July 15, 2005

Palmeiro reaches 3000-500 club: The story is in the title. Rafael Palmeiro hit his 3000th hit tonight in the 5th inning off of Seattle Mariners starter Joel Piniero.

posted by The_Intern to baseball at 11:57 PM - 14 comments

Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro. The adjective great should have been used more often on Palmeiro.

posted by rcade at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2005

On his plaque, it should read, "Very good for a long time, but never great ... but that's good enough for us."

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:02 PM on July 16, 2005

And he might well join the even more exclusive (mainly, "not Eddie Murray") 3000/600 club by the end of next year. The guy isn't even into his limping DH phase yet, although no illusions about his play at 1st base. I'd find it hard to believe he can't get at least 1.5 good seasons left before he has to hang up his spikes (even if those 1.5 good seasons are stretched over 2.5 years :) ). He's about as exciting as Eddie Murray was- which is to say, not at all- and certainly has benefited from hitting in an era when HR's seemed more easily achieved for whatever reasons. But 500- much less 600- HR is still a RARE achievement, and the guy is a worthy Hall of Famer. There are too many people we should be taking out for poor HoF selection in the first place, to worry that a 3000/500 (or 600) player is "sneaking in". 566 homeruns; he could likely reach 25 this year at least, which would put him around 575 for his career by year's end, and well within reach for 600 by end of next year. He could even pass Sammy Sosa, who was depressingly anemic when I saw him on the tv for the Mariners game tonight. Sammy is only 36, and should have a few good years left, but his numbers are dropping fast, very fast. He can keep kicking around for a while just on past glories, but he'll have to hang up his spikes sooner rather than later. It looks like Palmeiro and Sosa will both be 600 club members, with Junior now looking like he's back on track to join them. For that matter, we may have written Big Hurt off too soon- like Griffey, when healthy he's still mighty scary. Some other interesting milestones: 5,358 total bases, 15 total bases from passing Frank Robinson for 10th on the all time list; barring injury he could also pass Ruth for 5th on the list by the end of next year easily, at his current pace. 583 doubles total, tied for 13th on the list. 606 will put him in the top 10 in this category as well, 625 will pass Hank Aaron for 9th place. 1187 extra-base hits, only 3 behind Lou Gehrig at 1190 for 6th place, but little chance of reaching Willie Mays at 1,323. A lot of these are pure counting stats, and obviously his longevity and his era speak to that: other than the scary-way he seemed to hit in the clutch whenever facing the Mariners, he never really struck one as a monster player. He had good but not quite "best" numbers- the black ink test shows that- and never seemed to be a true superstar. But numbers are numbers- he didn't have to be flashy or hyped to make the HoF, and I think he's well deserving. We can save our debates more for those guys who will stretch it out just trying to get into the 500 club, like McGriff or later possibly guys like Thome.

posted by hincandenza at 01:36 PM on July 16, 2005

Hal: Palmeiro, while not necessarily an exciting player to watch, has been an inspiration in his own way. He plays hard, he seems to exhibit good sportsmanship and he consistently delivers. If that (and his statistics) aren't worthy of the hall of fame, the hall of fame doesn't deserve him.

posted by Joey Michaels at 02:06 PM on July 16, 2005

Joey, you misunderstood- I agree he's a HoF, and it's nice that he seems like a decent person who stays out of trouble. He's just never been exciting, never been a player that sent electricity through the park when he came to the plate, the way guys like Griffey or Frank Thomas did in their primes, like Bonds does, heck like teammates Sosa did. It is meaningful that Palmeiro never won a black ink test, which speaks to his always being good, but never quite as good as the sluggers we speak of with reverent tones. He's just in that league of HoFers that are like a tattoo you can't remember getting, the morning after a major drinking binge: you can see the evidence before you, but you just can't for the life of you recall how it got there. It wasn't until recently, as other more celebrated players reached these milestones, that we really even noticed Raffy's name on the list, within shouting distance. But I do think that being able to maintain a quietly effective career for two decades is worth a lot: some of the All-Stars this past week are flashes-in-the-pan, having career years. Some won't have nearly those numbers in 5 years, might be out of the game in less than 10. Just being able to suit up because you aren't replaceable by anything less than another Hall-of-Famer, for two decades coming to the park day after day, hitting, hitting, hitting... I do think that's HoF worthy. And reaching plateaus that are still magical * - even if you disagreed with the 500 HR being a barrier that grants instant access with these allegedly inflated times, his 3000 hits are the clincher- should end all discussion of whether he gets in.

* interesting, though- people say "Is 500 the magic barrier anymore?" I say that it is until proven otherwise: and if we are to adjust it, why say it's arbitrarily '600'? Why not 537.6? Why not figure out just how much of a "benefit" modern players really get? But while we're doing that, we'll of course want to start discounting players who had the immense benefit of an all-white league. Or of no international scouting. Or of relievers being tired rag-arm veterans making one last go of it, as opposed to 25-year-old fireballers with triple-digit fastballs.

posted by hincandenza at 02:28 PM on July 16, 2005

Sorry Hal, I did understand and I originally wrote "I'm with you" and then managed to delete it on preview. My reply was intended as a "got your bac, Hal" sort of thing. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I thought you were spot on - and think you are spot on again here.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:36 PM on July 16, 2005

