Posts Tagged ‘Harold Baines’

Nine Thoughts on the Class of 2019

January 23, 2019

Roy Halladay

The voters have spoken in both the Veteran’s Committee (whatever they call it today) and among the writers. There are six new member of the Hall of Fame. In keeping with my traditional use of nine, here’s a few thoughts on the class of 2019.

1. Congratulations to Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith on their election to Cooperstown.

2. I’m gratified to see someone finally get all the votes in the BBWAA election. I’m certain Mariano Rivera shouldn’t have been the first (see, Ruth, Babe; Aaron, Henry), but I’m happy someone finally made it.

3. Mike Mussina came as close as you can to failing enshrinement. That’s a shame, he was a terrific pitcher who, like Sandy Koufax, quit when he seemed to still have plenty in the tank. I’d have liked to see more of him, but he made the decision he felt best for himself. So far, he doesn’t have the same glow as Koufax (as a pitcher who went out on top).

4. Harold Baines still is an awful choice, but I hope he, his family, and his fans enjoy the induction ceremony.

5. Both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds failed inclusion again. They each got around 60% of the vote (actually 59.5 and 59.1). Clemens turned out to receive two more votes than Bonds. I’m not sure how you justify voting for one and not the other and I do not expect the 2 guys who did to explain it.

6. Which leads to the question, are they ever getting in? There are too many variables for me to make a valid prediction, but my guess (and that’s all it is) is that both will either make it in their 10th and final try so that the writers can say they punished them as long as the could, or that the writers will kick the can down the road and let the Veteran’s Committee make the call. That call will, of course, depend on who the preliminary committee puts on the ballot. That action should tell us what the keepers of the keys to the cathedral think of Clemens and Bonds.

7. Curt Shilling came closest to getting in of all the people not chosen. He’s moving steadily up and has three years remaining on the ballot. I think that bodes well for his election. Listen, I don’t think much of his politics, and I’d hate for him to espouse them at a Cooperstown ceremony, but enshrinement should be based on his career, not his politics.

8. Larry Walker has one year left on the ballot and made a major jump this time. Maybe he makes it in 2020.

9. Fred McGriff missed out for the 10th and final time. Look for him to appear on the next ballot for which he is eligible. With the support he got this time, there’s a good chance he gets in (see Smith, Lee).

 

The Ending of Another Season: 2018

December 31, 2018

Shohei Ohtani

Most years I do an end of season post in nine points (because there are nine innings) with some random thoughts on the just completed year. Here it is for 2018:

1. Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. Between 2001 and 2018 Boston has four World Championships. Between 1901 and 1918, the BoSox won five. I can’t help but wonder if they have one more in them or if they’ll follow-up the 2018 run the same way they did the 1918 run. After losing in 1919, they let Babe Ruth go. If they fail to win in 1919, watch to see if Mookie Betts is traded.

2. Speaking of Betts. He had a heck of an 2018 and seems poised to continue at the highest level for some time. I’m not a particular fan of his, but I like to see good players excel.

3. The Dodgers lost the World Series for the second consecutive year. Dave Roberts played all the percentages again and the Bums blew it again. Improvise, Dave, just once, will ya.

4. I got to watch the Angels a couple of times this year. Mike Trout is terrific and Albert Pujols used to be terrific. I wonder if the Angels might consider dropping him to sixth or so in the lineup. He’s no longer a three or four hole hitter. It’s a shame that the newer fans don’t get to see just how good Pujols was at his height.

5. And while we’re on getting to see stuff, it’s getting increasingly difficult to actually watch a game. They’re getting longer and longer and getting to be more and more the same. Lots of home runs, lots of strikeouts, and a mind numbing number of pitchers. I’ve come to the conclusion that the average Major League right-handed pitcher can’t throw a ball to a left-handed hitter and that lefties can’t throw to a right-hander. I wonder how someone who can’t get out a hitter who swings from the opposite side of the plate managed to make the big leagues. I keep waiting for a 25 man roster that includes four infielders, three outfielders, two catchers, and 16 pitchers. Is it just me, or do all the things designed to speed up the game end up slowing it down? It’s probably me. It usually is.

6. How much you want to bet that Christian Yelich is happy to be out of South Florida? Now the question becomes is 2018 a fluke for him?

7. Congratulations are also in order for Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, and Jim Thome for making the Hall of Fame as the class of 2018.

8. Harold Baines made the Hall of Fame, along with Lee Smith. Does anyone on the 2019 Veteran’s Committee know how to read a stat sheet?

