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Monday, February 09, 2009

Fred McGriff

Eligible in 2010.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 09, 2009 at 07:46 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 09, 2009 at 07:54 PM (#3072174)
He owns one of the most bizarre baseball nicknames ever, yet it works.
   2. The District Attorney Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:00 PM (#3072183)
insert joke about the cap on his plaque being this
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:00 PM (#3072184)
He owns one of the most bizarre baseball nicknames ever, yet it works.


I'd classify it as one of the only Bermanesque nicknames that works. But I don't think it bizarre.

Either way, I'm looking forward to the discussion of Fred's career.
   4. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:38 PM (#3072254)
As I've posted before, I don't see McGriff as anywhere close. His last really good year was the strike season--after that he had two years as an above-average but not All-Star caliber player, and six as a below-average guy not far from replacement level (his '97 was actually below replacement level in my view due to poor fielding). With no significant defensive or baserunning value, he simply didn't hit well enough for long enough to be a serious candidate. Just a hanger-on in the Tony Pérez/Rusty Staub mode.
   5. DCW3 Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:39 PM (#3072261)
Wasn't there a Primate who insisted that he was personally responsible for inspiring the "Crime Dog" nickname?
   6. Mike Green Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:49 PM (#3072297)
The difference between McGriff and Eddie Murray is primarily defensive.

It should be noted that McGriff was at the center of an era of excellence in Toronto through the two trades that made Gillick's name. His acquisition (along with Dave Collins) in 1982 for Dale Murray was a stroke of genius, and his departure with Fernandez for Alomar and Carter in 1990 was a perfect example of the necessary reconfiguring of talent to push a good club over the top.
   7. JPWF13 Posted: February 09, 2009 at 08:55 PM (#3072321)
As I've posted before, I don't see McGriff as anywhere close...Just a hanger-on in the Tony Pérez/Rusty Staub mode.


My first thought was whoaa...

then decided to look
McGriff: 10174 PAs at 134, top 5: 166, 166, 157, 157, 153
Staub: 11229 PAs at 124, top 5: 166, 153, 147, 139, 137
Perez: 10861 PAs at 122, top 5: 159, 158, 145, 140, 125

FWIW Perez had more defensive value than the other 2 (which says more about them than Tany)

I still think McGriff is better than those 2, but it's closer than my initial thought, and given that I think Tany Perez in the hall is a mistake...
   8. RJ in TO Posted: February 09, 2009 at 09:01 PM (#3072340)
How much better would Perez have to be defensively to make up 10 points of OPS over 10000+ PA? That just seems like a lot of ground to make up.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 09, 2009 at 09:57 PM (#3072473)
I'd classify it as one of the only Bermanesque nicknames that works. But I don't think it bizarre.


It's bizarre in the sense that it doesn't have anything to do with his play on the field, baseball in general or was even a nickname that he grew up with. At least the "Wild Bills" or "Flash(s)" (as in Gordon) from the past either were wild in some way or flashy/fast. I doubt that McGriff said "Yes!" when "Crime Dog" started to gain momentum (btw, was Bob Gibson happy with "Hoot"?)
   10. Daryn Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:06 PM (#3072494)
Wasn't there a Primate who insisted that he was personally responsible for inspiring the "Crime Dog" nickname?

That was me. I came up with it. Seriously. I also made efforts to popularize it. I have documentation, but you probably wouldn't be interested.
   11. The District Attorney Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:20 PM (#3072522)
At least the "Wild Bills" or "Flash(s)" (as in Gordon) from the past either were wild in some way or flashy/fast.
Funny you should pick that particular example, because I'm pretty sure the only reason Tom Gordon was nicknamed "Flash" was because his last name was "Gordon." That would be quite analogous to McGriff. In both cases, the nickname is a pop culture reference playing off the last name, and so presumably could (or would) have been given to anyone with that same last name.

It doesn't seem that unusual for a nickname to just be a wacky play on the last name (I seem to recall Bill James mentioning a Bill "Goober" Zuber), but I dunno what historical percentage of nicknames are such ;-)
   12. RJ in TO Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:22 PM (#3072525)
Funny you should pick that particular example, because I'm pretty sure the only reason Tom Gordon was nicknamed "Flash" was because his last name was "Gordon."


I always thought it was a combination of his name AND a big fastball when he first came up. At least it seems more descriptive than the McGriff one.
   13. JPWF13 Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:29 PM (#3072535)
How much better would Perez have to be defensively to make up 10 points of OPS over 10000+ PA? That just seems like a lot of ground to make up.


1: If Tony had Keith Hernandez Glove, and McGriff had... McGriff's, that would easily make up 10 points.

2: Perez played 760 games at 3b, 1778 at 1B, 82 as DH
McGriff played 2239 at 1B and 175 as DH.

