Okay, baseball, I get it…I get it. There are players out there that MIGHT have used HGH and steroids. Remind me again…were they banned substances at the time they were allegedly used?
But they are now?
So…test for them regularly. If someone fails, react accordingly. There is absolutely NO REASON to punish those that are mentioned in the Mitchell Report, yet Bud Selig somehow has FINALLY mustered up the courage to threaten action against those that were mentioned POST 2003.
Of course, that CONVENIENTLY leaves out Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. And let’s face it…baseball doesn’t REALLY want to go after them.
However, you know what would have been cool? Major League Baseball cracks down on performance enhancing drugs ten years ago instead of waiting for a report on how mucked up their game is (allegedly). Besides, the times have changed. That was then…this is now. Steroids were en vogue then. Now…baseball is cracking down. I get it.
Heck, ten years ago, Hoyt Wilhelm (inducted in 1985) and Rollie Fingers (1992) were the only relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Twice in the last four years, Dennis Eckersley (2004) and Bruce Sutter (2006) have been enshrined. This year, Goose Gossage looks to be a lock to have his ticket punched at the doors of Cooperstown.
So…why not the designated hitter?
In 1973, when Ron Blomberg of the Yankees became baseball’s first DH (he dug in against Luis Tiant of all pitchers), who knew that 35 years later…there would still be NO full-time DH in the Hall of Fame?!?
Sure, many of modern era’s best hitters (Paul Molitor, George Brett, even Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray) ENDED their careers as their team’s DH…but there has not been a full-time DH voted in to join them.
A couple years ago, I would have said that Rafael Palmeiro would be the next notable DH to join the list…but he all but blew his chances by being found guilty of taking steroids. And while others will make the case for Edgar Martinez (and let’s face it…a case COULD be made), I think the next BIG name “full-time” DH is going to be Frank Thomas.
But why wait until then? Why not embrace the designated hitter and vote in someone whose stats stack up with some of baseball’s elite.
And yes…I’m looking your way Harold Baines. Let’s take a quick glance at his numbers.
First off, it needs to be pointed out that Baines holds the record for most games played at DH…1652. For his all around career…Rusty Staub is the only Hall eligible player that has played in more games.
Baines’ 2866 career base hits (40th all-time) means that he has the most hits of ANY player that is Hall eligible. Sure, there are other players ahead of Harold, but they are not eligible…yet. That short list is Pete Rose, Craig Biggio, Rickey Henderson, Palmeiro and Barry Bonds. Odds are that had Baines not had two work stoppages during his career, he would have eclipsed 3000 hits.
For the record, Baines also has the most RBI of all Hall eligible players and ranks 26th all-time. Those ahead of him that are NOT eligible…Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Thomas and Sammy Sosa. An even shorter list than the last one!
And again, not too shabby.
Over his career…Baines batted .289. He hit at or above that mark THIRTEEN times. Eight times, he batted higher than .300. Combine this with his 384 home runs (Baines is actually third on the all-time list of walk off home runs), a .324 post season batting and you’ve got a player that was arguably one of the most valuable of his time. Also, as a full-time DH, Baines was selected to appear in six All-Star games.
Statistically, Baines is pretty comparable to (if not better than) both Al Kaline and Tony Perez…both Hall of Famers. Interestingly enough...after Kaline, Baines is the player with the most number of home runs that never hit more than 30 in a season.
Kaline - 2834
Baines – 2830
Perez – 2777
Kaline – 3007
Baines – 2866
Perez – 2712
Perez – 505
Kaline – 498
Baines – 488
Kaline – 399
Baines – 389
Perez – 379
Perez – 1652
Baines – 1628
Kaline – 1583
Kaline - .297
Baines - .289
Perez - .279
It’s time, writers. It’s time to start considering a full-time DH for induction to the Hall of Fame. Sure you’ll wait for Frank Thomas…I understand. Hell, if he continues to rip the laces off the ball, you’ll put in David Ortiz before you even consider Harold Baines. But don’t Baines’ numbers warrant at least a look? Doesn’t he deserve his place in Cooperstown for a reason besides being the owner of the bat that ended baseball’s longest game ever?
I think so.
I leave you with this about the White Sox favorite. In 1971, a then 12 year-old Baines was all the rage on the Little League diamond…so much so, that legendary owner Bill Veeck made the trip halfway across the country to see what all the fuss was about. He was apparently impressed.
In 1977, upon his graduation from high school, Veeck made Baines the number one pick overall in that year’s amateur draft. Less than three years later…a 20 year-old Baines made his debut for the southsiders.
His number 3 has since been retired and “un-retired” twice.
Over the next month, the HoVG will be examining more of the players that might (but shouldn’t) be overlooked on the current Hall of Fame ballot. If you’ve got something to say about Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Lee Smith or even Don Mattingly…I’d like to hear from you!
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and who knows…your words might just end up on this website!