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Sports Then and Now



Statistics Can Be Misleading When Selecting for the Baseball Hall of Fame 2

Posted on January 02, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Rafael Palmeiro hit 25 home runs in three seasons with the Chicago Cubs before going on to bigger and better things with the Rangers and Orioles.

If career statistics were the only judge, then picking the members of the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame induction class would be pretty easy. However, the continuing shadow of the “Steroid Era” in baseball has ensured that for the next decade or so picking Hall of Famers will be anything but easy.

There are 19 newcomers to the Hall of Fame ballot for 2011 and it is difficult to predict if any will ever receive a plaque in Cooperstown.

Statistically speaking, there seems to be two “no brainers” and a third who would probably earn a spot. However, it is likely that only one of those three will be a serious contender for the Hall of Fame.

Based purely on the numbers, Rafael Palmeiro has the credentials to be an easy HOF pick. He is one of only four players in major league history with more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. The other three players are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

However, the number for Palmeiro that most Hall of Fame voters are likely to remember is one, as in failed steroid tests after emphatically claiming to Congress that he had never used steroids.

That alone seems enough to ensure that Palmeiro will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame and will probably have a hard time earning enough votes to stay on the ballot for his entire 15 years of eligibility.

In some ways, Palmeiro is as much a poster child of the steroid era as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, but in a different way.

While Bonds and Clemens were likely Hall of Famers before ever using steroids and McGwire and Sosa used the drugs to break single season records, Palmeiro pretty much flew under the radar and despite being accused of using by Jose Canseco would have probably earned a Hall of Fame plaque had it not been for his positive test.

Of course we have no idea when Palmeiro started using steroids, but the change in his statistics is pretty pronounced.

Palmeiro was a solid player during his first five major league seasons hitting .296 with 602 hits and 47 home runs between 1986 and 1990. He hit a then career-best 14 home runs in 1987 while with the Cubs and matched that total with the Rangers in 1990. Read the rest of this entry →

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