Tag Archives: Montreal Expos

2019 World Series preview and prediction

 

In their 51st season of existence, the Washington Nationals franchise has reached the World Series. They will face-off against the Houston Astros, who have been to the Fall Classic twice previously (2005, 2017) and just two years ago captured their first world championship.

This should be a fascinating match-up, featuring perhaps the best teams in both the National and American Leagues by the time the 2019 regular season came to an end.

Strong starting pitching. Deep bullpens. Exciting stars. Future Hall of Famers. It will all be on display over the next week or so in Houston, Texas and the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C.

Over the course of this exciting October of 2019 MLB Postseason play, I provided previews and predictions for all four Division Series, and each League Championship Series after going 1-1 in the Wildcard games. If you followed my advice, you are doing pretty well, as my predictions have gone 6-2 to this point.

Also, prior to the season in my 2019 MLB preview, I gave you the Nationals as my National League champions. A pretty bold prediction, given that many saw the defection of Bryce Harper in free agency as signaling their franchise decline.

While I would like to say that I was also prescient enough to have picked Houston in the American League, I did not. Close, however. I had the Astros eliminated by the New York Yankees in the playoffs. Instead, the reverse happened.

HEAD TO HEAD RESULTS

These two ball clubs have met just twice in Interleague play. During the 2017 MLB regular season go-around, the Nationals captured the first and third games of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park in Houston, winning each by a single run by scores of 4-3 and 5-4. The host Astros won the middle affair by a 6-1 score.

Back in 2014, Washington swept a four game series between the two teams at Nationals Park, taking three of the four by a single run each.

From the inception of the Nationals franchise in 1969 as the old Montreal Expos through their move to Washington in 2005, and then on through the 2012 season, the two teams were each part of the National League. So for 44 years, they met frequently.

The Nationals/Expos franchise holds a 244-207 all-time regular season record over the Astros, for a .541 win percentage. The two clubs have never previously met in postseason play.

HOW NATIONALS GOT HERE

The Nationals got off to a horrendous start. Sitting at just 19-31 on May 23, they were in fourth place in the NL East Division. With rumors swirling that manager Dave Martinez‘ job was in jeopardy, their odds of reaching the World Series were less than 1%.

From that point onward, Washington was a completely different ball club. The Nats went 74-38 over the balance of the regular season, finishing in second place and easily claiming an NL Wildcard playoff berth.

In that National League Wildcard Game, the Nationals trailed the Milwaukee Brewers by 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning.

With their season on the brink, the Nats loaded the bases. Juan Soto then delivered a base hit which skipped past Brewers rookie right fielder Trent Grisham for an error and a scoreboard-changing three-run play. When the dust settled, Washington had an improbable 4-3 victory.

Advancing on to a National League Division Series, the Nationals were matched up against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of seven straight NL West crowns and back-to-back National League pennants.

The Dodgers captured two of the first three games and appeared on the verge of a third straight trip to the NLCS.

However, the resilient Nationals rallied once again, tying the series up with a win at Nationals Park, and then getting a 10th inning grand slam home run from Howie Kendrick to win the decisive Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

Four times the Nationals had reached the playoffs in this decade. All four times they had lost in the Division Series, three of those in excruciating fashion.

But now they had advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time in franchise history. Waiting for them were the Saint Louis Cardinals, whose 11 World Series crowns are the most in National League history.

This one was never really a contest. The Nationals got tremendous pitching over the first three games, their offense exploded in the final two, and in the end they swept out the Cardinals in four straight, out-scoring Saint Louis by 20-6 over the four games.

HOW ASTROS GOT HERE

The Astros were one of the favorites to win the World Series when the season opened. They struggled over the season’s first week, dropping five of their first seven games.

But then Houston rolled off 10 straight victories to take over the AL West Division lead. On April 28, they moved back into first place in the division and never relinquished that perch, capturing their third consecutive division title.

In their American League Division Series, the Astros were matched up with the always tough Tampa Bay Rays ball club. Houston took a quick 2-0 lead in the series and appeared ready for a sweep.

