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So far, we've compared Tim Raines as a leadoff hitter and as a #3 hitter to other Hall of Famers in those batting slots. We focused only on their respective hitting stats in those batting slots. And he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
Now, let's compare the entirety of Tim Raines' career to those of contemporary Hall of Famers. I drew a line at anyone born since Lou Brock was born. This gives us a list of 22 Hall of Famers. Here they are ranked by Runs Produced (i.e., Runs Participated In, R+RBI-HR):
Runs Produced, All Contemporary Hall of Famers 3208 Carl Yastrzemski 3040 Eddie Murray 3037 Dave Winfield 2911 Cal Ripken 2861 George Brett 2855 Paul Molitor 2787 Robin Yount 2690 Reggie Jackson 2553 Mike Schmidt 2545 Tony Perez 2515 Joe Morgan 2409 Wade Boggs 2386 Tony Gwynn 2361 Lou Brock 2347 Rod Carew 2260 Willie Stargell 2230 Carlton Fisk 2097 Ryne Sandberg 2078 Johnny Bench 2022 Ozzie Smith 1949 Kirby Puckett 1926 Gary CarterYou can find their complete stats at Baseball-Reference.
Tim Raines had 2381 Runs Produced, which places him in the middle of the pack of greats, between Tony Gwynn and Lou Brock.
These Hall of Famers averaged 10,862 plate appearances (PA), which is extremely close to Raines' 10,359 PA. Raines earned just 503 less plate appearances than the group average, and puts him between Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn's career. If not for his battle with Lupus, he would have certainly come to bat more often.
Tim Raines also reached base 3977 times, via hit, walk, or hit batter. (He actually exceeded the 4000 level, if you include reaching base on error.) The Hall of Fame group average was 3908, which is 69 less than Raines, despite those players having 503 more PA than Raines. The players ahead and behind Raines in times reached base are Reggie Jackson and Tony Gwynn, respectively.
You notice a repeating trend here? Tony Gwynn and Tim Raines, while somewhat comparable on a skill-by-skill basis, end up being extremely equal when looking at their impact to generating runs. And Tony Gwynn was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
These 22 Hall of Famers had a .288 Batting Average, compared to Raines' .294. While they had a 30 point advantage in Slugging Percentage (.455 to .425), Raines had a 24 point advantage in On Base Percentage (.385 to .361). Again, Raines is right in the middle of the Hall of Famers. He is simply getting there in different ways.
The one place where Tim Raines stands head and shoulders above the group is in basestealing. Tim Raines not only stole 808 bases, but he was caught stealing only 146 times. The net bases gained on steals is 662. The best basestealers from this Hall of Fame group are Lou Brock (938 SB, 307 CS, 631 net bases) and Joe Morgan (689, 162, 527). If Tim Raines stole 130 more bases and was caught stealing 161 more times, he'd equal Lou Brock's performance. That's how bad a basestealer Raines would have to be to bring himself down from his high perch, down to Lou Brock's very high level.
One objection to being compared to these 22 players is that they are not necessarily the best comparison group. After all, can we really compare Raines to Gary Carter and Ozzie Smith? We can try to whittle the list down a bit. Let's remove all C, SS, and 1B, players who earn a substantial bonus for their fielding, or have to overcompensate with their hitting to make up for plugging up the 1B position. We do away with Carter, Bench, Fisk, Ozzie, Ripken, Stargell, Murray, and Perez, leaving us with 14 Hall of Famers. If we pro-rate the performance of the remaining 14 (shown as HOF14 below) to Raines' 10,359 PA, this is what we get:
Raines HOF14 2381 2409 Runs Produced 3977 3819 Times On Base 2605 2699 Hits 713 840 Extra Base Hits 1330 1079 Walks 662 188 SB - CS .294 .296 BA .385 .370 OBP .425 .457 SLG 1.119 1.124 modified OPS (1.8*OBP + SLG)Raines is just 28 runs produced behind these players, despite playing a substantial portion of his career as a leadoff hitter (runs produced slightly favors middle-of-the order hitters). While these more offensive-minded hitters had a 32 point advantage in slugging, Raines had a 15 point advantage in OBP. "Modified OPS" is a measure that more closely aligns itself to overall run production than OPS, and we see that the 32 points on one side almost perfectly match the 15 points on the other. And this disregards Raines' basestealing completely.
The difference between comparing to groups, as opposed to one-on-one, is that we are no longer fascinated by milestones like 3000 hits, or .300 batting average. Immortality is not about achieving some arbitrary rounded-number milestone. This is especially true in this case, since baseball is not about getting hits, but about generating runs. It's runs that leads to wins, not hits. Hits is just one component of runs. Extra base hits, walks, and steals are the other main components. While individually, Raines is unlike his peers, overall, it's hard to distinguish them.
Any time we compare Raines to a reasonable group of Hall of Famers, we always end up with the same thing: Raines is just like them.