Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jim Rice vs. Dwight Evans

For the Jim Rice vs Dwight Evans debate; Jim Rice's best season ('78) saw him go .315/.370/.600 with 46 HR and 139 RBI. One of Evans' best seasons ('82, though '81 in fewer games was better and '84 was about as good) saw him go .292/.402/.534 with 32 HR and 104 RBI. He also had 37 doubles vs Rice's 25, though Rice had the triples edge 15 to 7. The stike-outs are almost the same at 125(DE) and 126(JR) but Evans had twice as many walks 112 vs 58. OPS(on-base plus slugging) of .970 vs .936. One point of OBP is worth more than one point of Slugging, so their offensive contributions weren't that far apart. Just as an example, if those extra 54 walks that Evans had had been singles, he would have hit .350/.402/.572. I think that would have made it clear that their seasons were similar.

Rice had the better bat by a bit, but gave all that back on defense (Rice was only average that year (one of the few times he was even that good in his career) and Evans was a Gold Glover with a very good arm). Evans had three years of this quality to Rice's two, about equal numbers of good years, and many more years were he (Evans) actually contributed to his team. Rice's 46 HR led the league in '78, but Evans' 22 HR led the league in '81. Rice led the league in OPS once; Evans did it twice.

The career WARP3 numbers are 84.3 for Rice and 121.7 for Evans; "peak" WARP3 of 56.2 for Rice and 64.3 for Evans (he just had more top years); for JAWS score of 70.3 for Rice (below average (~85) for the HOF and pretty much in line with Jimmy Sheckford (who?)) and 93 for Evans (above average (~90) for HOF right fielders).

Rice had so many RBI largely as a byproduct of how many men were on base when he came up (thank you Wade Boggs and also Evans himself). Also, the only guy to lead the league in RBI during any of Rice's seasons in the HOF is Eddie Murray, so apparently being an RBI man in those days doesn't really mean that much to the HOF voters (the other never got even close to being elected).
Plus Rice was bad in the playoffs (while Evans was pretty darn good).
Rice also hit .277/.330/.459 on the road for his career.
(When I saw this I immediately went to look up Jay Gibbons' stats, as that line looked familiar. The year Jay drove in 100 runs ('03) because the O's sucked and so he was the clean-up hitter, he hit .277/.330/.456. Jim Rice on the road was basically Jay Gibbons from '03, empty RBI totals and all).

While he played Rice hit the ball well. He also made a lot of outs. (Only one player made more outs than he did from '75-'86) He grounded into over 50 more DPs than the second closest player during that time. Rice was so "feared", that Managers intentionally walked him less than 48 other players between 1974 and 1989, the span of Rice's career.

I don't even dislike Jim Rice or anything. I wish the O's had a hitter that good in left. The main problem I have is that several more deserving players aren't in who should be, and several more players who were better than or comparable to Rice shouldn’t get in but now may (which dilutes the HOF) or won't (which is really unfair to them). It's mostly a consistency issue, though there are some players in the HOF who are definitely worse than Rice, but two wrongs don't make a right, as they say.

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