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Sunday, May 06, 2007

George Brett

Eligible in 1999.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 05:49 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 05:52 PM (#2355940)
Don't make George angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 06, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2356017)
The fact that George Brett isn't the best 3B since Mathews tells you a whole lot about just how amazing Mike Schmidt was.
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2356032)
The fact that George Brett isn't the best 3B since Mathews tells you a whole lot about just how amazing Mike Schmidt was.


Does Brett have a case for the greatest peak among those three?

He's close, but Schmidt and Mathews are in a deathmatch for that distinction.
   4. OCF Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:04 PM (#2356072)
I found this in my files - it's a note to a friend of mine dated 7/25/99. I just reproduced the table in it without doing any futher checking - I must have been using a 1994 edition of Total Baseball. So I won't swear I got all of the data right in those pre-bb-ref days, and the baseball that has been played since has changed a few things. Oh, and while I frequently made fun of him then, I miss Ross Newhan now.

-----

I've got a few reflections on the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies held this week and the press coverage of them. As you know, the BBWAA elected three new members this year: Robin Yount, George Brett, and Nolan Ryan. These aren’t the only inductees, but we’ll get to that later.

You've heard me rail before about "combination categories", but some silly writer has come up with one so absurd that I’ve just got to respond. Ross Newhan of the L. A. Times said this about Brett in Sunday's paper: "He is the only player to amass 3,000 hits, 300 homers, 600 doubles, 100 triples, and 200 stolen bases." Yeesh! That's five categories. Kind of makes you wonder who you'd pick up if you start leaving categories out.

In the first place, this kind of nonsense is offensive to George Brett, whose Hall of Fame credentials need no contrived defense. Brett was only the second best 3rd baseman of his own time but there's a strong case that he was either the 2nd or 3rd best 3rd baseman of all time. (I concede that Mike Schmidt was better; the competition for the #2 spot is Eddie Mathews.)

One of the things to be suspicious of is that the numbers above do not represent the same levels of accomplishment. 3,000 hits is a major accomplishment, and Brett's 3154 places him 13th of all time. 600 doubles is a major accomplishment, and Brett's 665 places him 5th of all time. 100 triples is an odd one - many players have more, but most of them played long, long ago. Triples are era-dependent and park-dependent, and Brett played in the best triples park of the 70's and 80's. 300 home runs is not such a major accomplishment - 500 home runs, not 300 is about as common as 3,000 hits. 200 stolen bases is certainly not a major accomplishment, especially for a player whose career started in 1973.

OK, so who do you get if you leave out one of the categories in the 5-category parlay?

You don't get anyone by relaxing the requirement of 3,000 hits, since everyone with 600 doubles also has 3,000 hits.

If you relax the requirement of 600 doubles, you also get Willie Mays.

If you relax the requirement of 100 triples, you also get Hank Aaron (and Aaron had 98 triples).

If you relax the requirement of 200 stolen bases, you also get Stan Musial.

If you relax the requirement of 300 home runs, you also get Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Robin Yount, and Paul Molitor. Which is an interesting list: 4 guys from the dead ball era, and Yount and Molitor.

Here's a table of 14 players' accomplishments in these five categories. This includes all of the players with 600 career doubles. Some explanatory notes: my collection of sources make it difficult for me to get accurate career totals on players who retired in the 90's, so the SB numbers for both Yount and Brett are estimates and the statistics for Winfield are through the 1994 season - I don’t know if he played in 1995 or not. The Waner listed, is, of course, Paul.

.            Hits    2B      3B      HR      SB
Brett        3154    665     137     317     202
Aaron        3771    624      98     755     240
Mays         3283    423     140     660     338
Molitor      3319    605     114     234     504
Yount        3142    603     126     251     273
Cobb         4189    724     295     117     891
Winfield     3088    535      88     463     222
Speaker      3514    792     222     117     434
Rose         4256    746     135     160     198
Yastrzemski  3419    645      59     452     168
Musial       3630    725     177     475      78
Wagner       3415    640     252     101     722
Lajoie       3242    657     163      83     380
Waner        3152    605     191     113     104 


Among these 14 selected players, Brett ranks 11th in hits, 5th in doubles, 8th in triples, 6th in home runs, 10th in stolen bases, 7th in extra base hits, 6th in extra bases on hits, and 9th in total bases, all of which does not make him unique. Of course, this is solidly a list of Hall of Fame players, the only exceptions being the not-yet-eligible Molitor and Winfield and the disqualified Rose. This is no surprise, since all of them have 3,000 hits and every eligible player with 3,000 hits has been elected.

