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Tim Raines

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Note: This page links to former major league outfielder Tim Raines, Sr. For his son, Tim, Jr., click here.

Tim Raines.jpg

Timothy Raines
(Rock)

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[edit] Biographical Information

"They say that I can't throw like Ellis Valentine or run like Tim Raines or hit with power like Mike Schmidt. Who can?" - Pete Rose, mentioning Tim Raines as the quintessential speedster of his time in the National League
" . . . one of the best leadoff men in history." - Thomas Boswell in 1987
TimRaines2.jpg

With 808 career stolen bases, Tim Raines is one of the top base stealers in the history of the game. In addition, he typically displayed a high batting average, lots of walks, and decent power. He led the league in batting in 1986, and was third in both 1985 and 1987. Raines led the National League in doubles in 1984 and was frequently among the leaders in triples. He led the league four times in stolen bases and twice in runs scored. During all those years, he played for the Montreal Expos, and while the team was later considered a baseball black hole where good players disappeared from public view, he was in fact an All-Star 7 times during his days in Canada. Although usually a lead-off hitter, he hit 170 home runs in his career.

Tim Raines was born and grew up in Sanford, FL. He graduated from Seminole High School and was selected by the Expos in the 5th round of the 1977 amateur draft, being signed by scout Bill Adair.

He hit .280 in 49 games with the GCL Expos that year, then moved up to the West Palm Beach Expos of the Florida State League in 1978. There, he hit .287 in 100 games, collecting 103 hits and 64 walks, stealing 57 bases and scoring 67 times.

He first came up with the Expos as a 19-year-old September call-up in 1979, after a good season for the AA Memphis Chicks (.290 in 145 games, with 90 walks, 59 steals, and his first five professional home runs). He was used exclusively as a pinch runner during this first stint in the big leagues, scoring 3 runs and stealing 2 bases in 6 games.

In 1980, he had a tremendous year playing second base for the AAA Denver Bears and was named the Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News. He was called up to the big leagues on May 15th, but failed to hit - he was 1 for 20 overall in the bigs - and was sent back down to AAA, where he tore up the American Association with a .354 batting average in 108 games, with 105 runs scored and 77 stolen bases.

He got another chance to pinch run in a pennant race in a September call-up late in 1980, then was converted to the outfield prior to the 1981 season, as a spot had opened up in left field with the departure of Ron LeFlore via free agency. He set a rookie record with 71 stolen bases that year (later broken by Juan Samuel and Vince Coleman), while batting .304 with 61 runs scored in 88 games during the strike-shortened season. He was voted National League "Rookie Player of the Year" by the Sporting News, and finished second behind Los Angeles Dodgers pitching phenom Fernando Valenzuela for the BBWAA Rookie of the Year Award.

He fell to a .277 batting average in 1982, although he stole 78 bases, a mediocre performance that was one of the reasons why the Expos blew what was probably their best opportunity to win a division title during his tenure. It was later revealed that he had fallen victim to a cocaine addiction that season, and had acquired nasty habits: in a famous incident, he missed the start of an afternoon game because he was sleeping off the previous night's excess partying, and he later confessed to sliding head first in order not to break cocaine vials he carried in his back pocket. It took an intervention by teammate Andre Dawson for him to enter rehabilitation after the season. When Raines' second son was born the following July, he named him "Andre Darrell Raines", in honor of The Hawk. However, once he kicked the habit, he never relapsed, conducting clinics for youths on staying drug-free and generally being a role model for everyone from that point on.

Raines' peak of greatness started in earnest in 1983. He scored a fabulous 133 runs that year, while driving in 71 from the lead-off spot, and stealing a personnal best 90 bases. He was the Expos Player of the Year for the first time, sharing the award with Andre Dawson; he went on to win the award again in 1985 and 1986. Once again, though, the Expos failed to win a division title, fading in the second half of September after being in the thick of the pennant race until that point.

In 1984, making a one-year move to center field when Dawson, bothered by bad knees, moved from center to right, he hit .309, with 38 doubles, scored 106 runs and stole 75 bases, his fourth consecutive time leading the league. The vaunted "Team of the 80s" was sputtering by then, turning to desperate solutions such as signing the over-the-hill Pete Rose to try and capture a division title, and failing badly.

After the season, the Expos dealt future Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter to the New York Mets in exchange for four young players, and started rebuilding. They were not expected to be competitive, but in no small part due to Raines' outstanding performance in the lead-off spot, they continued to play well in 1985 and 1986.

