By In 100 Greatest, Baseball

No. 88: Tim Raines

If you take Tim Raines’ 1981 strike-shortened season and spread it out over 150 games, Raines projects to steal 121 bases. If that had happened, Raines, not Rickey Henderson, would have broken Lou Brock’s amazing stolen base record (Henderson broke it the next year). I wonder if something that simple would have made made all the difference in the way Raines’s career is perceived.

Consider Steve Garvey. People will not let go of Steve Garvey’s Hall of Fame case. He was on the ballot for all 15 years — at one point getting as much as 42.6% of the vote — and did not get in. After all that he ALSO made the Veteran’s Committee Expansion Era ballot. He did not get in. There are strong voices still pushing his Hall of Fame case even after all that.

Why? What is it about Steve Garvey that makes a group of people so adamant that he deserves to be the Hall of Fame? Forget his personal issues. Forget the advanced stats. Let’s look at basic ones. He didn’t hit .300. His on-base is a below average .323 (assuming OBP is not an advanced stat). He didn’t get very close to 3,000 hits, he didn’t manage even 300 home runs, he only once hit 30 homers, he never hit 40 doubles, he never scored 100 runs, he only five times drove in 100 RBIs (Joe Carter did it 10 times). What gives?

The answer: Steve Garvey was famous. He won an MVP award he almost certainly should not have won in 1974. He did noticeable things like get 200 hits per season and win Gold Gloves. He was on television every time you turned around, he hit well in the postseason, he had an extremely likable persona. And even when things turned sour for him with all the paternity cases and money issues and whatever, he was STILL famous or infamous, and in today’s world it’s often hard to tell the difference.

Now consider … Al Oliver. I think I can say this pretty confidently: Al Oliver was a better hitter than Steve Garvey. His career batting average (.303), his career on-base percentage (.344) and his career slugging percentage (.451) are all higher than Garvey’s. He created 100 more runs in his career than Garvey did.

And you could not really say Garvey had a higher peak. Oliver’s best season, 1982, is clearly bit better than Garvey’s best season in 1974.

Oliver: .331/.392/.514, league leading 43 doubles and 109 RBIs, 90 runs scored, 125 runs created, 150 OPS+.
Garvey: .313/.342/.469, 102 runs created, 130 OPS+, MVP.

After that, their second, third, fourth, fifth best seasons all more or less match up.

Oliver had more hits, more doubles, more triples, more runs, more RBIs and even one more stolen base. Garvey does have a lead in home runs and that’s about it.

Defensively, Garvey had a much better reputation and he was probably somewhat better … but the numbers don’t show much difference between them.

Does anyone push for Al Oliver’s Hall of Fame case? He was on the ballot one year, did not get 5%, and fell off. He was not on the Expansion Era ballot, nor was there any clamor about his exclusion. He does not have a particularly vocal Hall of Fame support group. Al Oliver was not famous, not like Garvey. He never had that moment. He was never MVP. He only started in one All-Star Game. He was not as good in the postseason. He wasn’t on game shows. He was known in his day largely for being underrated (much to his disgust) and that simply doesn’t carry over very well after retirement.

Tim Raines never had that grand moment either. He too was never MVP. He had an MVP case three or four times, but he never really came close to winning one. He started in only two All-Star Games, played much of his best baseball outside the United States, never led the league in anything after age 27, and was a player whose greatest skills (getting on base, running the bases, scoring runs, stealing bases at a historically high percentage) tend not to be as appreciated as others (batting average, hitting home runs, driving in runs).

Tim Raines was so underrated that even he didn’t realize how good a player he was. He would often talk about Andre Dawson being the real offensive star of the Expos. But Raines — even if he would deny it — was a better offensive player than Dawson most years. It wasn’t even that close. Here are Andre Dawson’s top five seasons in runs created:

1. 113 (1983)
2. 111 (1987)
3. 106 (1982)
4. 105 (1980)
5. 101 (1990)

The basic runs created is simply on base percentage times slugging percentage times at-bats. That’s all. We’re not talking about some hugely involved thing.

