Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tim Raines HOF?

It's not always instructive to compare Hall of Famers, but Raines stacks up nicely with Lou Brock, the former Cardinals speedster who made it to Cooperstown on the strength of 3,023 career hits and 938 stolen bases. Raines finished with 2,605 hits and 808 steals, but surpasses Brock in a number of areas:

• Raines has a higher stolen base success rate (84.7 percent) than either Rickey Henderson (80.8 percent) or Brock (75.3 percent).

• Raines finished with a .385 career on base percentage, to Brock's .343.

• Raines amassed 1,330 walks and only 966 strikeouts. Brock, in contrast, walked 761 times and struck out 1,730 times.

Raines has some personal baggage to overcome. During the Pittsburgh drug trials in the early 1980s, Raines testified that he kept a gram of coke in his uniform pocket, snorted during games, and made a point of sliding head-first so as not to break the vial. Not exactly a wholesome image there.

Then again, the voters didn't spend much time moralizing about Paul Molitor's early indiscretions with cocaine and marijuana. Raines addressed his problem and rehabilitated his image, and he was a sympathetic figure at the end of his career, selflessly contributing off the bench for two World Championship teams in New York and fighting lupus before his retirement.

Former Montreal pitcher Steve Rogers, now an official with the Players Association, tells people that he played with four Hall of Famers in his career. Gary Carter and Tony Perez are already in the club, and Rogers believes that Dawson and Raines should join them. He cites Dawson for his superb all-around game and ability to carry a club, and Raines for his speed, leadoff skills and knack for affecting a game in so many subtle ways.

Like most former teammates, Rogers raves about Dawson and Raines as team leaders and clubhouse presences.

"When you say their two names at the same time, what I immediately visualize is them putting sanitary socks around their hands, and standing in the middle of the clubhouse in their sliding pants and sandals, slap boxing," Rogers said. "They'd be yelling and woofing at each other while the rest of the team was egging them on."

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