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Jim Rice: A Hall of Fame Travesty

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Well, it finally happened. On his 15th and final try Jim Rice, who hasn’t played an inning since 1989, miraculously became worthy of the Hall of Fame in the eyes of the voters. With one of the most ridiculous selections in history, the voters’ negligence in their analytical process has once again compromised an institution that is supposed to honor the greatest men to ever play the game of baseball. Instead, the standards and legitimacy of this hallowed body have now been compromised to the point where it might serve itself well – for purposes of accuracy – to change its name to the “Hall of Very Good.”

The case against Rice is clear cut and definitive. His statistics are extraordinarily average, especially for an outfielder who was supposedly known for his “dangerous” slugging ability. He did not hit .300 for his career (only topping the mark six times in 16 years), did not reach even 400 homeruns (only hitting 40 or more in a season once), and carried a measly .352 career OBP (never topping .385 in a season).

Rice, lauded for his power production, in reality was only average in this department. His meager .502 slugging percentage, .854 OPS, and 128 OPS+ testify to this assessment much more accurately than the remembrance of those who saw him in action. Sure, his 1,451 career RBI total is very good total – 56th all time – but even that number leaves him well short of deservedly snubbed Hall candidates Andre Dawson (1591) and Harold Baines (1628) and 15 short of non-Hall of Famer Rusy Staub, who also had a higher OBP than Rice in a dominate pitchers era.

His supporters claim Jim Rice was a “feared” hitter, so “feared” that this state of terror of which his bat apparently evoked in the pitchers he faced, was valuable enough to his team that it warrants a Hall of Fame selection. In truth, about the only place one might have “feared” Rice was at home, in the ridiculously hitter-friendly Fenway Park, where he spent his entire career. While he did post an outstanding .920 OPS in Boston, his .789 road figure gives far more insight into the true value of Rice as a player. In fact, Rice was so “feared” that he was never intentionally walked even 10 times in a season and is tied for 179th on the all time list with “feared” hitters such Jerry Grote, Ken Henderson, Claudell Washington, and Fred Lynn among others. That’s less than Boston outfielder Mike Greenwell, Lou Whitaker, and even B.J. Surhoff. Rice’s one attribute that got him elected is the supposed “fear” he induced, and yet the statistics say he wasn’t even as “feared” by pitchers as B.J. Surhoff?

Moving beyond pure hitting statistics Rice’s case for the Hall gets even weaker. He stole only 58 career bases in a mere 92 attempts, never won a Gold Glove, and grounded into 315 double plays, poor enough for 6th on the all-time list. So essentially, his statistics show he was a slightly above-average power hitter who rarely got on base, had no speed, and wasn’t much of a fielder. Not the typical profile of a Hall of Famer.

I would love for the voters to release an explanation pertaining to what exactly makes Jim Rice an elite among those who have played the game. It would behoove every baseball fan, who cares about the Hall of Fame, to have an understanding of this magical, incalculable quality — so powerful that it trumps the conclusions drawn from a player’s statistics — so they can better understand what constitutes greatness.

This seems especially necessary as Tim Raines, a player with exponentially more value than Rice, wallows in the doldrums of the Hall of Fame balloting with an embarrassing and pathetic 22% of the vote. Yes players like Orlando Cepeda – who had statistics similar to Rice’s – have been elected in previous years, but this does not mean Rice is worthy; it simply means the Hall voters never learn from their mistakes.

Ironically during Rice’s press conference at Fenway Park on Monday he took the writers to task, lecturing, “When you’re talking about a Hall of Famer, let’s base his numbers on what he accomplished during that time.”

Mr. Rice, I totally agree.

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About Anthony Tobis

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Just a note on the intentional walks. I always thought that was strange for it to be so low and yet be so feared, since IBBs are indeed a fear number. So I looked at the batting orders. Were Hall of Famers on deck? Most of the time, yes, it was Carl Yastrzemski. And when it wasn’t him it was either Carlton Fisk or Tony Perez. Three HOFers, even if one is questionable, is a pretty good case as to why he never got more than a handful per season.

    But toward the mid ’80s he was “protected” by the likes of Bill Buckner, Tony Armas, and Don Baylor, so I can’t vouch for the lack of free passes in those years, but certainly in the late ’70s I wouldn’t walk Rice and pitch to Yaz.

  • Tony

    I agree that you would definitely have to think twice about walking Rice to pitch to Yaz, but consider some of the players that are well ahead of Rice on the IBB list. Some notable:

    10. Tony Gwynn – 203
    22. Wade Boggs – 180
    29. Pete Rose – 167

    All contact hitters ranked substantially higher than Rice.

    A couple other notes:

    – teammates McCovey (3) and Mays (14) weren’t hampered by this “Yaz” effect.
    – Tim Raines, a leadoff hitter, is 44th with 146
    – Don Mattingly, a player always well protected, is 55 with 136. His longtime teammate Dave Winfield is 23rd with 172, which is 16 less than Chili Davis a player who has surprisingly comparable stats to Rice.

    I really do see your point, and to an extent you’re right, but it doesn’t explain such an obscenely low total.

  • http://notaboutreligion.com Todd Hebert

    Anthony, you’re a Yankee fan I assume?

  • Tony

    I am a Yankees fan — also a Tigers fan — but I don’t live in New York, nor do I have the inherent hatred for the Red Sox most Yankee fans harbor.

    I can see how that conclusion would be drawn, given that Rice was a Red Sox, but when it comes to the sanctity of the game itself, those biases don’t come into play.

    For example, I think the election of Joe Gordon –a Yankee — is also ridiculous.

    A .268 batting average, .357 OPS, and a 120 OPS+ are not Hall of Fame statistics.

    Further more, I think Catfish Hunter is another mistake the Hall made. 224 wins, only 2,000 strikeouts (compare that to Blyleven’s total), and a career e.r.a. of 3.26 are not enough to warrant a selection, even with his very good 1.134 whip, regardless of his status as a Yankee World Series champion.

    The Hall of Fame is the most legitimate body in all of sports, in recognizing elite athletes. I have a real problem with Jim Rice and (another Bosox) Ted Williams being placed in the same sentence. If you’re not elite it doesn’t mean you weren’t very good, it just means you’re not a Hall of Famer, and that should be ok.

    The numbers on Rice speak for themselves and I haven’t heard a solid counter-argument stating otherwise (although I would love to – which was the point of writing this). It doesn’t take one to be a Yankee fan to measure Rice’s statistics against players who actually are Hall-worthy.

    I could write something on Don Mattingly — who has about as much claim to the Hall as Rice — but I didn’t because, although he was a very, very good player — and actually my favorite growing up — I know, emotions aside, that he is not a Hall of Famer.

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    He was good on Letterman last night. Him and Mr. Henderson had one of the funnier punch lines on the ‘Top Ten List’ I’ve seen in a while…

    Uh, the #2 and #1 choices on the list…

    best,
    DM

  • Tony

    Rickey is hilarious, but Rice just rubs me the wrong way. He feels like he’s entitled to Hall of Fame status which is a joke. When he was at Fenway lecturing the writers I wanted to vomit. The guy would never have gotten in without all the support he got from the media and fans. He’s lucky they didn’t judge him solely on his numbers.

  • Richard W.

    Jim Rice, Hall of Famer:

    **American League MVP, 1978
    **Finished in top-5 in MVP voting four other times
    **8-time All-Star
    **Led the AL in homers three times
    **Led league in RBIS twice
    **Led league in slugging percentage twice
    **batted over .300 seven times
    **39 or more homers four times
    **eight 100 RBI seasons
    **four 200 hit seasons
    **Only player in major league history to record over 200 hits and 39 or more homers for three consecutive years
    **tied AL record for leading league in total bases three straight years
    **one of only three AL players ever to hit 39-plus HR and bat .315 or more for three successive seasons
    **In 1978, Rice became the first major leaguer in 19 years to amass 400 total bases
    **During a 12-season stretch from 1975-86, Rice led the league in 12 categories: games, at bats, runs, hits, homers, RBIS, slugging percentage, total bases, extra base hits, multi-hit games, gane-winning RBIs and outfield assists.

  • Tony

    All good points. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

    – Yes Jim Rice won the MVP in 1978 but lets look at his stats from that year. While he did hit 46 home runs — the only time in his career he even topped 40 — his OBP was still only .370, hurt badly by his 126 strikeouts – the highest single season total for his career. This is also the only season he ever topped .600 for slugging, which he hit right on the nose. While this is a good season, its not much of a “best season” of his career nor does it compare to the MVP seasons of other Hall of Famers, elected because of their hitting/slugging abilities.

