Ivan Rodriguez was one of the greatest catchers ever and deserves to get enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame despite rumors of possible PED use. Since none of the allegations were proven true, the voters shouldn't play a guessing game when it comes to his place in history.
Rodriguez was among a boatload of players from his era that was linked to PEDs. Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk broke down the circumstantial evidence connecting "Pudge" to steroids, but that's all it ever became:
1. Jose Canseco wrote in his book that he personally injected Pudge with steroids.
2. When asked if he was on the list of 103, Rodriguez responded “Only God knows."
3. He played for the Texas Rangers in the 1990s.
4. His physique varied fairly radically over the years, with it being beefier pre-testing and noticeably smaller once testing was implemented.
The biggest point of contention would be Rodriguez's 1999 season. He hit .332 while slugging 35 home runs and stealing 25 bases en route to winning the Most Valuable Player award.
It's important to remember that that was in the middle of his prime, however; it wasn't a sudden burst of power at the end of his career. He was a very good hitter before then and continued to hit frozen ropes for a while after it as well.
Even if you take away that dominant season, Rodriguez has a terrific case for the Hall of Fame. If the voters start picking and choosing what stories to believe, it's not fair to anybody involved because there were so many different players linked to PEDs over the years.
Aside from his prowess at the plate, the retiring star was a strong defensive catcher as well. His combination of being able to throw out base stealers and call a good game made him a starting pitcher's dream battery mate.
Does Rodriguez belong in the Hall of Fame?
All of those skills and accolades mean that, without the PED cloud over his head, he'd be a virtual lock to get inducted on the first ballot. Now his status is far less certain because the voters haven't shown any mercy for players from that sketchy part of baseball history if they have any links.
Sooner or later, the voters will have to chance their stance. After all, it's tough to showcase the best of baseball in Cooperstown if record-breaking players are kept out even though nothing has ever been proven about what they did or didn't do in the past.
Rodriguez's resume says he earned a spot in Cooperstown, and, unless some new facts come to light over the next five years while he's waiting to get on the ballot, that's exactly where he belongs.
The Hall of Fame won't be complete without a plaque featuring "Pudge."