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July 31, 2007

Ripken, what?!?

I grew up a fan of Tim Raines. I mean…SOMEONE south of Thunder Bay had to be a fan of the Expos, right?

Why not me?!?

I always kinda thought that Raines was one of the best out there. Along with Rickey Henderson, there were REALLY only two guys you would want to lead off for you.

But here’s the rub, there is NO WAY that Tim Raines goes into the Hall of Fame BEFORE Henderson and when you compare his stats to some of the game’s other premier base stealers and/or lead off men…was he THAT good?

Let’s line ‘em up.

Rickey Henderson. No contest…read my previous post.

Lou Brock. Brock was “Rickey” before Rickey was “Rickey”. 3000-plus hits and 938 steals gets you into the Hall of Fame no questions asked. Matter of fact…when Brock was inducted into the Hall, Henderson was the active leader with only 500 steals. The point is…Brock was pretty dominant and still only mustered 80% of the vote. Raines will have a hard time trying to best that first time out.

Vince Coleman. Vince was a FAR better base stealer than Raines, but injuries and the inability to get on base (not good for a leadoff guy) rendered him useless. Still, Coleman ended up with 752 steals compared to Raines’ 808. Coleman having almost the same amount of steals in about HALF the games played as Raines means Rock WASN’T as great on the base paths as once remembered. OR…there was at least another person better.

Kenny Lofton. This is where it gets fun. Ask ANYONE if Kenny Lofton is a Hall of Famer and they would say (without hesitation) “no”.

And they’d PROBABLY be right...for now.

HOWEVER…compare his stats to Raines and you’ve got one compelling argument against Raines. Raines only has 2605 hits (FYI…Lofton will surpass that) in 2502 games, but carries a .294 career average. Raines was dominant for a six to seven year span…that is about it. Lofton has been solid since his rookie year in 1992.

I could go on and on about Raines and his inclusion in the Hall…fact is, he won’t make it in first ballot (good news for fellow great Expo Andre Dawson or former Red Sox Jim Rice) and might not make it in on his second ballot (Rickey Henderson will best him that year). He had a history of drug use AND was only dominant for half a decade. And during that time, he wasn’t even the face of his franchise (Dawson and Gary Carter were)…so it is a hard, hard argument to make that he is an early ballot shoe-in.

So, a year from now…who will we have just inducted into Cooperstown if “Rock” doesn’t make it in? There are NO other first ballot guys, but a slew of guys that SHOULD be there.

My guess…Rice and “Goose” Gossage, but if I had my way, Dawson gets welcomed as well. However, I think it is a 1970s Boston-New York affair next year.

Ballhype: hype it up!