Elliott Kalb, normally pretty rational, has this to say about Raffy Palmeiro's place on the Top 15 List of All-Time First Baseman: he's not on it. (I'm almost, but not quite, sick of this argument.) Here are some people who are on Kalb's 15:9. Eddie MurraySteady Eddie was similar to Palmeiro, only better. Murray led the major leagues in RBI in the 1980s. Murray had twice as many All-Star game appearances. Murray went to the World Series. Murray deserved his three Gold Gloves at first base.
Murray may have been better than Raffy. It's close. But the reasons for this are not, for the last fucking time, that Murray appeared in more all-star games, nor that he appeared in the World Series. How in the world can anyone, let alone, apparently, EVERYONE, keep using these things as measuring sticks?11. Sadaharu OhUnlike the Negro Leaguers, Oh's numbers in Japan are well-documented. He swatted 868 home runs. He was the Japanese MVP nine times. His Giants won the pennant nine times between 1965-1973. He was a terrific fielding first baseman, who won the Japanese Gold Glove the first nine years it was awarded (1972-1980).
Interesting. Those are some big numbers. THAT HE PUT UP IN JAPAN. Japan. In the 60's and 70's. Are you seriously telling me that Sadaharu Oh belongs on this list above Rafael Palmeiro? There are probably some guys in Chicago softball leagues who have like 1500 career home runs. Let's put them on this list.14. (Tie) Keith Hernandez and Don MattinglyHernandez was the best throwing first baseman I've ever seen. He had the ability to lead a team, as well. Mattingly had the flipside of Rafael Palmeiro's career. He had a short period where he was the best player in the game, but a back injury derailed his chance to accumulate big career numbers.
Right. And see, that's the thing -- Mattingly got injured, so he didn't have that great a career. This is not a list of potentially better first basemen, you dolt. I also think that saying that even at Mattingly's zenith he was "the best player in the game" is downright silly. And as for Keith Hernandez, he was a great fielder. His "ability to lead a team" is a soft plus. And Palmeiro absolutely blows him out of the water in every meaningful statistic you can find. Plus, Raffy is no slouch as a fielder. If you would seriously take Hernandez over Raffy, I will gladly let you have him. My all-time team will blow yours out of the water.
Here's how Kalb finishes up his argument:If you want to argue that Musial was a left fielder, and Killebrew a third baseman; I can accept that. If you want to toss out Buck Leonard and Sadaharu Oh, I have more problems with that. Even without those four players, Palmeiro doesn't rank in the top 10. He's about even with Jeff Bagwell. And Albert Pujols is going to quickly eclipse some (many) of the names on this list.'Who's on First?' Not Rafael Palmeiro. This is one time when 3,000 hits and 500 home runs are nothing to get excited about.
Even if Raffy is the eleventh best first baseman in history -- or, crazily, the sixteenth -- isn't that something to get excited about? And it's not 3,000 hits and 500 HR. It's 3,000 hits and 568 HR. And counting. If he plays next year he'll probably get to 3,150 and 600. Will people finally stop whining about him then?
Also, and this is shooting fish in a barrel now, you don't think 3000 hits and 500 (568) home runs are anything to get excited about? How abut 2182 and 162? That's what Keith Hernandez had. Does that excite you, dummy?
Finally, saying that Pujols is going to pass him is meaningless. Pujols is going to pass everyone.
(EDITED to add Hernandez's lifetime H and HR totals. And for you SABR purists, fear not, Raffy has him at every turn there, too, as you probably guessed.)
Labels: elliott kalb, hall of fame, rafael palmeiro