This is an interesting question I've heard a lot today. How do you define the players in an era defined by steroids. Canseco was on the radio saying that without question McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero, and Clemens ARE HOFers. An argument can be made that the hitters who were juicing were still dominant agains pitchers who were juicing and vice versa. So do you ban the entire period from baseball, or say that the period was even? What about borderliners who may not have used, and lacked that edge to push them over the top? What if they had used or the others hadn't?
I think the sadest part about this whole thing is not the names on the list, but how quick they will be forgiven by the general public.
Oddly enough, I would have to agree with Canseco. Two years ago I could have hit him with a truck and smiled, now I think his book will be beneficial in the long run. You will have to look at stats in this era as inflated, just like you should look at players who played in the "dead ball" era, and the 1960's pitcher's era differently. How do they compare to those in their era. THE saddest part is how those who did nothing wrong will be judged by the era in which they played. Frank Thomas for example. If he's completely clean like it seems, he was at a disadvantage when being compared to Canseco who was not. Now if you took Thomas' stats from now and put them in the late 70s-80s, he would be an even more dominant figure.
You are exactly right though. We can only look at the overall picture in relation to what was going on in the era. While this will hurt those who may have been clean, there are two facts that I feel will mitigate this effect.
The first is so few players even get consideration to the HOF that it is possible to look at each individually. A lot of players in the past have been snubbed because the media didn't like them, such as Jim Rice. I think we will see the same thing happen to players with HOF numbers but were alleged to have juiced. The second is that we still aren't sure what the statistical affect of steroids are. My somewhat educated guess it that the overall output increase is relatively low. So strictly from a numbers standpoint, the affect of the steroid era might make a huge difference.