I always begin any Hall of Fame discussion with a reminder that long-time Tigers second basemen Lou Whitaker has the highest career Wins Above Replacement among 20th Century position players not in the Hall and not connected to steroids or gambling. Whitaker will likely get another shot in the future, but was not on any of the ballots this year, so let’s turn our attention to the upcoming Baseball Writer’s Association of America ballot (BBWAA).
There were no new inductees selected by writers in 2021, so the ballot of worthy candidates remains crowded largely due to confusion and division on how to deal with players linked to the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Many holdovers and a few worthy new candidates still make the vote a challenge though. There are 30 eligible players and writers can vote for up to 10 candidates. I, of course, do not have a vote, but will fill my theoretical ballot here.
In earlier years, I did not bring PED use into my thought process. The use of PEDs was very widespread, not only in the 1990s and 2000’s, but all the way back to the sixties and even further. It was impossible to know which players stayed clean and which used and how much it affected their performance. Eliminating or even judging players based on suspicion seemed very unfair to me. It also seemed pretty obvious that the game turned a blind eye to the problem for many decades. Thus, I considered PED use to have been part of the game and choose players solely based on their on-field performance.
Roger Clemens: As with Bonds, the Hall-of-Fame does not make much sense with Clemens excluded. He is arguably one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game.