Friday, January 25, 2008

Jim Rice and the Hall of Fame

I have not read all of the debate. But if we are evaluating Rice on RBIs, we know that they are affected by opportunities. His high total can partly reflect this. To me, that raises the question of how well he hit with runners on base (ROB) and with runners in scoring position (RISP). Maybe someone has mentioned these stats already. According to retrosheet, with ROB, his AVG-SLG were .305 & .509. With RISP he had .308 & .501. These are very close to his overall stats of .298 & .502. So he did well, but his hitting in these RBI situations was not especially better than his normal stats. So we should probably evaluate him on them.

His SLG was 27% above the league average. That is good enough for 62nd place all-time for players with 5000+ PAs. For an outfielder playing in Fenway who was not a great fielder, that does not seem too impressive. He is 41st among outfielders. But things look worse once you realize that his AVG-SLG in home games was .320 & .546 while on the road they were only .277 & .459. He was really helped by Fenway.

Getting back to RBIs, you have to remember that he hit into alot of DPs. I looked at the RBI-to-GDP ratio of all players from 1946 through 2005 with 5000+ PAs. Of 274 right handed batters, Rice ranked only 203rd. His ratio was 4.6 while the average for that group of righthanded hitters was 5.59. So yes, Rice had alot of RBIs, but at a very high cost.