Making the Hall of Fame case for Albert Belle and Harold Baines originally appeared on nbcsportschicago.com
The 2019 Today's Game Era Ballot was announced today. The Today's Game Era Committee will review and vote on this list on Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
The list is comprised of 10 names, including a pair of former White Sox – Harold Baines and Albert Belle. The others are Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner.
Let's take a moment to look at the Hall of Fame case for both former White Sox players.
Baines was selected first overall in the 1977 MLB Draft. At the time of the pick, then-owner Bill Veeck said, "I saw him play in Little League, and he impressed me even then."
Baines made his MLB debut on Opening Day 1980. By 1982 he had his first 20-HR, 100-RBI season (and some down-ballot MVP votes). In 1984 he led the AL in slugging. In 1985 he earned the first of his six All-Star selections. In 1989 he won a Silver Slugger award.
Baines compiled 11 seasons of at least 20 home runs and three seasons of at least 100 RBI. He retired with 2,866 hits, 488 doubles, 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI, but keep in mind he lost a chunk of games to both the 1981 and 1994 work stoppages. That may have cost Baines a shot at 3,000 hits, 500 doubles and 400 home runs. All milestones that may have made a difference with voters.
Harold was strong in the rate stats as well.
He had a career wRC+ of 119, which is the same as Dale Murphy and Derek Jeter.
His .289 career batting average was better than Eddie Murray (.287) or David Ortiz (.286).
His .356 career on-base percentage was better than Reggie Jackson (.3556 to Baines' .3557) or Ichiro (.355).
His .465 career slugging percentage was better than Cal Ripken (.447) or Carlton Fisk (.457).
The White Sox retired his No. 3 in 1989 and put up a statue in his honor in 2008.
Belle was one of the most fearsome sluggers of the 1990s. He was fourth in the majors in home runs during that decade (351); first in RBI (1,099). Albert led the AL in home runs in 1995 (50), led the AL in RBI three times, led the AL in total bases three times and led the AL in slugging twice. In 1995 he became the first (and remains the only) player in MLB history to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in a season.
In 1998, he had one of the finest offensive seasons in White Sox history. He hit .328/.399/.655 and set franchise records (still standing) in doubles (48), home runs (49), RBI (152), extra-base hits (99) and total bases (399).
Belle played in only 1,539 games over 12 MLB seasons, but played at a very high level, earning five All-Star nods and five Silver Slugger Awards. He had three consecutive top-3 MVP finishes from 1994-96. His 139 career wRC+ is tied for 71st in MLB history with Reggie Jackson and Duke Snider among others. Belle posted eight 30-HR seasons and nine 100-RBI seasons.
Belle finished with 381 career home runs (which was 43rd in MLB history at the time of his retirement) and 1,239 RBI with an impressive .295/.369/.564 slashline as a hip condition forced him to retire at age 34 in 2000.