Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Hall of Merit > Discussion
Hall of Merit
— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jack Clark

Eligible in 1998.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:15 AM | 139 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:23 AM (#2336721)
Is it a coincidence that Clark had his best season exactly 100 years after the original Jack the Ripper's murder spree?

I think not.
   2. OCF Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:11 AM (#2336836)
For those of you who don't remember his stance - I don't think anyone around is using anything quite like it. He started in a strongly closed stance (that's rare enough these days). He started with his back heel (his right heel) in the air. As the pitcher went into his motion, he jammed his heel back toward the catcher and down onto the ground. With that timing mechanism in place, he then stepped back with the front foot, opening up and twisting his hips violently, whipping his bat through the hitting zone. Every home run of his from 1987 that I remember wasn't some polite little over the fence fly ball - no, they seemed to all be upper-deck ego-crushers.

LaPoint, Uribe, and Rajsich for Clark prior to the 1985 season does qualify as a steal of a trade, especially if you consider Uribe's likely future value to the Cardinals (as someone who wasn't going to take Ozzie's job.)
   3. Paul Wendt Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:29 AM (#2336840)
A deadly, battering batter.
His best season ruined by injury. Was it the 100th anniversary of Tip O'Neill?
   4. DCW3 Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:32 AM (#2336841)
Every home run of his from 1987 that I remember wasn't some polite little over the fence fly ball - no, they seemed to all be upper-deck ego-crushers.

In 1987 Clark had an .893 slugging percentage when he actually made contact with the ball. That was the second-highest on-contact slugging percentage of any player between 1932 (Foxx, .896) and 1996 (McGwire, .994), bested only by Willie Stargell's .899 in 1971.

So, yeah, I think it's safe to say that he hit the ball pretty darn hard.
   5. jingoist Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:43 AM (#2336844)
Did I read somewhere that Clark was a prolific spender and pretty much spent all the money he'd made playing ball a few years after retiring?
I believe I had read he owned a large number of exotic automobiles and other expensive toys?
OCF, How was Clark viwed by fellow Cardinal players and bt ST. Louis fans?
   6. TomH Posted: April 17, 2007 at 12:15 PM (#2336865)
Yes, Clark (from Whitey H's You're Missing a Great Game) would pull stuff like dropping by a car dealer and plunking down huge $$ for a shiny new toy without thinking twice.

He declared bankruptcy some time ago.
   7. Me And Willie McGee (Urban Bovine Knievel) Posted: April 17, 2007 at 01:50 PM (#2336908)
I remember Clark losing home runs because he didn't lift the ball enough. He had a pretty flat swing, I remember him hitting line drives off the wall.

That's a great stat, DCW3_.
   8. Boots Day Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:08 PM (#2336926)
LaPoint, Uribe, and Rajsich for Clark prior to the 1985 season does qualify as a steal of a trade

David Green went to the Giants too, and was maybe the centerpiece of the trade for them. Green was an odd cat -- a speedy first baseman with middling power, mediocre batting averages and almost no walks. He was very young, supposedly just 22 when he broke into the Cardinals' lineup and 24 when the Giants traded for him, but I think there may have been honesty issues there.

At any rate, the Giants released Green a year after trading Jack Clark for him.
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:14 PM (#2336930)
For those who are adamant that "clutch" does not exist in any tangible sense I encourage you to search through the archives and read the quotes from opposing pitchers with respect to Clark from about 1978-1988.

Whatever Jack's flaws when the game was on the line he was one tough hombre to get out.

On another nuance note Clark was one of the first power hitters to swing a "light" bat which of course is now all the rage. Jack was all about waiting, waiting, waiting on a pitch and believed the lightweight bat allowed him to be patient yet still get through the hitting zone. You could almost hear the "whoosh" when he swung.
   10. Boots Day Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:51 PM (#2336963)
Oops -- actually the Giants traded Green to the Brewers after one season, and the Brewers quickly released him. My bad.
   11. DL from MN Posted: April 17, 2007 at 03:54 PM (#2337007)
#20 on (off) my ballot around Bob Elliott
   12. Jose Canusee Posted: April 17, 2007 at 07:29 PM (#2337160)
David Green went to the Giants too, and was maybe the centerpiece of the trade for them. Green was an odd cat -- a speedy first baseman with middling power, mediocre batting averages and almost no walks. He was very young, supposedly just 22 when he broke into the Cardinals' lineup and 24 when the Giants traded for him, but I think there may have been honesty issues there.

