Is the Hall of Fame a celebration of longevity or is it a celebration of the game's greatest players? From 1975 to 1986 Jim Rice was the most feared hitter in baseball. Who did opposing pitchers fear more, Rice or Molitor? Rice or Yount? Rice or Perez? Rice or Puckett? Did any of these Hall of Famers have opposing teams use four outfielders against them?
Maybe Jim Rice should have stuck around as a mediocre player for a few years so he could pad his numbers. Maybe he should have went the Palmeiro route and take some steroids so he could extend his career.
People arguing against Rice claim he doesn't have the career numbers that other Hall of Famers have. Here are some numbers he does have (I copied this from Gordon Edes article that was written this summer -- sorry there's no link):
Sox vice president Dick Bresciani is sending to all voters a statistical study that makes a strong case that Rice was the dominant hitter of his day. Rather than dwelling on Rice's total numbers, Bresciani compared him with his peers during three periods: 1975-84, 1976-85, and 1977-86. Rice's numbers over a 12-year span (1975-86) were the most dominating in the American League; he led in 12 categories and was top five in two others. A closer look at Bresciani's numbers:
In that 12-year period, Rice led the league in go-ahead RBIs (325), slugging (.520), hits (2,145), runs (1,098), home runs (350), RBIs (1,276), total bases (3,670) and outfield assists (125).
Including National League sluggers, he was first in five of the 12 offensive categories, second in three others.
Twenty-five players have hit 300 homers and batted .300 in a 10-year span, and of them only Rice has been excluded from the Hall.
Rice finished with 382 home runs and a career average of .298. Seventeen players who have hit at least 350 homers and hit for a .290 average or better are in the Hall.
Rice is the only player in major league history with three consecutive seasons of 35-plus homers and 200-plus hits.