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Who was the better Red Sox left fielder, Jim Rice or Manny Ramirez?
Continuing in our ongoing, organic Who Was Better? series here at the Sports Q, today we’ve got the best righthanded hitter I’ve ever seen (Manny) against a Hall of Famer who had the best individual season I’ve ever seen (Jim Rice, 1978). To the stat comparison!
Ramirez (2001-2008): .312/.411/.588, 999 OPS, 155 adjusted OPS, 274 homers, 868 RBIs, 1,232 hits, 6 Silver Slugger awards, 8 All-Star appearances, one World Series MVP award, 33.2 WAR, no Gold Gloves.
Rice (1974-1989): .298/.352/.502, .854 OPS, 128 adjusted OPS, 382 homers, 1,451 RBIs, 2,,452 hits, 2 Silver Slugger awards, 8 All-Star appearances, one MVP award, 47.7 WAR, no Gold Gloves though he played The Wall well.
Now, I suspect this one will come down to how you feel about Manny, his history with performance-enhancing drugs, and whether you found his antics and quirks fun or annoying. I loved watching him hit, and I miss him almost as much as I miss watching Pedro Martinez at the peak of his powers. I’m a Manny apologist for life, and I will not apologize for that.
Loved Rice, too – 1978 was my first season as a fan, and watching him that season, when he hit 46 home runs and totaled 406 total bases, was like watching a real-life superhero every day. He was a more professional presence on a daily basis than Manny (though Manny did work very hard on his hitting), and his peak was something to behold. From 1977-79, he averaged 41 homers and 128 RBIs per season while slashing .320/.376/.596. His adjusted OPS in that stretch was 153, meaning he was 53 percent above the average hitter.
That’s also my reason for choosing Manny. Even though Rice was a Red Sox lifer and essentially played twice as long here as Manny, he had a couple tough seasons at the end (he hit .234 with 3 homers in 56 games in ’89). And when he was at his best during that three-year stretch, he was no more than the equal to what Ramirez (career 155 adjusted OPS with the Sox) over his entire 7.5 seasons with the Sox.
Manny was definitely more exasperating. He wasn’t as trustworthy, or as competent defensively. And the PED stuff is keeping him from joining Rice in Cooperstown. But if I’m asking you to choose between Rice and Manny, I must choose too. And I’m going with Manny. For better or worse – mostly better – there’s never been another like him.
What does everyone else think? Who was the better Red Sox left fielder, Jim Rice or Manny Ramirez? I’ll hear you in the comments.