Now, here are Tim Raines five best seasons in runs created:

1. 132 (1987)
2. 130 (1986)
3. 124 (1984)
4. 124 (1985)
5. 120 (1983)

Raines’s fifth season was higher than Dawson’s best. He was just a more productive offensive player because he got on base a lot more than Dawson. But, like I say, you can’t even get TIM RAINES HIMSELF to believe that, so it would be hard to convince a skeptical crowd.

These days, many of Raines’ biggest Hall of Fame supporters will make the Tony Gwynn comparison, which I think is a good one. People think of Gwynn as an all-time great because he really was a fantastic player and, like Garvey (well not LIKE Garvey, exactly), he was famous. He won eight batting titles. He won five Gold Gloves. He was a hitting artist and known for being one. He was elected first ballot into the Hall of Fame, 97% of the vote, a slam dunk of slam dunks.

Was Gwynn better than Raines? Maybe. But every time you break down their careers, you see how close it is. Gwynn and Raines came to the plate almost the same number of times. Gwynn had 100-plus more doubles. But Raines had more triples and homers. When you put all that together, the total bases match up almost exactly (Gwynn had 226 more total bases in doubles; Raines had 224 more total bases in triples and home runs).

But, Gwynn had a much higher batting average (.338 to .294) which suggests he hit many more singles. He did. Gwynn had 536 more singles than Raines. That’s certainly a big lead. But Raines’ on-base percentage is almost the same as Gwynn’s (Gwynn .388, Raines .385) and the reason is that Raines had 540 more walks than Gwynn. A hit is worth a bit more than a walk, especially in certain situations (runners advancing an extra base or scoring when not forced in) and so this gives Gwynn a slight edge. Gwynn was also the better defender.

But Raines was the much better base stealer. That’s no knock on Gwynn, who stole more than 300 bases in his career. Raines was the maestro, though. He stole 808 bases. He was caught just 146 times. He did not steal as many bases as Rickey or Brock or Cobb, but he was thrown out many fewer times. I think he was the best pure base stealer of all time.

Was Gwynn a better player? I think so — he’s higher on my list. But it’s so close. So close. If Gwynn was a 98% Hall of Famer, Raines should be 90% Hall of Famer. Sadly, that’s not the way it works. Raines, even without great fame as a player, does have a vocal Hall of Fame group behind him and I think he will get in eventually. But I wonder if he would be in right now had he set the stolen base record as a rookie.

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62 Responses to No. 88: Tim Raines

  1. Ross Holden says:

    You’d think with a cool nickname like “Rock” that more people would have noticed him. Unfortunately not.

  2. Brad Nielsen says:

    because i can’t look up the column everyday, it would be nice if you could list the names of the prior selections at the end of each post. Miss you in KC, Joe.

  3. Matthew says:

    He’s tracking all of the posts under “baseball-100”

  4. Raines stands at 52% as of last years HOF vote. I wonder if he will go lower, not higher, this year with the stacked ballot and the vote splitting that will go on with those that do vote for steroids users (about 25-35% of voters)and those that don’t. I think Raines could be a victim of circumstances. While he’s high enough where he won’t fall of the ballot (unlike others who will really get screwed), I really can’t see him reaching 75% with the current ballot and current voter environment. In fact, I see him losing support (sadly). At least Jack Morris will be off the ballot next year, one way or another.

    • Karyn says:

      Didn’t Joe have a column a bit ago, discussing how once a guy gets to 50%, he almost always goes in? I read that somewhere, maybe it was here. Anyway, you may be right about Raines–with this situation, he might go against the historical trend.

      Alternately, with some of the candidates ‘tainted’ by PED usage, he might rate a second look by some voters.

      • Ian R. says:

        Everyone who has ever gotten 50 percent or more of the vote has gone in, but a few of those guys have needed the Veterans’ Committee. It should be said that while that’s true thus far, it may not be true for long – Jack Morris is over 50 percent, but with the stacked ballot, I don’t think he’ll get in this year, and this is his last year of eligibility.

