1949 - 2017
I had debated with myself whether or not to do an Absent Friends post on Don Baylor, who died last week at the age of 68, but decided that yeah, I have to do one for two reasons. One, the guy was a hero to my pal and Super Loyal Little Joe Aro (which is why the picture above shows Baylor in an Orioles uniform), and Two, the guy is a Hall of Famer. Or, at least, for some reason I thought that he was an HOF'er, but it turns out that he is not in the Hall of Fame.
I discovered this non-fact when I went to baseball-reference.com to check out Baylor's career. Turns out that while Baylor was certainly a Good to Very Good, and in some seasons, a Great ball player, he is no Hall of Famer.
He played for six different AL teams over nineteen season, hit .260 with 2,135 hits, 338 HRs, 1,276 RBIs, and had a decent but not great OPS of .777. While he was the AL MVP in 1979, he only made one All-Star team in his career. He played in three World Series, being on the winning Twins team in 1987. He also went on to manage both the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. He also, and this is not insignificant, was the Roberto Clemente Award winner in 1985. He was a really good ball player, and, apparently, a good guy as well.
What I found to be interesting on Baylor's baseball-reference page was the list of "similar players" to him. They included guys like Jack Clark, Dale Murphy, Joe Carter, Tino Martinez, and, are you ready for this......Gil Hodges!!! (Gil Hodges! slowly I turned....) None of them in the Hall of Fame either.
None of this, by the way, is meant to denigrate Baylor and his career. I wish that the Pirates of 2017 would have a player of the caliber of an in-his-prime Don Baylor in the lineup every day.
RIP Don Baylor.