The Case for Tim Raines

Well, it’s midnight in Texas and I can’t sleep. Benadryl didn’t work. Klonipin didn’t work. Vodka and Country Time Lemonade didn’t either. Therefore, a well-researched rant about one of baseball’s least appreciated stars seems to be in order. (In all seriousness, I’m not drunk right now, just having a little insomnia)

Before I get into Raines, I want to congratulate Matt Cain for an epic pitching performance today (or last night) against the Pirates. I was so impressed that a little Baseball Reference  research was in order. The last time a player pitched nine innings of perfect ball outside of a single by the opposing pitcher was Gary Peters in 1963 for the White Sox against Baltimore. At least in Peters’ case the hit was by Hall of Fame hurler Robin Roberts instead of some spare for Pittsburgh. Moving on.

Tim Raines spent the better part of his 23-year career in baseball purgatory: batting leadoff for the Montreal Expos. While the sporting world marveled at the accomplishments of a much more boisterous base-stealer on the west coast, Raines maintained an All-Star level of play despite issues with cocaine abuse. As the 1990s rolled around, “Hawk” kept a high level of play despite consistent injury problems which were later diagnose as the result of Lupus, an auto-immune disorder that can bring Olympic athletes to their knees in a matter of years. But Raines played on through 2002, making him one of only a handful of players to span their career over four decades.

So let’s play a game. I’ll list two players: can you definitively say one of them was better than the other?

Player A: 2616 games, 1610 runs, 3023 hits, 900 RBI, 938 steals, .293 BA, .343 OBP, 6x All-Star

Player B:  2502 games, 1571 runs, 2605 hits, 980 RBI, 808 steals, .294 BA, .385 OBP, 7x All-Star

Even more interesting, let’s look at each player’s career totals averaged out to 162 games, giving a glimpse of what one complete season to represent their careers would look like.

Player A: 162 games, 100 runs, 187 hits, 30 doubles, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 58 steals, 262 total bases

Player B: 162 games, 102 runs, 169 hits, 28 doubles, 11 HR, 63 RBI, 52 steals, 244 total bases

Player A is Lou Brock, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Player B is Tim Raines, never receiving more than 50% of the vote for induction.

Maybe it’s the cocaine abuse. Maybe it was the fact he played outside of a major US market. Maybe Rickey Henderson simply overshadowed his accomplishments.

Whichever excuse the 294 BBWAA voters who bypassed Raines came up with simply doesn’t pass the smell test. Let’s make sure Cooperstown doesn’t go another year without one of the league’s greatest leadoff hitters, base-runners, and comeback stories doesn’t get left out of the game’s pearly gates.

Thanks for reading my blog. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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