Not Just Friends of Frisch – Part 3

Regular HHS contributor “no statistician but” (or nsb) continues his series examining where the Hall of Fame cutoff line really lies with his look at marginal Hall of Famers. In Part 3, nsb takes a look at the middle and left side of the infield, and 13 selected Hall of Fame inductees at those positions who are outside of the Hall of Stats. More after the jump

Where do you draw the line? I mean, YOU.

The next players for consideration among those forty-eight cited in earlier posts—who belong to no outlying group and appear in the Hall of Fame but not the Hall of Stats— are in a certain respect central to the issue of evaluation, and to my mind they present a much greater challenge for the evaluator than do catchers and first basemen.

These players man the other three other infield positions, in other words, and many of them have light bats and heavy gloves. As in the last post, I’m providing for comparison each player’s Hall of Stats rating followed by his career plate appearances, OPS+, WAR, and dWAR. In addition, I’ve appended as a “Small Hall” reference the name of and figures for the player at each position ranked sixth by JAWS.

Second Basemen

JAWS 6th: Rod Carew 158—10550 PA; 131 OPS+; 81.3 WAR; -1.7 dWAR

Third Baseman

JAWS 6th: Chipper Jones170—10614 PA;141 OPS+; 85.2 WAR; -0.9 dWAR

Shortstops

JAWS 6th: Arky Vaughan 151—7722 PA; 136 OPS+; 72.9 WAR; 12.0 dWAR

The challenge, as before, is to argue for (or against) the presence in the Hall of Fame of any or all of the thirteen players listed here with a HOS rating of below 100. One argument is disqualified: Saying that Richard Roe doesn’t belong because John Doe, who was better, has been passed over for inclusion fails on every count to meet the terms of the challenge. The merits or demerits of the listed players, comparisons to other HOFers, the use of more detailed statistics, historical and biographical information—these and similar bases for argumentation are all welcome. Later on I’ll weigh in with some observations about what I think might be at issue regarding some of the players.

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Bob Eno (epm)
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There’s a huge amount to discuss here, not only because of the number of players at issue, but because we’re dealing with three different positions. I’ve been reading Mike H’s book (and recent update) on players who meet the Hall criteria using his CAWS system, which calculates each candidate’s worth by weighting his ten best seasons (by Win Shares) at 80% and the remainder of his career at 20% (I hope I have that right!), one of many reasonable ways to approach the problem. Mike’s lists provide a lot of context for where the Hall threshold lies. For position players,… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

Just want to throw something out for discussion that we talked about a while back, which I think is highly relevant to this particular group—the reliability of fielding stats, particularly those of earlier-in-the-20th Century players. Context was different–equipment was far worse, field conditions spottier, hitters put the ball in play more. I wonder even if scorers were seeing the game the way modern scorers would.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Mike (L — we’re in danger of confusion on the Mike Front): I think this is a really interesting question, and it has three components: the stats collected; the conditions of play; the judgment of scorers — all considered over time. As I understand it, the basic fielding stats collected remained pretty stable from early baseball through the 20th century: total chances (assists + putouts) and errors. I believe the quality of collection of these stats was pretty high from the start. Fielding performance was initially seen as equal in importance to hitting, with pitching less so early box score… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

That’s very good, Bob. I want to think about how that would impact comparisons between players essentially from different eras. I suppose if the backbone of the comparison were the counting stats (maybe the old fashioned one) you’d get a reasonably good metric. I happened to look at Maranville’s 1914 Boston Braves–of the 548 runs they gave up, 105 were unearned. Other NL teams: Giants 576/121, Dodgers 618/190, Cardinals, 540/163, Pirates 541/119, Cubs 648/230!, Phillies 676/206, Reds 653/200.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
It would take a while to get a fix on how those unearned run rates relate to defensive quality. UER is one indicator, but pitchers play a role in that, whereas fielders are presumably fully responsible for their errors, and in team terms, errors as a percentage of chances. More to the point, the number of chances relate to high/low range factor, which should correlate in some way with Defensive Efficiency, or percent of BiP translating to outs. The 1914 Cubs gave up a lot of UER (though ten fewer than you’ve noted here), and also committed a lot of… Read more »
Mike H
Guest
Thanks to Bob for posting the CAWS scores for second basemen – I appreciate that. Jackie Robinson was mentioned as falling just below the CAWS HOF benchmark for second basemen of CAWS = 260. This is true but Jackie meets a different CAWS HOF benchmark (“a short but great career”). In my research, I have discovered that since 1900 there appear to have been only 12 position players who have played in fewer than 1800 games but achieved a CAWS score of 250 – and ALL ARE IN THE HOF (except Dick Allen). (Thanks to Paul for pointing out that… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
The short-career benchmark is an interesting feature that gives the CAWS system valuable flexibility. It’s interesting to compare one of the second basemen on our list, Joe Gordon, with an outfielder on the “short career” list: Earl Averill. Averill played 1668 games, while Gordon, who lost two years to the War, played 1566, so both qualify for “short career” consideration. Averill scores 271 in the CAWS system, as Mike indicates. Gordon, by my calculation (using Baseball Gauge stats), scores only 235, based on a 241 CWS and 232 CV. So Win Shares-based CAWS puts Averill over the CAWS 270 threshold… Read more »
Doug
Guest

