When the Today’s Game Era Committee announced their selections for the 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame, baseball pundits were shocked.
The committee — made up of 16 members of the Hall of Fame — selected RHP Lee Smith and OF/DH Harold Baines. Smith was a fine selection, but it’s the choice of Baines that has people up in arms, as former colleagues gave him the votes necessary for enshrinement.
Baines, who spent more of his time as a designated hitter than in the the outfield, played for 22 seasons and hit .289/.356/.465 with 384 HR over 11,092 plate appearances. He accrued a total of 38.5 fWAR and finished his career with a wRC+ of 119.
Decent, respectable numbers.
Now, let’s take another player. This player hit .284/.377/.509 with 493 HR over 10,174 plate appearances and finished his playing career with 56.9 fWAR and 134 wRC+. This player’s name is, Fred McGriff.
Fred McGriff is currently on the ballot for the BBWAA to decide whether or not he should be in the Hall of Fame, along with 34 other players.
This is McGriff’s 10th and final chance to be enshrined by the BBWAA and although he is gaining some support, it is unlikely he appears on the 75% of ballots required for enshrinement.
The fact that Harold baines will be in the Hall of Fame before Fred Mcgriff is a farce.
Harold Baines was noteworthy during his 22 year career with a decent decade long stretch from 1982 to 1991 where he averaged 2.7 fWAR a season. His best year came in 1984 when he accrued 4.8 fWAR, he never surpassed 3 wins again in a season. As I said above, respectable.
Fred McGriff, by comparison, had a 10-year stretch where he averaged 4.3 fWAR per season. Heading into his last year of eligibility, McGriff received a vote on 23.2% of ballots last year.
The Crime Dog needs to be in the Hall of Fame — and with Harold Baines selection, it’s not a matter if, but when McGriff’s time should come.
We should also note that Baines’ enshrinement opens the door for a vast list of players that were considered for the Hall of Very Good. Over at The Ringer, Ben Lindbergh looked at what this could mean for players (who, like Baines, were solid major leaguers for a long time) but didn’t earn the Hall of Fame treatment.
For example. former Rays hitter Johnny Damon was also a solid player for long time (18 years, in fact). Over his career, he produced more fWAR than Baines. He was a slightly worse hitter but much better defender, and he played for less time than Baines. If you were to take each player in their prime, it’s interesting to wonder which you would rather have on your team.
To get a little more familiar, though, let’s take a player who hit .290/.330/.435 with 136 HR over 7,178 plate appearances and accrued 41.3 fWAR over just 15 seasons — and, for good measure, totaled an impressive 73 DRS. That player should certainly be in the Hall of Fame and he should go in wearing a Devil Rays cap. Yes, Carl Crawford was much better than Harold Baines, also in fewer seasons.
Granted, it wasn’t the BBWAA that elected Baines and it was a perfect storm of committee members that got him in. The Hall of Fame does have its share of lackluster talent to go along with the icons of the game, but McGriff is anything but!
A Tampa native, the five time All-Star and former ASG MVP was also a three time silver slugger and winner of the 1995 World Series with the Braves before joining the inaugural Devil Rays. He finished his career in a Rays jersey as well, seven home runs shy of 500.
Fred McGriff was a better player than Harold Baines.
If Baines is in, vote McGriff!
You can read more about McGriff’s career here.