I just hope this is a little further inoculation against multi-category combinations. Brett is just over the minimum threshold in each case, which virtually guarantees that there are other players who miss on one category but are better than Brett at others. Aaron is much better than Brett in hits and home runs. Mays is much better than Brett in home runs and stolen bases. Cobb is much better than Brett in hits, triples, and stolen bases. Musial is substantially better than Brett in every category except stolen bases.

The thing to do with a multi-category combination is not to ask who else besides the player you're designing it for exceeds certain thresholds, but to ask who else in the history of the game is very similar to the first player across all of the categories. In the case of Brett and the 5 categories of hits, doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases, there is one obvious most-similar player, and it’s the man who shares the stage at Cooperstown, the man for whom Brett's youngest son is named: Robin Yount.
   5. OCF Posted: May 06, 2007 at 07:09 PM (#2356077)
That was only part of my note to the friend. The rest of it makes some very strange reading to me now, as I commented on the VC selections that year: Nestor Chylak, Frank Selee, Smokey Joe Williams, and Orlando Cepeda. What is clear from my comments is that at that time I had no idea who Frank Selee or Joe Williams were or what they had really accomplished. I know now.
   6. TomH Posted: May 06, 2007 at 08:27 PM (#2356273)
could be the #2 3Bman ever, depending on how much you give him for having possibly the best post-season resume among all position players. James must have done that to get him over Eddie M in the NBJHA.
   7. AndrewJ Posted: May 06, 2007 at 10:28 PM (#2356410)
could be the #2 3Bman ever, depending on how much you give him for having possibly the best post-season resume among all position players

Brett's major competition for #2 is Home Run Baker, who wasn't too shabby in the postseason himself.
   8. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 06, 2007 at 10:39 PM (#2356424)
Brett's major competition for #2 is Home Run Baker

Boggs?
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 06, 2007 at 11:19 PM (#2356474)
Boggs?


How about Mathews?
   10. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 06, 2007 at 11:33 PM (#2356489)
How about Mathews?

I figured since Mathews was mentioned in the post he quoted he wouldn't have forgot about him. And since no one has mentioned Boggs I thought I'd throw his name out there.
   11. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:09 AM (#2356529)
I figured since Mathews was mentioned in the post he quoted he wouldn't have forgot about him. And since no one has mentioned Boggs I thought I'd throw his name out there.


Gotcha.
   12. AndrewJ Posted: May 07, 2007 at 12:50 AM (#2356589)
I think Baker's dominance on a dynasty outweighs Boggs' batting titles. Baker was probably a better fielder than Boggs as well. Baker played in six World Series, as many as Schmidt, Brett and Boggs combined.
   13. Mark Donelson Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:10 AM (#2356614)
Baker played in six World Series, as many as Schmidt, Brett and Boggs combined.

Gil McDougald played in eight, I believe. I'm not sure that's really evidence of his all-time greatness...
   14. Mark Donelson Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:11 AM (#2356616)
To clarify, I'm not saying Baker wasn't better than Boggs--just that that's not the reason. (But Mathews was better than either of them...)
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:17 AM (#2356623)
For those too young to remember it, is there a youtube for them to watch the famous "Pine Tar Incident?" Man, that was a hoot. He came sprinting out of the dugout like his arse was on fire!

Gaylord Perry, age 44, was on that team, and I vaguely remember some claimed some sort of shenanigans regarding the bat and him.
Looking it up, I see Brett also played that year with an eclectic bunch of hurlers: Gura, Splittorff, Bud Black, Steve Renko, Vida Blue, Leonard, Quisenberry, 21-yr-old Danny Jackson - and Joe Simpson even PITCHED 2 games.
   16. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:43 AM (#2356650)
1980, v. LHP: .318/.359/.531, 195 PA, 16 SO, 13 walks (3 intentional)
1980, v. RHP: .437/.513/.752, 320 PA, 6 SO, 45 walks (14 intentional)

July 1980: .494/.541/.812, 42 hits, 98 PA
August 1980: .430/.489/.645, 52 hits, 139 PA

From August 17th to August 23rd, from August 26th to September 5th, and on September 19th, Brett's BA was at .400 or higher.