        Raines still has 9 years of eligibility left, so I do think he’ll make it eventually. It’s far from a sure thing, though.

        • schlom says:

          Not everyone, Gil Hodges never made it (although he was a special case as he was managing as he was on the HoF ballot).

        • John Gale says:

          Well, with the Veteran’s Committee caveat, I’m fairly certain Morris gets in one way or the other. And actually, the rule isn’t foolproof, as Gil Hodges has not been elected despite cracking that threshold.

          • JaLaBar says:

            Raines is one of my ‘threshhold’ players. When people talk to me about HoFers, there are those that should get in whether Raines does or not, and then those that should get in ‘but not until after Rock’. In my eyes, there is absolutely no question that Raines should be a HoFer. But… for example the Morris issue, which thankfully we shouldn’t have to revisit for a while. All those who howled for Morris to be included, I said “I am fine with you voting for Morris, as long as you give an earlier vote to Raines. If you plan to vote for Morris and NOT Raines, you have a screwed up view of what constitutes a HoFer. I feel the same way about Biggio and Bagwell and Piazza and Mussina etc. I think those four are HoF material and have no problem with their election AFTER Raines.

  5. MJW says:

    It seems like Garvey’s consecutive games streak was a big factor in his fame as well.

  6. otistaylor89 says:

    I think the public coke addiction has hurt him more than anything, which is saying something since playing for the Montreal Expos didn’t exactly help either.

    • Cathead says:

      It’s easy to forget that now, but I think you are correct about the cocaine issue. It was a big deal then, and probably cost Dave Parker a lot of love, too. The subsequent PED scandal has served to overshadow the cocaine issues in the 1980’s.

      • Which hunt? says:

        But not Eck? What could possibly be different about them that would make coke a big deal for those two guys?

        • mrgjg says:

          Eck has the closer hook, pitching for a famous team etc., as for Parker, he’s just not a Hall of Famer.
          Besides, I doubt the coke thing has anything to do with Raines not getting in, he just had a career that for whatever reason didn’t seem like that of a HOF.
          Why did Ron Santo have to die before getting in?
          Why was Dewey Evans one and done when guys like Lou Brock and Kirby Puckett when in on the 1st ballot?

  7. Will3pin says:

    Raines case is hurt somewhat by his post-season – his production is considerably lower than regular season, and he lacks any memorable moments. Rick Monday’s 9th inning homer off of Steve Rogers in Game 5 of the National League playoff may have been a pivotal moment for Raines. Despite the talent, the Expos never really recovered and were able to put it all together after that. I would have loved to have seen more of Raines in the post-season early in his career.

    Garv’s case is buoyed by his post-season. His production is above his average and is he has some memorable moments. His walk-off shot in Game 4 of the ’84 playoffs against that wonderful Cubs team comes to mind.

    I recall staying home from school to watch that Expos-Dodgers game with my Mom in ’81, and watching the Garvey Cub-killer with friends while at University. Good memories. Thanks for this great series, Joe.

    • I was a couple of months into my first job during that 81 series and stole a lot of peeks at the game, which was showing at the Pizza joint next door. Monday had a long swing and when he hit it, it seemed to be a pop fly. It was hit really high, high enough where the center fielder (was it Raines or Dawson?) had plenty of time to get back to the wall in dead center. I was sure he was going to catch it on the track, but then he ran out of room and looked up. When the ball landed on the other side of the fence, the place went nuts. I had to run back to work, so I didn’t see the bottom of the inning, but it was one of those moments that I’ll always remember.

      • Oh, and the best part was beating the Yankees in the series after going down two games to zero and winning the next four. The pitchers dominated against the Expos….. Well, all year long….and the hitters awakened big time against the Yankees.

  8. Cathead says:

    Two HOF factors which I think gets overlooked (1) Playing one’s career primarily for one team (maybe two), especially if that team is in a major market; and (2) Playoff – especially World Series – performances. The first is more subtle. The player gets “branded,” if you will. You will always associate Gwynn with the Padres, Ripken with the Orioles, Mantle with the Yankees, etc. The player also gets a boost from the local media which covered him, and that is often overlooked by fans when it comes HOF voting time. That is understandable, but it tilts the table.

