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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Baseball Hall of Fame is Incomplete without Tim Raines in it...

Rock and Roll with so much soul...
The Hall of Fame is where the heroes of today are enshrined and their legacy preserved for future generations. Similar to how we explore ancient Roman Coliseum ruins and find statues of old athletes and all-stars of yesteryear, people in the far reaches of the future shall look at the ruins of the Western world and happen upon the temple of baseball heroes and look in awe at the heroes of the past.

Yet if history is to take its course un-altered, one great hero will not be found. One of the best, and most heroic of baseball heroes of the era will not be preserved and enshrined into the aeons.

The legend...Tim Raines.

My Bias


Before we begin arguing in favor of the Rock, I must first declare that I have a very personal bias in favor of the Rock.

I remember most of my life after the age of 2 years old, and one memory I hold dear, is at the age of 3 years old, when I first witnessed a major league baseball player hit a homerun. It was at Olympic Stadium and it was hit by Tim Raines, the ball hit a Coca-Cola sign in left-center field and I was awe struck by this feat which I thought (at the time) could never be equaled.

After that I had an unhealthy obsession with the game of baseball. I learned to read boxscores when I was 4 years old, and started typing up fake boxscores on a typewriter (this was before home computers were in fashion) in 1987 at the age of four. My other favorite player in that era was Herm Winningham (only because I liked the sound of his name, similar to how I liked the sound of the name "Mookie Wilson"). Herm and Tim Raines enjoyed most of the success in those fictitious typewritten boxscore, I remember Tim Raines hit over 2000 triples one year in those made up seasons I simulated in my parents backyard. My dad cut some wooden bases and upholstered them in purple fabric for me to fool around with. The Expos games during the offseason in the late eighties happened in my mind and were acted out in my backyard, awaiting for the next season to start again.

...you can Rock 'til 101 years old...
The numbers were so fascinating, all those beautiful statistics. I think I liked the stats better than the actual game sometimes. Baseball sabremetricians (the medical term for them) record so much data on the events that transpire in the game that it's almost unreal. My introduction into this world of sabremetircs, and therefore mathematics, occurred at such a young age thanks to baseball...and thanks to that homerun hit by Tim Raines in 1986 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

I also think I developed a very inclusive human attitude very early on in life, thanks to that homerun. I'm a white guy, and when I first started meeting white people who were racist against blacks...I almost took it personal. They were talking about my childhood hero when they said the "N" word and I didn't like that very much. I saw the stupidity of all forms of arbitrary pointless human hatred at a very young age thanks to baseball.

Obviously as I grew up, I started to see that baseball is mainly a game centered around corporate greed and human growth hormones...but there's still a place reserved in my brain for the my idols of the past.

Facts, the whole facts, and nothin' but the facts...

There's a great website devoted to Tim Raines, founded by sportswriter Jonah Keri and the late John Brattain who have compiled articles and data on why Tim Raines is a hall of famer, it is called Raines30. They argue his case better than anyone and it's a must see if you are a Hall of Fame voter and you are on the fence about Tim Raines.

Here's some other analysis that people should check out too:

1. A 1999 article by EPSN analyst and sabremetrician Rob Neyer (who used data compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau). Here, we see that by compiling at-bats in only "late inning pressure situations" that Tim Raines is the best hitter from 1979 to 1988 in those situations, edging out Steve Sax for the win.



"And who might [the two clutchest hitters] have been? George Brett and Mike Schmidt? Eddie Murray and Steve Garvey?

Nope. Tim Raines and Steve Sax." 


-Rob Neyer (http://207.56.97.150/articles/neyerclutch.htm)


2. This is a statistical comparison between Raines and a guy who got elected to the hall in his first year of eligibility, Mr. Tony Gwynn. Raines stacks up well if not way better than Tony it seems.

