- LF, OF, RF, 1B, CF, DH
- September 24, 1964
- 180 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-08-1986 with CHN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1997 GG, 1998 GG, 1998 SS, 1999 GG, 1999 ML, 1999 SS
Overshadowed on teams with more recognizable stars, Rafael Palmeiro emerged as a heavyweight hitter, averaging 42 homers per year in his age 30-38 seasons. He was able to hit for average: finishing runner-up to Tony Gwynn for a batting title, as well as power: running second to Ken Griffey Jr. for the home run title. He used his picture-perfect left-handed swing (and perhaps some illegal substances) to reach the 3,000-hit and 500-homer marks.
#25 (1986-1988, 1990-present), #3 (1989 Rangers)
"The year he tested positive , nothing he did that year should count, which I think would take away 3,000 hits for him." â€” Curt Schilling on Rafael Palmeiro
Back with the Texas Rangers after five years in Baltimore, Palmeiro posted his highest slugging percentage (.630) and OBP (.420). His 47 homers and 148 RBI helped power Texas to the playoffs. Somehow the DH won the Gold Glove Award, despite playing just 28 games at first base. Nevertheless, the 34-year old was at his best with the bat.
On July 17, 1998, Rafael Palmeiro and Albert Belle both hit the 300th homers of their careers. Palmeiro did so in the O's 4-1 victory over the Angels, while Belle hit his milestone homer in the White Sox 4-3 defeat of the Indians.
Selected by Chicago Cubs in the 1st round (22nd pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 3, 1985); Traded by Chicago Cubs with Jamie Moyer and Drew Hall to Texas Rangers in exchange for Mitch Williams, Paul Kilgus, Steve Wilson, Curt Wilkerson, Luis Benitez and Pablo Delgado (December 5, 1988); Granted free agency (October 25, 1993); Signed by Baltimore Orioles (December 12, 1993); Granted free agency (October 23, 1998); Signed by Texas Rangers (December 4, 1998).
It remains to be seen if his productivity in his 30s was due to his own hard work or if it came from a syringe.
On May 11, 2003, Palmeiro belted his 500th career home run, at the Ballpark in Arlington... On September 23, 2000, Palmeiro hit the 400th home run of his career, against the Angels. He became the 32nd player to reach the 400-homer level.
From 1995-2002, Palmeiro strung together eight consecutive seasons with at least 38 homers and 100 RBI. No other player in baseball history had ever accomplished that.
Raffy vs. Will the Thrill
Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro are linked forever for two reasons: 1) The Rangers signed Clark rather than re-sign Palmeiro during the free agent off-season of 1993. 2) The Rangers signed Palmeiro and brought him back in the 1999 off-season, while the O's signed Clark. Essentially the two first basemen swapped places. But the two players had polar opposite careers. Palmeiro was pigeon-holed early in his career as an opposite field singles hitter, Clark was heralded as a future Hall of Famer. In reality, Palmeiro is likely to end up in Cooperstown, while "Will the Thrill" has little chance, especially after burning so many bridges with his abrasive personality. There are some similarities between the two sluggers: both were born in 1964, both debuted in the majors in 1986, and both were left-handed hitters who were considered to have one of the best swings of their era. From their debut season through 1993, Clark was the better offensive player: 1986-1993.....G......H.....R....HR...RBI...AVG...SLG...OBP Clark......1160...1278...687...176...709...299...499...373 Palmeiro...1046...1144...587...132...526...296...472...360 But from 1994 through 2001 (Clark retired after the 2000 season), Palmeiro has shown he is destined to be remembered as the better hitter: 1994-2001.....G......H.....R....HR...RBI...AVG...SLG...OBP Clark.......816....898...499...108...496...309...493...398 Palmeiro...1212...1341...770...315...944...293...560...381 And Raffy is still rolling, showing that like Dwight Evans, Hank Aaron, his 30s are the best years of his career. The Cuban has kept himself in great shape, in fact, from 1994-2001, no one in baseball played more games than Palmeiro. He also ranks second in hits over that eight-year stretch, and fifth in homers, behind household names Sosa, McGwire, Bonds and Griffey.
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