By: Vinny Varvaro
(Featured Photo: courtesy of Getty Images)
From where I sit, there seems to be nine “reasons” Tim Raines has not been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his nine years of eligibility.
Ripken, Murray, Dawson, Sandberg, Yount, Boggs, Molitor, Gwynn and Puckett.
Throw in a Mattingly, and Raines gets lost in the greatness of the time period of 1981-94. It can be argued that he was one of the best leadoff hitters (Rickey Henderson is in a class all by his lonesome at the top) of his time as well as the expansion era (1961-present.)
Raines, probably the second best Montreal Expo of all-time behind HOFer Andre Dawson, is the current lightning rod that comes up this time of year when the ballot for election to the hall is announced.
During his prime 15 seasons (1981-1994), Raines, a seven-time All-Star, was the leader in runs scored and stolen bases, second in walks and on base %, fifth in games played and sixth in hits and batting average. Remember, the nine “reasons” above played a majority of their primes with Raines, so he more than held his own statistically. He also endured two work stoppages (1981 and 1994) robbing him of some more production, when players like Boggs, Gwynn and Mattingly didn’t (they arrived in the big leagues in 1982.)
Rock stole 70 or more bases six times, leading the National League in four consecutive seasons (1981-84) and scored 100 or more runs six times (a league leader twice 1983 and 1987.)
His cocaine use during the early part of his career seems to be the only reason I can think of to keep him out of the hall. What else could it be? Let’s hear it from the voters to refute this theory. His play and his statistics clearly put him up with the nine elite “reasons” that already reside in Cooperstown.
One may even compare Raines to Gil Hodges in that there is a theory that the great Dodger isn’t in the hall because too many of his teammates from the glory days of Brooklyn are already enshrined.
There are only seven years (including this year) left for him to get elected, but with so many great players still on the ballot like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell as well as newcomers to the 2016 ballot such as Ken Griffey, Jr., and Trevor Hoffman. Add in your PED guys, if they ever get the dispensation, and Raines may have to be a Veterans Committee elected guy.
If he never gets a plaque in Cooperstown, it will be a shame.
*election results will be announced on January 6.
Baseball-Reference.com was used for statistical reference