The ongoing debate over steroids and the players that made the 1990s what they were in baseball will yet again take center stage next year. Raphael Palmeiro enters his first year of eligibility for induction into Cooperstown in 2011. If I had a vote, I would say no.
The writer’s who vote players in have already voiced their opinions on steroid linked players. Mark McGwire is not getting into the Hall of Fame. Neither should Palmeiro. We all remember the finger-pointing in front of Congress. We all remember his passionate, and seemingly genuine denial of using steroids. However, the fact remains that Palmeiro did test positive.
As we all sit and await the inevitable 600th home run from Alex Rodriguez, I can’t help but think about how many players I grew up watching, cheated. The use of steroids, or any other performance enhancing drugs is simply cheating. Palmeiro’s career 569 HRs, .288 BA, and 3020 hits are decent numbers. He won three consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1997 through 1999. He never won an MVP. He never played in a World Series. However, at the end of the day the most important number that would justify his induction is 569.
Then there is Jeff Bagwell. 449 HRs, .297 BA, 2314 hits in 15 seasons all with the Houston Astros. Bagwell won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 and the NL MVP and MLB Player of the Year Award in 1994. Bags saw his only Gold Glove award in 1994. The key point however, is to our knowledge Jeff Bagwell did not use steroids. He played 15 seasons and put up very good numbers. His MVP season he batted .368. The most important non-statistical factor for me is Bagwell was beloved by the Houston fans.
At the end of the day we as fans, and the writers who vote for the Hall of Fame, need to step back and decide if we are going to legitimize the steroid era. I say no. If Jeff Bagwell played during any other era, he would be considered one of the best players ever. If Palmeiro played in another era, without steroids, he may not have played for 20 seasons. I say Bagwell in; Palmeiro, enjoy your retirement.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!
Statistical data source: baseball-reference.com.