Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
Yes, in a way. He was regarded as the best hitter for a couple of years in the late '70s but not necessarily the best player. He did lead the AL in VORP (value over replacement level) in 1978 and finished 2nd in 1977 & 1979.
Was he the best player on his team?
Yes & No. Fred Lynn was the superior player but injuries frequently kept him out of the lineup. In the '80s Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, and Rice flip flopped being the best player.
Was he the best player in baseball at his position?
Yes. In the 1980s he was third behind Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines.
Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
The Red Sox won the AL East in 1975 & 1986. In 1977 they just finished 2.5 out and in 1978..well Bucky Dent ruined that one.
Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?
Not really. 1986 was the end of the line. Played poorly in '87 and '88.
Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the HOF?
No. In fact I believe he is not the best at his position who is not in the HOF since I rank him behind Tim Raines, Albert Belle, and maybe Roy White.
Are most players who have comparable statistics in the HOF?
Using the Baseball-Reference link four of his best comps are in the HOF. The six that are not are Galarraga, Ellis Burks, Moises Alou, and Luis Gonzalez.
Do the players statistics meet HOF standards?
Yes. Again, using the Baseball-Reference HOF monitor he meets the standards.
Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
Yes. His home/road splits are dramatic and his defensive value is inflated due to playing in Fenway (see assists for Ramirez, Manny). His OPS+ was 128 for his career though, and that is right on par for HOFers.
Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the HOF?
How many MVP type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
Rice finished in the top 5 six times and won the award in 1978.
How many All-Star type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?
Rice made the squad eight times. I think that meets the standard for HOF.
If this man was the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
The years he was the best (1977, 1978, 1983) they missed by 2.5 games, Bucky Dent, and a lot of games. I think the answer to this question is yes.
What impact did this player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
From what I can find he was somewhat surly in his interviews but is most remembered for carrying a child out of the stands and to safety after being hit w/ a foul ball. Was also credited as being one of the guys who "played the game the right way." Sounds a bit like Frank Thomas, no?
I don't think this screams yes or no. He's definitely on the fence. If I had a vote I'd probably lean towards no based on the fact that he is not one of the three best players at his position not in the Hall of Fame. Voters should be responsible for keeping the Hall of Fame an elite group. I don't think electing Jim Rice enhances the Hall of Fame in any way.
Jim Rice was a very good player and in some seasons a great player but he would not get my vote. Sorry, Jim.