Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 

Tim Raines and the Actual Hall of Fame

I had a few readers send me comments regarding Tim Raines as a candidate for the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame, and in some ways that disapointed me greatly. I think Tim Raines belongs in Cooperstown, not just stuffed onto some list of really good players (no offense to my own invention here; it has a purpose and it is going to do it, but Tim Raines is part of something greater I think.) But to check this out, I am going to do a few things:

1) I'm going to check out Baseball References Black Ink, Gray Ink, HOF Standards and HOF Monitor scores on Raines.

2) I'm going to get Tim Raines' career Win Shares, a Bill James invention that is great for evaluating contributions of the past. Basically, a nice shiny simple number I can use to compare some players to Raines.

3) I'm going to get the Win Shares for comparable or similar players to Raines who are in the Hall of Fame, as well as some other outfielders who are in who Raines either stacks up to or is ahead of in career Win Shares.

4) I will also use the WARP3 statistic, which is "WARP-2, expanded to 162 games to compensate for shortened seasons. Initially, I was just going to use (162/season length) as the multiplier, but this seemed to overexpand the very short seasons of the 19th century. I settled on using (162/scheduled games) ** (2/3). So Ross Barnes' 7.4 wins in 1873, a 55 game season, only gets extended to 15.2 WARP, instead of a straight-line adjustment of 21.8." In a nutshell...it is an adjustment for all-time.

5) Use Jay Jaffe's JAWS score to determine his worth versus the average left fielder in the Hall of Fame.

Now as of right now, I do not know how Raines stacks up against these other players and on these HOF scores, so if I am proven wrong in the end I might admit it, depending on if I am far off or not. The thing is, I don't think he is far off. Before I delve into this, let me just say he is probably one of the greatest leadoff men of all time who had the misfortune of being a contemporary of the greatest leadoff hitter of all time in Rickey Henderson, as well as Hall of Fame leadoff man Paul Molitor. You know how that voting committee loves their contemporaries; no way three men can be Hall of Fame worthy at the same position in the same era! Blasphemer! Granted, Henderson is way above the two of them in my mind, but I think Raines and Molitor are relatively similar in total career worth. Let's put it this way: If Rock Raines is not a Hall of Famer in your eyes, then Paul Molitor better be a fringe one, which would call the BBWAA's thoughts into question (Tony Perez and George Kelly anyone?)

First off, here are Raines HOF scores as seen on Baseball Reference:

Black Ink: Batting - 20 (Overall rank 103) (Average HOF'er ~ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting - 114 (Overall rank 171) (Average HOF'er ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 46.8 (Overall rank 92) (Average HOF'er ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 90.0 (Overall rank 165) (Likely HOF'er ~ 100)

So according to the average Hall of Famer, Tim Raines is basically there. Paul Molitor is way ahead using this metric:

Black Ink: Batting - 24 (78) (Average HOF'er ~ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting - 145 (95) (Average HOF'er ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 59.1 (27) (Average HOF'er ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 165.5 (58) (Likely HOF'er > 100)

So using these standards, I look slightly (to be kind to myself) dumb. But luckily I have backup plans. Also, one note on these forms: they have not been reevaluated since 1994, and a lot of thought and development has been done since then. Jay Jaffe used the phrase, "Bill James' Hall of Fame Standards and Hall of Fame Monitor tools have reached their sell-by date." He has a point, as his system using JAWS (a modified version of the WARP3 statistic Clay Davenport created) is more in depth and more accurate in many ways. Read the article from the link above to get an in-depth view of it.

