CineSport—Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown. Santo's widow spoke to the large crowd, followed by Larkin, the former Reds shortstop.
The 2012 induction was largely uncontroversial, with Larkin being the only player elected by baseball writers and Santo being elected by the Veterans’ Committee. 2013’s ballot, however, introduces a few figures from the steroid era and one possible first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Two players that came close in 2012 and seem likely to get the Call to the Hall in 2013 are former Tigers’ pitcher Jack Morris and former Astros’ first baseman Jeff Bagwell. Morris, a career 254-game winner, fell about 50 votes shy of making the hall in 2012. Bagwell and his 449 career homeruns and .948 OPS fell about 100 votes short of making this year’s class.
Bagwell’s teammate in Houston, Craig Biggio, could become a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2013. Biggio racked up 3060 hits throughout his 20 years in the league, was a perennial all-star at second base and has not been linked to steroids. If he isn’t elected for the 2013 class, he will be a Hall of Famer by 2015 at the latest.
While there has never been, and probably will never be, a unanimous Hall of Fame selection, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have come close, if not for their place at the epicenter of baseball’s steroid era.
If not for the steroid controversy, Bonds, baseball’s all-time leader with 762 homeruns to go along with a lifetime 1.051 OPS and seven MVP awards, would no doubt garner as close to a unanimous vote that we have ever seen. However, it is unlikely that Bonds will get into the Hall anytime soon.
Clemens, on the other hand, faces a slightly more pleasant outcome. His 354 career wins and 4,672 strikeouts are both in the top 10 on baseball’s all-time list and he has seven Cy Young awards and one MVP over his 24 years in the league.
Clemens was found not guilty of perjury charges and he stated under oath that he did not take steroids. However, he will be forever linked to steroids, something that will greatly hinder his chances to enter the Hall.
If Clemens is able to find his way into the Hall of Fame, it would open the door for players such as Mark McGwire, Edgar Martinez and Rafael Palmeiro, who have all been linked to steroids yet boast impressive numbers. Until the first domino is dropped, however, they will all fall short on the ballot.
Other notables that are on the ballot for the first time in 2013 include: Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling.