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Best Players Not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is one of the best retired players not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

There's long been a debate about what the purpose of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is. Should it be a museum for all of baseball history? Should it only honor the best players who played the right way?

Each person can have a different answer to this question, but one thing is clear: The BBWAA (Baseball Writers' Association of America) and other voters have kept some of baseball's best players out of Cooperstown.

A handful of people, such as Pete Rose and the Black Sox players, are banned because they're on MLB's ineligible list. But at least 25 percent of voters have also opted to keep suspected PED users out of the Hall of Fame too.

Below is a list of retired players who rank among the top 100 in career WAR (via Baseball-Reference) and have not yet been inducted:

4. Barry Bonds (162.7)

8. Roger Clemens (139.2)

16. Alex Rodriguez (117.5)

64. Pete Rose (79.6)

65. Curt Schilling (79.5)

73. Jim McCormick (76.2)

79. Bill Dahlen (75.2)

80. Lou Whitaker (75.1)

90. Rafael Palmeiro (71.9)

95. Bobby Grich (71.0)

Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez, and Palmeiro have all been closely connected to PED use or tested positive, so it's no surprise that a quarter of the electorate has opted to keep them out. Rodriguez still has nine years of eligibility left on the BBWAA ballot, but his first-year vote percentage of 34.3 is lower than Bonds (36.2) and Clemens' (37.6) first try.

The Gruesome Twosome of Bonds and Clemens could appear on a Veterans Committee Ballot later this year, but their induction still remains a long shot. Schilling stands a much better chance of induction via the Today's Game Committee, where he may find a group of voters more willing to overlook his noxious personality. Palmeiro, meanwhile, stands almost no shot despite his 569 home runs because of a positive steroid test.

Rose, the all-time hits leader is an interesting case. As baseball embraces gambling more, its choice to ban Rose will look more out of place. There is precedent for reinstating players from the ineligible list, but that still seems unlikely, especially while he's alive.

McCormack and Dahlen starred in the 1800s and are also unlikely to be enshrined. The Early Baseball committee voted for the Class of 2022, and Dahlen fell short of a 25 percent vote share. McCormack failed to make the ballot altogether, and this committee won't vote again until at least 2028.

Whitaker and Grich both have a chance to get elected through the Modern Committee, which will meet in December 2023. Whitaker, who got six out of a possible 16 votes in the 2020 cycle, has the better chance after wining AL Rookie of the Year and earning five All-Star nods, four Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Gloves.

Of course, this doesn’t include players who have retired within the last five years such as Adrián Beltré (40th, 93.5) and active ones such as Albert Pujols (32nd, 99.6), Mike Trout (75th, 76.1), Zack Greinke (86th, 73.1), Clayton Kershaw (90th, 71.9), and Justin Verlander (92nd, 71.8), all of whom appear to be virtual locks to make it.