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Two new members of the HOF were announced today.

Harold Baines and Lee Smith. No, I'm not kidding.

Baines had never got more than 6.1% from BBWAA voters but the Vets only needed one shot to put him in. The guy with a peak of 144 OPS+ over 400+ PA vs non-inductee and fellow ballot mate Albert Belle who had a 144 lifetime OPS+. Baines once led the league in Slugging percentage. 4 times got MVP votes (never finished higher than 9th), one silver slugger award, 6 time all-star somehow. Never hit 30 HR, never had 200 hits, never scored 100 runs, 3 times got to 100 RBI's. Lifetime WAR of 38.7 which is easily among the worst scores for a non-reliever.

Also picked by the vets is Lee Smith.
All-time leader in career saves for 13 years - Hoyt Wilhelm had it for 15 years and I suspect Rivera will have it for longer (up to 8 years now with no one active within 300 of him). Led the league in saves 4 times, 7 all-star games, 4 times got Cy Young votes (as high as 2nd in 1991), 4 times MVP votes (peak of 8th place) ERA+ over 100 in all but his final season (in Montreal). Played for 8 teams but safe to say he is a Cub when he goes in (8 years there). Just 29.4 WAR, better than Hoffman (28), Fingers (25.7), Sutter (24.2) beaten by Gossage (41.4), Wilhelm (47.1), Eckersley (62.4) and soon to be HOF'er Rivera (56.2).

Smith is right in the middle of the HOF relievers section. Better than the 'meh' crowd (just) and well below the big guns. Baines, on the other hand, is way down the list for hitters by any measure especially if you factor in that he was just a DH most of his career. So, thoughts and opinions?
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dan gordon - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 01:26 AM EST (#368462) #
Another example of why I don't care who is in the HOF and who isn't. If Baines is in, there are at least 100 more guys they should put in right now. I suppose the veterans looked at the counting stats that Baines accumulated thanks to a long career - 22 seasons, 2,866 hits. Some of the guys who aren't in must be rolling their eyes.
Glevin - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 02:32 AM EST (#368464) #
Both terrible picks. Smith was a good reliever for a long time and Baines a good hitter for a long time. Neither are particularly close to being HOFers. I agree with Rob Neyer

"Let's be frank: The elections of Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and (especially) Harold Baines are fully intended by voters to troll everyone who believes in objective analysis. They've lost power everywhere but here, but by God they're gonna use it. Embarrassing to Hall (or should be)."
whiterasta80 - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 07:10 AM EST (#368466) #
Ugh. Baines? Any argument for the relevance of the baseball HOF just died.

The article I read suggested at least two people with ties to HB on the committee. There will likely be equally disgusting "payback" picks in the next few years.

Blacksox 2.0?
whiterasta80 - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 07:16 AM EST (#368467) #
The plaque at this point should have to include "*inducted by veterans committee". I'm betting that a list of players outside the hall could out war the "all veterans committee" by a significant margin.
AWeb - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 07:17 AM EST (#368468) #
Not surprised relievers (Smith) continue to get pushed through, since so many seem determined to treat them like a special case position, rather than looking at them like the adjective that defines their role. If only platoon-partners had more catchy stats in the box score, they apparently would be in the hall too. But yeah, Neyer's view makes the most sense, in an unfortunate "people are awful" kind of way. On a ballot with players (and managers/executives) that were outer-edge HoF cases, coming to a 75% consensus on Harold Baines is...astonishing.

