It’s apparently that time of year again, when ESPN trots out one of their “Senior” writers. In this case Jayson (the "Y" is for "Yes, it's necessary") Stark, to enlighten the world with yet another discussion about the relationship between Pete Rose and Major League Baseball, and whether Rose will ever find himself enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The topic has already been discussed up the yin yang, having outlasted the Berlin Wall, two Wayne’s Worlds, three Austin Powers', three Shreks, two Bush Presidencies, SARS, Bird Flu, the entire career of Jeffrey Hammonds, Elian Gonzalez’s brief celebrity, the rise and fall of Orbitz beverages, and Michael Jackson’s transformation from talented black guy to dead white woman.
However, what I find most boring about the Pete Rose saga is not its hackneyed longevity—my problem with the whole ordeal is that it seems to be going overlooked that Pete Rose probably doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, even without the accusations of gambling.
Pete Rose was a very good player for a very long time. He played every position on the diamond except for pitcher, catcher, and shortstop while maintaining a career batting line of .303/.375/.409, which in the low-offense era in which he played was good for an adjusted OPS+ of 118 over his 24 seasons.
While these accomplishments are nothing to take a dump on, they should also be viewed in context: Rose’s 118 career adjusted OPS+ ranks below Richie Sexson, Lenny Dykstra, Mike Greenwell, Cliff Floyd and a whole host of other guys who can’t make much of a case for Hall inclusion.
A good comparison for Rose’s offensive skill level is Ken Griffey Sr., another very good player, and one who generally doesn’t get much love in Hall of Fame discussions.
Rose’s greatest claim to fame is his all-time base hits record of 4,256. It should be noted, however, that it was accomplished in a major league-record 15,861 plate appearances—nearly 2,000 more than second-place Carl Yastrzemski. So despite his imposing hits total, his career batting average of .303 nestles Rose safely between Michael Young and Mark Grace for 170th all time.
For all these numbers and comparisons, Pete Rose isn't among the inner circle of the best players to ever have played Major League baseball—what I consider the benchmark for consideration for the Hall of Fame.
Of course, as always, I’m referring to the theoretical Hall of Fame that rewards players for their achievements on the field, not the real-life one in Cooperstown, NY, that believes Jim Rice was somehow better at baseball than Mark McGwire.
When I gather the energy to put together this alternative Hall of Fame, I very much doubt it will include Pete Rose.