Friday, August 13, 2010

Harold Baines vs. Brian Downing - Who's the Better Overall Helmet/Hat?

Yesterday you all got a taste of most of my Helmet/Hat cards, but I left two out after a look at their comparative stats. The first guy, Harold Baines,
is someone I've heard about constantly, and I know many baseball fans argue for his inclusion in the Hall.

The other guy, Brian "The Incredible Hulk" (his real nickname, BTW) Downing,
I had never heard of before. But he might have been better, at least at his position, than Baines.

Uh Oh. Pretty sure someone's gonna call me out on that. But hear me out.

Long careers for both guys, Baines played 22 years, Downing played 20. Baines was a OF/DH (mostly DH) while Downing was a C/OF/DH.

In Baines' favor: Tons more hits (2,866 to 2.099), more HRs (384 to 275), more RBI (1,628 to 1,073) and more Rs (1299 to 1188), 8 AS awards compared to just 1 for Downing. He also finished with a higher BA and SLG, and beats Downing by about 1,300 in total bases.

However, the two guys have very similar lifetime OPS+ (122 for Downing, 120 for Baines), and both walked a ton and struck out not that much (1,197 BB:1,127 SO Downing vs. 1,062:1,441 Baines). Downing also Played much better defense at a much harder position, which helps contribute to his much higher lifetime WAR (49.4 vs. 37). Downing also had a higher OBP thanks to all of those BB, grounded into fewer double plays, had more stolen bases, and was hit by a ton more pitches. And he had the cooler nickname.

Now, I'm not really here to say that Downing was a better player than Baines, as Baines was pretty damn good, and it's hard to compare these guys straight up given their different positions and the different offensive stats expected at those positions. This is mostly just a case of looking at a guy's stats, realizing he was pretty damn good, and being confused as to why his talent was so easily overlooked. Baines has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for several years now, and though he's far from a shoo-in, he's had a lot of support. Downing was on the ballot one year, in 1998, and received 2 votes. That's it. Seems like very few votes for a catcher who's in the top 20 for WAR all time at his position.

Edit: Turns out I'm not the first guy to argue for Downing's Underrated-ness. He was compared to Jim Rice in a Hardball Times post (and finished about even), and Halos Heaven considered him the 3rd greatest Angel of all time. So here's to you Brian Downing - you deserved at least a little more debate for the Hall than you actually got, but know that we in the blog-o-sphere think you were a pretty damn good player.

And as for Baines, you were a damn good player too. No offense with this post or anything, and good luck with your Hall odds!

No comments:

Post a Comment