Manny Ramirez was regarded by some of his peers as perhaps the best right-handed hitter of his generation, with what they saw as an incredible understanding of how and when opposing pitchers would throw breaking pitches. He had seven seasons during his career in which his slugging percentage was over .600, 11 times he posted an on-base percentage of over .400 -- including 2002, when his OBP was .450. He had 1,329 walks in addition to 2,574 hits, and he accumulated 1,122 extra-base hits.
But Ramirez's history is beyond complicated. He is the only superstar player busted multiple times for performance-enhancing drug use, and his playing career ended in suspension in the spring of 2011. Those offenses seem quaint in comparison to his actions during the 2008 season: Ramirez, seeking a new contract, appeared to significantly reduce his effort in an attempt to force his way out of Boston, including not swinging in a pinch-hit at-bat against Mariano Rivera -- perhaps the final act of defiance that led to his trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Baseball writers have asked for guidance in the past from the Hall of Fame about how to handle steroid-era candidates, and Ramirez is perhaps the best example of why: His performance on the field is beyond worthy, but if past steroid use is a disqualifier, well, then Ramirez wouldn’t get in.