Steroids and the Hall of Fame


Ross Douthat says past steroid use shouldn’t keep you out of the Hall of Fame forever, but it should carry a penalty:

This isn’t to say that the steroid effect shouldn’t be considered in evaluating a player’s fitness for the Hall. I wouldn’t give A-Rod or Bonds the honor of a first-ballot induction, and I think that evidence of steroid use is a good reason for keeping borderline HoF candidates out. If you think a player wouldn’t have reached Hall-worthy numbers without cheating – as I suspect McGwire wouldn’t, for all his gifts – then don’t vote him in. But there’s no question that Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens would have made the Hall without the edge that steroids provided. And if you grant that premise, I think that they belong there, unless the sport is willing to take the plunge of banning them from the diamond permanently.

I think I’d go softer on McGwire than this. Maybe it’s true that absent the juice McGwire wouldn’t have been a good enough hitter to rack up HoF stats. But one of the problems a juiceless McGwire would have faced was the need to hit the pitches thrown by Roger Clemens. Suppose McGwire hadn’t had assistance and the pitchers against whom he played didn’t have it either—is there any reason to think it wouldn’t have all just evened-out in the end?