May 12, 2003

Raffy hits number 500.: Rafael Palmeiro hit his 500th home run on Sunday in a 17-10 Rangers victory. He became the 19th player in baseball history to accomplish such a feat. See the pictures. Hear the call.(realplayer) Only question: Should he be in the hall?

posted by pfuller to baseball at 10:15 AM - 13 comments

Yes, he should. I'm sure some other folks will start comparing stats, but there is no doubt in my mind that he should be in the hall for his consistency alone.

posted by corpse at 10:27 AM on May 12

I agree. I heard on the radio last night that he also became just the 24th (IIRC) player in history to have 1600 RBI. Add three golden gloves, and probably at least one more very productive season after this one, and there's no doubt in my mind that he belongs. (Career stats through last night here).

posted by Ufez Jones at 10:35 AM on May 12

Well, the gold gloves are a bit of a joke- one year he won it while having only played 24 games at first, over a far more deserving player- but the guy's a legit hitter. He also fails the black ink test, and fails it miserably! Compare him to other major leaguers in the HoF, and it's rather paltry... He's the only 500 guy who's never led his league in HR even once, and will probably stay that way since other plausible 500 candidates like McGriff, Griffey, possibly Juan Gonzalez, and down the road A-Rod, have all done it at least once. And the RBIs aren't much better; never led in RBI, yet if you look at most any of the guys in the 1500-1600+ plateau, they can make the claim (I haven't verified the entire list, so there might be other exceptions) of having led the league in RBI. Sad truth is, Palmeiro has in fact has led the league in hits, runs, and doubles, each just once. For a Hall of Famer, that's a shocking lack of dominance; he's been steady, and consistent, like Eddie Murray (although even Murray had one HR crown), but my own personal litmus test is "Was this guy ever one of those guys you say is the best in the biz, guy's you come out to the ballpark to see?". Raffy doesn't pass this test. Someday the 500 homer plateau might- and I emphasis might- need to be adjusted not for the lousiness of modern players but for their extended playing years with good work ethic, diet, exercise, and medicine; there are a handful of guys like Bagwell, Thomas, Piazza, Thome, and Ramirez who are all 35 or younger and within striking distance (Thome and Ramirez, who are the furthest away of this group in terms of 5-6 seasons of 30HR are also the youngest at age 31 and 30; Gonzalez is the closest outside of McGriff/Griffey with ~410 and he's only 32; Bagwell is the oldest with a good chance to make it, at ~390 and 34 years of age), and while a couple will not make it, more than a few of them will do so. And that means that someday we might have a 500 homerun guy who'll never made it (after all, only two players who've ever hit more than 400 haven't made it, in Darrell Evans at 414 and Dave Kingman at 442; Of active players over 400, Fred McGriff is 17 away from 500 and might be an interesting case study, though I'd say his Braves years as the RBI man will count for something, and Griffey is 31 away and probably not going to hang up the spikes until he's made it.). Sure, someday, the "In my day..." crowd will have a real point, if the membership of the 500+ club increases by nearly 50% over the course of a mere decade. But even then... it's still 500 homeruns, and it's still a feat we'd be talking about all but only 25-30 players in all of baseball history having accomplished. It's not the generation now, the in-their-30's guys who will reach it, that will raise the question about what 500 really means. It's the one following it, the kids A-Rod's age and younger (excluding, of course, A-Rod himself, for whom they may need to build a new wing so people like him, Bonds, and the Ruth/Gehrig/Williams can be properly distanced from the Phil Rizzuto's that shouldn't be sharing a room), who will come in with 500+ as otherwise unremarkable second-tier sluggers, that will force the issue. But all that said, for now, 500 homeruns is still 500 homeruns; we shouldn't look at the fact that more guys are doing it as evidence that the achievement is devalued; rather, we should recognize that it's a sign we're living in a golden age of hitters. And when you combine those 500 Raffy homeruns with his nearly 1600 RBI, you recognize that not putting a 500/1600 guy into the Hall would be radically unprecedented; before his career is over he could be at 550/1700 or better. He's only ~50 RBI from the top 20 all time, already in the top 20 in HR, is only 20 doubles from being in the top 20 in that category, and he's only ~140 total bases from being in the top 20 there. Much less likely, although he doesn't really show signs of hurt or age yet, he's ~3 seasons from 3,000 hits (so somewhat unlikely, or if he does stick out 3 more seasons he'll likely do so with 600 HR which would end this discussion completely). It would be unheard of for someone to climb peaks that high and not make it. Part of the reason is, such numbers force us to question our own beliefs: we disregarded Palmeiro for so long, and took his own words to heart, that he was just another hitter, another player. But accomplishing these feats- it means all this time, he might have played in the shadows of even greater Titans, but he was in fact a Titan himself, and for this we should put him in the Hall.

