Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#305 Rafael Palmeiro

About the Front: Rafael Palmeiro is showing off what was widely regarded as one of the sweetest left-handed swings in the game.

About the Back: Palmeiro was born in Cuba, but his family immigrated to Miami when he was a child.

Triple Play:

1. At Mississippi State, he became the only player in Southeastern Conference history to win the Triple Crown. It's particularly impressive, considering that one of his teammates was Will Clark.

2. Despite never winning an American League home run crown or batting title, Palmeiro was one of the pre-eminent power and contact hitters of his generation. From 1993 through 2003, he averaged .288/.380/.555 (138 OPS+) with 42 home runs and 122 RBI per 162 games. He also holds the dubious record for most career games played without appearing in a World Series, with a total of 2,831.

3. In a 20-year career, Rafael totaled 585 doubles, 569 home runs, 1,835 RBI, and 3,020 hits. However, he retired under a cloud after testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol during the 2005 season. He was subjected to intense scrutiny and derision, particularly since he had famously and emphatically denied using steroids during a televised congressional hearing the previous spring. For Palmeiro's part, he has always maintained that he never intentionally used steroids, suggesting that former Orioles teammate Miguel Tejada provided him with a shot of vitamin B-12 that may have been tainted. Regardless, he received little sympathy from Hall of Fame voters, debuting on the ballot with an 11% showing in 2011 and losing his eligibility in 2014 after dropping to 4.4% of the vote.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I had a baseball card of my own in 1994, which was the first (and penultimate) year of my brief Little League career. As part of the biography that was affixed to the card back, I was asked to list my favorite major league player. I went with "Raphael" Palmeiro, the exciting new free agent acquisition of my beloved Orioles. Much like Raffy himself, I maintain my innocence when it comes to the misspelling of his first name. It must have been an error in transcription from the photographer.

Bill James Said: "Led the American League in runs scored, was fourth in total bases, fifth in homers, third in doubles, second in stolen base percentage (88%)." And yet the Rangers let him walk in favor of Will Clark.

On This Date in 1993: October 22. Future major leaguers Robinson Cano and Darren O'Day each celebrate their 11th birthday. It's strange to think of these guys as my contemporaries, at least age-wise.

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