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Reeves on Juan Gonzalez and the Hall of Fame

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Jim Reeves has a story up at ESPN Dallas about Juan Gonzalez's Hall of Fame hopes, which were dashed this past voting cycle when Gonzalez failed to get at least 5% of the vote, which means he was dropped from the BBWAA ballot.

Interestingly, Reeves blames Gonzalez's absence from the Hall on PED suspicions, noting that Gonzalez "belted 434 home runs and drove in 1,404 in his career, HOF numbers by anyone's standard."

Except that's not really the case, particularly for players who played in the inflated-offense era of the 1990s. Gonzalez's RBI total is lower than Joe Carter, Rusty Staub, Luis Gonzalez, Dave Parker, and Jose Canseco -- players who no one considers Hall of Famers. Canseco also has more home runs than Gonzalez, and really had a pretty similar career as Gonzalez.

The problem with Gonzalez is that there's nothing to his case other than home runs and RBIs. He was a bad defender, even for a corner outfielder. He played more than 150 games in a season only twice in his career, and only two other seasons with more than 140 games. He basically had an 11 season career of full-time play, with another six seasons on the front and back end where he had limited playing time, and while he was a feared slugger for much of those 11 years, he simply didn't have the sort of dominance over that period that would warrant entry into the Hall with such a short playing career.

There is also the argument, of course, that Gonzalez's two MVP Awards should carry extra weight, but as we've discussed before, both of those awards were pretty poor selections, with his 1996 MVP being one of the worst MVP decisions the BBWAA has made.

Gonzalez had a solid career, albeit one that was cut short because of injuries. And it is unfortunate that career has been tainted by the steroids rumors. But those rumors aren't what is keeping him from the is that he didn't have a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.