Raines vs. Rice.

So I had an email exchange with a Hall voter who voted for Rice but not for Raines, and I thought it might be worth sharing. I’m withholding the voter’s name and am not saying whether or not his ballot was published. Anyway, I asked why he didn’t vote for Raines, and he wrote:

for a guy who played that many seasons, he should have well over 3,000 hits, or a .320 average. The steals are a plus, but on non-contending teams you can run every time you get on base after the all-star break, as henderson did in 1982.

Rice had a higher average, and he was a power hitter – and he didn’t play 10 years on artificial turf.

Here’s my reply; as I look at it now, it’s a little half-formed, but I’ll present it without edits. I was trying to rebut specific arguments rather than presenting a global case for Raines:

Batting average is inferior to on-base percentage in every way; batting average pretends that walks, hit by pitches, and (weirdest of all) sacrifice flies don’t exist. In fact, a walk is worth somewhere between 80% and 90% as much as a single is [KL: I guessed on this one, but if someone has a hard coefficient for BB wrt a single, I’d love to see it.], because most of the value in either event is in not making an out. So penalizing Raines for not hitting .320 in his career ignores the fact that his career OBP is one of the 100 best since 1900, higher than Willie Mays’.

Raines reached base safely 3977 times in his career. That’s more than Tony Gwynn (3955, in almost the same # of plate appearances), Lou Brock (3833, in 1000 more PA), and way more than Rice (3186, in about 1000 fewer PA), and just a shade behind Rod Carew (4096, in 200 more PA).

As for running every time after the All-Star Break on non-contending teams, Raines stole more bases in the first half in his career (405) than in the second half (403). Also, the Expos finished in first or within ten games of first in 1981, Raines’ first season; 1982; 1983; 1987; and 1990. He went to Chicago in 1991, and they finished in second, 8 games out; in 3rd in 1992, ten games out; and of course they won the division in 1993. He then won two rings as a part-time player in New York. Raines spent at least ten of his twenty full years on good clubs.

Rice, on the other hand, got more benefit from his home park than any Hall of Fame candidate I can remember. He hit .320/.374/.546 at home with 469 extra-base hits, and just .277/.330/.459 on the road with 375 extra-base hits. I compared him in my ESPN.com chat session yesterday to Dante Bichette, an OK player who looked like a star because he played in a great hitters’ park. So if you want to downgrade Raines for playing on turf for part of his career, you would need to downgrade Rice more for playing in a friendly stadium for his whole career.


  1. How exactly is playing on artificial turf a “point against” Tim Raines?

  2. Keith,

    Tango used .7 as the linear weights coefficient for a non-intentional walk or HBP.


    Not sure about the methodology, but he generally has a more than decent grasp on this stuff.

  3. The difference in RC/g (I understand not a perfect stat) isn’t close 6.6 Raines/6.0 Rice. I saw Rice his whole career. He might’ve been a Hall hitter (no more than average in the field in Fenway, less so on the road) in the late 70’s but he was only good every other year. Raines had a longer peak.

    This is a perfect example of old thinking vs. new thinking – home runs good/walks not so good. It will take time.

  4. For what it is worth, I am starting to grasp the difference.

  5. Frank James

    ED: The following is tongue in cheek.

    Johan Santana has been traded from the Minnesota Twins to the NY Yankees.

    Both the owner and general manager of the Twins deny this.

    Nonetheless, Hank has informed MLB that the Twins have sent the Yankees Santana in exchange for Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and some guy named Marquez. Hank wasn’t sure if Marquez is the kid’s first or last name.

    The Yankees have also signed Santana to a 6 year $122 million dollar extension.

    The Yankees have scheduled a press conference for 1PM this coming Monday.

    When reached for a comment Twins owner Carl Pohlad said “We never agreed to anything.”

    The deal was apparently approved by Bud Selig late Thursday night.

    Hank Steinbrenner said this about the Twins “They are a gutty bunch. They stayed true to their guns. They made us give up Hughes when we were very reluctant. But in the end their resolve was steady. Hats off to that young man they have as a GM. He’s a sharp guy.”