Royals record in games with Brett, 1980: 74-43
Royals record in their other games: 23-22
   17. Mark Donelson Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2356656)
I'm a Yankee fan in my late 30s, and there's never been a hitter I've feared as much as Brett. He scared the hell out of me every time he came up against the Yanks.

is there a youtube for them to watch the famous "Pine Tar Incident?"

It appears there is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cu1WXylkto

I was watching this game at the time. Brett's demeanor upon hearing the ruling still never fails to crack me up...he really does look like he's going to kill the umpire if he isn't held back.
   18. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:49 AM (#2356658)
At age 29, following the 1903 season, Honus Wagner's #1 BB-ref comp is Frank Baker, who at the same age had just taken off the 1915 season (there are various reasons given as to why he did so). Wagner's best seasons were still ahead of him, but even in 1903 Wagner was recognized as one of the all-around great players of the game, and for someone to be in that same vicinity as a hitter - and be a plus defender at 3B (still a very important defensive position until at least 1930) - says something about the player. Baker deserves a lot more credit than he tends to get. I think the famous HRs work against him in that respect - people forget the era, see that he only hit 96 HRs in his career, and think he's overrated as an all-time great. But he's not.

-- MWE
   19. Mark Donelson Posted: May 07, 2007 at 01:58 AM (#2356672)
I think the famous HRs work against him in that respect - people forget the era, see that he only hit 96 HRs in his career, and think he's overrated as an all-time great. But he's not.

Oh, he's definitely not. I just prefer Mathews ever so slightly for the #2 spot.

Baker does appear to have become quite underrated historically--I think the "average" baseball fan who knows who any of these guys are thinks of him as roughly an equal of Pie Traynor, which is of course absurd.
   20. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:06 AM (#2356677)
For those too young to remember it, is there a youtube for them to watch the famous "Pine Tar Incident?" Man, that was a hoot. He came sprinting out of the dugout like his arse was on fire!

Please refrain from making "like his arse was on fire" comments regarding George Brett...
   21. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:12 AM (#2356687)
George Brett v. the Yankees: .307/.365/.504, 29 HR (860 PA)

Below average BA and OBP, higher than average SLG

Pitchers that Brett owned.

Jim Abbott: 17 for 32, 3 HR
Doyle Alexander: .352 BA in 71 AB
Floyd Bannister: .348 BA, 5 HR, in 69 AB
Jim Clancy: 34 for 78, 5 HR
Ron Guidry: .352 BA and 5 HR in 56 AB
Paul Hartzell: 13 for 22
Dennis Martinez: .359 BA, 5 HR in 64 AB
Byron McLaughlin: 7 for 11, 3 HR
Jack Morris: .330 BA, 5 HR in 88 AB
Gene Nelson: 10 for 26, 5 HR
Dan Petry: 20 for 58, 6 HR
Mike Smithson: 21 for 38
Sammy Stewart: 10 for 25, 3 HR
Frank Tanana: .308 BA and 5 HR in 91 AB

Brett's lines against Blyleven, Tommy John, and Catfish Hunter are rather unimpressive.

Brett v. Hunter: .271/.260/.375

Brett also had bad lines against Allan Anderson (4 for 28), Jeff Ballard (3 for 23), Dick Bosman (2 for 13), Jaime Cocanower (0 for 10), Dock Ellis (1 for 14), Steve Frey (0 for 9), Juan Guzman (4 for 18), Kevin Hickey (0 for 15), Randy Johnson (1 for 11), Pat Underwood (1 for 19), Ed Vande Berg (1 for 19), and Geoff Zahn (10 for 53)
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:22 AM (#2356705)
Brett vs Gossage, regular and postseason?
   23. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:22 AM (#2356706)
I'm sure Kevin Hickey is willing to accept a career where he was a relief pitcher, who held Brett to being 0 for 15. Kevin Hickey also held Boggs to a 1 for 11 line.
   24. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:31 AM (#2356718)
Brett v. Gossage, Regular Season: 10 for 35, 2 homers, 5 walks, 2 Ks.

Brett's two HRs were the Pine Tar Game, and an 8th inning home run on April 8th, 1992 which tied the game.

Brett v. Gossage, Post Season: 1 for 3, 1 HR.
   25. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 07, 2007 at 03:44 AM (#2356785)
I became a Royals fan once Brett was beginning his decline. I remember two particularly hot streaks:

On July 8, 1990, George was hitting .267/.341/.350, a pretty down year, but expected for a 37 year old in the twilight of his career. From that point on, he hit .388/.433/.673 the rest of the way. He hit 33 doubles in 278 at bats and struck out just 28 times. He had base hits in 60 of his last 71 games. He had 37 mult-hit games over those 71 games. He had nine games with three hits or more, and four four hit games. At age 37. In just 71 games. He also became the first person to win batting titles in three different decades.

