Over the course of a 22 year, 8-team big league tenue, Gary Sheffield hit 509 HR’s, compiled a career slugging of percentage of .514, won 5 Silver Slugger Awards and made All-Star teams 9 times. There’s other prodigious stats, too, but none of are enough to win the favor of Detroit Athletic Co.’s Dan Holmes, who aside from cataloging Sheff’s myriad public relations problems, argues that Dwight Gooden’s nephew is unworthy of Hall Of Fame induction after being named in the Mitchell Report. “He may have looked like The Natural’ when he debuted as a 19-year old with the Brewers,” Holmes scolds, “but in the end too much of what Sheffield accomplished came about in ‘unnatural’ ways” (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)
It’s the steroid use that will keep Sheffield from ever being elected to the Hall of Fame. A look at his career shows a fairly common arc of performance up until his 30s. Then, for his age 30-36 seasons he posted remarkable power numbers, setting career highs in homers, extra-base hits, total bases, and slugging percentage. Like Bonds, Sheffield’s power surge in his 30s and into his late 30s is suspicious to say the least. His inclusion in the Mitchell Report should make it clear to anyone that he was cheating for several years. For that reason Sheffield should not be elected to the Hall of Fame, and he won’t be. Bonds, who was a far superior player to Sheffield whether they were juiced or not, has even gaudier numbers and the most support he’s received from the baseball writers is 36.2%. Mark McGwire hasn’t sniffed election either and Rafael Palmeiro (who had more than 3,000 hits) fell off the ballot completely because of his association with performance enhancing drugs.
Sheffield wasn’t well liked by the media or by many of his teammates. He was tolerated because he produced on the field, but he was often a cancer in the clubhouse and he never stayed in one spot long enough to gain a fan following (“Sheffs’ Hats” aside).
Holmes might have a point, here. Aside from the National Baseball Hall Of Fame, Sheffield should also be ruled ineligible from the Hall Of Being Nice To Sportswriters and the nearly as vaunted Hall Of Being Popular With Opposing Fans.