Harold Staub and Rusty Baines

January 3, 2019
 

 

Have you noticed the similarities between Harold Baines and Rusty Staub?  Both Baines and Staub were left-handed hitters who had very long careers involving some excellent seasons and some sub-standard seasons.  Baines had 2,866 career hits—normally a Hall of Fame number—and Staub had 2,716.  Most of their seasons look about the same.  Both were right fielder-DHs, although Staub had 600 more games in Right Field (1605 to 1042) and Baines had 1000 more games as a DH (1643 to 478).  Both had significant power, what we might call Al Kaline-Roberto Clemente type power, but not Killebrew/Thome/Cabrera type power.  Both men were 6’2", similar build although Staub put on more weight in mid-career.  Staub’s career high in homers was 30; Baines, 29.  Each man drove in 100 runs three times, and 90+ several more times.   Each man made the All-Star team six times.  Neither man was a Gold Glove type fielder, because, in both cases, they were way too slow to be truly outstanding defensive outfielders.  Both stole less than 50 bases in long careers, and grounded into almost 300 double plays (298 and 297).   Both played most of their careers for not very good teams.  Both men were very well liked; in fact, I would say that both men were unusually well liked.   Their birthdays are only a couple of weeks apart, Baines being born on the Ides of March and Staub on April Fool’s Day.

       Baines was a #1 player, first player taken, in the draft.  Staub started his career before the draft, but played 150 games in the major leagues at the age of 19, which is actually a very similar thing when you think about it.  What it means is that they were both guys that the scouts absolutely loved, as teenagers.  Both of them are "hurt", in a sense, by the fact that they have very low-value seasons included in their major league records, seasons that wouldn’t be there if they had not been in the majors before they were major-league ready.  It drags their Wins Above Average down, that they had early-in-career below-average seasons.

       Baines has the advantage in superficial stats or counting stats; Staub, because he played in a lower run context, has the advantage in analytical stats.  Baines beats Staub in batting average (.289 to .279) and slugging percentage (.465 to .431), and leads in homers (384-292), RBI (1628-1466), and runs scored (1299-1189), although all of those numbers are comparable.  I said that "Staub’s career high in homers was 30; Baines, 29.  Each man drove in 100 runs three times, and 90+ several more times."  But Baines hit 20 or more homers ten times and drove in 90 or more runs eight times, whereas Staub hit 20 or more homers only four times and drove in 90 or more runs only six times.    

Doubles and triples are almost the same (488-499 and 49-47), stolen bases not meaningful.   Staub has meaningful advantages in walks (1288 to 1062) and strikeouts (888 to 1441) and a slim edge in on base percentage (.362 to .356).  Staub is comfortably ahead in Win Shares (356 to 307) and WAR (45.8 to 38.7).  Staub’s advantage is 17% in Win Shares, 18% in WAR.   Staub’s low-run context is mostly because he played through the low-run years of 1963 to 1968, but also is park-based; his career OPS is 4 points higher on the road than at home, whereas Baines is 17 points higher at home (which is still a relatively small home-field advantage.) 

              Someone will say that Baines’ Hall of Fame election has to re-open the door for Staub, but this is based on a false assumption about how the Hall of Fame selection process works. To say that implicitly assumes that the door is open to those who are above a certain quality line, and is blocked to those who are below a certain quality line.  In practice, the Hall of Fame limits its membership by structuring the process so that a limited number of people can be elected.  In essence, the Hall is relying on the fact that only a LIMITED of number of players can be elected to ensure that only the BEST players are elected.   Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.   Baines’ election doesn’t really do anything to Staub’s status.  What it really does is block the door for some more-deserving candidate.   Baines used the slot that could have gone to Ted Simmons. 

              In closing, a Harold Baines/Rusty Staub Mashup.  Since Staub started his career in 1963 and Baines in 1980, we’ll start the mashup in 1972; the new player is 19 years old in 1972.   I start with the career records of the two players, and then choose the best player at each age.  However (a) I allow a limited number of seasons to be "carried forward" so that if both players have good years at a certain age, then the extra season gets used later, and (b) this puts the 1981 strike season in the middle of the career, and in 1981, when he would have been 28, the "new player" can’t play more than 106 games, 108 games, something like that.   So I move short seasons before age 28 forward to age 28, so that you get a career that actually could have happened.  Also have to reverse a couple of seasons late in the career for the 1994/1995 strike.  See if you can figure out which seasons are Baines’, and which are Staub’s:

