Welcome to Heaven or Hell, a feature where the staff of Wax Heaven looks at a player (active or retired), his rookie card, and asks all the important questions.
Albert Belle will forever be in my good graces after reading what Jose Canseco said about him in ‘Juiced’. He said in so many words, after outing just about every player in baseball, that Albert Belle was the strongest human being he had ever met and he was 100% natural.
Let’s just get something out of the way before we go any further. Albert Belle was a mean, old, jerk. He completely ran over and through a miniature Fernando Vina. When kids egged his home one Halloween he chased after them in his SUV and attempted to run one down, he scares his girlfriend, and was an alcoholic early in his playing days. It was for those reasons and more that he was robbed of the M.V.P award in 1995 when he hit 50 home runs in a strike-shortened season in which he was hands down the best player that season. The award went to the David Ortiz-like Mo Vaughn who was a community guy and beloved in and out of Boston.
All that being said, Albert hit 30 or more home runs 8 times in a row from ’92-’99. He had 100 RBI or more 9 times and consistently hit for average. Say what you will about Albert Belle but he was a legendary slugger with no rumors of ever being on steroids.
Wax Heaven verdict: HEAVEN
He fell way short of 500 home runs due to an injury which ended his career at just 33 years of age. At his pace, if he could have kept playing into his late 30’s, early 40’s he might have hit 700. Sadly, his numbers are not strong enough to get him elected into the Hall of Fame, which hasn’t helped his once moderately high-priced 1990 Leaf rookie.