For the record, Joe Gordon is not profiled here because he makes the grade in the Hall of Stats, and by a comfortable margin with a 118 rating. That is likely due to Gordon’s impressive 37.2 WAA, far ahead of Averill at 22.8 and only an 88 Hall of Stats rating.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Right. I completely forgot for a moment how nsb generated his lists. I should have named Adam Darowski.

mosc
Guest

This describes one of several reasons why win-shares any anything based on it should be tossed.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
mosc, I wouldn’t toss any reasonable system, including traditional stats and, of course, Win Shares. They provide data from different perspectives and, as long as we keep alert to systematic biases, can help stats improve. I do feel Win Shares dramatically under-represents the impact of fielding, but Mike, who is based in the WS system, has several times pointed out the from his perspective WAR dramatically overstates fielding. As long as we’re grounded in one or the other we can’t really assess what the dispute is about and the degree to which each system may capture something the other misses.… Read more »
mosc
Guest
Well I agree with you Bob. I’d love to write down some of the statistical strength and weaknesses with the WAR system. It’s just too much time to put it all down and make sure it’s coherent. In summary, WAA is good at normalizing the sample size except for individual factors. It’s bad when the individual components are correlated. That can be extremely hard to remove. Good pitchers don’t want to go to offensive parks and good offensive players don’t want to go to pitching parks. A pitcher’s pitches are not equally easy or hard to field given the same… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
It’s been pretty quiet on this thread. Here are some thoughts on second basemen; if they’re outrageous enough, perhaps it will liven things up. Of the seven second basemen we’re considering, two stand out for fielding superiority: Maz and Fox. There’s a fairly clear cut among Hall-eligible members of this list between five dWAR leaders at 20-24 dWAR, and everyone else, at 16.3 and below (Utley’s not yet eligible). Like SS, second is a position of enough defensive importance that teams make trade-offs of offense for defense, and among the five defensive leaders here, Maz and Fox are the two… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Tangentially, I think the most surprising element of the stats I posted is how poorly Biggio does — really poorly: his WAR rate is well behind Chuck Knoblauch’s. It doesn’t get better with WWA+ either (even though the ‘+’ adds back a lot of WAA Biggio gave up in his late career pursuit of 3000 hits). The Hall of Stats likes him (127), and so do CAWS and JAWS, mostly because of his best season totals — the ones that induced Bill James to herald Biggio as the great successor to sliced bread (a judgment he later toned down, if… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Bob, Here’s age 27-32, 1893-2018, OPS+, Middle Infielders, 2000+ PA’s 1 Rogers Hornsby 187 1923 1928 2 Nap Lajoie…… 169 1902 1907 3 Honus Wagner 168 1901 1906 4 Joe Morgan…. 155 1971 1976 5 Eddie Collins.. 144 1914 1919 6 Jackie Robinson 141 1948 1951 7 Robinson Cano 138 2010 2015 8 Craig Biggio… 135 1993 1998 Biggs is in pretty fair company here stretching it 2 years back to 1993. I believe James indicated he was better than Griffey. But, even WAR gives him credit in 1997 (9.4 – second only to Walker among all position players in… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
RE: Knoblauch and Biggio They were only three years apart in age (actually 2.5, but 3 in “baseball ages”). Both players tooled around at more important defensive positions in their youth (Knoblauch at short, Biggio as a full-time catcher) before settling in at second, then moving to the outfield as older players (Knoblauch due to the yips); both had a fair amount of positional flexibility, let’s say. Both are small players – under 6′, not too brawny. So the comparison is good. But the apples-to-apples comparison quickly becomes apples-to-crabapples when you include a VERY long decline phase for one player,… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
To work my final point into an analogy I just thought of, let’s say you and I run a race; we decide to run until we get tired. We start at the same time. You come out guns blazing and you toast me. You finish in four minutes. I finish in five minutes (these are not remotely realistic, at least for me; Bob, for all I know, you were a world-class miler). After that five-minute mile, something I couldn’t even do in high school, I quit. However, you’ve started your second mile, so you decide to keep going. You finish… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Doom, Re “Really, the way to do it would be to compare our speeds to a hypothetical, non-zero baseline of a below-average runner, to account for both of us running FAST at first, and me running slower-than-slow the second mile, while your second mile was fast” For that matter, why not do the comparison by using an average “runner” – you know 81-win players versus 50-win players? Since most ML GM’s will hopefully dump below average players (kind of like you sub-par casual joggers having no business competing in a track event at the highest level) , by comparing to… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Paul, your prime=100% approach is certainly one of many valid ways to look at the Hall. CAWS takes a prime=80% approach. Other people may take other percents. It’s not as though there were an actual right answer. Yours has the virtue of being extremely simple to apply.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Well, we’ve had this general argument many times, Doom, and I do appreciate your point. For starters, I’d want to note that I’m not at all saying that WAR/500PA gives you an answer as to who had the better career. I like it as a starting point; obviously, longevity counts. If you want to use WAR or WS as the first cut that’s fine too, but if you do a full assessment you’re going to have to deal with what the rate stat shows at some point, because everything a player does on the field matters, no matter what age… Read more »
Mike H
Guest

