With more wheels than a Firestone dealership, Rock Raines raced his way through the 1980s, racking up large stolen base totals and gathering plenty of All-Star support. A fixture in left field at Montreal, Raines saw more time in left for the Expos than boats seen by our beloved Statue of Liberty. Wheels was Tim’s game and he could motor with the best of them.
Fast-tracked to the big leagues, Tim was a 19-year old kid when the Expos first called him up. He only played in six games and wasn’t allowed to bat, but he saw more playing time in 1980. Slapping just one hit in 20 at-bats, Tim gave little indication of what was to come and with an outfield trio of Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine and Ron LeFlore, it seemed that Rock was blocked. But the rock was removed in 1981 and Raines took Valentine’s job – leading the NL with 71 steals as a rookie. Speed wasn’t that big a part of the game, but Raines brought it back. Omar Moreno was Raines’ runner-up in the theft department with 39 steals.
An everyday player for the first time in 1982, Raines paced the senior circuit with 78 steals. He made the second of what would be seven straight All-Star appearances that season. Raines put it all together in 1983 and had his breakout season, leading the NL with 90 steals and 133 runs scored. Just two points off the .300 mark, Raines wasn’t just a runner – he was a baseball player. He drew 97 walks which accounted for his solid .393 on-base percentage, which in turn allowed him to lead the league in runs scored.
For the fourth straight year Tim led the NL in steals in 1984 when he swiped 75 bases. Also, Rock paced the senior circuit with 38 doubles and posted another .393 on-base percentage which enabled him to lead NL outfielders in runs scored. When Vince Coleman made his debut, Tim’s days as the stolen base king came to an end. He never again led the league in steals. Although he lost his stolen base title to Coleman, Raines posted a terrific .405 on-base percentage while hitting .320.
Raines won the NL batting title in 1986 when he hit .334 and also copped the on-base title with a .413 mark. The following year his 123 runs scored paced the senior circuit and he reached his highwater mark in on-base percentage with a .429 mark. Proving that his game wasn’t all about wheels, Raines also slugged at a respectable .526 clip.
An off season in 1988 disrupted Tim’s streak of All-Star appearances, but he rebounded in ’89 by finishing third with 41 steals. As a 30-year old, Rock swiped 49 bases – his last thefts in an Expos uniform. Just two days before Christmas, Tim was dealt to the White Sox for slugger Ivan Calderon and pitcher Barry Jones. Joining the ranks of the American League in 1991, Raines struggled to adapt to the new environment and hit below .270 for the first time as a regular.
Looking to rebound after a poor first year in the junior circuit, Raines did just that when he led AL left fielders in runs scored during the 1992 campaign. A .300 hitter for the first time in the American League in ’93, Rock hit .444 in an ALCS loss to Toronto.
Three days after Christmas in 1995, Tim was traded to the New York Yankees for a minor leaguer. With the Yankees, Tim’s playing time was restricted since their roster was stocked with talent. However, this enabled Tim to play often in October. He saw postseason action with the Yankees in 1996, 1997 and 1998. His last great year was in 1997 when he was a member of New York’s all .320 hitting outfield with Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill. Passed his prime in 2001, Tim, just like Ken Griffey, was able to play on the same Major League roster as his son Tim Raines Jr.
G 2,502/R 1,571/H 2,605/2B 430/3B 113/HR 170/RBI 980/BB 1,330/SO 966/SB 808/BA .294/SA .425