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Saturday, January 04, 2003

Jim Rice

Does the ‘78 MVP have what it takes?

Once upon a time, the Red Sox had three young outfielders - Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Fred Lynn.  Already being compared to some of the great outfields in Major League history, not many people questioned that this trio would carry the Sox up until the last decade of the millennium and perhaps even help finally bring an end to the World Series drought in Beantown.  While Carlton Fisk will always be remembered for the big moment, nothing so identified the Red Sox as the Red Sox the same way Dewey, Jim and Freddie did.

Unfortunately, things did not quite work out that way.  Lynn was gone in a few years and the Red Sox didn?t return to the playoffs until 1986 despite seasons of 99 and 97 wins and by that point, it was the new era of Roger and the Chicken Man.

Fast forward another decade and a half and Evans and Lynn have already been thrown out of Hall of Fame consideration with barely enough time for the writers to give them a cursory look, especially egregious in the case of the former.

Now, it’s up to Rice.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Rice was certainly considered to be one of the best players in baseball with even more expected of him after winning the MVP Award and two other top 5 finishes by the time he was closer to 30 than 20.  Even when his reputation had dropped faster than his performance, he still went on to place in the top 5 on 3 more occasions, including his last-hurrah season in ‘86.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

In the late 70s, he almost certainly was but generally not a slam-dunk due to the players surrounding him.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

In his best seasons (77-79, 83, 86) he was among the best leftfielders in baseball.  A case for the absolute best in an individual season is much harder to make.

- In 1977, George Foster (320/382/631, 165 OPS+) was clearly superior and Greg Luzinski (309/394/594, 157 OPS+) probably gets enough offensive edge over thanks to park effects over Rice (320/376/593, 148 OPS+).

- In 1978, Rice hit 315/370/600, 158 OPS+ and with the edge in playing time and defense, beats out Luzinski (265/388/526, 153 OPS+), Foster (281/360/546, 151 OPS+) and Larry Hisle (290/374/533, 153 OPS+). This was Rice’s MVP season.

- In 1979, Rice had much the same season, but to less acclaim (325/381/596, 154 OPS+) with Foster continuing his peak years (302/386/561, 155 OPS+).  Attendance counts, though and Rice’s nearly 200 plate appearance edge tips the scales in his favor.  There’s also Steve Kemp’s big year (318/398/543, 149 OPS+), but I think Rice is the best for ‘79.

- In 1982 and 1983, Rice rebounded after a couple of disappointing (the strike and a broken wrist) seasons and in 1983, he came back with 305/361/550, 141 OPS+ season to return to the offensive leaderboards. Rickey had arrived and 108 stolen bases easily make up for the slight hitting difference (292/414/421, 138 OPS+).  Raines was coming to the forefront also and I’d take his 298/393/429 with 90 stolen bases over Rice, too.

- In his last good year, 1986, Rice hit 324/384/490, 137 OPS+, but it’s clearly not at the level of his late 70s seasons despite his 3rd place finish in the MVP voting.  Raines was the best leftfielder that year (334/413/476, 70 stolen bases, 146 OPS+) but Rice was solidly in the next tier along with George Bell.

For the late 70s as a whole, I’d take Rice first, but that was the limit of him being the best at his position.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Rice was one of the key Red Sox on those teams that came up short in the Carter years, but the Red Sox never got the best of their competitors.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

No, the end came quickly for Rice.  Knee problems and eventual issues with the manager, Joe Morgan, put a damper on his twilight years.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

No, I don’t believe he is.  Ron Santo comes first and a lot of the snubbed such as Dick Allen or Bobby Grich and even his teammate, Dwight Evans, would be put in the Hall before him if I were Dictator.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

4 of his top 10 are in the Hall (Cepeda, Snider, Billy Williams, Stargell). I believe that Dale Murphy and Dave Parker will sneak in some day and I hope that none of the remaining (Joe Carter, Burks, Galarraga, Chili Davis) do.

8. Do the player?s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Close (42.9 and the average HOFer is 50) due to the quick end.  A few more stock seasons added on and he goes up quite a bit.

By black ink test, Rice gets a 33 with the average HOFer a 27 while he outscores the average HOFer in the gray ink test, 176-144.

