Thursday, January 7, 2016
Of course, there will be much discussion about the exclusion of Raines, Bagwell, and Hoffman. The only one I really have heartburn about being left out is Bagwell. I wouldn't consider either of the other two unworthy though.
Things should get interesting next year. Bagwell, Hoffman, and Raines will still be at the threshold. Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, and Ivan Rodriguez will headline the first-timers on the ballot. Potentially six inductees. I doubt Ramirez makes it with the way his career ended under PED suspension. Hoffman will have to go from fifth place this year to get over the mark and HOF voters take time to warm up to most relief pitchers. Bagwell and Raines stand an excellent chance. The issue with Guerrero will be if his extended stay at DH hurts him. That leaves Pudge, shown here on a 2002 Ex Essentials card bearing a piece of one of his cleats.
Rodriguez has never been conclusively linked to PED usage but played in the era and was on the same team with distributor Jose Canseco. Of course, Mike Piazza also played during the same era and his election casts a new light on I-Rod. Like Pudge, Piazza was suspected of PED use by some but was never conclusively linked or named in any investigations. On the field there is no doubt he was never the player Rodriguez was. Offensively he was better but that was it. I-Rod ran circles around him in every other area and stayed pretty close at the plate as well. That seems to bode well for Pudge come voting time next winter. Perhaps we will see another Rangers cap in the Hall in the near future.