I think there were drug issues also. BBRef shows him at the ages you say and he did get 10 3B in 83. Kinda looks like the anti-Jeremy Giambi in tools but similare in outcome.
   13. DCW3 Posted: April 17, 2007 at 07:51 PM (#2337174)
In 1987 Clark had an .893 slugging percentage when he actually made contact with the ball.

Now, what tempers this somewhat is the fact that Clark made contact that year less frequently than any other player in major league history. He led the league in walks (15 more than the guy in second place) and was second in strikeouts despite missing more than thirty games. He failed to make contact with the ball in an incredible 49.3% of his plate appearances. Nobody has ever topped that. Just a truly bizarre season in a lot of ways.
   14. JPWF13 Posted: April 17, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2337176)
For those who are adamant that "clutch" does not exist in any tangible sense I encourage you to search through the archives and read the quotes from opposing pitchers with respect to Clark from about 1978-1988.


Yes he was feared, and he hit a famous game winner in the playoffs, BUT
for his career he hit .256/.355/.460 "late and close"
.268/.401/.486 when it was a tie game
and .263/.388/.480 when it was a 1 run game

overall he was .267/.379/.476

sure he had HIS SHARE of clutch hits, pretty much any one with 8000+ mlb PAs does- but was he "Clutch"?

The numbers (and an 8000 PA career is a pretty decent sample size) do not say that he elevated HIS particular game to any great degree when the game was on the line. he was a good hitter overall and a good hitter with the game on the line.
   15. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:05 PM (#2337191)
Clark managed a Frontier League team after he was fired as the Dodgers' hitting coach. He didn't seem to enjoy it -- the team went 8-40 during the first half, and he left around that time, citing his father's health. A tough man to track down for post-game interviews during that time; he parked his car behind the CF fence, and thus went in a different direction than everybody else.
   16. Darren Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:14 PM (#2337204)
Mr. Duende! according to Gammons, IIRC.
   17. OCF Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:36 PM (#2337234)
I spent 6 weeks one summer living in Boston, and did see one game in Fenway Park. In that game, Jack Clark hit a ball not just over the Green Monster but against or on top of the building across the street. It was a monster shot.

OK, tracked the game down on Retrosheet. July 18, 1991. Chili Davis also hit an impressive HR in that game, as an opposite field shot.
   18. Guapo Posted: April 17, 2007 at 08:43 PM (#2337239)
I remember Jack Clark as a clutch god too.

Here's a fun link from the sports reference blog regarding most walk-off hits in the retrosheet era. Clark ranks pretty highly:

Most Walk-Off Hits
   19. OCF Posted: April 17, 2007 at 09:44 PM (#2337295)
[Clark 1987] Just a truly bizarre season in a lot of ways.

When has any recent power hitter found himself in such a lineup position?

The most common #1-2-3 hitters in the lineup had OPB of .363, .392, .360, which is nice, and were a collective 171-43 as base stealers, and hit a grand total of 15 HR among them. The most common #5 hitter had a .285 BA with a 37-11-11 extra base hit line - not exactly your stereotypical "protection" but he did have 105 RBI batting behind Clark. Clark himself hit 35 HR in 419 AB; the entire rest of the roster hit 59 HR in 5081 AB.

This team poses a number of puzzles for offensive evaluation. In a 12-team league, in a slight hitters park (park factors around 102), they were 6th in the league in BA, 9th in the league in SLG, and 1st in the league in OBP. They had a team OPS+ of 94, but nonetheless scored the 2nd most runs in the league.

Team offense isn't quite the simple linear sum of the contributions of the individual players. There are synergies, both negative and positive. The cumulative effect of multiple high slugging percentages can be less than the sum of the parts, and the cumulative effect of multiple high OBP can be more than the sum of the parts (even if you do have a staggering number of runners LOB.) The marginal impact of a single slugger would never be higher than one in Clark's situation, as the sole power threat in an otherwise extreme low-power but relatively high on base lineup. However, that does let the other team take the power out of the picture by "pitching around" him - and indeed, that's what was happening in July and August that year. (In September, Clark wasn't even there.)

