By The Common Man
If you're a Hall of Fame voter, you're running out of time but it's not too late to get your ballot in. As we've pointed out...repeatedly... we at The Platoon Advantage ask relatively little from voters. We ask that they be intellectually consistent, that they do research, that they carefully consider their ballots, that they be open and transparent about who they are voting for and why. We also ask that they not engage in speculation and participate in witch hunts that leave deserving candidates on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in, when there's absolutely no evidence that they have used. As last year, the biggest ommission on various ballots seems to be Jeff Bagwell.
Bagwell is, from an objective standpoint, one of the top ten first basemen in baseball history. If you ask The Common Man, he's more like 4th or 5th all time. Yet Bagwell continues to get no acknowledgement from voters. Bagwell, the argument goes, played with a bunch of PED users. Guys like Ken Caminiti and Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. And thus we should treat his denial that he ever used PEDs with skepticism, despite the total lack of evidence that he used.
It's true. Jeff Bagwell did play with those guys. Bagwell also played with Gregg Zaun, Ron Villone and Chris Donnels, all of whom were implicated in the infamous Mitchell Report. And, obviously, you can see how PED use dramatically improved their games. But Bagwell wasn't the only one. Nolan Ryan played with Caminiti in Houston. Andre Dawson also played with Roger Clemens in Boston, as did Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Seaver, and Wade Boggs. Boggs also played with Pettitte in New York. Tony Gwynn played with Caminiti and Villone in San Diego, as did Rickey Henderson. Cal Ripken and Roberto Alomar both played with Zaun in Baltimore.
Now, Caminiti claimed to have not started using until joining the Padres years later, but he could conceivably be lying. After all, if he's willing to use PEDs, who knows what other immoral activities he's engaged in? There's no reason he would have to lie about when he started to use, but let's assume he's a dirty liar. Hell, let's assume all steroid and PED users were dirty liars who used PEDs throughout their careers.
But if we do that for the PED users who played with Bagwell, we have to do it for the PED users who played with other players on the ballot this year, and other players who are in the Hall of Fame. And if we assume that the six accused PED users that Bagwell played with influenced him to the point where he started to use, or even worse, that he got them into the shadowy world of PEDs, we have to assume the same of other players on the ballot and other Hall of Famers. What's good for the goose must be good for the gander.
To figure out who we should be actively suspecting, The Common Man used the list of players linked to PED use from Baseball's Steroid Era, and cross-referenced the careers of every player on the list with those of baseball's Hall of Famers. Here then, is a list of players currently in the Hall of Fame who played with PED users and the number of PED users they played with:
Logically, if we're going to suspect Bagwell of PED use based on who he played with, we also should worry about all of these guys. Is anyone...besides the excellent Ken Davidoff, that is...ready to throw Hank Aaron out of the Hall of Fame?
And Bagwell isn't even in the Hall of Fame yet. Here's how Bagwell stacks up against his peers on the Hall of Fame ballot who have not been formally accused of or admitted PED use, with a note if the player in question played with Clemens, Pettitte, Caminiti, Donnels, Zaun, and/or Villone, just in case you think one of them is the Pied Piper of PEDs:
|Name||PED teammates||Bagwell teammates|
|Ruben Sierra||33||Pettitte, Caminiti|
|Tony Womack||23||Zaun, Donnels|
|Jeff Bagwell||6||all 6|
That is, by the way, every single player on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, when we include McGwire (who has admitted using PEDs) and Palmeiro (who tested positive). And of those, 14 out of 24 played with one of the six accused PED users who played with Bagwell.
The point of this exercise is obviously not that we should hang the lot of them. It's that trying to play this game of who played with whom and asking whether or not that should make us suspicious is a stupid one, especially when, by The Common Man's count, just 42 clubs out of 408 436 possible teams (bah, I included from 1992-2006, just 10.3 9.6% of clubs, were devoid of players who have thusfar been accused of PED use. It touched every single franchise in Major League Baseball, and presumably every single player.
By the ridiculous standards used by many of baseball's HOF voters, no one is enough above suspicion to warrant consideration. Just stop everyone. Stop. It was an era of rampant cheating in which relatively few players actually got caught. We cannot ignore an entire era of baseball history, and we cannot delegitimize the Hall of Fame by refusing to recognize some of the greatest players of all time for nothing other than our own suspicious natures.
If you want to see the raw data from TCM's study, you're welcome to click here. The second sheet on that spreadsheet will give you the team-by-team breakdowns.