Baines and Smith make all my unofficial HOF balloting official

Lee Smith HOF 2019

I was driving home from work on December  when I got floored by unexpected good news.  I was working an overnight weekend job for the holidays and turned my radio on while driving past all the mopes on their way to work. The national news was on and the last story was about the baseball Hall of Fame.  Harold Baines and Lee Smith were both selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the modern era committee. 

Harold Baines HOF 2019

 This came as both a delight and surprise to me.  Since I began this blog in 2009 there has been no greater advocate to HOF consideration and inclusion for Baines and Smith than myself  Each year in these very pages I pretend I have a vote for the Hall.  Go back into the archives and each year you will see me eloquently persuade the inclusion of either gentleman into the Hall.

Harold Baines  began his career with the White Sox in 1980 and finished his career there as well in 2001.  He had 3 stints with them 1980 to 1989, 1996 and 1997 and then came back in 2000 and retired in 2001.  He also played for the Baltimore Orioles 3 separate times (1993-1995,1997-1998, &2000) In between He played for the Rangers , Athletics and Indians.  Baines was predominantly a right fielder in his first 7 years in the Majors.  From 1988 to 1992 he transitioned to designated hitter  playing some outfield. From 1993 on he was used exclusively as a DH with the exception of one game in right field for the Sox in 1997.

In 1980 while Baines was starting his HOF career on the south side of Chicago, Lee Smith began his HOF journey on the North side with the Cubs.  He played for the Cubs from 1980 to 1987 and then played for the Red Sox from 1988 to 1990, In 1990 he went to St. Louis and was there until mid 1993 when he finished the year with the Yankees. In 1994 He and Baines were teammates in Baltimore.  He finished his career with stints for the angels (1995-1996) Reds (1996) before finishing up with the Expos in 1997.  Smith was a reliever for the vast majority of his career finishing 802 games and earning 478 saves.

I have read several places that Baines and Smith belong in the Hall of Very Good and not the Hall of Fame.  This just does not hold up.  The truth is that they are both Hall of fame caliber in their positions of Designated Hitter and Relief Pitcher.   In baseball reference,com they rank players in similarity.  4 of the 5 players most similar to Baines, Tony Perez, Al Kaline,  Billy Williams & Andre Dawson are Hall of Famers.  Lee Smith best comps to Trevor Hoffman who made the HOF last year and Mariano Rivera, a lock to do so this year. 

Congratulations to both Baines and Smith I look forward to your future enshrinement.