The Hall of Fame Monitor gives Rice a 147 where anything over 100 suggests a likely Hall of Fame inductee.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Rice played in Fenway, which is accounted for in his sabermetric stats. He probably deserves more credit for his defense as leftfield in Fenway is one of the true defensive challenges and has shown a tendency to make leftfield defensive stats rather goofy.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

I’d be inclined to give the edge to Frank Howard here.  Hondo just has too many monster offensive seasons for Rice to match, in my opinion.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

I’d credit Rice for 4 MVP-type seasons as outlined above.  He won once and came close a total of 6 times.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

Rice played in 8 All-Star games, a normal but not astounding number for a Hall of Famer.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Yes, when Rice was at his peak, his team could be a pennant winner if he were the best player.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

Other than teaching Joe Morgan that Spike Owen is not someone you want pinch-hitting, no.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Despite the unhappy conclusion of his career, Rice was, by all accounts, highly respected within baseball and continues to be so today. So, yes.

Conclusion

All-in-all, Rice’s case amounts to that of a borderline Hall of Famer; he’s qualified by the Hall of Fame’s standards but it’s not the crime of the century if he has to remain on the outside looking in for awhile.

I believe, in the long run, Rice will get into the Hall of Fame either by the BBWAA vote (maybe 30/70 chance) or by whatever format the Veterans Committee uses 20 years from now.

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: January 04, 2003 at 06:00 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Scott Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:16 AM (#608013)
1. Rice's win shares: 282 career; only one season above 30 win shares.

2. Bill James called Rice "probably the most overrated player of the last 30 years: (A) He benefitted a LOT from Fenway, which increased run-scoring almost 20% during Rice's best years; two years when Rice hit 39 HR (1977 & 1979), he hit 27 at Fenway & 12 on the road. (B) Several little things make Rice's BA slightly less impressive, i.e., mediocre walk totals (for such a feared power hitter) and a lot of double plays. I'd thought Rice should go in until I read all that.

(I posted most of point 2 in the Dave Parker discussion; sorry for the repetition.)
   2. Scott Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608014)
A rule of thumb re broderline candidates: if letting him in would open the door to 8 more guys about as good, just say no -- because that means we're dipping down the talent pyramid into territory where there too many "very good" players to pick just 1 or 2.

I think it's fair to compare Rice not only to LF, but to CF/RF -- since the way most guys get to CF and RF is by being better fielders than whoever was in LF. And there are a lot more desering OF:

Dave Parker (327 win shares; 101 in his best 3 yrs);
Ken Singtleton (302; also 101 in his best 3);
Andre Dawson (340, though with a lesser peak);
Dale Murphy (294; 97 in his best 3).

Rice doesn't measure up (282; 92 in his best 3).

There are better 1B, 3B, C, etc., also not in the hall. Electing Rice wouldn't be the worst travesty, but there are numerous guys at every position who clearly are more deserving.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608018)
While I agree that Rice shouldn't be elected, there has always been one thing that has bothered me about his Runs Created numbers in relation to the number of double plays he hit into. Shouldn't Runs Created take into account the number of opportunities that a batter has in regard to double plays?

If we have Jim Rice #1 batting cleanup, while Jim Rice #2 is hitting eighth, Jim Rice #1 (obviously)is going to hit into many more double plays than his equal down at the bottom of the batting order (ignore the fact that only a moron would create a lineup such as that).

If I'm misrepresenting Runs Created (and by extension Win Shares), please let me know. Does anyone have an idea of how big the difference is anyway?
   4. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608020)
John,

It's certainly a good point, but since the RC number attempts to measure offensive performance rather than offensive ability, I'd say it should not take DP opportunities into account. However, in evaluating a player who hits behind Wade Boggs, for example, it's useful to remember that in analyzing his ability. We want to measure the actual impact of events.

I don't like assigning all the blame to the batter for a GIDP, but I do think it's appropriate to assign much of the blame to the hitter, since some hitters do have a very high GIDP/opp and others a very very low one.
   5. John Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608021)
Rice was one of the key Red Sox on those teams that came up short in the Carter years, but the Red Sox never got the best of their competitors.

