Holier than Bonds
In the last 24 hours, I’ve learned people that use the phrase “holier than thou” are holier than thou.
Before you read another word, please know: I do not have a Baseball Hall of Fame vote and probably never will. It has less to do with qualifications and more to do with simply the fact that I’m not a writer but I’m a broadcaster. If you care about my qualifications, I would guess that somewhere around 70 to 75 percent of the members of the BBWAA know more about the game’s past, present and future than I do. I’m not telling you this to be humble or insulting to some members, but to give you context. I’m also writing this as if I had a vote.
Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas are the only players the BBWAA believes to be worthy of the Hall. Unfortunately for those men, the immediate story line became “Congratulations, but the tainted players all lost votes.”
There are basically three blocks of voters.
1) Those that believe the “PED era” was a sad time and there’s nothing we can do about it. Compare those players on numbers only. If speculation is true that the vast majority of players were using, then the numbers are not tainted because it’s steroid-on-steroid crime. If the Hall is the place for the best players of different eras, then Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro are Hall of Famers because their steroid numbers are better than everyone else’s steroid numbers.
2) Those that believe PEDs tainted the numbers but only proof of use is grounds for exclusion. Mark McGwire admitted use, so he’s out. Mike Piazza is tainted by the belief of steroid use but there’s no proof or positive test so he’s in the Hall.
3) Those that believe the current Hall of Famers and their numbers must be protected. This is a very easy group to understand. Since Johnny Bench’s numbers were not performance-enhanced and there’s a chance Piazza’s were, for the sanctity of Bench, Piazza’s out. This group completely believes in speculation. If they’re not sure whether or not a player used, then they used. Players are guilty until proven innocent, not as an attack on another man’s credibility but to support the greats that have come before him.
I am in category three. I am not asking St. Peter to move aside so I can stare down Barry Bonds and determine his final resting place. I simply believe Bonds cheated the game. I don’t think Hank Aaron should have to share his club with Barry Bonds.
For me, it goes deeper than just protecting the Hall. It’s about protecting the players that chose not to use. Take Mike Sweeney for an example. Without the use of steroids and going against a majority of pitchers who were juicing, the five-time All-Star finished just below a .300/.400/.500 slash line. I’m very confident Mike Sweeney’s numbers would be Hall of Fame worthy if he used.
I don’t vote against Mark McGwire to attack him. I leave him off my ballot to support Roger Maris. So many voters can’t accept a Hall of Fame if Clemens and Bonds aren’t in it. Is it easier to accept a Hall of Fame without Dale Murphy and Roger Maris? If we are saying those two players are just below legendary status and do not deserve inclusion, are we not saying, “Sorry Dale, should have juiced,” if we put in Sammy Sosa?
If so many voters would consider me “holier than thou” because I won’t vote users in, why can’t we speculate the “juice factor?” With all these great sabermetricians, certainly we can come up with a stat that benefits the non-user so we can guess where they would have been if on the juice. If users belong in, then non-users need a formula to rank their numbers with the juice mob.
Barry Bonds averaged seven more home runs a year after his 33rd birthday when most people believe his relationship with BALCO began. From the 1999 season on, his slash line went up an average of .022/.081/.144. We’ll use these numbers as the scientific fact of the effect steroids has on all hitters.
The “Cheaters Quotient” will be set at 65 percent. The quotient refers to the range a player improves on their own at the start of their career without PED’s. It also includes the conscience factor because it takes a few years for some players to decide if they will be a user or not. So as you add the Juice Factor to a slash line, it can only be applied to 65 percent of the seasons a non-steroid user played.
There’s only one thing missing in the new stat to make it historically relevant. Mike Sweeney’s numbers compared to Joe DiMaggio’s must be adjusted due to the years Sweeney spent in the steroid era. Non-users get to add one to every stat they’ve earned for every year they played in the steroid era between 1988 and 2009. DiMaggio doesn’t get this because he was a non-user versus other non-users but Sweeney can add 15 to all his stats for “PEDeraadj” since that’s how many years he played in the steroid era.
When you combine the “Juice Factor,” the “Cheaters Quotient,” you get the new stat FranzPED. Adjusting the FranzPED for years spent by non-users playing against the users, I can present the FranzPED+.
So for Mike Sweeney’s Hall of Fame campaign, we take his 16 years in the league times the 65 percent Cheaters Quotient so we can add his Juice Factor to 10.4 seasons and then add 15 to every stat he owns to account for PEDeraadj. Mike Sweeney now has 302 HRs, with a slash of .315/.428/.559 thanks to the handy FranzPED+. Mike still ends up short but he would have been on the ballot all 15 years.
The FranzPED+ can be used as a Hall of Fame selection guide or a modern day additive to compare clean players with suspected players. Want to compare Bonds numbers to Ruth’s? Simply put Ruth’s numbers through the FranzPED+. Now Ruth has 868 HR’s, to go along with his .344 BA. His OBP goes up to .498 (remember .400 is excellent) and his slugging percentage is now .739 — increasing his lead over Bonds to 132 percentage points!
If you think this is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever read, you’re right. The only thing more ridiculous would be to read Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds’ plaques in the National Hall of Fame and Museum.