    Garvey’s teams were in five World Series during the height of his career. He had a great moment in hitting a game winning homer in a pennant clinching game for the Padres. He performed well on the big stage.

    Raines played in relative obscurity.- 13 years in Montreal, a team which made the playoffs once. Then he bounced around a lot. He got to the WS twice as a bit player with the Yankees at the end of his career. [He actually did not even play in the 1998 Series.]

    None of that is meant to be a knock on Raines as a player. It’s just that this is the Hall of FAME, Garvey got fame during his career. Raines got obscurity.

  9. Mike says:

    There are a few things working against him I think.

    The personal issue with the cocaine and how it carried over to the field with him sliding headfirst to avoid damaging vials in his back pocket could be construed against character/integrity. Another how good he have been if not for…

    His legacy has no current home – Dawson had Chicago after he left Montreal but Raines is not really connected with any other place. Where can he go to sing the 7th inning stretch and tell stories?

    His extended decline phase has people remember the lesser Raines. The end of his peak was at 27 and he played for 15 more years. To borrow Joe’s quote about Mark Prior, I had thought Raines retired 5 years before he did.

    That said he definitely should be in the HOF and Bill James story of his “race” with Raines was one of the best in the Historical Abstract.

  10. Carl says:

    I feel Garvey is remembered for being better than he was because he was on the NBC game of the week every week for several years at his peak (74-78) while his team was a contender and most of all – Joe Garagiola’s huge man-crush on Garvey.

    Al Oliver – I recall an article in Baseball Digest several years ahead of his retirement saying he wanted to reach 3K hits, Unfortunately for him, he was a tweener. An OF who was not a slugger, but was not a great hitter for average ala Gwynn, and not a great basestealer ala Henderson and Raines.

    Raines – When completely healthy and playing on Artif turf, he was great. Once off artif turf he became a compiler, never leading the league in anything. The cocaine thing also hurt son the margins as well.

    PS – RC is a terrible stat as it favors the .400/.400 hitter over the .300/.500 (OBP/SLG) hitter.

    • Andrew W. says:

      I’d much prefer a .400/.400 hitter over a .300/.500 hitter. A .300 OBP is basically an out-machine

    • Simon says:

      I don’t think RC is perfect either, but I would definitely take a .400/.400 hitter than a .300/.500 hitter.

      A somewhat related comment: One knock on the OPS stat is that it rewards OBP and SLG equally even though OBP is more important, thousandth for thousandth.

  11. Ian R. says:

    “He did not steal as many bases as Rickey or Brock or Cobb, but he was thrown out many fewer times. I think he was the best pure base stealer of all time.”

    A couple of thoughts on this:

    First of all, obviously, we don’t really know how many times Ty Cobb was caught stealing. There are 212 we KNOW about, but statistics on caught stealing weren’t kept in many seasons of his career, and I wonder how accurate the counts are from the seasons when they did exist. We could estimate that Cobb was caught, say, somewhere around 300 times, maybe more. That’s a lot.

    However, let’s also acknowledge that Cobb played in a much lower-scoring era. The value of a stolen base was higher than in Raines’ day, and the impact of a caught-stealing was much lower than it was in Raines’ day. That means the break-even point on stolen base percentage was correspondingly lower.

    Does that mean Ty Cobb was a better base-stealer than Tim Raines? Probably not. In the context of his time, though, Cobb may have been closer than you think.

    (The same argument can be made for Lou Brock, by the way. Again, I don’t think Brock was a better pure base-stealer than Raines, but we can’t just straight-up compare their percentages without context.)

    • Ian R. says:

      I should probably double-check my math before commenting. 300 is an awfully low estimate for Cobb based on his CS totals in the years they WERE tracking them. His actual total was probably closer to 400, maybe more.

