Assuming Palmeiro's career is over, which I hope for his sake it is, he played his last game at the age of 40 or just barely 41, having been born on
September 24, 1964. He presently has 569 HR's, and I think all reasonable people will agree Palmeiro will do himself a favor by not playing anymore,
unless they find a rock-solid certain test for HGH and he can: (1) pass that test, as well as all steroid tests; and (2) still play very well. Anyone
believe that? Palmeiro has 569 MLB HR's.
Mark McGwire will be 40 this year, on August 22nd, and hit 583 HR's, having been retired since October of 2003. He has the greatest HR/AB ratio of
all time. Until steroid ball came along, Ruth owned that record by an UNBELIEVABLE amount. #5 was Kingman, at 15.11. #4 was Ted Williams, at circa
14.79. #3 was Killebrew, circa 14.22. #2 was Kiner, at 14.11. Ruth had 1 HR every 11.76, or something close to that, which, if you're a
mathematician, is an unreal level of dominance.
Now, after this 15-year orgy of steroid ball, McGwire has actually PASSED Ruth's record, and I think Bonds has passed everyone but the two of them.
Others may be way up there, too, obviously including Sosa. Like so many other stats, it's lost all meaning to me.
But I will tell you this:
We now how have all these muscular mutants who have gone over 550, or even 600, and they all have the Godzilla/steroid/HGH look. Do you think it
legitimizes what they've done? If you do, fine; you are certainly entitled to that opinion. But I don't agree, and I know very few, if any, who do.
Just look at their before-and-offer photos. Or at the pre-1990 and post-1990 list of guys who'd hit 50 HR's in a season. Until Cecil Fielder did it,
there had been exactly 10 guys ever who'd hit 50 or more HR's in a season at least once--5 in each league: Maris, Ruth, Mantle, Foxx and Greenberg;
Hack Wilson, Kiner, Johnny Mize, Mays and George Foster. Now I have no idea how many have done it. Or a whole lot of other things.
But your question really puts the focus where it belongs. Since the day Frank Robinson retired as a player, just past his 41st birthday, late in
the 1976 season, all experts have agreed he's the #3 greatest RF of all time. And if you know anything about how great Mel Ott was, you know what
an immense compliment it is that they rate Robinson ahead of him that was. But, with Ruth and Aaron obviously ranking #1 and #2, I am squarely in
agreement that Frank Robinson is #3--ahead of Ott, Reggie, Winfield, Rose, Gwynn, Waner, Clemente and a whole lot of other very great players in the
Sosa? Look at the first 9 years of his career, and you'll see he couldn't carry the jock of Robinson, the man who won MVP's in both leagues. Not
even close. And that's true EVEN IF YOU ACCEPT HIS WONDROUS YEARS AS LEGIT. His career fielding stats suck, both as to percentage and as to range,
while Robinson committed almost 30% fewer errors than the average outfielder.
Sosa's career slugging is identical to Robinson's, but due to his swing-at-every-pitch mentality [HOW THE HELL DO THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT IN THE
DOMINICAN?], his career on-base-% is a pathetic .345, compared to Robinson's .389. And, to point out a fact Hootie is rightly fond of reminding us,
Robinson was a player whose career was centered in the very pitcher-friendly 1960's, while Sosa's is/was centered in the biggest pitcher's dream since
So even if you buy the (apocryphal) notion that every single one of Sosa's stats is legit, there's no way on earth the dude can stand with Frank
Robinson, any more than Robinson can stand with Ruth.
Now, since we really can't "CONVICT" someone on the basis of ZERO evidence, direct or circumstantial....
Does anyone know of documentable evidence that Sosa's HR's got 60 feet longer in mid-career, or that his head got obviously larger, or that his
sources got indicted? I know about the corked bat, of course, but I'd like more than that before tossing the guy's whole career. I don't believe for
one minute the guy was legit, but....
And if you feel we need more evidence on Sosa than we currently have, where do we rate him? Obviously behind Ruth, Aaron and Frank Robinson. But
what about: Mel Ott, Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Paul Waner (whose bio I just got), Roberto Clemente (my pick for most overrated player ever, but, still,
a very fine player), Dave Winfield, Sam Crawford, and many others?
As a lawyer, I realize we're not in court and we don't have to prove Sosa guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, his lousy fielding is a big
negative, and his appalling ratio of 895 walks to 2,194 strikeouts (horrid for such a great slugger whom pitchers didn't want to face) is a titanic
negative. But the dude's HR production is a fact, and he had about 1500 runs and about 1500 RBI's, which are fine numbers.
ON THE OTHER HAND--if I may anticipate Hootie--for a guy with so many awesome HR seasons, Sosa had downright putrid season and career numbers for
"runs created," and the more I've read about that stat on the Net, the more I have come to feel it is for hitters what "Adjusted ERA" is for starting
pitchers: El Numero Uno Stat.
I know that, other than Hootie and maybe Toejam, there are few or no people here who care about making lists of the Top 10 or Top 20 players of all
time at different positions. But the harder I look at Sosa's career numbers, and especially that career "run production" stat, and his atrocious
strikeout-to-walk ratio, the more I think there's a serious question whether--even if you charitably assume the dude was 100% on the square--he makes
the Top 10 RF's of all time.
Hootie, what's your opinion? And yours, Toejam?
Rynaldo, I'm sorry my answer got so long, but I gave you everything you wanted, that's for sure. Bottom line:
Looking at it very objectively, I don't think the dude is/was all that great. When I finish reading my Paul Waner book, I will try to make up my list
on the Top 15 RF's of all time. You may or may not see Sosa there. Clemente was very overrated, but he was a multidimensional TEAM player whose only
huge weakness was swinging at bad pitches. Sosa was/is a one-dimensional player who has that same weakness and a lotta others.
I predict that, at a minimum, I will end up rating at least all of these players ahead of Sosa as all-time right fielders: Ott, Rose, Gwynn, Reggie,
Waner, Clemente. That's a bare minimum, which means that on top of the obvious Top 3, I'll rate Sosa no better than #10.