    – Finishing in the top 5 in MVP voting is a product of the same faulty analysis that got him the label off being “feared” and also got him elected to the Hall, which I addressed in my article. In the 70’s writers did not have tools like OBP, OPS, OPS+, Win Shares, and Runs Created to understand the true value of a player to his club. When electing players to the Hall of fame you take those 5 best season and compare them to the five best seasons of other Hall of Famers. In this context those seasons are virtually meaningless.

    – The All Star game is a popularity contest and eight times isn’t really all that high. Let’s compare to some non-Hall of Famers.
    – Fred Lynn – 9 All Star Games
    – Dale Murphy – 7 All Star Games
    – Gil Hodges – 8 All Star Games

    Nothing spectacular about 8, and I could make a stronger or as strong an arguement for all three of those guys. Start comparing him to the elite players in the Hall, Mays (24), Frank Robinson (14), and Reggie Jackson (14) it’s obvious Rice is not elite. Very good, but not elite.

    – That’s great that he led he AL in home runs three times but three season makes not a Hall of Fame career.

    – Leading the league is RBI’s twice is fine but it didn’t make his career total high enough to overshadow his other glaring short comings. I touched on the RBI topic in the piece and gave him his due credit for being 56th best all time, but again, he’s behind some guys like Harold Baines who aren’t even really considered for the Hall of Fame.

    – Leading the league in slugging is — once again — nice but his career .502 slugging percentage is a joke. That’s 89th all time behind Ellis Burks, Charlie Keller, and Mo Vaughn to name a few non-Hall of Famers.

    – His career average is .298. It doesn’t matter how many times he hit .300. If he was a great fielder, stole bases, or did anything but hit maybe this wouldn’t be an issue but Mattingly has a career average over .300 and he was similarly dominate for a short stretch, yet he’s also not considered for the Hall of Fame.

    – If you want to attach a value to Rice hitting 39 home runs a few times see Dave Kingman’s career stats. Lots of Home Runs, but not a Hall of Famer.

    – The 200 hit seasons were badly inflated by Fenway as shown in his home/rode splits. Also, he didn’t even reach 2500 hits for his career. The mark is 3000 and everyone knows it. He’s 100th all time behind non-Hall of Famers Bill Dahlen, Steve Garvey, Tim Raines, and Andre Dawson, just to name a few. Now a couple of those guys should arguably be in but that’s irrelevant because Rice got in before them, showing the flawed voting process.

    – You site his total bases stats and yet he is 67th all time behind non hall of famers Andre Dawson, Dave Parker and 705 less than contemporary outfielder Reggie Jackson.

    I get that Rice was very good for a short stretch but his career numbers just aren’t there. It doesn’t matter what he did for a couple years nor does it matter what he did relative to the guys who were in the league with him (although his career OPS+ of 128 has him only 28 points above league average for his career). All that matters is how he compares to the greatest that have ever played the game and the fact is, that he doesn’t

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Ah, the fabled 39-home run plateau.

    But Rice is very, very borderline guy. His numbers are really controversial, because it just depends what side of the fence you’re on that makes one say, “yes, this man is a Haller.” or “No, it’s just not spectacular enough.”

    Jim Rice had three amazing years in a row, while the rest of his years ranged from very good to great. Now I’m going to take those three great years and pare them up against another person’s numbers in his three-year span:

    Batter 1: .309 avg, 132 HR, 411 RBI, 1057 TBs, 157 BBs, 30 GIDP
    Batter 2: .320 avg, 124 HR, 383 RBI, 1157 TBs, 168 BBs, 52 GIDP

    I picked the other guy because he, too, is a very good hitter with lots of RBI opportunities, and made the All-Star team five times. He was also extremely feared during this three-year stretch, but he goes on the ballot next year but I don’t anticipate him making the HOF.

    Batter 2 is Jim Rice. Batter 1 is Andres Galarraga. (1996-98) Rice’s numbers look slighty better, and I agree they are. But not by much.

    The Big Cat isn’t going to go into the HOF, but 2010’s class should have some interesting borderline guys: Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Roberto Alomar, to name a few. But the fun one to debate will be Edgar Martinez. He’s going to be the first pure DH to be up for debate. The DH is an official position as outlined by Major League Baseball. Will he get the nod? Probably not on the first year.

  • Tony

    Its funny that Rice was elected totally based on his hitting while Edgar will get penalized because he can only be judge on his hitting.

    You look at Edgar’s career numbers and they are seller.

    – .312 career average, a .418 OBP,.933 OPS, 147 OPS+.

    Compare that to Rice’s numbers

    – .298. .352,.854, 128. Not even close

    The one detraction is that he never reached any of the big plateaus (3,000 hits, 500 hr., ect.) but apparently those things didn’t count against Rice.

    The big issue with the Rice debate is not Jim Rice specifically; it is the claim to how players and statistics should and will be analyzed.

    To the voters who use the old school analytical processes Rice might be a Hall of Famer, but the new tools have shown that those old techniques are not the best way to determine the value and skill of a player. This Rice debate is truly about the evolution of baseball analysis.and how it affects the Hall of Fame.

  • Tony

    I’d say McGriff is in with his 493 hr, 441 doubles, and 134 OPS+. He and Willie McCovery are very similar statistically as shown on baseball-reference.com

    Larkin just doesn’t have the stats but I think he’ll get elected because people like him.

    Alomar is very borderline. I personally feel like he falls just short. The .300 ba is great but I think he needed 3,000 hits. It’s sad too, because for a period he such a great all around player.

  • kenH

    As a youngster growing up and watching Jim Rice play day in and day out and not someone who is looking at statistics, I will tell you that Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer. A Hall of Famer qualifications is subject to the discretion of the individual whether it be a writer or someone writing a Blog. To use the word a travesty, goes a little far. Jim Rice did not have the career numbers that make someone a lock for the Hall of Fame or we would not be debating this subject. Anthony, you never saw him play or listened to players speak in awe of him. I did, but you are right about many of the things that you point out, he was slow of foot, but his tremendous strength led to sharply hit gdp’s as well as his slow feet. He hit in Fenway Park, Jim Rice was a line drive hitter who probably had a 100 hr lost due to their becomeing doubles or wall ball singles instead of a home run in another park.
    I myself have always considered someone a HOF when they have put up dominant numbers for a 10yr period and Jim Rice did this, From a previous post; During a 12-season stretch from 1975-86, Rice led the league in 12 categories: games, at bats, runs, hits, homers, RBIS, slugging percentage, total bases, extra base hits, multi-hit games, gane-winning RBIs and outfield assists.
    During that time he also hit well over.300. These numbers do not just say dominance over a three yr period, they are dominant over a 12yr period(almost half the yrs you have been alive Anthony)
    Jim Rice was not a great outfielder because he was slow afoot and did not cover a lot of ground, but like Manny Ramirez he learned to play a difficult left field very well and Jim Rice worked at it and in the words of Dave Righetti “in todays baseball he would be an above average outfielder”
    It is very difficult to judge ball players that we did not see play. I don’t argue with your right to say he doesn’t belong but again your a little to strong with the word travesty, death of an infant is a travesty not someone getting in the HOF unworthily(in your opinion). He is not the first one to have questionable qualifications and nor will he be the last. We should not use the statistics that we judge current ball players with, i.e. OBP no one previous to Bill James had even heard of OBP, the important thing in his day was for Jim Ed Rice to drive in runs and he did that. If we ask his contemporaries they will tell us that he belongs and its their opinion that is the most important. What does Goose Gossage say about him? He was the closest hitter that Goose came to fearing. It is in comparing him to his contemporaries and listening to their comments that we need to judge him and when that is done, he qualifies in my book and in theirs

  • Tony

    In my humble defense I did qualify travesty with “Hall of Fame” so it really was meant only in that context.

    The only time Hall of Fame voting is subjective is when you ignore the statistics like you propose and go on “instinct.” Jim Rice played on a big stage, in a good market, and on a team that was frequently in the playoffs and televised on national t.v. because of it. Guys with the Yankees, Red Sox, and a few other team are always exalted out of proportion. The guard against that is statistical analysis. One of the greatest things about baseball is the wealth of statistics that allow you to compare players from every era and truly understand their quality relative to the entirety of baseball, which is the expanse that the Hall of Fame covers.

    Seeing a player does not help you better understand his qualifications, and depending on when in your life you saw him, it may inflate your perceptions. For example, I remember going to Tiger games and watching Fielder try to become the first guy since George Foster to hit 50 home runs in a season. If you saw Fielder play that year, you would have swore he was a dominate hitter. But producing big in 51 at bats and failing regularly in others is more exciting but far less conducive to winning, than players who get on base regularly and give their team a chance to score runs but don’t post the big totals in attractive categories.

