Homer Bailey is no longer a Cincinnati Red. Thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who not only acquired Bailey but then released him in a bizarre turn of fiscal events, the veteran Reds right-handed starting pitcher will no longer be with Cincinnati.

On the heels of the trade came a discussion on social media about Homer Bailey: should he be in the Reds Hall of Fame? That’s a worthwhile question and needs a healthy discussion.

First, a disclaimer. Homer’s lucrative and ridiculous contract with the Reds isn’t a factor. Who among us would refuse it? That’s simply the way it is in baseball these days. That isn’t Bailey’s fault. It’s just a reflection of the out of whack salary structure in baseball in 2018, especially for starting pitchers.

So let’s get to the bare basics. Does Homer Bailey’s career with the Cincinnati Reds merit an induction into their Hall of Fame?

A first round draft pick of the Reds in 2004, expectations for Bailey were high. He had it all for a pitcher: size, velocity, power, everything. He soared upwards through the Reds farm system. I remember when the Reds called him up in the 2007 season and he made his major league debut against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ballpark on June 8. He won that night, albeit a short outing, pitching 5 innings, and allowing 5 hits and 2 runs. He was the youngest pitcher in the National League.

Bailey reflected on that night years later and recalled seeing a Reds billboard on the interstate emblazoned with his face on the trip to Cincinnati. “I’m screwed,” is what he thought about that. Reds fans thought he was a savior. Far from it. After his initial win, Homer finished with a 4-2 record with an ERA of 5.67. It was even worse in 2008. After being called up from Triple A, Bailey was 0-6 with the Reds and a 7.93 ERA.

But in 2012, it kicked in. He became dominant, especially later in the season. He threw a no-hitter in Pittsburgh, walking just one hitter in a 1-0 Reds win. He didn’t have a spectacular record (13-10) but he pitched over 200 innings. He became the Homer Bailey most Reds fans expected. In 2013, he had his best ERA of 3.49 and a career-high 199 strikeouts.

On July 2, 2013, Homer threw a second no-hitter and the 16th in Reds history against the Giants in a 3-0 win and in 2014, the Reds signed Bailey to a 6-year, $105 million deal. After that, Bailey was hampered by injuries and ineffectiveness that bottomed out last year when he was 1-14.

His career stats with the Reds from 2007-2018? 67-77 with a 4.56 earned run average,1001 strikeouts and a WAR of 4.0 (of 14.2 WAR if you use the Fangraphs version – showing just how strange the different versions of WAR can evaluate a player).

So should Homer Bailey Bailey be in the Reds Hall of Fame?

On the plus side:

Homer is one of only three Reds hurlers (Jim Maloney and Johnny VanderMeer are the others) to throw at least two no-hitters. He was two walks and an error away from a pair of perfect games. For a short period of time (2012-2013), Bailey helped anchor the Reds pitching staff and on a given night, was one of the better pitchers in the National League. He was a part of the 2012 Starting Five that is rightly regarded as among the best rotations in Reds history.

Homer pitched 11 seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. That’s more than 24 pitchers currently in the Reds Hall of Fame. His win total of 66 is low, he was under the .500 mark. But he also pitched for some bad teams in Cincinnati.

In Game 3 of the 2012 playoffs against the Giants, Bailey pitched one of the best post-season games ever for the Cincinnati Reds, going 7 innings, allowing just one hit and one run while striking out 10. His performance ranks (at least to me) as one of the five best in Reds post season history– along with Jose Rijo (Game 4 of the 1990 World Series), Ross Grimsley (Game 4 of the NL Playoffs, 1972), Jack Billingham (Game 3, 1972 World Series) and Bucky Walters (Game 6, 1940 World Series).

On the negative side:

Homer Bailey was plagued by injuries and inconsistency throughout his career, missing parts of five of his 11 seasons with the Reds. Several Reds pitchers in the HOF– such as Jack Billingham, Fred Norman, Jim Maloney, Mario Soto and Tom Browning– were much more durable.

The only survivor of the 2012 Starting Five, the Reds hoped Bailey would become the defacto leader of the pitching staff based on his experience and salary. That never happened. Worse, he refused to be moved to the bullpen last season when he was struggling (injured?) and in the depths of a 1-14 season. He never made the All-Star team, never won 20-games.

Bailey was aloof with both the media and fans. That’s certainly his right and other Reds in the past have shared that trait. But blowing off Redsfest isn’t very fan-friendly. He never connected with the fans except for an occasional Reds Caravan tour.

