With his name on the ballot for the first time, baseball fans can finally have a discussion about Alex Rodriguez and his Hall of Fame chances.
Without question, A-Rod’s steroid use has made him one of the most polarizing figures in baseball history. Thus, it’ll be fascinating how he fares when the voting is revealed for the class of 2022, as well as subsequent classes.
Based solely on his numbers, there’s no doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But there have been enough players eligible for the Hall of Fame before him in similar positions who haven’t received enough votes to get an invitation to Cooperstown. In other words, he’s far from a lock, so what are Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame chances over the next 10 years?
Alex Rodriguez Hall of Fame chances
Alex Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame eligibility began with the voting that took place in late 2021, more than five years after he played his final game with the Yankees in 2016. There is almost no chance that he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Many voters have been unwilling to vote in favor of players connected to steroids, especially their first year on the ballot.
In terms of steroid-linked players, all eyes are on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens this year. Both are in their final year of eligibility and have crept closer to the threshold of 75% over the previous nine years. If voters are willing to eventually forgive knowing cheaters, they will be giving two of their 10 votes to Bonds and Clemens while likely ignoring A-Rod.
A Rod’s case depends on Bonds
At the same time, a lot will be known about A-Rod’s Hall of Fame chances based on Bonds and Clemens. Those three are very much in the same boat. Nobody denies that they are among the best players of all time. But if the writers voting on the Hall of Fame don’t fold and allow Bonds and Clemens into Cooperstown, it’s doubtful they will ever do so for Rodriguez.
Much like Bonds, Rodriguez is one of the best hitters to ever play the game. In both cases, neither player needed steroids to be an elite player. Both Bonds and A-Rod were all-stars early in their careers before either used performance-enhancing drugs. The difference is that Bonds won MVP honors three times before his connection to steroids whereas Rodriguez didn’t win his three MVP awards until the years after he admitted to taking steroids during his time with the Rangers from 2001 to 2003.
If you cut off Bonds in the late 90s before it was obvious he was using steroids, his numbers and the eye test still say he’s a Hall of Famer. But the same can’t be said of A-Rod and his steroid use.
If his career had ended with the Rangers in 2003, he would have been a good player but a borderline Hall of Famer at best. He needed the years after he began using steroids to make himself an obvious Hall of Famer, making it harder to put him into the Hall of Fame knowing that his numbers were artificially inflated. With that in mind, if Bonds never gets into the Hall of Fame, Rodriguez should never get in either.