Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Harold Baines to the Hall

I'm happy to see that Harold Baines has made the Hall of Fame.  He's always been a favorite of mine.  My 1981 Topps Harold Baines rookie cards were one of the first subjects of a post at this blog.

After I mostly checked out from baseball after the 1994 strike, I've only recently found out how the careers of some of the players I used to watch ended up.  While it would have been unbelievable in 1987 that Don Mattingly wouldn't make the Hall, if you look at his career numbers, it makes sense that he's not in.
A very beat-up 1982 Topps Harold Baines.
What about Baines?  It's just my opinion, but when I look at his career numbers, they look like Hall of Fame numbers to me.  Let me start with WAR: I don't believe that there's a single number that accurately sums up every player's career.  That's how people talk about WAR.  I think most people don't truly understand what WAR is.  I'm glad the Veterans Committees take a broader view.
1990 Fleer All-Star Harold Baines.
1991 Topps Harold Baines.
Let me give some stats: Baines is currently 34th on the all-time RBI list with 1628.  Only 36 players have ever made 1600 RBI.  I think that's pretty impressive.  He also has 384 career home runs and 2866 hits.

How many players have ever made 1600+ RBI, 350+ home runs, and 2500+ hits?  By my count, the answer is 27.  Of these, 19 (including Baines) have made the Hall, 3 are active players, and there are 5 others.  Here are the groupings:

Hall of Fame: Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Murray, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Ken Griffey, Jr., Dave Winfield, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony Perez, Ernie Banks, Harold Baines, and Chipper Jones.

Active players: Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera.

Others: Alex Rodriguez (not yet eligible), Barry Bonds (tainted by steroids), Rafael Palmeiro (tainted by steroids), Manny Ramirez (still on the ballot), Gary Sheffield (tainted by steroids).
Keebler Rangers Harold Baines.
Stuart Super Stars Harold Baines.
I'm not saying that Baines was a slam dunk for the Hall.  But he has a credible case.  His career numbers are very similar to some other enshrined players, such as Tony Perez and Robin Yount, for example.  In addition to Perez, Baseball Reference also puts him as being most similar to Al Kaline, Dave Parker, Billy Williams, and Andre Dawson.  Other than Parker, they're all in the Hall, and I hope that Parker will be one day, too.  After that, Baseball Reference also puts him as similar to Rusty Staub and Dwight Evans, among others, who of course aren't in the Hall.  I guess the online consensus is that he should fall on the Staub and Evans side of Cooperstown, but for myself, I am pleased that the Veterans Committee decided otherwise.

Side note: the last two cards here were cards I bought at COMC sometime in the past year, while the first three have been in my collection for decades.  Does anyone know what Stuart, of the Stuart Super Stars card, was? 

I understand the arguments against; your mileage may vary.  Thanks for reading!

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