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Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Raff At You    

As much as it nauseates me to side with Bayless (sort of), I'm more of the mind that longevity should not be what makes you great. He's had good seasons in the Steroid Era, certainly good enough to warrant a Hall spot, but that's not why people will elect him. He will get in for his major accomplishment, which was to never go on the DL. He amassed excellent career stats due to surviving for this long and never being hurt. That's fine, but imagine if he had gone to war, and survived the whole war without being injured... how does that tell us what kind of soldier he was? It's irrelevant. Adding Palmeiro to the Hall because of his career numbers, while snubbing a best-in-baseball type like Jim Rice, is precisely what's wrong with the process.

Let's look at Jim Ed for a second. At every moment of his 1977-1984 peak, Rice was better than the best Palmeiro has ever been. He was one of the two or three best hitters in the AL for that entire period. He was hands-down the best from 77 to 79. He frightened pitchers, which we know Raffy has never done. He is the only player since Hank Aaron in 1959 to accumulate 400 total bases in a season without the aid of Coors Field (Walker/Helton) or buttock injections (Sosa). And what has Raffy done? Well, uh, he never went on the DL.

Speaking of the DL, here's another angle: if baseball ended forever right now, I'd put Ken Griffey Jr. into the Hall over Palmeiro. Wouldn't you rather remember how incredibly awesome Griffey was from 1990 to 2000 than how effective Palmeiro was over that same period? The best power hitter in baseball over that time. People already forget that he had 40 HR in 111 games in the '94 strike season, which would have put him in striking distance of 61* by game 162. But will that be his legacy? No, because of his injury-riddled down years in Cincinnati. Despite reaching 500 HR last season, and despite being the purest baseball talent to play in the league in our time, he may not have his ticket punched yet. He'll have to reach 600 for people to say "oh, right, he was pretty good, wasn't he. Now we can wash his balls." That's a crock.

I'm not arguing against Palmeiro in isolation. I'd probably include him in my personal, all-inclusive Hall. I just don't think it's right for lonegvity and milestones to be the ONLY way into Cooperstown. Guys like Rice and Griffey (or hey, why not Don Mattingly?) have 20 or 30 different edges over Palmeiro, but because Palmeiro has longevity, and therefore numbers, he gets in, and the others sweat it out. I think that's horseshit.

2 Comments:

  • for the record- I agree with you about electing the guys who were the best in the game for a time, even if only 8-10 years.
    Jim Rice?
    In, with a bullet.
    Griffey?
    In, even though for me his greatest legacy will be his massively engorged head in that Simpsons episode.
    Mattingly?
    Boy howdy I want him in, for obvious reasons, but I just can't see it, given that he was only really dominant from 84-89, and the lack of postseason appearances. Of course, as we all know, when he finally did get there in 1995, despite playing on a back more kinky than Richard Gere, he put up a .417 BA, .440 OBP, .708 SLG, for an OPS of 1.148. Not that it was good enough to get to the ALCS, thank you very much Mr. Martinez.

    By Blogger Alex, at 8:51 AM  

  • The big beef I have with the Raffy talk relates to all of the "who would you rather have" arguments that we open ourselves up to. His numbers put us in a position where we can't deny him, but who would you rather have at first base... Peak Palmeiro, or Peak Mattingly? As much as it pains me, I'd take Donny Mustache. I'm not 100% convinced Mattingly deserves a spot, but I'm sure his place in baseball history is more meaningful. (Quick note: regardless of whether you take Mattingly or Palmeiro in this hypothetical, the baserunner leading off first would get a mustache ride, so there's really no way to choose incorrectly.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 12:28 PM  

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