However, anyone who underestimates the Rays is asking for trouble. Tampa roared back with two big wins in front of their home fans at Tropicana Field to even up the series.

The Astros restored sanity back in front of their own home fans in the decisive Game 5 at Minute Maid Park. They scored four times in the 1st inning and then coasted to a 6-1 victory, advancing to the ALCS for the second time in three years.

In that American League Championship Series, the Astros were matched up with the powerful New York Yankees, champions of the AL East Division.

On their way to the 2017 World Series championship, the Astros had edged out the Yankees in ALCS, rallying to win the final two contests and taking the series in a full seven games.

This one nearly went the same full distance. The Bronx Bombers took the opener in Houston, but then the Astros rolled to three straight wins and a commanding lead.

The Yanks fought back, winning Game 5 and then rallying for a pair of runs in the top of the 9th inning to tie up Game 6.

Then in the bottom of the 9th, the smallest player on the field delivered the biggest hit of the entire American League season. Jose Altuve ripped a two-out, two-run home run to walkoff the series in front of the delirious Houston home crowd.

SCHEDULE (all games televised on the FOX Network with 8:07 PM first pitch)

Games 1 & 2: Tuesday-Wednesday 10/22-23, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas

Games 3 & 4 (and Game 5 if needed): Friday-Saturday (possibly Sunday as well), Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Games 6 & 7 (if either/both needed): 10/22-23, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas

STARTING PITCHING PROBABLES

Game 1: Justin Verlander (HOU) vs Max Scherzer (WAS)

Game 2: Gerrit Cole (HOU) vs Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Game 3: Zack Greinke (HOU) vs Patrick Corbin (WAS)

Game 4: Brad Peacock (HOU) vs Anibal Sanchez (WAS) – for the Astros, this would be a bullpen game, with the hope that Peacock could get them to, even through, the 4th inning

Games 5-7: if needed, expect the Games 1-3 match-ups to repeat

STARTERS POSITION BY POSITION EDGE

First Base – Yuli Gurriel (HOU), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – advantage Houston

Second Base: Jose Altuve (HOU), Brian Dozier (WAS) – advantage Houston

Shortstop: Carlos Correa (HOU), Trea Turner (WAS) – even

Third Base: Alex Bregman (HOU), Anthony Rendon (WAS) – even

Catcher: Robinson Chirinos (HOU), Yan Gomes/Kurt Suzuki (WAS) – advantage Washington

Left Field: Michael Brantley (HOU), Juan Soto (WAS) – even

Center Field: George Springer (HOU), Victor Robles/Michael A. Taylor (WAS) – advantage Houston

Right Field: Josh Reddick (HOU), Adam Eaton (WAS) – even

I gave the Astros the advantage at three of the usual eight starting positions, with four rated as an even push. In that regard, this would seem a pretty tight match-up.

However, a healthy Springer joining Altuve, Bregman, Correa, and Gurriel gives Houston five major impact bats for the talented Nationals pitching staff to contend with each night.

Rendon, Turner, and Soto must produce for the Nationals to have any chance. And they’re likely going to need at least one surprise run-producer, perhaps some like their top bench option below.

OFF THE BENCH

Howie Kendrick, whose dramatic grand slam won the Division Series, appeared in 121 games this season for the Nationals and made starts at first, second, and third base. The 35-year-old veteran is a dangerous pinch-hit bat and a versatile infield substitute.

The Nationals other top bench options are usually whichever catcher, Gomes or Suzuki, and center fielder, Robles or Taylor, is not starting. Also look for a trio of veterans in outfielder Gerardo Parra and infielders Matt Adams and Asdrubal Cabrera to make contributions.

For the Astros, rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez will be the Designated Hitter for the games in Houston. He’ll be a pinch-hitter in the games played in Washington.

The other leading bench options will be outfielder Jake Marisnick, infielder Aledmys Diaz, and catcher Martin Maldonado. Rookie outfielder Kyle Tucker also saw action in both the ALDS and ALCS.