9. Shohei Ohtani did the best Babe Ruth impression since the Babe himself. Let’s see how that holds up.

That’s a bit of a look at the 2018 season. Now on to 2019 and we’ll see if MLB notices it’s the 150th anniversary of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the so-called First Professional Baseball Team and if they bother to note it’s the 100th anniversary of the Black Sox Scandal. Don’t hold your breath waiting for either.

The Limits of Knowledge

December 13, 2018

With the recent election of Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame there is a lot of comment going on about the entire election process. I have to admit to having added my share. But whether the election is problematic or not, and I feel it is, it brings up some things we need to note.

Over at the Hall of Miller and Eric website, a site each of you should go visit often, there’s an article that’s titled “Harold Baines is the Single Worst Hall of Fame Choice Ever,” written by the Miller of Miller and Eric. On the face of just the headline, that sounds, considering some of the earlier Hall picks, like one of the most idiotic articles ever written. But if you delve below the headline and actually read the article, he makes a great deal of sense. His basic point is that with the glut of information available today versus what was known 20 or 30 or 50 years ago, Baines is a more terrible choice than anyone else, because we have more knowledge than we had back that 20 or 30 or 50 years ago.

The Hall of Fame was founded in the mid-1930s. The first crop of inductees was a fairly obvious pick (Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner alphabetically). All but Mathewson were still alive and most of the voters had seen much of the career of all five. But frankly, there wasn’t a lot of “modern” information available. By modern, I mean the huge log of statistics. Macmillan hadn’t yet published its Encyclopedia, Bill James wasn’t born, BaseballReference.Com wasn’t even a cock-eyed idea yet. What you had were newspaper accounts if you could find them, a handful of Spaudling Guides, Reach Guides, the Elias people and whatever else you could find. And you had the “I” and “eye” tests (“I saw him with my own eyes”). All of those were well and good, but weren’t at all complete.

Back a few years ago I ran a series of articles postulating a Hall of Fame as if it was erected in Cincinnati in 1901 and inducted at least one person each year until the real Hall of Fame was built. I was allowed to use only the information that I could find for the period. There was no WAR or OPS+ or triple slash line. There weren’t even saves yet. There were frequently no walk or strikeout totals. Sometimes there was no fielding information available at all. Frankly, I thought I did a pretty good job with what I had. But I also realized that I was putting in some guys that probably didn’t deserve a spot in Cincinnati’s hallowed halls because I have access today to information unavailable to me in 1910 that told me “You probably got this one wrong, Slick.” One thing I didn’t have available for use was the “Eye” or “I” test, even I’m not that old.

And those sorts of things caused the original Hall voters, and the people who followed them to make some interesting choices. Apparently there were articles at the time (I’ve run across a couple old newspapers that say it) indicating that Candy Cummings invented the curve ball. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but the people voting had that info and used it to put in what to me is a terrible choice. There are other choices like that, not to mention the cronyism that has plagued the Hall voting since its beginning.

It’s tough to call Baines the “worst choice ever” based on who’s in the Hall of Fame, but you have to give something of a pass to the guys who didn’t have the information we have available today. They made mistakes, but many of them were in good faith. But when you take a look at how much information we have today the Baines pick becomes, as the Hall of Miller and Eric guys point out, pretty much indefensible. You can, if you want, make the argument that stats are subject to interpretation and subject to which you determine are important and which are not. And that’s true. But it would take a strange and long set of interpretations and determinations to put Baines in the Hall.

And before I finish I have a complaint. I’ve read a few people attacking Baines himself for his election. Quit that, people. You want to yell at someone for it, yell at the group that put together the ballot or at the 12 men who voted for Baines, not at Baines himself. All he did was put up numbers and play a game he loved. He didn’t create this problem.

Stumbles

December 10, 2018

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.

Thoughts on the 2018 Modern Game Ballot

November 14, 2018

Albert Belle and bat

A couple of days ago I posted the names from the Modern Game Veteran’s Committee ballot. I promised to make some comments later. Knowing how much you were dying to read them, I decided to carry out that promise.

The first two thoughts are both sides of the same issue. It wouldn’t hurt me if any one of the listed players (Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Joe Carter, Orel Hershiser, Lee Smith) made the Hall of Fame. It also wouldn’t make me jump for joy. It’s not a bad list. It also isn’t an inspiring one.

I look at Baines and Carter as solid players, excellent contributors to their teams and to the game, but I can say that about hundreds of players. Belle was a superior power hitter, arguably the most feared slugger in the game. Clark was a good and sometimes great players who helped his team. So did both pitchers. And so did a lot of other players.

For the managers (Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella) my problem lies in the fact that their are other managers equally qualified for the Hall of Fame (Danny Murtaugh and Jim Leyland come to mind). All three have rings and both Johnson and Piniella also have rings as players (two in Piniella’s case). But as I read the rules the committee is allowed to consider only their managerial record.

