The back of the Triple Play card tells you all you need to know about the way Tim Raines was viewed during one of the greatest careers in baseball. He was basically a base stealer – and he did lead the league for four consecutive years and average 60 a season from 1981-
1992 (yeah 12 seasons).
However, during that stretch he also walked, on average, 78 times a season en route to a .387 OBP. In 10 of his 23 seasons, Raines had an OBP .390 or higher. Heck from 1983-1987, his on base percentage was .406. That’s unbelievable. That’s Ted Williams territory.
Sure, he didn’t hit a lot of home runs or accumulate a ton of RBIs and only posted a paltry .294 career batting average along with 808 SBs – so yeah he was an earlier version of Juan Pierre.
I guess what gets me so mad is that I always loved Tim “Rock” Raines (partly because he reminded me of rock candy, which is absolutely delicious and sugary).
At that time of my life, his game somewhat resembled my little league skills – or at least in my mind it did. I hit and walked and stole. In our little league championship game, I walked 5 times, stole second and third each time and scored 5 runs. We won 5- 1. In my mind, that’s my Rock Raines moment.
Of course, I think I know Rock means something else now, but whatever, he’s still great.
You know why? Rock played in the 46th most games all time — 2,502. That’s a staggering number and well more than most guys ever dream of. In all that time, he amassed the seventh most hits (2,605) ever by a switch hitter – trailing such notables as Pete Rose, Eddie Murray, Frankie Frisch, Roberto Alomar, Max Carey and George Davis. He also has the 7th best OBP among switch-hitters.
Oh, and there is plenty more. He absolutely smacked the ball around – he has the 12th best OPS among switch-hitters at .810. Along with playing the 46th most games, he scored the 45th most runs in MLB history — 1,571. Raines also accumulated the 32nd most walks in MLB history – 1,330 – more than Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Luke Appling, Edgar Martinez, Ty Cobb, Dave Winfield and a host of other characters.
While Andre Dawson was pretty feared, Raines was intentionally walked 148 times, the 40th most in MLB history — and five more times than Dawson. He has the fifth most SBs all time; less than Cobb, Billy Hamilton, Lou Brock and Ricky Henderson. But he is tied for second in SB success percentage at 84.7%. Calling him the second most prolific base stealer in the history of major league baseball is absolutely no stretch.
So, to note, more feared than Andre Dawson, better OBP than 99.9% of anyone who stepped onto a MAJOR LEAGUE diamond, and, at worst, the second best base stealer of all time. And, don’t tell anyone, but he was worth more wins above replacement than Ernie Banks, Alomar, Yogi Berra, Harmon Killebrew, Dawson, Enos Slaughter…
Oh and he also likes Matlock and remote control airplanes (cue Modern Family link). The Matlock love should be enough to sway the Hall of Fame-aged voter alone, not sure why I started with all those new fangled statistics like walks and batting average.
I just wish I knew how good he was while he was still playing. I feel I greatly underappreciated/(under)feared him…except when he played for the Yanks in the late 90s – always seemed to get the O’s.