Circle of Greats Round 24 Results: One Big Schmidt-storm
In the view of many, Mike Schmidt was the greatest third baseman in major league history, and by an overwhelming consensus of the voters becomes the 24th player inducted into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats. More on Mike, and on the latest voting results, after the jump.
Many years ago Bill James used a harmonic mean formula to produce what he called the “power-speed number” to express, in statistical form, the degree to which particular hitters were good at producing both home runs and stolen bases. The harmonic mean formula creates a number that increases as each of two stats increase, but caps the result at no more than double the lower of the two stats. A hitter with a high harmonic mean of two stats has to be good at both, not just one or the other. We can use the harmonic mean method to combine baseball-reference’s WAR batting runs (Rbat) ad WAR fielding runs (Rfield) to identify guys who were great both at bat and in the field.
Only six men in MLB history with careers that are complete score a harmonic mean over 200 when combining Rbat and Rfield:
1. Barry Bonds 303.0
2. Willie Mays 298.0
3. Roberto Clemente 264.2
4. Carl Yastrzemski 259.4
5. Al Kaline 231.2
6. Mike Schmidt 206.0
Albert Pujols currently has an Rbat-Rfield harmonic mean of 221.3, although season Rfield numbers will sometimes fall into the negative range later in a player’s career, so we’ll have to see whether Albert can sustain that level through his later years.
Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews, arguably the two most valuable third basemen in MLB history, had very similar careers as hitters, with Schmidt’s maybe just a shade stronger:
Schmidt 10,062 PAs/.267 BA/.380 OBP/.527 SLG/147 OPS+
Matthews 10,100 PAs/.271 BA/.376 OBP/.509 SLG/143 OPS+
The biggest difference between the two on a career basis is that Matthews was a good fielder while Schmidt was a great fielder.
Both Schmidt and Mathews were somewhat unconventional batters in their era, being all-time great hitters with relatively low batting averages. Here is a list of the five highest career Rbat figures for players with BAs under .290, through 1989 — Schmidt’s last season in the majors:
1. Mike Schmidt 527 (.267 BA)
2. Eddie Mathews 498 (.271)
T3. Willie McCovey 485 (.270) and Harmon Killebrew 485 (.256)
5. Reggie Jackson 478 (.262)
That list is different through 2013. Those same five guys remain in the same order, but are now numbers four through eight instead of one through five. The top three are now:
1. Jim Thome 585 (.276)
2. Rickey Henderson 551 (.279)
3. Mark McGwire 544 (.263)
–In Round 24 of the Circle of Greats voting, Mike Schmidt appeared on over 90% of the ballots, one of the highest numbers we’ve seen.
–After Mike, the voting was widely and evenly dispersed, with 13 different players appearing on between 6 and 13 ballots.
–Craig Biggio’s support dipped below 10%, so he drops from three to two protected rounds.
–This half of the 1949 birth class produced not just Mike Schmidt as the inductee by an overwhelming margin, but also two new holdovers in Rick Reuschel and Ted Simmons. All eleven previous holdovers also continue on, so we’ll have a full thirteen holdovers going into the next round, including seven who will be on the bubble and three more with just two rounds of guaranteed eligibility.
As usual, you can check out the complete voting record for this past round at Google Docs. The link is here: COG 1949 Part 2 Vote Tally
If you would like to review the history of the COG voting, a spreadsheet summary of the voting is here: COG Vote Summary , with a summary of the raw vote totals on Sheet 1 and a summary of the percentage totals on Sheet 2.
The Circle of Greats membership thus far:
Cal Ripken, Jr.
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