Which brings me to George Steinbrenner, the only executive on the list. He was probably the most controversial man in baseball for much of his career as owner of the New York Yankees. Some of the controversy was overblown, much justified, much of his own making. He was abrasive, overbearing, and dedicated to winning. Apparently so was Sam Breadon of the Cardinals.

And much of my problem is that when I see this list, I see a hundred other players, fifty other managers, a dozen other executives and ask “why this list?” It seems to me if you have to ask why you probably don’t have a lot of genuine Hall of Famers on the list.

The Hall gives committee members five votes. This time I’ll use only one. I’ll hold my nose and vote for Steinbrenner. I think his contributions to the revival and continued excellence of the Yanks is both notable and worthy.

And as a guess, and it’s strictly a guess, I think the committee adds two new Hall of Famers: Steinbrenner and Smith.

The 2018 Modern Game Ballot is out

November 12, 2018

The latest iteration of the Veteran’s Committee has a ballot out. This time it’s the Modern Game Ballot which is supposed to look at very recent people. I’ll comment later, but here’s a look at the ballot without player/manager/executive commentary:

Players: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Joe Carter, Orel Hershiser, Lee Smith

Managers: Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella

Executive: George Steinbrenner

As a note, I presume from this that Marvin Miller is eligible for the ballot of the era just before this one. I am also informed (by the place where I found the list) that Johnson and Piniella are to be judged strictly on their managerial record, not their playing record.

Picking the Winners for the Latest Vet’s Committee

October 7, 2016

Well, we have the newest version of the Veteran’s Committee getting ready to make its call for the Hall of Fame (5 November). The ballot is posted below and I always make my choices for enshrinement. This year is no different, but the way I’m going at it is.

Let me start with the players (Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser, McGwire). It’s not like there’s a bad player there, but there’s not much to be excited about either. McGwire has the steroid issue, Hershiser is known for one season (and more like two months), Clark was great for a few years and got hurt, Belle was a monster (ask Fernando Vina about it) but also got hurt, and Baines may be the ultimate in compiling numbers over a long, long time. It’s not like any of them is exactly a bad choice, it’s just that none of them are an inspired choice. I wouldn’t be overly upset if any of them got in, and in Albert Belle’s case I’d certainly tell him I’m all for him if he asked (I very much value my continued good health), but then again if none of them got in, I wouldn’t be overly upset either. So I guess all that means I wouldn’t, as a member of the committee, vote for any of them.

The managers are quite a different story. I loved Lou Piniella. He had fire, he had savvy, he could win with weaker teams. Davey Johnson seemed to win when he had good teams and lose with weaker teams. Like Piniella he won it all once (in 1986, before the current committee’s beginning date of 1988) and went to the playoffs a lot. But I’m setting both aside because I think the people who set up the ballot made a huge blunder here. Where the heck is Jim Leyland? Like Piniella and Johnson he made the playoffs a bunch and won it all once (1997). He’s a three time manager of the year winner, as is Piniella (twice for Johnson). Of course I’ll admit his winning percentage is lower than either of the others, but he spent time making the Pirates a winner and had to put up with Loria at Miami and still won a World Series. I’m not about to vote for the other two without being able to at least consider Leyland.

For the executives I know I would vote for John Schuerholz. He built winning teams in both Atlanta and Kansas City. Granted the KC team already had Brett and Willie Wilson and many of the others, but Schuerholz added the players necessary to get to the 1985 championship. The other two, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner have decent cases (and I expect Selig to make it in November), but I have a personal preference for one executive at a time, so Schuerholz gets my nod.

When I first thought about this list I got a call from my son. We spent time talking about a lot of things, including the Vet’s Committee vote. He had a suggestion, which I pass along to you. Currently there are 4 Veteran’s Committees. He suggested pushing it to five. Now hear me out before you scream too loud, “They already have four and you idiots want to jump to five?” His idea was that the four current committees confine themselves to players and that a new fifth committee meet periodically (the frequency can be determined) to vote strictly on non-players (managers, owners, executives, contributors, Negro Leagues, etc.). This would allow the current committees to concentrate more on players while the new committee did all the others. Frankly, I think it’s a decent idea. They’ll never do it because then the current committees would never elect a player. In all the time they had the three previous committees they elected two total players: Deacon White and Ron Santo. They did elect a handful of non-players and taking those away would require the committees to focus on players. Maybe they wouldn’t elect anyone and maybe they shouldn’t. Anyway I thought it an idea worth passing along.

