The Rock Should Be a Lock for Hall of FamePosted: January 23, 2009
Other than Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter ever, “Rock” Raines is the best leadoff man in the past quarter century and more.
Another great leadoff hitter, Lou Brock retired in 1979 — the same year Henderson and Raines began their careers. Pete Rose retired in 1984, but that’s another story.
Raines, shown below, numbers are eerily similar to those compiled by the Hall of Famer Brock during his stellar 19-year career.
BA — .293
HR — 149
RBI — 900
Runs — 1610
Hits — 3023
SB — 938
BA — .294
HR — 170
RBI — 980
Runs — 1571
Hits — 2605
SB — 808
Raines actually leads Brock in the Triple Crown stats, career batting, home runs and RBIs. Brock had more runs, hits and stolen bases, but also played more games than Raines (2616 to 2502). Significantly Raines drew 1330 walks during his career, nearly 600 more than Brock (761), a key barometer of leadoff hitting success.
Each won a pair of World Series, Brock with the Cardinals in 1964 and 1967; Raines with the Yankees in 1996 and 1998. Brock had a .391 average and 14 stolen bases in 21 World Series games. Raines had a post-season average of .270
Brock played for three seasons with the Cubs before being traded to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, among others. He played his final 16 season in St. Louis.
Raines spent most of his career in the obscurity of the Montreal Expos, and later played with the White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Orioles and Marlins.
Stolen Base Kings
Brock, at right, led the National League in stolen bases eight times ((1966-69 and 1971-74) and set the all-time records for steals in a season (118 in 1974) and career (938 total) before those marks were broken by Henderson. Raines led the league in steals from 1981-84, and also won a batting title in 1986, hitting .334. Neither Brock nor Raines ever won an MVP or Gold Glove.
Raines finished eighth in the Hall of Fame balloting this year with 122 votes, down 10 from the support he received last year. The only non-pitchers to finish ahead of Raines were Henderson, fellow new inductee Jim Rice and Andre Dawson.
Raines is fifth on the all-time stolen base list. Henderson, Brock, Ty Cobb and Billy Hamilton, the four players ahead of him, are all in the Hall of Fame.
The Rock should be a lock with Brock and Rickey already enshrined.