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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Harold Baines

Eligible in 2007.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:06 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 21, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2586452)
If he only had 134 more hits, he would have 3,000 hits! Of course, he would still be off my ballot, but...
   2. Juan V Posted: October 21, 2007 at 09:00 PM (#2586526)
Did the strike(s) cost him those 134 hits? That "what if" world is fun to speculate about...
   3. Chris Fluit Posted: October 21, 2007 at 09:05 PM (#2586530)
I've long theorized that the franchise hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles was the Montreal Expos. Without the strike of 1994, the Expos had a very good shot at the playoffs. If they make the playoffs that year, and especially if they win the World Series, then they make enough revenue that they don't have to sell off quite as many players quite as quickly. They still weren't going to be the Yankees or the Braves, but they could have held onto that core for a little longer and made one or more postseason runs before losing their top players. Those postseason appearances would have appeased the fan base and they wouldn't have become the nomadic laughingstock they turned into. No labor stoppage and we still have a team in Montreal. Labor stoppage and we have the Montreal-San Juan-Washington gypsies.

I think that Harold Baines is the individual hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles. He missed time in 1981 and again in '94/'95. Based on his hits per game rate during his career and during those seasons, Baines would have easily picked up another 134 hits. There's no way a DH with little power like Baines gets into the Hall of Fame with 2850 hits. But the Hall of Fame does like those magical numbers. With the labor stoppages, Baines doesn't come close to the Hall of Fame. Without them, Baines would have had sizable support.

It doesn't matter as much for the Hall of Merit. We don't place the same kind of emphasis on magic numbers (say hello, Sam Rice). But neither do we have such an extreme aversion to a DH. I don't think he makes either Hall, but the missing time creates a bigger what if for Baines than any other player.
   4. karlmagnus Posted: October 21, 2007 at 09:13 PM (#2586539)
Fairly clearly below Rusty Staub, who also lost hits in '81, though not as many obviously.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:01 PM (#2586639)
I think that Harold Baines is the individual hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles.

Tim Raines?
   6. The District Attorney Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:24 PM (#2586668)
Even if Baines had gotten the 3,000 hits, I don't think he'd be elected to the HOF. Eventually, there is going to be someone with 3,000 hits, 500 HR or 300 wins (well, the latter is by far the least likely, but it's possible, anyway) who, even in spite of no "moral" objections, fails to make the HOF. These "clubs" developed, not because anyone decided that 3,000/500/300 was great and 2,999/499/299 was crap, but because everyone who hit those numbers turned out to be a great player anyway. If Dave Kingman had hit 500 HR, he would have broken this barrier. And if Baines had gotten 3,000 hits, it would have been him. Neither did, so it'll be someone else.

It's still an interesting "what if...", but I'd distinguish that from an "if only..." :-) It'll always be hypothetical, obviously, but I just can't see them electing a guy who put up most of his numbers as a platoon DH who couldn't move, and yet who only drove in 100 three times and never even hit 30 HR. (An unfair characterization of his career, admittedly, but not really all that unfair, and anyway, I think that's how the writers would see it.)

Of course, he was a totally different player before the knee problems, and that's an interesting "what if..." too.

Did you realize he never scored more than 89 runs? Good gravy.
   7. AndrewJ Posted: October 21, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2586673)
I think that Harold Baines is the individual hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles

Tommy John & Bert Blylven would have had 290+ wins without the 1981 strike. Without the strike, some team would have signed them for an extra season to get win #300, and they'd have already made it to the HOF.
   8. DL from MN Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:54 AM (#2586981)
Blyleven got his extra season in 1992, he stunk.

Back to Baines - not quite Staub is a fair assessment. Makes the spreadsheet, won't ever make the ballot.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 22, 2007 at 12:57 AM (#2587002)
I think that Harold Baines is the individual hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles.


I thought it was the fans.

