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Manny Ramirez: Greatest Player to Never Make the Hall

By Mike Silva ~ April 11th, 2011. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

Manny Ramirez left the game of baseball this weekend in the same manner that he played his entire career: controversial. Whether it was his dreadlocks, inability to embrace defense, goofy antics, or moody exits from organizations Ramirez had a way of making himself a necessary distraction because of his bat.

Surely failing a second test for performance enhancing drugs destroys his Hall of Fame chances. If Jeff Bagwell, someone who never has failed a test, is under the PED scrutiny of the sometimes sanctimonious BBWAA, then what chance does Ramirez have?

If you use OPS+ to weight Ramirez career versus the best all time his offensive production is similar to Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. When using Wins Above Replacement to calculate his overall value to the team (offense and defense), he’s still one of the top fifty players in the history of baseball.

Don’t like advanced metrics? I calculate 13 of 19 seasons are Hall worthy. He also has the typical benchmarks with his 555 career homers, and .312 batting average. Want to make this easy? Anyone who watched him knows he was the most feared right handed hitter of the last 20 years, and arguably of all time.

Did Manny Ramirez need PED’s to reach these numbers? Probably not. We don’t know when he started using, but his career profile indicates he hit pretty much since the day he started pro baseball as a 19 year old kid out of Washington Heights. Clearly the PED’s didn’t help him on defense, although if you ask those that know Manny he wasn’t interested in his glove back when he played high school ball either. Why does this matter? Take a look at what Bud Shaw of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had to say on Sunday:

As an overmatched Baseball Hall of Fame voter increasingly asked to measure players from the steroid era for election to Cooperstown, I’m desperate for clarity. I’ll take it wherever I can find it.

Why so desperate? Because I’m not in the ban-all-the-cheaters club of voters. Maybe I should be, but I’m not there yet.

I’m not in any club, really. Unless there’s a club of voters who are beginning to wish they weren’t voters. I’ll run for president of that.

Being a Hall of Fame voter is a privilege. But it feels more and more like a burden. Mostly because I have trouble separating the cheaters who got caught from the cheaters who didn’t; the players who tested positive but whose bodies didn’t change in any noticeable way, from those who never tested positive but who swelled like over-spinached Popeyes.

But Manny? Manny’s easy now.

Manny delivered, because that’s what Manny does.

One, two, three strikes. He’s out. And he’s not getting back into the discussion.

Great to know that someone who is paid to be an expert on the game of baseball admits he is overmatched. Kudos for the honesty, but how many of us would still be employed if we went to our bosses and admitted me were “in over our heads” at our line of work? This is voting for the Hall of Fame, not reinventing the atom.

Shaw actually lays out the issue for not voting against a PED user in the piece. By admitting he is “in over his head,” and stating the obvious regarding clarity to the impact of PED’s, he validates my view that the only way to be fair is to evaluate the player on the performance. Does Shaw, or anyone else, know when Manny started using? How much of an impact PED’s had on his performance? I believe it probably started later in his career when age caught up with him. Never a hard worker, Ramirez needed to produce at typical levels and decided to get some help. Do I have proof of this? Of course not, but the last two to three years of production hasn’t changed my mind on his Hall of Fame worthiness.

Freelance baseball writer Paul Lebowitz compared the tale of Ramirez to that of Shoeless Joe Jackson:

Both Shoeless Joe and Manny are destined for the same fate—deprived of recognition in the Hall of Fame because of their guilt in moments of greed, stupidity or ignorance.

Both thought their images and reputations as innocuous, gentle souls would carry them past that stigma of transgression.

It never cleared the name of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

And it won’t clear the name or justify the career of Manny Ramirez.

Just like Jackson, Ramirez knew he was in danger of destroying his legacy and went through with it anyway. I could argue that if Ramirez is kept out of the Hall, he will go down as the best player not enshrined. I believe he is clearly better than Rose or Jackson, and it’s probably not even close.

Does the same league that at one time promoted segregation, endorses backdoor deals with owners, and treats kids out of high school like garbage at the minor league level deserve a clean Hall of Fame?

Manny Ramirez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. You need to separate the person from the player. If we didn’t, I suspect the view on the Hall of Fame would change for many more individuals than just Ramirez. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is run by large entities that preach ethics to keep the public controlled, but doesn’t practice it at any level. The effect of that is on display every January when the BBWAA conducts its annual Hall of Fame vote. That’s why in five years Manny Ramirez will become the greatest player to never be elected into the Hall of Fame.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Manny Ramirez: Greatest Player to Never Make the Hall

  1. Stu B

    Not to split hairs, but was Manny really a greater player than Barry Bonds, assuming Bonds doesn’t make the HOF? Doubtful.

  2. Mike Silva


    That is a great point. Right now I am not so sure Bonds doesn’t get in. It will be an interesting call for the BBWAA. Its pretty clear, due to the failed test, Manny will not get in. Bonds nor Sosa did not have a failed test.

    If Bonds is left out than your assertion is correct.

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