My take:

I don’t think Homer Bailey is a Hall of Famer for the Cincinnati Reds. Isolated occasions of brilliance doesn’t in itself guarantee a spot in the Reds Hall of Fame. Such are Homer Bailey’s no-hitters and Scooter Gennett’s four-home run game.

I always liked Homer Bailey. The only Reds post season game I watched in person was Bailey’s masterpiece against the Giants. It was a game the Reds should have won. Homer was in a groove then. I would have picked him over Billingham, Norman, Joey Jay or Gary Nolan to start that game. Man, he was a machine that day.

But a Hall of Fame spot is different. Homer Bailey, for a two-year period, was a pretty good pitcher. He wasn’t a Jim Maloney or a Mario Soto.

29 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    The numbers just aren’t there. I don’t think Scooter Gennett is a Reds hall of famer, at least not yet, and I don’t think Homer Bailey is either. He wasn’t good enough for long enough to have earned a plaque. On the flip side, just like Gennett’s four homer game, those two no hitters are worthy of celebration. I say create a display to celebrate those games, invite Homer back to dedicate it all, and let that be his hall of fame Reds legacy.

  2. Doug Gray

    So if his team had scored more runs in one very specific game that Homer Bailey absolutely dominated, you would put him in. But because they didn’t, it’s a no?

    That’s some strange reasoning, isn’t it?

    • Doug Gray

      So the entirety of your argument is that 7 innings of 1 hit, 1 run baseball with 10 strikeouts isn’t good enough because his team only scored 1 run in the same game?

      That simply doesn’t make sense.

  3. gusnwally

    I hope I am being nonbiased and basing my opinion only on production. But, I don’t like Homer, never did. He seemed to have a lousy attitude from the beginning. And I didn’t ever see it improve. I fequently hear about back when Homer was good. Where the hell was I at that time. Yea, he had 2 no no’s, credit where it is due. But a 500 pitcher at best with and attitude. Not for me.

  4. Aaron Bradley

    This isn’t like the real HOF. Ron Oester is in the Reds HOD, and no way does he have the #s. It’s a feel-go thing, but nonetheless I don’t want Homer in there because he was awful for the most part of his career. I do count his contract against him, because he couldn’t live up to the contract in the slightest bit. Sure his health was a set back, but the last 2 years he has looked healthy with good velocity. He has a tendency to melt down when things don’t go his way. I feel bad for him to a degree, I felt he dueled Max Scherzer on opening day last season and gave the team a very good chance to win and simply didn’t get the run support. Anyhow, my answer is no. People tell me Freel doesn’t deserve to be there so I don’t think Bailey does either — even though its a feel-good local award as I said at the beginning. Look at Ron Oester’s numbers and tell me why he belongs.

    • Chad Jones

      You are right. Some players get in the Reds HOF for feel good purposes, and that’s why Oester belongs and Homer doesn’t. Oester played his tail off and did whatever was asked. He also seemed to be a good teammate. Homer was the polar opposite. He seemed entitled, sullen, and unwilling to do what was best for the team. No comparison on who’s a “true” Red to me.

    • Scott C

      I agree, it is a “feel good” thing. Ron Oester was a beloved local boy so he is in the Reds HOF without the numbers. I don’t think Reds fans have that same fondness for Homer. I don’t know who votes for the Hall but who wants to put someone in that the fans aren’t really going to support. That is really a shame because Homer has three out of five of what I believe to be great moments in Reds history of the last decade. The two no hitters, and the 2012 playoff game. Jay Bruce’s Home Run to clinch the 2010 Division Title and Latos’s performance in 2012 taking over for Cueto in Game 1. I guess you could add Frazier winning the Home Run Derby but to me that is still an exhibition.

  5. John R.

    He sucked more than he was good. When he was “on” he was lights out, but he was only “on” occasionally, and the longer he was here the worse he got. Halls of Fame are for the best of the best. Honor his 2 no-hitters, but his Reds career was a load of bull highlighted with injuries. He’s no Tom Seaver, or Tom Browning, or Jose Rijo, or any number of guys who were consistently good to great for years.

    • Doug Gray

      That’s kind of the thing, though. Ron Oester is in the Reds Hall of Fame. The barometer isn’t exactly high.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        Looking at the list of Reds Hall of Famers, I could make a case that Homer Bailey had an equal or better Reds career than a number of them. That doesn’t make me think he belongs but given that this isn’t the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I’m not going to quibble with who is in and who isn’t.

  6. Chad Jones

    Heck no. Homer was a #1 pick and prospect who was not only pretty much a bust, but who also seemed to think he was somehow entitled for not ever really doing anything but a couple of no hitters. Homer used to drive me insane because about every 4th start he’d show #1 stuff, but the other 3 starts in between was #5/Long Reliever stuff. I always got the vibe that Homer wasn’t much of a “team” player. That showed this past year when he refused to work out of the pen. I always wanted to like Homer and for him to succeed, but he never would. I’m just glad he’s gone. That needed to happen for a new chapter to turn for the Reds.

