Hall of Fame talk is starting to heat up with the announcement of the 2010 inductees mere days away (January 6th). Some players eligible for the first time include Barry Larkin, Andres Galarraga, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and Roberto Alomar (you can read my thoughts on Alomar in Who Am I?). Other players who return hoping to pick up the required 75 percent vote this season include a host of some of the who’s who in the game the past 30 years: Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Mark McGwire and Tim Raines. The last name on this list is who I’m going to focus on in this piece.
Long considered the best leadoff man in the National League during his career, Tim Raines had the misfortune of being the second best leadoff hitter in the game when he played. Mind you, there is no reason to hang ones head when you are #2 behind the man widely considered to be the best ever to fill the roll in Rickey Henderson, but clearly Raines falls behind Henderson in almost every way you can possible think of. Here are each man’s career bests in the 5×5 categories.
Mind you the numbers are pretty close, but when we move to the realm of their career totals, the gap does widen.
By the way, Henderson scored more runs and stole more bases than any man who ever lived.
Still, like I said at the start, the decision to vote for Raines shouldn’t be about Raines vs. Henderson, it should be about how Raines staked up against the competition. In this respect, he did very well.
Raines was named to 7-straight All-Star teams (1981-87).
Raines finished in the top-10 in AVG four times (led league at .334 in 1986).
Raines was top-10 in runs scored eight times (led league twice – 1983, 1987).
Raines led the NL in steals 4-straight years (1981-84). He also finished in the top-10 seven other times.
Raines finished in the top-10 in hits six times.
Raines finished in the top-10 in triples nine times.
Raines finished in the top-10 in OBP seven times (led league in 1986 at .413).
Raines finished in the top-10 in OPS four times.
Obviously Raines was one of the most effective players in the game for the majority of a decade as he enjoyed some tremendous success with the Expos. All told, that success led to some marks that clearly place him amongst the all-time greats that the game has ever seen.
Raines scored 1,571 runs, the 50th best total ever.
Raines produced 2,605 hits, the 73rd best total ever.
Raines stole 808 bases, the 5th best total ever.
Raines produced 1,636 Runs Created, the 53rd best mark ever.
Raines produced a 280.9 Power-Speed Number, the 28th best mark ever.
Yes, Mr. Raines was one hell of a player.
So why has he failed to break even 25 percent in the HOF vote in his first two go round in the voting process? My guess is that Raines fails in the most basic of comparisons – he simply wasn’t the best at what he did during his career failing to live up to the impossibly high standards of Henderson. Is that fair? Certainly not. There are a plethora of players enshrined in the Hall who may not have been “the best” when they were playing, just think of the comparison of Yankee teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Should Gehrig have been denied admittance to the Hall since he wasn’t even the best player on his team? Of course not.
In the end I have no idea why Raines has gotten such little respect for what he accomplished as he was clearly the best leadoff man in the National League in the 1980′s. It might take a while for Raines to get his due but I certainly hold out hope that one of these years he will be recognized for what he was, and that was one of the best players every to hit atop of a major league lineup.
DEROSA TO GIANTS?
By Ray Flowers
Tags: Andre Dawson, Andres Galarraga, Babe Ruth, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyeleven, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Lou Gehrig, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar, Tim Raines