Please send your votes for me for the Mr. Populist contest right away!
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: October 22, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2587737)
I thought it was those 16 umps that didn't get their job back. Oh, wrong labor unrest.
   11. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 22, 2007 at 03:45 AM (#2588247)
Tommy John & Bert Blylven would have had 290+ wins without the 1981 strike. Without the strike, some team would have signed them for an extra season to get win #300, and they'd have already made it to the HOF.

Tommy John pitched until he was 46. He was terrible at age 46, going 2-7 with an ERA of almost 6 an more walks than strikeouts.

Blyleven was sub-replacement level at age 39, didn't pitch at age 40, and was rotten at age 41.

As for the Expos the team worst hurt by the strike, Baines's old team, the White Sox, deserve a mention. They had a great young core and it looked like it was Their Year. Strike happens. Worse yet, owner Jerry Reinsdorf is clearly visible as a hardline owner pushing for the strike, seemingly prioritizing his economic bottom line over his chances at a title. The strike ends, his team's pitching falters and the team that looked like it was set for a mini-dynasty can't compete with Cleveland. Between the disappointment and anger at Reinsdorf attendance falters even worse for the Sox than for baseball as a whole. No one had complained much about the park before, but suddenly everyone starts grousing about it. A downward spiral sets up, and by 1999 they're only drawing half of what they had the year before. They win the division in 2000, and still only draw 80% as much per game as they had in 1994. They cleared 30,000+ per game every year from 1991-4 (yes the stadium change helped, but it wasn't just that), but never averaged 25,000 until 2005.

I think that Harold Baines is the individual hurt the most by baseball's labor troubles.

I thought it was the fans.

Based on how that was worded, "the fans" can't be the answer.

Baines was the first White Sox to hit 150 homers. Pathetic, innit?

Unless someone can prove otherwise, I say that Baines had the most career homers among those who never hit 30 in a season.
   12. Chris Fluit Posted: October 22, 2007 at 06:24 AM (#2588508)
In reply to post #6: I have a feeling that Jim Thome might be the first member of the 500-home run club to fall short of the HoF.
   13. AndrewJ Posted: October 22, 2007 at 10:44 AM (#2588525)
Unless someone can prove otherwise, I say that Baines had the most career homers among those who never hit 30 in a season.

Al Kaline says hi.
   14. Paul Wendt Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:16 PM (#2590008)
Of course, he was a totally different player before the knee problems, and that's an interesting "what if..." too.

Did you realize he never scored more than 89 runs? Good gravy.


Which player was replaced by pinch-runner more times than any other?

How much should u"ber-stats credit pinch-runners and debit their batters?
   15. Paul Wendt Posted: October 23, 2007 at 01:21 PM (#2590016)
Tim Raines - did he lose out on the consecutive steals record?
or lose something in 1981? Not rookie of the year, unless Fernando would have burst

Eddie Murray reached 504 career with personal best 33 in a season. Wrong question.
   16. OCF Posted: October 28, 2007 at 06:57 PM (#2597191)
I finally put Baines into my old scaled RCAA-based offensive system. What an amazingly flat career! Those of you who are used to what my charts look like, here's his line:

39 34 29 29 27 26 21 19 19 18 16 15 15 14 13 12 11 08 00 -1 -10 -15

I have some ways of combining this together and comparing it that I like for looking at careers of different shapes. In his case, I'd be willing to compare him closely to, say, Brian Downing and Al Oliver. That's a good player, of course, but not someone I'll take seriously when it comes time to vote - not that offense in a corner outfielder (with DH time).
   17. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 28, 2007 at 07:11 PM (#2597197)
Harold Baines played 12 consecutive seasons after his jersey number was retired by the White Sox.

Yeah, that might have been a bit premature...
   18. DCW3 Posted: October 28, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2597201)
Baines was the first White Sox to hit 150 homers. Pathetic, innit?

Bill Melton hit 154 homers with the White Sox.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 28, 2007 at 07:29 PM (#2597203)
Harold Baines played 12 consecutive seasons after his jersey number was retired by the White Sox.

Yeah, that might have been a bit premature...


