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In the early 1980s, Warren handed over his NL APBA to me, as his AL team (the Quebec Avenue Separatistes-"the Seps") kept him too busy. Terry Kennedy, Jason Thompson, Juan Bonilla, Dave Concepcion, Bill Madlock, Rick Monday and Mario Soto were the fixtures on my club, the Annex Anarchists, that went to two APBA World Series, losing both times, but the best club belonged to Rick with Tim Raines, Jose Cruz Sr. and Dale Murphy leading the way. Raines was the star in APBA, and Rick developed a special, slightly obscene, way of shaking the dice when Raines came to bat. It seemed to work, as Raines was a tremendous hitter, particularly in the clutch, in APBA.

Later on, in about 1984, Warren and I made a bet. He said that Rickey Henderson would develop more power, and I put my proverbial nickel on Tim Raines. I guess that Warren won that bet. But then, I wasn't exactly an unbiased observer (full disclosure statement).

Tim Raines was drafted by the Expos out of high school in the 5th round in 1977. He reported to Rookie League, and immediately established himself as a nice leadoff hitting prospect, by hitting .280 with excellent plate discipline and speed, at age 17. He had no power at that point. The Expos were obviously impressed and started him off in the high A Florida State League in 1978, where he repeated his performance numbers. Raines moved up to double A and was your basic Grade A prospect in 1979- hitting .290 with 90 walks and 51 strikeouts and 59 stolen bases at age 19. He even added a little pop with 10 triples and 5 homers. He earned a cup of coffee as a pinch-runner with the big-club in September. The 'Spos decided to give him a year of triple A ball in 1980 in Denver. Unsurprisingly, he put up a .354/.437/.501 line in the high air, with his usual excellent plate discipline and great speed. And then came Raines' first major league season in 1981.

It was a strike year, that led to an unusual split season. Raines continued to play as he always had in the minors, hitting .300 with excellent plate discipline and stealing 71 very efficient bases. Raines joined Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, and Steve Rogers at the core of a wonderful Expos club. They held off the Cards to win the second half title, and then defeated first-half NL East winner Philly (with Raines on the shelf due to injury) to face the NL West winner LA for the pennant. The Dodgers and 'Spos split the first four games. In Game 5, on Monday October 19, 1981 (25 years ago yesterday), Ray Burris started for Montreal against Rookie of the Year Fernando Valenzuela. Raines led off the game with a double and scored the game's first run. But, that was all the Expos could muster as Valenzuela held them in check until Rick Monday worked his magic.

Raines took a step back in 1982, as he battled cocaine addiction. He conquered it, and went on to have 5 great seasons in a row. During that time, 1983-87, he was arguably the best player in the National League (with Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy as the other contenders). The Expos had a couple of good seasons in there, but with Gary Carter moving on to the Mets and Andre Dawson unable to sustain his excellence into his early 30s, the team did not make it back to the post-season. Raines became a free agent at the end of 1986, but due to the collusion of the owners was unable to sign a contract with a new club. He re-signed with the Expos on May 1. Notwithstanding his late start, he went on to have his best statistical season in the hitter's year of 1987, hitting .330 with 18 homers. He was 27.

Raines performed well enough in his late 20s and early 30s, but nowhere near his peak. He moved on the the White Sox in 1991, and gave them two excellent seasons in 1992 and 1993, including banging out 12 hits in 6 games in a losing effort against the Blue Jays in the 1993 ALDS. In 1996, he moved on to the Yankees, where he was a part-time leadoff hitter (sharing the role with a young Derek Jeter), and a mighty effective one. He stayed with the Yanks for 3 seasons and earned two rings in the process, and then finished out his career with brief stints in Oakland, Montreal, Baltimore and Florida.

Raines started out his career as a second baseman, and was moved to the outfield in the minor leagues. As a left-fielder, he had excellent range and an average arm. He was a brilliant baserunner, always alert and cat-quick.

So, who are his comparables? First, we will repeat our chart of the post-war lead-off hitters from last week's Leadoff Hitters- Standards and Tools for Evaluation piece:

Here is how the great lead-off hitters of the post-war era have fared over their careers:

Player PAs LADOPS Lg. LADOPS Index SB Success % SB/game
Bobby Bonds 8090 .784 .696 113 .73 .21
Ashburn 9736 .783 .723 108 .66 .11
Brock 11235 .731 .700 104 .75 .36
Henderson 13346 .814 .703 116 .80 .46
Raines 10389 .797 .707 113 .84 .32
Boggs 10740 .848 .725 117 .41 .01
Molitor 12160 .791 .713 111 .79 .19
Biggio 11948 .780 .725 108 .77 .15

Raines was arguably the second-best leadoff hitter of the post-war era, behind Rickey Henderson. The comparison with Lou Brock is a telling one. Raines was superior in two respects. Most importantly, Raines got on base much more often than Brock. He was also a significantly more effective base stealer. The distance between Henderson and Raines may be less than the distance between Raines and Brock.

Next, we will use other comparable players suggested by Baseball Reference, using more conventional measures: Lou Brock, Max Carey, Willie Davis, Fred Clarke, and Enos Slaughter. Here is the chart, with Carey's caught stealing, Clarke's strikeouts and Slaughter's caught stealing figures estimated based on pro-rated data:

Raines 8872 2605
.294 .385
808 146
Brock 10332 3023 761 1730
398 131
567 67

Slaughter 7946

Raines slides in nicely between Slaughter and Clarke. Among leftfielders, Williams, Musial, Henderson and Barry Bonds are the leading quartet. After that, there is a gap to Yastrzemski, Kiner, Clarke, and Raines, and then a further gap to Medwick and several others.

Should Raines go in the Hall of Fame? Yes, without a doubt. Will he when he becomes eligible next year? I suspect that he won't be a first ballot selection, but I do think that he eventually will get in.

Next up: Ichiro Suzuki
Hall Watch 2006-Leadoff Hitters- Tim Raines | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mick Doherty - Friday, October 20 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#157059) #

Should he? Yes, probably.

Will he? I don't know. Seems to me that he is one of the great "between the cracks" players in the game's history. I don't know if it's because he was in Montreal, or if that's a defense/argument for the Expos eventually leaving Canada, but even his time as a Yankee didn't seem to parlay into "great player finishing up his career in pinstripes to win a ring" like it does for some others -- rather, he was just a guy on the Yankee roster, and mostly on the Yankee bench.

But again, should he get in? Yes.

CeeBee - Friday, October 20 2006 @ 07:29 PM EDT (#157087) #

Should he get in?  YES

Will he get in?  Tossup as way too many voters look only at counting stats, though his 800+ steals and 1300+ walks count up pretty nicely.

Mike Green - Wednesday, August 22 2007 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#173417) #
Raines is up for election this year, so I thought that this thread should be resurrected.  Any comments would be welcome.  A little closer to the election, we will run a poll.
Hall Watch 2006-Leadoff Hitters- Tim Raines | 3 comments | Create New Account
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