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Around Third
by Scott Christ
Canseco's 462 home runs just aren't enough to make up for a career full of injury and misfortune.

It's actually quite strange to me that there's even a debate about this, but there is, so I may as well use it. The answer is obvious.

The answer: No.

The question: Should Jose Canseco be in the Hall of Fame?

Canseco did a lot of things in his career. He was the first 40-40 man in Major League history in 1988, he hit 462 career homers, he had 1,407 runs batted in, and he stole 200 bases. Numbers-wise, he did some things that only the likes of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron had done before him.

But career numbers don't tell the whole story with Canseco. He played exactly one full season past 1991, which was in 1998 when he exploded for a career-high 46 homers, 107 RBI and 29 steals, the second-best mark in his 17-year career. He also hit .237 that year for the Blue Jays with a .318 on-base percentage.

In 1999 with the Devil Rays, he showed his ability. He was focused, and he ripped 34 homers and 95 RBI in only 113 games, batting a perfectly fine .279 in the process. The problem, like many other years, was that his body could not withstand a full season.

Canseco's 162-game averages are off the charts: 40 HR, 121 RBI and 17 steals. He was a pop icon in the late-80s and early-90s as part of Oakland's Bash Brothers with Mark McGwire, partly because of how hard he could hit a baseball, and partly because he was a good-looking guy that brought women to the ballpark.

The sad thing is that two of the most memorable moments of Jose Canseco's career are laughable blooper-reel fillers from his days as a Texas Ranger: the time when a ball hit him on the head and bounced over the wall for a home run, and another time when then-Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy put Canseco in as the pitcher in a losing cause. He pitched one inning, gave up three earned runs, and blew his arm out in the process.

These are not the things we should remember him for. Rather, we should remember the way he could crush a ball into the upper-deck of any stadium in the league. The way he blended pure athleticism with a Hollywood-like flair.

Unfortunately, the enigma part of Canseco's personality took over the final ten years of his career, and that's how it'll stay. He did and said things that would make a person think he's not the brighest bulb, but those who know Canseco have always praised him, namely Mo Vaughn, who played with Canseco in Boston for two seasons in '95 and '96.

I like Jose Canseco, as I've said before, but the Hall of Fame should be reserved for the elite. Canseco could have been that, but could isn't what the game is about. It's whether or not a player was, and Jose Canseco was not.

For what it's worth, though, he's not soon going to be forgotten.

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