Ranking the best
Manny Ramirez fans are going to be pissed, but oh well. He did it to himself by tainting his legacy and distorting the stats. Before anyone says “but performance-enhancing drugs don’t improve hand-eye coordination”, stop, because you’re right. It does, however, improve endurance, stamina, speed, and strength. Since hitting for power is as much about bat speed as it is about brute force, you can’t deny that having a drug that allows you to hit faster, hit harder and sustain that type of production into your later years isn’t cheating. A ball that may be a weakly hit soft hopper out to first without HGH (or whatever Ramirez was on), may have been a double with the juice.
There’s just too much discrepancy in this. His numbers are too tainted to be valued. How long was he cheating for? When did he start cheating? Was it only after he started gaining weight? Would he have been the same player without steroids and the added weight? Keep in mind that Ramirez tested positive not once, but three times that we know of.
The first was in 2003, the second was 2009 and the last was in 2011. Ramirez spent nearly a decade on the juice. To argue him over any of the others is to argue cheating above integrity and that won’t fly here.
Not in this dojo.
As for Belle, Mr. Corked-bat himself, he will not be scrutinized. Bell is involved in what’s actually a hilarious story that involved Jason Grimsley climbing through the air vents to get a shattered bat that was corked. Go read Omar Vizquel’s book for the whole story. The difference here is that corked bats don’t work as well as regular bats. The rule is simply in place so that everyone uses the same equipment. If the steroids to corked bat argument is a hill you’re going to die on, go for it. Penn State and MIT aren’t exactly filled with drunken nobodies. So I’ll take their research to heart. Plus, it’s super easy to find out when a player is using it, as they tend to break after two or three strikes. Thus negating the conversation around “well how often was he using it”. Likely not often.
Disqualified – Manny Ramirez (steroids)
3. Travis Hafner
What would have been if Hafner didn’t get hurt. He was having some great seasons with his huge bat. Patient and smart, Hafner wasn’t someone who could get caught off guard too often. When you think of the fact that guys like Adam Dunn were playing at the same time as Hafner, you really get respect for Hafner’s plate presence. He was a really great hitter, cut down in the prime of his career.
2. Jim Thome
This shouldn’t be surprising. I mean, the list was inspired by him. Every hitter was measured against him. In regards to deep ball shots, no Indians player did it better than Thome. Yet, he wasn’t as consistent of a hitter as Albert Belle. His high strikeout rate comparatively hurt him more than Belle’s stats.
1. Albert Belle
For a violent lunatic with anger and substance control issues, Belle was a patient man at the plate. He was in regular contention for the post-season awards, which requires a percentage of games played and which makes the fact that he only broke 100 strikeouts twice in his career truly impressive. Belle was a better gap hitter and had better vision than most realize. His use of the corked bat hurts his perception but not his actual legacy. Too many stats exist that say corked bats ‘may help’ or ‘could provide an advantage’ or flat out says ‘it doesn’t help’. So no, Belle doesn’t get to be labeled a cheater. He’s simply the best slugger in Indians history.
And no, he’s not outside my house in his Ford Explorer waiting for this to be posted….