Harold Baines, Lee Smith Elected into Baseball Hall of Fame by Committee

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2018

LOS ANGELES - JULY 11:  Lee Smith #47 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 11, 1992 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images)
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

Harold Baines and Lee Smith were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, MLB.com's Chad Thornburg reported.

According to Thornburg, Baines received 12 of 16 votes from the Today's Game Era Committee, which was the minimum number of votes required to earn passage to the Hall of Fame. Smith, meanwhile, received 16 yes votes.

Fancred's Jon Heyman shared the full voting results:

Reaction to the news was mixed, to say the least:

Baseball Reference's JAWS metric helps evaluate a Hall of Fame resume. It takes a player's seven best single-season WAR and averages it against his career WAR.

Smith's supporters can point to the fact that he sits higher than Bruce Sutter, Trevor Hoffman and Rollie Fingers in JAWS among relief pitchers, per Baseball Reference. Sutter, Hoffman and Fingers have all been enshrined in Cooperstown, New York.

Smith retired with a 3.03 ERA and 478 saves, which were the most all-time when he stepped away from the game after the 1997 season. Hoffman and Mariano Rivera have since surpassed him.

While Smith isn't generally remembered as a dominant closer—not in the way Rivera and Dennis Eckersley are—his Hall of Fame honor isn't entirely undeserved.

Baines, on the other hand, is a head-scratcher. He was a career .289 hitter with 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI, the last two of which rank 65th and 34th all-time.

According to FanGraphs, Baines had two seasons with at least 3.0 WAR. To put that into perspective, Carlos Delgado had seven 3.0-plus-WAR seasons and lasted one year before failing to collect enough support to even remain on the Hall of Fame ballot.

More than anything, Baines wasn't a player who helped define the era in which he played.

Baines spent 22 seasons in MLB. In only four of those seasons did he receive an MVP vote, and he never finished higher than ninth. Baines epitomized a player seemingly destined for the proverbial "Hall of Very Good" rather than Cooperstown.

The criticism toward his election is likely only beginning.

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