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  • Jim Rice v. Frank Howard?

    When I make my LF rankings, I usually have these guys ranked consecutively. I'm personally of the opinion that Rice is overrated, while Howard is very underrated, but don't have a definite opinion of who in actuality is the better ballplayer (though I usually lean towards Howard because he is underrated and did not have Fenway helping his numbers) So I thought I'd open this up.
    41
    Jim Rice
    48.78%
    20
    Frank Howard
    51.22%
    21

  • #2
    Something I just want to mention about Howard is in "Ball Four," Bouton writes with great reverance about having to face Frank Howard. The only other instances in the book that I can remember Bouton using that kind of tone was for Harmon Killebrew and Carl Yastrzemski.

    Sorry for the biased statement, but I only mentioned it because I think its pretty well-known that many people consider Rice among the best hitters in baseball in the late 70s and early 80s.

    Comment


    • #3
      Similar players in some respects, scary players at the plate. Rice has fallen from favor with many, but nobody can deny that he wasn't a feared hitter at the time, home/ road splits or not. This is a tough one to call. Rice was more mobile than Howard on the basepaths, though he grounded into tons of double plays. Rice has a reputation as a bad fielder, but though never of Yaz quality in left, he improved as he went along, certainly became better in left than , say, Manny. On the other hand , Howard hit his monstrous homers in a pitcher's era. I'd give a slight edge to Rice overall, but it's important to note that Howard never had the protection in the lineup or overall lineups that Rice had around him in his peak years, which might tip it in Howard's favor- 2 hall of famers ( fisk and yaz) plus 2 players who arent hall of famers but had very good careers ( evans, lynn) and several other good players or guys who could at least hit the ball or at the very least hit homers (scott, burleson, hobson in a couple of years) so i can see howard winning this battle.

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      • #4
        Just think that Rice was a better overall player (not necessarily that Rice was better defensively in the OF, but also a better all-around hitter).
        Never confuse character with geography --- Red Smith
        Astros Daily

        Comment


        • #5
          Howard by a LOT. Howard was probably a better hitter than Killebrew. He was an absolute monster. He couldn't stay on the field, which is what kills his value, but when he was on there, he was great... when you consider that he played his career in Dodger Stadium and RFK, two big pitchers' parks, I'd have to say that Howard is one of the most underrated hitters of the last half century.

          Rice... What was Rice, really? Pretty good, absolutely, but you have to realize how much Fenway boosted him... if Howard was a Killebrew in left field, Rice was a proto-Ellis Burks. Not terribly awe inspiring.

          It's Howard by a MILE for me. If I'm doing positional rankings, Howard would be at LEAST ten spots ahead.

          And before anybody goes bringing up "How could you feel that way with their batting averages?", remember when and where they played. Howard's BA+ was 109; Rice's was 110. So they were essentially equal in that respect.
          Last edited by ElHalo; 01-16-2006, 10:05 AM.
          "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

          Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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          • #6
            Howard has always been a favorite of mine, so I'll go with him. He played in a somewhat tougher scoring era in two barks that are brutal for RHed hitters.
            Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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            • #7
              Rice was so incredible in the late '70s and early '80s. He was THE most feared hitter in the game. On that note, I'll take Mr. Cranky.
              I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a Hell of an Engineer!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DoubleX
                Something I just want to mention about Howard is in "Ball Four," Bouton writes with great reverance about having to face Frank Howard. The only other instances in the book that I can remember Bouton using that kind of tone was for Harmon Killebrew and Carl Yastrzemski.

                Sorry for the biased statement, but I only mentioned it because I think its pretty well-known that many people consider Rice among the best hitters in baseball in the late 70s and early 80s.
                I would think for a pitcher, being on the mound with Howard only 60' away would be rather a somewhat scary proposition. I wouldn't want to pitch to Howard from 2nd base.
                It Might Be? It Could Be?? It Is!

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                • #9
                  Howard by a healthy margin. The only reason Rice gets HOF support and Howard doesn't is because Rice played for the Red Sox and Howard had his best years in obscurity with the ill fated second version of the Washington Senators. If Frank Howard played in Fenway Park, he'd probably be one of the top 20 hitters of all time.

