With Alex Rodriguez on the verge of joining the exclusive 600 home run club and heading towards the downhill slide to retirement, it is time to really start wondering about his Hall Of Fame chances.
Any day now, Rodriguez will join Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to ever hit 600 home runs. But with confirmed use of steroids, is it enough?
His numbers are beyond gaudy and will be even more so before he hangs up his cleats for the last time. But his stats don't matter anymore.
What matters now are the voters' perceptions of him. Is he a cheater, or does he deserve a pardon for at least owning up to the mistakes he made and coming clean?
Rodriguez has admitted to using anabolic steroids from 2001 to 2003 when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. Coincidentally, he has more home runs over that three year span than any other three year span in his career. Another thing to worry about if you are A-Rod are the differences in career averages between his steroid using seasons and the ones where he was supposedly clean.
In his three seasons of steroid use, Rodriguez averaged 52 homers and 132 RBI's with a slugging percentage of .615 for the Rangers. In his other 10 full seasons (using seasons with at least 500 AB), he has averages of 39.2 home runs and 119 RBI's with a slugging percentage of .574. Those numbers are still very impressive, but not quite as eye popping as his three seasons in Texas.
No one, not even Rodriguez himself, can honestly say whether or not the use of steroids contributed to bolstering his statistics, but the thought that it did will always cross the minds of every voter.
And at a time when neither Barry Bonds, the all time home run king, or Roger Clemens, a seven time Cy Young award winner, are guaranteed a spot in Cooperstown because of their alleged use of steroids, Alex Rodriguez might not want to start penning his acceptance speech too early.
In an era in which many of the games biggest stars have been accused of or linked to steroid use, Rodriguez has been inserted right in the middle of it. If nothing else, I think it is admirable that he was finally able to admit his mistakes and the fact that he used poor judgment (although he had denied it previously).
I just hope that when his career is all said and done, the Hall Of Fame committee rewards him with an enshrinement. Whether you like A-Rod or not, he has at least come clean about things, which is more than you can say for some of the other players from this era who have been put under the microscope.