The Cobra (vs Jim Rice)
Yeah, he was cool.
That’s what they called him, “The Cobra.”
He was Dave Parker. And he was cool. As a kid growing up, I always liked Dave Parker. He was big and strong and fast and great. He had a rocket for an arm. Dave Parker was one of the non-Yankee players I always liked.
When the Yankees were out of the playoffs in 1979, I found myself rooting for the Pirates. I loved their uniforms. I loved their old time hats. I loved how players got stars on their hats when they helped the team win.
The Pirates were a cool team. I loved watching them defeat the Orioles in the 1979 World Series. I loved watching Willie Stargell, Bill Madlock, and Omar Moreno… But mostly I liked #39, Dave Parker.
I liked Parker so much that we named our Boy Scout troop “The Cobras” and had a cobra patch sewn on the sleeve of our shirts.
Yeah, Dave Parker.
I can’t believe it’s been this long…
It’s been eleven years since Jim Rice was voted into the Hall-of-Fame. Rice got in in 2009.
When Rice was announced, I was shocked, surprised, and a bit confused. I thought he was one of the weaker candidates to get in. Sure, Rice was a heck of a hitter, but he didn’t play good defense and I didn’t think his years of greatness lasted long enough for him to get in.
I also remember thinking, Jim Rice is in, but not Dave Parker… How can that be?
The MLB Network is airing a program that highlights Dave Parker’s life and career. I recently watched it. The show brought back some good memories. When the Pirates won it all in 1979, I was eleven years old. Ballplayers back then were heroes. Parker was a ballplayer. That made him a hero. He was cool. I didn’t follow all of the other stuff about him – the contract, the tension with the Pittsburgh fans, etc….
No, Dave Parker was just a great ballplayer to me.
I enjoyed that special. It told the story of Dave Parker and his career in a very balanced way, but after watching it, and even as I watched it, I started to think again – why is Jim Rice in the Hall-of-Fame and not Dave Parker?
I figured I’d compare the two players here to see who is more deserving of the Hall…
(I’m rooting for Parker.)
Dave Parker played for 19 years – from 1973 to 1991.
Jim Rice played for 16 years – from 1974 to 1989.
Dave Parker was a power hitting outfielder who stared for the Pirates. Some considered him the most feared hitter in the league.
Jim Rice was a power hitting outfielder who stared for the Red Sox. Some considered him the most feared hitter in the league.
Since his career was a bit longer, Dave Parker beats Jim Rice in games played 2,466 to 2,089.
In his career, Parker scored 1,272 runs. Jim Rice scored 1,249 runs. Parker edges out Rice in this category.
Parker accumulated 2,712 hits. Rice had only 2,452.
Parker had 526 doubles. Rice had 373.
But Jim Rice did out homer Parker 382 to 339. (It’s interesting that neither of these players reached 400 homers, but baseball was different then – homers were hit much less often.)
Jim Rice had four 30+ homer seasons. Parker had three.
Rice topped 20 homers eleven times. Parker did it nine times.
(Jim Rice was, unquestionably the better home run hitter.)
Parker, though, out RBI’d Rice 1,493 to 1,451. (Parker had four 100 RBI seasons. Jim Rice had eight.)
One part of Parker’s game that Rice didn’t have was the ability to steal bases. Dave Parker stole 154 bases. Rice, only 58.
Parker had a lifetime .290 batting average. Rice, again, was slightly better with .298.
Just looking at these numbers seems to indicate that, while the players were similar, Rice was the more proficient power hitter who also had a better lifetime batting average. It’s safe to say that he was the better hitter.
Career Triple Slash Comparison:
Parker = .290/.339/.471 .810 OPS
Rice = .298/.352/.502 .854 OPS
Jim Rice won won MVP. So did Parker. Interestingly, they both won their awards in 1978.
Jim Rice was an eight time All-Star. Parker, a seven time All-Star.
Dave Parker won three Silver Sluggers. Rice, only two.
Dave Parker won three Gold Gloves. Rice didn’t win any. (Parker was a superior defender, at least by reputation. Jim Rice was not.)
Jim Rice led the American League in the following categories:
Games (1 time), Hits (1), Home Runs (3), RBI (2), Total Bases (4), Slugging Pct (2).
Dave Parker led the National League in the following categories:
Games (1), Hits (1), Doubles (2), RBI (1), Total Bases (3), Slugging Pct. (2).
These two stars were extremely similar in so many ways…
Here’s another difference –
Jim Rice played for one team, the Red Sox.
Dave Parker played for six teams: The Pirates (11 years), Reds (4 years), A’s (2), Brewers (1), Angels & Toronto (he split his last season between those two teams).
Dave Parker appeared in the post season in five seasons (1974, 1975, 1979, 1988, 1989)
Dave Parker was on two World Championship teams.
Jim Rice appeared in the post season in two seasons 1986 and 1988 (although the 1975 Red Sox did go to the World Series).
Jim Rice was on no World Championship teams.
WAR and JAWS:
Jim Rice’s lifetime WAR was 47.7 (338th all-time)
Dave Parker’s lifetime WAR was 40.1 (514th all-time)
Jim Rice’s JAWS was 42.1. Parker’s 38.7.
Jim Rice’s WAR7 was 36.4, Parker’s 37.4.
Most Similar Players:
Of the ten players most similar to Dave Parker, four are in the Hall-of-Fame. These are Tony Perez, Billy Williams, Harold Baines, and Andre Dawson.
Of the ten players most similar to Jim Rice, three are in the Hall-of-Fame. These are Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, and Billy Williams. (Interestingly, the player who ranks 9th in most similar to Jim Rice is Dave Parker but Rice does not appear on Parker’s list.)
For a time there, even as a Yankees fan, I loved Dave Parker. Watching the MLB special brought back good memories of the Cobra. Without diving into the stats, I thought he was every bit the player Jim Rice was…and more.
He wasn’t. Dave Parker isn’t in the Hall-of-Fame, and that’s probably the correct call. He’s 39th on the All-Time JAWS list for right field.
I wanted this to be an article where I proved that Parker should go into the Hall because Jim Rice is there, but Rice (the 27th best left fielder ever and a borderline candidate himself) was a superior player to Dave Parker.
In the end, Dave Parker might not belong in THE Hall-of-Fame, but he’ll always be in my Hall-of-Fame.