    • Andrew W. says:

      That’s interesting, I’d never really thought of it in that way before. I agree that a stolen base would be more valuable. I wonder though, is getting caught stealing in a lower scoring environment less impactful? I would guess (without really knowing) that when scoring from the batters box (via the home run) is considerably less likely, baserunners would be at more of a premium, and therefore getting thrown out on the basepaths would have greater consequences.

      Again though, I could be wrong. What is your reasoning?

      • Ian R. says:

        The idea, basically, is that stolen bases are only valuable if they lead to scoring runs. Likewise, caught stealings are only damaging if they lead to not scoring runs.

        In a low-scoring era when everyone’s bunting, making ground outs and hitting singles – which describes Ty Cobb’s era to a T – taking that extra base has extra value. Conversely, in say 2001, the value of a steal was significantly lower because odds were good that the next batter would hit a home run anyway. Meanwhile, getting caught stealing is MORE damaging in that sort of environment because you lose a baserunner right before the home run.

        On the other hand, in a low-scoring era, getting caught stealing is less damaging because the next guy is probably going to make an out anyway. Sure, baserunners are at a premium, but runners in scoring position are at even more of a premium when guys aren’t hitting for power. Thus the break-even point goes down.

        I believe that in 1968 – the original Year of the Pitcher – the break-even point was as low as a 58 percent success rate. In 2000, it was probably over 80 percent.

        The other thing to keep in mind with Cobb is that he often stole third and home, not just second. The break-even points on steals of those bases are significantly lower, especially the straight steal of home (because it leads immediately to scoring a run).

  12. Matthew Clark says:

    Growing up in the East Bay listening to A’s games and the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson, I can say that my friends and I were definitely aware of that new guy, Raines who played in Canada. But the perception was always that Raines was second best. If we talked about him it was to notice that he didnt quite measure up to our guy, or that he played in a weird city on weird colored carpet.
    Raines should be in the HOF, but I think it is hard to build a case when you are perceived as being the 2nd best. Also, contemporary perception (Garvey constantly being called a future HOFer) colors all subsequent analysis, or worse impeeds it. I dont remember anyone writing or saying in the 80s that Raines was a sure fire HOFer. We all knew that Rickey was 15 years before he retired.
    I wouldn’t have Rock on my 100 list, but I sure love reading why he is on yours, Joe. Keep up the great work.

  13. Don Moonen says:

    RE: Garvey’s gold gloves …. already knew that the Dodgers moved him from 3rd base because he couldn’t accurately throw to first. Then read Larry Dierker’s bio which revealed that manager Larry instructed his players to ALWAYS go 2nd to 3rd on Garvey because Garvey NEVER would risk a throw to get such a runner. Ah, the difference in playing in LA and NYC.

  14. Tim F. says:

    I hadn’t paid much attention to how fraudulent Garvey’s MVP was in 1974. At least a half dozen players had far statistically superior seasons to him. Mike Schmidt’s season blows Garvey out of the water and even Dave Cash had a higher WAR. In OPS, Garvey finished 11th. I guess a nice smile, perfect hair and being on the Dodgers goes further than I thought.

    • Jimmy Wynn, on his own team, had a three point WAR advantage on Garvey, plus about 70 points of OPS and 20 point of OPS+ AND 11 more HRs. I considered Wynn the star of the team as he was one of my childhood faves. Garvey was very solid, reliable and consistent, which was needed since several of their players were very streaky.

      • mrgjg says:

        I remember that year well. Wynn got off to a crazy start and till August, the MVP was his to lose…well he lost it.
        Schmidt really should have gotten it, but since the Phillies weren’t that good yet, it wasn’t surprising.
        The Toy Cannon would still have been a better choice then Garvey.
        He really did make a difference for them coming over from the Astros and carrying them through a good part of the season.

  15. Matt Tierney says:

    Not to mention perfect arm hair. Seriously. I can remember my mom talking about Garvey’s forearms…

  16. KTM says:

    Garvey’s hair was always perfect, i saw him at Trader Vic’s once!

