Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jim Rice: Hall of a Candidate

A good friend, Dick Bresciani, the Vice President of Publications & Archives with the Boston Red Sox, recently mailed out his arguments for the inclusion of Jim Rice in the Baseball Hall of Fame (an argument with which I agree, by the way).

Bresc's many points were very compelling. Here are but a few:

CAREER (1974-1989)

Led A.L. with 382 HR and 1451 RBI in his 16-year career, all with Boston.

Rare Power & Average: Seventeen players with 300+ HR and a career AVG as high as Rice have been on the HOF ballot. All but Rice are HOF:

Aaron, Brett, DiMaggio, Foxx, Gehrig, Greenberg, Hornsby, Klein, Mantle, Mays, Mize, Musial, Ott, Rice, Ruth, A. Simmons, T. Williams.

8-time All-Star
8-time 100 RBI
7-time .300 hitter
6-time Top 5 in A.L. MVP – more than anyone else during Rice’s career (Murray 5)
4-time A.L. TB leader
3-time A.L. HR leader

1978 A.L. MVP (.315 AVG, 46 HR, 139 RBI, 406 TB, .600 SLG, 213 H, 15 3B)
Only M.L. player to lead either league outright in 3B, HR, and RBI
Only A.L. player with 400+ TB since 1937 (Joe DiMaggio)
A.L. record for biggest margin in TB (113 over Murray)
Only A.L. player with 46+ HR between ’69 (Killebrew) and ’87 (McGwire)

3-YEAR STRETCH (1977-1979)

Only player in M.L. history with 3 straight seasons of 35+ HR and 200+ hits
Tied A.L. record of 3 consecutive years as TB leader (Williams, Cobb)
Ruth and Foxx are the others in A.L. with 3+ straight 39+ HR, .315 seasons.


Twenty M.L. players have hit .300+ with 350+ HR over a 12-season stretch (Babe Ruth was the first, from 1915-1926), but Jim Rice stands alone in his dozen years (1975-86).

He is the only M.L. player of his generation who accomplished the feat (linking 1974, when Hank Aaron became the career HR leader, to 2001, when Barry Bonds became the single-season HR leader). All players on the following list who have been on the Hall of Fame ballot have been elected – except for Jim Rice.

The list: .300+ with 350+ HR over a 12-season stretch
(Date listed indicates final year of stretch)

1926 Ruth
1927 Ruth 1967 Aaron, Mantle, Mays, F. Robinson
1928 Ruth 1968 Aaron, Mays, F. Robinson
1929 Ruth 1969 Aaron, Mays, F. Robinson
1930 Ruth 1970 Aaron, Mays, F. Robinson
1931 Ruth 1971 Aaron, F. Robinson
1932 Ruth 1972 Aaron, F. Robinson
1933 Ruth 1973 Aaron
1934 Gehrig, Ruth 1974 Aaron
1935 Gehrig, Ruth 1975
1936 Gehrig 1976
1937 Foxx, Gehrig 1977
1938 Foxx, Gehrig 1978
1939 Foxx, Gehrig, Ott 1979
1940 Foxx, Ott 1980
1941 Foxx, Ott 1981
1942 Foxx, Ott 1982
1943 Foxx 1983
1944 Foxx 1984
1945 Foxx 1985
1946 1986 Rice
1947 1987
1948 1988
1949 1989
1950 1990
1951 1991
1952 1992
1953 1993
1954 Williams 1994
1955 Williams 1995
1956 Williams 1996
1957 Williams 1997
1958 Williams 1998
1959 Snider, Williams 1999
1960 Snider 2000
1961 Snider 2001 Bonds
1962 Mantle 2002 Bagwell, Bonds, Thomas
1963 Mantle, Mays 2003 Bagwell, Bonds, Gonzalez, Piazza, Sheffield, Thomas
1964 Mantle, Mays 2004 Bagwell, Bonds, Gonzalez, Piazza, Ramirez, Sheffield, Thomas
1965 Aaron, Mantle, Mays 2005 Bonds, Piazza, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Sheffield
1966 Aaron, Mantle, Mays 2006 Bonds, C. Jones, Piazza, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Sheffield

(Does not count military service against anyone in World War II and/or Korea)

From 1975 to 1986 Jim Rice was the most dominant player in the American League. During that 12-year stretch he led the league in 12 categories and ranked among the top five in two others. His numbers are indicative of a player who was dangerous in nearly every situation.

He led the league over that period with 350 home runs but unlike most sluggers of his day, he ranked fourth with a .304 batting average. He collected the most hits over that time period and also ranked first with a .520 slugging percentage. He legged-out 73 triples, including 15 in 1977 and 1978, and he was the most dangerous outfielder to run on in the American League. In every category he ranks above or among existing Hall of Famers.