Advantage: Nationals

BULLPEN ARMS

While much of the talk entering this series is justifiably centered on the talented starting pitching for each club, the fact remains that both bullpens are going to have to produce in significant, pressure-filled spots to ensure individual game victories.

The Astros will try to get to controversial closer Roberto Osuna with an all-righty bullpen of Joe Smith, Will Harris, Josh James, Jose Urquidy, Ryan Pressly, Hector Rondon, and long man Brad Peacock.

In his 13th big-league season, Smith has appeared in 782 games. That is the most by any relief pitcher in MLB history who has never appeared in a World Series, a streak likely to end this week.

For Washington, you could see lefty Sean Doolittle or either of a pair of right-handers, Daniel Hudson or Fernando Rodney, on the mound trying to close out a game. Righty Tanner Rainey and lefty Mike Grace are most likely to get any other innings.

Advantage: Houston

MANAGERS

Dave Martinez, Washington: Turning 55 years of age just a month ago, Martinez has guided the Nationals to an overall 175-149 record over two seasons at the helm, finishing in second place in the NL East Division each season.

Back in mid-September, Martinez suffered a health scare when he was forced to leave a game after he began to experience chest pains. He was hospitalized and underwent a cardiac catheterization, and was eventually cleared to return after missing a series in Saint Louis.

A native New Yorker, Martinez was the third round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 1983 MLB Draft. He played in 16 big-league seasons with nine different clubs, including a four-year stint 1988-91 with the Nationals predecessors, the Montreal Expos.

AJ Hinch, Houston: At just 45 years of age, Hinch has gone 481-329 as the Astros skipper. His clubs have taken three straight AL West Division crowns, winning 101, 103, and 107 games in those seasons. He also led the club to the only World Series championship in franchise history back in 2017.

Hinch was previously the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over parts of two seasons 2009-10, fashioning an 89-123 mark in the desert.

An Iowa native, Hinch was the Oakland A’s pick in the third round of the 1996 MLB Draft out of Stanford University. He appeared in seven big-league seasons, mostly as a platoon or backup catcher, from 1998-2004.

PREDICTION

The Houston Astros are battle-tested after a five-game ALDS with Tampa and a tough six-game ALCS with the Yankees. They have everything talent-wise that a championship team needs. They won 107 games during the regular season, most in Major League Baseball. And they have now had a couple of days to rest prior to the World Series.

The Washington Nationals have enjoyed, if that is the right world, a week-long rest after capturing the first National League pennant in franchise history. They have not lost a game since Game 3 of the NLDS back on October 6.

The Nationals biggest strength is the big three at the front of their starting rotation. For me, the Nats best chance would come from at least two of the three turning in dominating, winning performances.

My head is telling me to pick the Astros. But my gut is telling me to go with the Nationals. Back in the preseason, I picked Washington to win it all. Why not just stick with that since they’ve gotten this far?

Let’s make it Washington in seven games. Sure, it will be hard for many of my fellow Phillies fans to swallow a Nationals victory parade. But hey, they are one of just six current MLB teams to have never enjoyed the thrill of a World Series championship. It’s time.

 

More baseball pieces for your enjoyment:

Cole Irvin named as Lehigh Valley IronPigs POY

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The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have been the Triple-A minor league affiliates of the Philadelphia Phillies since the 2007 season. But the franchise has a long and winding history.
Founded in 1993 as the Ottawa Lynx in Canada, they were an affiliate of the old Montreal Expos for their first decade of existence. The Baltimore Orioles then took control of the club through 2006.
Then in 2007, having grown unhappy with the ownership of their Triple-A affiliates at the time, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons, the Phillies entered into an agreement with the Lynx to become their new highest-level minor league affiliate.
With the opening of Coca-Cola Park for the 2008 season, the Phillies relocated that former Lynx franchise to the new Allentown, Pennsylvania facility and changed the team’s identity. The name “IronPigs” is drawn from ‘pig iron‘, or crude iron, which is manufactured in the area.
Allentown, PA is approximately 70 miles north of the Philadelphia area. It takes about an hour-and-a-half to make the drive, with most using I-476.
The IronPigs captured the North Division crown with an 84-56 record that was the best in the entire International League this season. However, first-year manager Gary Jones and the Pigs were bounced out in the playoff semi-finals by Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Now an affiliate of the New York Yankees, Scranton took the first two games in the best-of-five series by 3-2 and 3-0 scores. Lehigh Valley got back into the series with a 3-2 victory in Game Three, but then Scranton closed it out with a big 7-2 rout in Game Four.
This year’s Lehigh Valley IronPigs Player of the Year is pitcher Cole Irvin. The 6-4, 180lb left-hander will turn 25-years-old just prior to the opening of 2019 spring training. He was the Phillies fifth round pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oregon.
Irvin went 14-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.054 WHIP this season for the IronPigs. He allowed 135 hits over 161.1 innings across 26 appearances, 25 of those as starts, with a 131/35 K:BB ratio.

For his outstanding season, Irvin was selected as the International League Pitcher of the Year and made the start in this year’s Triple-A All-Star Game. He was also named to Baseball America’s all-star team.
His contributions were not only relegated to the field. For the second straight year, Irvin was recognized as one of the Phillies minor league community service award recipients.
Lehigh Valley pitching coach David Lundquist was quoted on the southpaw’s success this season by Joe Bloss for MLB.com back in mid-July:
“[Irvin has] been very consistent commanding the fastball and with the secondary pitches. Change has been a plus weapon. It’s a pitch he can throw anytime. The curveball’s been good and we tightened up the slider.”
Back in early August we released our Phillies Nation Top 20 Phillies Prospects rankings and placed Irvin at #12 on our list. He is currently ranked #10 on the MLB.com Phillies top prospects list.
They grade his classic four-pitch starter’s mix of fastball-slider-curve-change mix each at a 50 grade, with 55-grade control. In their scouting report, the MLB evaluators see him as having back-end starting pitcher potential:

“Irvin has already shown some mastery of pitch sequencing and making adjustments, something the Phillies expect to see after he fell victim to the long ball in the hitting-friendly confines of Reading last year. He could impact the big league rotation as a No. 4 or 5 starter at some point in the near future.”

Irvin may not have ace potential, but the combination of his age, experience level, success, and left-handedness mean that he will certainly get a shot with the big club at spring training in Clearwater. His ability to get big-league hitters out will ultimately determine where he pitches next season.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Lehigh Valley IronPigs Player of the Year: Cole Irvin

Jayson Werth Has Been Worth the Nationals Investment

The Washington Nationals finished at the bottom of the NL East standings in the 2010 season. It was a familiar finish for the former Montreal Expos franchise. 
The team had ended the season in last place in four of the previous five years since relocating south to the U.S. capital city.
That 2010 campaign wrapped up the third season for the team at Nationals Park, and team management was looking to turn around the fortunes of the franchise.
During the off-season, GM Mike Rizzo looked over his youthful roster and believed that he saw things about to change.
Players like Ryan ZimmermanIan DesmondStephen StrasburgJordan Zimmermann, and Danny Espinosa were beginning to emerge. In June, the club picked at the top of the MLB Amateur Draft, selecting mega-hyped teenager Bryce Harper.
Rizzo saw the beginnings of better days ahead in the near future. But he wanted a veteran, proven, run-producing bat to help the club take the next step.
Just in time, star right fielder Jayson Werth of the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies was becoming a free agent.