How one-tracked is my mind on the HOF lately? I couldn't for the life of me figure out how the Sox came up short against The Kid and the rest of Les Expos. It took me five good minutesto figure out that you, of course, are referring to Billy, not Gary.

Prior to this round of Keltnerization and related debate, I was against both Rice and Parker (as well as the rest of the outfielders on the ballot), but Rice, for me, was the closest call. This, plus the Parker article, have flipped those two in my mind and sold me on the idea that Parker should be in. I'm still not sold on Rice. Good analysis, Dan.
   6. Ephus Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608024)
Jim Rice winning the 1978 MVP over Ron Guidry still sticks in my craw. IIRC, Guidry simply did not lose down the stretch as he led the Yankees past the Red Sox. He was the difference that year. I know that we should not make the mistake of limiting the MVP to the division champions, but when you lead a team to a remarkable comeback over the team led by the other MVP candidate, that should count a good deal.

I used to believe that Rice should be in the Hall, but I also thought that he deserved real credit for playing LF in Fenway. In recent years, I have come to believe that the short Green Monster, combined with Fred Lynn and Dewey Evans covering MUCH more than 2/3 of the outfield, were responsible for covering up truly bad defense from Rice. Does anyone have home/road fielding splits for Rice?
   7. John Posted: January 04, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608025)
I don't have home/road fielding splits, but it would be interesting data for sure. Is that something that could be extracted/extrapolated from defensive WS?

On Rice's fielding, though, FWIW, he rates as exactly 200 FRAR in 1548 career games, ~.1292 per game; per 162 games, that's 20.93 FRAR. According to the glossary over at BProspectus, an "average" left-fielder, normalized over all-time, is set at 20 FRAR per 162. (Feel free to check those numbers; that's figgered using the calculator on the cell phone--highly scientific).

So by that measure, Rice deserves neither credit nor demerits for his fielding. However, my guess is that of all the positions at all the current parks in baseball, skillfully playing defense in left in Fenway is least accurately represented on paper. The fact that Rice is all over the map, year-to-year (from high 30's to single digits) seems to confirm this. I think.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608027)
It's certainly a good point, but since the RC number attempts to measure offensive performance rather than offensive ability,

I don't disagree with your statement in theory, Craig. I'm just concerned that the better hitters (like Jim Rice) are penalized more than a Rey Ordonez-type hitter.

At any rate, I don't think it would still be enough to elevate him to the Hall. This from a Met fan who's first real mitt (my first mitt was a piece of crap that I bought for a couple of bucks from my best friend) was an autographed Jim Rice model. :-)
   9. Scott Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608029)
Mr. Gwynn:

Wow, a .298 batting average and "power" -- I hadn't engaged in that kind of in-depth analysis. I'll try to bring you slowly into late-20th century analysis with just a few points obvious to the rest of us:

1. THE POWER NUMBERS WERE HEAVILY INFLATED BY FENWAY. In both of his two 39-HR seasons in the 70s, for example, he hit 27 HR at home and 12 on the road. Fenway in the late 70s increased run scoring by about 20%, according to Bill James (a guy whose stuff you may wantg to read someday). So some of Rice's HRs are like Colorado Rockies' HRs today, though not to the same extent.

2. HE DIDN'T DRAW WALKS. His walk rate was below league average, so his .298 doesn't reflect a great propensity for getting on base. You're really impressed that his BA was so much better than Dale Murphy's (.265), but Murph got on base about as much: Rice's OBP was .352 while Murphy's was .346. Park-adjusted, Rice has no advantage at all, since he played in a better hitter's environment.

3. HE SUCKED AT SOME SMALL BUT NOT INSIGNIFICANT THINGS THAT A "BATTING AVERAGE PLUS HOME RUNS" ANALYSIS SOMEHOW MISSES. In half of his seasons, he grounded into 21-36 double plays. That's a lot of guys he took off the bases. In contrast, Dave Winfield, who also took heat for GIDP, only once grounded into more than 21.