Congratulations to Baines, who deserves none of the hate that will get thrown his way. And congratulations to future Jays HoFers who were better than Baines: Tony Fernandez, Dave Steib, Carlos Delgado, Jose Bautista, Devon White, John Olerud, Fred McGriff, Josh Donaldson, Curtis Granderson, Dave Parker, Al Leiter, Jeff Kent, Jimmy Key, David Cone, David Wells, Jesse Barfield, Jose Canseco, Shawn Green, Chris Carpenter, and probably many more.
scottt - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 08:24 AM EST (#368469) #
It's 2 names I don't even recognize. I'm no vet, though.
rpriske - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 08:27 AM EST (#368470) #
I am the opposite opinion of many.
Baines deserves a spot. I admit he is borderline, but edges in.
Smith, on the other hand, is not even close.
I can think of one reliever who deserved the Hall, and he is on the ballot this year.
Glevin - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 08:28 AM EST (#368471) #
I'm not someone who believes strictly in WAR. It can be problematic and is a blunt tool and sometimes doesn't capture real value. However, large differences in WAR are meaningful and you don't even need to go into WAR to find these picks ridiculous. Just one example

Player A
2830 games, 119 WRC+ as a 1Bman/DH

Player B
2460 games, 134 WRC+ as a pretty good fielding 1Bman.

Player C
1929 games, 127 WRC+, pretty good fielding 1Bman

Player D
2035 games, 135 WRC+, 1B

How is player A a HOFer while players B (McGriff) C (Adrian Gonzalez) and D (Delgado) are not. There are so many players like Baines except better offensively and defensively. And it's not like Baines was an iconic player either which I do think should matter a little bit. I never thought Baines was a HOFer.
Mike Green - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 08:33 AM EST (#368472) #
Baines was a very good player, who might have had a Hall of Fame level career if he hadn't hurt his knees.  It is nice that he, like Chili Davis, was able to extend his career a long time thanks to the DH rule.

Also on the ballot were Will Clark and Orel Hershiser.  Both would have been much better choices, as they would be on the margins for the Hall of Fame, on merit.   Baines does join Freddie Lindstrom in the Hall; when voters do something this silly, they should realize that they are making once again the mistakes of the past.  Fortunately, it's only the Hall of Fame and not an election that means anything important. 
AWeb - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 09:24 AM EST (#368476) #
The only thing that gets Baines any consideration is the length of his career. He was fine, and consistently fine, for a long time. Giving him seasonal grades, he'd get a lot of B- to C- grades. He's 37th in plate appearances, everyone above him is either in the hall, PED-not in the hall, likely going to make it although I disagree (Vizquel), or Rusty Staub (who was better than Baines, like several hundred other guys who will never make it).

Baines is 37th in PA, you'd hope a HoFer did something aside from go to the plate, that is, he should outrank his PA ranking in something, right? - is he above 37th in any other category?
Runs - 128th
Hits - 46th
Total Bases - 43rd
Doubles - 73rd
Walks - 97th
HRs - 65th
Double Plays grounded into - 11th. Not shocking a slow lefty would be near the top here, but obviously not the reason for his induction.

RBIs - 34th! Found it. Here's his HoF reason, he was an RBI man! Everyone else in the top 53 in RBIs is in the hall, not in yet but will be, or a PED-non-hall. This is almost definitely the argument that appealed to the "screw the analytics guys" voters on the committee. For much of his career seasonal RBIs were the main factor in MVP voting, so why not put him in? Of course, batting 3-7 in the lineup almost his entire career, he managed to crack the top 10 in RBIs twice. Let's see, what position did he play? A below average OFer and a famously a long-term DH. Huh.

Positives: Baines was a hitter type that the hall often misses - he was above average at everything (average, walks, power) but not notably great at anything. Aside from playing a very long time at an employable level.
rpriske - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 09:33 AM EST (#368477) #
"He was fine, and consistently fine, for a long time."

Luckily, since the Hall of Fame is a career award, this is a valid reason for entry.
Mike Green - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 09:43 AM EST (#368478) #
Among career leaders in PAs, you'll also find Omar Vizquel, Rusty Staub (just ahead of Baines), Johnny Damon and Steve Finley.    Staub, of course, was also a fine pure hitter, but quite a bit better than Harold Baines.  The others were fine players for a long, long time, and also quite a bit better than Baines once you account for their contributions with the glove and on the basepaths.  If you want a Hall of Fame that admits 5-6 players a year, then you may have room for Baines. 
James W - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 10:25 AM EST (#368481) #
Lou Whitaker has more WAR than Harold Baines and Lee Smith.


