Hall of Fame Ballot Review – Harold Baines

Around this time last year, I went through and reviewed the case for a number of players for the Hall of Fame, and whether or not I thought that they deserved to be enshrined in the Hall. I’ll be doing this again this year, and for players I reviewed previously, I will revisit my vote and see if it has changed in a year’s time. Theoretically, this should remain the same, but there’s always a chance I am now a whole year wiser than I was last year. Today’s candidate is one that I looked at last year, Harold Baines

Baines was eligible for the Hall for the fourth time in the 2010 class (2009), and you can find what I wrote last year below. He finished the voting last year with 33 votes out of a possible 539 ballots (6.1%), well shy of enshrinement. He has hovered right between 5 % and 6 %, and 33 last year was his high water mark.

Baseball Reference.com Profile

Career Accomplishments
2866 hits
384 home runs
6 All Star Appearances
120 OPS+
11 20 home run seasons
3 100 rbi seasons
13 20+ double seasons

The Case for Baines
Baines was one of the top designated hitters of the 80’s and 90’s, amassing 2866 career hits, 488 doubles, 384 home runs, and a career line of .289/.356/.465. He made 6 All-Star appearances, and had a career OPS+ of 120.

The Case Against Baines
Baines became a full-time designated hitter after the 1987 season due to knee problems. Unfortunately for him, that was only a mere 6 seasons into his career. 384 homeruns is also a fairly low total considering the era he played in.

The first thing that stands out to me about Baines is the length of his career. I was very curious to see if his career totals were a product of prolonged excellence, or simply having a long career. So let’s take a look at his single seasonnumbers and determine whether he had that period of dominance in him or not.

He appears to have shown some flashes of dominance, posting 3 straight seasons (1989-1991) with an OPS+ over 130. His best season appears to have been 1984, when he posted an OPS+ of 142, with a .304/.361/.541 with 29 homers, 94 rbi, 28 doubles, 10 triples. From 1982-1987, Baines had at least 50 extra base hits and 81 rbi. He also had 4 seasons with 10 outfield assists or more during that time.

Overall, I think that Baines had a very good career. 2800+ hits and 300+ home runs are definitely the hallmarks of a very good hitter. But I just don’t see anything in either his season-to-season numbers or his career totals that really strike me as a dominant hitter, or worthy of the Hall of Fame.


My Thoughts for This Year

I really haven’t put a whole lot of thought into his case when compared to last season, but as I look at the numbers he just doesn’t jump out at me as a player to enshrine in the Hall of Fame. One thing I did look at this year that I really didn’t look too much at last year was who a player did in the statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Using Baseball-Reference’s WAR calculation, Baines had a career WAR of 37.0 (38.1 on offense, -1.1 on defense). They view any season where a hitter posted a 5.0 or greater WAR as an All-Star caliber season, and Baines had none of those. The highest number of his career was 3.7 in 1991, and for a player who was primarily a designated hitter, his offensive numbers just don’t seem strong enough to me to warrant election.

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