Including four seasons with the White Sox!
   20. apprenti23 Posted: January 30, 2008 at 02:25 AM (#2679363)
this is why Harold deserves to be in:
-is baseballs all-time leader among designated hitters with 1,688 hits and 1,643 games played
-ranks second with 978 RBI and 769 runs scored
-tied for second (Frank Thomas) with 235 home runs and third with 293 doubles
-is the only player to make 1,000 appearances as a designated hitter and play at least 1,000 games at another position (1,061 in the outfield)
-reached double figures in home runs for 21 straight seasons from 1981-2000
-hit above .300 eight times
-drove in 100-plus runs three times
-at age 40 in 1999, combined to hit .312 (134-430) with 25 home runs and 103 RBI with Baltimore and Cleveland and earned a spot on the AL All-Star Team
* my favorite* -combined to hit .324 (33-102) in 31 career postseason games

If these do not look like a hall of famer's stats than I don't know what consists of a hall of fame player... You guys must remember Harold was a DH. And I must say he is the best DH to ever play the game (so far).
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 30, 2008 at 02:35 AM (#2679372)
Surely McGriff is a candidate for player hurt most by the stoppages. He easily eclipses 500 HR without it, and he lost a probable 40 homer season, which would have been his only one.
   22. Boots Day Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:06 AM (#2679393)
David Cone probably lost two 20-win seasons in 1994 and 1995. I don't think they would have put him in the HoF, but they would have been nice to have anyway.
   23. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:07 AM (#2679395)
If these do not look like a hall of famer's stats than I don't know what consists of a hall of fame player.

Well, then...
   24. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:14 AM (#2679406)
I'll add what I wrote about Baines in Jesus' thread about him from a couple months ago:

Here's the Keltner List for Harold Baines:

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

No. Never. Not once in his life.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

He may have been generally the best player on the mostly bad White Sox teams of the early-mid 1980s. Other than that, no.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

No. His career as a full-time DH mostly overlaps Edgar Martinez'. I also prefer to lump DHs in with first basemen and corner outfielders for this kind of exercise, in which case you're also comparing him to Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, et. al.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

One or two with the Orioles, I guess. Nothing notable.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?


Obviously, yes, thanks to the DH rule.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

I doubt he's in the top 20. Certainly not in the top five.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Sort of. His top statistical comp, Tony Perez, is, but Perez is kind of weakish for a Hall of Famer. #2 is Al Kaline (Jesus' article details these comparisons), and he's in, and #4 is Billy Williams and he's in. The rest of his top 10 comps is not in the Hall of Fame, though Andre Dawson (#5) probably will be, and Fred McGriff (#10) conceivably could be, what with all the steroids mania.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

No. Baines scores between below-average and poor on any statistical HoF standards test you want to use -- and that's when comparing him to the current Hall of Famers, only one of which was mostly a DH (Paul Molitor, whose qualifications are far, far ahead of Baines'.)

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

No. This question is basically the defense/clutch clause, since this list mainly evaluates offensive and regular season numbers. That doesn't much help a full-time DH, and Baines doesn't have much of a postseason portfolio.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

If you consider his "position" to be DH, no; he'd be #2, after Edgar Martinez. If you take what in my opinion is the more reasonable stance that his "position" was DH/1B, then he slides down the list some more, behind McGriff and Will Clark, just to name two guys.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Baines had a couple hellacious seasons, with OPS+ figures in the low 140s, but he never got a sniff of the MVP award. His career-best finish in MVP voting was 9th, and he finished in the top 20 only four times, the last of them in 1985, when he was 26. While he was compiling all those great numbers, his contemporaries clearly did not consider him a great player.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

He played in six All-Star games--and by the way, six is not an impressive number in a Hall of Fame context--and a Baines fan could argue he maybe should have played in a couple more, eight or nine, maybe.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

No way in hell. Not unless all of the other eight guys were Baines minus 5% and they had a good pitching staff. Baines played in only one World Series, in 1990, when the Athletics picked him up at the trade deadline.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

Nothing notable. I guess you could give him some Molitor/Martinez type credit for legitimizing the idea of the full-time DH, but that's a stretch in this discussion.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Absolutely, as far as we know.

