How has the argument changed in the last 15 years? Let's go back to the time of his retirement and find out.
Later today we'll find out just how close Tim Raines came to the Hall of Fame in his second-to-last year on the ballot. Until then, we take a look back at what the case for him looked like at the time of his retirement. This article originally ran on March 31, 2000.
Tim Raines has his case re-examined, and the remainder of the Hall ballot gets a look.
We all have our pet projects. With the graduations of Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame, mine is now Tim Raines. During his 23-year major-league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed, and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon. Yet in four years on the ballot, he's reached just 37.5 percent of the vote, exactly half of what he needs to reach Cooperstown.
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One left fielder on this year's Hall of Fame ballot clearly deserves induction.
Among the 19 holdovers on the Baseball Writers Association of America's 2011 Hall of Fame ballot, no player clears the JAWS standard at his position by a higher margin than Tim Raines—not Bert Blyleven, not Barry Larkin, and not Roberto Alomar, all of whom the system shows as being more than worthy of election. During his 23-year major league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon.
Yesterday I began the JAWS evaluation of the 2009 Hall of Fame ballot with a lengthy look at Rickey Henderson, widely acknowledged as the greatest leadoff hitter in history. Today the attention turns to Tim Raines, quite possibly the game's second-greatest leadoff hitter. Had the two players not been direct contemporaries, the latter might have fared better than the piddling 24.3 percent he polled in his first year on the ballot last time around. Unlike Henderson, Raines lacks the round-number milestones and major-category rankings that generate buzz come ballot time, but while his career numbers don't measure up to Rickey's, they more than exceed the JAWS benchmarks for Hall of Fame left fielders, whether one's looking at the olderWins Above Replacement Player system or the revisions unveiled during this series.
CHEERS clearly proves that Tim Raines doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Will it incite an anti-stathead backlash for Rock amongst the voters?
I'm asking all of you to take a voyage back in time. Not to last week, or even last month, but to a more innocent time, before my mind got wrapped up in Congressional hearings or trips to the Dominican Republic. Back then, we looked at the candidacy of Tim Raines for induction to Cooperstown. I shared some of my subconscious thoughts on the subject, and issued a challenge: come up with an argument that would create an anti-stathead backlash in favor of Raines among Hall of Fame voters, and win a prize.
JAWS gapes for the Hall candidacy of Tim Raines, but finds the other eligible outfielders not quite so tasty.
Picking up where we left off last week, we turn JAWS loose on the outfielders of the 2008 ballot, a mercifully smaller crop than last year's 13 outfielders, but one about which we have much to discuss.
Flash back to January 1987. Walk Like an Egyptian is at the top of the pop charts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has coasted past 2,000. John Elway has broken Cleveland's heart for the very first time. And in baseball, the free agents are getting utterly and completely shafted.
In an article that appeared on Baseball Prospectus recently, I concluded that, in spite of an across-the-board decrease in player salaries, the winter's market has done a very efficient job of equating free agent salaries with performance. Players are being paid less, but more so than in the recent past, they're being paid in proportion to what they're worth. I went on to suggest that this constitutes compelling evidence that ownership is not colluding to restrict the market:
It's not worth our time to explain in exhaustive detail why more than 4% of
75,000 voters should have cast a ballot for Raines as the recent retiree
most deserving of the Hall of Fame. It doesn't behoove us to explain why
Raines is more deserving of the Hall of Fame than Joe Carter, he of
the lifetime .306 OBP, or Kirk Gibson, who appeared in fewer games
than Dave Martinez and never led his league in any category except
errors. And if you need someone to explain why Raines was a better player
than Willie McGee, whose primary offensive value was his ability to
rap out singles--he never hit more than 11 home runs in a season and his
career high in walks was 48--and who finished with more than 300 fewer hits
than Raines, well, you're exactly who should be reading this column.