Of course, if you're down 4-3 in the 8th with your 5-6-7 hitters due up, it would be nice if there were someone due up in the next couple of innings who could tie it with one swing ...
   20. DavidFoss Posted: April 17, 2007 at 09:47 PM (#2337300)
Its funny, I thought it was the "SABR"/"TTO" guys that loved Clark and not the "Clutch" guys.
   21. Steve Treder Posted: April 17, 2007 at 10:02 PM (#2337314)
The most common #1-2-3 hitters in the lineup had OPB of .363, .392, .360, which is nice, and were a collective 171-43 as base stealers, and hit a grand total of 15 HR among them.

My favorite description of the 1987 Cardinals: "Before the national anthem is over, the bases are loaded and Jack Clark is up."
   22. Steve Treder Posted: April 17, 2007 at 10:05 PM (#2337315)
He failed to make contact with the ball in an incredible 49.3% of his plate appearances. Nobody has ever topped that.

What's also weird is the way Clark transformed his hitting style over the course of his career. As a young hitter, he rarely struck out for a guy with excellent power, and neither did he walk a whole lot. But in the mid-1980s, he suddenly completely changed into an extreme Frank-Thomas-style deep-count-in-every-at-bat sort.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: April 17, 2007 at 10:11 PM (#2337316)
So, yeah, I think it's safe to say that he hit the ball pretty darn hard.

I've told this story before, but the single most impressive home run I have ever seen live was one Clark hit in an exhibition game against Stanford in April of 1982. It was a deafeningly loud line drive that disappeared into some trees about 75 feet beyond the left field fence, still rising, I swear, still rising.

It terrifying, like witnessing two speeding locomotives collide or something, a sheer physical immensity that made all spectators seem puny and powerless.
   24. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: April 17, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2337322)
I spent 6 weeks one summer living in Boston, and did see one game in Fenway Park. In that game, Jack Clark hit a ball not just over the Green Monster but against or on top of the building across the street. It was a monster shot.

That's fairly common, actually. When you want to talk about "monster shots" at Fenway, you say they landed on the Mass Turnpike, well beyond the buildings on Landsdown street.
   25. sunnyday2 Posted: April 17, 2007 at 11:53 PM (#2337423)
>a deafeningly loud line drive that disappeared into some trees about 75 feet beyond the left field fence, still rising,

Them's some taaaall trees!
   26. Tom (and his broom) Posted: April 18, 2007 at 12:40 AM (#2337522)
I have many fond memories of Jack Clark...

first...it gets lost that when he first came up he was a true five tool player...he was fast and has a cannon of an arm...i watched one game on tv in 76 where he scored from second on a routine fly-out to cf...and in 77 i went to a game where on three flyouts he made throws to plate...first was a hair late..second one the catcher dropped...but the third nailed the runner....none of the three bounced and they were all frozen ropes right on the money.

he was clutch...not only that but he seemed to thrive under pressure especially when he was young...but my most vivid memory of him in the clutch was this game, Giants down by two, bottom of the ninth, two outs, runners on second and third, 0-2 count....

the announcer was saying that Sutter would be foolish to try and fool him with a third splitter...he was right.
   27. KJOK Posted: April 18, 2007 at 12:47 AM (#2337535)
I mostly remember Clark from his days with the Cardinals, but he was probably actually a better overall player from 1978-84 with the Giants, as he could also field in RF, throw, and even run a little.
   28. sunnyday2 Posted: April 18, 2007 at 01:01 AM (#2337577)
SABR dudes do love Clark--Will.
   29. DavidFoss Posted: April 18, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2337766)
Clark was quite the prospect. Tearing up AA at age 19.
   30. Steve Treder Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:09 AM (#2337802)
he was probably actually a better overall player from 1978-84 with the Giants, as he could also field in RF, throw, and even run a little.

He was actually mostly a CF when he first arrived in the majors, tall and gangly. He was one hell of an all-around athlete.
   31. Ginger Nut Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:21 AM (#2337820)
A couple of years ago I was going through some of my old stuff in a closet in my parents' house and I found a high school textbook. In it I had written, "Jack Clark .320 avg 30 HRs 120 RBI triple crown" (or something like that--can't remember the exact numbers). It was my first ever projection, from when I was about 14. It was about as accurate and well informed as my subsequent projections. He was the star of the team when I first started to really follow baseball. BTW, anyone remember the campaign to get Johnnie LeMaster on the All Star team (was that in 1983)?

