Hall of Fame Debate – Tim Raines

Nov 5, 2008

Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor and I have decided to team up and debate Tim Raines’ Hall of Fame worthiness.

2502 Games (50th All-time)
8872 At Bats (70th ll-time)
1571 Runs (49th All-time)
.294 Batting Average
.385 On-base %
.425 Slugging %
2605 Hits (71th All-time)
430 Doubles
113 Triples
170 Home Runs
980 RBI
1330 Walks (33rd All-time)
148 Intentional Walks (44th All-time)
808 Stolen Bases (5th All-time)

Five .300+ Seasons
Six 100+ Run Seasons
Six 30+ Double Seasons
Two 10+ Triple Seasons
Twelve 30+ SB Seasons
 Eleven 40+ SB Seasons
  Eight 50+ SB Seasons
   Six 70+ SB Seasons
    One 90 SB Season

Playoffs: 34 Games, 34 hits in 126 at bats (.270), 18 Runs, 7 Doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 14 Walks, 3 Steals, 1 World Series Ring

1987 All-Star Game MVP
1986 Silver Slugger
7 All-Star Game Appearances
MVP Votes in 7 Seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Four Times (Batting Crown in 1986)
On-Base % – Seven Times (Led league in 1986)
Slugging % – Once
OPS – Four Times
Games – Once
At-Bats – Three Times
Runs – Eight Times (Led league in 1983 & 1987)
Hits – Six Times
Total Bases – Four Times
Doubles – Three Times (Led league in 1984)
Triples – Nine Times
Walks – Six Times
Intentional Walks – Four Times
Stolen Base – Eleven Times (Led league in ‘81, ‘82, ‘83 & ‘84)

Hall of Fame Yardsticks
Black Ink: Batting – 20 (105) (Average HOFer ≈ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting – 114 (178) (Average HOFer ≈ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting – 46.6 (93) (Average HOFer ≈ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting – 89.5 (177) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Lester’s Take
Rock Raines had the misfortune of playing in the shadow of Rickey Henderson.  While he isn’t in the same category as Rickey, he was an amazing leadoff man.  He achieved one of the thresholds (1500 runs) that I feel virtually gain you automatic entry to the Hall of Fame.  The majority of players that have crossed that threshold are either in, will evenutally be in, or are ineligible (Pete Rose).  Not to mention he was one of the most prolific base stealers in the history of the game.  He had six 100 run season (one of 133), seven consecutive 70+ stolen base seasons, 40+ steals in 11 years of a 12 year stretch.  An impressive stat to me is the number of times he was intentionally walked.  He’s 44th of all-time with 48 IBBs.  He must have been feared as a hitter to intentionally put him on 1st knowing you probably just gave away two or three bases in the process given his ability to swip bases.  He also had eight straight years with at least 7 triples, and he managed to win a World Series ring with the Yankees.  Not only did he play in the shadows of Rickey Henderson, he had the misfortune of playing his best seasons in Montreal.  He was one of the best in the game for a long time.  For that I feel he earned a spot in Cooperstown.

Rotoprofessor’s Take
When I look at the career of Tim Raines, to me it is no a brainer that he does not belong in the Hall of Fame. To be enshrined, you should be a dominant player of your generation, not someone who stuck around for 23 seasons and compiled some impressive career statistics. Don’t get me wrong, Raines was a very good, if not great, lead off hitter who had a ton of speed. He had 808 career stolen bases, but more then half, 454 to be exact, of which came in a 6-year period from 1981-1986. That means in his other 17 seasons playing in the major leagues, he had just 354 stolen bases, hardly that impressive. He scored a ton of runs, but had just six seasons where he eclipsed the 100 mark. Brett Butler, a player who I think we would all agree is not worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, had the same six seasons scoring 100 runs. He was a good hitter, but his career average was under .300. Maybe it was the shadow of Ricky Henderson that hurts Raines’ candidacy, but even with the SB’s his numbers just don’t scream elite player. He had some very good seasons, but he never truly dominated the league. To me, it is possible for a player to stick around too long and ruin the reputation he could have had. People don’t remember the great player that you were, instead the player who just sat on the bench as a reserve, trying to hold onto the game for as long as possible. I know I said last week that if a player was a dominant force of his time, the rest didn’t matter. I still think that applies. To me, however, Raines just wasn’t the dominating force. He was a great player who was one of the elite stolen bases artists, but that was about all he brought to the table. Good elsewhere, but not great, and that doesn’t get you my vote.

