Tim Raines

Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were the only two breathing players inducted into Cooperstown this weekend. It didn’t have to be this way though, and frankly it shouldn’t have been since Tim Raines belonged right alongside them. Excuse me for drop-kicking a dead horse – smarter, better writers than I have taken it upon themselves to make the case – but, take a look at the graphical argument for.


Let me preface the wOBA comparison by saying that I’m well aware most members of the BBWAA have little idea as to what the metric is, where to find it, or how it relates to on-base average. Notice that Henderson is simply on another planet, but Raines isn’t any further back than Rice at any point and actually has a longer career. Our version of wOBA takes stolen bases into account, so Henderson and Raines, two base stealing juggernauts, are naturally affected for the better.


Moving on to the actual on-base metric, Raines is right there with Henderson, ahead of Rice. You can call it unfair that Rice is being compared to two lead-off hitter types, but it is what it is. We’re not ignoring slugging – in which Rice should have the clear advantage – either, as you can see here:


As expected, Rice dominates. Raines is no Juan Pierre by comparison though, and with the exception of Henderson’s 1990 season in which he went absolutely batty. Finally, some will want batting average taken into consideration. It does nothing but help Raines’ case:


Raines matches or exceeds the new inductees in each ‘slash’ stat, yet he was at home yesterday while the other two were celebrated for their achievements. It’s an injustice, hopefully one corrected next year.

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35 Responses to “Tim Raines”

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  1. Dorsey says:

    Interesting comparisons. I tend to think that Rice should not have been inducted, Raines is borderline, and measuring either of them against Henderson is like comparing that cute girl in biology to Heidi Klum.

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  2. Seth says:

    I totally agree with you. Rice probably deserved it, but he only got the extra votes because it was his last year. Raines will get in eventually.

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  3. Adam says:

    It’s too bad we don’t have UZR going back to the 70s, because I’m sure that Raines would only look better in comparison to Rice.

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    • Joe R says:

      Just use FRAA. Raines absolutely KILLS Rice.

      I’m a Red Sox fan btw. I know for a fact the only reason Rice got in was because media talking heads convinced other talking heads that he wasn’t getting votes out of some dislike of him rather than performance. By the time Rice was inducted, it wasn’t even about the facts anymore, or the resume, it was a tug of war.

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    • Victor says:

      Total Zone Rating.

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  4. JohnF says:

    Agree completely. Me and my friend were discussing last week how Raines is so overlooked and was basically a poor man’s Rickey Henderson.

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  5. Justin says:

    Raines and Dawson both deserve to make it in. Hopefully they’ll make it next year.

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  6. aaron says:

    raines will unfortunately continue to get overlooked for some time i feel. i’m pretty sure big mac got more votes than him this year.

    he doesn’t have hendu’s counting stats but their slash lines are so close it’s pretty ridiculous. i’m also pretty sure that raines has a higher career stolen base % to boot.

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  7. brian recca says:

    Tim Raines> Jim Rice. Rice shouldn’t be in the hall of fame.

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  8. Alex says:

    As many have said, Raines deserves to be in, Rice doesn’t. But neither is Rickey Henderson.

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    • SYH says:

      The tenth-placed batter all time in wRC doesn’t get in? Really? And that’s not even mentioning his other achievements

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      • Kincaid says:

        Wait, are you talking about Rickey? If that’s the case, Alex isn’t saying Rickey doesn’t deserve to be in, he’s saying that neither Raines nor Rice is on a level with Henderson, that Henderson is easily above both (i.e. “neither [one] is Rickey Henderson”). Rice is the only one Alex is saying doesn’t belong in the Hall.

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  9. Nick says:

    I think it was absolutely appalling Rice got in. That “Most feared hitter of his generation!” crap was just mind-numbing to hear.

    Imagine if Blyleven or Raines had the Red Sox PR department behind them.

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    • Kincaid says:

      It is hard to believe how much you hear about Rice being the best power hitter of his era, considering what Mike Schmidt was doing throughout Rice’s career. The “most feared” argument is even more annoying because there seems to be an implicit understanding that you can’t realistically say he was the best at anything, so an ambiguous term that doesn’t really have any concrete meaning is substituted.