    Twins GM Bill Smith had this to say “I appreciate the kind words of Mr. Steinbrenner but we did not agree to a deal. Having said that we look forward to the 2008 season with Philip Hughes leading our staff and are buoyed by the fact that Francisco Liriano should be back during the season to help Hughes and our other young pitchers contend for the divisional title.”

    How can America not fall in love with Hank?
    Come on he admits he has a thing for Jennifer Love Hewitt.
    How great a character is he?
    Talking about Santana every other day, cigarette dangling from his mouth…
    It’s like a movie where Chris Farley inherits his dad’s team.

  6. 70% is a good approximation (.32 runs for a walk, and .47 runs for a single).

    And even forget the Raines/Rice argument. Try to find a sliver of a difference between Raines/Gwynn or Raines/Molitor. And those guys easily got in on the first try.

    Molitor: 6368 bases
    Raines: 5805 bases
    Gwynn: 5267 bases

    Even if you remove the SB and CS completely on the (correct) basis that you are over-valuing SB, Raines *still* comes out ahead of Gwynn. Basically, the voters don’t like how Raines arranged getting on base and moving runners over, even if he was just as effective in generating runs for his teams as Gwynn.

    The voters, who implore us not to look at the numbers too closely, instead just to only look at a number like 3000 with such tenacity that it’s the only thing they end up seeing! Talk about being myopic.

    I go through it all on my site in differnt ways, and it always comes out to the same thing. Raines = Gwynn = Molitor.

  7. “just to only” = “just choose to only”

  8. It’s amazing that someone could be penalized for taking walks instead of hacking away and trying to get hits. The statement “for a guy who played that many seasons, he should have […] a .320 average” doesn’t even make sense; the longer someone players, the lower you would expect their average to go as they continue on into less stellar years.

    With regards to this: “The steals are a plus, but on non-contending teams you can run every time you get on base after the all-star break, as henderson did in 1982.”

    I was wondering if this was true with regards to Henderson. Looking at the 1982 Athletics, from April through the end of June, there were 161 stolen base attempts. From July 1 until the end of the season, there were 158 attempts. That’s a little imperfect b/c the all star game was on July 13th, and the numbers include all players, not just Henderson, but I had trouble finding Henderson’s splits from 1982 and I don’t want to spend a lot of time researching this.

    The argument could be made that Henderson ran more post-ASB while the rest of the team stopped running, but that doesn’t make a lot of logical sense. If it’s better to run on a non-contending team post-ASB, everyone should be running. The number should go up across the board, and it didn’t.

    Henderson’s career numbers: 225 attempts in April (and March), 304 in May, 286 in June, 305 in July, 305 in August, and 316 in September (and October).

    Henderson was also on plenty of non-contending teams (including those early 80s Oakland teams), but he never had over 150 attempts ever again.

  9. Henderson’s 1982 splits:

    If you look at his SB+CS per 1B+BB, he went gangbusters starting in June.

  10. I’m curious if the voter ever responded.

  11. This debate has been going on for so long now, and the numbers clearly seem to indicate that Rice is just not Hall worthy. What is it about him that is making so many people fight so hard for him to get in? Why are respectable baseball writers forcing bad arguments in support of this guy? The debate is over for me, I’m just wondering now what is driving the other side. I’d also like to know why Rice supporters get so defensive about the issue. Maybe I’m wrong and this happens every year, but it just seems like the stakes are higher this year.

  12. I’ll bet the voter responded with

    “but he was the most feared hitter of the decade”

    And by decade, he meant 1977-1979.

    Maybe I can get the PR gurus who are lobbying for Rice to help me with my Von Hayes For the Hall of Fame campaign. Von was a force to be reckoned with for the decade of 1986-1987.

  13. Jason – his response indicated he wasn’t interested in further discussion. I did not get the impression that I had changed his mind.

  14. Vegas Watch noted that Rice led all of baseball in one important category during his twelve years. Unfortunately, for proponents of his induction in the HOF, that stat was GIDP. And people, please stop calling him the most “feared” hitter of his day, a period that included Mike Schmidt (155 IBB’s from 1975-86 vs. 72 for Rice) among many others.