WERTH JOINS THE NATIONALS

Rizzo stepped up, signing Werth to a huge seven-year, $126 million contract with a no-trade clause.
David Aldridge for WJLA ABC-7 in Washington quoted Rizzo at the time:
“We have a good plan in place, constructed by people — myself and my front office staff — that have done it in the past and we’re confident we’re going to do in the future. We’re not asking the fans of Washington, D.C., to wait two and three more years. We’re saying ‘look at what we’re doing here. Look at where we’ll be in 2011. Look where we’re at in ’12. Because we’re ready to turn the corner, now.’”
It all worked out to near perfection. In the first year of Werth’s deal the Nationals nearly finished .500 with an 80-81 mark. It was good enough for third place in the division, though still a distant 21.5 games behind the Phillies, who captured their fifth consecutive NL East crown.
However, in 2012 the club called up Harper in late April, and things began to completely turn around.
I remember a moment of personal clarification as well. On Saturday, May 5 of that 2012 season, my wife Debbie and I attended our first-ever game at Nationals Park.
On that afternoon, the slow-starting Phillies were 13-15, and uncharacteristically struggling in last place. The Nats meanwhile were humming along at the top of the division with an 18-9 mark.
The Phillies, along with myself and thousands more Phillies fans who had made the trip for that afternoon contest, were hoping this game would help turn things around.
The Phils grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning behind Vance Worley. That lead would hold into the bottom of the 5th inning. Half the game was over, and we were having a rollicking time at the Nationals packed home field, much to the chagrin of most in the packed house.
And then it happened with suddenness. The Nationals had two on and two out in the home 5th when Werth, the former Phillies 2008 World Series hero, stepped to the plate.
Back in the first inning, Worley had struck the nearly 33-year old Werth out. But this time, on a 1-0 offering, Werth crushed a lightening bolt blast way out over the left field stands. The home crowd roared as we Phils’ fans sat incredulous, watching our former hero round the bases.
The Nationals had a 3-1 lead en route to what would be a 7-1 demolition. It was a long ride back up I-95 to Philadelphia. It would prove an even longer season. The Nationals stormed to their first NL East crown, dethroning the Phillies, who struggled to a .500 finish.

THE NL EAST FINALLY FLIPS

That was the turning point. Since 2012, the Phillies have collapsed to the bottom of the division, embarking on a rebuilding program that has seen all of Werth’s fellow 2008 champions eventually move along.
For Werth and the Nationals, it was the beginning of everything that Rizzo had foreseen when making the investment after that 2010 season. The Nats have finished first or second each season since, winning the NL East three times.
However, for all the success that the club has experienced, much still eludes them. Washington has fallen short in each of their three playoff series.
They dropped the 2012 NLDS to the Saint Louis Cardinals in five games after capturing the opener. In the 2014 NLDS, the San Francisco Giants took the Nationals out in four games.
Last year, in the 2016 NLDS, the Nationals had a 2-1 lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers. But LA gutted out a pair of one-run victories to once again send Washington home disappointed.

A LAST HURRAH

Now the relationship between the Nationals and Werth is coming to an end. In the final year of that big free agent deal, Werth will turn 38 years old in late May. Three of the top prospects in the organization, including exciting #1 prospect Victor Robles, are outfielders.
The writing is on the wall. This looks like one last go-around, a final season in Washington for Werth. One last shot to reach the ultimate goal of a World Series championship, nearly a decade after capturing one in Philly.
Over his first six seasons in D.C., Werth has put up average numbers. A slash line of .267/.358/.436 with 99 homers, 364 RBI, 415 runs scored, 51 stolen bases. There have been no NL All-Star appearances, no Gold Gloves, no Silver Sluggers.
But to say the signing has been disappointing would be a mistake. The Nationals are very happy with the overall results. They wanted a proven winner who would help them become a contender themselves. That has happened.
Now, in this final season with the Washington Nationals, the team remains a top contender. If Werth can help the Nationals finally reach that mountaintop and win a title, it will all have been more than worth it to all involved.

Nationals / Expos All-Time 25-Man Roster

The Washington Nationals emerged for the 2005 season after the relocation of the original Montreal Expos franchise.
Major League Baseball expanded by four teams and split into a divisional format beginning in 1969. 
The Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) went to the American League. The Expos and San Diego Padres were  assigned to the National League.
The Montreal team was named after the successful World’s Fair “Expo 67” held there in 1967 during the Canadian Centennial celebration.
After a decade of losing, a young core of players emerged in the late 1970’s to turn the team into a contender for the first time. Then from 1979-94 the Expos were consistent winners.
There were 11 winning Expos campaigns and another two .500 seasons during that 16 year stretch. However, Montreal reached the MLB postseason only one time in its history.