posted by hincandenza at 11:27 AM on May 12

Nice analysis Hal, especially: we disregarded Palmeiro for so long, and took his own words to heart, that he was just another hitter, another player. Palmeiro has never sought out to be highly regarded. His no nonsense work ethic and everyman personality are both very respectable traits. I have some bias (lifelong Rangers fan) but I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

posted by pfuller at 12:01 PM on May 12

That was nice, Hal, but you dare to dog The Scooter? Bastard!

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:11 PM on May 12

Rafael Palmeiro is the baseball equivalent to Mike Gartner (NHL): - never lead the league in any major stat - never won a major award (MVP, playoff MVP, rookie) - consistant production every year - never won a championship - never considered the best at his position in any one year - never played for a major media centre team during the prime of his career - produced outstanding career numbers by being good to very good for a very long time In the end, they both deserve to make it to the HOF. Whether they will get in on the first vote depends on whether the writers decide that the consistancy overrides the lack of being "the best" at any time. I know if I had a choice I'd vote both of them into the HOF.

posted by grum@work at 12:54 PM on May 12

He should be in the Hall. He's an awesome ballplayer, as dominant and consistent as almost any hitter over the last 10-12 years. I think 417 of his home runs have come off the Mariners. The only thing that bums me out is the continued assault on the 500 HR mark really devalues the 400 HR mark. I guess my boy Jim Rice will never get in the HOF now.

posted by vito90 at 03:20 PM on May 12

As a lifelong Rangers fan, I am of course in favor of Palmeiro in the Hall of Fame. I view his success with the team as payback for Bill Madlock, who was dealt as a young phenom to the Chicago Cubs during the nightmarish tenure of cheapskate owner Brad Corbett in the '70s.

posted by rcade at 03:33 PM on May 12

Too true about Rice- he was borderline, though, as much as he was my favorite player as a kid (had one of his game bats as a treasured possession!). But now, anyone with 80's era stats not already in basically has no prayer at this point, when the 90's era stats make them look shabby by comparison. That's the biggest ding against Palmeiro and his peers: while I don't believe it's totally true, the fact that their numbers are so good have lead some to believe that anyone could hit 500 HR. Not true, not true... I still firmly believe these guys are this good, we're just better at finding the best what with better scouting and stronger international presence and development, but all players today do admittedly have the advantage that- unlike some players of the past- they don't retired at 40 having spent the last 3-4 years a pale shadow of themselves. Looking at Raffy, or Bonds, or even Edga-a-a-a-r (now there's a Hall conversation- if the BBWAA was comprised entirely of Latin Americans, the beloved Poppy would be a shoo-in) are playing solidly at an age when their forebears would have been relegated to doing nostalgia laps around the league.

posted by hincandenza at 03:48 PM on May 12

I view his success with the team as payback for Bill Madlock, who was dealt as a young phenom to the Chicago Cubs during the nightmarish tenure of cheapskate owner Brad Corbett in the '70s. Who/what then is going to be the "payback" for this mistake?

posted by grum@work at 04:09 PM on May 12

Ooh- two points for da grum-ster! Well, there is... A-Rod? 52HR, 57HR in the last two years, both leading the league... and he's still just twenty eight! Holy christ, I'm 5 months older than A-Rod. My life sucks! :(

posted by hincandenza at 07:08 PM on May 12

Grum: That's more complicated, because the White Sox received Sosa for Harold Baines and then got rid of him themselves. Why should the Cubs owe the Rangers any karmic payback for that deal?

posted by rcade at 08:07 PM on May 12

For an in depth comparison of Palmeiro's HOF legitimacy, Aaron Gleeman has added a very informative post to his Baseball Blog. And I think the whole city of Chicago (north and south sides) owe the Rangers karmic payback for stealing Sosa.

posted by grum@work at 09:24 AM on May 13

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