“It is by no means an embarrassment that Jim Rice goes into the Hall of Fame on Sunday,” opines WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane “But there are players with better careers that are still waiting…and Dwight Evans is one of them.” Though the full post is required reading, here’s a portion to pique your curiosity :
Decade of dominance argument for Rice? Well, Evans led all American League players in home runs and extra-base hits during the 1980s. And only Rickey Henderson walked more.
Are you still in the Rice camp? Slight edge? Okay, did I mention defense? Evans has eight Gold Gloves. Rice, as I was told over and over by Ned and Monty, eventually learned how to play The Wall. Any list of the, what, 20 best OF arms in baseball history has to have Evans on there. Rice was always a DH doing an okay impression of a left fielder (credit baseball-fever.com for this fact “ Rice played 34.4 percent of his games at DH). If Rice over Evans as an offensive player is Bush-Gore than Evans over Rice on defense is Reagan-Mondale. And this huge edge pretty much ends the debate.
Evans had lousy luck. Rice and Lynn took off before Evans could get going, and he spent the rest of his career trying to catch up. The media and the fans could never quite figure him out, and in fairness he was a tough case. No big career numbers (no on 400 homers, 2,500 hits or a .300 average). Great defensive OF, but who votes for those guys? And who knew what OPS was in 1984?
Jim Rice looks the part, I get it. No heavy lifting. A quick glance at the career numbers and you feel safe voting him in. But if Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer than I want Dick Allen in (57th all-time in career OPS, Rice is 148th). And what about Ron Santo? Albert Belle was a better hitter than Jim Rice. Tim Raines. Dale Murphy. Tommy Henrich. And my two favorites, Charlie Keller and Ted Simmons. All those guys should™ve had their day before Jim Rice had his turn.