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On Sunday night, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the election of two new members via the Today’s Game Era ballot: former all-time saves leader Lee Smith and longtime designated hitter Harold Baines.
While Smith, who notched 478 saves (third all-time) during 18 seasons in the big leagues, makes sense for induction, the election of Baines, who doesn’t even have 3,000 hits, is already being derided as one of the worst Cooperstown choices in decades.
Baines, who got the minimum-to-qualify 12 of 16 votes from the committee, only led the league in a batting category once, slugging (. 541 in 1984). The average Hall of Fame hitter ends his career having led the bigs in a batting category nine times.
A six-time All-Star, Baines ranks 70th in wins above replacement (38.5) among all hitters playing from 1980 to 2001 per FanGraphs’ version of the statistic.
A 21-year veteran, Baines’ home run total of 384 is just 65th all-time, he only has 2,866 hits, and his highest MVP finish was ninth (1985 with the White Sox).
“There’s something to be said for showing up every single day and doing your job well, and that’s what Baines did,” according to Sports Illustrated. “But the Hall is supposed to be for the truly special – the best of the best of the best, the guys who were a clear cut above the rest, the players you feared above all else, not the hitting equivalent of Jamie Moyer. There’s no real argument for Baines as a Hall of Famer. If you can put one together, it’s probably a bad one. You’d have an easier time making a case that he’s one of the worst Hall of Famers ever.”
Longtime manager and former player Lou Piniella came up just short of induction with 11 votes while Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, and George Steinbrenner each received fewer than five votes.Read the full story at Sports Illustrated