As for Clark, I also remember listening to "Sports Phone 68 with Ken Dito," where there would be call after call about trading Jack Clark. Because he was the best player on the team, it seemed that he was always blamed for the team's losing ways.

Furthermore, I remember that Clark sounded really, really inarticulate during post-game interviews.

That is all.
   32. Ginger Nut Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:24 AM (#2337822)
Actually one other thing. I remember in one of his books Bill James said something like, it's a pity that the two best hitters of the 1980s spent most of their careers in pitchers' parks, and thus were not recognized to the extent that they should have been. One was Clark. Name the other player.
   33. Juan V Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:28 AM (#2337827)
Pedro Guerrero?
   34. Russ Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:45 AM (#2337843)
Darrell Evans? Although I think the Guerrero guess is probably right...
   35. Russ Posted: April 18, 2007 at 03:46 AM (#2337844)
Actually, I was also thinking Dwight Evans... both were pretty good.
   36. Ginger Nut Posted: April 18, 2007 at 11:05 AM (#2337921)
It was Pedro Guerrero!

Now, was the comment accurate?
   37. Paul Wendt Posted: April 18, 2007 at 06:05 PM (#2338175)
The Boston Globe reported once in the 1990s that Clark was looking for work, needing money partly to carry for his stable of a dozen autos, or a score.

Bill James called Guerrero the best hitter in baseball more than once. I don't know about Clark.


Team offense isn't quite the simple linear sum of the contributions of the individual players. There are synergies, both negative and positive. The cumulative effect of multiple high slugging percentages can be less than the sum of the parts, and the cumulative effect of multiple high OBP can be more than the sum of the parts (even if you do have a staggering number of runners LOB.)

There is also measurement error of the parts. Baserunning may be omitted (as in OPS+). Or it is undervalued because it is discretionary (compare intentional walk); one "stolen run" or one taking the extra base should have more win value than one batting run or one pitching run.

How unusual is 171-43 as team basestealing record? unusually frequent attempts, unusually high success rate
   38. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: April 19, 2007 at 04:30 AM (#2338999)
How unusual is 171-43 as team basestealing record? unusually frequent attempts, unusually high success rate


It's no 314-96 (1985).
   39. OCF Posted: April 19, 2007 at 05:17 AM (#2339026)
By the way, 171-43 wasn't the whole team. It was just Coleman, Smith, and Pendleton, the most frequent 1-2-3- hitters. There were a couple of other decent stealers on the team (Herr, McGee) and the whole team total was 248-72. Which, as Le Samouai pointed out, wasn't quite what they'd done a couple of years earlier.

I do need to work up some numbers for quite a few of this year's new candidates. I'm particularly interested in what Guerrero looks like, compared to, say, Cepeda.
   40. DCW3 Posted: April 19, 2007 at 06:49 AM (#2339087)
The marginal impact of a single slugger would never be higher than one in Clark's situation, as the sole power threat in an otherwise extreme low-power but relatively high on base lineup. However, that does let the other team take the power out of the picture by "pitching around" him - and indeed, that's what was happening in July and August that year.

If you can stand one more statistical tidbit about Clark's 1987: he walked in 24.4% of his plate appearances. Here is a list of the players who were ever walked more frequently over the course of a season than Clark:

- Ted Williams
- Barry Bonds

That's unbelievable. 1987 was just when I was first starting to become aware of baseball: I knew who Clark was, and I knew he was a great hitter, but not much more than that. Was there much attention paid to just how historic Clark's season was?
   41. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: April 19, 2007 at 07:06 AM (#2339090)
I didn't look up the BB% but I looked at the stat line earlier tonight; I knew he walked a lot that year but 139 in 131 games? My god.
   42. sunnyday2 Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:54 AM (#2339104)
>Was there much attention paid to just how historic Clark's season was?

I'd say no. I mean, he lost the MVP to Andre Dawson with Ozzie #2. But then, #3 in the MVP vote with all those missed games isn't so bad and he was 2 slots ahead of Will. I wonder if some voters were confused by the 2 Clarks.
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 19, 2007 at 12:29 PM (#2339117)
Furthermore, I remember that Clark sounded really, really inarticulate during post-game interviews.


