Today is the day, that special day, the second-best day of the year.
The first is obviously Opening Day, but today is the announcement of the newest class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
For those who don’t know, players are voted in through the BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America). The BBWAA is a professional organization of baseball journalists who vote on several offseason awards, including the Hall of Fame.
Every year, BBWAA writers receive a ballot with a list of players. They may select up to 10. Players who are considered must get 75 percent of the vote in order to be elected. If a player doesn’t receive more than five percent of the ballot, they are eliminated.
Players have a maximum of 10 years on the ballot, something that applies to players who don’t get elected or eliminated in their first year…like Edgar Martinez. Speaking of Edgar, go read my article about him since in his final year of eligibility, a decade of waiting, he will get elected in.
You know the basics, now let’s look at the case of Harold Douglas Baines. Baines was eligible in 2007, but never got more than 6.1 percent of the vote, and fell off after five years on the ballot.
If a player falls off the ballot or doesn’t get 75 percent, their case moves to the Veterans Committee, a 16-member committee that will determine their fate.
They look at players in four different eras: Today’s Game, Modern Baseball, Golden Days and Early Baseball, that rotate year-to-year.
Players still need 75 percent, but far less votes, just 12 instead of over 300.
This year was the Today’s Game era, 1988-present. Somehow, someway, Baines’ got 12 votes and was elected along with Lee Smith to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
For those who don’t know Baines, he played for 22 years, recording 2866 hits, 488 doubles, 384 home runs, 1628 RBI, 1299 runs scored, hitting .289/.356/.465 with an .820 OPS and 121 OPS+ as a DH and outfielder. That’s not a bad career.
However, Baines had what people call a compiler career, playing way past his prime to boost his career numbers for the Hall. He was born in the 1950s and was still playing baseball in 2001.
Baines had a career WAR of 38.7, 74th all-time among right fielders, a position he played less than half of his career at: 1061 of 2830 career games. Baines never had a single-season WAR higher than 4.3.
Here’s a list of some players who’ve had a higher single-season WAR than Harold Baines: Justin Thompson (7.7, LOOK AT THAT PITCHING MOTION. WHAT IS THAT???), Pat Hentgen (8.6), Bernard Gilkey (8.1), John Valentin (8.3), Randy Velarde (7.0), Chien-Ming Wang (6.0), Chone Figgins (7.7) and Andrelton Simmons (7.0).
Baines led either league in just one statistic his entire career, a .541 slugging percentage in 1984, not even one of the best 500 or maybe 1,000 best single-season slugging percentages in MLB history.
Brian Giles, a right fielder, had four seasons with a better slugging percentage than Baines and a better career average, slugging, on-base, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. In 1000 less games, Giles has 13 more career wins above replacement than Baines. Yep, that Brian Giles.
Baines’ best single-season OPS was .943 in 1995, not even finishing in the top 10. Chris Davis in 2013 had a OPS that was .061 higher than Baines.
In 2018, the same Chris Davis had THE WORST QUALIFYING YEAR OF ANY HITTER IN MLB HISTORY. He hit .168 in 470 at-bats with a .539 OPS, 50 OPS+ and a -2.8 WAR. So basically, Baines is worse than the worst hitter in MLB history.
And it’s not like as a DH he was far and away the best. There’s a reason why the award for best DH is called the Edgar Martinez Award, not the Harold Baines Award.
Baines does not deserve to have a plaque in Cooperstown, and that’s of no disrespect to him. He had a great career, just not good enough to be among names like Ruth, Mantle, Cobb, Young, Williams, Clemente or Griffey Jr.
What does this mean for the Hall? Hopefully, this is just a blip on the radar. This can’t happen again. Baines is the worst player to be elected into the Hall, possibly the first person to get less than five percent of the vote and still get elected.
When a player doesn’t get five percent of the ballot, they aren’t good enough. Baines wasn’t good enough.
Hey voters, for the future, if a player doesn’t get five percent, they aren’t good enough. Don’t let them get in.
What did we learn here? Brian Giles is better than Harold Baines and if Baines is good enough to get voted in, so is Giles.
Also, Chris Davis is really, really bad and the Orioles wasted $161 million on him over seven years.