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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dave Winfield

Eligible in 2001.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:44 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:49 AM (#2407750)
Who was the better Yankee host of "Greatest Sports Legends": Winfield or Reggie Jackson?

My pick? Tom Seaver, of course. ;-)
   2. OCF Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:09 AM (#2407759)
Who's the best post-WWII player who played NCAA basketball? Candidates I can think of off the top of my head include Gwynn, Winfield, and Lofton, and I'm sure there were others. Or, for that matter, which of them was the best basketball player? (Well, the answer to that might be Danny Ainge, who wasn't much of a baseball player, so maybe we'll need some combination measure of both careers.)

Hmm... on second thought, Dave DeBusschere has Ainge covered on both sides. 102 IP at ERA+ 124 is more attractive than Ainge's 721 PA at an OPS+ of 47.
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:28 AM (#2407775)
I guess I'd take Gwynn over Winfield on the diamond. Lofton was probably the best hoopster. But Winfield is an easy HoMer and probably #1 on my '01 ballot. Though I will say that Puckett and Mattingly had higher peaks.
   4. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:46 AM (#2407827)
Does Michael Jordan count?
   5. BDC Posted: June 18, 2007 at 11:37 AM (#2407843)
Dick Groat was a major NCAA basketball star and a National League MVP.
   6. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 18, 2007 at 12:20 PM (#2407853)
Dick Groat was a major NCAA basketball star and a National League MVP.


...although many people think the latter was undeserved.

Current candidates include Ryan Doherty and Andrew Brackman.

Gene Conley is probably the best of the candidates, IMO. He played one season at Washington State, leading the Pac-8 in scoring and pitching the Cougars into the College WS where they finished second. He then pitched for the Braves (winning and losing an All-Star game and a WS ring in 1957) and played basketball for the Celtics (winning 3 NBA championship rings). Arm trouble shortened his major league career, but he was a pretty good pitcher in his prime and a solid frontcourt reserve for Red Auerbach.

-- MWE
   7. kthejoker Posted: June 18, 2007 at 01:31 PM (#2407893)
Bob Gibson. Hands down.
   8. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2407924)
Who's the best post-WWII [mlb] player who played NCAA basketball?

I think we agreed earlier that Dick Groat was the best basketball player
and Bob Gibson was the best baseball player.

--
Win Shares rehabilitated the sabermetric fielding reputations of many players who had been diminished by low range factors, and it scuttled a few reps built on good and great range factors. Dave Winfield is one diminished by range factor and not rehabilitated by win shares. . . I don't find that now, NBJHBA is probably the wrong book. I do find

All Tall - tallest player in the top 25 at each position, both Parrish C and Winfield RF

speaking of basketball
>>
<u>The Negro Leagues #3 right fielder</u> (after questionable RF Martin Dihigo, and Willard Brown)
3. Ted Strong. Kind of a switch-hitting Dave Winfield, a long, lean fellow with a strong arm and good speed. An original member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
<<
   9. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 02:06 PM (#2407931)
I think we agreed earlier that Dick Groat was the best basketball player
What's more, sunnyday2 is probably the one we agreed with.
I recall linking to his coverage in SI(?) 25(?) all-time greatest college basketball players.
   10. JPWF13 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 02:19 PM (#2407945)
I guess I'd take Gwynn over Winfield on the diamond.


My intiotal reaction was WHAT?
top 5 seasons by OPS+
Winfield 165, 159, 154, 149, 142
Gwynn 169, 158, 156, 141, 136...

hmmmm
without looking at any advance metrics my memory tells me that Winfield was betetr on Dee- so I'd still go with Winf but it's a lot closer than I thought...

anyway- Winfield was clear; betetr at his peak than Puckett: 152, 140, 138, 132, 132
and Mattingly: 161, 156, 156, 141- as a 1B (a good 1B, but still a 1B)

Mattingly was an AVG-HR-RBI God- but Winfield at his best was as good an overall offensive player and had more defensive value
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 02:49 PM (#2407974)
My favorite Dave Winfield thing?

