January 3, 2013
Cooperstown 2013: Tim Raines
Sixth Year on Ballot (2012 - 48.7%)
Montreal Expos (1979–1990), Chicago White Sox (1991–1995), New York Yankees (1996–1998), Oakland Athletics (1999), Montreal Expos (2001), Baltimore Orioles (2001) and Florida Marlins (2002)
Career batting average of .294 with 2605 hits and 1571 runs scored. Hit .300 or better seven times. Led the National League in batting with a .334 average in 1986. 808 career stolen bases (fifth all-time) with an 85% success rate. Led National League in stolen bases four times and twice in runs scored. Put together six seasons with more than 100 runs scored. Seven-straight All-Star selections (1981-1987) and two World Series championships (1996 and 1998). Had number retired by Montreal Expos and holds their team record for runs scored, triples and stolen bases.
If the primary purpose of Tim Raines’ baseball existence was to get on base and set the table, then Raines was one of the best ever at his craft. Raines got on base nearly 4,000 times over the course of his career. Once he did get on base, Raines’ speed and base running intelligence gave pitchers headaches. His 808 career steals put Raines fifth all-time, while his 84.7% success rate is good for eleventh all-time. If Raines’ career numbers seem borderline to some, his peak puts him over the top. From 1981-1987, Raines combined for more than 1,700 hits and walks, stole more than 500 bases and put up a .310/.396/.448 slash. At his best, Raines exemplified the greatness that we honor in the Hall.
There is no doubt Raines’ numbers are strong, but are they Hall of Fame worthy? While his on-base percentage is strong, it is comparable to Hall of Fame near misses Keith Hernandez and Will Clark, as well as lesser lights like Tim Salmon and J.D. Drew. Even a more advanced metric like Fangraphs RC+ - which does an excellent job taking Raines’ base stealing abilities into account – ranks him 255th all-time. Attempts to adjust for position hurt Raines too. He spent most of his career in left field, a strong position historically. Raines limped to the finish line, with only one season with 500-plus plate appearances after he turned 33. Even if Raines belongs in the Hall, he may not be the slam-dunk some supporters suggest he is
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Gianella has been writing about fantasy baseball at his own blog (Roto Think Tank) since 2007. He has participated in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR), is a current owner in the CBS Sportsline and Tout Wars expert leagues, and has won four titles in the CBS leagues. Mike’s work can also be found in the Fantasy Baseball Guide, available on news stands in February 2013. Mike can be found on Twitter at @MikeGianella.