This question is certainly an interesting one, seeing as there is no right or wrong answer. While there are many people who believe that players who are suspected of using performance enhancing drugs do not belong in the Hall of Fame, I think that there are many other things to consider that are more important (I am not saying that I am okay with players using PEDs, but that is a separate discussion). With that being said let’s take a look at Sammy Sosa’s resume, excluding the PED discussion.
Sosa was literally one of the poster boys for power hitting, and for good reason. He hit 609 home runs in his career, which has him in eighth place all time. He has hit more than 60 home runs in a season three different times, which is the most in baseball history. Though he was known mostly for his power, a lot of people can forget that Sosa did more offensively.
He drove in 1,667 runs in his career, including nine years of totaling at least 100 RBIs. Yes, a good number of those were off of his home runs (994, to be exact). But that still leaves 673 runs that were not driven in via the long ball. Sosa also was known to swipe some bags early on his career, stealing at least 30 bases three different times. And for those of you who think that he stopped stealing bases once he started hitting home runs, let it be known that he had two 30-30 seasons and even had 18 steals (on 27 attempts) during his monster 1998 campaign.
But above all else, he gave baseball fans reasons to watch again. The great home run chase between him and Mark McGwire helped reignite general interest baseball after the strike in 1994. He gave Cubs fans reasons to go to games, helping the team make the postseason in ’98 after nearly a decade of finishing near the bottom of their division. Sosa was one of the game’s biggest stars, and a lot of people paid to see him play.
The opposing argument
While Sosa was known as a great power hitter, he also struck out a lot. In fact, he struck out more times than anyone in the history of the game not named Reggie Jackson or Jim Thome.
He also didn’t hit very well against most of the pitchers on the ballot. Against returning ballot members, Sosa only hit well against Curt Schilling (.309, 7 HR). He really struggled against guys like Jack Morris (0-6), Roger Clemens (.182, 22 plate appearances), and Greg Maddux (.210).
And of course, we can’t ignore the fact that he was caught using a corked bat against the Devil Rays in 2003. While he claimed that he used corked bats “for batting practice” and simply grabbed the wrong bat, he was still suspended for seven games.
I can’t say if voting Sammy Sosa into the Hall of Fame is the right thing to do or not (and my opinion doesn’t mean very much, seeing as I don’t have the honor of voting). If you are one who votes strictly on a player’s numbers, then it would seem very hard to keep him out. Add in the impact he had on the game, and he has a very strong case. All us fans can do is wait and see what the voters decide. I think that this is going to be an interesting and exciting year for the Hall of Fame voting.
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