With 69.8% of the vote in 2016, Raines came tantalizingly close to being elected in his penultimate year of eligibility. I may be biased as Raines was one of my favorite players growing up watching the late-90’s dynasty teams, but it seems ridiculous to me that a man who is arguably the second-best leadoff hitter in the history of baseball has been denied entry into the Hall of Fame nine years running.
If he hadn’t spent the majority of his career toiling in obscurity for some pretty forgettable Expos teams, Raines probably would have been elected long ago. His 808 stolen bases are the fifth-most in baseball history and his 84.7% success rate ranks 13th. He accumulated a solid 69.1 wins above replacement over the course of his career and was one of the most electric players in baseball during his peak from 1981-1989, making seven All-Star squads and receiving MVP votes in seven seasons during that span.
Raines slowed down considerably towards the end of his career, which might impact the image many voters have of him as a player. Even in his twilight years, however, he was a key contributor to the 1996 and 1998 Yankees World Series championship teams, hitting .299/.395/.429 in 940 plate appearances during his three years in pinstripes despite being in his late-30’s.
Because of how close he came to induction last year, Rock seems like the ex-Yankee with the best chance of making it into the 2017 Hall of Fame class. Yankees fans should be extra vocal with their support this year to raise awareness of his case and ensure he gets in.