EXPOS REACH THE POSTSEASON

A strike in 1981 caused Major League Baseball to split the season into two halves. The teams who finished in first place in each half would then advance to a best-of-five “League Division Series”, a first for baseball.
The defending champion Philadelphia Phillies won the first half, and the Expos won the second half. Montreal then upended the Phils in a dramatic five-game NLDS to move within a step of the franchise’ first World Series.
In the best-of-five NLCS, the Expos took a two games to one lead. The Dodgers tied it up, and the two clubs moved to a decisive Game Five. On a two-out home run by Rick Monday in the top of the 9th, the Dodgers won 2-1 to advance to the World Series.

THE STRIKE OF 1994

In 1993, the Expos re-emerged as a division power. However, the Phillies put together a magical worst-to-first season, holding Montreal off by three games to win the NL East crown.
The following year, the Expos entered the season as favorites, not only in the division, but also to win the World Series.
Montreal won 20 of 22 games beginning on July 18 to take the division lead. With a 74-40 record, the Expos led the Atlanta Braves by six games.
And then it all suddenly ended, not in defeat, but with the longest work stoppage in the history of Major League Baseball. A player strike began on August 12 and would last into the following year, cancelling the rest of the season, including the postseason.

GOODBYE, CANADA

The Expos franchise would never recover. They dropped to 5th place in 1995, recovered to win 88 games and finish in 2nd place in 1996, but then plummeted to five straight losing seasons.
An inability to get funding for a new ballpark led to rumors of a move constantly swirling, and then to MLB purchasing the club in 2002. Those relocation nightmares actually became a reality for Montreal baseball fans when the move to Washington was announced.
In their final year north of the border the club finished a dismal 67-95 and in last place. The first season in D.C. resulted in a .500 finish, but the losing continued with six straight seasons below the .500 mark.
Finally, the new Washington Nationals began to contend with a 98-64 record in 2012, winning the first division title in franchise history.
With a new group of young stars, the Nationals have now become perennial contenders in the National League. The 2016 season resulted in their third NL East crown in the last five years.
One thing continues to elude the franchise in Washington. The club remains one of eight current Major League Baseball teams to never have even reached the World Series.

NOT MAKING THE CUT

Selecting a 25-Man roster for the franchise was a difficult proposition. They have had an abundance of strong, interesting outfielders and first basemen in their history.
Aside from their obvious Hall of Famer, selecting a backup catcher was a tough chore. There are a handful of decent options.
There were a number of players who you won’t find, but who contributed mightily to the history of the organization.
Included among these are shortstops Chris SpeierOrlando Cabrera and Tim Foli. Catchers Brian Schneider and Darrin Fletcher are not selected.
Outfielders Warren CromartieRondell White, and Jayson Werth fell short. So did infielders Larry Parrish and Andres Galarraga. I opted for versatility and projection in the infield.
Since I forced myself to carry at least two relievers, getting down to the 7th-9th best starting pitchers leads to difficult decisions. That was again the situation here.
On the mound, not making the cut were arms such as Steve RenkoBill StonemanBill GullicksonScott SandersonCharlie LeaJeff FasseroChad CorderoUgueth Urbina, and John Wetteland.
So who did make the cut? The Nationals / Expos All-Time 25-Man Roster includes 11 pitchers (two true relievers), two catchers, six infielders, and six outfielders.

Tim Raines Deserves Hall of Fame

Voting for the next class of inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame will take place over the next couple of months.
One of the leading contenders for enshrinement in 2017 will be former Montreal Expos outfielder Tim Raines. One of baseball’s biggest stars during the 1980s, Raines is in his final year of eligibility to be considered by the regular voters.
When you examine Raines’ career, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine why he is not already enshrined at Cooperstown.