"What planet have you guys been on," you ask? The planet where we read. The planet where we evaluate baseball players by more than BA and HR. Come visit sometime; it's a nice planet.
   10. John Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608037)
Wow, a .298 batting average and "power"

So, maybe, a stat that combines getting on base and hitting for power would be a useful tool. Probably would make Jim Rice look good. Wish we had one. Wait!

Incomplete list, but some of the players in the last 40 years with a better OPS than Jim Rice: Helton, Bonds, Ramirez, Thomas, Giles, McGwire, Mantle, Musial, Guerrero, Walker, Giambi, Bagwell, Piazza, ARodriguez, EMartinez, CJones, Delgado, Mays, GriffeyJr, Garciaparra, Belle, Abreu, Aaron, FRobinson, Sheffield, Snider, Allen, Vaughn, Schmidt, Gonzalez, Edmonds, Salmon, Klesko, Palmeiro, Sosa, McGriff, BeWilliams, McCovey, Stargell, Ordonez, Killebrew, MAlou, Olerud, Sweeney, Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Rolen, Jeff Heath!, Green, Burks, Justice...

Now, I know it's not entirely fair to compare Rice, whose numbers include his "down" years, with guys still on the upswing, but still.

And no, Vinay, I meant Billy Carter. His beer-making was at least as culturally significant as his big brother's presidency. Nobel, schmobel. ;)
   11. John Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608041)
That ranks in the top five for all players in baseball from 1974-1989. The guys in front of him (Schmidt, Brett, etc.) are all HOFers.

Someone listed 40 players with better OPS marks than Jim Rice, citing several current players. Are those numbers adjusted for the era he played in?


On the first point: I don't have Retrosheet data to specifically pinpoint 1974-89, but I seriously doubt the accuracy of that stat. Schmidt (1972-89) .908; Brett (1973-93) .857; Reggie Smith (1966-82) (half his career in Fenway, half with LAD) .855; Dave Parker (1973-91) .810, and that's just some guys off the top of my head. I'm sure Winfield is up there, probably Dawson, possibly many others. I'm not arguing that Rice wasn't a fantastic player; he was. But to point to a .789 road OPS and presto-changeo make him into a "top five" player is a stretch in my opinion.

On the second point: no, those OPS aren't era-adjusted, which I recognize is a shortcoming. Good point. I couldn't find a "leaderboard" for career OPS+. I realize that post-1994 players are far more likely to put up numbers that are gaudy in comparison with players of Rice's era--BUT, Rice gets some of that "disadvantage" back by virtue of having played half his games in the Fens. So my point is not that Rice is worse than all of those guys and everyone else with a better OPS, but that when there are that many ahead of him, even unadjusted for era, he just doesn't look that impressive and, since his "counting" stats aren't that great, and his defense wasn't special, the wishy-washy result on the Keltner test is far from enough to convince me that Rice is a HOF'er. That's all.
   12. John Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608042)
The same people ripping Rice for being in Fenway, are you also willing to say that Manny Ramirez is overrated for the same reason? What of Larry Walker.

I don't think Larry Walker is overrated by people on this site, but that's because they (we?) know to give the Coors Field discount. Statistics like Win Shares and the like do that for us. Those who refuse to do so, and look only at Triple Crown stats, etc., would overrate him (and Galarraga, and Castilla, and for God's sake, Dante Bichette), and vastly so. Nobody's "ripping" rice for being in Fenway, but it's a valid factor.
   13. Marc Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608045)
Manny Ramirez IS overrated. No human being, not Babe Ruth, not Barry Bonds, can play 2/3 of a schedule and be more valuable than Nomar. This is a joke.

And Frank Howard???? This analysis was pretty credible til I got to Frank Howard.

That said, Rice is one of those guys who really exemplifies Bill James' observation that the longer you go, the more a player's reputation ends up just being numbers, numbers, numbers. At the time, we ALL thought (admit it) that Jim Rice was the best hitter in baseball. Now we know we were wrong. But if you also respect Bill James' observation that we are obligated to consider how people felt about a player when he was active and in his prime, then Rice is a solid HoF candidate and deserving of the number of votes he has been getting. Of course, he has NOT been getting enough to get elected. So be it, but he is solid, all his picayune faults aside. Better than Frank, better than Dewey.
   14. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608046)
The same people ripping Rice for being in Fenway, are you also willing to say that Manny Ramirez is overrated for the same reason?

