Raines, Murphy rank above Rice

Updated: January 10, 2007, 2:06 PM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN.com
Let's cut through the claptrap and get to the heart of the thing, shall we? The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about greatness, and greatness is a function of translating performance into runs, both produced and prevented. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are Hall of Famers because they produced great numbers of runs; Steve Carlton and Ozzie Smith are Hall of Famers because they prevented great numbers of runs. Further, in the spirit of simplicity we might consider only three things for each Hall of Fame candidate: (1) career length, (2) runs produced and (3) everything else, with everything else consisting mostly of runs prevented.

With all that in mind, I would like to look at three outfielders of the 1980s, all of whom will appear on the 2008 Hall of Fame ballot presented to the voters next winter: Jim Rice, Dale Murphy and first-timer Tim Raines.

First, career length, which is best measured by the simplest of measures: games played.