Tim Raines has 390 career Win Shares, while Paul Molitor has 414. Basically, that is one really good season more than Raines, or can simply be attributed to the fact that Molitor stuck around to get 3,000 hits and so played for 21 seasons. Well, 20 seasons technically, as he only played 13 games in 1984. Tim Raines has 23 seasons under his belt, but he lost 2000 and didn't get to play much for his last few teams. So they are roughly in the same area for career length. Molitor did accumulate more Win Shares, but he was an important part of his team in Minnesota at the end (more a tribute to Minnesota's bad teams than to Molitor's greatness) while Raines spent his 2002 on a team fighting for the playoffs. So I guess we can either call this a draw or hand a slight edge to Molitor, although the difference in their Win Shares is small...the point of this discussion of course is not me trying to prove Raines belonging OVER Molitor, but showing how closely related they may be in order to prove how Raines belongs when Molitor is so sure of a true Hall of Famer. This isn't me saying Don Mattingly should be in because guys like Ralph Kiner, who had less win shares, are in because of a mistake made by the committee in voting. This is me saying Tim Raines belongs because he meets the qualifications of a Hall of Famer, not a fringe one, but a real Hall of Famer.

In The New Bill James Historical Abstract, James has Tim Raines ranked as the 81st greatest player of all time, while Molitor is not on the list...or on his consensus list of guys left off the Top 100 of 20 more players. Bill James has Tim Raines as the 8th best left fielder of all time, ahead of Hall of Famer Willie Stargell and directly in front of Hall of Famer Al Simmons. He has Paul Molitor ranked as the 8th greatest third basemen of all time, but his lack of inclusion on the Top 100 does away with what might appear to be equality. Left field traditionally has better hitters than third base does, so this is apples and oranges, not apples to apples. As far as apples to apples comparisons go, I give you this:

"Tim Raines has been overlooked by everyone else except Total Baseball", which rates him much higher than I do. Raines, in my opinion, is the second-best leadoff man of all-time, behind Rickey Henderson, but had the misfortune of being an exact contemporary not only of Henderson but also of Paul Molitor, the third-greatest leadoff man ever."

That is straight from Bill James' Player Rankings and Comments section of the New Abstract, and gives more kudos to Raines in his argument for the Hall. Also, if Raines is the 81st greatest player of all time (from a 2000 book) and there are 260+ Hall of Famers...then isn't he technically better than roughly 180 of those guys? 44 guys had totaled 400+ Win Shares at the time the book Win Shares was published, with 39 of them in the Hall (and the other 5 listed below in the excerpt from Baseball-Fever.) Tim Raines just misses being one of those 44 players by 10 win shares, or one season by the 2004 version of Reed Johnson.

I found this searching on Google at Baseball-Fever.com, posted by user Appling:

"Bill James has outlined a number of "qualifications" for potential members of the Hall of Fame -- His Black Ink Test, Grey Ink Test and the like. But perhaps the most simple and accurate test is the player's Total Win Shares for his career. In his book "Win Shares" Bill James lists 44 players with career "Total Win Shares" of 400 or more. 39 of this group are already in the Hall of Fame -- and four of the other five are stars who who should be elected on their first HOF ballot:Barry Bonds 572 (thru 2002)Rickey Henderson 530 Cal Ripken, Jr. 427 Paul Molitor 414. Of course, the fifth player over 400 is Pete Rose (547 WS)
IMO there should be no question on the HOF qualifications of anyone with 400+ Win Shares. In fact, most eligible players with 350 WS or more are already in the Hall of Fame. The most contraversial members seem to be players with less than 300 career Win Shares (Luis Apparico 293? Kiki Cuyler 292? George Sisler 292? Kirby Puckett 281? Bill Terry 278? Ed Walsh 265? Lloyd Waner 245?) Players with fewer than 300 Win Shares may still belong because of a few great seasons, but anyone over 400 should be almost automatic."

Most players with over 350 win shares are in the Hall of Fame already, and Tim Raines has 390. Using this system, it is obvious he belongs. But how does he stack up all-time in ways other than win shares?