This is dumb.
AWeb - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 10:47 AM EST (#368483) #
rpriske, wondering if you would elaborate on why you think Baines was good enough? Most didn't even see him as an "almost" candidate, and as I detailed above, I don't see much aside from career length to recommend him. Are there similar players you also see as deserving that most wouldn't?
Chuck - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 11:23 AM EST (#368484) #
Lou Whitaker has more WAR than Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

Bobby Grich too. Even the veterans -- those who actually played the game -- are overly harsh on middle infielders and too easily dazzled by context-free offensive numbers and by saves.

rpriske - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 12:31 PM EST (#368488) #
The Hall of Fame is a career award. A very good player for 22 years is a Hall of Famer.

I would take that over a player who was great for five or six years.

Glevin - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 01:04 PM EST (#368489) #
Baines wasn't very good for 22 years. He had two seasons above 3 WAR. He had about 12 seasons as a good player. McGriff for example, had 10 seasons above 3 WAR including 4 above 5 WAR. Being great for a long time should be a Hofer. Being pretty good for a long time shouldn't be.
AWeb - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 01:14 PM EST (#368491) #
But Baines wasn't "very good" for 22 years. He was very good a few years, good a bunch of years, and not so good a bunch of years, and terrible a few years. Basically a perfect bell curve around "average", with very little departure above or below that standard. I love me some career length guys (pitchers especially), but Baines is just so...blah. Having an OPS+ between 108 and 143 for 19 years in a row is very impressive in a vacuum, I guess. I'd love to hear the discussions they had to see if it got beyond "lots of RBIs", "great guy", and "professional hitter".

There's almost no one like him to compare him to, because almost no one who lasted that long did so without a few huge years at some point. A reliever is probably the best comparison to a Baines type of career - Dan Plesac or Jesse Orosco? Guys who were slightly above average, forever. Or a long-term catcher like Bob Boone or Benito Santiago?
rpriske - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 01:44 PM EST (#368494) #
"Having an OPS+ between 108 and 143 for 19 years in a row is very impressive in a vacuum, I guess."

I consider that very impressive period.
And a quick counterpoint to anyone who calls him 'average'.

The average player is not above-average for 19 straight years. By definition.
John Northey - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 02:27 PM EST (#368496) #
If Baines had passed any of the big career markers I'd have been a lot more 'eh, whatever' about it. Much like Smith.

Lee Smith did hold the career saves record for a long time - he really was an accumulator not a peak guy but there was a case there that if you are letting in the other guys I listed then he belongs too.

Baines, on the other hand, was 134 hits shy of 3000, which I felt he needed to make a case as an accumulator. He ended at 384 HR, well shy of the old magic 500 number and short of the once important 400 figure. 1628 RBI did get him past the 1500 mark which some see as important, but very few do. His last 2 years he was desperately holding on and got 83 hits with an OPS+ of 70 over 414 wasted plate appearances purely as a DH. His best WAR was 4.3, with just 2 years of 3+ in his very long career. Lee Smith, a reliever for crying out loud, had more 3+ WAR seasons (3) with a higher peak at 4.8 in 1983 (led league with 29 saves in 103 IP and a 1.65 ERA).

