Alright…with Manny Ramirez retiring suddenly this past week to avoid a second suspension for failing a drug test, it begs the question: HOF?
Taking steroids out of the equation, this guy is a first-ballot HOF-er. I would argue that he was the greatest righthander hitter in baseball from 1995-2008, and one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history. Sure, he was a complete spaz and couldn’t field a lick, but when you hit like that it doesn’t really matter. During the mid-1990s he and Jim Thome provided potency to the Cleveland Indians, then he and David Ortiz teamed up as perhaps the most dominant 3-4 combination since Ruth-Gehrig. Even his stint with the Dodgers (before the first suspension that signaled the end of his career) was incredible.
Some of the career stats: .312 BA, .411 OBP, .585 SLG, .996 OPS, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI.
He was always a favorite player of mine (when not tormenting Twins pitching, of course) for just his pure hitting ability. The guy didn’t give a lick about anything, but he was blessed with the ability to hit a baseball really, really hard with surprising frequency.
Of course, much like Andy Pettitte, the steroid issue will cloud Manny’s candidacy. Like Pettitte and, say, A-Rod, Manny is a confirmed steroid user. That being said, he didn’t make up ridiculous stories in his defense (e.g. Barry Bonds), didn’t become a jerk about it (e.g. Roger Clemens), didn’t refuse to speak about the past (e.g. Mark McGwire), didn’t blatently deny his usage (e.g. Rafael Palmeiro), and didn’t forget how to speak English when questioned (e.g. Sammy Sosa). Basically, he just got caught and served his time.
My feeling on the matter right now is that I would put Manny in the Hall, but not after a few years of “punishment waiting” sitting on the ballot. Perhaps I am being too sentimental and should be harder on the guy, but at least he didn’t deny, deny, deny and make baseball look like a bunch of guys trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
Time will tell.