Friday, January 2, 2009

Jim Rice for the Hall of Fame?

What is the deal with the recent groundswell of support for Jim Rice for the Hall of Fame?

How many of you remember Jim Rice? I watched a lot of Orioles/Red Sox showdowns in the 1980’s and I remember Jim Rice as a plodding slugger, a poor defensive left fielder who was a fair hitter with some decent pop in the bat. While he was a very good offensive player, he never struck me as being a dominant offensive force and didn’t play long enough to reach some “HoF worthy” landmarks. (Admittedly, I don’t remember much of Rice’s peak seasons of 1977-79…)

I could go on about how Rice was no better than Boog Powell, Dave Parker or Dale Murphy but there is a more striking comparison to not only one of Jim Rice’s contemporaries…but to one of his teammates; Dwight Evans.

Remember Dwight Evans? Great player. Is he a Hall of Famer? I think not. But look at the comparison.

The Resumes

Rice 1975-89(15) 2452 382 1451 .298 .352 .502 128
Evans 1973-91(19) 2446 385 1391 .272 .370 .470 127

Really? These meager differences in offensive numbers mean the difference between immortality and falling off the ballot after three years?

From 1971-1990, nobody grounded into more double plays than Jim Rice. He was in the top ten for strikeouts during that span as well. He was an out-making machine. The power numbers are not great enough to offset those deficiencies.

Considering the fact that Rice was a butcher in left and Evans was a 8-time Gold Glover in right field, you could argue that Evans was the better baseball player over the course of a longer career.

If Rice belongs in the Hall of fame, he needs to get in line behind Dwight Evans; Evans is clearly the better ballplayer.

(One disclaimer; I'm sure none of this is a surprise to Red Sox fans and may be well-covered ground. I just found it to be an interesting contrast...)


FrostKing said...

Completely agreed. Jim Rice on the road was Jay Gibbons circa 2003. There are probably 10 guys that aren't in who are more deserving than Rice.

DempseysArmy said...

Damn, the home/road split thing is something I completely forgot about. Very good point.

That split affects Evans too, put not nearly as severely. And his glove worked everywhere...

Dave Mc said...

Worthwhile article from Hardball Times comparing Rice to Brian Downing. Brian Downing? Yeah.