Going way out on a limb, Bob wrote: “But by my reckoning here, Biggio is really not Hallworthy.”

Forget all about our “modern” fancy stats – any player who collects 3000 hits at the major league level is Hallworthy – and deserves induction on the first ballot.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Mike, I don’t have any automatic qualifying numbers and you’re not going to be able to convince me that Palmeiro belongs in the Hall (and I suspect you’ll have a tough time convincing Doom that Rose belongs), but Hall criteria are up for grabs, as Bill James illustrated so entertainingly years ago. Our disagreements are what makes discussion interesting.

And, as I pointed out to Doom, after saying that by my reckoning Biggio isn’t Hallworthy, I was hoping I’d made clear that this meant my “reckoning here” couldn’t be the last word.

Mike H
Guest
Bob, I assume we are talking here only about whether players have “HOF numbers” – achieved on the field of play – and not about bans or PED issues which are clearly another story. And it is interesting to debate whether “borderline players” (according to the numbers) deserve to be in the Hall (as we are doing in this thread). And using “creative stats” and other considerations to do this is fine. But players like Pete Rose and Craig Biggio and Rafael Palmeiro are not borderline players according to the numbers – all clearly have HOF numbers (as do a… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Your point’s well taken, Mike, and I’ll withdraw mine concerning Palmeiro and Rose. But I would want to consider larger issue that Biggio’s case points to, but does not exemplify (because I believe Biggio does belong in the Hall). Biggio accumulated 3000 hits, but it was at cost: (1) throughout his career his offensive contributions were usually balanced by indifferent to poor defense; (2) over about 30-40% of his career his contributions were below average, costing his team wins. Now, if we place on one side of the Hall scale his outstanding decade of offense and on the other his… Read more »
mosc
Guest
I really don’t like throwing around a phrase like “creative stats”. It’s not appropriate. A hit is itself relatively arbitrary. Did the fielder make an “error” or was it by your own credit? If there’s a guy on first and you’d be safe at first yourself but the guy on first doesn’t make it to second before the throw, that may or may not be a “hit” depending on a lot of subjective criteria that doesn’t really relate to the outcome of the play. 3000 “hits” is still a historical complexity too because the number of games has varied, seasons… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

On the other hand, you can get more hits if the other guy doesn’t pitch on Yom Kippur.

Mike H
Guest

mosc,

I do not see anything in your note that would change my view that any player who produces 3000 hits is a first-vote Hall of Famer (bans and PEDs aside). Can you suggest any player who has 3000 hits who would not satisfy almost any other HOF criteria?

CursedClevelander
Guest
Mike, I think that currently all 32 players who have reached 3,000 hits were very good offensive players, and they probably all belong in the Hall. You can quibble about a few – Lou Brock has certainly been talked about quite a bit over the lifetime of this website – but for the most part they all fit the bill. But I think 3,000 hits isn’t a great criteria because it’s very possible for a player to reach that bar and not be anywhere near HoF quality. Slap a few more seasons onto Doc Cramer’s career – have him come… Read more »
Mike H
Guest

Now you are really reaching. It is not possible for a player to reach 3000 hits and be “mediocre.” History has proven that to be true. Any player who reaches 3000 hits is a Hall of Famer. I cannot imagine it otherwise. “what-ifs” do not count – only reality counts.