    The Hall of Fame is for the greatest statistical players ever. Being elected to the Hall of Fame is supposed to signify that you were one of the greatest ball players of any era, and abandoning that ideal is not justified by citing past mistakes. Obviously there are things in life far more important than sports but for those you’ll have to go to the politics section. Here, thankfully, my cares exists in a totally inconsequential reality of sports, and in that reality, the Hall of Fame is the one institution in all of sports that really means anything. I hate to see that compromised.

  • REMF(MCH)

    In 1978, Jim Rice amassed 406 total bases, which ties him for 22nd on the all-time season list. Those whose best TB seasons fall below Rice’s 406 include:

    Todd Helton…405
    Hank Aaron…400 (HOF)
    Albert Belle…399
    George Sisler…399 (HOF)
    Hank Greenburg…397 (HOF)
    Lefty O’Doul…397
    Albert Pujols…394
    Ken Griffey, Jr…393
    Derek Lee…393
    Alex Rodriguez…393
    George Foster…388
    Don Mattingly…388
    Matt Holliday…386
    Ryan Howard…383
    Mark McGwire…383
    Juan Gonzales…382
    Willie Mays…382 (HOF)
    Frank Robinson…380 (HOF)
    Ernie Banks…379 (HOF)
    Duke Snyder…378 (HOF)
    Andres Galarraga…376
    Mickey Mantle…376 (HOF)

  • REMF(MCH)

    “Finishing in the top 5 in MVP voting is a product of the same faulty analysis that got him the label off being “feared”…”
    – Tony, 24 year old baseball expert (never saw Rice play)

    “I thought Jim Rice deserved to go in way before this, but better late than never,” Gossage told The AP on Wednesday. “I’m really very happy for him. From a pitcher’s standpoint, no one scared me — but he was one of the guys that came the closest.”
    – Goose Gossage, MLB Hall of Fame pitcher

  • Tony

    You can reference my age condescendingly or other players’ perceptions all you want but it really does nothing to solidify the argument that Rice belongs in the Hall. In reality saying “you didn’t SEE him play,” and “you’re too young” are about the only defense to the wealth of statistics available that prove he’s not a a Hall of Famer.

    And by the way, turn on ESPN classic every once in a while. Or the new MLB network. It really doesn’t matter how old you are; you can watch players from any era. I’ve not only seen Rice play, I’ve seen Christy Mathewson play. The 21 Century is marvelous, and wondrous time, with all our techno-mo-logical dudadas. And as I’ve stated before, the great thing about baseball is that you don’t have to watch a player play to evaluate him. We can compare Jim Rice to other Hall of Fame outfielders to see if he belongs there or not using statistics, not our eyes. You make fun of my baseball analysis and yet yours is completely based on what you “saw,” while mine is based in what actually happened. Now I’m sure you attended nearly every Red Sox game at Fenway for Rice’s career but what about the road games?

    – to the total base stat in post 14; that’s one season. One season doesn’t mean you’re a Hall of Famer, even if its a Hall of Fame caliber season. To get into the Hall of Fame you must have a Hall of Fame worthy career. Rice didn’t.

    *Rice fans are kind of prickly. Remind me a Bush supporters; a mountain of evidence says one thing but they just stick to their guns no matter what the facts say.

  • Tony

    By the way, you can find a Gossage quote on ANYTHING. As Matt and I talked about before, he also said Dick Allen was the best teammate he ever had. I love Goose but he just likes to make sure he stays in the press.

    Oh and Rice, fans, if you want to see the statistics of a real Hall of Fame outfielder look up Dick Allen’s stats (or just take a look at my Dick Allen piece).

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “In 1978, Jim Rice amassed 406 total bases, which ties him for 22nd on the all-time season list. Those whose best TB seasons fall below Rice’s 406 include:”

    Luis Gonzalez had more total bases in a year than Jim Rice. I guess he goes in too, right?

    Rice’s on-base percentage was .351, which doesn’t put him in the top 500 all time. He got on base 35 percent of the time. The whole point of baseball is to reach base.

    So a big part of his stats are RBIs. RBIs aren’t entirely done by him. Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus:

    Rice didn’t have a dominant 12-year stretch in which he was one of the best hitters in the game. He had a dominant six-year stretch, then dropped off noticeably while at the same time playing with a slugger’s reputation and racking up huge RBI counts thanks to his teammates. Here’s a parallel chart … listing the number of men on base (ROB) that Rice saw when he came to the plate in those six seasons …

    Year   ROB  Rank
    1981   367  1st
    1982   466  7th
    1983   504  2nd
    1984   545  1st
    1985   496  2nd
    1986   514  3rd

    Jim Rice voters: Are you trying to elect Rice, or are you just voting Wade Boggs in a second time?

    I for one am happy that Jim Rice is in the HOF, he’s had a great career. But his plaque pales in comparison to many other HOF players, and guys like him and Bruce Sutter and Joe Gordon and Tony Perez should have their own wing in the hall to honor those who are borderline. Maybe the Broom Closet of Fame. They’re in, but just barely.

  • Tony

    Excellent points Matt.

    I know your suggestion of a separate wing was in jest and yet it may be a great idea. Build a second wing for the players who deserve to be remembered but are not elite.

    Also, I don’t think they are voting for Boggs twice; I just think they’re still a little sore about Boggs riding around Yankee stadium on horseback after his World Series win, and need this vote to feel better about themselves.

    I kind of wish they would have picked a more likeable guy to prop up though. How about Freddy Lynn or Dwight Evans. Similar statistics, both less a of a jerk.

    Look at these numbers:

    Evans: 385 home runs, .370 OBP, 127 OPS+
    Lynn: 306 home runs, .360 OBP, 129 OPS+
    Rice: 382 home runs, .352 OBP, 128 OPS +

    While Rice’s basic statistics are slightly better, his OBP and OPS level that out. I think Evans actually has a slightly stronger case than Rice for the Hall.

    And you’re right Matt, the point of baseball is to get on base…..and to win. Rice did neither. Zero World Championships; lets not forget that. And apparently with an all Hall of Fame caliber outfield.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “Jim Rice was such a model of reliability. I watched him play many games in pain, with chipped bones in his hands and wrist. The only two guys who had better overall numbers in the 12 years from ’75 to ’86 were (Hall of Famers) Mike Schmidt and George Brett. It’s too bad his career ended early, he was hurt and frustrated. I liken him to a Sandy Koufax or a Pedro Martinez. The window is smaller, but the greatness is there.”
    – Peter Gammons…Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine; 3-time National Sports Writer of the Year; 2005 Baseball Hall of Fame honoree (covered the Red Sox during Rice’s entire career)

    “I’m so proud for Jim Rice, because he definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
    – Joe Morgan, MLB Hall of Famer

    “With one of the most ridiculous selections in history, the voters’ negligence in their analytical process has once again compromised an institution that is supposed to honor the greatest men to ever play the game of baseball.”
    – Tony, 24, self-proclaimed baseball expert

  • Tony

    That’s funny that you would cite Joe Morgan as he proudly advertises the fact that he never pays attention to stats.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I never proclaimed myself a baseball expert. I just have the minimum required intelligence to look at stats and draw conclusions, which is what the sports writers who vote for the Hall of Fame are supposed to do.

    You Rice supporters can throw out as many quotes of players as you want — I know it’s necessary with no statistics to back up your arguments — but it won’t change Jim’s average numbers.

    And to compare him to Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez is, in the nicest possible terms, humorous. Koufax and Pedro actually have the stats to back up their dominance. And you’re right, the window was smaller for Rice, which is the difference between a Hall of Famer and one who is not.

    I don’t care how hurt he played; lots of players play hurt. Again, an admirable attribute but not something that gets you elected to the Hall of Fame. Have ever seen the picture of Mantle with his legs taped from the ankles to his thighs? And he still managed a OBP over .400.

    If you’d like to dispute any of Rice’s statistics feel free but I think you Rice supporters can do a little better than “you were too young to see him play” or “Joe Morgan says he’s a Hall of Famer so he must be.”

    You don’t need to be a baseball expert to know Mantle is great because of his .421 OBP or his 172 OPS +. You also don’t need to have seen him play to realize that those numbers put him in an elite class. Finally, you don’t need to have seen Jim Rice play to realize his .352 OBP and 128 OPS aren’t even close to comparable. .

    That’s the point of statistical analysis. A player’s production doesn’t lie.

  • Tony

    From the L.A. Times:

    But Jim Rice? No way. Don’t get me wrong, Jim Rice was a very good player, but not a Hall of Famer, and Rice’s numbers were inflated greatly by playing half of his games in Fenway Park. Take look at his home and away numbers:

    Category Home Away

    Games 1,048 1,041

    Homers 208 174

    Avg. .320 .277

    OB% .374 .330

    SLG% .546 .459

    Take him out of Fenway, and Rice suddenly becomes an average hitter. And a guy who was an average hitter half the time is not a Hall of Famer.