He hit .320 the first year, with 70 steals and 115 runs, helping to turn Hubie Brooks into a 100-RBI man in the process, then was the NL batting champion the following season with a .334 mark and 70 steals and 91 runs. He suffered the consequences of the Expos' lack of a solid clean-up hitter after Brooks was injured in July and missed half the season; by then, Raines had been out-distanced as a base stealer by the Cardinals' Coleman, who would regularly top 100 thefts per season. Raines made it a point to only steal in game situations, and always was proud of his excellent stolen base percentage: with an 84.7% success rate, Raines owns the highest lifetime stolen base percentage among players with at least 300 steals.

In 1987, Tim Raines became one of the poster children of collusion. A free agent after his excellent 1986 season - and run of four fabulous years -, his services should have been in high demand. However, baseball owners had decided not to bid competitively on free agents at that time, leaving Raines without an offer other than the Expos' token salary raise. He held out for more, missing the deadline by which he could re-sign with Montreal, and found himself unemployed as spring training started. He worked out on his own, and, having seen the writing on the wall, inked a new deal with the Expos on May 2nd, the first day it was allowed. Inserted as the third-place hitter that day, he hit the first pitch he saw from the New York Mets' David Cone for a triple, then added a walk, two singles and a game-winning grand slam off Jesse Orosco. He hit another home run the next day as he started on an absolute tear that would last the whole season. He ended up scoring 123 runs, a league-leading total in spite of his missing 21 games, with a .330 average, a .429 OBP and a slugging percentage of .526. He also hit for the cycle on July 16th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the MVP of the 1987 All-Star Game, collecting 3 hits, a stolen base, and 2 RBI, those coming on a game-winning triple off Jay Howell in the 13th inning. His performance made an MVP candidate out of clean-up hitter Tim Wallach and kept the Expos in an unlikely pennant race with the Cardinals until late September. He would later receive a significant amount of money to compensate for foregone wages when an arbitrator found the major league owners guilty of collusion during the 1986-87 off-season.

Raines began a slow decline after his season for the ages in 1987. In 1988, he was limited to 109 games by a stint on the disabled list and nagging injuries that cut his season short in September. He hit only .270, and scored 66 runs in a year to forget. He bounced back in 1989, hitting .286 with 93 walks and 76 runs scored, good for third in the NL in that pitching-dominated season; he was used as the Expos' clean-up hitter against left-handers that year and drove in 60 runs, as the Expos led the NL East for two months before collapsing in early August and finishing at .500. He had a similar year in 1990, again missing time to a stint on the disabled list, and finishing with 65 runs scored in 130 games. After the year, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, alongside minor league pitchers Jeff Carter and Mario Brito, for Ivan Calderon and Barry Jones. The Expos had a number of promising young outfielders around in Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Dave Martinez, and thought Jones was a future closer. The Expos would later rue the deal, however.

Raines was rejuvenated with the White Sox. He scored 102 runs in both 1992 and 1993 and was a key part of the 1993 and 1994 division-leading teams. He hit .295 in 1995, but was traded to the New York Yankees for a minor leaguer after the season. With the Yankees, he was a productive role player for the World Series-winning teams of 1996 and 1998, but missed loads of playing time with various injuries. He was signed as a free agent by the Oakland Athletics for the 1999 season but his season was interrupted in June when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of lupus. He only hit .215 that year and his career appeared over, but he made a remarkable comeback. He went to spring training with the Yankees in 2000 but retired in March, then decided to try out for the USA 2000 Olympics team. He failed to make the team, but that rekindled his appetite for the game. He went to spring training in 2001 with the Montreal Expos, and made the team as a pinch-hitter and spare outfielder. He did surprisingly well, hitting .308 in 47 games (again, his season was shortened by injuries), and in late September, the Expos sold him to the Baltimore Orioles so that he could finish his career playing alongside his son, Tim Raines Jr.. He thus became one of two fathers to play with his son in the same major league game when he shared the field with Little Rock (Ken Griffey, Sr. was the other). The Florida Marlins called him back for another season in 2002, but by then he had little left in the tank, and retired after hitting .191 in 98 games, having become a four-decade player, and one of four players, along with Ted Williams, Rickey Henderson, and Omar Vizquel to steal at least one base in four different decades. He was also the last player in MLB history to wear a batting helmet that did not have ear flaps (see [here). His jersey number 30 was retired by the Montreal Expos during their last season in 2004. He was the manager of their Class A affiliate the Brevard County Manatees that season, and was asked to spend the last month of the season with the big league team as an additional coach, a gesture meant to honor one of the franchise's all-time greats.