  17. mwarneridx says:

    Garvey vs. Oliver was also about the narrative… Captain America was relatively obscure when he exploded in 1974 — All-Star game, MVP, World Series — and that became his identity. Oliver was an established “very good player” who was overshadowed in his early years by Clemente, Stargell, etc. and had already kind of settled into that identity at the time he had the huge season with Texas.

    It must be that — I’m sure it couldn’t have anything to do with skin color or Sucking-Up-to-Sportswriters Quotient.

  18. KTM says:

    Garvey was also a part of a fairly stable infield … One that supposedly would last 9 yrs. or so. The other participants being Lopes @2b, Bill Russell @ SS and Ron Cey @ 3rd. I think Lopes went free agent and was replaced by Steve Sax. Back when the dodgers usually made the playoffs.

    Interestingly, Whitaker and Trammel were long time field mates. 2 other non-hall types.

    Where have you gone…. Warren Cromartie….

  19. Will3pin says:

    I kept scrolling down the page, and the ’74 MVP vote is just intriguing on the AL side with Jeff Burroughs (TX) beating out a trio of As (Rudi, Bando, Reggie) who split the vote, and strong pitching candidates Hunter and Jenkins. A couple of players further down in the voting (Carew,and Grich) also had more than double the WAR of Burroughs that year.

    The Rangers improved dramatically in ’74, which certainly swayed voters to Burroughs. The blank ink RBI crown carried a ton of weight then. Voters were likely tired of the As juggernaut by then (I sure was), and unable to determine who exactly was the most valuable player on that formidable squad.

    • Chad says:

      I liked the NL Cy Young voting. Jack Gillingham – 36 starts, 212 innings pitched. Mike Marshall – 0 games started, 208.1 innings pitched in 106 games. That is one of the most unique and incredible seasons you will find.

  20. Chad Meisgeier says:

    Continuing to play along. No. 88 on my list is Harry Heilmann.

  21. johnq11 says:

    It’s hard to imagine now but Garvey was looked upon as a virtual lock HOF during the early 80’s. I remember his baseball cards were always among the most expensive in set.

    I don’t really understand the Garvey comparison in this essay? And Garvey takes up about 1/3 of a Tim Raines’ essay. Keith Hernandez HOF case would be a better contrast/comparison to Garvey. Tim Raines and Gwynn is the obvious comparison.

    I think Garvey had a bunch of things going for him.

    1- In the pre Cal Ripken days, Garvey had a huge consecutive game streak and he was thought to have a very good chance to break Lou Gehrig’s record.

    2-Garvey’s Dodgers were one of the top 3 if not the best team in the N.L. from 1974-1982 (1 WS, 4 N.L. Pennants, 4 N.L. West Divisions). so it seemed like he was always on t.v.

    3-Garvey played in L.A. and his team was good so he would constantly be on the game of the week. This was a big deal in the pre cable, pre ESPN, pre internet world. Garvey also appeared on t.v. shows with his hot model caliber wife.

    4-Garvey was a very clean cut guy which contrasted well with the mainstream against the stragley hair bearded looking players of the 70’s.

    5-Garvey played every game and had about 700 plate appearances every year. Plus he hit .300 every year. As a result he would get 200 hits. Back in the 70’s this was seen as a major accomplishment. Nobody cared about on-base percentage or walks back then. Even with that it’s really amazing that he never scored 100 runs in a season considering he was in a good lineup and averaged 700 plate appearances a year.

    6-Garvey was in the all star game every year. All told he probably took 3-4 all star appearances away from Hernandez and 2 Gold Gloves. I really don’t understand the 84-85 while he was on the Padres.

    7-Garvey at best was a slightly above average 1b and didn’t deserve those gold gloves. I remember Wes Parker wrote some scathing articles about what a joke it was to give Garvey a gold glove.

    8-Garvey had 10 all star game appearances which is basically a lock for the HOF. I think Bill Freehan is the only non-steroid guy with more (11) and not in the HOF. And speaking of steroids, I’m surprised Garvey’s name never came up, especially with those Popeye forearms. Garvey’s body type looked like the classic steroid user. 5′ 9″-10″ & 190-200 pounds with massive forearms.

