Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Out of left field

So Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice are in the Hall of Fame. Henderson's one of those no-brainers, but Rice seemed destined to have the same fate as Andre Dawson or Tommy John or Bert Blyleven - exceptional players who didn't quite reach the top of the heap (at least in the minds of the baseball writers who do the voting).

Rice had good numbers, great numbers even, but he's always going to be one of those guys who, outside the Boston area, is a marginal choice. The real stat wizards name as his comparables some scary hitters, but only four of the top 10 named by baseball-reference.com are in the Hall of Fame, and I think you have to be an aficionado to know who they (Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, Billy Williams and Willie Stargell) are.

On the flip side, numbers aren't everything, right? Maybe, maybe not. That's one thing you can say for baseball: Numbers are king. I guess that makes Jim Rice a viscount or a minor duke.

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