                  People love to talk about how Rice was the best hitter in the league 1977-1979. Well, Howard was the best hitter in the league 1968-1970 and was actually way better than Rice in context. Here are some raw numbers to look at:

                  Code:
                  year	playerID	nameLast	nameFirst	stint	team	lg	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	SB	CS	BB	SO	IBB	HBP	SH	SF	GIDP	AVG	OBP	SLG
                  1968	howarfr01	Howard	Frank	1	WS2	AL	158	598	79	164	28	3	44	106	0	0	54	141	12	6	0	5	13	.274	.338	.552
                  1969	howarfr01	Howard	Frank	1	WS2	AL	161	592	111	175	17	2	48	111	1	0	102	96	19	5	0	3	29	.296	.402	.574
                  1970	howarfr01	Howard	Frank	1	WS2	AL	161	566	90	160	15	1	44	126	1	2	132	125	29	2	0	6	23	.283	.416	.546
                  Code:
                  1977	riceji01	Rice	Jim	1	BOS	AL	160	644	104	206	29	15	39	114	5	4	53	120	10	8	0	5	21	.320	.376	.593
                  1978	riceji01	Rice	Jim	1	BOS	AL	163	677	121	213	25	15	46	139	7	5	58	126	7	5	1	5	15	.315	.370	.600
                  1979	riceji01	Rice	Jim	1	BOS	AL	158	619	117	201	39	6	39	130	9	4	57	97	4	4	0	8	16	.325	.381	.596
                  See that? The numbers look remarkably similar actually. But, Howard was doing that in the late 1960s, including 1968 which was even worse than the deadball era in terms of offense, in the pitcher's paradise that is RFK Stadium (just ask Jose Guillen). Indexing those stats to account for those things, Rice has an OPS+ 18 points lower (154 for Jim and 172 for Frank).

                  And even the park factors applied in OPS+ probably don't do Frank justice and don't penalize Jim enough, because get a load of these home/road splits:

                  Frank Howard-1968-1970

                  1968
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 158 598  79 164  28   3  44 106  54  12 141   6   0   5   0  13  13   0   0  .274  .338  .552
                  
                  Home   78 295  36  74  14   2  18  39  27   9  81   2   0   3   0   6   5   0   0  .251  .315  .495
                  Away   80 303  43  90  14   1  26  67  27   3  60   4   0   2   0   7   8   0   0  .297  .360  .607
                  1969
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 161 592 111 175  17   2  48 111 102  19  96   5   0   3   0  16  29   1   0  .296  .402  .574
                  
                  Home   81 290  56  88   7   0  27  62  58  12  42   1   0   1   0   7  13   1   0  .303  .420  .607
                  Away   80 302  55  87  10   2  21  49  44   7  54   4   0   2   0   9  16   0   0  .288  .384  .543
                  1970
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 161 566  90 160  15   1  44 126 132  29 125   2   0   6   0   8  23   1   2  .283  .416  .546
                  
                  Home   81 278  48  78  11   1  24  68  69  19  61   2   0   2   0   3  11   0   1  .281  .425  .586
                  Away   80 288  42  82   4   0  20  58  63  10  64   0   0   4   0   5  12   1   1  .285  .408  .507
                  Jim Rice-1977-1979

                  1977
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 160 644 104 206  29  15  39 114  53  10 120   8   0   5   0  11  21   5   4  .320  .376  .593
                  
                  Home   79 312  57 100  16   8  27  76  26   7  66   4   0   5   0   2  11   2   2  .321  .375  .683
                  Away   81 332  47 106  13   7  12  38  27   3  54   4   0   0   0   9  10   3   2  .319  .377  .509
                  1978
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 163 677 121 213  25  15  46 139  58   7 126   5   1   5   0  10  15   7   5  .315  .370  .600
                  