No, not Howie Menckel Spira. No, not the dead seagull. No, not being drafted by three major sports teams. None of those. It was that a few times each year, Winfield would whiff so hard on a breaking ball or a change that he would actually fall down in a big heap. And he'd dust off and get back in there with a grin and keep right on hitting. He had a fun blend of seeming awkwardness (sometimes disguising speed, grace, and agility), humor, competitive drive, and outstanding baseball skills. I liked watching him play, an interesting contrast for Yankee fans to Hideki Matsui.
   12. JPWF13 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 02:56 PM (#2407984)
It was that a few times each year, Winfield would whiff so hard on a breaking ball or a change that he would actually fall down in a big heap. And he'd dust off and get back in there with a grin and keep right on hitting.


What amazed me was that whenever Winfield did that, gear up and swing as hard as he could, he NEVER made contact (maybe he'd foul tip the ball)-
you watch and wait and hope that maybe just once he'd make solid contact when he overswung so badly- but no, I never saw it happen
   13. Steve Treder Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:03 PM (#2407990)
He had a fun blend of seeming awkwardness (sometimes disguising speed, grace, and agility), humor, competitive drive, and outstanding baseball skills.

Word.

Roger Angell had a great line, contrasting Winfield with the super-smooth Don Mattingly at the plate: "I'm always surprised when Winfield makes solid contact, and always surprised when Mattingly doesn't."
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2407993)
My favorite Winfield thing:

People sometimes say he was a great high school basketball player. Well, he may have been a great basketball player in high school, but he didn't play on his high school team. Nor did he start out playing at the U of Minnesota. Rather, he was discovered playing intramural ball at the U and asked to please join the Gophers team. After the infamous basketbrawl with Ohio State in 1972 he became a starter, and he remained so after 2 suspended players came back the following year. He was the power forward (trust me on this) at 6-6 while the "small" forward was Clyde the Glide Turner at 6-8. When Ron Behagen came back from suspension he (Behagen) took over the small forward at 6-9 while Turner moved to the off guard and Keith Young to the bench. Jim Brewer at 6-8 was the center throughout. This was the biggest basketball team I have ever seen including the NBA and meaning height, weight and just how strong they were. Brewer and Winfield looked more like defensive linemen. They were bigger than Alan Page and Jim Marshall of the Vikings at the time. I had tickets under the basket that year and sometimes Brewer would even lead the fast break with Winfield on one wing and Turner on the other and Behagen trailing. You would instinctively just want to go under your seat when they were coming at you.

Then of course there's the Gophers' famous 8-7 baseball loss to USC in the NCAAs. I believe it was the penultimate game with the winner going to the final. Winfield started and the Gophers had a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the final inning (the 7th, I think though maybe it was the 9th). Anyway, Winfield had thrown about a million innings and ran out of gas after 8. He came out for the 9th in the OF. The Gophers' bullpen promptly gave up the 8 runs and the Gophers season was over. USC went on to win it all, I think. And I believe that was the Steve Kemp team, was it not?
   15. DavidFoss Posted: June 18, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2408001)
seeming awkwardness (sometimes disguising speed, grace, and agility)

I remember how he ran. He had the lumbering gate of a very big man, but he was fast.
   16. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:54 PM (#2408080)
He had the lumbering gate of a very big man, but he was fast.

Totally. It was funny, sometimes you looked at him running and he seemed like all elbows and knees. Sometimes you look at him running and he seemed like he was on stilts with his long legs kind of straight, not seeming to bend much at the knees. But no matter what, there always seemed to be something like the Tazmanian Devil crossed with Sam The Eagle, where all those body parts were flying all around this tall, upright guy.

