Let’s say that Palmeiro could have added a bit more power than he had at 27. We can grant that Palmeiro would have averaged his career high to that point—26 home runs—for the remainder of his career. This is something that Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Robinson, et al could not do, but let’s say Palmeiro could. The next question is how long he could have kept it up. Perhaps he could have lasted until 39, roughly the average age at which the all-time greats retired. If we grant these assumptions —and to be clear, they are assumptions—Palmeiro’s total would have taken him to 371 career homers and retirement after the 2003 season. We could operate under the same assumptions, except allow that he could have averaged 30 HRs a year from age 29 on. This would entail not just beating his career best by age 27 once, but beating it every single year—again something the all-time greats did not do. By that formulation, he would have finished with 415 career home runs. To date, he has 569.

I suspect Palmeiro could have fallen somewhere between 371 and 415 home runs. That’s a career anyone should be proud of, but it would put Palmeiro in a category with his contemporaries Andres Galarraga, Dale Murphy, and Joe Carter. Those guys had very good careers and should be admired as good power hitters, but their names hardly evoke thoughts of the Hall of Fame or comparisons to the all-time great hitters from before the days of steroids. It makes you wonder.

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