  15. tangotiger, thanks for the link. It appears that Henderson had 107 stolen base attempts in the first half of 1982 and 65 attempts in the second half…so he ran less, apparently.

    This may have to do with the fact that he just stopped getting on base in the second half.

  16. No one appears to mention other good comps for Jim Rice: Rocky Colavito, Frank Howard, and Norm Cash. Shorter careers, but similar homer totals, better OPS+, feared hittersâ„¢ and were unlucky often behind Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Harmon Killebrew during their careers, masking their impact. In addition, Colavito, though slow afoot, had a cannon.

  17. You are better off doing SB per opportunity.

    Rickey also stole 3B *Alot*.

  18. I wait with great anticipation to hear Rickey Henderson’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech. It’ll probably be the most interesting since Phil Rizzuto’s. Will he be the first Hall of Famer to refer to himself in the third person? “Rickey is happy to be here,” said Rickey.

    Tango, it seems clear to me that Henderson dedicated 1982 to breaking Brock’s single-season record. It’s one thing to think you can do it. It’s another to have people expect you to set a new MLB recrod and then *actually* do it.

    I was watching baseball when Henderson first came up in 1979, and there was a lot of buzz about him from day one. He did nothing to cool that talk by stealing over 30 bases in half a season. Next year, 1980, was his first full year, and he broke Cobb’s AL record and became only the third player ever to steal 100 or more in a season. There was talk that he’d shoot for Brock’s record in 1981, but the stike wiped out 1/3 of the games. 1982 was the first year he had a shot and he obviously went for it. He got off to a slow start, hitting in the low .200s in April, but he still stole over 20 bases, fueling expectations that once he got going he’d shatter the record. They were right. His two best months were May and July, where he hit over .300 and stole 27 and 26 bases respectively. Not sure what happened to him in August. Batting average plunged to the low .200s, but he still stole over 20 bases for the fifth straight month. As you noted, he was running more percentage wise because he was on base less. I’m not sure if he was injured, or exhausted, or putting too much pressure on himself to get on base. I suspect there might have been an injury, because once he eclipsed Brock, not only did he decrease his running, he also decreased playing. Only 65 ABs in September and only seven steals in ten attempts. His .211 BA in August and .224 in September with the reduced playing team seems to indicate some type of injury.

    His BA in 1982, as well as his OBP,were much lower than the previous season, as well as the subsequent one. One can only imagine if Henderson hit like he normally did early in his career, or if he played most of September. The record wouldn’t be 130 SBs, it would more than 150 for the season.

    There was never a lead-off hitter as good as Henderson before or since.

  19. First off, I love Rickey. Not as much as Raines, but very very high.

    Up until 1987, there was little to separate Rickey and Raines. Here’s how they did from 1981-1987:

    .290 .401 .453 .854 Rickey (568SB, 137CS)
    .310 .396 .448 .844 Raines (504SB, 74CS)

    Raines stole 64 fewer bases and was caught 63 fewer times.

    You are talking about two extremely similar players here for a period of seven years.

  20. We all agree that Ricky is a no brainer first ballot hall of famer though. so why shouldn’t Raines be?

    It’s hard to really warrent a case for Rice without sending in Baines and Parker too.

    If you look at the qualification of the fielders, it should be Raines >> Dawson >> Rice = Parker

  21. Apres Rice, the deluge. Dawson, Thome, Delgado, Sheffield, Bagwell, not to mention McGriff should get a longer look. Also would be fair to revisit Albert Belle, Norm Cash, Frank Howard, Boog Powell, Rocky Colavito and especially Dick Allen, career OPS+ of 156, almost 30 points higher than Rice.

  22. Quite a bit is made of Rice’s home road splits, and the advantage fenway provided as a hitters park.

    Stupid question(s):

    When adjusting to take away that advantage, is it standard practice to adjust his home numbers down to his road numbers, or just down by the level of an average fenway home/road split? If Rice took more advantage of fenway than other players were able to, isn’t that bully for him?


  23. Jim Rice had terrible H/R slpits. Absolutely true. Terrible OPS+ as well. And…oh yeah…so did Carl Yastrzemski…his were almost worse…