There have been a few Rafael Palmeiro for or against the Hall of Fame recently, which makes me feel like I need to put one up that is a little different.
Here we have a for the Hall article by Aaron Gleeman over at The Hardball Times and here we have an against article by Skip Bayless over at ESPN.com. Personally, what Skip Bayless usually presents to me is counterpoint and not opinion, so when someone said Palmeiro is a Hall of Famer Bayless's instinct to argue just for the sake of arguing kicked in, and his newest article was born.
Oh, I also want to mention that he left some all-time greats off of his list at the end of his article of "no-doubters", like Jimmie Foxx, who has a higher peak value than Gehrig and is second in career value to him among first basemen. But do not fret, he remembered to include Johnny Mize of all people, and George Sisler...and left out Wade Boggs who actually has the same JAWS score as Mike Schmidt...I expect no less from Bayless though. Here's a thought Skip, stick to football, that way if you say something statistically incorrect Aaron Schatz can correct you in the same article.
Back to the point, Rafael Palmeiro is extremely qualified for first base. According to the metrics Aaron Gleeman used today (RCAA and Win Shares) Raffy is one of the top 12 first basemen of all-time, on his way to becoming top 10 if he can keep it up. That is enough to merit attention and get Palmeiro and his moustache elected to the Hall of Fame, but I think we should try some other metrics as well to see where they lead us. Time for the DT Test. I just finished making spreadsheets for every Hall of Fame position player with their Wins Above Replacement Level (WARP3), Peak WARP, JAWS, Batting Runs Above Replacement (BRAR), Batting Runs Above Average (BRAA), and Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), so I want to use them. BRAR is a good indicator of career value, whereas BRAA is a good indicator of peak value. Wins Above Replacement Level is pretty self explanatory, and Peak WARP is the 5 best consecutive seasons added together into one number (with allowances made for injuries that really cut into a season's value). JAWS is the combination of these two numbers: [(Career WARP3 + Peak WARP) / 2].
Powered by the Rollie Fingers-esque mustache of The Giraffes, Here we go.
Let's assume Palmeiro retires today, and is immediately placed in the Hall of Fame. Let's see what the player averages would be with and without him in the Hall; basically, we'll be seeing if Palmeiro's inclusion makes it more difficult to make the Hall of Fame at a later date, or easier.
The players in the table above are ranked according to their JAWS score, which is an approximation of both career and peak value combined that Jay Jaffe developed. This is my favorite statistical method for determining Hall of Fame worth, as those who read this site often will attest for. On to Cooperstown with Palmeiro at first:
Before we get into ranks, let's see how Palmeiro affected the averages:
Average Hall 1B With Palmeiro
Career WARP3: +2.0
Peak WARP: +0.1
Well, Palmeiro adds to the average Hall of Famer in every regard, even making the defensive portion of it league average rather than below (you can blame Willie McCovey for a large portion of that defensive problem; the sheets changed dramatically once I added his name on).
Where does Palmeiro rank among Hall of Fame first basemen for all of these categories listed?
Career WARP3: 2nd (behind Gehrig)
Peak WARP: 8th (behind Foxx, Gehrig, Greenberg, McCovey, Murray, Mize)
JAWS: 3rd (behind Gehrig and Foxx)
BRAR: 2nd (behind Gehrig)
BRAA: 3rd (behind Gehrig and Foxx)
FRAA: 4th (behind George Kelly, Roger Connor and Tony Perez.
Now that my friends, is what I like to call an impressive resume. Behind only Foxx and Gehrig in most categories, and even the 4th best fielding first basemen in the Hall (of course if the world was right, Keith Hernandez would be in the Hall to put them all to shame, but alas, that time has passed for now.)
Make your own decisions about Palmeiro's candidacy for the Hall of Fame, but as you can see, the numbers do not betray you; just Bayless's emotions and instincts do.