Time for another Hall of Fame debate, now that Pudge Rodriguez is officially retiring
Rodriguez will announce his retirement from baseball on Monday in Texas, as a member of the Texas Rangers. He played 12 seasons with the Rangers, and that's where he became one of the best players in baseball, including winning the AL MVP in 1999.
As we tend to do when great players announce their retirement, it's time to debate his Hall of Fame worthiness.
Based on numbers alone, he's a virtual lock. He'll retire with 2,844 hits, 311 HR, 14 All-Star selections, 13 Gold Gloves (including 10 straight from 1992-2001), and 7 Silver Sluggers. As mentioned before, he was the 1999 AL MVP, and finished in the top 10 three more times.
As great as he was at the plate (.296 career average, 7 straight seasons with an OPS+ of 120 or more), Rodriguez' real skill was behind the plate. His 13 Gold Gloves were no mistake. Aside from the Molina brothers, very few (if any) catchers in recent memory have been as outstanding defensively as Rodriguez.
Rodriguez led the league in caught stealing percentage 9 times, and is the active leader with 45.68% for his career. The next best active catcher is Yadier Molina, with 44.34%. Rodriguez is the all-time leader in putouts for a catcher, and also has the record for most games as a catcher, with 2,427. He's the Cal Ripken Jr. of catchers.
One major problem with Rodriguez' Hall of Fame candidacy is the same problem many HOF-eligible players are battling right now: Performance enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez was named in the Mitchell Report as one of the many MLB players who used PEDs. When asked whether or not he took them, he said "only God knows."
For those of you who can't read between the lines, that means he absolutely did.
Is that enough to keep the greatest catcher of our era out of the Hall of Fame? If you ask me, I think it's not. He should definitely be inducted as soon as he's eligible, PEDs or not.
Congrats to Pudge Rodriguez for a truly amazing career. What do you think... Hall of Fame... right?