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Jim Rice v. Frank Howard?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Patriot View Post
    He was drafted in the third round of the 1958 draft by the Philadelphia Warriors.
    Oh wow that interesting. Did Howard ever consider palying basketball on the side ala Gene Conley?
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


    • #32
      This is a real tough one. Howard and Rice had 2 distinctly different career arcs. Even though Howard was NL ROY in 1960, he had plenty of early struggles. he was a pretty unpolished player, struggling to fit into a championship/championship contending club. He struggled for playing time- the Dodgers were loaded with both veteran OF talent (Snider, Moon) and other young phenoms (TDavis, WDavis, Fairly). Howard was a poor outfielder at that time and he was a real work in progress with the bat- enormous power, but lacking in plate discipline and experience. Although he had several productive seasons with the Dodgers, he didn't become a truly outstanding hitter until after he went to DC.

      Rice, on the other hand, was a top rank hitter almost from the beginning. Forget OPS+ for a minute- he hit for average, he hit home runs, and he hit plenty of doubles and triples. Yes, he definitely was helped by Fenway, though that wasn't noticed quite so much then as now. Through his first 6 or 7 seasons as a regular he truly was one of the very most feared hitters in baseball.

      Howard got better over time. Part probably was just a general maturing process, and getting more and more experience. Perhaps he was better being out of the high pressure competitive environment in LA- I don't know. Howard definitely improved after moving to DC, but getting hooked up with Ted Williams probably helped him enormously. Howard had always been a free swinger- his walk rates during the first half of his career were similar to Rice's. In Howard's first year with Williams, 1969, his walks DOUBLED! Had Howard been together with Williams years earlier, who knows how formidable he would have been. Unfortunately, Howard was already 32 in 1969 and he was on the verge of his decline years.

      Rice didn't really get better over time. He got hurt in the early 80s and was never quite as good, though he was still a good hitter until his last 2 or 3 seasons.

      So, Rice a big hitter early, good hitter later. Howard, pretty good hitter early, big hitter later. Rice wasn't a burner but he had a lot more speed than Howard. He got plenty of doubles and triples- Frank, for all his power- and he had ENORMOUS power- hit few doubles and triples. Rice was a decent baserunner and became a proficient leftfielder, particularly in Boston. Howard was slow on the basepaths, slow in the field. He had limited range. He wasn't a terrible outfielder like Luzinski- but he was just adequate. Both guys hit into lots of double plays, particularly late in their careers. Both had realtively short careers for high level players, but Rice played in a lot more games, due to regular playing time early in his career.

      I see them as about equal. Rice was helped by his park more than was Howard, so that's a negative for him. Howard was a plodder on the bases and in the field- a negative for him. Rice may have been helped by other batters in his lineup, Howard had NO help after he moved to DC. Maybe that's a factor, maybe it's not.

      It's easy to say that Howard could have had the obviously better career had he played somewhere else early, ot gotten hooked up with a great hitting coach early. That may be true, But, if Rice hadn't hurt his wrist in the prime of his career, would he have continued to improve or hit at a continuously high level for another 5 or 6 seasons? Both are big what ifs.

      I do agree that Howard is a nearly forgotten/grossly underrated great/near great. In that way, he's a bit like the polar opposite of Rice, who got more pub than he deserved. But, Rice has suffered from a backlash- some deserved, and some over the top, in my opinion, and his repuation has suffered perhaps more than it deserves.

      I could rate one or the other a spot or 2 above the other, but that's about it. Based on what they achieved, overall, it's too close to call for me.
      Last edited by BigRon; 09-20-2010, 05:44 PM.


      • #33
        Williams talked about howard in the science of hitting. He said that guy had tremendous power but didn't have a good approach(hacking away at everything). williams would talk with him advising him to wait for his pitch instead of chasing pitches.

        In that year Frank howard doubled his walks from 50 to 100 or so and got his BA to a career high.
        I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.


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