 

Rusty Stains

Born    March 23, 1953

Height:  6’2"                Weight:  185

Right Fielder-DH              Bats: Left

Selected to Hall of Fame:       2006

 

YEAR

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Avg

AGE

OBA

SPct

OPS

1972

150

513

43

115

17

4

6

45

59

58

0

.224

19

.309

.308

.617

1973

89

292

26

63

10

2

8

35

21

31

1

.216

20

.272

.346

.618

1974

131

410

43

105

20

1

14

63

52

57

3

.256

21

.339

.412

.751

1975

153

554

60

155

28

3

13

81

58

61

2

.280

22

.345

.412

.756

1976

161

608

89

165

29

8

25

105

49

95

10

.271

23

.321

.469

.790

1977

149

546

71

182

44

1

10

74

60

47

0

.333

24

.398

.473

.871

1978

158

549

89

166

26

5

29

79

110

61

3

.302

25

.426

.526

.952

1979

160

569

98

156

23

7

30

94

112

93

12

.274

26

.394

.497

.891

1980

162

599

94

186

34

6

19

97

74

42

9

.311

27

.392

.482

.874

1981

82

280

42

80

11

7

10

41

12

41

6

.286

28

.318

.482

.800

1982

147

569

72

173

28

10

29

94

54

75

1

.304

29

.361

.541

.903

1983

160

640

86

198

29

3

22

113

42

89

1

.309

30

.348

.467

.815

1984

155

574

93

162

30

4

19

105

77

55

2

.282

31

.371

.448

.818

1985

161

589

73

176

28

3

15

96

83

49

3

.299

32

.386

.433

.818

1986

158

623

84

173

34

3

22

101

59

47

1

.278

33

.336

.448

.784

1987

162

642

75

175

30

1

24

121

76

35

3

.273

34

.347

.435

.782

1988

141

488

76

144

25

1

20

90

72

67

0

.295

35

.383

.473

.857

1989

127

385

60

115

19

1

24

63

70

45

0

.299

36

.403

.540

.943

1990

143

495

80

154

29

0

22

95

73

62

3

.311

37

.399

.503

.902

1991

137

452

55

136

23

0

16

67

55

62

0

.301

38

.375

.458

.832

1992

109

340

42

102

23

2

9

55

39

18

1

.300

39

.370

.459

.828

1993

135

430

62

134

18

1

25

103

54

48

1

.312

40

.387

.533

.919

1994

104

293

40

88

17

0

9

57

32

40

0

.300

41

.369

.451

.819

1995

96

283

26

72

13

0

11

39

36

50

0

.254

42

.337

.417

.754

 

3330

11723

1579

3375

588

73

431

1913

1429

1328

62

.288

732

.365

.461

.826

 

 

 

 
 
 

COMMENTS (21 Comments, most recent shown first)

KaiserD2
Tony Perez had 3 seasons over 4 WAA, making him very comparable to Staub in peak value. This is a great case of who gets in and who doesn't. Perez played in good hitters parks in his prime and played on a team that won a lot of pennants and two World Series. Staub spent his best years in an awful hitters' park and made one postseason appearance, which was rather embarrassing since he couldn't throw the ball. Neither one of them had a really decisive case for the Hall but it's easy to see why Perez got in. Some day I'll make a full list of players who should thank their teammates for getting into Cooperstown.

3:41 PM Jan 6th
 
ventboys
Yeah, Bill picked the wrong years for the big stolen base totals :)
9:44 AM Jan 6th
 
DMBBHF
Terry,

You're right, it does.....pretty good match (except for stolen bases)
7:34 AM Jan 6th
 
ventboys
Yaknow, mashed together their career totals look eerily like Dave Winfield.
12:39 PM Jan 5th
 
BrentHr
It's kind of funny the most similar player to both Staub and Baines per baseball reference is Tony Perez. Not that I'm saying they both belong in because Perez is in...
11:22 PM Jan 4th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for the mention of my article, MWeddell......

You're right, it's a pretty long article, and the reference to Staub can be easily overlooked. For those who may not have seen it, I basically considered him to be the quintessential "Baines Honoree" in the whole exercise based on the criteria I was using.