If Perez had played the majority of his games at 3B, then I'd say yes, Tony was better than McGriff even with McGriff's 10 point OPS+ advantage.
   14. JMPH Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:33 PM (#3072538)
The difference between McGriff and Eddie Murray is primarily defensive.

I read this as Eddie Murphy and about died laughing.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:37 PM (#3072546)
I read this as Eddie Murphy and about died laughing.


Was it an Eddie Murphy laugh?
   16. Dizzypaco Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:38 PM (#3072548)
McGriff had seven consecutive seasons where he finished in the top five in OPS, and played over 90% of his team's games. I'm guessing that's pretty rare. How many other players managed that feat and didn't make it to the HOF/HOM?

I'm not trying to present an argument for him - I just think its interesting, and certainly different than, say, Rusty Staub. Could an argument be made that he's Ralph Kiner with a long tail to his career?
   17. DL from MN Posted: February 09, 2009 at 10:56 PM (#3072577)
Jack Clark with rounder numbers
   18. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: February 10, 2009 at 03:44 AM (#3072817)
Subtracting out all of Pérez's numerous below-replacement seasons, and converting the rest to an AL format for consistency's sake (no change to value), I get him with 27.8 batting wins above average, 1 baserunning win below average, and 4.5 fielding wins above average, while a replacement player at his mix of positions would have been 16.5 wins below average in the same playing time, for a total of 47.8 wins above replacement (after adjusting for standard deviations). By contrast, McGriff has 44.4 batting wins above average, 2.9 baserunning wins below average, and 2.9 fielding wins below average, while a replacement player at his mix of positions would have been 12.1 wins below average in the same playing time, for a total of 50.8 wins above replacement after adjusting for standard deviations. So Pérez makes up 2 wins on baserunning, 7.5 on fielding, and 4.5 for having played more demanding positions, leaving him 3 wins short. Neither of them are anywhere close to my ballot.

I don't see the comparison to Kiner. A hitting peak of 166/166/157/157/153 isn't in the same class as 186/184/173/156/146.
   19. eric Posted: February 10, 2009 at 06:25 AM (#3072909)
10 30-HR seasons with 0 40-HR seasons, that's gotta be some sort of statistical oddity, right?
   20. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:48 PM (#3073187)
As someone who loves looking at how players develop...

McGriff is one hell of an oddity. People notice the freakish consistency in the MVP-type stats, but he wasn't consistent at all, really. He was an inverse ager- if you flip his career around, it makes much more sense from a typical aging perspective.

Look at McGriff's numbers at age 25:
.269 BA
107 UIBB (2nd in league)
132 K (6th in the league)
.525 SLG, (2nd in the league)
166 OPS+ (1st in the league).

A guy with that profile, you'd figure he'd develop into a TTO guy, right? The power would steadily increase, but so would the K's and BB's, and while you'd have some monster peak years with a ~575SLG and 100-130 BB, and that late career would look something like Jason Giambi.

But instead, the UIBB's start dropping from that peak year...the K's remain constant till age 28 or so, then that comes down too. He has a great, but fluky, strike season, but ny age 31, here's what he looks like:

.280BA
59 UIBB
99 K
.489 SLG
119 OPS+

Isn't that the opposite of what you'd expect? He clearly is looking at fewer pitches and/or cutting down his swing with 2 strikes. Why McGriff would have sacrificed his power and batting eye to keep up his BA is beyond me- he was a high K player, but not an ultra high K guy whose BA was dangerously low, like a Ryan Howard or Darryl Strawberry.

It has to be a coaching issue, right? Look at McGriff's age 35 to 37 seasons - the BB's and K's come back up again, but so does the HR power. McGriff's 35-37 seasons are completely consistent with his career up to age 28, and inconsistent with his age 29 to 34 seasons.

So I think 2 questions follow from this:
(1) Was McGriff hurt in his early 30's (the stats could be consistent with a back injury), or was this a coaching/approach issue?
(2) Given McGriff's late-career and early-career numbers, would he have been a HoMer if he hadn't decided to turn into Mark Grace for 5 seasons in the middle of his career?
   21. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 05:55 PM (#3073200)
Why McGriff would have sacrificed his power and batting eye to keep up his BA is beyond me- he was a high K player, but not an ultra high K guy whose BA was dangerously low, like a Ryan Howard or Darryl Strawberry.

It has to be a coaching issue, right?


It could be, it could also be that he was starting his swing a tiny bit earlier to compensate for loss of bat speed- and so had to decide to swing or not a tiny bit earlier, and if the pitch was close the default is swing... Later upon losing a little more speed, he consciously went to a take and rake approach.