I'm sure non-HOF'ers and ex-Jays are annoyed at this. From Fred McGriff (52.6 WAR, 2490 H, 493 HR, peak of 6.6 WAR, 5 seasons with more WAR than any Baines year) to John Olerud (58.2 WAR, 2239 H, 255 HR, peak of 7.8 WAR, has as many 7 WAR seasons as Baines has 3+) to Carlos Delgado (44.4 WAR 2038 H, 473 HR peak of 7.3 WAR with 6 years of 3+...fewer than I expected to be honest). Actually, all might be happy as they should be dead on locks for getting in via the vets once they qualify after this joke. IMO none of them belong as they all were just a bit short in career figures.
John Northey - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 02:36 PM EST (#368497) #
19 years of being a meh DH. Nice, but not HOF worthy imo. 124 OPS+ total over those years. 6 of those years he was sub 500 for PA's, 3 under 400 PA (one was 1994 so we give a mulligan on that season).

Just read that Smith got all 16 possible votes, while Baines has the minimum to get in of 12. Yet somehow Albert Belle, who was by any measure other than career length a much, much, much better player only got 4 votes. Same for Orel Hershiser who was much better than Lee Smith. Same for Will Clark who again was far superior to Baines by any measure other than career length.

Idiotic. Also Lou Pinella, he of the one WS title and one WS appearance nearly got in (11 votes) over Davy Johnson (under 4 votes) and of course Cito (2 WS titles) Gaston who wasn't even on the ballot.

Might be time to shut down the vets again after this joke and last years Jack Morris pick and the year before putting Selig in. Yes, it was great for Trammell to get in but those other picks. Ugh.
Richard S.S. - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 04:27 PM EST (#368506) #
Some of this is 'vote for my guy and I will vote for your guy'. Larry Walker gets in the regular way or this way. Probably Fred McGriff gets in this way as well.
aarne13 - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 05:53 PM EST (#368511) #
I think Baines was shocked that he got in.
GabrielSyme - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 06:34 PM EST (#368517) #
Some of us might want to keep an eye on Larry Walker over at Thib's HOF Ballot Tracker. He's added 6 of 17 possible returning voters, which, if continued, implies a gain of over 23%, leaving aside new voters and the loss of ineligible voters. That would take him to 57%, and more than half-way to induction by the BBWAA from his place last year. For what it's worth, he also gained Adam Rubin since 2017 (Rubin's 2018 ballot is unknown). Next year is his last year, and usually that means people take another look at a player.

Walker remains a long shot to get in next year, and I don't expect him to continue to gain votes at the same rate, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility.
Magpie - Monday, December 10 2018 @ 08:55 PM EST (#368526) #
About ten years ago I tried to figure out what the Hall would look like if the same standards were applied to every era in baseball history. This meant a) evicting 13 players for the badly over-represented 1920s - one could easily evict many more, but I didn't want to be that mean - and then making a much, much bigger Hall.  And in that case, Baines did make the cut.

But absent such drastic measures... Baines is the modern George Kelly. He's going to become the poster boy for weird Hall selections. What was actually a pretty fine career will be forgotten, and it's this bizarre choice that will be the first thing mentioned when his name comes up.
Glevin - Tuesday, December 11 2018 @ 02:59 AM EST (#368532) #
"I consider that very impressive period.
And a quick counterpoint to anyone who calls him 'average'.

The average player is not above-average for 19 straight years. By definition."

1) Baines was not "above average for 19 straight years" Above replacement is not the same thing as above average. He had plenty of years as an average player.
2) Nobody is saying Baines was an average player. He was a good player. So is Nick Markakis. So are hundreds of other players. The Jays had 3 1Bmen in McGriff, Delgado, and Olerud who all had better careers than Baines. None are in the OF Dale Murphy is not a HOFer to me but he was much better than Baines. Keither Hernandez had 11 seasons of more than 3 WAR. Baines had 1. There are literally hundreds of players with demonstrably better careers than Baines.
3) There is no reasonable argument that Baines should be in the HoF. His numbers don't stack up or even come close to it. He was not considered an iconic player. He didn't do anything particularly special. It is a baffling and silly pick.
ISLAND BOY - Tuesday, December 11 2018 @ 07:08 AM EST (#368533) #
When you think of the Hall of Fame, you would like to see inductees who were great and had long careers. Don Mattingly was great for a short period of time amassing over 2100 hits in 13 seasons with a career .307 average and 9 Gold Gloves at first base. He, himself, has said that back troubles kept him from playing long enough to make the Hall. Harold Baines was the opposite, just merely good for a long time, taking 9 more seasons to get 700 more hits than Mattingly.

