On Sunday night the Hall of Fame announced its Veterans Committee had voted to induct Lee Smith and Harold Baines into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Which begs the question — who doesn’t get in?
I can sort of see Smith; he was a dominant reliever who at one time was the all-time saves leader. He also had a fair number of supporters as he lasted 15 years on the writers ballot, topping out at 50%.
Baines, on the other hand, topped out at 6% and fell off the ballot after just five years.
No disrespect to Harold Baines — he was a fine player. He accumulated 2866 hits in a 22-year career, with 384 home runs and 1628 RBIs to go along with his .289 batting average. Not bad at all. But a Hall of Famer?
Baines never topped 30 homers in a season and had 100+ RBIs just three times. He made only six All-Star teams in those 22 years and received MVP votes in just four seasons. Doesn’t sound like a Hall of Famer to me.
The Veterans Committee has been revamped several times recently as it failed time and time again to elect anyone. Now it is inducting the likes of Baines, to go along with Alan Trammell and Jack Morris last year. All undeserving, in my opinion.
May I suggest one more revision? — only players who attained a certain vote level in the writers vote can be considered by the Veterans Committee. I would peg that level at 50%. If half the writers did not think a player worthy, he should not warrant reconsideration. Whatever the number is, it’s got to be higher than the 6% Baines achieved.
The Baseball Hall of Fame, once the toughest in all of sports to get into, is quickly becoming the Hall of Very Good, which is what a lot of people feared might happen. It is not a positive development.