Personally I think his mid career lull is what you'd get if someone like Dunn tried to put the ball in play more- a bit more balls in play, but more than offset by the loss in walks and HRs
   22. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 10, 2009 at 06:00 PM (#3073211)
Personally I think his mid career lull is what you'd get if someone like Dunn tried to put the ball in play more- a bit more balls in play, but more than offset by the loss in walks and HRs

I think this is exactly right. I find it fascinating, though, because athletes are supposed to be such good innate game theorists- there are those studies that look at, for example, penalty kicks in soccer, and my understanding is that they've found that the kick patterns approach near ideal behavior by both the athlete attempting the kick and the keeper.

Here, there's fairly good circumstantial evidence that McGriff used a subideal approach for several years. I think that its pretty rare; at leat, its pretty rare to see such a stark pattern.
   23. Mike Green Posted: February 10, 2009 at 06:11 PM (#3073223)
Hmm. Between 1990-93 (age 26-29), he had knocked his K rate down considerably while maintaining power, but lost power between age 31-34. It looks to me more like the effect of minor injuries rather than a change in approach was behind his mid-career lull. Someone who followed the Braves closely then might know more.
   24. JPWF13 Posted: February 10, 2009 at 06:21 PM (#3073237)
I think this is exactly right. I find it fascinating, though, because athletes are supposed to be such good innate game theorists- there are those studies that look at, for example, penalty kicks in soccer, and my understanding is that they've found that the kick patterns approach near ideal behavior by both the athlete attempting the kick and the keeper.

Here, there's fairly good circumstantial evidence that McGriff used a subideal approach for several years. I think that its pretty rare; at leat, its pretty rare to see such a stark pattern.



Hitting and defending penalty kicks is simple (on the simple vs complex spectrum, not saying it's easy or hard)
The optimal approach to hitting a baseball even for an individual hitter is far more complex- and changes depending upon who is pitching, who the fielders are, whether the wind is blowing in, or out, the park's dimensions, the [park's altitude...
   25. The District Attorney Posted: February 10, 2009 at 06:28 PM (#3073242)
He was an inverse ager- if you flip his career around, it makes much more sense from a typical aging perspective.
"Benjamin Button"... now that would have been an unusual nickname.
   26. Paul Wendt Posted: November 07, 2009 at 10:13 PM (#3382036)
He was awfully good for eight seasons, 1987-94, age 23.6-31.0
4709 pa, OPS+ 153
MVP award ranks: -- 17 6 10 10 6 4 8
(The no-show was his 107-game rookie season.)

He continued to play almost every day for another eight seasons, 1995-2002, age 31.6-39.0
5050 pa, OPS+ 121

Does he deserve election this year?
(There seems to be no viable candidate other than newcomers Larkin, Alomar, McGriff, and Martinez.)
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: November 10, 2009 at 03:33 AM (#3383687)
134 OPS+ in 10174 PA.

Bill Terry, 136 in 7111 PA, he ranks 18th of our 19 HOM 1Bs. Harmon Killebrew, 143 in 9831, ranks 12th. Will Clark, 137 in 8283 PA, ranks 14th with peak and glove factors.

Unelected Tony Perez 122 in 10861, but as noted played a lot of 3B.
   28. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 10, 2009 at 04:18 AM (#3383726)
Paul, I think there are several viable returning candidates this year, including the top 3 of Rizzuto, Cone and Cravath.

My first glance is that Larkin and Alomar are easy, then McGriff fits in with the top of the backlog, and Edgar a little behind it. But that's just my own thoughts, not a guess at what the electorate would do . . . I wasn't a big fan of Terry's election, I do like McGriff a little more at first glance.
   29. The District Attorney Posted: January 23, 2011 at 03:26 AM (#3734915)
On his pay site, Bill James recently analyzed everyone on the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot. He had McGriff as the fifth best player on the ballot (Bagwell 1st, Palmeiro 2nd, Raines 3rd, Blyleven 4th). He estimated McGriff's career won-lost record at 319-152, and pointed out that he has 403 Win Shares.
   30. DL from MN Posted: January 23, 2011 at 04:49 AM (#3734933)
People pay for that analysis?
   31. Juan V Posted: January 23, 2011 at 05:15 AM (#3734946)
I don't know if this is a dumb question, but what is a won-lost record in this context?
   32. The District Attorney Posted: January 23, 2011 at 05:45 AM (#3734953)
I'm sorry, I stated that incorrectly. McGriff's Win Share Value is 403. He has 319 Win Shares, and 152 Loss Shares. Win Share Value is a way to express that in one number.

[Win Share Value = Win Shares + ((Win Shares - Loss Shares) / 2)]

James states that players with Win Share Values of 400 or more can be described as "More-than-Qualified Hall of Famers of a type who are almost universally selected fairly quickly." I don't know how many eligible players have not been elected with 400, but it seems safe to assume that it can't be a large number.

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