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And then there were four....

Rockin' Doc
Jul 15 2005 11:34 PM

Rafael Palmeiro just doubled for the 3,000th hit of his career. He now joins Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray as the only players in Major League history to have both 3,000 hits and more than 500 home runs.

Congratulations to Palmeiro for a great accomplishment.

Jul 15 2005 11:41 PM

Congrats to Rafael, and most of his hits came without taking Viagra, good for him, in all honesty why do I not think of Palmeiro in the same class as I do Mays, Aaron and Murray?

Rockin' Doc
Jul 16 2005 12:10 AM

Few players match up favorably when campared to Aaron and Mays, two of the greatest players to ever play the game. However, Palmeiro's career statistics are quite good and willl most certainly land him Cooperstown some day. Last season was Palmeiro's 19th as a major leaguer. His average stats for a 162 game season during that span are as follows:

AVG = .289
OBP = .372
SLG = .517
OPS = .889
HR = 33
RBI = 106

I think that part of Palmeiro's seeming lack of appreciation among fans stems from his spending virtually his entire career on generally middling teams in Arlington and Baltimore.

Sadly, he was originally drafted by the Mets in 1982, but he did not sign. Three years later, the Cubs drafted him and the rest is history.

Edgy DC
Jul 16 2005 12:23 AM

Part of what makes some of us skeptical, I guess, is the nineties, and all that entails.

Another part, I think, is his Paul O'Neillness (though O'Neill was certainly never that good). Both players started their careers in the National League, where they were merely good. Both became much better players in the American League, but perhaps a National League fan always remembers the player he was back when he regularly played that fan's favorite team, and can never break that initial association.

Jul 16 2005 06:42 AM

Okay, I'll say it. He's not a Hall of Famer. He'll get in, but he shouldn't be there until the Andre Dawsons of the world get the proper love.

Jul 16 2005 09:12 AM

Why do I not think of Murray in the same class as Aaron and Mays.

Rockin' Doc
Jul 16 2005 09:14 AM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Jul 16 2005 11:07 PM

While I agree that Andre Dawson was an outstanding player that has not received his due for the accomplishments of his illustrious career, his numbers actually pale in comparison to those of Palmeiro (much to my surprise).

Dawson and ...Palmeiro

Dawson amassed 2774 HIts, 438 HR, 1373 Runs, 1591 RBI's and 4787 TB in his 21 year career.
Palmeiro amassed 3000 Hits, 566 HR, 1656 Runs, 1826 RBI's, and 5358 TB in his 19.5 years. *

*Career stats are still being accumulated due to active status. All stats are as of completion of play on July 16, 2005.

Dawson had a great career and deserves to be in the HOF in my opinion. However, Rafael Palmiero has an even better resume judging from the numbers and should not be penalized because the writers have failed to sufficiently embrace Dawson's career. Both deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown, in my opinion.

Upon Edit: Corrected Palmeiro's career home run total to 566, not the 553 originally posted. Thanks Valadius.

Edgy DC
Jul 16 2005 09:31 AM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Jul 17 2005 12:59 PM

Dawson's OPS+ is 119, Palmeiro's 132.

The tougher position certainly closes that gap somewhat. But then you've got Palmeiro's longer career.

Then, of course, he's DH'd the equivalent of three seasons.

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 16 2005 10:39 AM

I always think of when the Cubs traded Palmiero to Texas for Mitch Williams (they also threw in Jamie Moyer!) in one of those deals that completely overvalued relief pitching. IIRC, they felt Palmiero was only a singles hitter and that Grace would develop into the stronger player. I recall my friend Jeff saying the Cubs would regret it: "This kid's the next Keith Hernandez!"

I harbor suspicions about him too, but I think we will just have to treat the whole era as suspect and come to realize he was giant even in the suspect era.

Jul 16 2005 02:31 PM

Raffy's probably the quietest Hall-of-Famer there ever was. Period. He's Mr. Consistency to a T. And that's what he'll go in as, a T.

By the way, he has 566 homers, not 553.

SI Metman
Jul 16 2005 10:37 PM

Another amazing Raffy stat is that of the 3000 club members, he has the fewest hits with his original team.

I guess the fact that he was probably a juicer diminishes the homer part of his feat, but then again, how much of his power did come from his bandbox homes?

Jul 16 2005 10:47 PM

I have to come out and say it right now: we have to stop blaming steroids as the only reason why the 90's saw a lot of home runs. As you should recall, four - FOUR! - teams began play in the 90's, including the ever-inflationary Rockies. The pitching ranks were thinned twice in the 90's, not to mention a slew of new, smaller ballparks opening up. So please, enough with the blaming everything on steroids. It was a large part, to be sure, with a good number of players (see Anderson, Brady) but there were other factors that went into it.

