Gary Sheffield Nears 500 Home Runs: Is The Hall Of Fame Next?

Rudy DominickCorrespondent IApril 6, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 04:  Newly aquired Gary Sheffield of the New York Mets speaks to the media after the exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on April 4, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Red Sox defeated the Mets 9-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Sitting on 499 career home runs, Gary Sheffield is primed to slug No. 500 in the opening days of the season. 

A historically significant number, every player in this prestigious club resides in the Hall of Fame, excluding Mark McGwire. Now comes the big question—does Sheffield get in?
Here's a look at Sheffield's statistics:

8949 AB
1592 R
2615 H
499 HR
1633 RBI
251 SB
1435 BB
1125 K
.292 BA
.394 OBP
.516 SLG

Unlike McGwire, he is a multi-dimensional player. 

At fewer than one strikeout for every eight at-bats, Sheffield is not your prototypical power hitter. His selective approach has earned him more walks than whiffs in his career.
Sheffield's list of achievements includes nine All-Star selections, five Silver Slugger awards, a batting title, and a World Series championship with Florida in 1997.
In 1992, Sheffield missed the Triple Crown by the slim margin of two home runs and nine RBIs. In 2004, he finished second in MVP voting after hitting .290 with 36 home runs, and 121 RBIs in his first season as a New York Yankee.

Beyond the numbers, there are three variables that may prevent Sheffield from entering Cooperstown.

On The Move

Despite his standout production, Sheffield has never relished being a fan favorite.  He has strapped it up for seven teams in 21 seasons, never staying in one place long enough to build a sizable support group. Demanding trades and signing with the highest bidder hurt his fan base.

Controversial Statements

But perhaps more destructive to his reputation are the controversial comments he has made over the course of his career. Born with a penchant to speak his mind, he answers questions without sugarcoating. 
In a sense, he is viewed as an athlete muckraker, choosing to discuss thought provoking topics others wish to stay miles away from. Combined with his history for racy content, the media over discusses and spins his comments out of control, forming a perfect storm of public disdain. 
Steroid Allegations
Now, to the biggest issue with Sheffield. He's been linked to steroids. Let's face it, it's the steroid era and we will never know who used and who didn't. Alex Rodriguez was always considered a hero in the steroid era, a superstar untainted in this terrible era in baseball. Well we all know how that turned out. 
Sheffield denounced his relationship with Barry Bonds, unlike Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson, who spent over a year in prison for failing to testify against Bonds. 
Sheffield stated, "If I took what Barry Bonds took, why don't I look like him?"
Let's place some blame on who's at fault for steroids in baseball.
Everyone, except the fans. 
The commissioner, the owners, the coaches, even the players knew or where oblivious to the fact. I know some people will say "You can't blame everyone."
Of course you can.  Players not using had to at least suspect certain players were using. 
People who know someone will commit a murder and do nothing are accessories.  Non-using players are accessories as well. They were hiding the fact that people were cheating. They helped taint the game and are at fault as well.
Overall, Sheffield should be a Hall of Famer,but will he? That depends on the whether people vote for him. 
Should he be in? Yes.

The statistics appear to support his Hall claim, but will he survive the steroid cuts?