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Monday afternoon, and more than 20 years after his career ended, Jim Rice was finally elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. He became only the third player to ever be elected on his last try, joining Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975). He received barely enough to be elected, appearing on just 412 of 539 total ballots for 76.4% of the vote, surpassing the required 75%.
Congratulations to Jim Rice, as he was tortured for far too long about the process. But, does Rice really deserve to have his plaque hanging in Cooperstown? Was he a Hall of Fame player during his career? After a long hard look at his numbers, a few SoB staff writers are split.
Personally, I think Rice in the end was a Hall of Famer. I don’t think he’s one of the first ballot variety by any means, trust me. He finished with a career batting average below .300 (.298) and did not reach 400 HRs (382).
But, Rice was dominant for a long stretch of his career. He was an eight-time all-star, and helped carry a sorry, sad franchise (the Red Sox) to the World Series twice during his career (in 1975 and 1986).
Also, Rice had 11 seasons with more than 20 home runs and did not play in the Steroid Era. Think about that. Roid up Rice and he probably finishes with 450 HRs and is a no-brainer for Cooperstown. I think he was voted in because he didn’t play in that era. The recent attention around steroids in baseball brought people like Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco down, and brought Rice up.
The best reason for Jim Rice, in my book, was the election of former Giants first baseman Orlando Cepeda, who was voted to the Hall in 1999. Their careers are almost the same. Instead of writing out the numbers…let me show you their careers, side by side:
It’s incredible how close they are as players. If Cepeda is in, why not Rice? Both players did not play in the Steroid Era, so their numbers are natural and aren’t tainted.
In the same breath, anyone with similar numbers in the steroid era should not be in. Players like Andres Galaragga, Ellis Burks, and Moises Alou had comparable careers to Cepeda and Rice, but may have been steroid users at points in their career. Sorry, not good enough for me.
What did other SoB writers say…Should Rice have been voted in?
Pete claims Rice was voted in on a “sympathy vote.”
“I also would have voted for Rice solely because he was the most feared hitter of his time, though his peak was probably shorter than most in the Hall. However, he did what he did in the era before PEDs, so he probably was helped by the reaction against them. McGwire would never appear on my ballot for the same reason.”
“Jim Rice was not the most feared hitter in his era, his intentional walks do not support that. And he was nothing special outside of Fenway.”
In other news, the entire SoB staff unanimously supported former Sox OF Rickey Henderson’s election into the Hall of Fame. DUH!