CursedClevelander
Guest

Mike, why is it implausible for another player like Cramer to pop up except getting just 10 or so more hits a year? Or an Omar Vizquel type player who gets just 5 more hits a year? Vizquel was not mediocre, but his hitting was, and he ended up very close. This isn’t some incredibly out there scenario.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Mike, I would agree that it’s not possible for a player to reach 3000 hits and be mediocre. Certainly none has. But “better than mediocre” is not the standard for the Hall. In your book, you calculate Lou Brock as barely crossing the Hall threshold, with a CAWS score of 285, only 5 points above the minimum for his position. That is the Win Shares-based view. Consider Brock’s WAR-based numbers — let’s compare him with an outfielder CAWS and the BBWAA sees as nowhere near Hall status, Dale Murphy: WAR (fWAR)…WAR/500PA…Peak7…Best10…OPS+…..dWAR…Career 45.3 (43.2)…………2.0…………..29.8……….39.7……109……..-16.3……2.2………Lou Brock 46.5 (44.3)…………2.6…………..37.2……….47.1……121……….-6.8……1.8………Dale Murphy Note that I’ve… Read more »
Mike H
Guest
Bob, Well said. Your argument is that it is possible to accumulate 3000 hits and still fall below what would be considered “accepted HOF numbers” by many. And I would agree with your point. I am thinking of Ichiro as another possible candidate here. Having said that, I would say that I would definitely vote for any player who has 3000 hits for the Hall of Fame – just as I would vote for any position player with 400 career win shares or a core value of 300 or a pitcher with 300 career win shares or a core value… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Mike, Bill James’s Hall insight was to capture the fact and consequences of there being no single set of Hall standards. The Hall has been around 80+ years, and we’re not going to change that — at least, I hope not: I’m sure the standards the “authorities” designated would not be mine. (If they let me make the decisions, I’m ok with it.) So I see the point of the discussions here as crystallizing the varieties of positions that baseball obsessives like us adopt with regard to what Hallworthiness means and how that should determine its membership. You and I… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Now that discussion is beginning on second basemen (although not really on nsb’s question so much as the way my comment about Biggio has annoyed people), I’m adding the comparable list of third basemen. These are listed according to CAWS assessment, but the numbers are WAR-based, as before (OPS+ being a control stat). Again, the numbers in parentheses are ranks according to WAR/500PA, which, in fairness, I should not that Doom objects to as a distortion of WAR. Players not in the Hall are denoted by X (and there are many, 3B being a famously underrepresented position), and the two… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I need to add a name to the third base list. In consulting Mike’s updated list for 2018, I failed to notice that Frank “Home Run” Baker’s name had been dropped, as were some other “Dead Ball Era” players. He belongs in the 7th rank, just below Ron Santo, and his WAR-based stats are these:

WAR..WAR/500PA…Peak7..OPS+…dWAR…Career
..62.8………4.7…………45.5…..135…….9.6……..1.3…………….Frank Baker (3, with others moving down)

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Alex Gordon set the KC record for being hit by pitch. And manager Ned Yost quipped that he never got hit in his career, because he was too easy an out.
He had 640 PA.
Wondered what the record might be.
A lot more than 640:

3664 … Mark Lemke
3229 … Bill Bergen
2324 … Mickey Witek
2069 … Herm Winningham
1920 … Tom Hutton
1646 … Scott Livingstone
1643 … Rob Andrews
1494 … Jim Norris
1435 … Coaker Triplett
1393 … Bobby Brown
1344 … Wes Ferrell
1324 … Bullet Joe Bush

Wes Ferrell, a pitcher, the only good hitter in the top 11.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Lemke had another 257 PA in the post-season… and didnt get hit then, either.

Mike L
Guest

I suppose we can draw the inference that none of these folks were sufficiently feared that pitchers had to go inside to keep them from extending their arms?

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Certainly nobody was afraid of Lamke. But still, Lemke probably saw 15,000 pitches. And not one of them missed badly enough to hit him. There’s some luck involved there.

Paul E
Guest

Voomo
Good to see that Gordon has retained some skill or another. Here’s OPS+ LF/RF, 60% G , age 32-34…the bottom 8
RK… Player……………….OPS+………PA
10 Dan Gladden .. 85… 1541
11 Gino Cimoli 85…. 1258
12 Juan Pierre 82…. 1884
13 Jack Tobin 82…. 1097
14 Vernon Wells 81…. 1249
15 Alex Gordon 80…. 1615
16 Lance Richbourg 80…. 1027
17 Vince Coleman 71…. 1071

Artie Z.
Guest
While he was hit by pitch 7 times early in his career, Ruben Sierra went 5652 PAs without being hit (his 1991-2006 seasons or 1991-end of his career). He had a 100 OPS+ during those years. Game logs in 1990 show he was hit on September 4th, so we can add another 112 PAs from September 5th through the end of the 1990 season. He was hit in his first plate appearance on 9/4/90, so we can add another 3 PAs. I’m not sure if 5767 PAs is the longest streak without being hit by a pitch, but there are… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Artie, You’ve found the winner. Eddie Murray seems to be second with 4038 PA, from his final PA on July 8, 1990 through the end of his career in 1997. During that period, Murray had an OPS+ close to 110 (estimating the rest of 1990, when he got red hot in the second half — .361 BA — and had the best season OPS+ figure of his career, 159, before slipping to 103 for his remaining seasons).

