In 1994, the season in which those that rule baseball showed what they considered their top priority, Jeff Bagwell led the league in runs scored (104), runs batted in (116), slugging (.750), OPS (1.204), OPS+ (213) and total bases (300). He also hit 39 home runs in his 110 games
For his career, Bagwell batted .297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs. He was the 1991 Rookie of the Year and the 1994 MVP.
Most of the "experts," based on Bagwell's career, consider him to have Hall of Fame credentials. But Bagwell played in the steroid era. Hall of Fame voters are not held to the criteria once needed for a conviction in a court of law.
Ken Caminiti is the main culprit for many of the voters.
Bagwell and Caminiti were close and Caminiti admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. The second problem is the fact that Bagwell became bigger, developed muscles and became extremely strong.
Bobby Donnell or Eugene Young of "The Practice" would have a field day in a court of law with such flimsy "evidence," but Hall of Fame voters don't need proof.
Many players who eschew performance-enhancing substances complain that it puts them at a disadvantage compared to players who use. What is not argued is that players such as Bagwell and others who might never have used steroids are put at a disadvantage by Hall of Fame voters because of the era in which they played.
Bagwell might have used creatine, which was and still is a legal supplement and which baseball never has banned. That's it. Whether Bagwell used creatine or protein drinks is not certain. Wait a second. Barry Bonds used creatine.
What is certain is that Bagwell was similar to Roger Clemens, Bonds and Alex Rodriguez in his dedication to working out. Ah, yes, guilt by association.
After a game, Bagwell, unlike most players that go to the weight room and go through the motions, worked as hard as could for as long as he could, which definitely had a major effect on his appearance and on his baseball skills.
The Hall of Fame is going to have a significant problem in the next few years. How can the top players of their era be kept out?
While Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Andy Pettitte and a few others have admitted using steroids, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and others have vehemently denied their use.
America has become a nation of druggies. Those in power must demonstrate that they have done everything in their power to alleviate the problem illegal drug use.
Those players that confess to steroid use and show remorse such as A-Rod will be voted into the Hall of Fame. Those that fail to admit use will not.
Do those that run baseball prefer having Jeff Bagwell confess to doing something he never did rather than admitting that there is no case against him and voting him into the Hall of Fame?
We all know the answer to that question.