Why Jim Rice?
Jim Rice’s career is a standard sabermetric punching bag, and that is probably unfortunate. I think we can all acknowledge that Rice was an excellent player, one of the best ever to play the game. However, his status as a Hall of Famer is rather more debatable. To help illustrate the difficulties, I want to compare Rice with his true contemporaries, that is, the other regular Red Sox outfielders from the first year of his career to the last. See the chart below:
To explain the common names,that is Reggie Smith, Dwight Evans, and the immortal Rick Miller. The problem with Rice is simple, why is he Yaz’s only companion in the Hall of Fame? Clearly, Yastrzemski is the best player of the lot. It is not a close case. Miller and Armas trail behind everyone else, with Mike Greenwell not far ahead. The rest of the list, though, looks remarkably similar. It is tough to draw a line that includes Rice, but excludes Smith, Lynn, Evans, and Burks. So why Jim Rice?
The closest I have to an objective answer is RBI’s. That is the only stat where he really pulls ahead of the rest of the list. He trails Evans in home runs, his OBP is dead last of the main group, his OPS trails Smith and Burks, his OPS+ trails Lynn and Smith. Yet he is the Hall of Famer.
Let me throw it to the group. Why is Jim Rice in the Hall of Fame? Which of the folks in the chart above do you think should join him?