Edgy DC
Jul 16 2005 11:16 PM

I never really bought that position at all.

1) Francise expansion has occurred at a much slower rate than the expansion of the eligible player pool. It's less likely that expansion has diluted the talent pool than that insufficient expansion has strengthened it.

2) The increase of lesser pitchers wasn't all that much, in the great scheme of things, compared to the increase of power.

3) It's rarely convincingly argued how expansion was supposed to seriously dilute the pitching base but leave the batting base unaffected.

I do believe parks shrunk -- Texas, Baltimore, and Colorado is more than a blip right there. I suspect the ball was doctored. And there's the overlooked factor that offense begets offense, as more runs knock out pitchers earlier and bring on lesser pitchers.

Jul 17 2005 12:25 AM

Now we'll have the poster child for Francesa's "compilah" rant.

Spacemans Bong
Jul 17 2005 01:32 AM

Palmiero = Reggie of our era

Edgy DC
Jul 17 2005 07:51 AM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Jul 17 2005 01:00 PM

Considering his ratio of firstbasin' to dh-in', his exclusive club, and his excellent defense which faded, Eddie Murray would be a pretty good parallel.

Except Eddie was a switch hitter, and Eddie was pretty incomparable.

Frayed Knot
Jul 17 2005 11:40 AM

]Palmiero = Reggie of our era

Of all the 500+ HR club members, I can't think of two less similar players.

Frayed Knot
Jul 18 2005 09:48 AM

Couple of notes on Palmiero:

From the NYTimes on Sunday:
Among those with 3,000 hits (there are now 26) Palmiero is;
3rd in HRs - Behind only Aaron & Mays
4th in SLG - Musial, Mays, Aaron
9th RBIs
14th in 2Bs

And 'The Hardball Times' takes a statistical look at his HoF candidacy:

Edgy DC
Jul 18 2005 09:55 AM

That Potter Stewart stuff just pisses me off.

Jul 18 2005 10:09 AM

It may piss you off, but it's largely true. What's obscene to one person is not obscene to everyone.

Edgy DC
Jul 18 2005 11:11 AM

That's why that Potter Stewart quote is pointless. It casually dispenses with objective analysis from a position (the Supreme Court) that is supposed to be the standard in making objective decsions.

That other intellectuals, pseudo-intellectuals, quasi-intellectuals, dummies, and sportswriters cite it when they're too prejudiced or intellectually lazy to make a fair call goes to show you how an attractive but stupid comment can have a far-reaching impact.

Does any sprortswriter ever cite a justice who has applied actual wisdom to his or her decisions? I don't know, but Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Brennan, and Felix Frankfurter stay far away from my sports pages. How many passages from their decisions do any of us know? Few, if any, I imagine (with respect to the handful of lawyers among us). But we toss around that stupid Potter Stewart quote like it's ever clarified anything.

Jul 27 2005 03:53 PM

Bill Simmons is an entertaining read, here he is on Palmeiro

]By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Editor's note: This article appears in the August 1 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

On July 14, Rich Harden was gunning for a no-hitter in Oakland right as Raffy Palmeiro was gunning for his 3,000th hit in Seattle. As fate would have it, Harden retired the Rangers leadoff batter in the eighth just as Palmeiro was strolling to the plate, leading to an unparalleled remote-control dilemma: A) stick with the no-no; B) flick to the possibly historic hit, or C) toggle between the two and hope for the best. Like any savvy coach potato, I opted for C ... only Harden and the Mariners pitcher were releasing their pitches at the same time, totally undermining the togglebility potential. I had to make a choice: no-no or 3,000?

I went with the no-hitter. And even though Alfonso Soriano singled (no more no-no) right as Palmeiro walked, I know I made the right decision. It was no contest, really. Only five baseball landmarks still matter: Joe D's 56 straight; Teddy Ballgame's .406; Rickey's 130 swipes; Cal Ripken's whatever-number-he-ended-up-with streak; and Will Clark's coveted 55,234 (times he adjusted his cup in 1989). Only three in-game landmarks matter anymore: four homers, the cycle and a no-hitter. That's it. The current era of juiced balls, ravaged pitching staffs and a drug program best described as "Um, you guys shouldn't do that stuff" has rendered everything else irrelevant.

As Palmeiro closed in on the 3,000-hit/500-HR club last week, the media swirl had a guess-we-have-to-cover-this feel, almost like when Ryan Seacrest got a star on Hollywood Boulevard. That's no knock on Raffy, a scary hitter who turned unstoppable whenever his team fell 10 games out of the race. But Clark and Don Mattingly, for starters, were better in their respective primes; their All-Star numbers and MVP finishes say as much. Fred McGriff, Harold Baines, Andre Dawson, Dave Parker, Chili Davis, Dewey Evans ... if they had come along a few years later or had played in Baltimore and Texas, all of them would be members of that 3,000/500 club too. Raffy is a hero of circumstance, that's all.

