever to ill gotten gains. That is well within your right. You are entitled to try to make arguments in favor of Bonds’ induction including but not limited to the classic arguments of everyone in that era was doing it (overstated), and that even players like Hank Aaron used PEDs (greenies) to achieve their results.
However, if you are going to make that argument, there should not be any arguments made in protest of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. None.
Sign stealing is as old a problem in baseball as PEDs. Likely, it has been around much longer. When we go back to Bobby Thompson and the Shot Heard Round the World, the Giants were using their own sophisticated sign stealing operation using the scoreboard lights to indicate to the batter which pitch was coming. In many ways, this is really no different than what the Houston Astros did by banging trash cans.
Another note here is we are learning the Astros were not the only ones stealing signs. In 2017, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were fined for using bullpen phones and smart watches in their own sign stealing efforts. We’d find out when Alex Cora went to the Red Sox, the team took their existing program to the next level. There have been more rumors about the sign stealing process being far more reaching than just these three teams.
Really, when you break it down the Astros sign stealing it is no different than Bonds’ steroid use. The Astros did what others were doing at a higher level to win a World Series. Bonds did what everyone else was doing at a higher level to break the home run record.
If you want one rewarded for his efforts by inducting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is hypocritical to take any issue with what the Astros did. Either you think cheating should be rewarded, or you don’t. If you want Bonds inducted, you don’t have an issue with cheating at all.