Rock of Ages: Does Tim Raines Deserve To Be In The Hall Of Fame?

 

This year's Hall of Fame Ballot was released recently.  It brings in some interesting new names; some deserving to get in (Jeff Bagwell), others not (Bobby Higginson).  But other than Bert Blyleven continually being snubbed, the biggest error that keeps occurring each year is the continued slaps in the face of Tim Raines.  Since becoming eligible in 2008 he has received 24%, 22.6%, and 30.4% of the vote each year.  This strikes me as absurd.

 

Before we fully dive into the stats, let's look at the four players that have been elected in since Rock's name first graced the ballot: Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, and Andre Dawson.  No sane person could argue that Henderson did not deserve to be a first ballot HoFer.  The man was the greatest leadoff hitter ever, 14th all time in WAR (113.1), and is the all-time leader in runs and stolen bases.  The other three names range from fringe HoFer to "How the hell did he get in?".  Gossage (131st in WAR for pitchers) and Dawson (130th in WAR) are meh choices that are hard to get entirely worked up over.  Jim Rice is a completely different story.  If one was to compare him to some modern players that are in his WAR range, you begin to realize how truly absurd it is that he gets to be immortalized mostly because he played for the Boston Red Sox.  Jose Canseco, Nomar Garciaparra, and Brian Giles all finish ahead of him.  Andy Van Sylke, Lenny Dykstra, and Chuck Knoblauch sit slightly behind him.  Hooray for being the 258th best position player ever!  Tim Raines sits at 81 with 64.9 WAR, a whole 23.4 WAR ahead of Jim Rice.  That's like adding Jim Rice and Johnny Mostil together.

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And now onto the actual numbers.  Tim Raines is 5th all-time in stolen bases with 808.  The four players ahead of him (Henderson, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, and Ty Cobb) are all in the Hall of Fame.  The fun of this all is that Tim Raines was a better thief than all of them (except for maybe Billy Hamilton who played in a time were caught stealing was not a widely recorded statistic).  Raines stole at an 84.7% efficiency rate.  This compares very favorably to those of Henderson (80.8%), Brock (75.3%), and Cobb (80.9% even with seasons without CS data).  He may not have the raw numbers of the others, but he was much better at taking what he wanted.  Are you more of the slash-line stat type?  Rock put up a .294/.385/.425/.810 career, primarily from the leadoff spot.  He even hit 170 homeruns.  That's more than anyone else in the top 10 for career stolen bases list that isn't named Rickey Henderson.  Are you one of those strange people that won't vote for a player unless he won some awards or rings?  That's fine.  Raines was a seven time All-Star, won a Silver Slugger in 1986, and won a World Series in 1996 with the New York Yankees.

I know that if Tim Raines does make it into the Hall of Fame someday, that he won't be wearing a White Sox hat on his plaque.  Jim Thome won't be either, but he still played for our team and played well.  He doesn't deserve to go through with this crap at the hands of the BBWAA.  Bert Blyleven doesn't deserve it either, but this is the year he will get in.  A player doesn't magically get better the further they get from their retirement.  There needs to be another Montreal Expos hat on the wall in Cooperstown.  And Tim Raines needs to be wearing it.

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