More on Sammy Sosa, Hall of Famer

Or should I say, Sammy Sosa, Hall of Famer?

Dan Shannof made this point (in trying to assert Sammy’s longevity of dominance):

“Consider that [to reach 600] a player would have to average 30 home runs a year for 20 years… or, for those who like a challenge, 40 HR a year for 15 years.”

But if you extend that a little, you start to see why I think Sammy doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame.  The greater your deviation from average stats, the shorter the duration of that spurt needs to be.  For instance, you could also average 60 homers for ten seasons or 100 homers for six seasons.

Sure, those are crazy numbers, and not likely ever to happen.  And I am not disputing that 600 homers is a tremendous number.  My point is that steroids (and corking) helped Sammy explode past any rational understanding of what it means to be a home run hitter.  When you are talking about the first person in history with consecutive season of 60 or more homeruns, and the first person with three season of 60 or more, you can’t measure him by the same metric as we’re used to.  And I have major problems using those juice-fueled seasons as criteria for hall admission.

Sure, getting into the 500 homer club used to mean automatic inclusion into the hall of fame.  But the world record in the 100 meters used to be over 10 seconds, the fastest mile used to be over four minutes, the record for homeruns in a season used to be 60, etc.  Statistical measures change; they constantly evolve.  You can’t measure what Willie Mays did against what Bonds or Sosa is doing.  And you couldn’t measure what Aaron did (such a sustained duration of consistent, non-spectacular, performance) against Ruth.

So why adhere to benchmark numbers?  Because it’s easy.  But getting into the hall of fame shouldn’t be about the laziness of the voters to make hard decisions.  It should be earned.

Consider this anecdote: when I was around 12 years old, my father owned a rotissierie baseball team with a group of doctors in the hospital.  When I caught wind of this, I begged him to let me be his GM.  After the 1993 season, when Sosa his 33 homers, after seasons of 15, 10 and 8 (injury shortened), one owner made a bet with Sosa’s owner that Sosa would never hit 30 homers again.  Keep in mind, at the time, smart money was on the owner who “took the under” so to speak.  What with this guy being a scrawny, wiry .260 hitter.  We all know, now, that was a bad bet.

There’s no question in my mind that Sosa took steroids.  None.  There’s also no question in my mind that Sosa doesn’t hit 400 homers without the juice.  That’s why I can’t put him in the Hall.  To me, Sosa’s a clear case of only getting in because of the juice, as opposed to Bonds who was a hall of famer before he started juicing.  He’s a much tougher decision, and only because refusing him the hall would be punitive for his steroids use.  The difference with Sosa is that I am punishing him for his steroid use, I am just discounting that portion of his stats that was achieved through steroids.  And without those numbers, Sosa doesn’t sniff the Hall.

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2 responses to “More on Sammy Sosa, Hall of Famer

  1. I would never vote for Bonds to be in the hall of fame either. I don’t care if his “trajectory” was to be a hall of fame player. The truth is, we can speculate but will never know for sure when he started using steroids, or other illegal performance enhancers. Who knows *for sure* how much of his stats are legitimate, and how many have been unfairly boosted? That reason alone might be good enough to apply a punitive steroids ban, if only to ensure that no un-hall-worthy players are wrongfully admitted. In my view, it is better to incorrectly exclude a player from the hall — assuming that player wrongfully did something to put his credentials in doubt — than to incorrectly admit a player who cheated his way there. Maybe Bonds would have been a hall of famer without the steroids, but once he took steroids and put a cloud of doubt over his accomplishments, the assumption should be that more, not fewer, of those accomplishments are steroids enhanced.

  2. I was about to say that despite that, Bonds deserves to make the Hall… but because I feel similarly to Adam, I’d ban him, too. I don’t care if he “would have otherwise” – Bonds should be punished for cheating and not be allowed in. Whether he would have deserved to make it or not, he shouldn’t be allowed in.

    Moreover, you’d have to factor in the increase in years they could play thanks to the ‘roids, and the lack of injuries they may have otherwise gotten.

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