  • Tony

    From the AP:

    First, let’s look at the players that the writers (as opposed to the Veterans Committee) have elected to see how Jim Rice stacks up. Jim Rice was a left fielder for the majority of his career. The BBWAA has chosen nine players who were left fielders to the Hall of Fame. In alphabetical order, they are: Lou Brock, Ralph Kiner, Joe Medwick, Stan Musial, Al Simmons, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. How does Jim Rice compare to these nine players?

    In this group, Jim Rice is below average.

    Lou Brock
    Runs: 1610
    Hits: 3023
    HR: 149
    RBI: 900
    AVG: .293
    OBP: .343
    SLG: .410

    Ralph Kiner
    Runs: 971
    Hits: 1451
    HR: 369
    RBI: 1015
    AVG: .279
    OBP: .398
    SLG: .548

    Joe Medwick
    Runs: 1198
    Hits: 2471
    HR: 205
    RBI: 1383
    AVG: .324
    OBP: .362
    SLG: .505

    Ted Musial
    Runs: 1949
    Hits: 3630
    HR: 475
    RBI: 1951
    AVG: .331
    OBP: .417
    SLG: .559

    Al Simmons
    Runs: 1507
    Hits: 2927
    HR: 307
    RBI: 1827
    AVG: .334
    OBP: .380
    SLG: .535

    Willie Stargell
    Runs: 1195
    Hits: 2232
    HR: 475
    RBI: 1540
    AVG: .282
    OBP: .360
    SLG: .529

    Billy Williams
    Runs: 1410
    Hits: 2711
    HR: 426
    RBI: 1475
    AVG: .290
    OBP: .361
    SLG: .492

    Ted Williams
    Runs: 1798
    Hits: 2654
    HR: 521
    RBI: 1839
    AVG: .344
    OBP: .482
    SLG: .634

    Jim Rice
    Runs: 1249
    Hits: 2452
    HR: 382
    RBI: 1451
    AVG: .298
    OBP: .352
    SLG: .502

    If Jim Rice was in the Hall of Fame, among left fielders, he would have the seventh-best batting average, the eight-best hit total, the sixth-most home runs, the seventh-best RBI total, the fifth-highest average, the ninth-best on-base percentage and the seventh-highest slugging percentage. Since this would be a group of 10 players, Jim Rice would be in the bottom of the group in these seven important categories.

    There’s not one thing Jim Rice did in his career which would place him in the top half of left fielders in the Hall of Fame.

    1978, Jim Rice led the American League with a 158 OPS+. Here are the top 10 seasons of OPS+ for Jim Rice:

    158, 154, 148, 141, 137, 131, 128, 123, 123, 121.

    That’s very impressive. In Jim Rice’s 10th-best season, he was still 21% better than a league-average player. How does that compare to our group of Hall of Fame left fielders?

    Brock
    146, 128, 124, 123, 119, 115, 114, 112, 111, 109

    Kiner
    184, 184, 173, 156, 146, 140, 132, 121, 117, 116

    Medwick
    180, 156, 151, 142, 140, 132, 131, 128, 123, 119

    Musial
    200, 183, 182, 180, 176, 175, 172, 169, 167, 166

    Simmons
    176, 176, 171, 159, 149, 145, 142, 136, 130, 129

    Stargell
    187, 187, 168, 164, 164, 163, 158, 147, 144, 139

    B.Williams
    170, 157, 147, 147, 139, 136, 130, 130, 127, 122

    T. Williams
    235, 233, 217, 215, 205, 201, 192, 189, 189, 178

    Yaz
    195, 178, 171, 156, 148, 141, 139, 137, 126, 124

    Eight of the nine Hall of Fame left fielders had better seasons than the one posted by Jim Rice in his big 1978 season. Even if we take out Stan Musial and Ted Williams, the other six players posted 18 seasons better than Jim Rice and his 1978 campaign.

    Jim Rice was one of the best players in the game from 1975-79. But he did not remain an elite player for a long enough time to reach the milestones that normally merit induction into the Hall of Fame. Also, the peak that Jim Rice enjoyed was not as impressive as other left fielders already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. And finally, Jim Rice was a one-dimensional slugger who enjoyed an extreme home field advantage. Fenway Park turned Jim Rice into a lifetime .546 slugger. In neutral road parks, Jim Rice posted just a .459 slugging mark. And that’s not good enough for the Hall of Fame

    Those were only the highlights of a great article. Now you don’t have to rely on only my “expertise.”

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i know that baseball can be a stats game, but honestly, if you want to take it to extremes…just get rid of the hall of fame voting. just come up with a set of hall of fame numbers and then stick to it. no nuances, no intangibles…just pure numbers.

    why, we should tear down the actual building too. and forget that stupid induction ceremony..the only thing necessary is a little asterisk next to the player’s name.

    sheesh.

  • Tony

    That’s a ridiculous statement. The point of statistical analysis is to separate perception for reality. A player like Tim Raines — with better numbers than Rice — is overlooked because he played in Montreal while Rice, and his average numbers, gets elected because his career was more recognizable playing Boston.

    Stats are the great equalizer. No perceptions, no bias, just the pure production of the player.

    Having a set plateau of statistics doesn’t work because there are different standard for different players. If you’re a slugger than you are compared to other sluggers. Base stealing specialists are compared by their own set of stats, as are contact hitters.

    The point with Rice is that he is a slugger who just doesn’t measure up. If he would have had those numbers but also stole a bunch of bases, won a gold glove, or got on base more, he would most likely be pushed over the edge but the fact is, as the article above says, he was one-dimensional and that one dimension doesn’t hold up.

    How can you even begin to understand the history of the game without statistical analysis? You never saw Ty Cobb play, so how do you know he was great? How about Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, or Cap Anson? How can we know anything about these guys since statistics are apparently irrelevant? ‘

    We know they are great because they posted incredible numbers. Perceptions are limited to the scope of the perceiver. Statistics are a non-distortable, eternal testament, to what a player has accomplished.

  • REMF(MCH)

    I will always value the opinions of Goose Gossage, Peter Gammons and Joe Morgan over someone like Tony Tobis.

    Any day.

  • Tony

    And that is your right but here’s the thing; Rice’s OBP isn’t an opinion, its a fact. So is his slugging percentage, his OPS+, the number of times he grounded into double plays, his zero gold gloves, and all of the other statistics that prove he’s not a Hall of Famer.

    So, like I said, value which ever opinion you would like. Even better, look at his statistics and formulate your own opinions. While I do have an opinion that Rice is not a Hall of Famer the point of this piece, and this discussion, is not the conclusion; it is the process by which that conclusion was reached.

    I, and many baseball experts (see the two articles Matt and I listed) objectively analyzed the statistics and came to the conclusion that he is not a Hall of Famer. Rice supporters, because of their emotional attachment to the player, formulate their opinions based on what? Their own perceptions? The opinion of someone else?

    I guess it’s a matter of where you like to draw your information from. I, personally, prefer conclusions drawn from statistical analysis that are objective and non bias. Some of you apparently prefer the latter options and that’s your right.

    I feel like those of us who have argued against his induction have the intellectual upper hand as our conclusions stem from fact, rather than emotion, but then, that too is a matter of opinion.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “And to compare him to Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez is, in the nicest possible terms, humorous. Koufax and Pedro actually have the stats to back up their dominance. And you’re right, the window was smaller for Rice…”
    – Tony

    Actually it was Peter Gammons whom I quoted regarding the comparison to Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez, along with the smaller window.

    Let me know when you win THREE National Sports Writer of the Year awards, Tobis. Then perhaps I’ll take you seriously.

  • Tony

    Again, you don’t have to take me seriously. Just look at the stats — its hard not to take facts seriously. I’m really not worried about whether someone who — instead of formulating thoughts of his own — merely parrots the opinions of other people, thinks I’m a credible source on baseball.

    I respect Peter Gammons very much but on this particular issue I happen to believe he is wrong. It’s not hard to find a number of writers with similar credentials who are like minded.

    Nice to see I struck a chord with some Boston fans. You people always take your baseball so personally. All those years of losing really jaded you all. Your team has won two World Series Championships in the past few years, lighten up all ready. Baseball is supposed to be fun.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    How can you even begin to understand the history of the game without statistical analysis?

    i never suggested this. my point surrounded the idea of only using statistics, which i think would be wrong.

