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Was Tim Raines the second-best leadoff man ever?

By C. Trent Rosecrans | Blogger
Tim Raines was successful on nearly 85 percent of his stolen base attempts. (Getty Images)

The fact that Tim Raines is still not in the Hall of Fame is, frankly, a little baffling. As part of our series examining the 2013 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, we took a closer look at why he belongs in Cooperstown. But that still leaves the question of why he isn't. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is that he had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Rickey Henderson, unquestionably the greatest leadoff hitter of all time.

A total of 6,514 of Raines' career 10,359 plate appearances came as a leadoff man and batting first he got on base at a .385 clip -- interestingly enough, the same as his career on-base percentage. He was his team's three-hole hitter for 1,656 plate appearances, putting up a .407 OBP there.

Here's some of the top leadoff men of all time (to qualify, the majority of their career plate appearances had to come as a leadoff hitter), and their stats just when they were first in the lineup:

Player
PA as leadoff
AVG/OBP/SLG
Hits
BB
Runs
SB
CS
HR
Rickey Henderson
13,122
.280/.401/.420
3,020
2,140
2,244
1,384
331
293
Pete Rose
10,710
.308/.379/.419
2,924
1,048
1,524
125
101
117
Lou Brock
8,653
.291/.343/.406
2,310
616
1,254
762
232
108
Ichiro Suzuki
8,141
.324/.368/.375
2,445
492
1,138
424
98
97
Kenny Lofton
7,929
.297/.371/.423
2,065
826
1,317
552
149
119
Craig Biggio
7,297
.284/.370/.447
1,800
704
1,128
238
82
181
Paul Molitor
7,291
.300/.365/.439
1,953
654
1,131
370
100
138
Tim Raines
6,514
.294/.385/.427
1,646
829
1,011
584
109
99
Wade Boggs
3,714
.321/.413/.428
1,194
594
626
9
21
34

After Henderson, the title of second-best leadoff is up to debate, but Raines can certainly hold his own in any of those debates. His on-base percentage is second only to Boggs in that group (and isn't a leadoff man's priority first and foremost to get on base?), only Lou Brock stole more bases and nobody was a more efficient base stealer than Raines. These things are always debatable, but Raines has his case.

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