Tim Raines for the HOF
After a brief break we resume our look at the deserving players who failed to garner enough votes in the recent balloting for the Hall of Fame. We have previously made a case for both Edgar Martinez and Jeff Bagwell; today we look at Tim Raines, one of the greatest leadoff hitters and base stealers of all time.
It is not my intention to regurgitate what has been written about Raines by people far more erudite, such as Tom Tango, who wrote this eloquent argument for Raines’ enshrinement in the Hall. However, I will mention a few of Raines’ accomplishments and qualifications. Raines was overshadowed for much of his career by Rickey Henderson, but there is nothing wrong with being the second best leadoff hitter in the history of baseball. Raines had a career OBP of .385 during a period in which the average OBP was .331. He is the greatest percentage base stealer ever, with an 84% success rate. His career WAR of 124 is good for 9th among leftfielders, and his OPS+ of 123 and wRC+ of 134 are close to Henderson level supremacy. As many have pointed out, he was comparable to Tony Gwynn, who finished with a wRC+ of 132, the difference between them Gwynn’s singles as opposed to Raines’ walks. Gwynn, of course, was a first ballot inductee.
|162 Game Avg||102||52||9||86||63||.294||123||134|
Many writers doggedly cling to their traditional benchmarks for the Hall – counting stats (hits, home runs) and recognition (all-star games, MVPs), and ignore the mountain of evidence pointing to Raines’ greatness. The incongruity of these arbitrary milestones is reflected in the discussion that has already begun about whether Johnny Damon will make the Hall of Fame if he reaches 3,000 hits, which is becoming exceedingly likely. That Damon would even be considered, simply because he reached one capricious plateau, while Raines’ career dwarfs Damon’s in just about every conceivable way, is reason enough to question the wisdom of remaining bound to ancient standards of measurement.
Raines had a long and distinguished career, and a long peak. Whether his exclusion has anything to do with his drug problems is open to conjecture, but we have recently seen that the BBWAA does have a self-aggrandizing moralistic streak longer than that of most Republican presidential candidates. Hopefully, time will vindicate Raines as it has for many other worthy players. Until then, we will continue the discussion on his behalf.