New Veteran’s Ballot Announced

October 4, 2016

After revamping the Veteran’s Committee (s) for the 1000th time (give or take), the Hall of Fame just announced its newest ballot. This one is for the Vet’s Committee now known as “Today’s Game.” It covers the last handful of years (since 1988) and includes the following names:

Players: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Mark McGwire;

Managers: Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson (who might also be considered a player);

Executives: John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner.

The election will be 5 December 2016 by a 16 member committee. For election an individual must get 75% of the vote (12 voters).

The 50 Greatest White Sox

December 11, 2012
Luke Appling, the 2nd Greatest White Sox

Luke Appling, the 2nd Greatest White Sox

Concluding comments on the ESPN poll of the 50 greatest players on given teams, today I want to remark on the White Sox list. As far as I could find there are only five of these on ESPN (Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox). If I find others, you’ll be second to know (behind me).

1. The top 10 White Sox in order are: Frank Thomas, Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Paul Konerko, Eddie Collins, Ted Lyons, Joe Jackson, Harold Baines, and Minnie Minoso. And again the guy just off the top 10 in eleventh is Ed Walsh.

2. To put together a complete team you first have to decide what to do with Thomas. He’s a first baseman, but ultimately spent the bulk of his playing time as the DH. His positioning determines who makes the team. I decided to place him as the DH, where he spent the most time, so that makes the infield Konerko at first, Fox at second, Appling at short, Robin Ventura (number 15) at third. The outfield is Jackson, Baines, and Minoso, with Carlton Fisk (number 13) catching. A four man rotation with at least one lefty yields Lyons, Walsh, Mark Buehrle (number 12), and Billy Pierce (number 14), with Hoyt Willhelm (number 18)  as the closer. With Thomas at first, Konerko drops out and Aparicio becomes the first duplicate position player and thus the DH.

3. Most of the 1919 “Black Sox” make the list. Jackson is listed above, Eddie Cicotte is 16th Buck Weaver is 39th, Happy Felsch is 41st, and Lefty Williams in 50th. Only Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, and Fred McMullen were left out.

4. The 1906 World Champs is also well represented with Walsh listed above, Doc White at 30th, Fielder Jones at 33rd, and Nick Altrock at 42.

5. Which brings me to the most glaring omission, George Davis of the 1906 team. My guess is they decided he wasn’t there long enough (and that’s strictly a guess).

6. Dick Allen comes in at 20th. I’m not sure what I think of that. He was probably better than most of the guys ahead of him, but he was only there a couple of years. I’m not sure how you decide that. But to be honest I’m not sure what to do with Dick Allen period.

7. I have real problems with Konerko at fifth, above Collins, Lyons, and Baines (among others). I don’t mind Konerko being well touted, after all he started out with my Dodgers, but fifth?

8. I think that putting both Lu Aps (Luke Appling and Luis Aparicio) in the top four is probably correct. What I’m surprised about is that they got the order right. 

9. Let me ask this. What does it say about a franchise when their third best player (Fox) has a career OPS+ of 93, 35 home runs, and more caught stealings than stolen bases? Always liked scrappy Nellie Fox, but putting him third does point out why the ChiSox have only  been in the World Series twice since 1919 and only picked up one victory.

10. You know the Jackson, Baines, Minoso outfield might be the least powerladen of all the teams, but it is a heck of a fielding team.

Magic Numbers

January 10, 2010

Baseball is full of magic numbers. Some are for a season: 30 wins, 60 home runs, 200 hits. Others are for a career: 300 wins, 500 home runs, 3000 hits. It’s that last set I want to look at.

What I noticed is that the number isn’t really that magicial sometimes. What’s magical is some number short of it. That’s true of home runs where everyone with 500 home runs and who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame. The magic number here is apparently 493. That’s how many Fred McGriff has and his hall of fame vote wasn’t that great this year. But it was his first try so still he might make it someday. So the true magic number is 462. That’s the number Jose Canseco has. Everyone above him who is eligible is in the Hall of Fame (except McGriff, as noted above). You get 475, you’re in (see Stan Musial and Willie Stargell), get 465 (see Dave Winfield) and you’re in. Get 462 and, well, nope.

Same with 3000 hits. Everyone with 3000 hits who is eligible is in Cooperstown, but so is everyone above 2866. That’s the number of hits belonging to Harold Baines. His hall of fame voting numbers don’t bode well for his chances of election, so right now the cutoff isn’t 3000, it’s Harold Baines.

Just a couple of observations about how when we say 500 home runs or 3000 hits will get you to the Hall of Fame we really mean 463 homers or 2867 can actually get you there. Wonder if that will change?