...

Does that sound like a strong Hall of Fame résumé to anybody?

The Keltner List just slaughters Harold Baines' candidacy, and he can't even take advantage of the loopholes provided by #9 and #14.
   25. OCF Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:18 AM (#2679409)
I'm not sure that post #20 deserves a response, but I'll respond anyway. DH is a role, not a position. There should be no affirmative quota for DH's - nothing that says we have to elect a DH. I think it makes no difference at all how much he contributed with his bat as a DH; it makes all the difference in the world how much he contributed as a hitter.

Let's compare Baines to Al Oliver. Baines had 11092 PA in 2830 games while Oliver had 9778 PA in 2368 games. Baines had a longer career than Oliver but you can see that expressing it in games overstates the difference; the difference in PA gives a clearer idea.

Baines: .289/.356/.465, 2866 H, 384 HR.
Oliver: .303/.344/.451, 2743 H, 219 HR.

But wait a minute: Baines played in higher scoring leagues and times than Oliver did. It's really not fair to compare those stats straight up. Indeed, Oliver had a 121 OPS+ for his career to Baines's 120. So let's look at the bb-ref stat equalizer, to the "standard" 715 run environment. (One thing this seems to do is to fill in bulk for strike-shortened seasons.) After that, we have:

Baines: .291/.357/.468, 2993 H, 402 HR.
Oliver: .316/.358/.468, 2994 H, 234 HR.

So there it is: Oliver had the higher BA, Baines hit more HR and drew more walks. Overall, it's a wash, except for the advantage Baines had in bulk numbers (career length).

But there's another difference: defense.

Baines played 1061 games in the field, nearly all of them in RF. (He had 30 games in CF).
Oliver played 2109 games in the field, 835 of them in CF. (The rest were a mixture of 1B, LF, and RF.)

Post #30 is trying to claim as a positive virtue for Baines that he played a thousand fewer games in the field than Oliver. I'm sorry; that arrow points in the direction of Oliver having more value because he had more defensive value.

I'm not saying that I won't consider a DH for the Hall of Merit. But I'm saying that if you show me a DH and a LF/1B of equal offensive value, and that LF/1B isn't a horrendous butcher, I'll opt for the man who wore the glove. The DH could still get in, but he'd have to have enough additional offensive value to overcome the defensive value in the other direction.

Baines versus Oliver on offensive grounds comes down to the extreme length of Baines's career versus Oliver's slightly higher peak. Whichever way that leans, it isn't by much. But 800 games in CF tips the scales.

If these do not look like a hall of famer's stats than I don't know what consists of a hall of fame player...

Flipping that around: does he look like more of a hall of fame player than Al Oliver?
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:21 AM (#2679413)
My opinion concerning DHs is that they should be considered right alongside first basemen and corner outfielders; being a DH, as opposed to a 1B, is just something that happens.

So Baines' competition isn't just Edgar Martinez and nobody else, and Baines doesn't deserve to go in as some kind of pioneer. Baines' merits have to be compared to those of, for instance, Fred McGriff's and Will Clark's and Mickey Vernon's, not to mention George Foster's and Dwight Evans' and a bunch of other guys. Baines isn't close.
   27. Boots Day Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:29 AM (#2679418)
He may have been generally the best player on the mostly bad White Sox teams of the early-mid 1980s.

The White Sox were over .500 four of the five years from 1981 to 1985, including a 99-win season in 1983.
   28. OCF Posted: January 30, 2008 at 03:30 AM (#2679420)
B von A: I'm in full agreement on your main point. For the particulars, since I have Baines filed as a corner outfielders, I tend to make comparison to other outfielders and OF/DH combinations. I used Oliver above; I could also have used Brian Downing or Chili Davis. Someone like Foster is a tricky match because of the very different career shape. You mention Mickey Vernon: I happen to like Vernon significantly ahead of Baines. I even had Vernon on a HoM ballot once or twice. Will Clark, Dwight Evans, and probably Fred McGriff are well ahead of Baines for most of us (and we elected Clark and Evans).

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