Using Baseball-Reference's Similarity Scores, we see this:

1) Lou Brock*
2) Max Carey*
3) Willie Davis
4) Jimmy Ryan
5) Jose Cruz
6) Fred Clarke*
7) Harry Hooper*
8) Enos Slaughter*
9) Mickey Vernon
10) Rod Carew*

Six of those players are Hall of Famers, and the rest were very good players. Is Raines better than any of these players who are already in the Hall of Fame by a substantial margin? His career OPS+ bests any of the hitters except Fred Clarke and Rod Carew, so there is a plus. He stole more bases than anyone on the list except Lou Brock. Let's take a look at their Career WARP3 scores to get a look and see where Raines ranks among the 6 Hall of Famers he is supposedly similar to:

Lou Brock - WARP3: 86.3
Max Carey - WARP3: 93.2
Fred Clarke - WARP3: 100.6
Harry Hooper - WARP3: 86.5
Enos Slaughter - WARP3: 96.6
Rod Carew - WARP3: 112.3
Tim Raines - WARP3: 124.1

And just for kicks, Paul Molitor's WARP3 score is 127.2...barely ahead of Tim Raines, who bests the crowd of his similar Hall of Famers by a very good margin, an extremely good margin after Rod Carew.

And now, I will use Jay Jaffe's JAWS score (JAffe WARP Score) to see where it is Tim Raines stands among leftfielder in the Hall of Fame.

Here are the left fielder averages calculated by Jaffe:

WARP - 103.8; Peak WARP - 42.8, JAWS - 73.3

For Tim Raines career, he had a total WARP3 of 124.1 (a difference of 20.3 in Raines' favor), a peak WARP3 of 50.6 (a difference of 7.8 in Raines' favor) and a JAWS score of 87.5...a difference of 14.2 in Raines' favor.

What does this tell us? Well, since those scores for the left fielders are the average score of all the left fielders in the Hall of Fame, we can see that Tim Raines is an above average Hall of Famer. Now what will all of these numbers do? Nothing except on a few ballots, such as Peter Gammons, where sabermetrics and the like have been accepted as a great resource. You may be reading this and wondering, "why is he even questioning if Raines belongs in the Hall?" Well, I'm not. I know he does, and I just want to reinforce how much he deserves it, because there has been little mention and fanfare of his place on the ballot come 2008. We might see a great player slip through the cracks. Here is his competition on the 2007 and 2008 ballots:

Harold Baines, Derek Bell, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Brantley, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Harnisch, Charlie Hayes, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hill, Stan Javier, Wally Joyner, Ramon Martinez, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neill, Gregg Olson, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Shaw, Kevin Tapani, Devon White, Bobby Witt

And 2008:

Shawon Dunston, Travis Fryman, David Justice, Mike Morgan, Tim Raines, Randy Velarde

2008 shows Raines to be far and away the best player, with a career that may have more Win Shares and a better JAWS and WARP3 score than the rest of them possibly combined.

The names in bold in 2007 are those who I think will either make the Hall of Fame (you know who they are) or at least be sticking around in 2008 as competition with Raines or someone who might take votes away. Raines could get lucky if McGwire, Ripken, and Gwynn all get elected in 2007. Why? Because then his biggest competition is Jose Canseco (yeah right), Bret Saberhagen (I wish) and Paul O'Neill, who may get a lot of support because he was a Yankee on one of the teams that can be classified as THE Yankees. We'll have to see,but raising awareness for the vote for Tim Raines is of the utmost importance if we want the Hall of Fame to represent what it claims to: the greatest players in the history of the game.


Comments:
Just thought I'd throw this in for some backup...I asked Clay Davenport of BP what he thought about Tim Raines HOF ability in a chat at BP, and he said:

Clay Davenport: I have a procedure that I've built to create my own personal Hall of Fame, based mainly on WARP-3 and on the Hall's established rules. I intend to write about that when we get closer to Hall induction time in late July, but yeah, I put Raines in on his first ballot in 2007.

Glad he says that.
 
http://www.vintagesportscardmemorabilia.com/ great idea
 
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