Harold Baines’ Induction Means Every Team’s Borderline Candidate Should Be In

I think if you’re looking at the Harold Baines induction as any sort of resetting of the Hall of Fame standard, then the Keltner is pretty much useless. The structure of the questions the Keltner asks is a good guide, but the questions themselves have to change.

I say this because there’s a lot of talk now about Andruw, Crime Dog, and Murph all being Hall-worthy “now”. I put “now” in quotes because they may not have been before, but Baines has changed that. Now, just about every team’s borderline candidate is almost a shoe-in. Baines’ inductions egregiously changes the standard of the Hall of Fame, and all but guarantees going forward that it will be a “big Hall”, not a “small Hall.”

This was the original list from Bill JamesWhatever Happened to the Hall of Fame (1995):

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball?
2. Was he the best player on his team?
3. Was he the best player in baseball (or in the league) at his position?
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?  (This written before the PED era)
7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
8. Do the players numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? (Baseball Reference)
9. Is there evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
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?
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Some questions need not change. #4, #9, #15 probably need not change. But being the best player in baseball, on his team, at his position has to change. Questions about the very existence of a peak, and especially it’s length, make Baines’ case troubling.

What changes would you make to the Keltner list if Baines’ inductions has lowered the standard for enshrinement?

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33 thoughts on “Harold Baines’ Induction Means Every Team’s Borderline Candidate Should Be In”

  1. McGriff may fall off the ballot, but if the Veteran’s Committee put Raines in it’s hard to see them not putting the Crime Dog in.

  2. Personally, my guess is that the standards used by the BBWAA to select new HOF inductees will not be impacted. I don’t think most writers will be influenced to any great degree by the actions of this one committee.

    I do think the committee voting needs some reform though. First, if the ballots are not secret, then then they should be. Second, any committee members with a close relationship to the nominee can advocate, but should abstain from voting.

  3. A question to add to the list: How many friends does he have on the Veteran’s Committee? I don’t see why Baines necessarily changes anything. Rizzuto got in years ago.

  4. Baines never lobbied or gladhanded the way Rizzuto (and Joe Morgan’s Reds teammates) did. His election is more or less all on Tony LaRussa.

  5. Honestly, the HoF voting process is just as much of a popularity contest as All-star voting is. I’m not the biggest fan of Barry Bonds, but objectively, he’s now being kept out of the HoF for breaking a rule, that in essence, was made, and then backdated to apply to his entire career by the writers.

    Right or wrong, that’s arbitrary.

    You **could** argue sportsmanship, but there again, that’s opinion, to an extent. For instance, Connie Mack, who I’m sure most (or none?) of us were around for, is a HoF. He also used to tip hitter’s bats with his mitts. Wouldn’t that be poor sportsmanship?

    I’m not making a case defending one over the other, or trying to justify any of the behaviors. It’s just something I’ve noticed that makes me believe the HoF process needs overhauled.

  6. Now we’re talking.

    Say what you want about Harold Baines; unlike Janet Jackson, at least Baines did the actual activity relevant to induction.

  7. My world has turned upside down. Earlier I pulled for the Gators, and now I’m rooting for Clemson. Please shoot me if you see me wearing orange.

  8. To argue that Georgia should be in the playoff is to argue that one half of football in a game the team went on to lose should work decisively in their favor. It’s non-sensical.

    You can argue that Ohio State should’ve be in the four-team playoff and Oklahoma should’ve been out…in fact, I think I would actually probably agree with that. But I find arguments that two-loss Georgia should’ve been in and undefeated Notre Dame should’ve been out to be absurd. Was it predictable that Notre Dame would wet the bed? Yes. Was there any logical way to keep them out? No.

  9. You have to admit that Clemson has turned into a fairly decent team. It’s likely that none of UGA, ND, or Ohio State would have performed any better.

  10. Notre Dame played some slightly above average teams and squeaked out wins. Oklahoma looked slightly more impressive than OSU because of their Heisman winning QB, but it was close. Georgia was probably the 3rd best team in college football, but I don’t think they should have been chosen over the others. Two losses was too much to overcome.

  11. The game ended up closer than it appeared it was heading. At least OU beat the spread, unlike ND.

    Mark Richt out. Fired by UGA, then 3 years later out of Miami.

  12. That’s what it seems. I wonder if someone like Richt who seems to be a genuine good guy gets worn out with the way things are nowadays.

  13. That’s my read. Richt seems to be one of the best of the last line of “for the good of the kids” type of semi-pro NCAA football coaches. I think this is somewhat similar to Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech. They both know there’s no way they’re going to compete for recruits against Bama, UGA, Clemson, UF and Auburn. And neither wants to deal with all of the heartburn for a program that’s going to have a “maybe gets lucky once a decade” ceiling, or a UCF best case scenario.

    Can’t really blame them. They have millions in the bank. They’re 60-something. Cash out and enjoy the later years, man.

  14. I think Posnanski and maybe tangotiger have talked about this a lot, but you basically have two Halls: the BBWAA Hall, and the Committees Hall. The writers vote for basically all the truly great players. Then the committees come along and put in a few players who were unfairly overlooked along with a bunch of good-but-not-great and downright mediocre players. I agree with Kirk/2 that Baines’ election means nothing at all for the BBWAA standards.

  15. Well, the BBWAA let in Jim Rice, whose career looks more like that of Harold Baines than that of Mike Mussina.

    What you say is generally true, as the BBWAA enforces an overly high standard and the Veterans Committees overcompensates with an overly low standard.

    However, I think the BBWAA standards are incredibly slippery. They’ve gotten markedly higher in the expansion era, as baseball has 30 teams, nearly double what it was 60 years ago, but they haven’t doubled the number of men they induct. On the other hand, they’ll occasionally put in a guy like Rice because they feel all gooey inside and want to do something nice for a guy.

    In conclusion, they should exclusively put in the guys I think they should put in. Thank you for reading my blog comment.

  16. Well, technically, the BBWAA puts in all the truly great players except the truly great players from the 90s and 2000’s who didn’t fellate them with easy quotes.

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