There you have it folks.  Feel free to weigh in and take a side.

Previous Hall of Fame Debates
Mark McGwire

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9 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. LEV
    November 5th, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    I was a very big fan of Tim Raines in the 80′s and was happy to see him win a World Series title with the Yanks in 90′s… unfortunately I think he falls just short of the Hall. His best seasons were early in his career in Montreal (no exposure) plus he has the negative stigma of being suspended for cocaine use. Even though he cleaned up his act the second half of his career I think playing in anonymity and in the shadow of Ricky Henderson ultimately hurt his chances. I could see him sneaking into the Hall as a Veterans Committee inductee much later in the future.

  2. LestersLegends
    November 5th, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    LEV – you are probably right. I think Eric is probably right.

  3. JEL
    November 12th, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I’m hoping the case for Tim Raines gets picked up after Henderson goes in (although I think it would be perfect cosmic synergy and an apt ending if they both got selected in 2009, wishful thinking for a Hollywood ending)… As mentioned above, what really hurt Raines was playing in the same era as Henderson and for as many seasons as he did. If he had retired in the mid-90′s and shaved a few years off his resume, I think he would have better chances overall. That said, in the early to late mid-80′s he was easily the top players in the game. He lost what was a legit shot at the ’87 MVP and a month of added stats due to collusion. It’s unfortunate that such a solid 80′s player such as Raines will have his achievements overshadowed by the “steroid era” players of baseball. The fact that he also was low-profile as far as public eye (the all around opposite of Henderson) and playing his best years in Montreal sadly keeps him 2nd tier (sort of like Andre Dawson and possibly if he hadn’t ended up in NYC, Gary Carter). Despite not being a personality like Strawberry, Boggs or Mattingly- he more than held his own against them and established himself as a team player. As a team player he was more of a contributor to the team than doing things selfishly, it just happened that he wasn’t on good teams (until later years). To me, the drug use shouldn’t even be a factor since Raines actually ended up in rehab over it and cleaned up early in his career.

    I grew up a Red Sox fan and am very fond of both Dwight Evans and Jim Rice but I still think Raines deserves to be inducted before either of them. The unfortunate reality is with the amount of steroid era talent coming up, they all may get overshadowed and none of them may end up in Cooperstown.

  4. LestersLegends
    November 12th, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    JEL – well said. I agree over Dewey. Not sure about Rice. Rice had more DOMINANT years.

  5. JEL
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    Although (and it depends how much value you put in this), Bill James formula on both Rice and Raines actually ranks Raines higher. Also a quote I read about Raines awhile back said that James actually placed Raines as one of the tenth best left fielders of all time (I believe he was 9th).

    You know in thinking about this a bit more, I think alot of it just comes down to Raines having bad career timing. He was overshadowed by Henderson’s outstanding career, lost peak playing time to the MLB collusion in 1987, the 1981 & 1994 strikes (which would have put him even closer to 3K hits and Cobb/Brock’s stolen base numbers), and, as I mentioned above, will easily have his numbers dwarfed by the “steroid era” players who will be filling up the ballots soon.

    Also, the only team who retired his number (the Expos) no longer exists. I guess the final shot for a reversal of fortune for Raines comes when the sportswriters fill out their ballots.

    On a side note, thanks for these Cooperstown Chronicles, they’ve been fun to read.


  6. LestersLegends
    November 12th, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    JEL – when you put it that way, it’s easy to justify calling his name for the hall.

  7. RideThisBlackCowboy
    March 7th, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    I think Tim Raines should be enshrined,though just barely.His career,ex-
    cept for his SB total,was just better-than-average,and “Rock” can be
    said to be the “Harmon Killebrew-Chuck Klein-Mark McGwuire(if the boys forget their hypocrisy and finally induct him)of SB to the Hall-in short,a specialist whose awesome one-dimensional greatness over-rode his
    many other flaws.)

  8. LestersLegends
    March 7th, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    He was more than just a great base stealer. That would describe Vince Coleman.

  9. Anonymous
    August 23rd, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    Raines deserves Cooperstown..I’m not even getting into why.

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