I just loved watching him hit. He was so fluid, but on the other hand, he had no discernable stance. In his practice swings, he'd get timing by lolling the bat from hip to hip in a downard arc from back to front. Then all the sudden he'd kind of move with determination, quickly pulling the bat up toward his shoulder. But it always seemed like his hands were still moving all the time. And eventually he'd pump the bat up and down in that famous hitch and take that big stride and let 'er rip with the back hand flying off and all his weight turning through so that it often seemed he was hitting off balance. I loved to imitate him in wiffleball games, but I would have hated to play third base while he was hitting. A lot wicked line drives came off that bat...and often the very bat itself would come helicoptering down the line. What a sight, Dave Winfield.
   17. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 04:58 PM (#2408087)
11. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: June 18, 2007 at 10:49 AM (#2407974)
My favorite Dave Winfield thing?

No, not Howie Menckel Spira.


We were all going to help keep Howie's id secret, remember?
   18. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 05:42 PM (#2408121)
Similar to the Reputation Monitor, I have a Win Shares-based system that answers the Keltner questions. It has its blind spots, but I think it's pretty close on Puckett. Here's what it suggests, remember, it's Win Shares based, so everything is answered in those terms. If you use WARP, OPS+/ERA+, another metric, or some other way of constructing a ballot, your results may vary considerably.

1. Could Puckett have ever been considered the best player in his league (for a period of three or more years).

My system suggests that Puckett was very close to the AL's best player for the period 1987-1989 (within 5% of the league's best as my system reckons it). However, there is no such period where he is the best and no other period where he is that close again. (Disclaimer: It's possible that over a longer horizon he could have been the best, but I have limited myself to three-year windows---that's an improvement that would be good for my system some day.)

2. Could Puckett have ever been considered the best player in his league at his position (for a period of three or more years)?

My system suggests that Puckett was the best CF in the AL from 1986-1988 and again from 1989-1991. In addition, he is the runner-up in 1985-1987 (to Rickey), 1987-1989 (to Yount), 1988-1990 (to Yount), and 1990-1992 (to Griffey Jr.).

In addition, in 1992-1994, my system sees him as the best RF in the AL (I allow for CFs to count their time in CF toward RF but not vise versa).

This is a clear strength for Puckett, and a longer horizon would probably show him a little better, though, again, I haven't researched it that way.

3. How often did he have All-Star type seasons?

All the time. Virtually every year he was a regular he was among the top 3-4 finishers at his position. Big props here.

4. How many MVP type seasons did he have?

Several. Puckett was never the Win Shares MVP, but he finished among the top 8 finishers (equivalent to top 5 in an 8-team league) six times:
1986: 7th
1987: 4th
1988: 2nd
1989: 7th
1992: 3rd
1994: 5th

This record is very good. Not great in a Mickey Mantle kind of way, but outstanding nonetheless.

5. Is his career Win Shares total (adjusted) for schedule) comparable to other players at his position in the HOM?

Puckett's 293 career Win Shares put him behind the following HOMers(whom I adjust for schedule and occasionally for QoP (for WW2 and for the early and late AA), and there's some credit for WW2 or MiL play at times, but this accounting doesn't include NgL credit at this juncture.
Cobb 767
Mays 684
Speaker 671
Mantle 586
Dimaggio 503
Hines 491
Hamiton 388
Carey 373
Gore 369
Snider 368
Ashburn 342
Roush 332
Wynn 305
Averill 294
(Puckett 293)
Doby 282

With NgL credit, Charleston, Stearnes, Doby, Oms, Hill, Torriente, and Brown jump ahead too.

Puckett doesn't fair too well in this accouting, particularly when there are several careers ahead of his that are not yet enshrined:
Ryan 353
GVH 338
Pinson 325
W Davis 323
F Jones 320
Oliver 311
Butler 308
Cedeno 300
Murphy 299
C Davis 294
[Puckett 293]
Otis 292
Hoy 285
Browning 284
Thmas 284
Milan 284
Griffin 283
Lynn 282

As always, your adjustments probably vary.