Tim Raines went on to join the Chicago White Sox as first base coach in 2005 on the world champion team. It was a team on which Scott Podsednik set a pace to reach 100 stolen bases before suffering injuries that caused him to miss over 30 games and, upon his return to the line-up, to slow down his base-stealing. After the 2006 season, Raines was let go by the Sox, but was named a coach for the Harrisburg Senators in 2007. He was then named manager of the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League for 2009, staying until 2011, when he moved to the coaching staff while serving as director of player development. He was back in organozed baseball in 2013, joining the Toronto Blue Jays as their minor league baserunning and outfield instructor.

During his playing career, Tim Raines was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, in roughly the same way that Duke Snider was overshadowed by Willie Mays. Tim's 1571 career runs scored is a total of the sort that usually makes a player a lock for the Hall of Fame. Similarity scores show that the most similar player to Raines is Lou Brock, a Hall of Famer, although it can be easily argued that Raines was the better player. On the career runs scored list, he ranks just behind Rogers Hornsby (1591 runs scored) and ahead of Reggie Jackson (1551 runs scored) - no-doubt Hall of Famers both.

He ranks #31 on the all-time list for career walks, and although players who walk a lot usually give up some hits to pull walks, he is also #68 on the all-time list for career hits. His lifetime major league Adjusted OPS+ is 123, tying him with Enos Slaughter, Kirk Gibson and others. Adjusted OPS+ is an overall measure of a player's career hitting prowess, and doesn't count the value of his stolen bases.

Four of the ten most similar players to Raines, according to the similarity scores method, are Hall of Famers. Two of the others are recently-retired veteran players, Julio Franco and Kenny Lofton. Raines became eligible to be voted on by the Hall of Fame in 2009, and received 24.3% in his first year of eligibility. For the results released in January 2010, he moved up to 30.4% and made another significant jump in 2011, gathering 37.5% of the vote, a total that makes him a serious candidate for future election. In 2012, his candidacy continued to gain significant momentum, hitting 48.7% of the vote, just shy of the 50% mark that has historically proved to ensure a player's eventual enshrinement. It is interesting to note that on the MLB Network's episode of Prime 9 entitled "The Best Non-Hall of Famers" and broadcast the day after the 2012 results were unveiled, Raines ranked number one, ahead of Jack Morris and Mark McGwire. In 2013, he made the most significant move forward among all returning candidates, obtaining 52.2% of the vote; this was the infamous "steroid" ballot, and an obviously "clean" player like Raines shined in comparison against players of a later era whose accomplishments were tainted by avowed or suspected PED use. Also in 2013, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, alongside contemporaries George Bell and Rob Ducey, announcer Tom Cheek and executive Nat Bailey. In 2014 he saw his vote total drop to 46.1%, something which also happened the two players closest to him on the ballot, Jeff Bagwell and Jack Morris, the result of a particularly strong ballot.

He briefly went by the name "Rock" Raines, explaining that he had been known as Rock while a child. However, the fans and sportswriters didn't take to the name, so he went back to using "Tim". In addition to his son Tim Jr. playing in the majors, Raines' brother, Ned Raines, was a minor league outfielder from 1978 to 1980.

[edit] Notable Achievements

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
2004 Brevard County Manatees Florida State League 53-72 10th Montreal Expos
2009 Newark Bears Atlantic League 74-66 3rd (t) Independent Leagues Lost in 1st round
2010 Newark Bears Atlantic League 53-86 8th Independent Leagues
2011 Newark Bears Can-Am Association 41-52 6th Independent Leagues

[edit] Further Reading

  • Danny Gallagher: "Raines loved hitting more than stealing", in Remembering the Montreal Expos, Scoop Press, Toronto, ON, 2005, pp. 152-157.
  • Tim Raines (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, November 1990, pp. 37-38. [1]
  • Jim Reisler: "He May Be Fast, but Is He Quick ? Former Players Talk About Baserunning", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 88-97.
  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Tim Raines, Montreal Expos", Baseball Digest, December 1989, p. 74. [2]

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