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Rafael Palmeiro is probably going to fall off the Hall of Fame ballot this year

Nov 29, 2013, 12:32 PM EDT

Palmeiro Orioles

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun asks whether Rafael Palmeiro is going to fall off the Hall of Fame ballot. And he lands where I land: probably.

As Connolly notes, Palmeiro’s support in his three years on the ballot is not trending in a good direction for him. In his first year of eligibility he was named on 11 percent of the ballots. In his second he actually ticked up to 12.6 percent. Last year, however, he was down to 8.8 percent. And this year at least three likely inductees — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas — join the ballot. Even those voters sympathetic to Mr. Palmeiro are going to run out of room on their ballots eventually, and my guess is that he’ll fall below the 5 percent requirement to stay on following this year’s vote.

Which will be kinda weird for a guy who finished above 500 homers and 3,000 hits while playing a nifty first base before switching to DH. But two forces are conspiring to, quite understandably, shove him off the ballot.

The first one is obvious. Palmeiro was the first famous flunker of a PED test. While that may not one day be the Hall of Fame Death sentence it is today, being a trailblazer in this department is not a good thing, and that would be the case even if he didn’t wag his finger at Congress while proclaiming he was clean just prior to failing the drug test.

But the second reason is just as significant: PEDs aside, Palmeiro doesn’t necessarily profile as a fantastic Hall of Fame candidate compared to his peers.

Yes, he has the big numbers, and I think absent the PED stuff no one would be arguing that they weren’t Hall of Fame worthy. But think about how stacked first base was during his career. Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas were clearly better. Mark McGwire was more famous and, in the minds of most, better.¬†Palmeiro made just four All-Star teams and finished in the top 5 in MVP balloting just once. That’s still a heck of a career, but it speaks to a guy who wasn’t thought of as the best or even one of the handful of best players in the league most of his career. Add in his mostly hitter-friendly home ballparks and you could construct an argument that his numbers were more inflated by the era in which he played than a lot of guys.

I’m not saying it’s a strong argument. Looking at Palmeiro’s splits you see that he wasn’t as aided by those hitter-friendly parks in Texas and Baltimore as you might first suspect. And while he didn’t have the top-five finishes he had several top-10s. And while he wouldn’t be in the top half of all of the first basemen ever inducted into the Hall of Fame based on the numbers, he wouldn’t be the worst first basemen ever inducted either.

So, not a slam dunk no for Palmeiro, but it’s enough of an argument where, even if you don’t think that a positive PED test disqualifies someone from Hall of Fame consideration, you can say that in a tough balloting environment he’s one of the guys who don’t make your 10-player cut, 500 homers and 3,000 hits or not. In my Hall of Fame list he doesn’t make the top 10, even if I would have him in the Hall of Fame in an ideal world. And if we play the “this guy should go in before that guy” game Bagwell, Thomas and McGwire all seem like better first base choices than does Palmeiro.

Just a perfect storm blowing in Palmerio’s face, really. And because of it this will likely be the last year that Hall of Fame voters get a chance to consider his likely doomed candidacy.

  1. mayorrobford - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Good

    • dcfan4life - Nov 30, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      I think a major factor your leaving out Craig is to this day hes defiant about his positive test. Says it was an error, he never used, and hes confused on how he failed the test. Its Barry Bonds type attitude, and it makes the HOF voters hate him even more.

  2. genericcommenter - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Multiple HOF caliber players fell off the ballot after 1 year. So I guess I’m not too bothered by this.

  3. randomdigits - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    He was what I like to call an accumulator. He hung around for a long time as a pretty good player and ended up with some impressive counting stats.

    • paperlions - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      You just described every HOF career. The biggest difference between “HOF numbers” and players that fall short is usually not peak performance, but longevity. It is really hard to be that good for that long. Dismissing someone as “an accumulator” is to fail to understand what typically makes a HOF career look like a HOF career.

      • randomdigits - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        No I didn’t. I don’t think Frank Robinson was a “pretty good player”. Ty Cobb was not a “pretty good player”.

        Raffy was a pretty good player that had the gift of longevity while playing in a offensive friendly era.

        I don’t think he was ever truly great.

      • jm91rs - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        I think the “sure fire” criteria for Hall of Famers is similar to what you said, but typically there is a really fantastic few years mixed into the pretty good career of accumlating stats. I feel like Palmeiro was missing that peak portion of his career, possibly because it was being overshadowed by some of the other crazy things going on in the era.

  4. daleleonard272 - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $70/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her check was $18087 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check it out …………………………..>http://qr.net/l64f

    • raysfan1 - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Really? $18k/month at $70/hr comes out to working 70 hours a week. Interesting definition of just a few hours, moron. Stop spamming; you clearly aren’t very good at it.

