Alex Rodriguez received 34.3 percent of the vote in his first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot, but a fellow Cooperstown hopeful wonders why the former slugger is even under consideration.
Billy Wagner told The Post on Wednesday that players suspended by MLB during their career for performance-enhancing-drug infractions should be ineligible from appearing on a Hall of Fame ballot. Rodriguez, with the Yankees, was suspended for the entire 2014 season after he was cited by MLB for obtaining illegal PEDs from Biogenesis, a South Florida-based lab.
“To me that is a very easy story,” Wagner said. “If you are caught and proven without a doubt and you are suspended, I don’t know why you are on the ballot.
“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. A guy like Dale Murphy who goes out there and hits and gets MVPs and does it correctly, but doesn’t get in, but the guy who takes shortcuts shouldn’t get the same privilege.”
To Wagner there is a distinction between players who were caught and suspended (Manny Ramirez also falls into that category) and others such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who in Wagner’s mind were never proven without a doubt to have used PEDs, despite the testimony and evidence against them.
“I know there’s other guys in the Hall of Fame speculated to have used PEDs and stuff like that and they got in, but to me Clemens, Bonds … it’s real hard to see why the real best of the best aren’t in there,” Wagner said.
In his seventh year of eligibility, Wagner received 51 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It leaves the former closer with three shots to reach the 75 percent threshold needed for induction.
Reflecting on the steroids era, Wagner — who spent almost four seasons with the Mets — said the top pitchers of the 1990s and early 2000s should be humbled by it.
“I feel like it’s a compliment to me that somebody had to go and do this, they had to go and get supplements to be able to compete with somebody like me,” Wagner said. “I do feel that is a credit to what I brought, and to play in that era they had to do that because they weren’t having much success against me.”