    9-Like I said he hit .300, 20 hr & got 200 hits every year which people thought was a really big deal.

    Put in proper perspective, he was massively overrated. 1B in general are massively overrated in baseball. WAR on baseball reference ranks him as the 48th-49th best 1b in baseball history. It’s about the same as Kent Hrbeck.

    I can’t even compare him to a modern day player because modern 1b like that don’t have 16-17 year careers. Garett Anderson comes up as his biggest comp.

  22. johnq11 says:

    Raines just was a victim of bad timing and a general lack of understanding about the value of on-base percentage. I think Bill James made the case that he was the player most harmed by the baseball labor troubles. He lost a chance to break Brock’s record in 1981 because of the strike. He lost a chance to win the MVP in 1987 because of collusion and the ’94-95 strike cost him hits on his all time numbers. Overall he probably lost about 150 hits on his all-time mark.

    He was also blocked in 1980 because the Expos had so many talented outfielders. He also became a part time player too early in his career (IMO).

    Raines toiled in obscurity in Montreal and then he was overshadowed by older players like Carter and Dawson and then later Al Oliver.

    His White Sox years are also basically forgotten, especially what he did on the 1993 A.L. champion team. By the time he went to the Yankees he was basically though about as some kind of platoon player.

    But the biggest problem is that voters “STILL” don’t understand the value of a walk. A walk is about 65% the value of single. Bill James did a study a few years ago substituting 500 walks for 325 singles. I think Raines goes from .294/.385/.425 to .319/.373/.445. Essentially the values are the same yet people in general greatly rate the second set of numbers much higher.

    If Raines had high 325 singles instead of drawing 500 walks, he’d probably be in the HOF already.

  23. wordyduke says:

    Tim Raines also played his last four seasons with a diagnosis of lupus. That medical condition may account for a degree of his decline phase. If a player’s peak is high and long enough (think Koufax, Santo, Raines), it’s not unreasonable to be less demanding — if he has a medical condition — about his baseball longevity.

  24. schlom says:

    Obviously being famous has something to do with this list as Mariano Rivera is ranked 95th when in reality he’s probably not even among the best 100 pitchers of all-time.

  25. Patrick Hogue says:

    I’ve done my own top 100 list before but it has been a few years. On first glance, I like seeing Biggio, Raines, Santo, Waner and Ichiro and the others do not jump out as obvious top 100 guys. I don’t like seeing McGwire, but that is even worse if Killebrew, who Joe compares him to, doesn’t make the list. Not sure about Whitaker. I like Rogan among the NLers and not sure about Bell. I’ll make my own list and see who else Joe throws at us before being too critical.

  26. Adam says:

    I think part of the issue with Raine’s candidacy is that part of the argument for election is his high OBP because he walked a lot. While walks may help a team win and add value to the individual advanced stats, the act of walking doesn’t take as much skill as hitting a baseball and reaching base safely. It’s more of a passive act. And i’m not saying the ability to take walks doesn’t take skill or isn’t important when looking at a player’s HoF credentials.

    And I think that is why the traditional stats, like hits and HR still matter for the HoF voters. Those actions show a level of skill, that the batter is able to control his fate while at the plate. I freely admit I’m not fully aware of all the advanced stats or calculations that go into them, it seems to me that this is what they don’t take into account. Players being better at taking an action, than most people in the history of the game.

    • Ian R. says:

      Your argument that taking walks is a passive act would hold more water if we were talking about, say, Mark McGwire. A power hitter like Big Mac took plenty of unintentional-intentional walks because pitchers would work around him. I don’t think too many pitchers were upset about walking McGwire – they were glad he didn’t have the chance to hit a home run.

      (Of course, that doesn’t explain why some power hitters have very high walk totals and others have very low walk totals, but it’s at least a factor.)

      Tim Raines, though? Nobody wanted to walk Tim Raines; the guy was a menace on the basepaths. Nobody pitched around Raines. To draw that many walks, he needed an excellent eye and the ability to foul off tons of pitches. That takes skill, and I’d contend it’s an active skill.