  • Tony

    One final note on the Gammons quote:

    Koufax is much different from Rice. First of all arthritis ended his career, not his inability to play anymore. Secondly, Koufax retired when he was still dominate, not a shadow of what he once was. Finally, Koufax, in his big stretch, was dominate on a historical level. Rice was not. His numbers were very good for the 1970’s but not much compared to the greatest of all time.

    When a player’s career is cut short you must defer to stats like OBP, OPS, OPS+, RC, and Win Shares to understand their true value, as you won’t have longevity stats.

    Koufax posted a 2.76 ERA, a 1.106 WHIP, a 131 ERA+, and struck out 2396 in 2324.3 innings for his career.

    These are not longevity stats, yet they are career stats that testify to Koufax’s dominance.
    Rice falls flat on his face in this frame of reference.

    Pedro is similar. A 2.91 ERA (in a massive offensive period), a 1.051 WHIP, a 154 ERA +, and 3117 strikeout in 2782.7 innings.

    Their dominate spans aside, these players, with short careers, posted Hall of Fame caliber stats for their careers. Rice did not. How much more clear can that be?. Love Gammons, but he was speaking with his heart.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “I don’t care how hurt he played; lots of players play hurt.”

    Just for the sake of credibility Tobis, what are your personal experiences of playing in pain?

  • Tony

    Well I was only a high school athlete but I pitched a heavy load of innings on a lot of pain killers with a trashed shoulder that I can barely lift now, had osgood slaughteras as kid that ruined my knees and left massive calcium deposits on them. I shattered two bones in my left writ and three bones in my right hand on separate occasions playing football. At one point I cut my cast off and wore a pad so I wouldn’t lose my position.

    All that is pretty meaningless and embarrassing to talk about because lots of people were good at high school sports. The point is, that while playing in pain is extremely admirable its not a Hall of Fame worthy attribute. You know he played in pain because he was popular but how many guys just trying to hang on play with terrible pain so they don’t lose their positions or their roster spots. Most ball players play with pain.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    stats only: does mcquire get in?

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    by the way, here’s an interesting article in support of subjectivity with regard to the hall of fame.

    i’d never read the voting guidelines before, but this was interesting:

    “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which he played.”

  • Tony

    Stats only he gets in. Obviously he’s known as a slugger. Well, over his career, you’ve got the 583 home runs and 1414 RBIs which are very good. His .588 slugging percentage is 9th all time so that obviously would elude to election.

    Beyond these stats, he has a surprising .393 OBP, due in large part to his high walk totals (the mark of a truly feared hitter). His OPS is .982 which is 11th all time, one ahead of Mantle, and his OPS+ of 162 is good enough for 12th all time, 165 spots ahead of Rice, and also higher than Mays, Speaker, Mize, and Musial.

    Based on these numbers I don’t see how he wouldn’t be elected had he not destroyed his reputation in front of Congress.

  • Tony

    A certain level of subjectivity will always be present but this year 28 voters didn’t vote for Henderson. If that is not proof enough of the ineptitude of this voting body I don’t know what is. People can argue about Rice all they want but try to make any argument that Henderson doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame and you’re credibility goes to 0.

    The point is that the voting should be subjected to the whims of the press and popular trends. There should be a constant strive to recognize only the greatest that have played the game. Ignoring a mountain of stats with no counter argument isn’t being subjective, its being lazy.

    Players look better when you see them in person. There is no way you can quantify, with your eyes, run production, and statistical contributions to wining, by seeing a few games.

    I grew up watching Trammel and Whitaker and, based on what I saw, those guys definitely looked like Hall of Famers. I would take Tram over Larkin or Ozzie Smith any day, based on my emotioal attachement to the player, or my perceptions of him when he played. I could say the same thing about Jack Morris. I mean, I actually took a piss between him and Mark Fydrich at the last game at Tiger Stadium. I love those guys. But when you analyze the stats their (Morris, Whitake, Trammel) arguments get foggy.

    While those guys were definitely great players, and the ’83 Tigers was one of the most dominate teams in history, that still doesn’t make those men Hall of Famers.

    If they continue to let borderline players into the Hall, it will become so diluted it will lose its meaning. Unless you’ve visited the place and actually seen the plaques of all of baseballs legends, I don’t think you can get a true sense of how historically important this is to the game.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “One final note on the Gammons quote:….Love Gammons, but he was speaking with his heart.”

    How dare Peter Gammons disagree with the great Tony Tobins.

    I think the real “travesty” is that Tobins keeps getting overlooked as National Sports Writer of the Year….

  • Tony

    I’m sorry. You must be a member of the Church of Gammons. I didn’t mean to insult your faith. I know that your bible is essentially everything Gammons says, and you guys repeat it in unison to organ music, right?

    If there is honestly a single commentator is any forum that you agree with %100 of the time you need to learn to formulate some original thoughts.

    You’re right buddy, I’m just a nobody who likes to write about baseball. But that’s one of the greatest things about the game; a nobody like me can analyze and understand a players statistics and always strive to learn more about the game.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Considering players play with different players against different players and in different ball parks, the idea that there’s no bias in the numbers isn’t completely accurate.

  • Tony

    There are always going to be some variables in statistics but they are far more accurate then the “I saw him play” analysis.

    If you research OPS+, ERA+, Runs Created, RC/G, and OWP (offensive winning percentage) and you will see there are far less variables in statistics than there use to be.

    These stats are specifically adjusted to quantify individual contributions by the player.

    That’s why Rice’s OPS+ is so low; its park adjusted for Fenway and adjusted for the league he played in.

  • Tony

    “Ironically during Rice’s press conference at Fenway Park on Monday he took the writers to task, lecturing, “When you’re talking about a Hall of Famer, let’s base his numbers on what he accomplished during that time.””

    You guys are arguing with Jim Rice himself. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Tony

    El Bicho, if you’re at all interested in those statistics I go more in depth into them in my “Year of the Leadoff Hitter” article. Not to self promote but, because Raines and Henderson rank extremely high in many of these categories the info is there.

    The article is linked on this page.

  • REMF(MCH)

    “I’m really not worried about whether someone who — instead of formulating thoughts of his own — merely parrots the opinions of other people, thinks I’m a credible source on baseball.”
    – Tony Tobins, AFTER posting two national articles, from the LA Times and AP (#22 & 23), to support his claim.

    Hypocrite.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    MCH, reading through your dialogue with Tony I notice you are displaying a familiar pattern of attacking the man, not the argument. We all know where that leads so knock it off now before it gets ugly.

    Christopher Rose
    Comments Editor

  • kenH

    Tony,
    Again I read your study of Jim Rice and you base a lot of it in using statistics that were not important to the game of baseball in the 70’s and 80’s OPS Runs Created and all the others. Statistics are not the end all to judge someones body of work, it is one of the sticks used. There is no all encompasing stats that can be used. If you were to breakdown Carl Yaz vs Jim in just 2 catagories quickly for example Jim Ed hit .298 to Yaz’s .285 and avg 24 hrs to Yaz’s 20. I am not going to break down every stat but this is just to show did Yaz get in because he was a great player or because he played a long time and put up avg yearly numbers longer than most?
    I don’t hope to change your mind or anyone elses on Jim Ed its obvious that the criteria you use is different than others. I don’t mean to put down your criteria or the numbers that you and many others put up and because of our age difference I hope that you don’t find that I was condescending. I wasn’t trying to do that, but there are a number of different views that go into the choices that one makes. That doesnt make you wrong or me right or the voters right. Your decision to vilify those who believe that Jim Ed belongs in the HOF and question their decision is what I question? I agree with you that the Hall Of Fame is sacred. I have visited it and took my family, I have daughters your age. Again that isn’t to put down your views.
    There is not an emotional attachment to Jim Ed, Dwight Evans was my favorite player growing up not Jim Ed and while I realize Dwight was an outstanding player he is not HOF caliber. Life is not cut and dry and not all the voters used your criteria to vote or not vote someone in again Tony that doesnt make them wrong, unfortunately that is what I and many others gather from your argument. I have followed baseball all my life yet I don’t follow it as I used to and I fail to follow all of the new statistics that you sight. My view of the game is different than yours, but our love of the game is no different. Its a game, a game to be revered, but the HOF is a place to remember the greats of the game and as long as humans are voting there will be questions? Why wasn’t Rickey Henderson unanimous, I didn’t care for him as a person but I admired his abilities and he should have been unanimous. I don’t want to pick on others and point out those I question but to me that is what makes the HOF great, we should debate it and with passion, and in the end agree to disagree and slap each other on the back. I don’t get that feeling from you Anthony unless I use ur statistics to prove my point I and all the other Jim Rice voters are wrong.
    I have never written on a blog before this is my first time so you can at least know I felt strong enough about my beliefs to write. I could come up with stats to show this belief as well as you and others can to show yours.
    You can watch on ESPN classic and the other stations you want but that doesn’t mean that you get the feel of the game for that time and what that player meant to the game at that time.
    Whenever someone would use the words of a contemporary you would shoot them down? I would hope the words of people who played with someone and against them mean something.
    Louis Tiant has numbers comparable to Jim Catfish Hunter. Jim Hunter got in fairly quickly while Louis never got a sniff, but Jim was a big game pitcher and so was Louis see his 75WS performance. I find it good that we can debate it but don’t put down the system because you don’t agree with one result, though I agree with your statement what changes over the 15yrs that made Jim Rice a HOF that didnt make him one earlier.
    The baseball HOF is the best of the bunch but is it perfect, no? Can we make it perfect, no. To be truthfull I don’t want it perfect because the game itself isn’t perfect. Good luck to you Anthony

  • Tony

    Thanks for the well wishes. I found even the more personal attacks on this blog to be fun because essentially its all about baseball, which means its all in good fun.

