Friday, March 1, 2024
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Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame chances look hopeless, and he could be next MLB immortal who is not immortalized

In baseball circles, Alex Rodriguez is inescapable. Two major networks put him all over our screens, so even if we wanted to forget about him nearly eight years after his retirement, we couldn’t. Baseball history can’t forget him, because his statistical ledger is one of the most prolific of all-time (probably top five). There is one thing that can very likely be forgotten, however, and that is any hope of A-Rod ever being voted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. 

This is his third year on the ballot and he went from 34.3% in his first year to 35.7% in his second. Via Ryan Thibodaux’s ballot tracker, A-Rod has actually lost one vote from last year’s returning voters and he’s only gotten half of the votes from first-time voters. He needs to hop up over 75% for enshrinement and it’s incredibly difficult to see where the kind of necessary momentum would come from. 

What we’re left with is a baseball immortal in the same ballpark as Shoeless Joe Jackson, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Pete Rose: Not technically a Hall of Famer, but everyone knows they were every bit good enough to be. And yet via either self sabotage or an unfair and inconsistent standard — depending upon one’s point of view — none will be immortalized with a bust in Cooperstown. 

There is absolutely no one who watches baseball who could question A-Rod’s Hall of Fame worthiness without extenuating circumstances. The three-time MVP led the league in runs five times, hits once, doubles once, home runs five times, RBI twice, average once, slugging four times, OPS twice and WAR six times. He was a 14-time All-Star. He won a World Series ring, 10 Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves. He changed positions mid-prime and didn’t miss a beat defensively. He ended up with 3,115 hits (23rd all time), 548 doubles (33rd), 696 home runs (5th), 2,086 RBI (4th), 2,021 runs (8th) and 329 stolen bases. Among position players, he’s 12th all-time in WAR. He’s 16th in times on base, seventh in extra-base hits and seventh in total bases. The only players in history to top 2,000 runs and RBI were A-Rod, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. 

I could keep going, but there’s no need. He was truly one of the greatest players to ever set foot on a diamond. 

The circumstances are there, though, and most people will not ignore them. Rodriguez was suspended for an entire season due to his ties to the Biogenesis scandal after being linked to PEDs in reports and rumors multiple times. He admitted during his career that he used PEDs in the three seasons before MLB started suspending players for violating the league’s Joint Drug Agreement. He strenuously denied using once the testing system was put in place until he was busted and then he eventually admitted to using under the enforcement policy too. 

For the people who are hardliners against any player tied to PEDs, let alone admitted users, there’s no reason to even discuss A-Rod regarding the Hall of Fame. For the people, such as myself, who would’ve still voted for Bonds and Clemens, there were still multiple lines crossed by A-Rod. I’ve often noted that I won’t vote for any players who violated the JDA and were suspended by MLB, so A-Rod is out while I would’ve voted for even the likes of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. 

The only people left are those who don’t care about PED ties and would simply vote for the best players. It appears that is just over 1/3 of the BBWAA Hall of Fame voting body here in A-Rod’s third year of a possible 10 on the ballot. It’s hard to see any peers on a veteran’s committee even decades down the line wanting to vote A-Rod in, either. 

“There’s rules, and you have to follow the rules,” Rodriguez told Cigar Aficionado magazine in 2018. “I made those mistakes, and at the end of the day I have to live by those mistakes.

“Whether I get in or not—and let’s be clear, I want to get in, I hope I get in, I pray I get in—if I don’t, I think I have a bigger opportunity yet again. And the platform of my mistakes, the good the bad and the ugly, has allowed me to have a loud voice to the next generation, to say when in doubt, just look at my career. Look at the good, look at the bad, look at the ugly. And just make good decisions, have the power of restriction that I didn’t have.”

It’s hard to see that prayer getting answered and this is one case where hope doesn’t get him anywhere. 

Alex Rodriguez was blessed to be born as one of the most talented baseball players the human race has ever seen. That, apparently, wasn’t good enough for him and he decided to use PEDs for a significant portion of his career. That cost him a lot of money, his public image and, ultimately, likely, the Hall of Fame. 

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