Should Jim Rice be elected into the Hall of Fame in 2009, his final year on the ballot?
Once again, Jim Ed Rice will have to be satisfied with having been considered one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Rice only gained 72.2% of the needed 75% of the votes (16 votes shy) to become a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is hope, however. Rice has been on the ballot for 14 years and each year has gained more votes than the previous year. Also, only 20 players have gained more than 70% but less than 75% of the vote to get into the hall, and each of those players was eventually voted in. The bad news is that next year is Rice’s 15th and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. It stands to reason that Rice will get voted in next year, but it shouldn’t have come to this.
During his 16 seasons in the majors, Rice was one of the most feared hitters in the game. Now that he awaits his entrance into the Hall and to baseball immortality, Jim Rice has become a GW Bush of the baseball world. Voters and critics are polarized by him, either thinking he definitely should or should not be in the Hall. Convincing arguments have been made for both sides.
Jim Rice never reached those “automatic” Hall of Fame statistics (pre-steroid era “automatic” statistics anyway) of 3,000 hits, 400 home runs, 2,000 RBI’s, or a .300 batting average. Over 16 seasons in the majors, he did accumulate an impressive 2,452 hits, 382 home runs, 1451 RBI’s, and a .298 batting average. Rice was voted in the top 5 for the MVP award 6 times, winning it once. In 1978, he was first in home runs and RBI’s and third in average, just missing the prestigious Triple Crown (being first in each category). Rice was elected to 8 All-Star games. He is the only player in major league history to have 3 consecutive seasons hitting 200+ hits and 39+ home runs.
Check out the 10 players most similar to Jim Rice (based on statistics) on www.baseball-reference.com. Four of the 10 are Hall of Famers (Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, Billy Williams, and Willie Stargel). A great aspect of Rice’s career too is that he got stronger as the season went on. His numbers rose steadily month to month through September/October throughout his playing days. That is the kind of production a team needs from its star players.
Though Rice is remembered for his offensive gifts, he was an adequate left fielder for the Red Sox. He ended his career with a .980 fielding percentage as he came to peace with the Green Monster over the years.
There is some legitimate criticism of Rice’s career. For 6-7 years, he was one of the most dominant offensive players in the game. After that time, his numbers did start to decline to baseball mediocrity though he remained feared. He was also much more productive when playing at home (.320/208/802) than on the road (.277/174/649). Pesky’s Poll says that being more comfortable at Fenway than at Yankee Stadium just means you’re a civilized human being, and this should not be held against you.
Statistically, Jim Rice is not a first ballot Hall of Famer, but his career should be based on much more. Pesky’s Poll has done its homework and offers you some other considerations.
My contact in Japan had an impressive story to relay. “In 1983, a survey was conducted throughout all of Japan. When asked who they would want to protect them if Godzilla were to invade their town, 67% voted for Jim Rice. Bruce Lee was a distant second with 17%.”
A friend in the Dominican Republic convinced us further. “My daughter was dating a real scum bag -- someone you would cross the street to avoid. The more I complained to my daughter and the more I threatened this guy, the more they saw of each other. So one day I pull this guy aside. I tell him ‘My friend Jim Rice is coming to stay for awhile. I gave him a job to do. He’s going to escort you on all the dates you take my daughter on.’ That was the last we ever saw of him, and life has been great ever since. Funny thing is I’ve never even met Jim Rice. I do still keep a picture of him above my door, though, to ward away evil.”
Statistics make you a player, but stories like these make you a legend. Pesky’s Poll has determined that Jim Rice should be in baseball’s Hall of Fame (at the very least there should be a spot in the Hall of Fame for people who broke bats by taking check swings). Positive actions are in motion and ready to take over in 2009. What does the rest of Red Sox Nation think? Answer the poll below to determine the future of Mr. Rice