6. Does Puckett meet the HOM's standards?

He just misses. Measured against 3, 5, 10, 15, and career intervals, he falls a wee bit short. He's OK on the 3 and 5, at level average on the 10, then falls away somewhat on the longer measures (as we know he would).

7. Was he able to play past his prime?

Not exactly. This question is a bit fuzzy for a guy like Puckett since his career was shortened by injury/disease. But I also don't give Addie Joss death credit, so in reality Puckett was unable to continue playing at a top level due to a serious injury, just like Don Mattingly. Puckett's was a quicker and more severe injury.

8. If Puckett was a team's best player, how likely would that team be to win a pennant?

My system suggests that teams with players like Puckett as their Win Shares leaderswin about 15-20% of all pennants. This is better than Beckley, for instance, but about as good as Ashburn, Berger, F Jones, Wynn, Browning, Averill, Roush, Doby, or Hack Wilson. Dale Murphy's a smidge better, not much. The fact that his actual teams won two World Series is a seperate matter from what I'm actually trying to point out here.

So without doing any kind of contextualizing, rationalizing, or anything, the big picture ranking puts Puckett below the line. He's not far off though. Roush and Duffy are the line for me, with Ryan, Bell, Averill, Browning very close and Wynn, Carey coming in just below them. Then Puckett, Ashburn, Berger, Murphy with F Jones, and Wilson trailing.

Puckett's case seems to be built around the core theme of his being the best CF in the AL for a while. That's not an awful claim either! He has some other markers, so he's not a Concepcion-type of better-than-the-chaff candidate. But for me he ends up in a big, twisted knot of similarly medium-career prime-oriented CFs with the only distinguishing factor among them being when they played and exactly how much CF they played. Yet, he's far enough back (according to this system) that unless I'm really missing the boat on some things (and as you can see in the disclaimers on questions one and two that MAY be true), he's far enough back that I'm not overly concerned that I'm standing on the empty pier with my bags by my sides.

But that's just my system, it's not one else's, and I'd hate to call it definitive.
   19. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 06:03 PM (#2408137)
Stupidhead put the Puckett thing in the Winfield thread. Moving it now, sorry about that....
   20. Juan V Posted: June 18, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2408193)
Which cap does he get?
   21. Mark Donelson Posted: June 18, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2408201)
What's everyone's take on Winfield's defense? Win Shares hates it (D+), which is definitely in contrast to his reputation when he was playing. BP has him as very good defensively during his early years in San Diego, then mostly average or below after that. That doesn't seem to add up to D+, though.

Obviously a WS-heavy system will underrate him significantly if that D+ is way off (if I don't adjust at all in mine, he trails Singleton among RFs by a decent margin, for instance).
   22. JPWF13 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 07:20 PM (#2408204)
Obviously a WS-heavy system will underrate him significantly if that D+ is way off (if I don't adjust at all in mine, he trails Singleton among RFs by a decent margin, for instance).


it's way way way off

he did play pretty deep- allegedly so he could reach the wall on borderline HRs and make a leap..., but he moved well, seemed to track flyballs well and had a terrific arm
   23. Mark Donelson Posted: June 18, 2007 at 07:47 PM (#2408229)
he did play pretty deep- allegedly so he could reach the wall on borderline HRs and make a leap..., but he moved well, seemed to track flyballs well and had a terrific arm

This isn't really what I meant—I saw him play myself quite a lot in my formative years as an '80s Yankee fan, so I knew that the D+ was definitely at odds with his reputation and with what he looked like as a fielder. (I mainly remember the arm. But as Abreu proves today in the same location, you can have that and still be just brutal in the field.)

Paul had something in one of the other threads about Winfield's range factor being awful, and that not changing in the Win Shares calculations (as it apparently does for some others). So my question is more: Is there some statistical consensus that Winfield had terrible range, beyond what I can find in WS and the BP stats? And if the D+ is too harsh, by how much?
   24. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:09 PM (#2408259)
He played CF here and there too, fwiw.

