The Hall of Fame is home to many of the greatest players in baseball history.
Key word: Many. Not all of them.
Some of the best players to ever play are not—and likely never will ever be—enshrined in Cooperstown. The all-time hit king is not there. Nor is the all-time home run king. The guy with the most Cy Young awards? He isn’t there either.
Gambling used to be the mortal sin that kept otherwise legendary players out of the Hall. It’s why Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose aren’t in there. But today, performance enhancing drugs are the leading culprit keeping otherwise worthy players away from induction. On the day when Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza—himself no stranger to PED allegations—officially become members of the Hall of Fame, here are The 11 Players Whose Hall of Fame Induction Has Been Sabotaged by Steroid Allegations and Admissions.
Ramirez's .312 lifetime average is the third-highest mark of any player with at least 500 home runs. He finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting every year from 1999-2005. He was the World Series MVP in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first title in 86 years.
He would be in the conversation for a unanimous first-ballot enshrinement had it not been for his PED use. Many of the players on this list allegedly used PED’s when they either weren’t banned or penalties weren’t being enforced. Ramirez was caught during the enforcement period and suspended 50 games in 2009 after a positive test and retired in 2011 after testing positive again.
This gives him virtually zero chance of making the Hall of Fame. He’ll be lucky to get five percent of the vote next season when he's on the ballot.
Statistically speaking, Roger Clemens is the most dominant pitcher of the liveball era. His 354 wins are ninth all-time, his 4,672 strikeouts are third, and his seven Cy Youngs are the most by any player.
When the long-awaited Mitchell Report came out in 2007, Clemens’ name was among the most prominent. PED’s had so often been associated with offensive players, to see Clemens on that list was nothing short of a surprise. He emphatically denied these allegations under oath in front of Congress and was later indicted on six counts of perjury, contempt of Congress, and false statements. Although he was found not guilty of all counts in 2012, he still has never received more than 45 percent of the Hall of Fame vote.
In 2005, Palmeiro became the fourth player to amass 3,000 career hits and 500 career home runs. The other three are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray. Yet, Palmeiro is perhaps best remembered wagging his finger in front of Congress in 2005, emphatically denying he had ever used steroids.
He tested positive later that season, which forever doomed his odds at Cooperstown. Palmeiro never received more than 12.6 percent of the vote and fell off the ballot in 2014 after falling below five percent.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez
Unlike just about all of the players on this list, there is no hard evidence or strong allegations that Bagwell, picture above with Hall of Fame teammate Craig Biggio, ever used PEDs. But by virtue of being a power hitter in the 90’s and an absurd standard of evidence on the part of some writers, Bagwell isn’t in Cooperstown—yet.
Whether he used or not, Bagwell was arguably the best first baseman of the 90’s. In a 12-year stretch from 1993-2002, Bagwell hit .300 with a .414 on-base percentage, while averaging 34 homers and 111 RBI per season.
Mike Piazza faced similar issues during his Hall of Fame quest—he didn’t get elected until his fourth try. Bagwell received over 70 percent of the vote last year, just five percent below the minimum for induction, so it’s very possible he could make the Hall next season.
This is the most interesting case of all. Oritz was one of 104 players who reportedly tested positive for PEDs when MLB surveyed all of baseball back in 2003. But the Red Sox slugger, who is currently 19th all-time on the home run list, has said he never knowingly took steroids.
While Big Papi is in the middle of phenomenal season after announcing he's retiring at the end of the year, it will be interesting to see how voters weigh his numbers and popularity vs. the allegations. Ortiz is considered a fan favorite and has mostly gotten a pass from the media. But some Hall of Fame voters may frown upon his canidadcy when Papi appears on the ballot for the first time in 2022.