The 2017 class of Major League Baseball Hall of Famers was an interesting one. Two of out the three players elected to the Hall of Fame were labeled by Jose Canseco as steroid users and the third guy talked openly about his cocaine use over his career. It was not the cleanest class of Hall of Famers but nonetheless the baseball community thought they deserved the honor. Let’s take a look at some of the checkered pasts of this years MLB Hall of Fame Class.
First we have Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell spent his entire 15 year career with one team, the Houston Astros. Bagwell burst onto the scene in 1991 batting .294, hit 15 homers and drove in 84 runs on his way to winning the National League Rookie of the Year. Not a bad rookie season for a guy who was described by scouts as low waisted and having a soft, fleshy body.
Bagwell went on to win the National League MVP Award in the strike shortened 1994 season and appeared in four All-Star Games over the course of his career. Bagwell was never directly linked to steroids but one half of the “Bash Brothers”, Jose Canseco, called him out as juicing over his career. You can make the case that Bagwell, who was very close with Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley during his career, was using steroids and in fact, I believe that he was. But even if he did use steroids, I do not believe Bagwell’s career numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. That’s an error on the voters in my book.
The second inductee is Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Arguably the best defensive catcher of his time and in his first season Pudge finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year race but it was the following year in 1992 when Pudge started to solidify himself as the most exciting catcher in baseball.
From 1992 to 2001 Pudge would win 10 Gold Gloves, be named to 10 All-Star Games, win 6 Silver Slugger Awards, and in 1999 won the American League MVP Award. In 2003, Pudge played a crucial role as a member of the Florida Marlins who would go on to win the World Series that year. Following his World Series victory with the Marlins, Pudge would appear in 4 more All-Star games and then fade into oblivion. Pudge was also accused of using steroids by Canseco but no one has ever discovered anything to prove he was a juicer.
This selection to the Hall of Fame was a well deserved one in my mind.
The final player of the 2017 MLB Hall of Fame class is Tim Raines. Raines played his first 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos and posted some gawkish numbers on the base paths. From 1981 to 1985 Raines stole at least 70 bases in each season with his highest total being 90 in 1983. Raines was a 7 time All-Star during his career and is one of only 4 players to have stolen 800 bases in their career. But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine for Raines.
Turns out Raines had bit of a substance abuse problem during his career. Raines’s drug of choice was cocaine and he admitted to using it during games. Raines would go on to win a two World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998. Raines was on the ballot for the 10th and final year and somehow manage to squeak in. Of the three inductees, in my mind, Raines was the most deserving.
Overall, this class will take a brunt of the criticism because of the alleged and admitted connections to steroids and drugs. But on the bright side, for those players waiting on the ballot who have connections to steroids now have some hope of one day making it to Cooperstown.