If WS underrates his defense, I wonder if there's any relationship between Yankee Stadium's short RF porch and that rating?

If this underrating is true the mostest upper bound for him is probably 2.5-2.75 WS per 1000 innings or 118 or so games. I don't have his estimated defensive innings from WS handy, but BP shows 2395 adj defensive games at 9 innings per, or 21555 defensive innings. Off the top of my head I think Winfield was 1.90 FWS/1000 (could be wrong on that one), which means

2.75 - 1.90 = .85 WS/1000 innings

21555 / 1000 = 21.5 1000 inning units

21.5 * .85 = 18.275 more FWS over his career.

I have him at 425 adj WS, adding 18 = 443 WS, which slots him between Waner (who he passes) and Reggie, moving from 8th to 7th place among RFs.

But a note of caution. Winfield's BP RATE in CF is really bad, 91 (189 games), and in LF (425 games) is even worse, 90. In RF (games innings) his RATE is 100. The whole shebang adds up to a FRAA of -66. You know, that's pretty bad:
-It's manifestly worse than Ken Singleton (-17 in 50% of the innings)
-It's about the same as Lou Brock's in terms of innings and FRAA
-It's about the same as Moises Alou's FRAA rate per inning, though Mo has probably 75% as many innings
-It's about equal to one half Manny's current FRAA rate (same total, half the innings)
-It's not as bad as F Howard or Bull Luzinski, who are VERY clearly inferior in the field by BP.

Perhaps the WS D+ isn't necessarily all that weird? It seems to match up somewhat with BP's perception as well. I don't have much of a sense of scale on the letter grades versus the FRAA, so I'm talking a bit out of turn, but maybe Winfield's leaping, athleticism, and good arm didn't quite add up to the range you'd expect out of him? Or maybe there are park issues?
   25. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:13 PM (#2408263)
Which cap does he get?


Tough question. I have him with a San Diego cap, but his value with the Yankees was extremely close. If you add in 1981 (even with his crappy World Series), one can make the case that it's a statistical tie.
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 18, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2408267)
300 Win Shares is not enough for me to say whether or not a candidate will be on my ballot, but 400 always does the trick.
   27. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:46 PM (#2408348)
Paul had something in one of the other threads about Winfield's range factor being awful, and that not changing in the Win Shares calculations (as it apparently does for some others).

I didn't mean awful, only that range factor seemed to scuttle his reputation as an outstanding fielder (as expected if he did play too deep in order to vertical leap at the fence) and Win Shares didn't restore it. That Win Shares rating is bad enough to conclude, acknowledging the center/corner bias, "Win Shares says it isn't plausible that he was an outstanding fielder."

If WS underrates his defense, I wonder if there's any relationship between Yankee Stadium's short RF porch and that rating?

Don't forget San Diego. If he wasn't a great fielder there, he wasn't a great fielder. Over six seasons (the heart of 7.5 in SD) he averaged about 0.30 above league range factor at baseball-reference; counting the seventh and last season makes it 0.25 (1974-80). I don't know how good that is, given issues regarding center/corner and complete/incomplete games. Tony Gwynn averaged about 0.30 over ten seasons (1983-92).
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:48 PM (#2408349)
1977-78 defies simplistic interpretation, with range factor plummeting from career high despite part-time play in center.
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 09:57 PM (#2408358)
maybe he deferred to new teammate Willie Davis in '76, not to newcomer George Hendrick in '77. There are some discretionary plays. Why was George Hendrick moved to St Louis in May '78 for Eric Rasmussen? It can't be for a May slump.
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: June 18, 2007 at 10:00 PM (#2408362)
The SI feature named Groat one of the top 25 (or 50?) of all time.

