Goldman: Baseball’s Hall of Fame was busted long before Harold Baines got in

From SABR member Steven Goldman at Deadspin on December 12, 2018:

It was terribly unfair of the “Today’s Game Era Committee” of the Baseball Hall of Fame to put Harold Baines in this position. When they elected Baines to the Hall on Dec. 9, the TGEC did him an honor, but also made him the foremost case study for the knowledge gap between those who control the Hall’s official validation process and the fans whose faith is the only thing that gives the Hall any relevance.

Baines was never really a MVP candidate and his bad knees meant that he spent 60 percent of his career as a designated hitter, but he was better at hitting a baseball than most humans who ever picked up a bat, and good enough at his impossible trade to stay employed until he was 42. His bad luck is that, thanks to sites like Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospectus and the value statistics they popularized, it is very easy to put a selection of players into a lineup and figure out who doesn’t belong. This means that everything positive we can say about Baines can also be said of Kenny Lofton, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Jim Edmonds, and many others, and that’s even if we’re just restricting things to Wins Above Replacement comparisons with fellow outfielder/DH types. The average fan knows this, now; the TCEG guys, who have no true historians or analysts among their merry band, apparently don’t.

That said, the election of Baines doesn’t damage anything that wasn’t already broken.

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Originally published: December 13, 2018. Last Updated: December 13, 2018.