Alex Rodriguez is one of baseball's GOATs – but the Hall of Fame may always be out of reach

Quite simply, Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball.

Go ahead, check out his numbers: 696 home runs, 3,115 hits, 2,086 RBI, 329 stolen bases.

The man was a three-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove winner and a World Series champion.

He also happened to receive the longest drug suspension in baseball history and was suspended for the entire 2014 season with the New York Yankees.

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If not for his rampant performance-enhancing drug use that was later exposed, with Rodriguez revealing that he used PEDs during his entire three-year stint with the Texas Rangers after signing a 10-year, $252 million contract, he might have been a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame.

Yet the Baseball Writers' Association of America has been quite clear in its voting.

If you used PEDs – or at least got caught using PEDs – you’re not getting into Cooperstown.

Let’s be honest, if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens weren’t elected into the Hall of Fame, without ever testing positive or receiving a drug suspension, how can Rodriguez?

Alex Rodriguez played for the Yankees from 2004-2016.
Alex Rodriguez played for the Yankees from 2004-2016.

Why A-Rod belongs in the Hall

Certainly, if you go strictly by the performance and hardware, Rodriguez is a no-brainer.

He was perhaps the greatest player of his era.

He wasn’t Barry Bonds, but he was close.

Why, if not for the drug suspension, and perhaps one or two more seasons, he could have been baseball’s all-time home run king.

Rodriguez hit at least 35 home runs every year from 1998 to 2008, including three 50-homer seasons. He hit 30 or more home runs in 15 of his 22 seasons. He even hit 33 home runs in his first season returning from his drug suspension in 2015.

Really, he was sensational in every element of the game.

He was a home run hitter and a contact hitter, batting at least .300 nine times and winning the 1996 batting title by hitting 358.

He played fabulous defense, winning two Gold Gloves, and seamlessly shifted from shortstop to third base after joining the Yankees in 2004.

He was a terrific base runner with his 329 stolen bases and stole 46 bases in 1998 with the Seattle Mariners.

There are only four players in history with at least 600 homers and 3,000 hits: Henry Aaron, Albert Pujols, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was the epitome of a brilliant all-around ballplayer.

If you’re going to ignore the historic PED suspension, the multiple PED confessions, or point out that there are certainly players in the Hall of Fame who were obvious PED users but never caught, hey, A-Rod is your guy.

Where A-Rod doesn't stack up

The Baseball Writers' Association of America has made it loud and clear they don’t want cheaters in the Hall of Fame.

The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee voters supported the stance with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens getting four or fewer of the 16 votes, with 12 needed for election.

Despite being the all-time home run king with 762, a seven-time MVP winner, a 14-time All-Star, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time batting champion and perhaps the greatest player in history behind only Babe Ruth, Bonds is out.

And despite being a seven-time Cy Young winner, MVP winner, seven-time ERA champion, two-time World Series champion, 11-time All-Star and a 354-game winner with 4,672 strikeouts, Clemens is out.

Bonds and Clemens never tested positive for PEDs, never were suspended for PED use, never were fined for PED use, and were found not guilty by the courts for perjury by testifying they did not use PEDs.

Considering Rodriguez revealed that he used PEDs during several seasons, was one of 15 players suspended after purchasing PEDs in the infamous Biogenesis case, how in the world can he get in when Bonds and Clemens aren’t?

Rodriguez’s case was cooked the moment Bonds and Clemens fell off the BBWAA ballot.

His only reasonable hope is by the Veterans Committee one day, provided Bonds and Clemens also get elected by the same committee.

Voting trends

Rodriguez appears to have gained a little push from his inaugural season on the ballot. He has been named on 40.3% of ballots publicly revealed and listed in Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker, although that figure should drop by at least 5% when all of the votes are revealed. Rodriguez received just 135 votes last year, 161 votes short of election, at 34.3%.

Will he ultimately get in?

Rodriguez’s only realistic chance to be elected into the Hall of Fame is by the Veterans Committee.

Simply, if Bonds and Clemens weren’t elected by the BBWAA, how can Rodriguez get in, particularly given his historic drug suspension?

If Bonds and Clemens get elected one day by the Veterans Committee, or a couple of current Hall of Famers suddenly come clean and divulge that they were PED users, perhaps only then does Rodriguez have a chance.

Yet until that time comes, Rodriguez will simply remain on the ballot for eight more years until his 10 years of eligibility expire.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Rodriguez among MLB's GOATs – but Hall of Fame is out of reach