no statistician but
Guest
To all and sundry (with a special greeting to Mike H, as a new and welcome fellow contributor to the nonsense): I’ve been in the process of moving this week, and at any age, much less mine, its an exhausting endeavor, so I haven’t contributed the way I probably would have in normal circumstances, especially since this post is my project. Here’s what I expected to happen in my absence that didn’t, or hasn’t so far re the infielders: Arguments for or against this or that individual player. You can only go so far, it seems to me, with beating… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
nsb, Mike H has already started responses to your comment below, but here’s another. I agree that Aparicio played an historic role in the revival of the stolen base, though, as Mike’s comment pointed out, not quite as dramatically as it may have seemed at the time. A lot of Aparicio’s profile in theft was the product of the press’s presentation of the ’59 Go-Go Sox, who were, indeed, a great story (anyone displacing the Yankees would have been at that point). It was only in ’59 that Aparicio moved from the league leader in a sluggish SB period to… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I’d like to respond to nsb’s query regarding third basemen, his challenge being to argue for or against the Hall members who fail to meet Hall of Stats criteria: Pie Traynor and George Kell. I’m having a hard time imagining good arguments for either. Both were good hitters and minimally capable fielders, but “good hitter” has to be defined in terms of the standard of the time: batting average. Traynor has an exceptionally good lifetime batting average, .320. However, Traynor played in a high-average era: his top average (1930) was .366 — great right? — which was good for 9th… Read more »
Mike H
Guest
In speaking of Luis Aparicio, nsb stated “he rejuvenated the stolen base as a tactical weapon.” I beg to differ. The player who rejuvenated the stolen base as a weapon was Willie Mays (the greatest all-around player in history) – just one of his many accomplishments. In 1956, Mays stole 40 bases. When was the last time prior to that that anyone stole 40 bases? He followed that with 38 in 1957, 31 in ’58 and 27 in ’59 (more than Mantle’s 21). Aparicio was just one of a number of players who “followed Willie’s lead.”
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
This is an interesting issue with an outcome that seems to me unclear. Mays stole 40 bases in 1956 and led the NL, while Aparicio, a rookie, led the AL with 21, which shows how low SB totals had fallen. But they hadn’t fallen for long. The answer to the question of the last time prior to Mays when soeone had 40 SB is 1944, when Snuffy Stirnweiss had 55; George Case had stolen 61 the year before. But, more to the point, a number of players had totals close to Mays’s more recently: e.g., Jackie Robinson, 37, in 1949,… Read more »
Doug
Guest
Stolen base leaders tend to be concentrated among a limited number of players, certainly much more so than other offensive categories. These are the players since 1901 to lead their league in SB for three or more seasons consecutively. NL Bob Bescher, 1909-12, 4 leading seasons overall Max Carey, 1915-18, 1922-25, 10 seasons Kiki Cuyler, 1928-30, 4 seasons Bill Bruton, 1953-55, 3 seasons Willie Mays, 1956-59, 4 seasons Maury Wills, 1960-65, 6 seasons Lou Brock, 1966-69, 1971-74, 8 seasons Tim Raines, 1981-84, 4 seasons Vince Coleman, 1985-90, 6 seasons Tony Womack, 1997-99, 3 seasons Jose Reyes, 2005-07, 3 seasons Michael… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Doug, I think your list suggests that players with streaks of stolen base titles fall into three main categories (with borderline cases). There are some terrific all around players who included speed on the basepaths in a more extensive tool kit of outstanding skills: e.g., Mays, Cobb, Henderson. There are players who were a notch lower in general quality, but whose skills as stolen base threats magnified their strong abilities to boost them into Hall territory: e.g., Minoso, Lofton, Raines. And there are the true stolen-base specialists, whose strings of SB titles are what identified them as players, some even… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
“Eddie” is definitely the name with the highest walk rate. Beyond Yost, Joost and Stanky, you’ve got Collins and Lake. Mathews and Murray weren’t OBP specialists, but both have good walk rates. Heck, even Eddie Robinson drew his fair share of walks. And the greatest OBP man ever, a certain Mr. Gaedel, also an Eddie. But I think you make a good point about the tops of these lists tending to split between truly great players whose skills portfolio included other abilities and guys whose careers derive almost entirely from that one skill. Ferris Fain, Max Bishop, Roy Cullenbine –… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Good points, CC. But per your final observation, let me bring this back around to Aparicio. The 1959 ChiSox — the only AL team to best the Yankees over a full decade span — featured two Top 10 OBP members, two Top Ten SB members, three Top 10 in HBP, and four members of the Top 10 in sacrifice bunts. The team was 7th of eight teams in slugging, led by catcher Sherm Lollar’s 22 HR and 84 RBI (neither a Top 10 figure). Could they have beaten out the ’50 BoSox? Maybe not, but they won their pennant by… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I strayed a little in that last reply . . . “Outscored?” No.

