Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Tim Raines.  Raines was drafted out of Seminole High School in the fifth round of the 1977 draft by the Montreal Expos.  He was used as a pinch runner for six games in 1979, stealing two bases.  After a second cup of coffee in 1980 he was in the bigs for good in 1981, hitting .304/.391/.438 with a 135 OPS+ and 71 stolen bases while getting caught only 11 times.  He made his first of seven straight All-Star teams as well finishing second to Fernandomania in the Rookie of the Year voting.

 

In 1982, though, his numbers dipped.  He had admitted to a cocaine addiction and went to Andre Dawson for help.  Dawson became his mentor and the two are still friends to this day (Raines actually named one of his sons Andre in honor of Dawson as well as named Hawk godfather of young Andre).

 

After the 1986 season in which Raines led the league in batting average and OBP Raines was a free agent.  Because owners believed that Peter Ueberroth was good for the Olympics therefore good for Major League Baseball, they listened to him and colluded in order to keep salaries down.  Besides creating a Grand Canyon-sized hole full of distrust between themselves and the players, it led to several players holding out longer than usual.  Raines missed the entire month of April until finally settling on a new deal with the Expos and made his 1987 debut on May 2 in Shea Stadium against the defending World Series Champion New York Mets.  In Raines’ at-bat he tripled off of David Cone in the first.  In the third he worked Cone into a one out walk, stole a base, and scored a run.  He grounded out in the fifth, then singled in the sixth.  Then in the ninth, with the Expos trailing 6-4, Raines started a rally with a leadoff single and scored.  The Expos would tie the game and force extra innings.  Then in the tenth with Jesse Orosco on the hill, three straight singles loaded the bases.  Up came Raines.  Tie game no more.  A grand slam to left basically sealed it for Montreal as the final score was 11-7.  Raines’ day:  4-5, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, SB, GS, 3B.  After his time in Montreal was over he signed with the White Sox.  He then spent three years with the Yankees.  Then in 1999 while playing with the Athletics he had a kidney biopsy in July and was diagnosed with lupus.  After missing the entire 2000 season, Raines signed with the team that brought him up, the Expos.  When Raines went to bat in the home opener he received what he described as the longest and loudest standing ovation of his career.  On October 3 the Expos traded him to the Baltimore Orioles, and the reason was sentimental.  The next day Tim Raines, Sr. was in leftfield for the Orioles, while Tim Raines, Jr. was in centerfield.  For the second time in Major League history a father and son played for the same team in the same game.  The first time was similar; On August 31, 1990, Ken Griffey, Sr. played in leftfield and Ken Griffey, Jr. played in centerfield.

 

Raines has not yet been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (though he should get in this year – finally).  Why?  I think a lot of it has to do with three things:

 

  1. He played in Montreal, which while it is not a small city it is not an American city.  This was long before ESPN started covering baseball and 70 channels dedicated to just MLB, so we here in the states did not get a whole lot of opportunities to see him (except for All-Star games and the occasional Game of the Week).
  2. He was the second greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, but he was also the second greatest leadoff hitter of his generation. Not only was he behind Rickey Henderson, but the 1980’s featured a strong crop of leadoff hitters, including Paul Molitor and Brett Butler.
  3. And this is the lengthy one:   Not that Raines didn’t have them, it’s just that he didn’t have the right ones.

Let’s start with Raines on the base paths.  1981 was cut short by the strike.  Raines in 88 games Raines stole 71 bases in an amazing 82 attempts.  There have been various projections but one could make a case that he would have broken Lou Brock’s single season stolen base record, not Rickey; instead Rickey would’ve past Raines.  But more than projections, while Raines’ 808 stolen bases doesn’t look as impressive as Rickey’s 1406 – let’s face it; no one’s does – Look at Raines’ success rate compared to the rest of the top 20 in stolen bases for whom we have complete caught stealing data for:

 

Player                                   SB           CS           SB%

Tim Raines                          808         146         84.7%

Willie Wilson                      668         134         83.3%

Davey Lopes                      557         114         83.0%

Ichiro Suzuki                       508         116         81.4%

Joe Morgan                        689         162         81.0%

Vince Coleman                  752         177         80.9%

Rickey Henderson           1406       335         80.8%

Jose Reyes                          488         119         80.4%

Ozzie Smith                        580         148         79.7%

Kenny Lofton                     622         160         79.5%

Paul Molitor                       504         131         79.4%

Luis Aparicio                       506         136         78.8%

Barry Bonds                        514         141         78.5%

Otis Nixon                           620         186         76.9%

Bert Campaneris              649         199         76.5%

Cesar Cedeno                    550         179         75.4%

Lou Brock                            938         307         75.3%

Juan Pierre                         614         203         75.2%

Maury Wills                        586         208         73.8%

Brett Buttler                       558         257         68.5%

 

When you factor in that the closest percentage to him is 140 steals shy and the second closes is 251 steals shy it think it’s even more impressive.  Then there is this:

 

Career Hits:

Tony Gwynn, 3,141

Tim Raines, 2,605

 

Times on Base:

Tim Raines, 3,977

Tony Gwynn, 3,955

 

Slash Stats:

Tony Gwynn, .338/.388/.459

Tim Raines, .294/.385/.425

 

Now, Tony Gwynn was a first ballot Hall of Famer with 97.6% of the vote, and rightfully so.  But let’s say (since studies have figured as much), that 375 singles are worth the same as 500 walks (give or take).  So let’s take away 530 of Raines’ walks and instead give him 400 more singles in 530 at-bats.  Now:

 

Career Hits:

Tony Gwynn, 3,141

Tim Raines, 3,005

 

Times on Base:

Tim Raines, 3,847

Tony Gwynn, 3,955

 

Slash Stats:

Tony Gwynn, .338/.388/.459

Tim Raines, .320/.341/.444

 

And I honestly believe that Raines slides into the Hall of Fame because of the magical “3000”.  Raines should’ve been enshrined a long time ago.  Hopefully this year will finally be that time.

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