  7. Daytonina

    Yes. Definitely. Just don’t ask him to come and speak in rrelief when another nominee gets winded.

  8. Mason Red

    I was at GAPB for Homer’s debut and the atmosphere was electric. It was HomerMania and one of the comparisons being tossed around was to Don Gullett. What it shows is how poor the Reds have been at developing pitchers. There’s only been a handful of quality pitchers especially starters that the Reds have drafted and developed. Having 2 no no’s is certainly a great accomplishment but I don’t think Homer deserves to be in the Reds HOF.

  9. Giat

    Absolutely not! Wait, I forgot Sean Casey’s a Reds HOF’er so Bailey will probably be included. Basically, the Reds HOF is a joke.

  10. James

    At first, I expected to see Homer Bailey turn things around once he got used to the majors. It never happened. He was the has ability, lacks effort poster child for most of his career with the Reds. I would have loved to see him perform to his potential but, alas, I seldom did. I would vote no on the Homer Bailey to the Reds HOF ballot.

  11. Gary Davis

    Two others – Johnny Vander Meer and Jim Maloney.

  12. Spaceman Red

    Reds pitchers, according to Baseball Reference, with a higher Reds Career WAR:

    Jay Tibbs
    Ross Grimsley
    Frank Pastore
    Edinson Volquez

    I do not fault him for the contract. But I do fault him for the absolutely atrocious behavior last year. I am not the only Reds fan that suspects his “injuries” were less that than they were about insubordination. In other words, despite his huge salary, Homer’s preferred position on the team trumped loyalty to his paycheck, the fans or his teammates. One of my most unfavorite Reds ever. He has neither the personality nor the numbers to justify induction in the Reds Hall of Fame. Huge hat tip to this Front Office for finally jettisoning him despite Uncle Walt’s car wreck contract.

    • Doug Gray

      And shouldn’t they both be in the Reds Hall of Fame?

    • Spaceman Red

      Yeah, sorry if the message is going missing but it is not legitimate to even mention those names in association with Mr. Bailey. He is nowhere in their arena in terms of career Reds WAR. The aforementioned names in my post are the four pitchers immediately ahead of Homer, which give you some idea of his accomplishments (or lack thereof) in a Reds uniform. Add the modest statistics with the dubious character and you have your verdict.

  13. Keith Hall

    A pitcher with a sub .500 winning pct., a high career ERA, durability issues, and a questionable attitude does not deserve even a team HOF honor for primarily pitching 2 great games and, in his so-called 2 “standout years” went 24-22. I don’t even believe he merits discussion, frankly.

  14. gusnwally

    I do believe Bailey should be in the Reds HOF. Ed Bailey that is. How is one of the top catchers in Reds history not in. Other than Bench and Lombardi, I think Ed is in the 2nd tier of all time Reds backstops. A lovable character and jokester who hit decently and with some real pop. 28 HR’s in one season. And known as a fine defensive catcher as well. Merry christmas to all of our wonderful writers and regular reader and commentators.

    • TR

      I couldn’t agree with you more that Ed Bailey should be in the Reds HOF. There was always a lot of excitement when Big Ed came up along with Klu & Company.

  15. Still a Red

    I have a very good baseball-savy friend that plays in the old man leagues that go down to Florida every spring to play under the tutelage of MLB coaches. He played a couple years being coached by one of the Reds minor league pitching coaches. That coach told him trying to teach Homer was like trying to teach a rock…nothing sunk in (or he thought he knew better). Sounds like a kid with lots of unrealized potential. Sounds like our boy Stephenson. Celebrate his no-hitters, but no HOF.

  16. Richard Stallard

    Funny how take away the past couple seasons, probably a yes. Add the past couple seasons its a no.

  17. Eric

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, John. I always liked Homer and wanted to see him do well, but a couple of flashes of brilliance wrapped in a career of injury and disappointment do not a Reds HOFer make.

  18. Dennis

    Homer never fully met expectations that we as fans had for him. Aaron Harang accomplished more as a Reds pitcher than Bailey did. Both of their careers really got worse towards the end of their time with the Reds. Harang isn’t a Reds HOFer, nor should Bailey be.

  19. Abdul

    No way bailey belongs in the reds hall of fame. He’s at best a 500 pitcher that got lucky twice. It would diminish the award if he was voted in

    Johnny Cueto? Yes, absolutely