mosc
Guest
It’s hard to isolate offensive factors. Nobody ONLY takes walks, let alone a team full of non-hitters. Certainly can line up 4+ events in a row of a decent IBO rate every few innings to score but the odds of that are staggeringly small. The bases open followed by 4-walk inning is not impossible, just unlikely. Certainly the solo HR somewhere surrounded by 3 outs is more common so a direct comparison is difficult. The best we can do is do correlation of W/L records or run scoring totals for teams based on their relative slugging or OBP rank. That’s… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Since nsb has started the discussion of shortstops by flagging Aparicio as a player with substantial qualifications for his place in the Hall of Fame, Hall of Stats notwithstanding, I’m going to post figures for the shortstops either in the Hall or highly rated by CAWS. The rank order below is according to CAWS, but the figures are, for the most part, WAR-based, with the rank in terms of WAR-rate in parentheses after the names. Asterisks are for shortstops nsb has flagged for discussion, and X marks players not currently in the Hall. The first line represents the CAWS cut-off… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
In using Mike’s CAWS lists to organize WAR-based data, I’ve become aware of how disparate the WS-based and WAR-based approaches seem to be in many cases. While you may agree with Doom that I should not be choosing WAR-rate as my primary rank contrast with CAWS on the three lists posted here, using total WAR, career prime (Peak7), or a combination of OPS+ and dWAR all generate rankings significantly different from CAWS. There haven’t been all that many cases where there was enough contrast to argue interestingly between Hall of Stats and either CAWS or WAR, but there are lots… Read more »
Mike H
Guest
Just a quick note at this point re the disparity between SOME (I would not say “many”) WS-based and WAR-based results. As I am sure many of you suspect, it seems to have to do with how bWAR (and not necessarily fWAR) SOMETIMES treats fielding results. That is, bWAR tends to EXAGGERATE the importance of fielding when a player is perceived to a very good or very poor fielder. The problem is NOT necessarily with the defensive score itself but rather with the manner in which bWAR COMBINES the offensive and defensive scores to produce the total bWAR score. Perhaps… Read more »
Mike H
Guest

I should have added that one good example of this disparity is the career ranking of Derek Jeter and Ozzie Smith by JAWS and CAWS. WAR considers Ozzie to be a great fielder (which he was) and Jeter to be a poor fielder (which he was) – and so tends to allow that fact to distort their career value.

Jaws ranks Ozzie at #6 and Jeter at #9 for their careers – while CAWS has Jeter at #5 and Ozzie at #13.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I think the disparity in defensive assessment is a major factor in the way WS and WAR see players, but I’m not convinced that bWAR is distorting the effect through whatever oWAR + dWAR mechanism it uses (or is distorting the effect at all). I noted some reasons in a response to a previous reference you made on HHS to your Blackmon article. We also had a discussion here about your article on Chapman (in my contribution there, I really messed up a hyperlink). And it can’t all be about the weight given to defense either. Compare, for example, Stan… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Sorry — the link to Mike’s Blackmon article was dropped in the post above.

CursedClevelander
Guest
It’s pretty clear now that Traynor doesn’t belong – not only because we have the benefit of hindsight and distance, and not only because we can now view his numbers in the context of the high run scoring era he was a part of, but also because since he retired we’ve had a surfeit of great third basemen. But what about when he was actually voted in? That was in 1948. At the time, 18 retired or active third basemen (defined as having played 70% or more of career games at 3B) had over 30 career WAR. Traynor, at 36.3,… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
This is a good approach, CC. We’ve been looking at the way players appear from the perspective of 2019, but your historical perspective is at least as valid an approach, and one that seemed more and more interesting to me as I read further into your post. A note: when I wrote above that there were really no high quality fielders at third between Collins and Brooks, I stared at Gardner’s figures for a while. I decided to make the cut between Gardner’s 10.8 dWAR and Collins at 16.8, but Gardner was clearly very good. (Gardner’s career raises what I… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob Eno,
“The Glory of Their Times” was a series of interviews with stars from the first couple decades of the past century. Very interesting material that is non-quantative and totally anecdotal. Don’t recall if “Wahoo Sam” or “Smokey Joe” indicated if Speaker or Sisler were the equal of Cobb but, IIRC, it was mostly personal stories of their rise to the big leagues and experiences there

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Thanks, Paul. On my shelf it has sat next to the Bible for forty years.

Mike L
Guest

Bob, your point about Gardner/Lou Whitaker is an interesting one. My nominee for “that” guy would be Willie Randolph, 54 BWAR with Yankees over 13 years, added two more 4 WAR seasons, one with the Dodgers, the second with the Brewers, to close out his career. Peak WAR 6.6, lowest WAR in a full season, 2.8. Never considered a star. Named on 5 ballots his only year in HOF voting. Old fashioned player. 1243 lifetime BB, 675 K’s

Doug
Guest
Bill James was a notable Harlond Clift fan, ranking him 9th among all third baseman in his first (1985) Historical Abstract. Clift seemed to suffer the Cinderella midnight curse when his clock turned to age 30 in 1943 and he turned in easily the worst season of his career. The Brownies didn’t cut their erstwhile star much slack, trading him away in August to the second place Senators, who hardly used him the rest of that season. Clift lost almost the whole ’44 season to illness (mumps) and injury (thrown from a horse), then closed out his career in ’45… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

From 1934 t0 1943 Clift led the Browns by far in WAR, 37.6 to runner-up George McQuinn’s 14.6. So he was the team’s star player but unfortunately he soured the year before their 1944 pennant. He was the first third-baseman to hit 30 HR in a season.