      I think the whole Rice-Raines comparison is an enlightening illustration of where a lot of the biases in perception of player value lie. Hopefully Raines will someday get his due, maybe as these kinds of evaluations begin to enter the thought process of the voters (either through voter turnover or by increased exposure of the stats over time).

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      • Joe R says:

        I said it before in here, Rice wasn’t even about the stats in the end. In the end, the Boston media (CHG especially) had pretty much convinced everyone that Rice’s exclusion was based off a non-Bostonian MSM disdain of Rice. Rice was a clear battle of subjectivity, nothing else.

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  10. Drew says:

    I never REALLY thought Raines should or would ever get in, but since I rank Raines way above Rice, and now Rice is (undeservedly) in there, I have to support the argument that he needs to be in the HOF. He’s not the greatest ever, but there’s such an indifference toward him that it’s hard not to argue, especially when lesser players like Dawson and Rice are getting in.

    Even now, when old fashioned sportswriters/talk radio personalities talk about 2010 HOF prospects, they mention Alomar (should/will get in), Blyleven (should/won’t get in), and Dawson (shouldn’t/will get in). Not much mention of Raines at all.

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    • Joe R says:

      It really just makes me mad. It’s no fair that something that should be nothing but a pure meritocracy becomes a campaign, and that most writers go off perseption rather than fact. If I wanted, I could probably mold an argument to get Juan Pierre in the Hall of Fame.

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  11. Joe R says:

    If you want retarded arguments against, look no further than Tim Raines.

    Some see him as a Vince Coleman type. I guess being a fast, black outfielder means your only value is stolen bases, because that’s the only place you can say Coleman belongs in the same category as Raines.

    Others see a lack of standout stats, because many of the BBWAA cannot for the life of them see a player wholistically (ex: Bobby Grich). They’d much rather get giggity to Andre Dawson’s 300-300 status (just like Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley!)

    My favorite one is that he was “not as good as Henderson”. Let’s just kick out 95% of the Hall of Fame based on that criteria.

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  12. Drew says:

    Oh, and although he wasn’t awful for his era, please don’t compare Willie Wilson to Tim Raines. Willie racked up a lot of cool counting stats, but wasn’t the same type of player at all.

    Even using traditional stats, we have:

    Raines .294/.385/.425
    Wilson .285/.326/.376

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    • Joe R says:

      And back to lumping Raines in with average-ish players based on what the old guard told us.

      BBWAA members think this way. it’s sad.

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  13. John Q says:

    Life like baseball has a lot to do with luck. People don’t like to admit it but it’s true. If anything Raines was one of the most unlucky players in baseball history.

    If 5 or 6 different things would have happened He would probably be thought of more highly than he is at the current time. Most of them surround the labor problems of 1981-1995 and playing in pitcher’s parks. He was probably more negatively effected Labor strife them than any other player.

    1-1981: The strike cost Raines a shot at the all-time record for steals and cost Raines base hits to add to his career total. Rick Monday cost Raines an early shot to shine on a national stage in the World Series.

    2-Raines had most of his success in the baseball Siberia of Montreal.

    3-Something happened to the Stade Olympique during 1984-1985 because the park factors suddenly drop quite a bit, some people think it’s the retractable roof that was being installed. These lower park factors unfortunately take place during his best years.

    4-1987-He missed the entire month of April because of collusion and still has one of his best seasons. The month off cost him more hits. He probably wins the MVP that year if he played in April, he probably should have won it just on principle.

    5-1994-1995: he missed more time because of the strike. The time off cost him more hits.

    6-He basically played in pitcher’s parks all his life (Le Stade Olypique, Comisky park 2) plus he missed time because of labor problems ’81, 87, 94, 95. Put it together and that probably cost him a shot at 3000 hits.

    Put Tim Raines in a neutral park like St. Louis and start his career ten years earlier and he probably gets 3000 hits and has a lifetime .310 average and is a first ballot HOF.

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  14. John Q says:

    I’ve always though of Jim Rice comparable to George Foster.

    Compare their careers on fan-graphs.

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    • Rutherford says:

      Good call on Foster. In fact, it is interesting to compare the career road stats of various players from that era.

      Rice career road stats:
      4150 ABs. 174 HRs. .277/.330/.459

      George Foster career road stats:
      3568 ABs. 164 HRs. .279/.338/,474

      Don Baylor career road stats:
      4240 ABs. 182 HRs. .267/.347/.449

      Dave Kingman career road stats:
      3380 ABs. 225 HRs. .234/.299/.478

      I am not suggesting that Foster, Baylor, or Kingman belong in the Hall. I wanted to illustrate that on the road, Rice was no more of a feared slugger than this threesome.

