Skip to content

The Hall of Fame case for Tim Raines

Dec 5, 2012, 1:44 AM EDT

Tim Raines

I’ve long hesitated to make the Tim Raines Hall of Fame pitch, simply because there’s a website already dedicated to the cause that does a far better job of it than I can here. Still, I figure I can have a quick go at it, and if nothing else, it means a few more people might check out Raines30.com for the better pitch.

Raines’ Hall of Fame problem is Rickey Henderson. Raines might be the second best leadoff hitter off all-time, but he played at the same time as the best. Also, he was a left fielder without much power and he never won an MVP award or came particularly close.

On the other hand, Raines was quite possibly the NL’s best player in a five-year span from 1983-87.  WAR thinks so, placing him ahead of Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy. Raines hit .318/.406/.467 during that span and averaged 114 runs scored and 71 steals per year. During those five years, only Henderson scored more runs (572-568) and only Wade Boggs had a better OBP (.443 to .406). And those two were playing in the other league.

Raines led the NL in average and OBP in 1986, but 1987 may well have been his best season. After sitting out the first month because of baseball’s collusion against free agents, he hit .330/.429/.526 with 123 runs scored in 139 games. He was so feared that he was intentionally walked 26 times, even though he was one of baseball’s premier basestealers.

Unfortunately, Raines ceased being a superstar pretty young, and while he was still an asset as a role player into his upper-30s, he’s not getting much Hall of Fame credit for those years. The entire body of work is worthy, though. While Raines wasn’t Rickey Henderson, he was a very good match for Tony Gwynn.

Raines finished his career with a .385 OBP, a .425 SLG and a 123 OPS+ in 10,359 PA
Gwynn finished his career with a .388 OBP, a 459 SLG and a 132 OPS+ in 10,232 PA

Raines scored 1,571 runs and drove in 980
Gwynn scored 1,383 runs and drove in 1,138

Raines stole 808 bases and was caught 146 times
Gwynn stole 319 bases and was caught 125 times

B-ref WAR has Raines at 66.2, good for 97th all-time. It has Gwynn at 65.3 wins, 102nd place all-time.

Obviously, it’s commonplace throughout history to trump up one Hall of Fame candidate by matching him with another, typically one barely over the borderline. Gwynn, though, was a sure-fire Hall of Famer, getting in on the first ballot with one of the all-time highest percentage of the votes. And the one real difference between him and Raines was hits. Raines had 2,605 hits and Gwynn had 3,141. That’s a difference of 536. However, Raines had 1,330 walks to Gwynn’s 790, a difference of 540.

I think Raines is also well over what should be the borderline for Cooperstown. He mixed in five years of true greatness into long career in which he was almost always an asset. It’s a career that’s clearly worthy.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Mets making progress on acquiring reliever

    Aug 29, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT

    New York Mets manager Terry Collins, back, watches from the dugout in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) AP

    Terry Collins could use another quality arm for his bullpen.

  2. Important: There will be a Meeting of the Mookies this afternoon

    Aug 29, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT

    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04:  Mookie Wilson formerly of the New York Mets waves to the fans before throwing out the first pitch for a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the National League Division Series at Shea Stadium on October 4, 2006 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mookie Betts and Mookie Wilson will meet Saturday afternoon at Citi Field.

  3. Terry Francona says he won’t use opt-out clause with Indians for “leverage”

    Aug 29, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Indians manager Terry Francona has the ability to opt out of his contract if team president Mark Shapiro or general manager Chris Antonetti were to leave the organization.

  4. Out since May with concussion symptoms, Justin Morneau begins minor league rehab assignment

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:36 AM EDT

    Injured Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, left, talks with teammate Carlos Gonzalez who he heads to the plate to face the San Diego Padres in the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Denver. The Rockies won 5-0. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) AP

    Morneau has been out since May 13 with a concussion symptoms and a cervical neck strain.