I also like that he ended his career on a hot streak. He hit .305 with 5 homers and 17 BI in the last full month of his career, and had a two home run 5 RBI game in the last week of his career against the Angels. Its nice to see your hero ending his career in the uniform you knew him in, still hitting the ball well.
   26. OCF Posted: May 07, 2007 at 02:29 PM (#2357040)
I hear from the son of OCF:

I saw your post on the George Brett thread, and I checked bbref. The updates:

Winfield played in 1995; his final numbers were 3110, 540, 88, 465, 223.

There aren't any new players with 4/5 categories matched, but two active players are close:

Biggio: 2959, 645, 55, 284, 411. He had 135 H and 21 HR last year. Yes, he has 600 2B without 3000 H; that won't last.

Bonds: 2866, 590, 77, 744, 510. Reaching 3000 H this year would be 159 for the year, a total he's matched only 3 times (1993, 1996, 1998). In other words, it won't happen.

Steve Finley is also worth mentioning: 2540, 448, 124, 304, 320.

The leaderboards now go down to #1000, so here's the number of people matching each accomplishment (through Saturday's games):

3000 H: 26
600 2B: 13
100 3B: 158
300 HR: 114
200 SB: 331

Random record watch: Bonds is currently tied with Aaron and Ruth for 3rd all time in runs scored. He has fewer doubles, fewer triples, and fewer home runs than Hank Aaron- but he's still second all time in extra base hits.
Bonds is not in the top 200 in singles.
Craig Biggio is only 4 HBP away from tying Jennings' record. Jason Kendall is in the top 10 at only 33; we'll see how much more punishment he can take.
   27. AndrewJ Posted: May 07, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2357659)
Baker's career stats and overall reputation were diminished by his quitting twice in mid-career, once over a salary dispute and once to take care of his kids after his wife died. If he'd had a more normal career trajectory, he -- not Pie Traynor -- would have been recognized as the greatest third baseman of the early 1900s.
   28. jimd Posted: May 07, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2357663)
Brett's major competition for #2 is Home Run Baker

Due to the 2b-3b shift in the fielding spectrum , Brett & Schmidt & Boggs & Mathews competition really should be Lajoie & ECollins & Hornsby.

By the same logic, Baker and Traynor should be compared against Morgan and Fox (and Biggio and Alomar).
   29. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: May 09, 2007 at 08:16 AM (#2359159)
Jason Kendall is in the top 10 at only 33; we'll see how much more punishment he can take.

Well, we'll see how long teams are stupid enough to keep running his carcass out there, at any rate.
   30. Retire #21 Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:08 AM (#2383195)
There were also a lot of great intangibles surrounding George's career. It was fun following him. Being from Pittsburgh, but loving George and the KC Royals, I can remember not only the infamous pine tar incident, but the hemmorhoids he had, that big breasted woman who'd run onto the field and kiss George (and others). He was just an exciting player who loved to play the game. It was infectious. Many of today's players, though great hitters, lack enthusiam an just play for a paycheck.
   31. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:41 AM (#2383321)
Many of today's players, though great hitters, lack enthusiam an just play for a paycheck.


That can be said for every decade professional baseball has been played.

I remember countless stories about how the players from the Seventies and Eighties (the decades I grew up in) didn't have the same passion for the game as the last generation had.
   32. karlmagnus Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:53 AM (#2383376)
Not-Grandma, your man Dickey Pearse and Joe Start can't have had that said about them, at least early in their career; there were no paychecks.
   33. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: May 30, 2007 at 12:59 AM (#2383402)
Well, we'll see how long teams are stupid enough to keep running his carcass out there, at any rate

I think he'd fit in with the Angels.
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2007 at 01:32 AM (#2383537)
Not-Grandma, your man Dickey Pearse and Joe Start can't have had that said about them, at least early in their career; there were no paychecks.


I bet someone said that they didn't have the same spirit as the old Cartwright Knickerbockers. :-)
   35. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: November 18, 2008 at 12:29 PM (#3011370)
http://www.theunticket.com/george-brett-shits-himself-story/

I will never look at George the same way again.

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