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  15. Matt says:

    I always enjoyed watching Raines play when he was with the White Sox and he was one of my dad’s favorite players as well. He just didn’t play in the right era, a good defender who know how to take a walk and also had decent pop and good speed. A real 5 tool player that while not exceptional in anything was very good across the board.

    I really hope Rock gets the praise he deserves from the voters someday.

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  16. Joe R says:

    I will say that this article motivated me to go JoeBaiting on Joe Morgan’s chat today.

    Thank you fangraphs for helping me add consistency to my day.

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  17. Rutherford says:

    Rice went into the Hall primarily because of his prolific 1977-1979 seasons. Except those numbers were grossly overinflated due to Fenway.

    Home: .321/.375/.683 27 HRs
    Road: .319 /.377/.509 12 HRs

    Home: .361/.416/.690 28 HRs
    Road: .269 /.325/.512 18 HRs

    Home: .369 /.425/.728 27 HRs
    Road: .283/.337/.472 12 HRs

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  18. John Q says:

    Good call Rutherford, especially with the splits.

    The splits just make the case crystal clear. The writers don’t like War or Warp or win shares or any other saber stat but they could look at the splits and see the truth.

    I’ve never quite understood how the writers can understand that Coors field inflates numbers and not understand that Fenway does the same thing to a lesser degree.

    I’ve actually heard Rice and some baseball writers talk about How HARD it was for Rice to hit at Fenway and that Fenway actually HURT his overall numbers because of his batting stance or some other such nonsense.

    Sometimes I think a lot of these writers just decided in 1979 that Rice was a HOF and that’s it.

    It’s interesting that both Maury Allen and Ritter and Honing both had Foster and Rice among the top 100 players of all time in the 1980’s top 100 books. I think Foster was ranked 72nd in the Allen book.

    It’s interesting that in 2009 the idea of Foster as a HOF is laughable and Rice gets selected. The BBWA kept saying that Rice had 3 home run titles and 2 Rbi titles. Yet Foster had 2 home run titles and 3 RBI titles and is condsidered a joke HOF candidate by the writers. I’m not saying Foster belongs in the HOF but in reality I think Foster and Rice are very similar and about the 250th best position players of all time. And I think Foster just points out the terrible job done by the writers.

    So the writers correctly identify Foster as not worthy but somehow Rice is worthy? Where’s the consistency.

    Another interesting case will be when Moises Alou comes up.

    Alou: .303/.369/.516
    Rice: .298/.352/.502

    Both LF’s. I gurantee that Alou doesn’t stay on the ballot more than a year. The writers will probably come up with some B.S. like Alou wasn’t feared enough.

    Again I don’t believe Alou belongs but it just points out what a bad selection Rice was.

    Going back to Raines who really deserves to be in the HOF:

    Another point on Raines is that he became a part-time player too early in his career. So that probably hurts his perception with the east-coast media who only started to pay attention to him when he was with the Yankees in 1996.

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    • Joe R says:

      It’s this simple: 90% of media types decide who they think is a Hall of Famer, then build an argument.

      Very rarely do they say something like what Rosenthal said about Dawson, that it’s not entirely fair to crucify his low OBP because in his era, managers and players weren’t wise to the value of walks and Dawson did what he was supposed to do well, or in short, judge him by his era.

      I still disagree, but I mean, that stuff at least makes sense.
      Most just halfass their ballot.

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  19. james k says:

    Raines had a higher career stolen base percentage.846 than henderson .807. Somebody alluded to park factor. For comparative purposes raines had a career ops+ of 124 to Henderson’s 127. You could say that I am cherry picking stats but you can’t argue the merit of success rate or a hitting metric scaled for league and park factor. interesting tidbit: HOF Lou Brock had a sb success rate of .759 and a career ops+ of 109. Yes he stole 118 bases in 1974, but that doesn’t mean he was very good at stealing bases. Also, Brock played in an era before starters worked with stopwatches or streamlined their wacky windups. Maybe Raines’ omission has something to do with his admitted cocaine use or the fact that he went unnoticed playing his better years in Canada.

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