Leading up to the announcement of the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class on Jan. 18, we're examining each of the 34 candidates on this year's BBWAA ballot. By way of reminder, a candidate must be named on at least 75 percent of submitted BBWAA ballots in order to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

We've already looked at the numerous candidates who are certain to fall off the ballot after only one year (candidates receiving less than five percent drop off the ballot). Now we're looking at those hopefuls who figure to have meaningful support and perhaps even earn induction at some point.

Assuming the position this time around is outfielder Tim Raines, who's in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. Raines spent parts of 23 seasons in the majors, and his 13 years in Montreal made him perhaps the most recognizable Expo of all-time. Now let's have a deeper look at his case ...

The case for Raines

Across those two decades in the big leagues, Raines racked up 2,605 hits; 1,330 walks (1,182 unintentional walks); 713 extra-base hits; 808 stolen bases; and 1,571 runs scored. Along the way, Raines authored an OPS+ of 123 in more than 2,500 games, made the All-Star team seven times, won a Silver Slugger and a batting title. Given the breadth and excellence of his career, Raines ranks quite prominently on a number of career lists. Let's enjoy a sampling ...

  • Raines' 2,605 hits rank 80th all-time.
  • His 1,330 walks rank 38th all-time.
  • His 3,977 times on base rank 48th all-time.
  • His 808 stolen bases rank fifth all-time.
  • His stolen base success rate of 84.696 ranks 13th all-time and first among those with at least 500 steals.
  • His 1,571 runs scored rank 54th all-time.
  • His WAR of 69.1 ranks 73rd all-time among position players.

That's an impressive dossier and one that more than meets established Hall of Fame standards for left fielders. To put it in more precise Hall terms, we'll turn to Jay Jaffe's JAWS system available at Baseball-Reference. Using WAR, JAWS compares a player, in terms of both peak value and overall career value, to those Hall of Famers who played the same position. JAWS tells us that Raines, among primary left fielders, ranks eighth all-time in career value, 10th in peak value and eighth in composite value. In each instance, he is above the average mark for left fielders already in the Hall of Fame.

Let's circle back to career value for a moment. The only primary left fielders ranked ahead of Raines who aren't in the Hall are Barry Bonds, Pete Rose (Rose spent most of his career defensive innings in the outfield and most of those innings in left) and Manny Ramirez, and each of course has extenuating circumstances keeping him out of Cooperstown. Framed another way, you have 13 primary left fielders already in the Hall of Fame who produced a lower career WAR than Raines. So, yes, Tim Raines is a bleedin' obvious Hall of Famer, and it's dismaying that he hasn't yet made it in.

For further reading on the excellence and Hall worthiness of Mr. Raines, I'll point you to my colleague Jonah Keri's work. Hear, hear on all that he says.

The case against Raines

Despite being given short shrift for so long, there's not really a compelling case against Raines. Perhaps it's that he didn't get 3,000 hits? Well, he reached base almost 4,000 times, as noted above, and for a high-volume, high-percentage base stealer like Raines, yes, a walk is almost as good as a hit. Beyond that, the only excuse for leaving Raines off your ballot is that your Hall standards are so much more rigid than, you know, the Hall standards as they exist in reality that you support only "inner circle" candidates. If that's your rationale for leaving Raines off, then you need to examine your previous yes votes to determine whether your lofty (and unrealistic) standards are being applied consistently.

Well, there's one other reason for leaving Raines off. BBWAA voter Murray Chass turned in a blank ballot this time around and doesn't support Raines' candidacy, in large measure, because he used cocaine during his playing days. Let's point out the obvious and say that dinging a candidate for partaking of recreational substances is wandering into a cornucopia of implications and is Puritanical in the extreme. As my boy Matt Snyder has written, wielding the "character clause" against Hall candidates is obscenely silly and can't possibly be used with any kind of uniformity. It's a cudgel -- a child's cudgel, really.

Will he make it?

Thankfully, it's looking like Raines will make it in his final year on the writers' ballot. Per Ryan Thibodaux's ballot tracker, we learn that Raines is currently running 91.4 percent support on ballots. That's obviously more than enough support, on a rate basis, to earn him induction in his final year. The caveat is that that most ballots aren't publicly known. However, if Raines is named on just 61.8 percent of those unknown ballots, then he's in.

It's woefully belated, but it looks like Raines is finally going to be a Hall of Famer. That's very much as it should be.

Other Hall of Fame cases: Posada | Ramirez | Guerrero | Rodriguez | Sosa | Wagner | Walker | Kent | McGriff | Smith | Mussina | Martinez | Bonds | Clemens | Schilling