Please note: I'm not accusing Palmeiro of anything. He was at the right place at the perfect time, just like Judd Nelson peaking when over-the-top performances in enjoyably cheesy movies were all the rage. Whether either guy needed drugs to complete the effect is beside the point. And while we're here, I support the career of any ballplayer with the kind of facial hair that could have inspired a line of overpowering colognes. Even before Raffy started to tout Viagra, I'd always pictured him on a leopard-skin sofa, wearing a monogrammed bathrobe and pouring glasses of port for two wide-eyed groupies as he asked, "Would you mind if I put on some Barry White?" That this guy was promoting a sexual-enhancement drug is too good. For this reason alone, he gets my Hall of Fame vote (and I don't even have one).

The question is this: do career baseball numbers matter anymore? Suppose that in 1992, the NBA had introduced smaller basketballs, 9-foot rims, a rule that held five roster spots per team for D3 players and designer drugs that increased jumping ability. Then suppose that as a result, 25 or 30 players averaged between 35 and 40 a game, culminating with a juiced-out Larry Johnson scoring 135 in Minnesota before his pituitary gland explodes and frags everyone in the first three rows. Would you care so much about NBA records anymore? Of course not. We'd have tossed every post-1992 record out the window long ago.

So why pretend every stat from baseball these days is on the level? Elias needs to create a formula that waters down every power number from 1993 to 2004. There has to be a way to determine the performance fluctuation of someone's power numbers compared with the average power hitter of that season. For instance, The Babe hit 59 homers in 1921 and the next guy had 24. Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001 and seven other guys that season hit 47 or more. Which record is more impressive? Let's make it simple: reduce every HR/RBI number by one-third. Who would be against this?

Until that happens, I don't want to hear about 500 homers or 3,000 hits or any other tainted achievement, just like I don't want to hear that Revenge of the Sith will be more successful than the original Star Wars (imagine how much money A New Hope would have made at $10 a ticket?), or that Coldplay is the new U2 (when they're really a high-tech version of Bread). Sometimes, you can't compare eras. You just can't. And if we must include Palmeiro's name in the 3,000/500 club, at least let's stick an asterisk by it that reads, "Achieved in an era that has rendered every career statistic moot."

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.

Edgy DC
Jul 27 2005 03:58 PM

That's some cheap-shot journalism.

Jul 27 2005 04:00 PM

] don't want to hear that Revenge of the Sith will be more successful than the original Star Wars (imagine how much money A New Hope would have made at $10 a ticket?)

Good point.

Jul 27 2005 04:19 PM

Valadius wrote:
Raffy's probably the quietest Hall-of-Famer there ever was.

Actually, I give that honor th Al Kaline. Other than being the youngest player to lead his league in hitting, after that he never lead his league in any major offensive category in any year (he may have led in doubles once IIRC).

And, he was as dull as dishwater. (does anyone still use that ecpression?)
He was a very good player, but IMHO not a Hall of Famer.


Frayed Knot
Jul 27 2005 09:07 PM

"But Clark and Don Mattingly, for starters, were better in their respective primes; their All-Star numbers and MVP finishes say as much."

Even if true, their primes weren't as long as Palmiero's and longevity is one of the hallmarks of greatness; not just by itself of course but Donny & Willy just weren't good enough for long enough and the fact that you happened to like them better doesn't make them more qualified.

Aug 09 2005 12:41 PM

So what happens Thursday when Palmeiro is eligible to play again ?, do the Orioles want him, will the home fans boo the crap out of him, should be interesting.

Aug 09 2005 01:58 PM

If the way Yankee fans treated Giambi is any indication, they'll give him standing ovations.

I never understood that. I mean, why the love for him, when he'd barely been here?

At least with Palmeiro, he has a history with Baltimore, so you can ALMOST understand if the fans support him, but Giambi . . . I kjust don't get it.

Aug 09 2005 06:13 PM

Why is it that everyone's up in arms over steroids and the HoF, but there's no complaint that many of those in the Hall complied their stats against competition that didn't include African American or Latino players. If juice helped Raffy et al put up gaudy numbers, a discriminatory employment policy clearly benefitted earlier generations of players. Ty Cobb and the Babe were as much products of their times a Palmeiro is of his.

And what of Gaylord Perry, a cheater if ever there was one? He recently had his number retired by the Giants-- would that team do the same for Bonds if/when he is found guilty of juicing?

Aug 09 2005 06:52 PM

YEAH, kick Cobb and Ruth out of The Hall. Freakin' honkys.