Not just post-game interviews. He was terrible anywhere I heard him, even on "Sports Challenge."
   44. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 19, 2007 at 12:54 PM (#2339133)
DCW3:

Clark's 1987 was lost somewhat in the general hubub over the 1987 season itself. Remember, that was a HUGE offensive year relative to the recent past with guys like Dale Sveum and Larry Sheets having big home run years.

Factor in Dawson's seemingly big season taking place on a superstation with Harry Caray gushing, Clark's lost time to injury affecting his counting stats, and the general flood of homers and his combination of walks and power just didn't grab center stage.

But clearly the opposition recognized that Jack was a "bad" man. I think both intuitively and visually teams had triggers to walk him at every opportunity. By that I mean everyone knew Clark was a serious power threat and needed to be treated carefully. But the other thing was the Clark was typically 25 pounds heavier and 2 inches taller than anyone else in the lineup. He stuck out like a sore thumb in that setup.
   45. DCW3 Posted: April 19, 2007 at 05:10 PM (#2339381)
Thanks for the information.

I mean, he lost the MVP to Andre Dawson with Ozzie #2. But then, #3 in the MVP vote with all those missed games isn't so bad...

Yeah, even with all the walks, third place was hardly a snub: Clark finished 7th in the league in both RCAP and VORP, and I don't think he was supposed to be an especially good defender. He was still a whole lot better than Dawson, though.
   46. OCF Posted: April 19, 2007 at 06:55 PM (#2339560)
But clearly the opposition recognized that Jack was a "bad" man. I think both intuitively and visually teams had triggers to walk him at every opportunity.

My proposal in immediate aftermath of the 1987 MVP brouhaha was to decide it this way. Take 15 or 20 pitchers selected from around the league. Hook each of them in turn up to a polygraph machine in front of a slide projector. Project slides on the screen of Dawson, Clark, Gwynn, Raines, Strawberry, Murphy, and so on, in their batting stances, with the pictures taken from the mound perspective. Have the pitchers say, "I'm not afraid of him. I can take care of him any time I need to." Then go with who elicits the biggest spikes on the polygraph. On this test, my money would have been on Clark.
   47. jingoist Posted: April 19, 2007 at 08:59 PM (#2339745)
jack Clark, a Pittsburgh guy? Who knew. But now that I read in HoM posts that he was verbally challanged, I guess I'm not surprised.
With over 1,400 SO's in his career Ill bet there were some pitchers who licked their chops when Jack came to bat. I'm not saying all, or even many, pitchers felt that way but I'll bet that some guys did very well against Jack.
He obvouusly had several dominant years and seems to have had a stretch of 14 very good years, a very nice "prime".
Was he a good enough for the HoM, thats' the question.
My guess is thathe comes up just a bit short.
   48. Paul Wendt Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2339760)
42. sunnyday2 Posted: April 19, 2007 at 06:54 AM (#2339104)
>Was there much attention paid to just how historic Clark's season was?

I'd say no. I mean, he lost the MVP to Andre Dawson with Ozzie #2. But then, #3 in the MVP vote with all those missed games isn't so bad and he was 2 slots ahead of Will. I wonder if some voters were confused by the 2 Clarks.


As I recall, Jack Clark had the MVP award nearly locked up after five months. Not only was he obviously the m.v.p. but he was going to win the award hands down. Probably this was the judgment of the Boston Globe notes columnist, who was probably then Peter Gammons.

I couldn't understand why the Cardinals were a big favorite without Clark, or why so in 1985 without Coleman. That was silly. Toronto '85 and Detroit '87 were big favorites in the ALCS, that I understand, but the little red wagon missing one of its four wheels?
   49. Steve Treder Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:19 PM (#2339773)
As I recall, Jack Clark had the MVP award nearly locked up after five months. Not only was he obviously the m.v.p. but he was going to win the award hands down.

More like three months. He had 23 HRs and 72 RBIs at the end of June, and then limped (figuratively and literally) the rest of the way.
   50. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:27 PM (#2339787)
But the other thing was the Clark was typically 25 pounds heavier and 2 inches taller than anyone else in the lineup. He stuck out like a sore thumb in that setup.

