Sammy Sosa is a Hall of Famer
Sammy Sosa has rarely gotten love since 2004, both in Chicago and around the rest of MLB. While the boombox incident and corked bat suspension were huge problems, It's caused people to have selective hindsight and forget that he was the reason to watch the Cubs for nearly a 10 year period.
Furthermore, Sosa has been lukewarm to Hall of Fame voters. Some of it comes from valid concerns about steroid use. Other times, voters will do mental gymnastics to argue that Omar Vizquel is more worthy of a vote than Sosa:
This particular bing bong thinks of Sammy as a one dimensional player, and tries to discount him for playing in a home run happy time. Somehow Sammy is not Hall worthy, even though he's one of the biggest home run hitters of all time.
Let's look at the stats.
Sammy's career slash line is .273/.344/.534/.878 in 18 years. 609 HRs, 234 stolen bases, 1475 runs scored, and 1667 RBI. 60 WAR FanGraphs, 50.3 WAR BBref. 128 OPS+ 124 RC+. Great numbers. A few of his peaks include: 9th all time in home runs, 31st in RBIs, 40th in total bases, 22nd in ISO.
Mr. Connolly isn't wrong that Sammy's candidacy greatly hinges on his power. The thing is, his power was so great, you can't just write him off as a one tool player.
Did you know that Sammy Sosa
• Has more runs created (1625) than DiMaggio, Brock, Banks, Clemente, Snider, Rice, and Bench?
• One of 40 players with 250 Hrs and 200 steals.
• Was the 5th player to break the 600 HR maker.
• Sammy is the only player in baseball history to hit 60 home runs three times.
• Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Babe Ruth are the only players to hit 50 home runs four times.
Connolly reduces Sosa's candidacy because of the era he played in. He's wrong.
Home runs per game the last 4 years in MLB averaged 1.39, 1.15, 1.26, 1.16. From 1994-2005 it averaged 1.07, with a three year spike of 1.14 ('99) 1.17 ('00) 1.12 ('01). Players are hitting more home runs today than in the steroid era. You can't just wash away Sosa's achievements, because it's not like there weren't other players doing what Sosa did.
The Bill James HOF monitor awards Sammy Sosa a score of 202 (100 being likely HOFer and 130 a virtual clinch). This is largely based off of Sammy's peak ('98-'02) where he averaged a typical league best 58 Home runs, 124 R and 141 RBI.
While advanced metrics aren't typically kind to Sosa's overall performance, his career WAR places him in the middle of the pack when it comes to enshrined right fielders. His WAR is similar to Dave Winfield. One source has him at 18th in WAR, with 12 HOFers above him and 12 below. In teams of peak WAR, Sosa put up 43.8, while the average HOF RF had 42.9.
Unfortunately, you can't mention Sammy Sosa's name without the word cheater coming to mind. Detractors point to the corked bat incident, but corked bats have actually been found to be detrimental to performance (2007 Mythbusters, among many other studies done). Furthermore, after his corked bat was revealed, MLB confiscated 76 of his other bats and found 0 other corked ones. And cheating didn't stop Gaylord Perry, Rogers Hornsby, Whitey Ford, Hank Greenberg, and Mickey Mantle from getting in. There comes a point where overall performance outweighs whatever advantages the player took, and Sosa is in that class. There were over 200 steroid era players linked to steroids, and only a handful of them achieved what Sosa did.
Hall of Fame aside, it really disappoints me how revisionist history has washed away how much Sosa meant to the Cubs franchise. He's the all time franchise leader in homers, the only Cub to hit the 30-30 mark, one of a handful of Cubs MVPs, and really was the most exciting player on the team for nearly a decade. He was regarded as a surefire Hall of Famer near the end of his Cubs tenure. Must we be so fickle as to discount all of his accomplishments because he left the team slightly early in 2004?
Sammy Sosa is the reason I became a Cubs fan. He belongs on my Cubs themed Mount Rushmore. His accomplishments in 1998 alone generated a whole legion of new baseball fans. Let's stop nitpicking him to death and appreciate him for who he was--a Chicago Cubs legend.