      • babyfarkmcgeezax - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        Is Dale not allowed to have his own opinion of what a few hours is?

      • raysfan1 - Nov 29, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        Nope.

  5. jonmcf567 - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_1B.shtml

    JAWS is useful for this. 7 1B above Palmeiro, 11 below. He’s easily in the top half statistically.

    • dan1111 - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      He rates surprisingly well with JAWS, largely because his career was so long. However, his OPS+ would be near the bottom for first basemen. The only HoFers below him are Eddie Murray (another long career guy, and a marginal choice) and a few old timers and veterans picks. To me his is exactly the kind of borderline case where steroids make a difference.

      • sportsfan18 - Nov 30, 2013 at 8:06 AM

        True, his OPS+ is only above 4 of the 18 HOF first baseman currently.

        There are 18 1st baseman in the HOF right now. Here is where Raffy stacks up in some things.

        He would be 13th in OPS
        He would be 15th in BA
        He would be tied for 5th in Slugging with Willie McCovey
        He would be 2nd in hits
        He would be 2nd in HR’s
        He would be 5th in RBI’s
        He would be 5th in Runs
        He would be 7th in WAR
        He would be 7th in JAWS

        Basically he’s a tab better than Eddie Murray was basically across the board, except for the PEDs of course.

    • rje49 - Nov 29, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      You don’t need a calculation to see how his numbers are better than McCovey, right behind him. Palmeiro has better numbers in almost every category. 800 more hits, fewer strikeouts, for example.

  6. paperlions - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Craig:

    Take a look at league and park adjusted stats. McGwire was actually a better (i.e. more productive) hitter than Thomas was. Not only that, he played MUCH better defense and was a better base runner. McGwire was clearly the better player. Thomas was more durable, which matters, but the idea that Thomas (a sure fire HOFer) was better than McGwire is not actually supported by any evidence.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 29, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      Craig adjusts his spectacles, puts down the bubble pipe and frowns at his screen. Then he proceeds to type: PFFFFFT and hits the reply button. Adjusting his bathrobe collar he moves on the next comment…

      • paperlions - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        I know. People hate facts.

  7. rdillon99 - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I suppose he’ll just have to take comfort in his more than $89,000,000.00 career earnings.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 29, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Plus all that Viagra money he has too.

  8. serbingood - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    I guess doing the Viagra commercials have nothing to do with his having a hard time getting in to the HoF. Just a thought.

  9. uuddlrlrbastart - Nov 29, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    I don’t think Palmeiro is going to fall into this category because of the suspension, but I do wonder, with such a crowded ballot, how many players are going to get a he’s-not-the-most-deserving-but-I-don’t-want-him-to-fall-off-the-ballot vote. Someone like Fred McGriff who’s pretty borderline, or Larry Walker.

    I’ve seen a lot of people trying to guess at the number of inductees this year, with lots of people naming four or five players. I’d be shocked if anyone other than Maddux and Glavine make it.

  10. ireportyoudecide - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Nothing to be ashamed of, he joins the best player and best pitcher of the last 25 years in the group not in the Hall of Fame. It makes you wonder what exactly the point of a hall of fame is if you are not going to put your best players in it.

  11. 18thstreet - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    There’s no hitter in baseball history you’d rather have up in a 7-1 game. He was the best ever in blowouts.

    • yahmule - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      This is so true. Raffy was great to own in roto leagues.

  12. gloccamorra - Nov 29, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    I’m one of the few that believes he really was clean, and got his B12 bottles mixed up with Miguel Tejada’s “stuff”. He was slammed for accusing his teammate, but Tejada got caught the very next year! Where is Tejada now? Suspended again.

    Having said that, Palmeiro IS a borderline case. People look for a late-career spike in performance with drug use, but Raffy didn’t have one. He didn’t even have a few prime years. He was just a steady producer in a hitter’s ballpark during an expansion period that thinned out the pitching. But there were others who benefited from similar periods, who played in the mid 1920s to late 1930s, for instance, and they’re in the Hall. Anyway, there’s always the Veterans’ Committee.

  13. 48colorrainbow - Nov 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Not surprising. When he first hit the Hall of Fame ballot, I wondered if he would be a one-and-done player.

  14. syphermce - Dec 2, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    It’s a shame if you ask me. Players need to be defined by the era the played in, Raffy played during the steroids era and should be compared to those that also played during that era. McGwire, Clemens, Palmeiro…all belong in the HOF if you ask me.

    Let me put it this way, if I pitcher is using PEDs, and the batter he’s facing is also using PEDs, can you really considering it cheating? They are both using so neither has an advantage over the other.

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