Mark McGwire is another interesting case of looking at the numbers and trying to squint away all the PED use that he has confessed to using.
The case for McGwire as a Hall of Famer
McGwire has numerous career and season numbers that would have likely made him a Hall of Famer under normal circumstances. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1987, accumulated 12 All Star nods and nabbed three Silver Sluggers.
He is eighth all time in slugging at 588 and tenth in OPS at 982. The adjusted OPS also ranks him highly at twelfth all time at 163. His prodigious home run totals have him now tenth all time with 583 (he was seventh when he retired).
He led the league in home runs four times, including breaking Roger Maris' record in 1998 with 70 and another 65 in 1999.
He was well liked by the press and fellow players during his early career. The magical battle for home run supremacy with Sammy Sosa in 1998 is what BBWAA normally gobbles up as fodder for generations of "Remember When?" stories. Not to mention, writers dig the long ball even more than chicks.
The case against McGwire as a Hall of Famer
Here is where it really gets tricky. His HOF resume is really based on the home runs alone. Yes the OPS and OPS+ numbers are impressive, but they are heavily tied to the slugging, which is driven by the huge home run totals.
His resume on offense has little else. His bWAR total of 62.0 is just 108th all time. He is 70th in RBI and 79th in Runs Created. While both are still HOF material, these totals also occurred in the most offensively friendly era in history. He never captured a MVP crown, although it could be reasonably argued he should have gotten it in 1998 over Sosa. But he only had five top ten finishes in MVP voting.
He was not a good defender, picking up a -12.1 dWAR in his career. Although he did pick up a Gold Glove in 1990 (which I attribute to the voters having no idea who to vote for once Don Mattingly was ineligible to be voted for). He had no speed and played the least demanding defensive position. He essentially was a glorified DH for most of his career.
The HOF monitoring tools are split on him. Black Ink has him in. Gray Ink does not. Hall of Fame Monitor has him comfortably in, while Hall of Fame Standards does not. JAWS has him as the #16 first baseman all time with a seven year WAR peak of just 42.4.
And then of course there is the PED issue. He was busted for Androstendione during the home run chase. And after his career was done, he admitted to using steroids in 1990 and human growth hormone in 1993. So the bulk of his career, he was on some form of PEDs.
My two cents
My position on PEDs is well known. I honestly don't care that the players used it. I am by no means a purist when it comes to these topics.
But I would still have to give McGwire a no vote as his candidacy (devoid of any PED use) is still based on one, and only one, thing that he did well, hitting the long ball.
While hitting homers gets on the highlight reels, and does win a few games here and there, the rest of his stats just don't do it for me. I would not likely vote him in, although he would under normal circumstances get a lot of love from the Veteran's Committee.