Because aren’t most of the ones submitted by the BBWAA just like that?

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Sammy Sosa
  4. Mike Piazza
  5. Tim Raines
  6. Craig Biggio
  7. Curt Schilling
  8. Larry Walker
  9. Jeff Bagwell
  10. Edgar Martinez

Yes, I (pretend) voted for the steroid guys. Not all of those so labeled even actually used, and most of those who did use would have been Hall of Famers before they used, and plenty of guys who used (maybe not the same stuff, but something) are already in the Hall. I’m tired of that conversation. It’s boring and unwinnable. These 10 players earned induction on their merits, and their merits are all I wanted to consider.

Barry Bonds:

Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds is roughly as despicable a human being as Cobb was. Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame. Bonds is roughly as flagrant a cheater as Perry was. Bonds dominated the game long, long before he even allegedly began juicing. He won MVp awards in 1990, 1992 and 1993. He stole over 50 bases in a season, flirted with .400 late into two or three seasons, and was (at one point) an elite left fielder with the glove. If he’s not in the Hall, who cares about the Hall?

Roger Clemens

Striking out 20 in a game, twice, is almost enough to elect a guy on its own. That’s hyperbole, but he also won Cy Young awards (and should have won more), and maybe dominated more than any other right-handed pitcher, ever. He was Koufax for two different stretches as long as Koufax’s entire career. Discount the second one for PED suspicion, and you still have an inner-circle Hall of Famer.

Sammy Sosa

A longer story is forthcoming on Sosa. He’s a bit of a homer pick. If 40-something writers whose youth was wasted on the 1980s can tell me “you weren’t there” and vote for Jack Morris, I can do the same with Sosa.

Mike Piazza

Arguably best opposite-field power ever. Arguably best offensive catcher ever. Inarguable Hall of Famer. No good evidence to link he, Sosa or Bagwell to steroids, just suspicion.

Tim Raines

Second-best leadoff hitter ever, cursed to be a near-perfect contemporary of the best ever, by a wide margin, Rickey Henderson. Raines is long overdue for induction.

Craig Biggio

Biggio played catcher, second base and center field as a regular for significant parts of his career. Sure, he sucked at all of them, but he was an elite leadoff guy for years and years. Love how often he was hit by pitches, and how rarely he grounded into double plays. He was one of the very, very few of whom it is true that he was excellent at the little things.

Curt Schilling

He is the very model of the modern pitching Hall candidate. The wins aren’t there. The ERA is not necessarily elite. But Schilling was a great post-season pitcher, had stupid-good strikeout-to-walk ratios, and peaked very high. Easy in.

Larry Walker

As well-rounded an outfielder as there was in the 1990s. The only problem is that Walker lacked a signature tool or skill. He wasn’t an elite runner or fielder. His offensive numbers were inflated by his home parks. Still, he was my favorite kind of player, and he’s a clear Hall of Famer.

Jeff Bagwell

Good fielder, better hitter. He was a fine pure hitter, but the combination of patience and power (despite playing in the Astrodome for most of his career) really made him a superstar.

Edgar Martinez

No one seems to be arguing with his credentials, which are stellar. Martinez was as well-rounded a pure hitter as the game had between 1995 and 2001. The obstacle to his induction is the fact that he was a DH, but come on: If he had played in the 1950s, he’d just have been an awful defensive first baseman. No way that bat was being kept out of the lineup. If Willie McCovey was a Hall of Famer, so is Martinez.

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