    Again though, you come to this you have to have lived through it to know it argument but I’m very sure you, as a baseball fan, are well aware of the greatness that players before your time possessed. You’re aware of this greatness, mostly through the stats they produced.

    We’ll never see eye to eye on the debate because the debate is not really about Rice, its more about what qualifies a Hall of Famer and which is the best technique to analyze players. Rice is just so controversial that he embodies this debate. This being said, I respect the esoteric way you look at the game.

    I just really don’t understand why Rice can’t simply be recognized as a really good player who just wasn’t quite Hall of Fame caliber. There are many players throughout history like that.

    You spoke about Dwight Evans, well look at his stats:

    Evans: 385 home runs, .370 OBP, 127 OPS+
    Lynn: 306 home runs, .360 OBP, 129 OPS+
    Rice: 382 home runs, .352 OBP, 128 OPS +

    Evans was arguably the best of the three.

    You also cited Yaz. Yes he is rewarded because he was able to stay very good for a long time, unlike Rice. That is part of being a Hall of Famer. Prolonged greatest, with a few exceptios.

    Yaz has 3,419 hits, 452 home runs, a 129 OPS+, and a .379 OBP. Much better than Rice. He also played a part of his career in an era with a massive pitchers advantage. Yaz also never struck out 100 times in a season, and had 2145 Runs Created vs. Rice with 1384. That’s 6.0 RC/g vs. yaz with 6.3.

    Yaz is a Hall of Famer, Rice is not.

    Don’t think for a second I don’t respect your arguement though; I just love to debate baseball.

    As for whats his name who said I’m a hypocrite, you’ve mistaken giving supporting evidence with constructing your entire argument around the words of others. Easy mistake, no problem

  • Tony

    I would also ask you to reconsider whether those stats were important to the game or not back then and earlier. Go back to the John Mcgraw, Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley Baltimore teams of the 1890s. The skills they displayed and the game they played translated into high OBP and high OPS, whether they knew it or not. Whether or not the emphasis in the 70s was on home runs and RBIs is meaningless. By that standard Dave Kingman would be a Hall of Famer.

    Take a look at Cobb’s stats, or even Mantles. While these guys obviously weren’t thinking in these terms, they understood that getting on base frequently and playing sound fundamental baseball translates to wins. It also happens to translate to high marks in the stats I’ve cited.

  • REMF(MCH)

    Yeah, you’re right Chris.

    It’s not worth it – the most important thing is that Jim Rice is going into the Hall of Fame.

    Pointing out hypocrisy has never stopped little people from trying to tear down big people in the past, and my personal attacks are not going to stop it now…

  • Tony

    Hey, nothing you said bothered me, although I can’t say it added much subsstance to the discussion, but then, I guess that’s the point isn’t it.

  • Tony

    I think a little REMF shared a tear with Jim Rice in his 1978 MVP year, when they both watched Bucky’s shot sore over the wall in that classic tiebreaker game. Since that day he has vowed to attack any and all who dare speak critically of any member of the “red sox nation.”

    Kind of funny what a disaster Rice’s MVP season was for the Red Sox. Big time collapse, big time heartbreak, no playoffs.

  • http://jetssciencepage.blogspot.com/ Jet

    At the risk of looking stupid, I once had a boss who referred to himself as a REMF, then changed it to HNIC, since I have only a vague idea of what he said they stand for, are the two interchangeable?

  • http://www.valentineonfilm.com Brandon Valentine

    Tony,

    Great article and discussion. As a Red Sox fan and collector of HOF autographs, I was happy to see Jim Rice enter the Hall–especially considering I already have his autograph. However, after reading your comments, Rice entering the Hall presents compelling arguments for Raines, Mattingly, Trammel, Larkin, and Alomar–all of which I’d say won’t make the cut. McGriff and Martinez will eventually enter (not first ballot but eventually). How does Rice compare to Dave Kingman (another non-Hall of Famer)?

  • Tony

    Kingman’s only redeeming quality is his home run total. 442 is a pretty solid number, but the rest of his stats fall very short. He is maybe the best example of how invaluable a home run really is over the course of a 600 at bat season.

    There are though, many non-Hall of Famers Rice falls short of, some of whom are listed in the article or discussion above. I would say the best person to look at — aside from the fact that I wrote about him — is Dick Allen, a player who was literally last on the veterans ballot and yet has elite statistics. In that same piece I also showed the comparisons to Santo, which are very close.

    Ironically, as stated above, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn also compare favorably to Rice with Evans having perhaps, better stats.

    Bill James, in his Historical Abstract, cited Jim Rice as being one ranking ahead of Roy White in all around ability, factoring in his variety of sabermetric statistics. Charlie Keller is a similar player who was good for about the same time period Rice was, and yet posted better stats in many categories.

    Baseball-reference.com is perhaps the most useful tool on the web to learn about players, different statistics, and different factors that affect both.

    Thank you very much for the compliment on the article and I too have enjoyed the discussion.

  • Tony

    Also, you shouldn’t lump Raines in with that group of borderline players. I wrote a lot about this in a previous article but look at his stats:

    .385 OBP, .810 OPS, 123 OPS+ 808 steals with the best success percentage of all time. He is also stellar in the sabermetric stats with 1626 Runs Created, 6.6 RC/G, and a OWP (offensive winning percentage) of .665. Finally, other than Henderson, he has far more home runs than any other play in the top 10 all time for steals. Rock was a rare combination of speed, intelligence, and power and his statistics support that.

    Compare that to Rice: .352 OBP, .854 OPS, 128 OPS+ (remember park and league adjusted), 1384 Runs Created, 6.0 RC/G, and an OWP of .627.

    It pure value to his team, Rice falls way short of Raines. He was also far more one dimensional.

  • REMF(MCH)

    Jet;
    Was your old boss a soul bruvva?
    HMFWIC is another of my favorites.

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    Ok, let’s pretend I’m Tony Reali.

    Tony, for mentioning Raines you’re getting the point.

    “Feared” is one of those perception-based terms we see so often in sports like “chemistry in the locker room,” “clutch” and “look in their eyes.”

    For what it’s worth, didn’t he ground into a lot of double plays?

    #52: Hockey Night In Canada?

    Great thread guys.

  • Tony

    “and grounded into 315 double plays, poor enough for 6th on the all-time list.”

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    REMF,

    “Pointing out hypocrisy has never stopped little people from trying to tear down big people in the past, and my personal attacks are not going to stop it now…”

    Aside from auditioning for the Hall of Justice (or Justice League. Go Aquaman!) what planet are you from? What hypocrisy did you point out? Save this stuff for the politics section where it often degrades itself into gibberish like this.

    Please, Tony took you to lunch.

    You made it personal and got clocked. It was a great discussion – one of the better ones in terms of sticking to the topic.

    It’s like the politics section here at BC, a person writes a thoughtful article, people present facts and then all hell breaks loose because one clown goes personal. They go nuts like Jack Torrance.

    Advice: ignore those who go personal.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    This has already been dealt with by those whose responsibility it is, Alessandro, so please just go about your own business without worrying about it…

  • Tony

    Alessandro,

    I appreciate the comments. While his attack did get a little overly personal, I think it, at the very least, served to illustrate the passion with which some fans will fight for a player they love, regardless of the stats.

    It did begin to feel a bit like the politics section for a minute there but when you look up and see the “Sports” moniker you just have to laugh.

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    And Suss, you get the mute button for bringing in The Cat.

    True story: I was sitting behind near the on deck circle with my girlfriend at an Expos game one year. Out comes “The Cat’ who was more like “The Slug” by then to stand on deck. As he looked around for chicks, you know because there were only a few thousand fans in the crowd, he spotted her and winked.