Gary Bateman
Guest
I love the discussions on this site, but I don’t get involved in the conversations, because I simply don’t understand enough of the advanced metrics to speak intelligently. Most likely, this is not going to sound too intelligent, either, but in the case of Fox, and to an extent, players like Aparicio and Evers, shouldn’t their HoF credentials be considered from an historical context. I believe Bill James made a similar argument in his Hall of Fame book for Richie Ashburn, since he competed directly with Mays, Mantle and Snider, but was much better than the majority of CF’s from… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Sounds intelligent to me, Gary. I think your point is closely related to Cursed Clevelander’s discussion of third basesmen, above, though not quite the same. CC’s point, if I can paraphrase my understanding of it, is that we need to look at the Hall as an evolving record of what constituted greatness in the historical perspective of voters contemporary with their times, rather than as a constantly revised standard from the perspective of the present — which is constantly revising itself anyway. I really like that point, though it requires lots more work to figure out how to implement it… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
And I think a related point that we’ve touched on before, though I believe it was in the context of the CoG, is how we balance the idea of absolute benchmarks for induction and relative benchmarks for induction. That’s sort of the Ashburn question – is “well, he was only the 4th best CF during his career” a knock on somebody’s HoF candidacy? It might be – but when the competition is two of the 10-15 best players ever and another strong member, it’s not really a fair thing to hold against him. I believe similar arguments popped up about… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Great points, CC, and I especially like your comment about how in a high scoring era the greatest pitchers have a chance to stand out even further (and vice versa with hitters?). How would we set up a test for this, and what would positive results imply in terms of assessing players across eras? (This is related to, but not the same as, the knock on earlier baseball greats, which discounts their numbers because the general level of play was low, and the counter-knock on PED players, which argues that the general level of play in their time was artificially… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
Gary, I’m glad you raised this. I’ve never been able to completely understand how we compare players from different eras when they were playing in different environments. Obviously, there’s the difference between the Dead Ball Era, and pre-integration, and the War Years, where we have come to some sort of consensus, albeit occasionally a forced one. But I still don’t think I see how we reconcile differing approaches to game management between, say, the three true outcome modern environment and the put-the-ball-in-play-move-the runner-up. We’ve had 30 seasons of 190+just since 2004. Nellie Fox struck out 216 time in his entire… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Someone in this thread, probably Bob Eno, has strongly suggested that Billy Herman doesn’t belong in the HOF. But to me, he is the one player in the group whose credentials are worthy without question. Not an inner circle HOFer, no, but a sizable cut above anyone else, even Bobby Doerr, for whom Doug put in a good word in an earlier post. The first thing that should be noted about Herman is the fact that he lost two productive years to WW II. How productive? Well, in 1943 he led the Dodger position players with 4.7 WAR and an… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I am indeed the guilty party, nsb, but my suggestion was not “strong,” though the word was in there. I concluded a joint assessment of Herman and Doerr with this summary: “Herman is just behind Doerr in a number of key categories (though not by CAWS), but lost more time to the War. They seem even to me — perhaps it’s my small Hall bias, but I don’t feel the Hall is stronger by including them and I would not.” If your Hall is bigger than mine, Herman would be over the line. The Hall of Stats leaves the line… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest

With the PI, I can indeed confirm that Herman and Traynor are the only live ball players to satisfy RBI > or equal to 100 and HR < or equal to 2.

Ed Delahanty had 2 HR and 109 RBI in 1900, and Lave Cross had 108 RBI and 0 HR in 1902. Everybody else who fits these criteria was in the 19th century.

no statistician but
Guest
On a not-quite unrelated note, Scott Sanderson just passed away at the age of 62. How do you evaluate a player like Sanderson? He was in the starting rotations of four division winners, was injured a lot, put up wins despite a mediocre ERA+ in most seasons, went 16-10 for the dismal ’91 Yankees (71-91) with 3.9 WAR. Can all this just be ascribed to “luck”? Statistics aside, I think that some pitchers win more than expected in spite of their mediocrity, and Sanderson is a good example. Do their teammates rise to the challenge? Who knows. Other pitchers lose… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

N SB
” I think of Joe Btfsplk.”
Nicknamed “Eyechart”?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Sorry to hear about Sanderson, nsb. I’m not sure there’s too much of a discrepancy between Sanderson’s performance and his game outcomes. Sanderson’s career ERA+ was 102 and his W-L Pct. was .533. They don’t seem too out of line to me, though obviously the W-L is a bit better. In ’91, a lot of the Yankees’ dismal quality was lodged in the remainder of the pitching staff, which had a 4.52 ERA vs. a league norm of 4.09 (with Sanderson at 3.81). The team didn’t have anyone else close to a qualifier apart from Sanderson (it was a really… Read more »
Mike H
Guest

nsb

I am ancient and I think I got the reference. Wasn’t Joe the guy perpetually under the rain cloud? What cartoon series was that?

no statistician but
Guest

L’il Abner.

