Kilgore: Raines’ HOF enshrinement is a victory for stats geeks everywhere

From Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post on January 18, 2017:

On Sept. 29, 2002, at a venue then known as Pro Player Stadium, Tim Raines played the final baseball game of his 23-year career. He reached base once, for the 3,935th and last time, before a defensive substitute replaced him. Raines exited the sport as a potential candidate for the Hall of Fame, but by consensus he seemed a Cooperstown long shot.

Raines had fallen well short of traditional milestones such as 3,000 hits, 400 home runs or a .300 career batting average. He had never produced more than 71 RBI in a season and only once led the league in average. But he had an unforeseen edge on his side. On June 17, 2003 — 261 days after Raines’s final appearance — came the release of Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game.”

Wednesday evening, in his 10th and final chance, Raines gained election in the Hall of Fame with 86 percent of the vote, up from his initial total of 24.3 in 2008, his first year on the ballot. Just five others in the past 40 years have made up such a large gap to reach the 75 percent required for induction. One of the fastest runners and most patient hitters of his era, Raines was likely the second-greatest leadoff hitter of the 1980s, behind only Rickey Henderson. He made the Hall on merit.

But Raines also came along at just the right moment.

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Originally published: January 18, 2017. Last Updated: January 18, 2017.