Raines (career)

Plate Appearances: 10359
Runs Scored: 1571
Hits: 2605
Runs Batted In: 980
Walks: 1330
Extra Base Hits: 713 (170 which were homers)
Batting Average: .294
On Base Percentage: .385

Stolen Bases/Attempts: 808/954 (84.6%)

Gwynn (career)

Plate Appearances: 10232
Runs Scored:1383
Hits: 3141
Runs Batted In: 1138
Walks: 790
Extra Base Hits: 763 (135 which were homers)
Batting Average: .338
On Base Percentage: .388

Stolen Bases/Attempts: 319/444 (71.8%)

Similar to the say the least, plus they played in the same era and against each other. They have almost identical plate appearances which makes this a wonderful set of data to compare and contrast. Well, Raines wins out in runs and walks...and Tony has more rbi, and hits. Their averages are not similar, Gwynn wins...yet their OBPs are almost exact, and that's pretty odd. Raines drew more walks and stole more bases, but Gwynn slapped more singles. Gwynn had a bit more gap power (more doubles and triples), but the Rock hit 35 more home runs than Tony Gwynn. 

Runs Batted In is a misleading stat, because they award a run and a rbi when a player hits a homerun. The run he scored is counted as an RBI under the logic that the player has "driven himself in" but in actuality only 1 run has scored though the player's variable statistics are adjusted in two fields. So to make up the difference for this, you must subtract homeruns from RBI so the player is not credited twice for one produced run. After that adjustment the new RBI-HR stat is:

Raines (RBI-HR): 810
Gwynn (RBI-HR): 1003

The legend...
It should be strongly and diligently noted that Raines had his RBI totals hindered due to playing in the National Leauge and batting in the leadoff spot. Honestly, how many chances does the leadoff man get for ribbies when the slot before him is the pitcher (who normally has an OBP of around .100) and the one before that is the number 8 hitter (who in the 1980s was usually a weak hitting shortstop or catcher around the Mendoza Line).

Gwynn has 193 more RBIs than the Rock, but factor in that Gwynn got to hit in the number three slot (behind the leadoff and #2 hitter, instead of the pitcher and bum hitter) a total of 5,196 out of his 10232 plate appearences, which is a little more than half of his at bats. Raines only had 1,645 chances in the number three slot. It is easier to drive in the speeder leadoff man and the talented number 2 hitter than it is to knock in the pitcher and the bummiest hitter on your team. If Raines (who as we saw is pretty damn clutch if not the clutchest of all time) had half of his plate appearence from the number three slot I am 100% sure he would've had more RBIs than Tony Gwynn.

For the record, Gwynn also had 3,962 chances hitting in the number 2 slot in the order, while Raines only had 1,185 chances in the number two slot. Due to Raines hitting behind the pitcher and the bum for virtually his whole career, the RBI stats were harshly handicapped against him. If he hit behind the 1 and 2 hitters, he would have had well over 1,000 RBIs.

As for stolen bases, Raines was something to behold. They were both caught stealing a similar amount of times...yet the Rock stole almost 500 more bases than Tony Gwynn.

All in all, they were both very talented...but let's be real, Raines was better than Gwynn. It's sad but true that, Gwynn got 97.6% of the votes when his time came for the Hall of Fame...yet Raines is only hovering around the 30% mark. What a ridiculous shame. If Tony deserves 97.6% than so does Raines.

Get over it...

As for the thing people always seem to bring up about Raines, the cocaine shit, well, Paul Molitor was part of that scandal and he's in the Hall of Fame...how can you let one guy in and not another? That makes no sense. All these guys probably tried it, and Raines was the only guy who admitted he had a problem, apologized to his family, teammates, and friends and overcame his addiction.

My scanned stub from that game...
This coming January, the people who get the vote (writers and journalists, many who never even saw most of these guys play) will consider his eligibility once more. I'm sure he won't get in this year, and it really is crazy when you think about it.

Tim Raines is often compared to Rickey Henderson (and Rickey always wins) but when you compare Raines to Tony Gwynn...it becomes a lot more clear how good he was. He didn't have Henderson's stats...but he did have better stats than Tony Gwynn.

End Note: I was in attendance at Olympic Stadium on August 06 of the year 1999 and saw Tony Gwynn slap a single off of Dan Smith to attain the arbitrary number of 3,000 hits....I don't remember anything particularly spectacular about it. I do have tons of memories of being at Olympic Stadium and witnessing how spectacular and exciting Tim Raines was though. The Rock was a real legend.

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