Three former Boston Red Sox who should be in Cooperstown
By Drew Athans
Roger Clemens was my favorite pitcher when I was growing up in the 1980s, and now we move on to one of my favorite position players from when I was a kid: Dwight Evans.
Long before Mookie Betts, Evans spent nineteen years patrolling the massive right field of Fenway Park with Gold Glove defense, speed, and a rocket arm to go along with power from the plate. Evans is a player who has been hotly debated in recent years as deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown and especially based on who has gotten in before him (Harold Baines, anyone?), his induction should be a no-brainer.
First, the career numbers:
20 years, .272 BA, 385 HR, 1384 RBI, .370 OBP, .840 OPS, 3x All Star, 8x Gold Glove Award, 2x Silver Slugger, 1x AL HR leader, member of Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Contrast those numbers with the newest poster child for undeserving Hall of Famers, Harold Baines:
22 years, .289 BA, 384 HR, 1628 RBI, .356 OBP, .820 OPS, 6x All Star, 1x World Series champion, 1x Silver Slugger.
Their batting numbers are fairly similar although Baines compiled his over two more years than Evans and was primarily a DH while Evans played right field for his entire career. Evans’ eight Gold Gloves alone should push him over the top as well as the fact that during his career, Evans was considered one of the premier right fielders in the game. The knock against him was that he was a relatively late bloomer which probably hurt his overall numbers as he aged.
For one last comparison, consider these numbers from a contemporary of Evans:
16 years, .298 BA, 382 HR, 1451 RBI, .352 OBP, .854 OPS, 8x All Star, 1x AL MVP, 2x Silver Slugger, 3x AL HR leader, 2x AL RBI leader, member of Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Those hitting numbers are very similar to Evans but it’s the individual offensive accolades that pushed this player over the top. Have you guessed who it is? Not only was this player a contemporary of Evans, they were teammates for their entire careers. It’s none other than Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice.
Rice’s peak in the late 1970s/early 1980s was better than any stretch Evans had, culminating with his MVP award in 1978. However, he didn’t have the consistency of Evans and wasn’t nearly the defensive player, either.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that if Rice and Baines, among others, are enshrined in Cooperstown, why isn’t Evans? Using the criteria that are established now, there isn’t any rational argument for keeping him out. Remember, the Hall of Fame and analytics crowd set these rules up, not me.