Aside from the similarities that Bill noted in his article, here's a recap of some of the basic similarities between the 2 that I referenced in mine:

Years:
Staub 23
Baines 22

Games:
Staub 2,951
Baines 2,830

HOF Monitor:
Staub 59
Baines 66

Award Shares:
Staub 0.37
Baines 0.31

Black Ink:
Staub 4
Baines 3

Peak BBWAA support:
Staub 7.9%
Baines 6.1%

In addition, not that I was looking for this, but they're really high on each other's Similarity Score comp lists - Staub is #6 on Baines' list, and Baines is #3 on Staub's.

I did have a comment/question on the Rusty Stains mashup career, however. If that guy had 3,375 hits and 1,913 RBI (which would have been top 10 at the time he retired), and he retired in 1995, why would he have had to wait until 2006 to be elected? Wouldn't he most likely have been a first-ballot inductee (elected in 2001)? Or am I missing something?

Dan


7:19 PM Jan 4th
 
MWeddell
Daniel Marks' most recent article on this website also notes the similarities between Baines and Staub. It's a much longer article but is drawing raves in the Reader Posts, so definitely worth reading for anyone who missed it.
11:22 AM Jan 4th
 
KaiserD2
Manushfan is spot on about Garvey and Oliver. Neither of them was ever over 4 WAA either. Pinson did it once. His namesake did it only once and figures in my blog post.
10:42 AM Jan 4th
 
KaiserD2
As I have explained before, while one can debate the designation of 4 WAA as a superstar season, it is anything but arbitrary. It is a valid sabermetric answer to the question posed by Bill in the Keltner test, "If this guy were the best player on your team, is it likely that you could win the pennant?" While there have been pennant winners who lacked such a player, they are extremely rare. And I personally think it's hard to argue for anyone's inclusion who hasn't met that standard even once.

Just my opinion, of course.

David K
10:39 AM Jan 4th
 
KaiserD2
I have now done a thorough comparison of Baines with the most comparable Hall of Famers at baseballgreatness.com. He won't be the worst outfielder in the Hall.

David K
10:36 AM Jan 4th
 
MarisFan61
.....can't imagine where Shaughnessy or anyone else would imagine that Baines getting in has anything to do with what people think about Bonds and Clemens.

Staub, maybe. (I think yes.) Lance Berkman, Michael Young, etc. etc. conceivably (I think hardly, and I know that nobody here has suggested it will; just using them as examples).
Bonds and Clemens, no way. Nothing whatsoever to do with it -- unless you think that anybody will be thinking that if Baines is in, then multitudes of anybody and everybody else should be too.
10:20 AM Jan 4th
 
Manushfan
Yeah arbitrary delineations of 'superstar seasons' are just that-you can put the definitions down anyway you wanna. My namesake, for example, yeah '28 was his obvious career year, but there's not Really a whole lot to put that above what he did in '26, 29, '32-34. I'd say you can make Henry Emmett into a 'Superstar' likely 3-5 more times if you wanna, just go by '200 hits' or 'times in the top 3' or 'MVP award shares' or whatever. You can chop these guys up any way you care to til Hafey's on Mt Rushmore, it's still going to be opinion first, math second.

As for Baines being in the Hall-like I said, he's a grab-bag pick same as Mr Manush here-you could put in Bobby Veach or Dixie Walker or any number of guys from his era who were about as good, no doubt and no argument here. But he got in with the pretty .330 averages and because it looks weird not to have that kinda stat line in, esp. back then.

Baines might not 'help' Mr Oliver or Mr Staub or whomever get in-but he's not likely to hurt them, either. I think it's an outlier vote, I don't honestly think you will get many more like this now. Garvey will have to wait longer than McGriff I think.
9:10 AM Jan 4th
 
KaiserD2
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote an interesting column this week arguing that a lot of BWAA voters are going to be asking themselves, "How can we keep Bonds and Clemens out when Baines is in?" That may well be true.

Bill mentioned that Staub had more high-value seasons than Baines but he went over that pretty lightly. I show Staub with three superstar seasons (4 WAA or more). That is as many as Joe Medwick, Larry Doby, Brooks Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Ron Santo, and Tony Perez, all of whom are in the Hall. Baines has none. That's right, none. So far the only outfielders in the Hall with none (20th-century careers or later) that I've found are Lloyd Waner and Chick Hafey. Even Ross Youngs had two, and Heinie Manush had one.

The Houston Astros should have been the first expansion dynasty. They had Jim Wynn (who is one of the best players not in the Hall), Joe Morgan, and Staub. That was a tremendous nucleus. But partly because of the Astrodome, they didn't realize it, and they gave away two of those guys.

