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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!


E said...

Raines is another one of those guys who had some great years, but weren't able to sustain it for an entire career. That, and the fact that "Rock" was not only his nickname, but also his hobby, may keep him out of the Hall.

Despite the fact, he was a guy, like Rickey, that you wanted on your Earl Weaver team, because he could hit AND run, probably the most valuable thing in the game. (I know someone who maybe cheated a little to make Otis Nixon into one of those guys, but, c'mon: it's Otis Nixon. He stunk.)

I'm of the opinion (and I think you are too) that their should be a separate Hall just for players from the '80s and '90s, the two best decades for baseball, IMO.

Just a thought.

Jesus said...

I always thought "Tim Sucks Ben" was the greatest living outfielder...but, I digress.

"Rock" is a guy, who, during the 80's was undeniably one of the best players out there.'s leniant drug policy killed him. Had Raines stayed in Montreal instead of becoming a journeyman burn out...he's every bit the Hall of Famer that 1982 to 1987 showed.

I'll be honest...the prospect of Kenny Lofton sticking around for another five years or so is VERY intriguing. Currently, he is tenth on the active hits list. six of the nine guys ahead of him (and several of those right behind him on the list) are LOCKS for the Hall of Famer. The other three...Julio Franco, Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez won't be as lucky.

In a bit of irony...Lofton and Nixon are tied on the all-time steals list.

Rusty R Shackleford said...

What can I really say that hasn't already been said? This may be the first time that I completely agree with you. I'll even talk like Yogi Berra if you will....I completely agree with you 100%!

David in Toledo said...

I disagree seriously. Tim Raines is more like Tony Gwynn than like Kenny Lofton.

Bill James career win shares: Gwynn 398, Raines 390, Lofton 286, Jim Rice 282. If Lofton has six more years comparable to 2007, he'll catch up with Gwynn and Raines.

Add total bases + walks + hbp + (steals - caught stealing) and then subtract double plays hit into: Gwynn 5007, Raines, 5665. Divide these by their number of plate appearances and you get these percentages: Gwynn, .489; Raines, .547. And by further comparison, Roberto Clemente .481, Billy Williams .526, Lou Brock .495, Jim Rice .505.

That is, every time Tim Raines came to bat, there was a .547 likelihood that he would advance a base for his team.

Yes, Tony Gwynn is slightly more deserving, for his fielding and for his one-city citizenship and his lack of cocaine history. But Raines may have had a more difficult start of life, a more difficult moving about [not drafted by San Diego], and he had to finish his career with lupus.

The biggest differences between Gwynn and Raines are that Gwynn was born middle-class in S. Cal., played his entire career in his home town, and got more hits and fewer walks.

David in Toledo said...

The more I read, the more I disagree with.

Raines should get into the Hall before Rickey because Raines is on the ballot this year and Rickey goes on next year. They both deserve to be in as soon as they're eligible.

If Vince Coleman was such a better base-stealer than Raines, why does Raines have the best percentage of successful steals in ML history?

"Raines was dominant for a six to seven year span. . . Lofton has been solid since. . ." There should be a big difference in the meanings of "dominant" and "solid." And Lofton has been a part-time mystery ever since his return to Cleveland from Atlanta ten years ago, hardly "solid."

The gap between Gwynn and Raines -- 398 and 390 ws -- and Jim Rice and Steve Garvey -- 282 and 279 guys -- should be evident even without detailed statistical analysis.

Incidentally, the reason Lou Brock wasn't closer to unanimous is that he wouldn't draw a walk (and wasn't much of a fielder), as measured by 348 win shares over a longer career than Raines's.

Jesus said...

"If Vince Coleman was such a better base-stealer than Raines, why does Raines have the best percentage of successful steals in ML history?"

Noted. However, the discrepancy between the two is not THAT great...85% compared to 81%. Admittedly, I guess I was blinded by the sheer volume that Coleman amassed in his first four years. Anyone who averages more than 100 steals (a total Raines NEVER achieved once) over his first four years is pretty impressive. Not "Hall of Fame" impressive...but impressive.

"There should be a big difference in the meanings of "dominant" and "solid." And Lofton has been a part-time mystery ever since his return to Cleveland from Atlanta ten years ago, hardly "solid."

Here's where we disagree the most. Raines kinda slipped into obscurity once he hit 30 years of age. Sure, injuries had something to do with it...but overall, the guy was a shell of what he was during the early 80s. Lofton, on the other hand, was pretty consistent throughout.

David in Toledo said...

Jesus, you run a good blog and I understand a case can be made for holding Tim Raines back a year or two.

Let me recommend to you today's piece (November 30, 2007) at the Hardball about Raines's candidacy.

David in Toledo said...

I don't want to argue with you in the New York Times, but man, I don't agree. Point by point:

"Raines’ stats are NOT comparable to Brock and Henderson." No, Brock is not as good and Henderson was somewhat better when he wanted to be, though I got tired of watching him try to crouch his armpits onto his knees so he could draw another walk. Brock OPS+ 109, Raines 123, Henderson 127.

"They brought it EVERY DAY and that ammounted to 3000+ hits." Puleeze! Brock hung around (OB% in the 320's his last four years) to get to 3000 hits. Rickey turned it off and on (the great joke about wanting to play with Rickey in a contract year when he would really turn it on).
Brock reached base 3784 times in 11,235 plate appearances. He was thrown out stealing 25% of the time. Raines reached base 3935 times in 10,359 PA's. He was thrown out stealing 16% of the time. Whom do you want leading off?

"Raines had about 7 years of great play (where arguably he WAS the best lead off hitter in the NL)…but then what?" Then he compiled 390 win shares and a better offensive record than Tony Gwynn. Better than HofF corner outfielders Roberto Clemente or Billy Williams, etc., far better than Jim Rice, etc.

"He toiled in obscurity at a time where PLENTY of others took the forefront of Major League Baseball’s elite." He toiled in obscurity because he was in Montreal and then was a primary victim of the owners' collusion. That wasn't his fault. And it has nothing to do with how valuable a ballplayer he was.

"That, and the fact that Raines was generally regarded as the second or third best player on his own team…" "Generally regarded" is a weasel-word formulation. In 1983 and 1984 and 1985 and 1986 and 1987 and 1989, Raines was #1 on the Expos (Win Shares, pp. 427-444). Then he played alongside Frank Thomas when Thomas was imitating Jimmy Foxx.

"I can't let him in. Or at least not before Rickey Henderson."
Henderson isn't eligible yet! By this logic, you would keep Tris Speaker out of the Hall when he became eligible because it wasn't time to vote on Ty Cobb yet.

Jesus said...

David...I'm glad you disagree and even more ecstatic that you feel compelled to reply.

It sure beats the people who just post "ur a idiot" or the like.

I'm glad you brought up OPS+...I hate, hate, HATE that stat. The monkeys at Baseball Think Factory and I got into a knock down, drag out war over who was a better "hitter"...Tony Gwynn or Mark McGwire. Their response...McGwire. his OPS+ is 30some points higher.


Do these people watch the games or just look at stats?!?

Anyway...thanks for stopping by, please check out the rest of what I've written. I'd love to hear what you had to say!

Anonymous said...

Raines deserves first ballot for a number of reasons.

One: Better than Brock.
Two: Best of the national league in the entire decade of the 1980s.
Three: Best SB percentage of all time, 5th all time.
Four: Member of 5 division winners past his prime. And some of those years he still hit .300 or better...