HOF ’09: Harold Baines

“(Baines) was on his way to the Hall of Fame. He just stopped by Comiskey Park for 20 years or so.”

GM Paul Richards on the White Sox pick of Harold Baines in the first round of the 1977 draft.

First up in our lineup of HOF09 is Harold Baines.  Now, as a Cub fan, I normally have no use for White Sox players but I have to admit a fondness for Baines.  So, apparently do the Sox who took on Harold for three separate stints.  

Baines Facts
  • Drafted First round in 1977 by the Chicago White Sox
  • Played for ChW, Tex, Oak, Bal, and Cle (1980-2001)
  • Six time All-Star
  • Led AL in Slugging in 1984(.541)
  • 19th all-time in intentional walks (187)

 

Let’s get this out of the way.  Baines won’t be known for his glove.  Though he was a solid outfielder during his first part of his career, an injury and subsequent knee surgery in 1986 pretty much made him useless in the field and relegated him to DH duties thereafter.  So much so, that the This Week in Baseball’s skit where those in on the joke were “trying to find Baines’ glove” is still remembered. 

Yet, some talk about how pure Baines’ swing was.  From the start, he showed he was for real, hitting double figures in homers at the age of 21.  Two years later, he broke out for the Sox with 25 home runs and 105 rbis.  Baines continued his consistent style of hitting always putting up 20+ homers and 90+ rbis. 

10083hb After his 1986 knee surgery and resulting move to the DH role, his hitting numbers didn’t suffer… until 1988 when he banged out only 13 with a subpar .277 average.  The next year came the famous trade to Texas which brought young Sammy Sosa to Chicago. 

The 90s didn’t have the luster that the 80s did but Baines always found a way to find playing time as a DH.  I remember being amazed that year in and year out Baines would be in the lineup, busted knees and all.  He traveled from Texas to Oakland to Baltimore (his homestate).  Finally, after a half season stint with Cleveland, he came back to Chicago again where he finished the last two years of his career. 

Pros:  There’s probably no one with better character.  Clutch hitter, his career numbers look decent (1299 runs, 1628 rbis, more rbis than Mantle, (that comment should p–s somebody off).

Cons:  Not a dominating hitter not even in his era (only three 100-rbi seasons, no MVPs, not even close in voting), defense, we’ve already talked about that.

 

As much as I like Baines personally, I don’t see him making the Hall.  If the White Sox have their own Hall, he should be the first one inducted.  He’s Mr White Sox in my book.  But for Cooperstown, there are those with better credentials.  He makes the Hall of Very Good.

 

  Hall of Fame
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Hall of Very Good

  Why is he even on the Ballot?

 

While we wait for January 12 ballot results, The Baseball Zealot will be profiling those players who are on the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.  Read the rest the of the profiles.

One Response to “HOF ’09: Harold Baines”

  1. I drafted Harold Baines, uncarded, for my APBA team in the now defunked Midwest League. I remember when he first came up to the White Sox how excited I’d get when he stepped to the plate. It still seems kind of weird the White Sox retired his number while he was still active, after trading him. Bill Veeck had watched him play, growing up in Maryland.

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