Harold Baines’ Induction Means Every Team’s Borderline Candidate Should Be In

Harold Baines’ Induction Means Every Team’s Borderline Candidate Should Be In

I think if you’re looking at the Harold Baines induction as any sort of resetting of the Hall of Fame standard, then the Keltner is pretty much useless. The structure of the questions the Keltner asks is a good guide, but the questions themselves have to change.

I say this because there’s a lot of talk now about Andruw, Crime Dog, and Murph all being Hall-worthy “now”. I put “now” in quotes because they may not have been before, but Baines has changed that. Now, just about every team’s borderline candidate is almost a shoe-in. Baines’ inductions egregiously changes the standard of the Hall of Fame, and all but guarantees going forward that it will be a “big Hall”, not a “small Hall.”

This was the original list from Bill JamesWhatever Happened to the Hall of Fame (1995):

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball?
2. Was he the best player on his team?
3. Was he the best player in baseball (or in the league) at his position?
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?  (This written before the PED era)
7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
8. Do the players numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? (Baseball Reference)
9. Is there evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Some questions need not change. #4, #9, #15 probably need not change. But being the best player in baseball, on his team, at his position has to change. Questions about the very existence of a peak, and especially it’s length, make Baines’ case troubling.

What changes would you make to the Keltner list if Baines’ inductions has lowered the standard for enshrinement?

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