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    ANALYSIS — Contemporary Hall of Famers

    © Tom M. Tango

    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 Carter
    
    You 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.