A Rock-solid case (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday December 11, 2007 12:35PM; Updated: Tuesday December 11, 2007 1:25PM
I'll admit I had a few initial doubts myself about Raines, based solely on perception. I thought of Dawson and Carter as the pillars of those 1980s Montreal teams. And Raines never had a signature year like Ryne Sandberg in 1984. Indeed, when I checked the MVP voting I found this: Raines was first listed on a ballot in 1981 and last in '89. In those nine years 18 NL players received at least one first-place MVP vote and 24 NL players received at least 100 points in any single year -- and yet Raines was not among them. He stayed below the writers' radar too often.
But here's what means even more: When you measure Raines against his peers over an extended period -- and not putting too much emphasis on one outlier season here or there -- he clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame. Check these out: where Raines ranks among all major leaguers for the 12 seasons between 1981 and '92:
Times on Base
Everywhere you look, Raines is in the company of Hall of Famers. I started thinking, too, about how Raines compares to people such as Tony Gwynn and Sandberg, great hitters of his era who likewise were not typically associated with power. Raines reached base more times and scored more runs than Gwynn on their careers. Sandberg is an interesting comparison because Raines was born just two days before him. Here is how Sandberg and Raines compare from 1981 through '92:
Do you see much of a difference there? Sandberg did play in the middle of the diamond, but Raines' base-stealing skills were exceptional. The more you look at Raines' career, the more he looks like a Hall of Famer.
My prediction is that only Gossage receives the needed 75 percent of the vote to be elected this year. Hard to believe, but when Gossage first appeared on the ballot, in 2000, he received only 33 percent of the vote -- getting 91 fewer votes than Jim Rice. So fear not if Raines gets less than 50 percent on his first try. He won't add to his hit total, but his career will look better with each passing year.
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