Circle of Greats 1969 Results: Junior Prom-ptly Inducted

It was billed as a battle of the titans between two players who just turned old enough to join the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats (COG), Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mariano Rivera.  But Griffey proved strongest from early in the voting and becomes the 39th inductee in the COG.  More on Junior, and the voting, is available for you, but only if you prove that you want to read the rest of this entry by, well, clicking on “Read the rest of this entry”.

Most Position Player Wins Above Replacement (WAR, baseball-reference version), Age 26-27 Seasons Combined:
1. Babe Ruth (1921-1922) 19.2 WAR
2. Ken Griffey, Jr. (1996-1997) 18.72 WAR
3. Ron Santo (1966-1967) 18.65 WAR
4. Willie Mays (1957-1958) 18.5 WAR
5. George Brett (1979-1980) 18.04 WAR
6. Eddie Collins (1913-1914) 18.02 WAR


Most Regular Season Home Runs, Age 26-30 Seasons Combined:
1. Ken Griffey, Jr. (1996-2000) 249
2. Sammy Sosa (1995-1999) 241
3. Ryan Howard (2006-2010) 229
4. Alex Rodriguez (2002-2006) 223
5. Ralph Kiner (1949-1953) 215


Most Position Player Wins Above Replacement Through Age 27 Season, AL History:
1. Ty Cobb 68.8 WAR (baseball-reference version)
2. Mickey Mantle 67.4
3. Alex Rodriguez 63.3
4. Jimmie Foxx 62.4
5. Ken Griffey, Jr. 59.0
6. Tris Speaker 55.0
7. Eddie Collins 54.8
8. Babe Ruth 51.4
9. Rickey Henderson 50.1
10. Lou Gehrig 49.1
11. Al Kaline 48.9
12. Joe DiMaggio 48.8
13. George Brett 45.4
14. Ted Williams 45.1
15. Robin Yount 44.5

If you run this same list through age 29 seasons instead of age 27, Junior is still 8th all-time in the AL, as only Ruth, Collins and Speaker have nudged ahead of him.

Junior’s closest comparables through age 30 are the greatest players in history.  After age 30, his closest comparables might be guys like Tom Paciorek and Bill Robinson:

Griffey, age 31 season and after: 991 G, 114 OPS+, 7.5 WAR
Paciorek, age 31 season and after: 945 G, 110 OPS+, 9.1 WAR
Robinson, age 31 season and after: 950 G, 110 OPS+, 7.3 WAR

In addition to Griffey’s impressive showing in this round of voting, Mariano Rivera and Gaylord Perry also received impressive levels of support: Mo appearing on nearly 50% of the ballots and Perry on nearly 40%.

That didn’t leave a lot of room for others. Rick Reuschel fell one vote short of the level needed to remain on the ballot, as his return via the redemption vote route proved short-lived.  Four long-time holdovers with a cushion of guaranteed eligibility also failed to make the 10% vote threshold: Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Bobby Grich and Ron Santo.  Santo had only a two-round cushion, so he falls on to the bubble: another sub-10% showing next round would knock him off the ballot.  Biggio, Martinez and Grich still have some leeway, though less than before.

So with Reuschel falling off the holdovers list and Mariano joining it, the total number of holdovers remains stable at 15.  And with Reuschel gone but Santo joining the group of bubble boys, the number of players at immediate risk of falling off the ballot also remains steady at seven.

The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1969 Vote Tally.

The current vote summary for Circle of Greats voting rounds, now updated to include the 1969 round, is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with fuller details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round listed appears on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round listed appears on Sheet 2.

Here’s the Circle of Greats membership thus far, currently in order of date of birth, from earlier to later:
Phil Niekro
Carl Yastrzemski
Pete Rose
Ferguson Jenkins
Joe Morgan
Tom Seaver
Steve Carlton
Rod Carew
Jim Palmer
Reggie Jackson
Nolan Ryan
Johnny Bench
Carlton Fisk
Mike Schmidt
Bert Blyleven
George Brett
Gary Carter
Ozzie Smith
Robin Yount
Paul Molitor
Alan Trammell
Wade Boggs
Rickey Henderson
Tim Raines
Tony Gwynn
Cal Ripken
Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Barry Larkin
Barry Bonds
Tom Glavine
Greg Maddux
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Jeff Bagwell and Frank Thomas
Mike Piazza
Mike Mussina
Ken Griffey, Jr.

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17 Comments on "Circle of Greats 1969 Results: Junior Prom-ptly Inducted"

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Voomo Zanzibar

Congratulations to the man they call Junior.

Mariano falling short of 50% may prove deadly for his cause.
There seem to be enough voters here who dont seem to believe that a relief pitcher can be one of the top 120 players.
And the competition is about to get impossibly tough.
I do not see him getting elected until the weaker elections in the 1920s.
And without multiple rounds of him getting 4 holdovers (ala Grich), he may be joining Eckersley in purgatory.

I’m interested to see how Wilhelm does.