                  Home   82 335  69 121  12   7  28  75  32   5  53   2   0   4   0   3   4   4   3  .361  .416  .690
                  Away   81 342  52  92  13   8  18  64  26   2  73   3   1   1   0   7  11   3   2  .269  .325  .512
                  1979
                  Code:
                         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF  XI ROE GDP  SB  CS   AVG   OBP   SLG
                  Total 158 619 117 201  39   6  39 130  57   4  97   4   0   8   0  11  16   9   4  .325  .381  .596
                  
                  Home   79 301  69 111  19   4  27  79  32   3  41   2   0   6   0   5   8   5   0  .369  .425  .728
                  Away   79 318  48  90  20   2  12  51  25   1  56   2   0   2   0   6   8   4   4  .283  .337  .472
                  I rest my case. Jim Rice is one of the most overrated players of the past 50 years, Frank Howard is one of the most underrated.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 64Cards
                    I would think for a pitcher, being on the mound with Howard only 60' away would be rather a somewhat scary proposition. I wouldn't want to pitch to Howard from 2nd base.
                    Yeah, but it's really hard to throw a good fastball from second base.
                    I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a Hell of an Engineer!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 538280
                      I rest my case. Jim Rice is one of the most overrated players of the past 50 years, Frank Howard is one of the most underrated.
                      I remember when I was 13 and my buddies and I would sit around and debate ballplayers and stadiums we'd never seen play. Ah, but such are the pitfalls of only looking at columns of stats and such are the naive ways of youth.

                      By the way, you have an incredible vocabulary for your average 13-yr-old, a vernacular that comes off far older than most your age. When I was teaching 7th graders years ago, I'd have loved to have papers turned in that were written as well.
                      Never confuse character with geography --- Red Smith
                      Astros Daily

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        --Frank Howard was a guy who probably suffered more from the expanded strike zone of the 60s more than anyother player. He was on the verge of superstardom, but when his already huge strike zone got streched out even more. That combined with the huge pitchers advantage of Dodger Stadium severely disrupted his career (Washingon wasn't exacvtly a slugger's dream either). He probably is one of the top half dozen sluggers of all time in a normal environment. He would be scary indeed in the current one.
                        --That said, he was a terrible defender and baserunner, while Rice was more like average in both. I give Rice a slight edge, although its easy to imagine a different career path for Howard which would not only reverse that call, but make the question seem incredibly silly.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PopTop
                          By the way, you have an incredible vocabulary for your average 13-yr-old, a vernacular that comes off far older than most your age. When I was teaching 7th graders years ago, I'd have loved to have papers turned in that were written as well.

                          Thanks for the compliments. I come off as a much better writer about baseball because it interests me. In school, I don't write nearly as well.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What does everyone else think in the advantages Rice had with the guys batting around him, it seems like Howard was often ALMOST a one man team with the Senators? It's hard to think of a really good Washington hitter besides him, I mean, Epstein and McMullen were ok, but Rice had ok to great guys like Yaz, Boggs, Fisk, Evans, Lynn, Scott, Burleson, Armas, Hobson,etc in the lineup around him. Should batting orders/ teams be taken into consideration as well? Imagine what Howard might have done with more protection around him.
                            Last edited by oscargamblesfro; 01-16-2006, 02:26 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElHalo
                              Howard by a LOT. Howard was probably a better hitter than Killebrew. He was an absolute monster. He couldn't stay on the field, which is what kills his value, but when he was on there, he was great... when you consider that he played his career in Dodger Stadium and RFK, two big pitchers' parks, I'd have to say that Howard is one of the most underrated hitters of the last half century.

                              Rice... What was Rice, really? Pretty good, absolutely, but you have to realize how much Fenway boosted him... if Howard was a Killebrew in left field, Rice was a proto-Ellis Burks. Not terribly awe inspiring.

                              It's Howard by a MILE for me. If I'm doing positional rankings, Howard would be at LEAST ten spots ahead.

                              And before anybody goes bringing up "How could you feel that way with their batting averages?", remember when and where they played. Howard's BA+ was 109; Rice's was 110. So they were essentially equal in that respect.
                              i do think rice was quite a bit better than burks. burks was a good player, rice was indeed not an all time legend, but certainly a very good player.

                              Comment

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