  5. Video: Catwalk at Tropicana Field leaves Kevin Kiermaier hanging

    Aug 29, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    kiermaier

    The catwalk at Tropicana Field strikes again. After it robbed Twins rookie Miguel Sano of a home run on Thursday night, it fooled Rays outfield Kevin Kiermaier on this two-run homer from Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales last night.

  6. Mark Teixeira says he’s having “serious pain” when he tries to run

    Aug 29, 2015, 10:06 AM EDT

    on August 9, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Getty Images

    Teixeira fouled a ball of his right leg on August 17 and hasn’t seen much in the way of improvement.

  7. Video: Jonny Gomes pitched for the Braves last night

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT

    Atlanta Braves outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was pitching in relief, tips his cap as New York Yankees' Chris Young rounds the bases after a solo home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

    With the Braves getting blown out by the Yankees last night, outfielder Jonny Gomes got an opportunity to pitch the top of the ninth inning. As you might expect, it was pretty entertaining.

  8. Settling the Score: Friday’s results

    Aug 29, 2015, 8:55 AM EDT

    Texas Rangers' Elvis Andrus, left, dunks Cole Hamels, right, as Hamels participates in a post game interview after their 4-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 4-1. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) AP

    A quick recap from a busy Friday around MLB, including a dominant outing from Cole Hamels.

  9. Ike Davis expected to be ready for spring training

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT

    Ike Davis Ike Davis

    Ike Davis recently underwent hip surgery, but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training next year.

  10. Yankees outright Chris Capuano to Triple-A

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    Chris Capuano Chris Capuano

    Chris Capuano has had an interesting season. In particular, he’s had a busy August.

  11. Vin Scully will return in 2016 for his 67th season of broadcasting

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:37 PM EDT

    scully ap AP

    Baseball fans rejoice: Vin Scully will return to call Dodgers games in 2016.

  12. Phillies could keep GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. beyond 2015

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    Ruben Amaro Jr. Ruben Amaro Jr.

    Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s contract expires after the season. There’s a chance the Phillies decide to bring him back for the 2016 season.

  13. Blue Jays claim Danny Dorn off waivers from the Diamondbacks

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT

    Danny Dorn Getty Images

    The Blue Jays added some depth on Friday, claiming 1B/OF Danny Dorn off waivers from the Diamondbacks.

  14. The Nationals will re-issue a Jayson Werth bobblehead celebrating Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT

    Jayson Werth Jayson Werth

    The Nationals weren’t happy with how the Jayson Werth bobblehead looked, so they’ll have a new one made and give it away to fans during the off-season.

  15. Giants place Matt Cain on the disabled list, tab Chris Heston to start Sunday

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Chris Heston Chris Heston

    Chris Heston will return to the Giants’ rotation to replace the injured Matt Cain on Sunday.

  16. Dodgers place Yasiel Puig on the disabled list, recall Jose Peraza

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Yasiel Puig Getty Images

    Yasiel Puig is back on the disabled list with his second hamstring strain this season.

  17. The Athletics have a travel-heavy 2016 schedule and unsuccessfully tried to have it altered

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics Oakland Athletics

    AL West teams, including the Athletics, get the short end of the scheduling stick again in 2016.

  18. Craig Kimbrel claimed on waivers by unknown team

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Craig Kimbrel Craig Kimbrel

    An unknown team claimed Padres closer Craig Kimbrel on revocable waivers.

  19. Red Sox shut down Clay Buchholz for the season

    Aug 28, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Clay Buchholz AP

    Will the Red Sox exercise his $13 million option for 2016?

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2933)
  2. D. Span (2488)
  3. G. Stanton (2410)
  4. J. Fernandez (2390)
  5. G. Springer (2351)
  1. Y. Puig (2252)
  2. F. Rodney (2190)
  3. M. Teixeira (2139)
  4. G. Perkins (2051)
  5. H. Olivera (1904)