Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Recent Ballot

As with everyone, I am not surprised Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice made the HOF. Henderson was one of the greatest players in the history of the game, and Rice's recent surge of support finally carried him into the HOF...though, after initially supporting his candidacy, I began to believe he was not worthy of the Hall.

Why? My guru, Bill James actually went from being against Rice to being in favor...did it have anything to do with working as an assistant the Boston Red Sox? Only he truly knows, but, there is one thing I would like to point out.

Jose Cruz, of the Houston Astros, had better numbers away from the Astrodome than Rice did away from Fenway Park.

Today, we look seriously at Ballpark Factors, but in the 1980s and before, they weren't focused on. Everyone knew the Astrodome was where hitters' numbers went to die, but no one measured the effect. And today, with the additional construction done at Fenway Park, as well as the creation of even smaller band boxes like Citizens Bank and Coors Field (due to its altitude), Fenway is more neutral than it used to be.

But look at these career numbers, and then look at the splits.

1974-89 Jim Rice
  • 2452 Hits, 8225 ABs, .298 BA
  • 382 HRs, 1451 RBIs, .502 Slugging Pct.
1970-88 Jose Cruz
  • 2251 Hits, 7917 ABs, .284 BA
  • 165 HRs, 1077 RBIs, .420 Slugging Pct.
Based on these basic numbers, Rice was a better player than Cruz. But let's look at the Home/Away splits

  • Home: .320 BA, 208 HRs, 802 RBIs, Slugging Pct. .546
  • Away: .277 BA, 174 HRs, 649 RBIs, Slugging Pct. .459
  • Home: .289 BA, 59 HR, 528 RBI Slugging Pct. .418
  • Away: .280 BA, 106 HR, 548 RBI Slugging Pct. .422
Still looks in Rice's advantage, but once we factor in the run difference between the NL and AL during this time, they are remarkably similar offensive players.

I'm not saying Jose Cruz belongs in the HOF, but I am saying that Rice's numbers aren't as impressive as they appear.

Finally...I wonder if the baseball writers have to make their ballots known...could we please find out why 28 people left Rickey's name off the ballot?

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