Ronald C. Modra/Getty ImagesTim RainesThere is no player on the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot I am rooting to see elected more than Tim Raines.
Being second to Rickey Henderson is anything but a crime, but if it weren't for Henderson, you might call Raines baseball's ultimate table-setter in the post-segregation era — more than Lou Brock, Maury Wills or anyone else. Raines reached base 3,977 times (44th all-time) with a .385 on-base percentage over 23 years — and that's combined with being fifth in stolen bases and second in stolen-base percentage.
Raines scores high in terms of both peak value and longevity. In Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs, Raines is the 84th-best position player in history — the 10 names immediately after his are Joe Torre, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire, Craig Biggio, Ozzie Smith, Zack Wheat, Edgar Martinez, Lou Boudreau, Billy Williams and Pee Wee Reese.
For comparison, just to take a couple of other one-time Dodgers whom many believe should be in the Hall, Mike Piazza is 106th and Gil Hodges is 219th.
"Any time we compare Raines to a reasonable group of Hall of Famers, we always end up with the same thing: Raines is just like them," Tom Tango wrote at the conclusion of a long analysis piece on Raines for the Hardball Times a few years ago, a piece that remains worth your time. "If you have a group of players worthy of the Hall, and an individual player compares very favorably to that group, you have a Hall-worthy player by definition. That is what Tim Raines is: the definition of a Hall of Famer. Whether Raines is compared to the best of the best leadoff hitters or the best No. 3 hitters or the best players of his era, he stands among them. And they stand in the Hall of Fame.