It's almost Hall of Fame voting season, one of my favorite times of the year. I will admit that it started out with a big dud last week on the announcement that Bud Selig was elected to the Hall by the Veteran's committee, but that is neither here nor there. People have started talking about which players they think will get in this year, which ones will not but get in later, and so on. It's really great stuff. As a member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), I get to vote on our own Hall of Fame inductees, which adds to my excitement.
I read an article by IBWAA Director Howard Cole for Forbes which not only got my attention, it got a reaction out of me: Why Alex Rodriguez Is A First-Ballot Hall Of Famer. I have been following Howard for a while now. He is a really great writer and this is a great piece. Nevertheless, I cannot fathom how this will ever happen. The basic premise of the article is that public opinion on accused steroid users is trending positive and that by 2022 people will judge Alex Rodriguez based on his numbers and not on the PED controversy that surrounded him for most of his career.
If opinions change that much, Alex has a good chance. You cannot argue with the numbers. His career slash line of .295/.380/.550 is amazing. He led the league in home runs five times, fourth all-time in career home runs (696), AL MVP 3 times (with three more times finishing second or third), season OPS over 1.000 six times, two Gold Gloves, 16th all-time in career WAR (117.7), 20th all-time in hits (3115), 8th all-time in runs scored (2021), 3rd all-time in RBI's (2026, only Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are ahead of him), and on and on and on. Like I said, you cannot argue with the numbers.
The thing is, I doubt very much that the controversy will disappear that dramatically. Or that quickly. You can easily make the argument that his numbers are inflated based on his use of PEDs. That will make any voter at least think twice. Furthermore, I do not see the trend to vote for players associated with PED gaining that many votes. Roger Clemens is on his 5th ballot, and his number have moved from 37.6% to 45.2%. Barry Bonds' numbers moved from 36.2% to 44.3%. Mark McGwire has never gotten 25% in his 10 ballot appearances. These were the biggest stars of their generation, and none of them show signs of skyrocketing to the requisite 75% for admission to the Hall.
From my perspective, it's kind of sad really. Alex was a great athlete and a great player. Personally, I think he could have put up Hall of Fame numbers without the PEDs. Not only was he that good, he was that smart of a player. If you watched him covering the playoffs, you know how well he understands the game. If he does get into the Hall, it will be because his charm and warm personality coming across on TV will increase his likability and the likelihood that people will overlook his missteps. But that won't happen on his first go-round.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Contributor
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