Let’s say Justin Tucker of the Ravens hits a few more 61-yard GW field goals in his career and somehow makes like 95% of his kicks the rest of his career. Probably not, just making an argument. He’d be the best kicker of all time, were that to happen. But would he be in the top 112 NFL players? What about Jan Stenerud, the only “pure” kicker in the HOF – is he in anybody’s top 100? 200? 300? What about Adam Vinatieri or Morten Andersen? I still may vote for Rivera someday because this isn’t an apples-apples comparison, but… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar

Well, as birtelcom demonstrated in the last thread (with math), the 3.3 WAR that Rivera averaged for 16 years was approx. 2 wins more than the AVERAGE closer over the same time frame.

That means that every year, for 16 years, the Yankees automatically had a 2-win advantage over (almost) every other club, because of a guy who pitched 70 out of the teams 1450 innings.

His numbers are so preposterous that I think our minds have a hard time grasping his true value.

And then there’s the 0.70 era in 141 postseason innings…

Voomo Zanzibar
Regarding the comparison to football kickers… Yes, if there was a guy who split the uprights at 95% for 16 years, was accurate from 60 yards, booted every kickoff out of the back of the endzone, and was a contributing part of 5 Super Bowl winners, yeah, that guy might crack the top 120. But that’s the point. That guy has never existed. And he never existed in MLB until the fella from Panama. Only Wilhelm is even in the same category of player from the relief position. But why compare to football? The equivalent in baseball would be the… Read more »
Artie Z.
I’ve been thinking about Rivera’s case. In looking at the top 70 in career saves (why top 70 – because it’s a round number and I get rid of Smoltz and I already have to deal with Eck no matter how I slice and dice), Rivera is way ahead on a per inning WAR basis. He’s at 4.4 WAR/100 IP, and three closest pitchers have less than half of his innings (Soria, Papelbon, and Bryan Harvey). Then comes Billy Wagner at 3.07 WAR/100 IP. It’s a quick recap for those not following the discussion – everyone following the discussion already… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar

Might defense have something to so with it?




Though, Wagner struck everybody out and Mo rarely induced solid contact. But it still feels good blame it on

“past a diving Jeter.”

Artie: Mariano vs. Wagner -as Voomo says, about a quarter-run difference per 9 in team defense. -another quarter-run difference for Mo as he faced tougher opposition (and he and Wagner’s careers almost perfectly coincided so we can make a direct comparison of their RA9opposition marks). 4.94 for Mo, 4.68 for Wagner. So Mo’s opposition, on a neutral field, would score a quarter-run more per 9. -way, way more RAR (runs above replacement) for Mo because of AL superiority and (I guess) facing DHs instead of pitchers. -park factors and leverage look really similar -Mo’s RA9 edge before these adjustments (2.38… Read more »
Can anyone shed some light on why Mo has so very many more replacement level runs than Billy Wagner? Part of it is extra IP for Rivera, so let’s take care of that by equalizing their innings. Since Wagner pitched only 903 innings, Mo’s replacement level runs (instead of 482 in almost 1300 IP) would be 482 x (903 IP/1283.2 IP) = 339. So assuming equal IP, Rivera would have 339 RAR, while Wagner has 240 for his career. That’s over 40% higher. I understand the AL is/was superior, but 40% better? Scrolling to the bottom of this page here… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar

I’m pretty sure it’s because Rivera’s replacement player would have been Hideki Irabu.

John Autin
bstar @14 — I can’t address Mariano’s outsized Rrep edge on Wagner, but for a tangent, here’s my pseudoscientific approach to the value issue as reflected by WAR: 1. Mariano’s average leverage index during his reliever seasons was 6% higher than Wagner’s, and his competition was somewhat tougher. Let’s say those things alone give him a 10% edge, per inning. 2. So if we break off a part of Mo’s career equal to Wagner’s IP and runs, Mo should earn about 10% more WAR for that same chunk of innings. So, if Wagner got 27.7 WAR, Mo would get maybe… Read more »
Thanks, John. Let me be clear: I in no way doubt the veracity of Mo’s WAR per inning edge over other closers or his career WAR total. I was merely trying to understand it and explain it. But I see my big error: the differing Rrep totals for Mo/Wagner aren’t reflecting the differing strengths of the two leagues. Those adjustments are embedded in B-Ref’s strength of opposition measure. I realized late last night that runs above replacement is simply WAR*10 (because 10 runs equals one win) before adding the leverage component for relievers. Mo: (480 RAR/10) = 48 WAR. Add… Read more »

There was a point in this round- I think it was when the 64th ballot was cast- when it was possible to see a scenario where we could have had as many as 10 players with exactly 7 votes apiece.

Which could conceivably have meant that a 7th ballot could have cost a total of 10 rounds of eligibility and knocked 4 players off of the ballot entirely. That’s probably never going to happen but I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar to this round happen in all but a couple of the next 10 rounds or so.

Dan Flan

Here’s a great article from The Onion that every Junior fan should read.