Greetings from the STL – which is airport code for St Louis. As I am want to do from time to time, I like to deviate from the random blog posts (about the weather, softball, pets, new food experiences) and talk about a long standing vice of mine: baseball.
Usually I will break into something Cleveland Indians flavored or touch on the local St Louis Cardinals current play but not today. Today I am calling out some fellow podcasters from The Go Show football podcast. Yes their title says they are football people but they also cover golf, hockey, baseball and shopping cart etiquette. Several weeks ago one of their podcasts featured Dan and JT talking about the baseball induction class for 2017. One of the inductees in this year’s class is retired Montreal Expos outfielder Tim Raines. The disinterest and disdain was pretty noticeable coming from my earphones as they discussed Mr. Raines pending induction.
Granted not every player enshrined into Cooperstown is a personal favorite of mine, but the majority of those that have a place there have earned their spot. I’m sure a debate could be hashed out about some of the earlier players or others based on statistics that could be considered the worst of the Hall of Famers enshrined. To stand on the shoulders of this argument for a second, there are players alive (and some not) who are deserving but not featured in those hallowed halls. But that is a topic (Pete Rose) for another blog…that I’ve already done.
Focusing on the here and now, let’s give Tim Raines his just due. And yes I firmly stand by the words ‘just due’. Most people in today’s day and age will be asking who was Tim Raines? He wasn’t a Babe Ruth player. He didn’t have countless endorsement deals. He did play most of his career in obscurity (Montreal). But he played a very long time and was a very good player for the better part of two decades. I’m sensing some of you may not be sold. OK let me ask you this: Have you heard of Lou Brock? If you have and you don’t live in St Louis, was he in your opinion a Hall of Famer? Most people who know baseball, locally or abroad, know who Lou Brock is and also validate him as a Hall of Fame caliber baseball player. Incidentally, Lou Brock IS a Hall of Famer. He was inducted in 1985 after spending the beginning of his career with the Chicago Cubs and of course finishing his career in St Louis. Why do I bring up Lou Brock in a piece about Tim Raines? Check the below graphic of comparison stats.
Brock and Raines were similar in their baseball skill sets. Fast left fielders who were mostly known for base stealing. Over their careers, both played more than 2500 games. And if you go column by column, some categories Brock won…and some categories Raines won. I computed a formula based on statistics for a 162-game average (the now standard baseball season) and compared the two players. There were some surprising findings.
Both players averaged about the same amount of runs scored per adjusted 162 game season. Brock averaged about 18 more hits a year, got about two more doubles, one more triple, two less homeruns and drove in eight less runs. Now the tale of the base stealing tape: Brock averaged about 58 steals against Raines 52 – again this is over the course of their careers, not their running primes. Now head to head, Brock averaged getting caught about 19 times a season versus only 9.5 for Raines, or half as much. For their careers their batting averages were nearly identical (Raines .294 – Brock .293). Raines was a much more disciplined hitter amassing 1330 walks against only 966 strikeouts, while Brock struck out 1730 times while only walking 761 times. Each one averaged about three hit by pitches per adjusted year. Brock was an All-star six times against seven selections for Raines. Raines captured a batting title in the 80’s while Brock never did. Raines averaged hitting into nine double plays, while Brock averaged around seven.
Two things surfaced in my research. One was that I realized Raines was a better defender that Brock. In 2502 games, Raines committed only 54 errors. No big deal, he’s an outfielder right? Well, playing in 2616 games, Brock committed 196 errors. The difference there is Brock committed an error on average about every two weeks. Raines on the other hand committed an error about every two months.
The other thing is the base stealing prowess. Lou Brock is revered because of his talent and instincts on the base paths, most notably being able to steal bases and a lot of them. Lou Brock stole 938 bases in his career, a record that was later broken by Ricky Henderson – both the all-time and single season records (118 for Brock). Tim Raines stole 808 bases in his major league career. His 84.7% success rate is number one all-time for players attempting at least 500 steals. Brock’s isn’t bad but he checks in at 75.3%. Brock attempted almost 300 more steals than Raines but only had 130 more stolen bases and was caught more than twice as much as Raines for his career (307 vs 146).
I’m not trying to take anything away from Lou Brock. He was an outstanding player and an icon. All I’m trying to do is have some people show Raines a little bit more respect. In St Louis baseball players and baseball are elevated to almost Demi-God status. In Montreal, you might as well be playing in the Phantom Zone from the Superman movies. Tim Raines might not have been the most personable or marketable guy but he played the game the right way and his longevity and success made him a legit Hall of Famer. Now he gets the HOF ring to go with the rings he garnered with the 1996 and 1998 Yankees for their World Series championships.
Regardless of whether I am in the minority here or not, I tip my proverbial cap to Tim Raines. Well done sir and clear out a space for your 1984 teammate Pete Rose.