    We looked at each other and laughed it was so obvious. The guy kept eying her as if I wasn’t there.

    Why the noive.

    If I had a vote he wasn’t getting it.

    I jest, but thats why subjectiveness can be a dangerous thing.

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    Chris,

    You’re something else you know that?

  • Tony

    He actually brought up “The Cat’s” stats to illustrate how similar they were to Rice. Very few will make an argument for Andres to get in and yet his stats are nearly the same as Jim’s and he too played in a park with a big offensive advantage.

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    Tony,

    You’re right about fans but he was arguing passion while you (and Suss) were presenting facts.

    I was waiting for REMF to tell me otherwise but he presented quotes from Morgan and Gammons of all people!

    But he’s entitled to it. Jim Rice is an interesting specimen and I can see why fans loved him.

    However, as you showed, man, those numbers are truly frustrating. They don’t match the reputation.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I do indeed, Alessandro, thanks for noticing!

    Seriously, as you can see, Tony didn’t allow himself to get sucked in by the inappropriate remarks and the whole incident was closed – until you re-opened it. Thanks for displaying some maturity, Tony.

  • http://intersportswire.com alessandro

    Chris, again. I’m left speechless. Nice little jab. Impressive.

    Tony, with apologies.

  • Tony

    I thought of a great example of the importance of sabermetric statistics that should appease Red Sox fans. Take a player like Kevin Youkilis. One of the most valuable players on any team, without these new forms of statistical analysis this would be an over looked player. Examine his stat line from last season.

    .312/29/115

    On the surface a very good season but nothing spectacularly noteworthy.

    But his…..

    .390 OBP, .857 OPS, and 142 OPS+ show this was actually a much better season that his base numbers or perceptions may indicate.

    Add on his 120 Run Created, his huge 8.1 RC/G, his .712 OWP and his 306 total bases and the extreme value this player possesses is evident. Not as “feared” as Ortiz but arguably more valuable.

    Again, without in depth examination of Kevin’s productivity he would be viewed as an average ball player but he is an expert at the variables that most affect a team’s win loss record. Regardless of what your eyes might tell you.

  • steve

    rice ripken gwynn u cant compare them to allen thats a joke allen was a mega superstar aaron mays great now when ur talking ricky h. thats a superstar guys like santo grote donny baseball not even close to allen get serious there is a difference btween a and b players allen A PLUS just remember from 64 to 74 the highest paid and greatest in the world thats along time to b king most feared 1 day allen will get in and if he dont well he is still top 5 dead or alive greatest player in the history of baseball

  • Logey

    When Jim Rice retired there were 8 players with more HR and a higher BA. Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth , Willie Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Mel Ott, Lou Gehrig, and Stan Musial. I know his OBP and OPS+ but they aren’t even close to the lowest in the HOF. His OPS+ is higher than HOFers like Puckett, Ripken, Banks, Perez, and Yount. I also read someone saying a .502 SLG was bad that is 32nd in the HOF above guys like George Brett, Ernie Banks, Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield.

  • Tony

    The thing is with Rice, you have to judge him totally as a slugger because that is all he did and that is all he was known for.

    OPS+ is more of a sluggers statistic and the guys you named essentially weren’t sluggers or put up career numbers that make up for the lower OPS+, which Rice does not.

    Lets look at them one by one:

    Puckett: Kirby is definitely a borderline guy but there are differences between him and Rice. First you’ve got the .318 career batting average. His .360 OBP is also higher. While his OPS+ is four points lower than Rice’s, Kirby was not a power guy. He has a 124 OPS+ with 175 less home runs. Kirby also never struck out 100 times in a season, grounded into far less double plays, and was a much better fielder, shown by his 6 gold gloves to Rice’s 0.

    Ripken: Cal basically has two things going for him; the streak and over 3,000 hits. If you get 3,000 hits you’re in, like it or not. Cal also won two gold gloves. Does he really belong in without the 3,000 hits? Probably not. But there is no one with 3,000 hits not inducted.

    Banks: Ernie is another one who gets in for reaching certain milestones. There is a big difference between having over 500 home runs and not reaching 400, especially if you’re a power hitter. He also only struck out 100 times in a season once, won two MVPs, one gold glove, and played in a notorious pitchers era.

    Perez: Shouldn’t be in, but one mistake doesn’t justify another.

    Yount: He’s got over 3100 hits, so again, he hit the milestone and gets elected.

    The thing with Yount, and most of the other players you named, is that they are compared against others that played their position, not the entire Hall of Fame.

    I’m not sure if this is how it should be but that’s the perspective many voters take on their ballots. When you look at Rice against other left-fielders, or outfielders in general, he doesn’t stack up.

    Out of the players you named with lower OPS+ stats, only one — Puckett — was an outfielder and he was, at no time, known a big time slugger.

    Concerning the slugging percentage citation, again, the players you named have other attributes that made them Hall of Famers. All Rice has are his power numbers, and looking at them from the perspective of his entire career, they really aren’t that good.

  • Logey

    I never understood the longevity arguement. If Rice hung on 3 or 4 more years and was awful he would have gotten to 3000 hits and 400 HR. He would have probably been a first ballot guy then.

  • Tony

    Its not a monolithic argument. You either need to longevity stats or you need to have been exceptionally excellent for a period of time. Rice was neither as you can see from the statistics laid out in the piece and the ensuing discussion.

  • BW

    “The point of statistical analysis is to separate perception for reality”

    Ok – here’s some reality:
    These no.s are for the leading hitters in (both) major leagues from 1975-86 – (just for fun I included A. Dawson and E. Murray 77-88 – fair since they like Rice had to play the partial 1981 season) and Chili Davis 1986-1997 – best 12 years – since he was mentioned. This list is sorted by OPS:

    Actual Totals
    Name, G, AB, R, H, DB, TR, HR, RBI, BB, TB, AVG, OB, SLG, OPS
    M Schmidt, 1800, 6323, 1194, 1715, 313, 50, 440, 1221, 1181, 3448, .271, .386, .545, .931
    G Brett, 1595, 6178, 1021, 1961, 405, 107, 207, 1103, 674, 3201, .317, .384, .518, .902
    J Rice, 1766, 7060, 1098, 2145, 329, 73, 350, 1276, 560, 3666, .304, .355, .519, .874
    E Murray, 1820, 6845, 1048, 2021, 351, 25, 333, 1190, 857, 3421, .295, .372, .500, .872
    D Winfield, 1763, 6648, 1069, 1912, 331, 66, 282, 1147, 739, 3221, .288, .358, .485, .843
    R Jackson, 1631, 5771, 886, 1506, 268, 25, 330, 1030, 809, 2814, .261, .353, .488, .841
    K Hernandez, 1707, 6056, 966, 1830, 371, 56, 128, 898, 910, 2697, .302, .392, .445, .837
    G Foster, 1637, 6066, 881, 1690, 258, 41, 321, 1114, 596, 2993, .279, .343, .493, .836
    D Parker, 1652, 6368, 934, 1922, 378, 65, 239, 1050, 483, 3147, .302, .351, .494, .835
    (C Davis), 1682, 5972, 889, 1653, 298, 13, 264, 1013, 902, 2769, .277, .369, .464, .833
    C Cooper, 1656, 6525, 911, 1975, 371, 45, 224, 1030, 385, 3108, .303, .342, .476, .818
    A Dawson, 1729, 6755, 987, 1912, 346, 76, 298, 1047, 418, 3304, .283, .328, .489, .817
    B Madlock, 1549, 5681 , 778 , 1737, 30 , 26, 136, 744, 525, 2501, .306, .363, .440, .803
    S Garvey, 1821, 7153, 935, 2121, 358, 34, 225, 1076, 390, 3222, .297, .332, .450, .782
    P Rose, 1702, 6494, 948, 1919, 352, 44, 43, 613, 784, 2486, .296, .374, .383, .757

    Now simply rank them according to totals and add up the rankings. Lowest number wins:

    Notes:
    1. Chili Davis is not included in the rankings since he’s not a contemporary – his score (not very high as you can see) indicates where he would be if he were.
    2. Triples aren’t counted because they’re such a rare event; if they were Rice and Brett would go up a notch or two since they both had a lot of them.
    3. OB and BB’s are included here – they’re being factored in. Note that Rice is not last here despite all the talk about his “failure to get on base”, he’s 8th out of 14. and 2nd in runs scored.

