Hall of Fame Debate: Tim Raines


Rock was one of my favorite baseball player growing up. I can remember looking at his baseball cards, seeing that physique and thinking 'Man, the guy looks like one hell of an athlete.' Unfortunately, I'm not sure if he's Hall of Fame worthy. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest leadoff hitters in his prime; great speed and on base numbers but unfortunately it's very hard to get into Cooperstown being a good stealer. Leadoff batters get no love unless you've got the hardware to go with it; MVP's, Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. Tim didn't earn the hardware; just one Silver Slugger to his name (no MVP's or Gold Gloves). Raines, in my opinion, hit his prime years too early and wasn't able to amass the cumulative magic numbers- only 2,600 hits. He was truly great for five of his first eight years and then 'good' or 'serviceable' for the next twelve, never leading the league in anything and missing the all star game every year after age 27. Unfortunately, and I hope that I'm wrong because I really do like Raines, Cooperstown wasn't made for players like Rock- it was made for great players that transcend the game. Tim was a very good player for a long time but he only had a short period of great. He was very respected by his peers but the fact that he was a journeyman indicates the replaceable nature of his tools. He was a bit overshadowed by Rickey and I think that hurts his case (although if Rickey was the greatest, there should be room for the second greatest of his era).


I agree that Tim Raines was the Rickey Henderson of the National League during the 1980s. One amazing stat I found centered around his 1981 season. In merely 88 games, Raines stole 71 bases. He was hampered by being a rookie and the league stoppage both of which cut his games played to just the 88. With an extended season, it's not unfathomable that he would have broke Brock's record of 118 steals a year before Rickey did it.

Although he was an outstanding leadoff hitter, rivaling some of the best in history, there are a few things that make Raines' HOF candidacy pretty slim. First, he's known primarily as a speed guy, and indeed, his stolen base numbers are impressive as he remains #5 all time. He did win a batting title early in his career, and led the league in runs a few times, but that's the majority of his statistical category dominance. His modern day equivalents would be players such as Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, or Jimmy Rollins, guys that are tremendous leadoff hitters setting the table, but are not thought of on a HOF level. Another thing hurting Raines involves his perceived attainment of stats through longevity instead of consistency. Playing in over 130 games just once in his final 10 seasons, Raines was a bit of a hanger-on which helped him accumulate some padded statistics. He picked up a few hundred hits this way diminishing his respectable 2600 hits for hall consideration. The final problem with Raines' legitimacy rests in the hardware and accolades which voters, pundits, and enthusiasts like to see in their HOF inductees. Raines made 7 All Star games (none after age 27) and had only 1 top five MVP finishes.

In a draft from the 1980s, Raines would undoubtedly go high because of his skills and what he brought to a team. However strong a leadoff player he was though, his career numbers fall outside of Hall consdieration. OCP and I agree for once, what do the rest of you think? Is there room in Cooperstown for Rock Raines?

1 comment:

  1. I always liked Raines more than Henderson, he didn't get caught stealing as much as Rickey did. That being said, I agree with both of you. Tim's career started out like he was going to be a HOF, but something died after he reached 27. He no longer was a star player and that's too early to crap out to be in the hall.


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