For years the National Baseball Hall of Fame made sure their membership was pretty elite. That’s not to say there wasn’t a debatable induction here or there but by and large, the writers and committees did a fine job. This year when they announced that Harold Baines would be one of the newest members, that’s when the floodgates opened and now so many names are coming up.
It’s not hard to find players with numbers similar to Baines. Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez have been mentioned for various reasons. Don’t start with home runs with those two it’s a lot of other reasons. Larry Walker is another, even though his career average in Colorado rose from .281 in Montreal to .331 in the higher elevation. He also hit a staggering 49 home runs there. In Montreal, he never hit more than 23. Baseball Reference lists Jim Edmonds and he’s another that is close to Walker, more gold gloves, less RBI’s more home runs. My point is there are a ton of players who once they don’t have to hit 500 home runs or have 3,000 hits will now be brought up on social media and sports talk radio as possibilities.
As I’m writing this there are petitions being started for certain players who the Hall has denied over the years. Gil Hodges is one. Dick Allen is another. Edgar Martinez is always in there and my personal selection is catcher Ted Simmons.
Simmons caught 1,771 games good for 16th all-time. Baines played 1,061 in the outfield and 1,643 at DH. Is it harder to catch? You know the answer. Baines was in six all-star games and Simmons was in eight. Seven times Simmons was in MVP voting, he never got higher than sixth. Baines was on four ballots, he was never higher than ninth. Simmons had five seasons in the top 10 for OPS, Baines had three.
I won’t compare catcher numbers to a hitter, but what’s interesting here is the impact each had on the sport and Simmons had more impact. Baines was a fantastic player. We all worried about it becoming the “Hall of the very good” and now we’re one step closer.
Tony LaRussa calls Baines detractors “weak”. He was his manager and saw the best out of this terrific player. But that doesn’t mean he should be in.
The funny thing is steroids haven’t even been a part of the Baines gripe. If it has, I haven’t seen it or heard about it. This is about being a “compiler” and that’s just a phrase that’s used when a player gets big numbers over a long career. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it just means that this is their chance to get in the Hall rather than other achievements like awards or championships.
The Baseball Hall of Fame might as well start Twitter polls to see who gets in next? It would be entertaining.