"In 1952, Dick Groat became the first Duke player to be named National Player of the Year."
--Duke men's basketball
   31. yest Posted: June 18, 2007 at 10:03 PM (#2408364)
I think we agreed earlier that Dick Groat was the best basketball player

I'll have to go with Debussurre and it's not close
   32. sunnyday2 Posted: June 18, 2007 at 10:10 PM (#2408369)
Yeah, Groat, the bum, didn't win the Wooden Award! Of course, it didn't exist. He was 2nd in the nation in scoring (26.0) in 1952...oh, and 2nd in the nation in assists (7.6) for 24-6 Duke. But sure, Clyde Lovelette led the nation in scoring (28.4) and was regarded as the player of the year especially after taking Kansas to the NCAA title. Groat was a consensus 1st team all-American along with Lovelette, Cliff Hagan, Chuck Darling and Rod Fletcher.

In 1981 Ralph Sampson won 4 PoY awards and Ainge 2. I saw Ainge's end-to-end rush to beat Notre Dame (the Irish were rated #7 and BYU #16). Ainge was 9th in the nation in scoring at 24.4 (the leader was at 28.9). The consensus all-America team was Aguirre, Ainge, Steve Johnson, Sampson and Isaiah Thomas. Isaiah led Indiana to the NCAA title. It wasn't obvious to me Ainge was the best player that year. You could argue Sampson or Thomas, easily, just as you could argue Lovelette and Hagan ahead of Groat if you like.

They both seem to come out fairly equal. Among the top 5, check. Maybe about #3, check. Number one, no, probably not either of them.

When we had this debate before somebody mentioned Fats Jenkins, and maybe it was me. Best hoops player who also played big time baseball. Fats was probably better than either one of them.
   33. sunnyday2 Posted: June 19, 2007 at 02:12 AM (#2408890)
Sorry but as a college player DeBusschere isn't even in the same league. In 1962 the consensus all-America team was Jerry Lucas, Terry Dischinger, Len Chappell, Billy McGill and Chet Walker. DeBusschere ranked among the top 10 in boards but not scoring.

Of course DeBusschere was pretty good in the NBA, scoring 16 ppg with 11 boards over 12 years (875 games). In his final (age 33) season he scored 18 with 11 boards in 38 minutes. I guess that would be akin to throwing too damn many pitches or something. His productivity certainly suggests he coulda kept going but maybe he was worn out. Seriously maybe he was. In the '74 playoffs his averages fell to 12 points and 8 boards. Today that probably wouldn't be worth more than $6-8 mil.

Groat played 26 games in the NBA way back in '52-'53. He scored 12 ppg with 3 boards and 3 assists. Certainly that suggests that the guy coulda played in the NBA. It doesn't say he's better than DeBusschere but to say "it's not close"--well, DeBusschere played an extra 849 games but his ability doesn't seem to have been waaaaayyyy ahead of Groat. Obviously Groat could make more money in MLB and was probably a better baseball player than hoops, but even that's debatable.

Ainge played even more games than DeBusschere--more than 1000. His career numbers are 12 points, 3 boards, 4 assists. As a rookie, comparable to Groat's only part-season, Ainge was at 4 points, 2 board, 2 assists. Certainly the competition was better, but relatively speaking Groat was more ready to play as a rookie than Ainge was. Ainge did score 20 ppg one year. At age 33 he was at 12 points, 3 boards, 3 assists. In his final year (age 36) it was 8-2-3. He hung on longer than DeBusschere. DeBusschere was clearly a better pro.

Gene Conley was not in any of their class. He played 6 years and averaged 5 points, 7 boards and 0 assists.

Kenny Lofton is also not in any of their (the 3, not Conley) class. He was not an all-American in college; of course, neither was DeBusschere, but there's that pro career there.

yest is probably right if you look at the pro career as really defining the player. If you like college ball then I still say it's Groat and he was the best baseball player of the bunch. Obviously a great great athlete, but so are they all.
   34. Mark Donelson Posted: June 20, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2410883)
Getting back to Winfield's defense--which, if it's as bad as Dr. C's post 25 seems to imply, makes it pretty much impossible for me to rank Winfield ahead of Ken Singleton (not too damning a point, since Singleton's on my ballot, but still)--does anyone know of/suspect strongly Yankee Stadium RF park effects of causing the bad numbers in WS and FRAA?
   35. Chris Cobb Posted: June 20, 2007 at 05:45 PM (#2410921)
does anyone know of/suspect strongly Yankee Stadium RF park effects of causing the bad numbers in WS and FRAA?

