Well, this is it. After weeks of dissection, argument, and statistical analysis, the results of voting for the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 will be revealed tomorrow. While a handful of players seem to have good odds of being enshrined in Cooperstown this year, Harold Baines is likely not one of them. He seems doomed to that "very-good-not-great" purgatory that is reserved for players who were steady but unspectacular. I've had an appreciation for the Maryland native's hitting talent since he first put on an Orioles uniform in 1993, yet even I didn't realize just how consistently productive he was.
The always-edifying Joe Posnanski examined each candidate on this year's ballot for Sports Illustrated and suggested that Harold was "the most professional hitter in baseball history". According to Poz's research, he is:
-The only hitter to bat between .290 and .310 ten times.
-The only hitter with 15 seasons between 15-25 home runs.
-An 11-time member of the 20-plus doubles club. He also scored between 70-90 runs in a season eight times, and drove in between 88-105 runs eight times.
That's the sort of reliability that you can set your watch to, as they say. Who says it? Some guys, I guess. Anyway, I'll hope for some kind of future recognition for Baines, even if the Hall doesn't come calling.
By the way, how great is this card? In one shot, you've got Harold Baines, Cal Ripken, Jr., Arthur Rhodes, and Ben McDonald. That's 70 years of major league experience in all!