Number one, Ramirez is a much better hitter than Rice ever was.

Number two, Fenway Park today is not a hitters park anymore. It's basically a neutral park. In Rice's time, Fenway was the best park for hitting in the AL (if not in all of baseball).

Jacobs Park gave an edge to the hitter when Ramirez played there, but it was no where near as large as the Fenway of the seventies or early eighties.
   15. DCW3_ Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608048)
One interesting--if fairly meaningless--point: Rice's HOF Monitor score of 147 is the highest of any batter who has been eligible for induction into the Hall but is not yet in.
   16. Scott Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608049)
We're not "ripping" Rice for playing in Fenway. The point is this: During Rice's peak years, Fenway increased run scoring by 20%. This means that producing 12 runs in Fenway is about as valuable as producing 10 runs elsewhere. So hitting 36 HR in Fenway has about the same value as hitting 30 in a league-average stadium.

Rice was one of the better hitters of his time, but some of his stellar reputation: (a) was a park effect; and (b) ignores the fact that his low BB total and high GIDP total mean that he got on base less often, and took others off the bases more often, than other good hitters.
   17. jmac Posted: January 05, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608052)
Jim Rice winning the 1978 MVP over Ron Guidry still sticks in my craw. IIRC, Guidry simply did not lose down the stretch

he seldom lost at the beginning or in the middle, either (by the way--trivia time: all 3 of Ron's losses in '78 came against pitchers named Mike)

I like Frank Howard, but at no time was Frank Howard considered the best hitter in baseball, let alone the best player

well, there were those 2 weeks in May of '68...seriously--there were stretches where Hondo was considered in somewhat the same way the B-Bonds is considered in the last couple seasons--you couldn't get him out--& he was always a threat to take you over the wall--problem is, for F-Howard, those stretches were few & far between

At the time, we ALL thought (admit it) that Jim Rice was the best hitter in baseball. Now we know we were wrong. But if you also respect Bill James' observation that we are obligated to consider how people felt about a player when he was active and in his prime, then Rice is a solid HoF candidate

if you had suggested in 1982, or maybe even as late as 1986, that there was a chance that Rice would NOT make the HOF, people would have said you were crazy (kinda like James' comment re: Dale Murphy in the 86 abstract)--we all assumed that Rice would slowly slide into middle-old age piling up career numbers that would have made him automatic. But he didn't--
like James said "peak value is determined by what you do in your 20's, while career value is largely determined by what you do in your 30's"
   18. Chris Dial Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608055)
Ron Santo? Stop it. Santo was a little bit better than Ron Cey. He wasn't better than Lou Whitaker. Bert Blyleven ring a bell? Darrell Evans played 1450 games at 3B too. Dick Allen. Santo isn't Top 5. Okay, maybe he's 5.

   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608056)
Ron Santo? Stop it. Santo was a little bit better than Ron Cey. He wasn't better than Lou Whitaker. Bert Blyleven ring a bell? Darrell Evans played 1450 games at 3B too. Dick Allen. Santo isn't Top 5. Okay, maybe he's 5.

Shouldn't this post belong with the Hernandez/Garvey/Mattingly thread?

Just curious.

   20. Scott Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608058)
I have to disagree a bit with the following argument some people are making: "sure, the evidence is that he wasn't as good a hitter as some other borderline HOF'rs... but we all remember him being that good, so he must have been."

I'm all in favor of considering contemporaneous impressions that may add something to a purely statistical analysis. The limitations of fielding stats, for example, make it important to consider what people thought at the time about a player's defense. If someone was an unusually lazy or selfish player, that's something to consider too. Hell, I'll even admit that "leadership" is something we could consider.

But with Rice we're just disputing "was the man the top hitter in baseball in the late 70s." On thet point, we have a wealth of statistical evidence, and the answer is: no, he wasn't.

Look, I remember the 1970s, and I remember thinking Rice was the best hitter around. BUT I WAS ILL-INFORMED: the papers published just BA, HR, and RBI. Those stats make Rice look phenomenal. BUT MANY OTHER STATS, which just weren't regularly published in the 1970s, make him look not as good: OBP; park effects; and GIDP.

