The Baseball Hall of Fame is almost done dealing with steroid-era players

Voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is hard enough. Good luck analyzing the fog of WAR without any other distractions.

Fortunately, a significant haze is about to dissipate.

Sixteen years ago, and just two years after his nebulous testimony before Congress cast a pathetic frame around baseball’s so-called steroid era, Mark McGwire appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. And a process that was already complex but defined by many precedents based on statistics has become an impossibility.

Oh, we’re not just talking about guys with strong DEP connections, but that’s not a bad place to start.

McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa – all would grace the Hall of Fame ballot between 2007 and 2022 and all would fall well short of the 75% required for induction. Sure, there were enough hot plugs during this period to fuel a Nova Scotia winter, but they were relatively open and closed cases — so strongly tied to DEPs that many voters found their careers too compromised for Cooperstown.

From there, it’s a real headache.

There’s a little maybe: A positive test reported in 2003 for a PED didn’t stop David Ortiz like it did for Bonds, Clemens and Sosa. He got his first try in 2022. And then there’s Gary Sheffield, who like Ortiz has batted over 500 home runs but because he practiced with Bonds and told investigators he borrowed from cream for his knees, he was suddenly a pariah of the ballot. At a time when the electorate is supposed to be getting so “smart,” Ortiz and everyone else makes no sense.

Let’s not forget the Whispers Guys, for whom there is so much smoke that there is at least a smoldering fire, but not enough to keep them from entering the room. On counsel’s advice, we will not enter into the hubbub surrounding (Redacted), (Redacted) and (Redacted).

And perhaps most sadly there are all the others whose careers have intersected significantly with the rough timeline of 1993-2004, who have no connection to the PEDs but who also have no slam-dunk Hall event. One of those guys, Scott Rolen, was elected in Cooperstown on Tuesday night. Good for him.

There are so many more – Carlos Beltran and Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent and probably even 2024 inductee Todd Helton, all of whose work is superlative, but drawn on a distorted canvas. This is one of the reasons why Fred McGriff’s “single” 493 homers couldn’t stack up, even though his career started in 1986 and has only been consistent since then. Still, he had to win his induction via committee vote, not ballot.

The steroid era didn’t just mess up the record books, it also screwed up metrics like WAR and Adjusted OPS, which were meant to have a leveling effect within and across an era.

But such measures are of little use when large numbers of players are so dramatically enhanced by chemicals. And we still know so little about the steroid era in terms of who did what – the Mitchell Report was an introductory pamphlet, not a definitive tome – that we’ve probably revered plenty of cheaters over the years.

In short, it was a hell of a mess. But relief is in sight.

Class of 2023:Scott Rolen elected to Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Fred McGriff

Who’s on the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot? :Adrian Beltre leads the way

Are the Baseball Hall of Fame standards too high? :Why voters should be more forgiving | Notice

The 2024 ballot will bring us a slam-dunk Hall of Famer (Adrian Beltre) and another close to the shoo-in (Chase Utley), both of whom forged most of their cases in Cooperstown after the PED test was instituted in 2005.

In 2025, the great Ichiro Suzuki will be enshrined, joined on the ballot by CC Sabathia, who should eventually make his way. Sabathia has recorded 251 wins, with her four most successful campaigns coming after PED testing was instituted.

And here’s the thing about this 2025 ballot: Only four players – Suzuki, Sabathia, the unstoppable Edwin Jackson and the inimitable Fernando Rodney – made their debuts before 2005, when the first PED suspensions were imposed.

There may not be another Hall of Famer in the roster, with perhaps 2008 MVP Dustin Pedroia arriving at some point. But all of them – Felix Hernandez (first season: 2005) and a super fun first class from 2006 that includes Pedroia, Adam Jones, Ian Kinsler and Russell Martin – have played their entire careers in the age of drug testing .

OK, it’s time for another reality check: PED testing doesn’t equal a clean game. Another guy who debuted in 2005, Melky Cabrera, proved it when he tested positive for testosterone and got caught up in the Biogenesis doping scandal, a surprising double-double in 2012-13.

Biogenesis ensnared many stars and only deepened the chemical fraud that Alex Rodriguez perpetrated against the game, starting at least in 2001. And it was a sobering reminder that there are plenty of ways to get around drug tests, as long as you don’t fall asleep after slipping. that testosterone chewing gum under your tongue.

Biogenesis will enter the ballot in 2026, when former MVP Ryan Braun becomes eligible, just as Hall offers a class that has played its entire career in the Age of Testing.


DEPs will never be out of the game, but by all indications they no longer define it. Soon they won’t define how we measure greatness either.


Related posts

When will LeBron James break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA scoring record?


Are the Baseball Hall of Fame voting standards too high? Forget the flaws


NFL Championship Game Picks, Odds & Best Bets


A Chiefs fan eating a baked potato is the viral star of the NFL playoffs so far

Sign up for our Newsletter and
stay informed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *