Side Issue for Rafael Palmeiro
[NOTE: The following deals with issues arising from Rafael Palmeiro's drug use. It includes both my post and the post by Jim Albright that inspired my response. Jim Albright posted the following on November 3, 2006.]
[I thought about this, and then wrote the following on November 4, 2006.]
Originally Posted by jalbright
However, temporarily taking over the role of Beelzebub's lawyer, we could point out the following:
From his peak onwards, Palmeiro was playing in modern baseball's most offensive era ever. This might boost his performance in similarity scores. He received further boosts when he moved to Baltimore in 1994 (the league OPS, adjusted for parks, increased by 63 points), and again when he moved to Texas and its new ballpark in 1999 (the park-adjusted league OPS jumped by 35 points).
Let's look at Harry Hooper. Most of his career highs in raw numbers came after he reached the age of 32. At the age of 30, Hooper's most comparable players were Max Carey, George Case, Clyde Milan, Tommy Dowd, George Burns, Willie Wilson, Rick Manning, Curt Welch, Jimmy Wolf, and Duff Cooley. At the age of 36, the list for Hooper would be Max Carey, Tommy Leach, Tim Raines, Fred Clarke, Lou Brock, Willie Wilson, George Van Haltren, Tom Brown, Stan Hack, and Joe Judge.
I doubt that Hooper was doing business with the 1920s version of BALCO. Hooper's numbers and similarity scores benefited from the fact that his offensive context was going up faster than his ability was going down.
Now, we have the following win shares for Palmeiro by age:
25 - 22
26 - 26
27 - 24
28 - 31
29 - 24 (adjusted to 162-game schedule)
30 - 24 (adjusted to 162-game schedule)
31 - 31
32 - 18
33 - 24
34 - 31
35 - 23
36 - 25
37 - 19
The 1998 season would be when he was 33. The low number in 1997 could conceivably be a blip instead of evidence of a decline.
In reality, I don't believe that Palmeiro started using steroids sometime around 1998. I think Palmeiro started using them in late 1992 or during spring training 1993. For one thing, that's when Jose Canseco started to play for the Texas Rangers, and Canseco claimed that he introduced Palmeiro to "better living through chemistry" while they were teammates. In addition, 1993 is the season when Palmeiro's ability to hit home runs suddenly jumped up. Through the age of 27, Palmeiro's career high in HR was 26. In the 11 seasons from the age of 28 until the age of 38, Palmeiro hit fewer than 37 HRs only once (but his 23 HRs in 1994 project to 33 HRs over a 162-game schedule).
I believe the advantage Palmeiro gained from steroids is even larger than Albright has estimated. That's why I can't vote for Palmeiro, either.