    Rankings
    Name, G, AB, R, H, DB, TR, HR, RBI, BB, TB, AVG, OB, SLG, OPS, TOT
    J Rice, 4, 2, 2, 1, 10, 0, 2, 1, 9, 1, 3, 8, 2, 3, 48
    E Murray, 2, 3, 4, 3, 7, 0, 3, 3, 3, 3, 9, 5, 4, 4, 53
    D Winfield, 5, 5, 3, 8, 9, 0, 7, 4, 6, 6, 10, 7, 9, 6, 55
    M Schmidt, 3, 9, 1, 12, 11, 0, 1, 2, 1, 2, 13, 2, 1, 1, 59
    G Brett, 13, 10, 5, 5, 1, 0, 11, 11, 7, 7, 1, 3, 2, 3, 79
    S Garvey, 1, 1, 9, 2, 5, 0, 9, 6, 13, 5, 7, 13, 11, 13, 95
    D Parker, 9, 8, 10, 6, 2, 0, 8, 7, 11, 8, 6, 10, 5, 9, 99
    K Hrnndz, 10, 12, 7, 10, 3, 0, 13, 12, 2, 12, 5, 1, 12, 7, 106
    A Dawson, 6, 4, 6, 9, 8, 0, 6, 8, 12, 4, 11, 14, 7, 11, 106
    C Cooper, 8, 6, 11, 4, 4, 0, 10, 10, 14, 9, 4, 12, 10, 10, 112
    P Rose, 7, 7, 8, 7, 6, 0, 14, 14, 5, 14, 8, 4, 14, 14, 122
    G Foster, 11, 11, 13, 13, 14, 0, 5, 5, 8, 10, 12, 11, 6, 8, 127
    R Jackson, 12, 13, 12, 14, 13, 0, 4, 9, 4, 11, 14, 9, 8, 5, 128
    B Madlock, 14, 14, 14, 11, 12, 0, 12, 13, 10, 13, 2, 6, 13, 12, 146
    (C Davis), 8, 12, 11, 14, 13, 0, 8, 11, 3, 11, 13, 6, 10, 10, 130

    The conclusion is evident – Rice was indeed an elite hitter who, when compared to other Hall of Famers (Schmidt, E Murray, Brett and Winfield, not to mention Jackson) in an objective fashion is right there with them. The ONLY issue with him (and it’s a legitimate one IMO), and why it took so long to be elected is longevity – this is basically his whole career, whereas the others named had good years before and after.

  • Ethan

    “Statistics are a non-distortable, eternal testament, to what a player has accomplished.”

    Well, not really. A player’s statistics can suffer from simply playing the game correctly. Rice didn’t go up to the plate looking to pad his numbers; he went up there trying to do the proper thing, situationally. Moving the runner over, hitting a ground ball, “sacrifices” that don’t show up in the stats. And despite all that he had borderline HOF numbers. Jim Rice was feared, but he wasn’t feared because of his numbers (no one at the time knew what his numbers were going to end up being), but because he would be up there doing what was needed to win. Rice won ball games, and losing ball games is what pitchers fear most.

    “The point of statistical analysis is to separate perception [from] reality.”

    Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s successful. Modern baseball statistical analysis, by “correcting” and “adjusting” for everything that (they say) skews stats, tells us how a player “would” do in a completely average ballpark (which doesn’t exist) under completely average conditions
    (which never existed) against no particular pitcher or set of pitchers. But, I submit to you, this is not “information” worth knowing.

    But, let’s play the numbers game, just for fun. We should compile a list of players who led their leagues over a period of 12 consecutive years in more than 10 significant offensive categories, just to see how many there are. I’ll start the list: Jim Rice. Any more to add?

  • Tony

    Too bad you don’t compare a player’s Hall of Fame credentials to the people he played against at the time. You compare them to the greatest players ever (either at his position or period, depending on your interpretation). By those standards, Rice doesn’t add up. It’s not the Hall of the 70’s and early 80’s. It’s the Hall of Fame…..of all time.

  • Tony

    No matter how many times people reference him leading the league in this or that, it doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t belong in the same breath as the greatest outfielders of all time. His final numbers are his final numbers, no matter which way you spin it.

  • Ethan

    “Too bad you don’t compare a player’s Hall of Fame credentials to the people he played against at the time. You compare them to the greatest players ever (either at his position or period, depending on your interpretation). By those standards, Rice doesn’t add up. It’s not the Hall of the 70’s and early 80’s. It’s the Hall of Fame…..of all time.” “No matter how many times people reference him leading the league in this or that, it doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t belong in the same breath as the greatest outfielders of all time. His final numbers are his final numbers, no matter which way you spin it.”

    Actually, the very baseball statisticians you constantly reference point out constantly that it is not true that a player’s “final numbers are his final numbers, no matter how you spin it.” In fact, they make their money revealing how this is NOT the case.

    Also, I find highly dubious your distinction between greatness and greatness relative to contemporaries. Babe Ruth was great because he was great against his contemporaries, and if he played today he wouldn’t make it out of the minors. In fact, he probably wouldn’t be a pro ballplayer. Given all the changes that the game has undergone, performance against contemporaries is the only fair way to
    judge players’ greatness.

    But I can see why you would want to eliminate performance against contemporaries as a criterion for making HOF decisions. You do say that it is okay to make these decisions based on how a player did in his “period,” so I take it that the only debate here is over how long a period a player has to be great. For many of us, 12 years is enough. For you, apparently, it is not.

  • BW

    But half of the guys on this list ARE in the Hall of Fame (Brett, Schmidt, Jackson, Winfield etc. and Rose of course would be if he hadn’t made a little too free with the lunch money) – that’s the point.

    When compared with them over quite a long period Rice is equal or better (as a hitter). Comparing him with Ted Williams (or Andres Galarragga, by the way) is misleading, because the hitting conditions were (in some cases a lot) different for the time they played. It’s fairer and more revealing to compare him to contemporaries.

    The fact that Rice wasn’t a great all-around player is a point against him, as is the shortness of his career, so I can see the argument that he’s marginal.

    The argument that he wasn’t REALLY a great hitter, though, just isn’t right (in my opinion).

  • Joe R

    Once again proving that power guys are always overrated compared to balanced guys. The bar to get in for middle of the order guys is embarassingly lower than leadoff (or traditional #2) hitters.

    Rice: 128 OPS+
    Raines: 123 OPS+

    Rice: 1384 RC, 6.0 RC/g (per b-r)
    Raines: 1636 RC, 6.6 RC/g (per b-r)

    Raines’ career lasted an extra 1,301 PA’s.
    Raines could field the ball.

    Raines was completely efficient in every aspect of the game (even his power, with 170 HR, was respectable).

    But of course, Rice has the adjective edge. Also, the election of Rice wasn’t even about stats, it was about the notion that the media outside of Boston hated Jim Rice, and THAT was why he wasn’t getting the votes. Listen to Boston media, locals around here, and it was all they discussed when it came to Rice.

    And I love when people say stats don’t tell all the story. Of course they don’t tell all of it. But if a player’s baseball-reference page was Moby Dick, you’d be at the sentence “I alone survived” by the time you were done reviewing it.

  • Dan

    Years later, I still find it amusing that Rice is in the HoF. Never has “average” been more celebrated.

    • Bob

      How was Rice average. Using your logic, as I pointed out, Reggie should not have ever been nominated. He was not even average. Look at the stats based upon 162 game averages. Reggie batted .262 and fell behind Rice by a lot in almost every category offensively. Rice had a better throwing arm by far and neither was a good defender, but Reggie was poor while Rice was average defensively. In any event, I agree Rice is maybe borderline for the Hall, even though I would agree he should be in. He is certainly not average.

  • bob

    Mostly to Tony, but also to others. I don’t understand the tunnel vision going on here, so I wanted to make a few points. First, for Tony, why is it condescending to mention your age as it relates to not seeing Rice play? Isn’t that the same as you being condescending in the sense that you choose certain stats that suits your case against Rice while ignoring other stats? I see others have started to point out some of that. One of the things that really irks me about the arguement against Rice is the career stat business. Are you not realizing that Rice’s career was cut short by at least a few years due to injuries and eye issues? He played about 16 seasons compared to many HOFs who played several more. I particularly love how many defend Reggie, who to me was a clutch slugger and that is about it. How is it he belongs in the Hall without question and Rice does not. If Rice played as long as Reggie, his stats would have clearly surpassed Reggie in every category, but Reggie struck out even more than Rice did. I can also say that I saw them both play out their respective careers and Rice was a far better player than Reggie, and it wasn’t even close. Rice missed some critical playoffs and time in the 1975 series too and was a much better hitter and fielder than Reggie. Rice’s Fenway versus away hitting stats don’t begin to tell the whole story. As one post pointed out, many of Jim’s line drives would have gone for hits in larger/wider parks and also well out for home runs in left field when many times he drilled it off the green monster. I remember the times he hit it clear over the flag behind the BACK well of center field in Fenway.