David K

6:47 AM Jan 4th
 
klamb819
I'm afraid I don't see how Baines helps anybody else. He's already being regarded as a modern Freddy Lindstrom or Travis Jackson or the wrong Ferrell brother. My first reaction to his election was that he kept out Hershiser and Will Clark, both far more deserving but lacking their managers and owners on the selection committee. Baines's other advantage is being in the weaker ballot for 1988-present instead of the loaded 1970-87 ballot — where he likely would be if his best years had been in his 20s instead of his 30s.

I rooted for Baines throughout those 20s, living in Chicago's north suburbs as a contrarian White Sox fan. He had one great year, the year after the Sox ran away from the '83 AL West, but after that, he seemed to be just far enough above average to star for a struggling team. Looking it up, his OPS+ was 115 for ages 26-29 (and 115 for his entire 20s, then 129 for his 30s). I also see his WAR was 0.5 ahead of Roger Maris in a career of 10 more seasons. After that great 1984 season, my most distinct memory of Baines was his trade to Texas. It was not a popular trade because he was having his second-best season at age 30, but the White Sox capitalized on that to trade him for a 20-year-old mega-prospect named Sammy Sosa.

The only Hall of Famer that Baines reminds me of was a borderline pick with a much better case. He's Tony Perez without the rings, the peak, or the clubhouse presence. Everybody always liked Baines. Everybody liked and also listened to Perez. Baines's second-best oWAR, 3.4, was Perez's seventh-best. Also Staub's seventh-best. A WAR of 3.4 is about two-thirds of All-Star level.

Continuing with oWAR (to ignore Baines's defensive weakness): Edgar Martinez had 10 seasons better than 3.4, and he's 0-for-9 on the writers' ballot. Jeff Kent had 8. Clark and Fred McGriff had 7 apiece. Lance Berkman had 6, like Perez, and he'll likely drop off the ballot after one year. Looking at the hopeless names on this year's ballot, Michael Young exceeded 3.4 oWAR 6 times, Kevin Youkilis 5, Jason Bay 4, and Travis Hafner 3. Here's one more player Baines doesn't quite measure up to, even though he batted over 3,300 more times: Bobby Murcer's fifth-best oWAR was 3.7, his career oWAR and OPS+ were both better than Baines's, and he was a good baserunner who could play centerfield, but on his only Hall of Fame ballot, Murcer received 3 of a possible 447 votes.
4:45 AM Jan 4th
 
wovenstrap
I had no idea about this. The similarity in doubles, triples, and GIDPs is very startling.

Thanks, Bill
8:31 PM Jan 3rd
 
chuck
Bill, thanks for the fun mashup.
Question: What do you have as the Win-Loss shares for each?, and it would be great to see those broken down into offensive and defensive.
7:57 PM Jan 3rd
 
shthar
I'm surprised noone has talked about how this opens up the case for Johnny Damon.

Harold Baines, with speed!


7:51 PM Jan 3rd
 
Manushfan
I will throw in the obvious other guys in the group-Garvey, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Willie Davis and maybe Garret Anderson. I'm sure there are others but these are the ones I think of, esp. Garvey and Oliver as Vada and Davis were fast, the others-well, they were Staub and Baines. I'm a fan of Baines and happy for him that he got in, and I agree it's just an outlier, Grab-bag pick, I don't think we're going to be seeing say Chili Davis or Jose Cruz Sr getting put any time soon.
5:47 PM Jan 3rd
 
MarisFan61
I tend to think the same as what Ventboys said, for the additional reason that Baines's selection has provoked such renewed and increased discussion and awareness of Staub. Much of it is just the basic good old "If....then why not...." but I think a lot of it is a renewed and increased appreciation of what Staub was.

I don't mean that I think he'll 'probably' make it soon, but that his chance is now greatly increased. Let's say, maybe before this, he had a 5% chance to make it in the next 10 years; now it's maybe 40%.
5:34 PM Jan 3rd
 
ventboys
I guess I deleted the actual thought. I do think that Baines will pave the way for the Staub "argument" if not for his actual induction. Staub passed last year, so he won't have the same level of advocacy as he might if he was still around to give a speech.
5:06 PM Jan 3rd
 
ventboys
This is awesome, Bill -- that was literally my first thought when I heard that Harold Baines was chosen.

Starting in 1972 (my guesses)
S-B-B-B-B-S-S-B-B-B-B-S-S-B-S-B-B-B-S-S-B-S-S

I may have lost my place in there somewhere.
5:00 PM Jan 3rd
 
 
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