Maybe the definition of a Hall of Famer varies from voter to voter, but if they if they continue to vote in the good to pretty good then they are diminishing the honor of being a member of the Hall.
AWeb - Tuesday, December 11 2018 @ 07:20 AM EST (#368534) #
I'm saying Baines was an average player, although I guess I mean that in the "average starter" sense. He was clearly better than a typical bench player. His Wins Above Average is 1.8 in a 22 year career, so by that stat at least, he was very average. Sometimes worse, sometimes better. A full-time DH with no ability to play the field, which describes Baines for something like a dozen years, is expected to be an above average hitter compared to the league to justify his roster spot.

The most favourable comparison, just his OPS+ compared to other teammates listed as starter at baseball reference (so including catchers and shortstops), he was usually in the top 3 hitters on his own team (5 firsts, 7 seconds, 4 thirds), although some years he was the most common DH on two teams so I counted both. So as a DH, he did manage to be one of the better hitters on his team, most of the time. Makes for a hell of a HoF plaque quote. He also was 4th, 5th (3x), 6th (2x) and 8th. It's not like he was stuck finishing behind other great hitters most of the time.

Contrast with Carlos Delgado, a real outer-edge fringy HoF case due to lack of career length (1512 RBIs might be enough if a committee is stacked for him of course). 8 years with the best OPS+ on his team (6 or 7 in a row for the Jays, so super reliable), 4 more years in top 3, once 5th. No other years where he played enough. Like Baines, added no value anywhere else (bad fielder, bad baserunner), so it was bat and nothing else. Delgado was much better than Baines in every way except tacking on more seasons to start and end his career. Which is something, but not usually a HoF thing.
Magpie - Thursday, December 13 2018 @ 02:55 PM EST (#368731) #
OK, Harold Baines is bad enough. But Def Leppard?
John Northey - Thursday, December 13 2018 @ 04:06 PM EST (#368732) #
I see Delgado, McGriff, Olerud (and non-Jays like Will Clark, Don Mattingly) as part of the 'just under' crowd which is above where Baines should be. They all were viewed at times as among the best in the game but often had short careers. For HOF I prefer burn bright and burn out early. Unless you really accumulate (ie: the 3000 hit, 500 HR, 300 win marks).

Basically, if you never made the top 5 in MVP voting or top 5 in Cy Young voting you probably shouldn't be in the HOF unless you did something really well that voters were unable to figure out in your career. And yes, all the guys I listed did a top 5 MVP (McGriff peaked at #4, Olerud #3, Clark #2, Mattingly won it, Delgado #2). Lee Smith came in 2nd in Cy voting once (top 5 3 times in total). Baines peaked at #9 but 15 other hitters who got MVP votes that year had more WAR than he did - I suspect since it was 1985 he got it due to his 113 RBI's and 300 average - which just makes his election even more bizarre since he was good at things voters for MVP liked (RBIs and average) yet still did poorly overall in that voting (never higher than 9th) and in HOF voting (never higher than 6.1%).
Mike Green - Thursday, December 13 2018 @ 08:36 PM EST (#368752) #
OK, Harold Baines is bad enough. But Def Leppard?

True.  (sorry, couldn't resist).  The RnR Hall of Fame is way too big. 
GabrielSyme - Saturday, December 15 2018 @ 08:32 PM EST (#368793) #
Walker continues to gain ballots at an impressive pace - he's now gained 9 of 23 possible votes from last year, as well as all five new and "other" voters. This pace should take him over 60% this year, which would be an unprecedented gain.
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