Monday, January 12, 2009

Raines '09 — That's the kind of day it's been

Rob Neyer has a post up saying "all hope should not be lost" with respect to Tim Raines' Baseball Hall of Fame chances.

Block-quoting from it almost doesn't do it justice and neither does excerpting anything from Joe Posnanski's post, other than what he said about Tim Raines getting only 22.6%. It would be nice to be as sanguine as FanGraphs ("I can no longer get emotionally invested in it. The process is too broken, the voters too uninformed"). There is so much so much Neyer hits on, especially the cold, hard truth of how Raines and Andre Dawson's careers were marked and marred by the labour wars of their era. His contention is without collusion, Raines might have been National League MVP in 1987, and people would have regarded his career differently. What the hell. One blockquote:
".... Raines reached base more times in his career than Tony Gwynn, and that's true: 3,977 times for Raines, 3,955 for Gwynn. Did you know Raines reached base 503 more times than Dawson? That Raines is 41st on the all-time list and Dawson is 96th?

"You might have read somewhere that Dawson finished his career with a .323 on-base percentage — exceptionally low for a 1980s outfielder/Hall of Fame candidate — and that's true, too. Did you know Dawson's .482 career slugging percentage isn't anything special, either? Did you know Dawson's 119 career OPS-plus (OPS adjusted for league and home field) is worse than Raines' 123? Did you know on-base percentage should be weighted more heavily than slugging percentage? Did you know that for all the talk about Dawson's impressive combination of power and speed, Raines stole nearly 500 more bases?"
OK, a little more. You can read between lines and understand how frustrating this day has been. Take it away, Mike Wilner:
"My formative years as a baseball fan were from about 1979-1985, and I don’t remember thinking that (Jim) Rice was an incredibly scary guy. That’s one smell test that fails, but the truth is in the performance.

"You know how you think Scott Rolen was a major disappointment offensively this season and is pretty much done as a good hitter (see how well I know my readers)? Scott Rolen's 2008 was Jim Rice's CAREER away from Fenway Park. Rolen hit .262/.349/.431 this year, for a .780 OPS. Rice hit .277/.330/.459 on the road for his career, for a .789 OPS."
Poz was a little more circumspect about the future prospects for Raines:
"My biggest disappointment in the voting this year is that Tim Raines actually went BACKWARD. I can't for the life of me figure this out. Maybe it's because Rickey Henderson was on the ballot and a few people felt like they could only vote for one great leadoff hitter at a time. I don’t know. Raines was a great player on so many different levels. I hope that he starts to gain some Hall of Fame traction next year."
People want to remember Jim Rice as the mostfearedhitterofhisgeneration. (More than Mike Schmidt and his 548 home runs? More than George Brett, who once hit .390 -- .390 with power -- over an entire season!) As for dominance over a 10-year period, Raines scored the most runs in the National League from 1981-90.

It just goes on. The voters want to remember Tony Gwynn as this incredible hitter, they want to remember Dawson as an exemplar of class and dignity. They want to trim the facts to fit their opinions, like most people.

Fair enough. It's fine if you want to have your memories. It's far better to do some homework and make sure.

Shifting the Hall argument (Rob Neyer,

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