|Pudge Faces Questions about Hall Candidacy||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on April 23, 2012
Ivan Rodriguez will officially announce his retirement Monday at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington after a brilliant 21-year career. There's no doubt that Pudge, 40, will be remembered as one of the best all-around catchers to ever play the game.
He's arguably the best defense catcher of all-time and hit well for both average and power. But the question remains: Is Pudge a Hall of Famer?
Judging by his numbers and accolades, Rodriguez has a Hall of Fame resume. His .296 career batting average ties him for seventh all-time amongst primary catchers. He also won 13 Gold Gloves in his career, the most of any catcher ever, and is one of just 10 catchers to win a league MVP while with the Rangers in 1999.
Though some feel that Canseco lacks credibility, everyone that Canseco has mentioned -- Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and others -- have all been linked to steroids.
The next few years of Hall of Fame voting will determine how the voters will deal with someone like Pudge. Alleged steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will soon be on the ballot, so if they don't get voted in, how will this affect Pudge?
Over his career, Pudge has always been compared with long-time Mets catcher Mike Piazza. While Piazza may have the edge offensively, Pudge certainly had the more reliable glove.
Piazza will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2013. Though his numbers clearly make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Piazza did play during the "Steroid Era." Piazza has never been linked to steroids, but just based on the time he played, his Hall of Fame status may be in jeopardy.
The problem here is that if the writers elect any player that has ties to steroids to the Hall of Fame, then all those players need to get in. However, this would ruin the integrity of the game, especially for young players who see that these players were rewarded even by cheating.
It's unfortunate that players like Pudge, Bonds and Clemens allegedly used steroids. Each of these players would have easily been bound for Cooperstown on the first ballot based off their natural talent. But in an attempt to be almost superhuman, their careers have now been tainted.
Another problem here would occur if a player that has no steroids ties -- such as Piazza for example -- is elected and then proof comes out that he actually did use steroids. Then what does the Hall of Fame do? It's a sticky situation to say the least.
I think that even though players such as Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas and Jim Thome played during the "Steroid Era," until there is evidence that suggests they used steroids, these players are Hall of Famers.
However, for someone like Pudge, the call to Cooperstown rightfully may never come. Unless a "Steroid Wing" at the Hall of Fame is created, Pudge will simply go down as an incredibly talented player who fell victim to temptation, assuming Canseco is correct.