This seems unlikely, for two reasons.

1) FRAA shows Winfield as _terrible_ defensively in 1981-1983. During these seasons, he was playing left field, not right field. He was playing a bit of CF during those seasons, and BP shows him as being a bit above average in center field, but replacement level in left field. Something's odd here, as it's hard to believe Winfield could be even adequate in center but terrible in left. FRAA shows Winfield being terrible in right field in 1987, 1988, and 1990, with his defense being around average 1984-86. There's a big drop in his put-out rates from the 1984-86 years to the 1987- and after years.

2) Paul O'Neill doesn't seem affected by the move to Yankee Stadium's right field: his WARP fielding stats are pretty similar before and after.

Interestingly, as WARP sees it, Winfield was in left in 1983 for the Yankees and was terrible, a replacement level fielder. Steve Kemp was in right field and was a bit above average. In 1984, Winfield was in right and was a bit above average, while Kemp was in left and was terrible, a replacement level fielder. I'd guess that there's _something_ going on in with the Yankees in the early 1980s that was sending fly balls to right field with unusually high frequency and left field with low frequency.

It's harder to see the component pieces of WS's fielding assessments, but one could see if WS tracks with WARP.

Looking at the data, unless Winfield's movement from left field to right field tracks with injuries or something, I am doubtful that he was as bad as WARP makes him out to have been.
   36. Mark Donelson Posted: June 20, 2007 at 06:05 PM (#2410943)
Oh, god. Steve Kemp. I just had a flashback. :)

As I recall, deep in my childhood memory back, the Yanks were moving the walls around (in, mostly) a bit during that early '80s period. I think that was mostly left-center and/or right-center, rather than the corners, but I could be wrong. Maybe that had something to do with it?
   37. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 20, 2007 at 06:18 PM (#2410955)
don't have green cathedrals here, but mark i think that's right. i recollect that during the renovation in the mid 1970s they pulled Death Valley in a bit from, let's make up numbers, 420 to 408. It was 40X, and I think 408 was the number, but I don't quite remember. Now if memory serves, they pulled the fence in again, around the time we're talking about in the early 1980s from 408 (or whatever) to 399, where it stands today.

I hope some good soul will round out this decidedly fragmented recollection.
   38. Mark Donelson Posted: June 20, 2007 at 06:35 PM (#2410968)
On a quick look at early-'80s Yankees left vs. right, it appears right field always had the advantage until '85, when Ken Griffey had a good year in 106 games in left. That covers Reggie over Winfield, Griffey over Winfield, Kemp over Winfield, and Winfield over Kemp.

Interestingly enough, if you believe Wikipedia (hmm), 1985 was the year they changed the outfield dimensions. The changes were all between left and center:

•Straightaway left field from 387 feet to 379
•Left center from 430 to 411
•Straightaway center from 417 to 410

Not sure if any of that means anything, though.
   39. Mark Donelson Posted: June 20, 2007 at 06:36 PM (#2410969)
Looks like the 399 CF move happened a bit later, in 1988, Eric.
   40. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 20, 2007 at 06:59 PM (#2410987)
Just a small Dave Winfield note: I remember him being a real terror on the bases. A clean player, but it always seemed he was going to kill a second baseman one day breaking up a double play. Also, can someone recount what the hell Steinbrenner was trying to achieve with the private investigator? My memory is hazy on that one. Anyway, like many have already said, he was one of my favorites growing up.
   41. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 20, 2007 at 07:49 PM (#2411020)
Shooty,