Paul E
Guest

FWIW,
Matt Chapman, 3B Oakland, was on pace to surpass the all-time dWAR single season record for the hot corner before yesterday’s game. He was at 0.5 after 16 games and now, after 17 games, he’s at 0.4….He must have more moves than El Cordobes

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I still think Chapman’s special sauce is the Coliseum’s spacious foul grounds, largest in the Majors.

What stands out most in Chapman’s fielding stats is the high proportion of putouts among his chances (37% — compare, e.g., Nettles’ career 25%; Brooks’s 29%).

Chapman in the Coliseum has recorded 45% of his chances on putouts; 24% away. His 17 home putouts include 8 foul flies caught — 7 in only two games (3/28 & 4/3): that’s 21% of his total chances at the Coliseum just on foul outs.

Paul E
Guest

Bob
Yes. I can not disagree with you but shouldn’t dWAR emphasize assists by a 3B over putouts? Sure, it’s great that “Chapman’s ranging under it” but, how many times did he call off the SS or even the LF to catch that “can of corn”? In this day and age of MLB, it seems unfathomable to me that Chapman’s athleticism exceeds all the other guys at 3B by that much. I’d certainly be much more impressed if his assists count was that much more higher than his peers- no kidding.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Paul, I wasn’t defending Chapman’s high rating, just trying to explain it. I don’t think he should be receiving credit for the size of Oakland’s foul grounds. On the other hand, if he’s exploiting it better than previous home team third basemen, that’s to his credit. As for putouts and assists, I don’t know the answer for which should be seen as more valuable. Foul outs are unassisted; a force out at third assisted by a throw is not that much different from a first baseman’s putout; a tag out on an outfield assist may deserve greater credit. And assists… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob
Haven’t the As played more game than the rest of MLB due to the Japan series with Seattle?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Hadn’t thought of that. Machado’s Padres have played three fewer games. Others have played fewer too, but Chapman’s lead in assists is far greater. But Paul, I’m trying to figure out where this is going. You noted Chapman’s figures were very good and I suggested a reason why he might not be quite as good as he looks in the figures (the Coliseum). You raised the issue of assists vs. putouts (not sure why), and it turns out, Machado possibly excepted, Chapman is well ahead of others. I’m not boosting Chapman, just looking at the stats you brought up and… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
Bob, Sorry, my remarks concerning his high dWAR totals were in disbelief and sarcasm. That being said, I believe the emphasis for evaluating a 3B’s fielding prowess should be on assists.That’s it – plain and simple…. it’s much more difficult to make the rather routine 5-3 than the routine pop-up foul ball putout. Chapman’s putout totals are a product of the foul territory at Oakland Coliseum – as you’ve pointed out. At the risk of offending anyone, I’d also like to see a few 150 OPS+ seasons before anointing him the second coming of Schmidt……or even Santo. I believe even… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Well, Paul, I don’t agree with you on assists — routine plays are routine; my interest would be in above average abilities to make plays of either type that are exceptional — but since I have no ax to grind with regard to Chapman either way I’m happy to give you the point. I read your initial remark as disbelief but heard no sarcasm.

Speaking of plays at third, have you checked out Machado’s routine-burger on Friday?

Paul E
Guest

Bob
Yes. And half of MLB 3b make that play but certainly not in as effortless fashion

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Since we’re in a sort of holding pattern, I wonder whether I can toss out a general question related to dWAR. Neither B-R nor WS on Baseball Gauge assign fielding credit to pitchers (in terms of dWAR or Fld). B-R assigns pitchers a positional adjustment, which is clearly used in oWAR calculations for them. But there are, of course, good and bad fielding pitchers: since B-R assigns 0 Rfield and dWAR to all pitchers, I’m having trouble finding where the value of their defensive contributions is reflected. In it’s discussion of positional adjustments, B-R states, under “Pitcher Positional Adjustment,” “Since… Read more »
mosc
Guest

It must be counted separately in B-R’s model. It would make no sense to separate out fielding by positional opportunity and not deal with the pitcher.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Well, B-R’s system builds positional adjustment into offense as well as defense (so a pitcher who bats .240 with 2 HRs counts as a good hitter), so the rationale for calculating the adjustment for pitchers exists independent of fielding. Like you, I assumed the adjustment’s defensive component would be counted separately somewhere, but I sure can’t find it. If you can, please let me know.

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