Lee Smith while with St. Louis

The latest iteration of the Veteran’s Committee just completed its voting for the Hall of Fame. We have two winners and a very close. Congratulations are in order for Lee Smith who was a unanimous selection for the Hall and for Harold Baines who made it in with the minimum vote. Lou Piniella missed enshrinement by a single vote.

How do I feel about this? I’ve come to the conclusion that the Veteran’s Committee stumbled again. It’s not like Lee Smith is a terrible choice. As a reliever he was good at his job, having at one time held the saves record. It seems “saves” are the one number that people fixate on when it comes to relievers and if you held the record, you had to be pretty good at your job. I recall that earlier I predicated Smith would get in, but I also noted he would not get my vote (as if he cares what I think). Over his years on the ballot, he managed to peak around 50% of the voting. So I ask myself if the Hall of Fame is strengthened by the addition of Lee Smith. Probably not, at least not significantly. Is it weakened? Maybe, but again probably not significantly. There are a lot worse players in the Hall of Fame.

Among those is Harold Baines. Baines was a good, solid player who at one time held the White Sox record for hits (I don’t know if he still does) and hit .289 with 384 home runs, 1628 RBIs, and 38.7 WAR, with a WAR peak of 4.3 in 1984 (the only time he was above 3.5–he had one 3.4). That 38.7 ties him with Juan Gonzalez and Magglio Ordonez, both of which should, apparently, start composing their Hall of Fame induction speeches (Yuck). At least Gonzalez won a couple of home run titles and was a two-time MVP. Baines managed to stay on the writer’s ballot less than 10 years and peaked around 6% of the vote. Asking the same question, “does the election of Harold Baines strengthen the Hall of Fame?” I get the feeling it doesn’t. Does it weaken the Hall, again, probably not, because there are worse players in the Hall of Fame now, but it doesn’t help.

Frankly, I’d have been much happier had the Baines/Piniella vote been reversed. Lou Piniella was a good player (although I’ll admit Baines was better), but he was also a fine manager. It seems the Veteran’s Committee stumbled again.

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7 Responses to “Stumbles”

  1. Miller Says:

    I’m not a Piniella guy, but this stumble would have been a whole lot less bad had the committee done what you suggest. Sad days.

    • verdun2 Says:

      To be clear, I’m not sure Sweet Lou would have been that great a pick, it’s just that I’d like him over Baines.
      “Sad days.” What a wonderful summation.

      • Miller Says:

        Ooh, I absolutely LOVE Lou Whitaker. I rank him 14th at second base, though I think 12th through 16th would be acceptable.I think if they elected only the 1980s Lou Whitaker that he’d be a clearly better choice than Baines.

      • verdun2 Says:

        I was referring to Sweet Lou Piniella, but I agree on Sweet Lou Whitaker.

  2. wkkortas Says:

    Frankly, it’s time to either seriously re-structure the Veteran’s Committee, which has always been the source of the most egregious errors in terms of Cooperstown enshrinement, or junk it all together. The election of smith is questionable at best, and Baines’ election, while he was a fine player, is a bad joke.

  3. rjkitch13 Says:

    I agree with you, V. There are many good players not in the Hall at this time that are a lot better than Smith, Pinella, or Baines.

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