      • John Gale says:

        Yeah, this is why Rickey Henderson being No. 2 (and briefly No. 1 before Bonds passed him) on the career walks list was so impressive, more so than the power guys.

        • Matthew Clark says:

          Exactly. Walking Bonds was a strategic decision made by the opposing manager: better to have Bonds on base than in the batter’s box. No one ever thought it was a good idea to put Rickey on. Well, he did get 61 intentional walks (only 6 coming during his NL stints). I am guessing 2 outs, runners at 2nd and 3rd every time. IBs are bogus; Rickey will always be the real walk king.

  27. tombando says:

    I’ll echo Noted_Sage johnq11’s Garvey blurbs-he’s right, pretty much.

    It’s also face it the cliche to sit and bash Garvey because he’s the poster boy for ‘overrated in their time .300 hitter/rbi machines who didn’t walk as much as Jimmy Wynn’ narrative that’s sprung up. I’ve seen Bill James hisself speaking to Bill Simmons about how he feels bad the Garvey bashing, to make a point -Garvey’s over-rated’, he/they went overboard w/ it and turned EVERYTHING about Mr Boyscout into a flaw. It wasn’t so.

    Could he have used taking a few more walks? Sure, sure. But as is stated above-driving in 100 guys, getting 200 hits and hitting .300 was what they were told to do. Put bat on ball. Drive in Lopes. Show up on Fantasy Island. It made him $$$ and kept him employed.

    You can watch varied 70’s/80’s All star or post-season games now on You Tube, and Garvey’s right there, winning the MVP for ’74 and ’78, whacking big doubles with the game on the line, time and time again. He was noticed. Gowdy spent as much time telling us Joe Rudi was under-rated as gushing about Garvey, seems to me.

    Yes Garvey was a bit of a fraud as far’s the image is concerned, but that’s true about others. As a player, he was still really, REALLY good, you’d take him and Joe Poz would take him if he was coming up thru the ranks and hit like he did in ’74 today.

    Oliver-he was great, if you put him and Staub and Garvey on the same Hof ballot-which they did-of COURSE they’re gonna cancel each other out. Kinda the same careers.

    Raines for the Hall? works for me.

  28. Judd says:

    The cocaine deal never seemed to come up with Paul Molitor. Wonder why?

  29. Ron says:

    Montreal is a “weird” city? You’d rather live in Oakland?

  30. mrgjg says:

    This whole Raines being punished for the Coke thing is a total red herring. As someone who remembers the 80’s quite vividly, believe me when I say EVERYBODY did coke. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting somebody that was holding coke.
    Sportswriters were no different, you can bet they were indulging just the same as everyone else.

  31. hewetson says:

    Tim Raines was a player to be reckoned with at bat and on the bases. Saw him as an Expo at Shea Stadium, at Comiskey as a White Sock and Yankee Stadium in the pinstripes. His hitting reminded me of Bill Madlock who I’d seen play as a Cub in Wrigley and a Pirate at Shea. Al Oliver was a steady, underrated player, who rose to the occasion and a positive force in the dugout. Reminiscent of Bob Watson, Eddie Murray, Bill White or Joe Rudy in character.
    Steve Garvey was a gifted player with Popeye forearms. I remember how upset he was at Reggie Jackson’s ‘hoodlum hip’ that broke up a double play in the 78 World Series. Garvey was a decent fielder but his throwing arm was unpredictable. He broke the Cubs fans hearts as the Padre MVP in the 1984 NLCS. Mr. Clean went on to knock in two runs in the World Series as the Tigers spanked the Padres 4-1. Here is another take on Steve Garvey

  32. […] so great, besides his ability to get on base (.385 career OB%) was his success as swiping a bag. Joe Posnanski has a great post about why Tim Raines is more than just a great base stealer, but a Hall of Fame […]

  33. […] a pitcher, which is why Tim Raines still hasn’t gotten in even though he’s probably the best leadoff hitter of the past 30 years other than Rickey Henderson. It goes on and […]

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