Lots of former MLB stars are immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, as a celebration of their excellent careers and impeccable off-the-field behavior.
As of December 2021, Sammy Sosa is not one of those enshrined, even though his numbers suggest he should have a place among the greatest.
Why is Sosa, a former National League MVP who helped put people in front of the TV in the late-90s during that unforgettable home run record chase alongside Mark McGwire, not in the Hall?
The answer: he is connected to the use of steroids.
A Fantastic MLB Resume
Sosa finished his playing career with phenomenal numbers.
For example, his 60.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) were higher than fellow outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (54.4).
Sosa slashed .273/.344/.534 and hit 609 home runs.
juice alone doesnt hit 609 tanks pic.twitter.com/5UTEGNj2sn
— DOM (@DOM_Frederic) May 8, 2020
He also scored 1,475 runs, drove in 1,667, and stole 234 bases.
He was a key figure on the 90s and early-2000s Chicago Cubs, winning the NL MVP award over McGwire even though the latter established the new record for more homers in a season with 70.
Sosa hit 66 that year, and the race was a main point of attraction for fans.
Sosa is a seven-time All-Star (1995, 1998–2002, 2004), a six-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1995, 1998–2002), and led the NL twice in both homers and RBI.
He is a member of the 30-30 club after homering 36 times and stealing 34 bases in 1995.
My favorite steroid era facts…can never decide which is best…
1) Barry Bonds hit his 500th and 600th HRs in *consecutive years*
2) Sammy Sosa is the only man in history to hit 60 HR 3x – but didn’t win the HR title in any of them.
1995: 36 HR/34 SB
— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) July 18, 2019
However, his name will always be linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, severely damaging his chances of making it to the Hall.
Links To Steroid Use Are Keeping Him Away From The Hall
MLB never made it official, like it happened with, say, Manny Ramirez (who was suspended multiple times), but Sosa’s name was on a list of players who reportedly tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003.
He became Hall of Fame-eligible for the first time in 2013.
He got 12.5 percent of votes when the minimum is 75 percent.
Over the years, he highest percentage he has gotten has been 17, in 2021.
His name will be on the 2022 ballot for one last time, but induction is looking unlikely at this point.
There is a difference between being caught using PEDs and being suspended, which is what happened to Ramirez; and seeing one’s name on a media publication about a reportedly failed survey test, but Sosa’s name is tainted in the eyes of many nevertheless.
Sosa’s on-field achievements, while considerable, still fall short of Barry Bonds’, who hasn’t been elected to the Hall.
It’s hard to see Sosa elected if other players associated with PEDs haven’t made it to Cooperstown.