Monday, January 12, 2009
Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice Both Cooperstown-Bound
Several years ago, Bill James ranked Rice as the 27th best left fielder in history -- two spots behind Roy White -- and called him "probably the most overrated player of the last thirty years.'' Rice never won a Gold Glove, stole 58 bases (in 92 attempts) in his career, and ranks sixth on the all-time grounded-into-double-plays list. His home-road splits also provide fodder for his critics: Rice posted a career .920 on-base slugging percentage at Fenway Park, and a much more pedestrian .789 on the road. While his peak was impressive, he fell of a cliff statistically at age 34 and was out of the game by 36. Some baseball observers believe that former Boston outfielder Dwight Evans has a stronger Hall of Fame case than Rice does. Evans topped out with 10.4 percent of the vote and dropped off the ballot after three years.Those dreadful road splits (.320/.374/.546 at home, .277/.330/.459 on the road) affected every part of his offense, too. Jay Jaffe's Sports Illustrated article today outlines exactly why Rice is such a tepid candidate: his JAWS score is less than half of Henderson's, and a little more than half of Tim Raines.
Another sad note in this year's balloting was Bert Blyleven's failure to advance his vote totals, receiving 62.7% of the vote, increasing only a fraction of a percentage point from last year's 61.9%. Astonishingly, Henderson only received 94.8% of the votes; what were those other 5.2% thinking?
Update: Henderson's imaginary plaque.
Update 2: Without providing evidence, I have a feeling that the Rev is right: the current wave of Bostonalia drove the Rice bid.
Equally disturbing is the fact that Tim Raines hasn't breezed in already, and in fact the vast majority of voters believe he isn't worthy. To me..and indeed, to anyone capable of reading his baseball reference page, Raines is a shoo-in.