Why Penalize Clean Players From The Steroid Era?

by Jasper Scherer | Posted on Sunday, December 1st, 2013
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Fred McGriff

If you followed Major League Baseball in the 1990’s, you probably know of a player named Fred McGriff. McGriff was a mainstay in the middle of the Atlanta Braves’ lineup during their run of division titles, and his continuous production was unbelievable. He was perhaps the most consistent hitter of the 90’s, compiling at least 19 home runs for 16 straight seasons, topping 30 home runs in 10 of those seasons.

He hit 300 home runs during the decade, topping 90 RBIs in all but two years, and he finished his career with 493 home runs and 1550 RBIs. He even batted .303 with 10 home runs in his 188 career postseason at bats, helping the Braves to a 1995 World Series title.

Despite this incredible consistency, McGriff continues to be denied a place in the Hall of Fame. With the recent announcement of the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot, it is likely that he will again be kept out.

The unfortunate truth is that players like McGriff had the misfortune of playing baseball during the “Steroid Era.” Voters therefore feel the need to look down upon these players, even if they had no connection to steroids other than the era in which they played.

The reasoning behind McGriff’s lack of support from voters is befuddling. He should be rewarded, not penalized, for maintaing his integrity and staying clean throughout the steroid era. One cannot argue that McGriff’s statistics should keep him out of the Hall either. After all, nobody has more home runs than McGriff without being in the Hall of Fame.

Another example of a player kept out of the Hall for playing through a tarnished time period is Mike Piazza. Piazza, undoubtedly the greatest offensive catcher of all time, was on the ballot for the first time in 2013, and he found himself on the short end of the 75 percent he needed to garner for induction. Even Frank Thomas, who had no connection of any sort to performance-enhancing drugs, may not be a lock for first-ballot induction in 2014, despite his insane production (521 HRs, .974 OPS).

It is time for voters to realize that playing in the Steroid Era is no reason to deny a player entrance to Cooperstown.

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Jasper Scherer
About the Author

Jasper is a San Francisco native and an avid Giants fan. He currently resides in Evanston, IL, where he is studying journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jasper on Twitter @jaspsch.

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