The Case for Cooperstown: Rafael Palmeiro

With the release of the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, Waiver Wire writer Greg Kaplan will explore the candidacy of numerous names on the ballot. Points for and against induction will be presented, and we’re forcing him to make a decision at the end of each post to decide if that player should be placed alongside the immortals that have played baseball throughout history.

Previous Cases – Jack Morris – Jeff Bagwell – Lee Smith – Tim Raines – Alan Trammell– Edgar Martinez – Fred McGriff – Larry Walker – Mark McGwire – Don Mattingly – Dale Murphy

Bpalmeirox-largeRafael Palmeiro

Year(s) on ballot – 3rd (received 12.6% of vote last season)

Credentials – 20 years in MLB (10 with Texas Rangers, seven with Baltimore Orioles), career .288/.371/.515, 569HRs, 1,835RBI, 3,020 hits, 585 doubles, four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Silver Slugger

The Case For – 

At the base of his argument, Palmeiro has reached two career milestones that, generally speaking, are automatic locks for enshrinement. He has 3,000+ hits and has 500+ home runs. Normally, that’s enough. Normally.

11 times in Palmeiro’s career, he finished inside the top 10 in the league for most home runs without once winning the single-season crown. He hit .300 or better six times throughout the course of his career, again without winning a batting title. His 585 career doubles rank him 16th all-time, and his 569 home runs place him 12th. 

One argument that is often made against players like Palmeiro who play for a long period of time without achieving notoriety with a single season of dominance is that the player hung around just long enough to compile stats. However, the list of players that have had 3,000+ hits and 500+ home runs is incredibly short. Everyone that has done it before Palmeiro that has been eligible for Hall of Fame election is in there. It’s truly the benchmark of all benchmarks, and the argument for Palmeiro’s election starts and finishes there. You don’t need anything else.

The Case Against -

He lied. Not only did Palmeiro lie, once he was caught in the lie, he started blaming people surrounding him for the situation he was in.

Rafael Palmeiro wasn’t just caught in the performance-enhancing scandal during the Congressional hearings. Remember, he tested positive after those hearings and after baseball had officially instituted random drug testing and PED suspensions. We paint players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire cheaters for being linked to performance-enhancing drugs, but Rafael Palmeiro was physically caught taking them.

This is the same guy who sat up in front of Congress, waved his finger at elected officials saying he never took steroids, period. He sat up there, spinning this elaborate web that placed blame on Jose Canseco for dragging his name through the mud and making him out to be someone he wasn’t. Then, when he was busted, he quickly put blame on a teammate (Miguel Tejada) for giving him a tainted B-12 shot.

I know the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting guidelines might as well be thrown out with players like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry already in Cooperstown, but there is a stink about what Palmeiro has done and said during and after his playing career. It feels rather unforgivable.

Rafael Palmeiro reached some magnificent career benchmarks during his playing days. However, I don’t feel he’s deserved the right to be remembered the same way others are by gaining admittance to the Hall of Fame. He didn’t earn that. So, in my mind, he’s out.