I have a very bad memory for details as these guys will tell you, and as you can see above. The ones I remember are these:
-Winfield had a ten-year, big money contract
-George was pissed at Winfield after the 1981 Series ("Mr. May") and remained so afterward
-Winfield tended to be pretty good at the media game and would rejoinder in ways that made George look bad
-George wanted out of the big, long deal because he didn't like Winfield and the contract also included (inflation-based escalating?) payments to Winfield's charity organization that were costing more money than had been anticipated
-I think Winfield could veto a trade by the CBA, but there might have been a lot of no-trade protection in the deal, too, which, then compounded by its complexity and cost, made it difficult to trade the outfielder, further angering George

I don't remember much about the scandal besides that. I thought that the PI's were trying to figure out whether there was hanky-panky with the money for the charity and whether they could get any dirt on Winfield that could make him look bad. Or maybe it was that George had failed to make the payments, and was trying to get dirt to make Winfield look just as bad as George did for not paying into a charity.

I'd bet John or Howie might have a more accurate version of the story than I recollect.
   42. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: June 20, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2411025)
Thanks Eric. My memory is that George comes off as a cheap, sleazy bastard of epic proportions, but sometimes memory is unfair.
   43. Daryn Posted: June 20, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2411040)
Winfield is best known in Toronto for killing a seagull. I was at that game.

Also, in the World Series year Winfield complained that the crowd was too quiet, so for the last two months of the season many people brought "Winfield wants Noise" signs to the game and those were effectively used to rally the crowd.
   44. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 20, 2007 at 08:23 PM (#2411049)
IIRC, Toronto authorities considered bringing charges against Winfield for killing the seagull.

I think he hit it with a throw, into whose path the gull inadvertently flew.

But curiously, that's not the only time a New York team was involved with a dead-bird incident. In a Mets game a few years later (in Shea, I think), Dion James of the Braves hit a double off a pigeon. I saw that one on the tube.

Non-NY division, Randy Johnson pulverized that bird in spring training a few years ago (I think Kent was at bat). There's footage out there of that one, and it's amazing in the macabre sense that the bird simply atomizes. Astonishing, really. What's the call on that, ball, strike, dead-ball/no pitch?
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 20, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2411055)
One other thing pursuant to Winfield being all knees and elbows. I think it was in Toronto too. I once was watching on the PIX, and Winfield came roaring in on a sinking liner, and as reached down for it, he hyperextended his knee really severely, as in like an archer's bow. It was kind of gruesome to watch. Anyway, I recollect that he stayed in the game and finished up without incident. Yowza. With all them big, long parts and big joints, maybe that's just what happens?

Tell you what, though, I know suits are cut to square off shoulders, but when I see Big Dave on TV sometimes, from behind the desk, his shoulders look like they are the width of manitoba. I wouldn't want to see him coming down the baseline on the pivot.
   46. DavidFoss Posted: June 20, 2007 at 08:41 PM (#2411068)
Interestingly enough, if you believe Wikipedia (hmm)

Great site, but gotta check their sources (good idea in general anyways).

ballparks.com verifies their numbers:

http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/american/yankee.htm
   47. yest Posted: June 21, 2007 at 08:46 AM (#2411768)
defence, defence, defence, defence, defence, defence, defence,
   48. Mark Donelson Posted: June 21, 2007 at 07:28 PM (#2412268)
Does that mean you're Canadian, yest?
   49. AROM Posted: June 21, 2007 at 08:05 PM (#2412311)
Roger Angell had a great line, contrasting Winfield with the super-smooth Don Mattingly at the plate: "I'm always surprised when Winfield makes solid contact, and always surprised when Mattingly doesn't."

Having watched them both play, it seems 100% accurate, but in the future, people will wonder what he was talking about since Winfield struck out so little, especially compared to other power hitters of his time.

Kinda like Vlad Guerrero.
   50. yest Posted: June 21, 2007 at 09:49 PM (#2412464)
Does that mean you're Canadian, yest?

no it means I can't spell

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