Where would Palmeiro fit in Bill Simmons' Hall of Fame pyramid?. Level 1 Ground floor of The Pyramid ... designated for marginal guys who were considered "Borderline Hall of Famers," either because of the Rice Factor (great career, not long enough) or the Sutton Factor (very good for a long time, rarely great) ... anyone voted in simply because they reached a benchmark (400 homers, 300 wins, etc.) would be thrown in here ... you could even include players who broke significant individual records (Don Larsen, Roger Maris, Johnny Vander Meer, etc. -- though, personally, I say no). Modern "L1" examples: Carter, Sutton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Gossage, Rice, Morris, Catfish Hunter, Wade Boggs, Tony Perez, Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers, Tom Glavine (if he keeps going strong). You get the idea. Level 2 Second floor of The Pyramid ... not quite as cluttered, not as much space ... reserved for guys who were definitely Hall of Famers, but didn't quite possess a Level 3 résumé for one or more of the following reasons: Their team never won a World Series. Something was missing from their career totals. They never enjoyed an outrageously good single season. Somebody else played their position during their time who was better. Their career was shortened by injury and/or rapidly declining skills. Modern "L2" examples: Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Dave Winfield, Willie Stargell, Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, Ryne Sandberg, Kirby Puckett, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Molitor. Level 3 Reserved for the "No-Doubt-About-It" Hall of Famers ... these guys were undoubtedly the best at their position for years and years, with all the requisite "résumé" stats to match ... unfortunately, there's a distinct, crucial difference between Level 3 and Level 4 (explanation coming). Modern "L3" examples: Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith (more on him later), George Brett, Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn, Robbie Alomar, Eddie Murray, Greg Maddux (assuming he keeps cruising along), Randy Johnson (ditto), Dennis Eckersley (a unique case, but definitely). Level 4 These are basically "L3" guys, only there's something just inherently "greater" about them. Some possible indications: Do you have to consider them in any "best of all-time" discussions? Did they have transcendent games or memorable moments? Did they hit 500 homers, get 3,000 hits or win 300 games? Were they just dominant at times? Will you always remember watching them play, even when you're 80 years old and peeing on yourself? Modern "L4" examples: Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan (a great argument here -- some don't even consider him a Hall of Famer), Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds (maybe even a little low for him, as scary as that sounds), Roger Clemens (it hurts, but it's true). (Note: Pete Rose should be an "L4 guy," Dwight Gooden should have been an "L4 guy," and Darryl Strawberry could have been an "L4 guy." None of them make it ... although Rose should be here eventually because Ty Cobb's in here, and Rose couldn't have been more of a jerk then Cobb. Also, other than Clemens and Bonds, out of the veterans playing right now, Junior Griffey, Maddux and maybe Randy Johnson have the best shots at Level Four. It's too early to tell about anyone else.) Level 5 Take a deep breath. Level 5 is the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively. You can rattle the L5 guys off the top of your head: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Grover Alexander, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. Sixteen in all. That's it. That's Level 5. The best of the best. The Pantheon. __________________ I see Palmeiro as being anywhere from Level 1 to 4.

posted by graymatters at 11:02 PM on July 16, 2005

I think you have to put Clemens and Bonds at level 5 now. The number of MVPs/Cy Youngs and their counting stats put them well ahead of every single one of the other L4 guys you mention, and in 20 years people will forget how much the media hated them and will realize their greatness at the top level. Also interesting: Number of "Pantheon" playing in each decade: 1890s - 2 (Young and Wagner begin their careers) 1900s - 5 1910s - 8 1920s - 6 1930s - 6 1940s - 4 1950s - 7 1960s - 4 1970s - 2 (Aaron and Mays retire) 1980s - 0 1990s - 0 2000s - 0 I think this might be a case of "it was better back in the days". To suggest there haven't been any players since 1973 (or started their careers since 1954!) that have been Pantheon level is bit...odd. Add in Clemens and Bonds, you add 2 to the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. I also think you have to consider Mike Schmidt (3 MVPs, 10GG, 500HR) as a potential L5 candidate (covering 1970s and 1980s as well). I'd put Palmeiro as a L3 guy, but at the same time I'd bump Morgan up to L4. And if Pete Rose had kept his nose clean, I think people would have elevated him to L5 (even though he's an L4 player). And where is Lefty Grove!?

posted by grum@work at 12:08 AM on July 17, 2005

I didnt see you mention him-and its off the topic a little-but where would Harmon Killebrew fall into this pryramid?-I am thinking L4 or L5--or maybe I am all wet

posted by daddisamm at 06:06 AM on July 17, 2005

On his plaque, it should read, "Very good for a long time, but never great ... At some point, when "long time" becomes "unbelievably long time," shouldn't the adjective move from very good to great? Palmeiro strung together nine 100+ RBI, 35+ HR seasons in a row. Only three Major Leaguers had a longer string of 100 RBI years: Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Al Simmons. No one had a longer string of 35 home run years: Jimmie Fox ties him with 9. The guy's in elite company, whether or not baseball's media elite ever recognized it.

posted by rcade at 08:54 AM on July 17, 2005

Another method of determining a player's HOF viability is to try the "Keltner Test" (invented by Bill James in his 1985 Abstract). 1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? 2. Was he the best player on his team? 3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position? 4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races? 5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime? 6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame? 7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame? 8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? 9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics? 10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame? 11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close? 12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame? 13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant? 14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? 15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

posted by grum@work at 02:18 PM on July 17, 2005

OK, grum, in my book he scores 4 of 15 on that list, but I do think he should be first ballot. (5,7,8,15)

posted by Scottymac at 03:44 PM on July 17, 2005

Consistently good and not a dirtbag...I'll settle, Cooperstown or no Cooperstown.

posted by alumshubby at 08:56 PM on July 17, 2005

He belongs.

posted by yerfatma at 08:07 AM on July 18, 2005

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