Jim Rice redux, then a question or two
"Here's what Rob Neyer, the ESPN writer, has to say about Rice's candidacy:
"Was Rice the "dominant slugger of his time"? Of course he wasn't. In Rice's time, slugger Mike Schmidt hit 548 home runs and won three MVP Awards. In Rice's time, Reggie Jackson hit 563 home runs. Rice hit 382 home runs.
"He did amass 400 total bases in one season, which is impressive. Roger Maris once hit 61 home runs in one season. Rice did hit 35 homers with 200 hits in three straight seasons, which is impressive. It's also only three seasons. And in all the rest of his career, Rice topped 35 homers exactly once more and never did get 200 hits in another season. So really, it seems that Rice's entire case, his time as a dominant hitter, rests solely on three seasons....
"Rice's supporters like to cite the elections of Perez and (especially) Orlando Cepeda, but those were mistakes. Seems to me if your case relies upon repeating mistakes, you might ought to take a new tack."
FIrst, to point out an error in Neyer's numbers (and it is nice to see that we're just talking numbers here, and not Rice's inability to warm up to reporters after games): Rice had 200 hits in four seasons, 1986 was the fourth.
Then, since we're sticking to numbers - let's take Schmidt's .267 average and Reggie's .262 average and weigh it against Rice's .298 average (same as Mantle's average, btw). Or Reggie's six 100 RBI seasons against Rice eight 100 RBI seasons. Reggie and Schmidt hit .300 once a piece (Schmidt's was the strike shortened season, 1981) against Rice's seven .300 seasons. Reggie's lifetime slugging percentage (to show the depths of my dweebiness) was .490. Very good, but not as good as Rice's .502. Reggie and Schmidt never had 200 hits in a season (unless you add their numbers together...) and as I pointed out Rice accomplished that feat four times. In fact, Reggie never had a 400tb season and only three 300 tb seasons. Rice had six 300 tb seasons.
Now, for all I know Neyer's entire article also included a move to get Schmidt and Jackson out of the Hall of Fame. By comparing ALL their numbers to Rice, his case for that would seem pretty solid.
TOny Perez is a mistake I think, but if his numbers don't rate, then a lot of other guys who are in there shouldn't be. JOhnny Bench, maybe. Yogi Berra. Credit for being catchers?
Orlando Cepeda kept up very good numbers overall and when he was great he put up better stats than some of his teammates and when your teammates include Willie Mays, that's not easy. Hard to say, but like Rice, I don't think it's a mistake to allow him in.
Now a question - assuming the steriod scandal fades - Clemens is guaranteed a first ballot entrance in the HOF, right? LOng career and a lot of it was spent at the top of his game - great career stats, etc. But what about Maddux? Also a long career, great career stats. Not many 20 game seasons. Not a power pitcher. And what about Glavine? Also a long career, 300 wins, five 20 game seasons (to Maddux's two). Not a flashy pitcher.
If A-Rod and Manny Ramirez stopped playing today, would they make the HOF? SHould they? A-Rod has the 500 home runs and the .300 lifetime average. Neither Reggie nor Schmidt ever had a year like any of A-Rod's top five years. In fact, if you had a young A-Rod and a young Schmidt vying for the same 3rd base job, Schmidt would ride the bench. Same goes for Manny and Reggie going after the last spot in the outfield.