Monday, April 12, 2010

Jim Rice is a genetic freak.

Now that Jim Rice is a permanent fixture on NESN's Red Sox Post-Game Show, we get to hear his take on hitting, fielding, and everything in between daily. Obviously, Jim Rice was an amazing ballplayer with a Hall of Fame plaque to prove it, but he's also quite the character.

Rice named The Young and the Restless as his favorite soap opera during his Hall of Fame induction speech last summer, something most men wouldn't be to keen to admit. I'll make no secret of my affection for Jim Rice: though his playing days ended just before I was born, his presence in Red Sox lore transcends generations.

That said, I disagree with some of the things he preaches, both as a hitting coach, and a commentator. In Moneyball Rice is described as ridiculing Scott Hatteburg for his patience at the plate, endorsing the [then] Red Sox idea that a walk with a man on base was selfish, that your duty was to hit the ball. Said Hatteburg: "Jim Rice hit like a genetic freak and he wanted everyone else to hit the way he did."

Of course, it makes sense that a hitting coach would have high expectations of his players, but it's absolutely insane to imagine any of them could replicate Rice. One of my only pet peeves with Rice is that he severely undervalues on-base percentage. He's said numerous times that walks are overrated. I beg to differ. First of all, a walk requires that the pitcher has thrown at least four pitches, while a hit requires just one. Making the opposing pitcher work harder is NEVER a bad thing, and a walk ensures that.

Also, a walk is JUST AS VALUABLE as a hit, as each one (a) avoids an out and (b) puts you on first base. This is all old news, but I just can't get over Jim Rice's cavalier attitude toward the base on balls.

Otherwise? I love him to death. Long live Jim Ed!


  1. Good post. I love Jim Rice too, but I think think he might have a bias against OBP and walks because his career OBP was .352 and never had more than 62 walks in a year. I guess he figures if he can make the HOF without those things then they aren't that important. Oh well...Jim Rice is still awesome.

  2. I'm very meh on Rice. As a person, Moneyball recounts what a douche he was, and it's not like that book is only about the 1980s or something. As a player, his peak was short and his overall value overrated because he didn't take a ton of walks or play decent defense.

    That being said, he's OK on the pregame and postgame shows. He's no Eck or Gammons though, and he's definitely among the weaker commentators they have, although still far ahead of Ken Macha.