Let's face it: we were less informed then, and our impressions of Rice as a hitter were skewed by the poor quality of the statistical data we had at the time. In contrast, I think we all underestimated Ken Singleton, whose skills didn't all show up in the BA/HR/RBI tables we all remember in the 1970s sports sections.

Yes, I remember seeing Rice hit and having the sense (as a Yankee fan) that this was the guy we all feared at the plate. I remember the anecdote about how he's so strong he broke a bat on a checked swing -- though I didn't see that game, it was part of the Rice folklore. And he really was a great hitter -- just not quite as good as we all thought at the time, and not good enough for 10 years of that level of production to make him a HOF'r.
   21. Scott Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608062)
Bill wrote: "Everyone talks about how much Fenway helped Rice's numbers, but think about how many homeruns it cost him. Rice was power plus during his hayday. Rice was a line drive hitter who put several dents in "the Monster". ost of those shots were hit so hard they only resulted in long singles. Had he played in Atlanta or Wrigley he would have hit many more HR's"

There are a few problems with what you said:
(1) THE EVIDENCE DOESN'T SUPPORT IT. Fenway was an extreme hitters' park at the time, increasing runs by 20%. Rice himself hit many more HRs at Fenway than on the road; in each of his two 39-HR years, he hit only 12 HR on the road. So away from Fenway he was a 24-HR-a-year guy. Face it: Fenway gave him many more HRs than it took away.
(2) RE WRIGLEY/ATLANTA: SO WHAT? Maybe there were one or two better hitters' parks in the majors (though maybe not -- I don't have the Wrigley/Atlanta park effects in front of me). That doesn't change the fact that Rice's numbers were inflated by his home park. He played half his games in a park that gave him several more HR (and more runs rpoduced generally) a year than almost all of his contemporaries in other parks.

Bill also said: "Rice was also a tough guy, who can forget him climbing into the stands to get his cap back when some brave fan took it off his head when he dove into the stands."

Who can forget it? I can forget it, because IT DOESN'T AFFECT MY JUDGEMENT ABOUT WHETHER THE MAN BELONGS IN THE HOF. Maybe the toughest pitcher ever was righty reliever Dale "The Horse" Mohorcic, who didn't even need any bullpen time to warm up, and would lead the league in appearances. Mohorcic for HOF?

Besides: by what reasoning do you consider it a HOF "plus" for a player to go back into the stands to accost a fan who took his hat? You're setting the bar a bit lot for toughness/bravery. I think Mohorcic does better on that measure.
   22. tangotiger Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#608063)
According to the PBP of 1974-1990, Rice GIDP was 15 1/2% of the time that a GIDP situation was present, compared to the the MLB average for that time period of 11 1/2%.

So, an average player, given Rice's opps to GIDP, would have gotten about 90 less GIDP than Rice actually did. That's worth about 40 runs, or 4 wins. A player who steals 150 and gets caught 150 times also has the same effect. That's quite a bit, and for someone who is on the bubble, certainly doesn't help.

As for Fenway, again, you cannot, cannot, cannot count his performance at Fenway as a minus. Once you've decided to apply the Fenway discount to *all* hitters to *the same degree*, you cannot apply a Rice discount on top of that. We are talking about his production level, and not his ability. If Rice was able to take advantage of a situation more than someone else was able to take advantage *of the same* situation, then this is a *good* thing. We are not interested about his hypothetical production in some hypothetical environment to determine if he should be in the HOF for his hypothetical contributions.

Account for his context, yes. But don't punish that he was able to leverage his context more than someone else.

   23. Scott Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#608074)
"Making outs" is a function of two things: (1) OBP and (2) GIDP. If your OBP is .350, then 65% of your plate appearances yield outs; if you ground into 25 double-plays, you're responsible for 25 additional outs (beyond the 65% of the time you get yourself out). Is there anything else to the "making outs" concept or am I missing something?

