Blue Jays: If Harold Baines is a Hall of Famer, then so are these guys
After Harold Baines was named to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee on Sunday, it makes me wonder if there are a few Blue Jays who deserve a second look.
As you’re probably aware, it’s the point in the calendar when baseball fans argue about what it takes to be a Hall of Famer, with the process seeming to drag out for a very long time. I always enjoy re-living the careers of some of my heroes, but I understand why it gets a little tired for some.
There is another part of the process that was invoked on the weekend, with the Veteran’s Committee naming two new members to the Hall who had been passed over in the traditional vote. The new members are Lee Smith (who was the All-Time saves leader when he retired), and Harold Baines.
Smith I can understand, especially if you’re looking at this dominance within the era he played. I understand the whole argument of how when it comes to relievers relative to starting pitchers, but Smith is an understandable choice, even if you don’t think he quite makes the cut. Baines is a totally different story.
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The now 59 year old was a solid big leaguer during his time, don’t get me wrong, but I hardly think he’s worthy of a Hall of Fame plaque, and even he himself expressed shock that he was voted in. We could talk about all kinds of stats, but let’s have a look at how his career WAR stacks up against a few notable Toronto Blue Jays who have been passed over. Baines posted 38.7 bWAR over the course of his 22 year career.
The Blue Jays best pitcher of the 80’s has been overlooked many times, but when you compare his body of work to Baines it’s a real head scratcher. Across parts of 16 seasons, Stieb earned 56.7 bWAR, earning seven All-Star nods, and Cy Young votes in parts of four seasons. I could go on, but the difference of 18 bWAR should speak for itself, especially when we’re talking about Baines having an extra six seasons.
This one is a little closer in terms of bWAR, but there are other reasons that Delgado was the better player than Baines. He finished his career with 44.7 bWAR, A tweet from @prospectd2j also summarizes the “peak value” argument in a much better way than I could.
Case closed, no?
I know it might sound weird to be making arguments for players like Fernandez, but that’s why the inclusion of Baines is so baffling to many writers and fans.
Fernandez finished up his career with 45.3 bWAR over the course of 17 seasons, making four different stops with the Blue Jays. He’s on the “Level of Excellence” in Toronto, and has long been vastly underrated for his skills on both sides of the ball.
For good measure I thought I’d add a fourth and final name, and one that rarely if ever gets talked about in Hall of Fame circles.
Key was good for 49.1 bWAR in his career with the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Orioles, pitching in parts of 15 seasons. He was a 5x All-Star and finished second in Cy Young voting on two separate occasions, and finished fourth another year.
I could probably add a few more to the list, but I’ll stop there for now. The point is, even if Baines was a really good ball player during his MLB career, that doesn’t mean he’s a Hall of Famer. If he is, that means there are several others who were denied the honour that should be no-brainers, at least if Baines is going to get in.
I mean no disrespect to the Hall’s newest member, I’m just a biased Blue Jays fan here.