COG Round 65 Results: Jack Be Nimble, and Quick Into the Circle

The most important single figure in American sports history was also one of the greatest ever at playing the game of baseball. “Faster than you can say Jack Robinson” (a phrase dating back to the 18th century), Jackie Robinson becomes the 65th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats. More on Robinson and the voting, after the jump.

Most (Non-Pitching) Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, Baseball-Reference Version) Over the First Seven Seasons of a Major League Career:
1. Ted Williams 63.4
2. Albert Pujols 54.7
3. Mickey Mantle 52.2
4. Wade Boggs 51.5
5. Willie Mays 50.9
6. Jackie Robinson 50.7
7. Barry Bonds 50.1
8. Joe DiMaggio 48.7
9. Stan Musial 48.4
10. Arky Vaughan 48.0

Jackie Robinson played second base for only five seasons, but nevertheless the four top WAR seasons by a second baseman over the last 85 years (1930-2014) have been:

Joe Morgan (1975), 10.9
Jackie Robinson (1951), 9.7
Joe Morgan (1976) and Jackie Robinson (1949), 9.6 each

Robinson moved to left field for 1953 and 1954, his age 34 and 35 seasons. Among all National Leaguers who played at least 50% of their games in left over those two seasons, the WAR leaders were:

1. Jackie Robinson 10.6
2. Monte Irvin 7.3
3. Ralph Kiner 5.7
4. Sid Gordon 4.9
5. Jim Greengrass 4.1

Robinson retired after the 1956 season, his age 37 season. Here are the best final seasons by a non-pitcher, in terms of WAR, by an MLB player whose career ended voluntarily (i.e., not because he died and not because he was banned from the league):

1. Jackie Robinson 4.5
T2. Roy Cullenbine and Bill Joyce 4.3
4. Will Clark 4.0

Jackie started in the majors as a star, left as a star, and was a star throughout, at positions all over the diamond. Jackie, Pete Rose and Gregg Jefferies are the only men to play at least 150 career games at first base, and second base, and third base and in the outfield — but unlike Rose and Jefferies, who were below-average defensive infielders, Jackie was above average defensively at all four positions, according to Baseball-Reference’s Total Zone numbers.

Although 282 men have played in more National League regular season games than Jackie since the World Series began, only five men have played in more World Series games as a National Leaguer.


Notes on this round’s voting:

–73 ballots were cast this round, the most since our eleventh round of balloting, 54 rounds ago.

–Jackie appeared on 67 ballots. Only Greg Maddux, all the way back in Round 3, has received more votes in a single round.

–On the other end of the ballot, the two relief pitcher holdovers, Hoyt Wilhelm and Dennis Eckersley, were separated by only one vote, but that one made all the difference. Wilhelm appeared on seven ballots, just below the 10% threshold, and thus falls off the ballot going forward, while Eckersley appeared on eight ballots, just enough to remain on the ballot for another round at least. Wilhelm supporters will need to try to get him back on the ballot via future redemption rounds.

–A push by some voters to get Ryne Sandberg up to the 25% level, which would give him an extra round of eligibility to add to his current three, fell just short.

–With Jackie elected in his first appearance on the ballot, no one other newcomer making an impact, and Wilhelm falling off the ballot the holdover list will drop from 13 this round to 12 next round.

The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1919 Part 2 Vote Tally.

The vote summary for recent Circle of Greats voting rounds is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round appear on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round appear on Sheet 2.

A spreadsheet listing the full membership to date of the Circle of Greats, along with some of their stats, is here: Circle of Greats Membership . You can also find that same link any time by clicking on “Circle of Greats” at the top of the High Heats Stats home page.


COG Round 65 Results: Jack Be Nimble, and Quick Into the Circle — 12 Comments

      • For relief pitchers there is Mariano and Hoyt and nobody else.
        Frankly it is unfair to every other reliever that they have to be compared to Rivera.

        He is Babe Ruth.
        But so is Wilhelm.

        Relief pitcher WAR through 1972 (Hoyt’s final season)
        Pitchers with at least 80% of games in relief:

        50.1 … Wilhelm
        27.3 … Stu Miller
        24.7 … Lindy McDaniel (28.7 total)
        21.3 … Roy Face
        21.1 … Don McMahon (22.7)
        19.0 … Ron Perranoski
        17.5 … Ted Wilks
        17.1 … Al Worthington
        16.9 … Dick Hall
        16.7 … Bob Miller (17.9)
        16.7 … Ted Abernathy
        16.1 … Dick Radatz
        15.1 … Johnny Murphy
        15.1 … Bill Henry

        And I will restate the obvious, using caps lock for emphasis:

        HE DID IT UNTIL HE WAS 49 !

        Throw in the entire modern era of relief specialists and Hoyt is still in a different category.
        Since 1901:

        56.6 … The Sandman
        50.1 … Old Sarge
        41.8 … The Goose
        31.2 … Hiller
        29.4 … Lee Smith
        28.7 … Lindy McDaniel
        28.0 … Trevor the Hoff
        27.7 … Lefty Wagner
        27.3 … Stu Miller
        26.2 … Kenton Tekulve

        Wilhelm was nearly twice as valuable as the 10th greatest relief pitcher.

        • Just for comparison, you could say that

          Cy Young
          Walter Johnson and
          Roger Clemens

          were the starter’s equivalent of Mo, Hoyt, and Goose.



          Though the drop-off isn’t as severe after that.
          10th place is Knucksie at 97.4

          The equivalent gap to Wilhelm-Tekulve would be
          Walter Johnson to Curt Schilling (80.7, in 26th place)

  1. A few other notes on the voting:

    In addition to recording the 2nd highest number of votes to date, Robinson also had the 2nd-greatest margin of victory; here are the top 5:

    Musial +50 (over McCovey)
    J Robinson + 49 (Sandberg)
    R Johnson +45 (Schilling)
    Schmidt +42 (Smoltz)
    Spahn +40 (McCovey)

    Robinson had the 3rd highest percentage of votes to date; here’s everyone who’s reached 90% or more:

    Musial 94.1%
    Brett 93.4%
    J Robinson 91.7%
    R Johnson 91.6%
    Maddux 90.6%
    Schmidt 90.1%

    I know there are those who would like to see the elite talents garner 100% of the vote, but the above list hints at why it doesn’t matter much to me: a given player’s final total is heavily influenced by the specific composition of a given round’s ballot, and isn’t so much about the making fine distinctions among the upper levels of talent. Note that Aaron didn’t break 90%, nor Mays, nor Mantle…but is that because we collectively think those 3 are all lesser players than, say George Brett? I doubt it.

    To complement the above list, here are the inductees who received less than 40% of the vote in their winning round:

    Walker 39.5%
    Whitaker 39.4%
    Marichal 36.6%
    Santo 34.4%

    The 1929 ballot (Santo’s year) was the most closely contested election we’ve had so far; the top 9 finishers have all made into the CoG by now:

    Santo 22
    Banks 21
    Marichal 21
    Grich 20
    Koufax 18
    Whitaker 18
    McCovey 16
    Smoltz 14
    E Martinez 10

    • Great stuff, David. I particularly like that last list, which puts into perspective the long-run implications of the COG ballots — it’s not just about the immediate election but about who gets in over the long run.

    • I remember thinking how odd it was that it took Santo that long since he was such a clear choice to most of us but those ballots were all so stacked in those years. Maybe we should be a little less hard on the BBWAA on not getting around to him. Still, you would have liked to see him get in before his death.

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