I don’t, nor do I suspect I will ever, have a Hall of Fame vote. But I do have a blog, so I can certainly pretend! I won’t go into too much pre-discussion, other than to say I believe that peak value is more important than overall career value, but you gotta have both. The other thing I’ll say is that if you get in the Hall you are forever a Hall of Famer. So whether someone gets in on their first ballot or their 15th is completely irrelevant to me. I didn’t go through all of the 37 players on the ballot this year, but I tried to look at the ones that are getting real consideration. Without further ado…
Barry Bonds – YES
I’ve shown my hand immediately, as I’m voting for a known steroid user. With Bonds, let’s get this part out of the way – saying he is one of the best players in the history of baseball might be an understatement. He’s one of the 5 best hitters ever. For 8 seasons he hit .305/.438/.600 with 327 HRs and 328 SBs. And that was from 1990-1998. Then for four seasons, after starting to use steroids, he hit .349/.559/.809. Yeah, we know there are asterisks next to those numbers but… his OBP was 559! Of course, what comes with this is that he’s a big fat cheater, and he was obnoxious. I am of the school of thought that he should be allowed to join the other obnoxious cheaters in the HoF. If he’s not in, the Hall is incomplete.
Roger Clemens – YES
Similar to Bonds. I think he’s probably the second best right handed pitcher in the history of baseball. He allegedly started using in ’97, after an already HoF-worthy career, so can you separate that out? From 1986-1992, he had a 2.66 ERA, and struck out 1673 while only walking 486 in 1799 1/3 IP – his ERA+ was 160! Then, after he supposedly started on the roids, he went 149-61 with a 140 ERA+ from 1997-2005. Unlike Bonds, no matter what I may believe (and I believe he used steroids) the only evidence against him is the word of one man who doesn’t really strike me as incredibly honest. I don’t think you can exclude the best starting pitcher since World War II.
With both Bonds and Clemens, I understand the heartburn that people experience over putting them in the Hall. I get the issue (although with Clemens you still don’t have proof, you are just sure he did it), but I think a Hall of Fame without those two doesn’t tell the story of baseball. They are two of the best players ever, and were so even before the transgressions. I won’t get into the other cheaters throughout the history of the game, I’ll just say that I don’t think they should be thrown out of the HoF, either. I think the Hall is incomplete without them, despite the negatives.