If my understanding of the concept is correct, then saying "Rice makes lots of outs" is the same as saying "Rice didn't walk much and hit into a lot of double-plays."
   24. Rob Wood Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#608087)
The hardest ball I ever saw hit was a Jim Rice line drive off the center field wall at the old Comiskey Park. I think it must have been the late 1970s. The ball seemingly never got higher than 20 feet off the ground until banging off the wall more than 450 feet from the plate.
   25. Charles Saeger Posted: January 06, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#608091)
Sticking my dumbass head in here ...

... good Grimace, I have no idea where I read this, but some folks were talking about Rice's GDP numbers. His high numbers in GDP came from 1982 to 1985. This thread, wherever it was, mentioned Rice was batting behind other slow hitters. I checked Retrosheet on the first and last game for Rice of the season from 1981 to 1986 and the first game in July (August in 1981).

In the 1981 games, he batted behind Stapleton and Rudi, Evans and Yaz, Miller and Evans.

In the 1982 games, he batted behind Evans and Hoffman, Boggs and Evans, Barrett and Evans.

In the 1983 games, he batted behind Boggs and Evans, Remy and Boggs, Remy and Boggs.

In the 1984 games, he batted behind Evans and Boggs, Boggs and Evans, Boggs and Evans.

In the 1985 games, he batted behind Boggs and Evans, Lyons and Boggs, Boggs and Buckner.

In the 1986 games, he batted behind Boggs and Buckner, Boggs and Buckner, Barrett and Buckner.

Looking at these men, they're all slow. Even when Rice was not grounding into DPs, he was batting behind Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner. I don't know what it is ...

... boy, folks on this board have an inflated opinion of Lou Whitaker. Sorry, Santo was better, so was Cey.
   26. Chris Dial Posted: January 07, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#608095)
Charlie,
perhaps you missed it, but Whitaker posted his numbers at *second base*, not third base. That's why at slightly lower offense, he gets the nod. The positional difference is huge. Of course, Szymborski doesn't get it either.
   27. tangotiger Posted: January 08, 2003 at 02:19 AM (#608186)
I count 362 times until 1990 where Boggs was on first, the batter was Rice, and the DP was in effect. Rice GIDP 63 times. That's a rate of 17 1/2%, compared to Rice's career GIDP of 15 1/2%. So, maybe Boggs' slowness caused Rice to have 7 more GIDP.
   28. Charles Saeger Posted: January 09, 2003 at 02:20 AM (#608231)
Chris: In case you missed it, Santo posted his numbers *in the 1960s,* when it was much harder to hit. Santo's OPS+ was 125, Whitaker's 117, showing this.

Furthermore, with Whitaker, you have a bit of the Texas Test Score problem. Late in his career, Anderson platooned Whitaker, making his rate stats better since he did not face left-handers, which he couldn't hit. If you take out a bunch of PAs where Whitaker would hit .190, that makes his overall numbers better, but it doesn't make him a better player.
   29. Chris Dial Posted: January 09, 2003 at 02:20 AM (#608243)
Charlie,
that's why we have OPS+. Santo's 13 seasons were very good. He's a 3B with an OPS+ of 125. Is that more valuable than 15 seasons of 117 OPS+ at 2B? I know you don't like Whitaker's usage, but he was getting 550 PAs up to 1992 - 16 years into his career. Either the Tigers didn't face very many LHPs, or he batted against them (up to 1992). He got over 100 PAs vs. LHP every season til then. Of course, by the time Santo couldn't hit RHP, he was doing play-by-play. Whitaker's hitting v RHP only had more value than Santo's watching on TV. Which is where they were in their career.

So which is more valuable - a 3B at 125 or a 2B at 117 (for a few more seasons)?

I think it is easily the 2B.
   30. Scott Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610984)
Just a couple of thoughts.

1. Anyone that invokes the names of players still playing or that recently retired that played in the JUICED ball era where more DINKY ballparks exist than in the 70's is not playing with a full deck.

2. Anyone that watched the Sox in the late 70's and early 80's knows that Rice was primarily a line drive hitter, and the green monster most likely HURT his home run stats than helped.

3. While his career did fall off a cliff due to knee and vision problems, he is not in the hall of fame because of his surly reputation more than anything else. Compare him in is prime to anybody playing during the same era already in the hall, and I believe he compares favorably.

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