Monday, March 27, 2017

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 9: Jim Rice

In this series, I look at players who played their entire Major League career with the Red Sox, as long as said Major League career lasted at least ten years.
I feel like I just wrote about Jim Rice recently.  It has actually been a little while longer than I thought but I do not have a ton of new information about him in this post.  This post is mostly about the fact that Rice spent his entire playing career with the Red Sox.  He has also done a lot of work with the team in the years since his playing career.
Rice was the 15th overall pick in the 1971 draft.  He was the first true superstar selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the draft, which had only been around since 1965 (though Ken Brett and Billy Conigliaro had their moments).  He skyrocketed through their system and was able to make his Major League debut in the 1974 season.  He did not show a whole lot in his 24 game stint, but did manage to hit his first home run.
The Red Sox in 1975 were a revelation and a big part of their success was their "Gold Dust Twins" in the outfield, the rookie duo of Rice and Fred Lynn.  Lynn was the better all-around player and ended up winning both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP award.  Rice was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year and third in the MVP vote.  He ended up hitting .309/.350/.491 with 22 home runs and 10 RBIs.  Unfortunately, a broken arm late in the season shelved him for the playoffs.  Boston might have won the World Series if Rice had been healthy.  His numbers declined a bit in 1976, likely due to lingering injury issues.
From 1977 through 1979, Rice was undoubtedly the most dangerous power hitter in the game.  He led the league in home runs (39) and slugging (.593) in 1977 while hitting .320.  In 1978 he won the MVP by leading the league in hits (213), triples (15), home runs (46), RBIs (139), slugging (.600), and total bases (406) while hitting .315 and helped lead Boston to a one-game playoff for the postseason.  He had numbers similar to his 1977 season in 1979.  It was a truly impressive three-year run.
His numbers declined for a few years after that, but he remained a very productive offensive force.  He would still have the occasional terrific season, such as 1983 when he led the league in home runs (39), RBIs (122), and total bases (344).  He was an All Star from 1983 through 1986.  But after his 1986 season, his numbers declined significantly and he retired at the age of just 36 in 1989.  Rice was named Red Sox captain in 1985 until his retirement.
After his playing career ended, Rice remained in Boston, serving a couple of seasons as a hitting coach, and also working as an analyst for the New England Sports Network.  Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.  His number 14 was retired by the Red Sox that same year.

No comments:

Post a Comment