RAINES CALLED SIX CITIES HOME

Raines played in parts of 23 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1979 through 2002. He became a starter for the first time in 1981. Raines played with the Expos through the 1990 season after which he was traded to the Chicago White Sox.
He then played with the ChiSox through 1995 after which he was dealt to the New York Yankees. Raines would win the World Series with the Yanks in both 1996 and 1998.
Raines would hang on for a few more seasons, making stops with the Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, and Florida Marlins.
He also made a brief return to Montreal in 2001, and finally retired after playing in 98 games at age 42 during the 2002 season in Florida.

A TOP PLAYER OF THE 1980’S

Raines led Major League Baseball in stolen bases every year from 1981 through 1984. He swiped 70 or more bags in every one of those seasons, and then on through the 1986 campaign.
He led all of baseball in runs scored in both 1983 and 1987, and scored 90 or more runs on eight occasions.
Raines led the National League in doubles in 1984, and won an NL batting title in 1986 when he also led the league in on-base percentage.
The 1981 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up, he won the Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year honors that season.

Raines was an NL All-Star each year from 1981-87. He received NL MVP votes seven times, finishing 5th in the voting for the 1983 season.
He won a Silver Slugger Award in 1986, and was the Most Valuable Player of the 1987 MLB All-Star Game.

RAINES AMONG ALL-TIME EXPOS

The Montreal Expos became an expansion team in the National League for the 1969 season, the first franchise outside of the United States. The club existed north of the border through the 2004 campaign after which the team was relocated to Washington, becoming today’s Nationals.
Raines is second in all-time career WAR in Expos/Nationals franchise history. Hall of Famer Gary Carter leads that category, just ahead of Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. In 2013, Raines was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
He is the Expos’ all-time career leader in runs, singles, triples, walks, stolen bases, and runs created. Raines holds the club single-season records for plate appearances and runs. He shares the single-season triples record.
The trio of Raines, Carter, and Dawson played together from 1981 through the 1984 season. In 1981 they led the Expos to their only postseason appearance. That year, Montreal defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a dramatic five games in the first-ever NLDS. They were eliminated in a tough five-game NLCS by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

SOME RAINES STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS

A speed player, Raines’ final career numbers reveal 808 stolen bases and a career .294/.385/.425 slash line with 1,571 runs scored, 430 doubles, and 113 triples.
Per the Daily Ace Report (subscribe here), Raines had four seasons in which he produced 70+ steals and 50+ extra-base hits, more than any player in baseball history.
In 1983 he became the first player in the 20th century and one of only three all-time to record a 90+ steals and 50+ extra-base hits season.
He has a career 69.1 WAR figure, ranking as the 108th highest player of all-time. He is 73rd all-time among position players.

POST-PLAYING CAREER AND CONTROVERSY

Raines served as a minor league manager and a big league coach after retiring. He was the White Sox first base coach when the club won the 2005 World Series.
The lone controversy in Raines’ career involves his use of cocaine during the 1980s. That was the recreational drug of choice for many players in those days.
Raines was one of many players to testify in the Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985. The trials were a catalyst for a major MLB drug scandal at that time that included other high-profile players including Keith HernandezDave Parker, and Vida Blue.

RAINES AND THE HALL OF FAME

Raines was first eligible for the Hall of Fame voting in 2008 when he received just 24.3 percent of the vote. His case has been taken up by sabermetricians in recent years, and his vote share has steadily risen.
Last year, Raines finished fourth in the voting for Hall of Fame induction behind the two men who were ultimately enshrined, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, and former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell.
Raines received 69.8 percent of the voter support. This was just a bit short of the 75 percent required for enshrinement. He is considered a favorite this time along with Bagwell, who received 71.6 percent. One of the game’s great closers, Trevor Hoffman, who received 67.3 percent of last year’s vote, is also a favorite this time around.
Tim Raines was a difference-making player for the entirety of the 1980s. He is on the Montreal Expos’ symbolic “Mount Rushmore” as an all-time player. In my opinion, it is time for the voters to honor him with a bust in the Baseball Hall of Fame.