In his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received 34.3% of the vote.
And although Rodriguez needs an additional 40.7% to reach the 75% threshold with nine attempts left to go, former Astros and Mets closer Billy Wagner does not believe the ex-Yankee belongs on the ballot.
“To me that is a very easy story. If you are caught and proven without a doubt and you are suspended, I don’t know why you are on the ballot,” Wagner told Mike Puma of The New York Post on Wednesday. “I understand that A-Rod was one of the greatest players I ever played against, and when all that stuff changes you just have a hard time. You go, ‘Why? You were already great.’ For whatever reason I just don’t think it’s fair that [illegal PED users] get to enjoy what guys who did it the correct way are forced to deal with.”
There is no doubt that Rodriguez was one of the best players of all-time during his career, slugging 696 home runs, while accumulating 3,115 hits from 1994 to 2016. He was also a three-time AL MVP winner, 14-time All-Star and won 10 Silver Slugger trophies. Rodriguez played the hot corner for the Yankees from 2004 to 2016 and helped them capture their last World Series title in 2009. However, he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during his time with Texas Rangers from 2001 and 2003 and was later suspended for the entire 2014 season as a result of purchasing steroids from the South Florida-based lab, Biogenesis.
After Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa all fell off the ballot earlier in the week in their 10th-and-final year of eligibility, Rodriguez’s known steroid-use could eventually deliver him the same fate as his peers. Not to mention, the other three never failed a test for PEDs during their playing days.
Wagner feels that players such as Bonds and Clemens, who only have PED allegations tied to them but never failed a test or served a suspension, should still make it to Cooperstown. But since Rodriguez confessed and served a suspension for a second offense, Wagner doesn’t think he should get into the hall.
As for Wagner’s candidacy, he made progress this year in his seventh try, garnering 51% of the vote. The left-hander was one of the best closers of all-time, racking up 422 saves (sixth most in MLB history), a 2.31 ERA, 187 ERA+ and 1,196 strikeouts across 16 big-league seasons from 1995 to 2010. Wagner notched 101 saves while pitching for the Mets from 2006 to 2009. He will get three more chances to be inducted into Cooperstown.
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