Wow, that's a great observation. I watched a lot of Mets/Cards tilts in those years, and I DO remember Clark for being a really large guy. And yet, when I look at pictures and baseball cards (think 1982 Topps), he doesn't look exceptionally big. I think you're right that his team-relative size is a factor here.

jack Clark, a Pittsburgh guy? Who knew. But now that I read in HoM posts that he was verbally challanged, I guess I'm not surprised.

Boooooooooooooooo! Just because Pittsburghers (which I was once one and to whom I have sympathies) say yins, overpronounce their ohs and oh dipthongs and have a certain Pittsburghese vernacular does not mean they are verbally challenged! Jingo, your posts are usually free from this sort of slander, so I'm surprised that you would stoop to it. You must be either a West Virginian, an Eastern Ohian, or a Buffalo fan.... ; )
   51. mulder & scully Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:32 PM (#2339794)
Any thoughts about Clark's HoM worthiness? His inability to stay in the lineup hurts him in my book. In only 6 years (plus 1981) out of 16 full seasons did he play 140 games. Look at 1984 for example: Same OPS+ as 1987, but he only played 57 games. OR 1980 where he was 2nd in OPS+ but only played 127 games. Or 1986 where it looks like he was hurt all year. Or the month or so he missed in 1983, 1985, and 1987. Or the month and a half in 1990.
Among players with careers (sort of) centered in the 1980s, here are players with better OPS+ and their PA:

Schmidt 147 9900
Mitchell 142 4600
Clark, W 138 8100 (more a 90s player, but)
Strawberry 138 6200
Clark, J 137 8100
Guerrero 137 6000
Brett 135 11500
Tartabull 133 5800 (1/2 the 80s)
Gwynn 132 10000
Canseco 131 8000 (1/2 the 80s)
Boggs 130 10500

I didn't realize how rare Clark was during the 80s. The only players over a 130 OPS+ who played most of the 80s were Schmidt, Mitchell, Strawberry, Guerrero, Brett, Gwynn, and Boggs. And Clark has playing time over Mitchell, Straw, and Guerrero.
Probably won't be on my ballot, but impressive.
   52. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:40 PM (#2339799)
Clark is much like Reggie Smith as M&S's chart shows. Nearly the same OPS+ too. He was also an OF (despite his latter-day seasons at 1B/DH). He wasn't durable but he could really hit. If you can get around the durability, then OK. If not, bye-bye. WS and WARP will have some durability built into them and they likely both won't prefer him (though I don't know Clark's WARP myself). I've got him ten or more slots south of the line, in the same neighborhood as Smith among RFs.
   53. DavidFoss Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:44 PM (#2339803)
Hmmm... Winfield, Murray & Henderson all hung on for so long at the end that their career OPS+'s dipped into the 127-129 range.
   54. Steve Treder Posted: April 19, 2007 at 09:52 PM (#2339809)
I watched a lot of Mets/Cards tilts in those years, and I DO remember Clark for being a really large guy. And yet, when I look at pictures and baseball cards (think 1982 Topps), he doesn't look exceptionally big. I think you're right that his team-relative size is a factor here.

That, and the fact that Clark's body shape changed a lot over the course of his career. Into the 1980s, he was rather slim, narrow-waisted, long-limbed. Then he really, really bulked up over the course of a few years in the mid-1980s ... in the current day there would be rampant steroid suspicion around him.
   55. Paul Wendt Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:27 PM (#2339824)
Raines "hit" 130 OPS+ during the 1980s (nine seasons at a glance) and
Henderson hit 130 OPS+ through . . . 17 full seasons?
It looks like Murray hit ~140 for 14 seasons and he was a better batter than Clark, I believe.

To me, a generation older or nearly so, it is the 90s that seem wrong. There weren't many OPS+ 130 batters in the 1970s, were there?
   56. DavidFoss Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:30 PM (#2339826)
Clark's body shape changed a lot over the course of his career

He was *very* young when he first came up. Only 19.
   57. Steve Treder Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:31 PM (#2339827)
There weren't many OPS+ 130 batters in the 1970s, were there?

There were scads. Without doing any calculations, just eyeballing it, I strongly suspect there were more OPS+ 130 batters in the '70s than in the '80s, proportional to the number of teams.
   58. Steve Treder Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2339830)
He was *very* young when he first came up. Only 19.

And he was skinny as a rail then.

But the change in Clark's body from 1982 to 1987 (ages 26 to 31) was dramatic, highly unusual.
   59. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 19, 2007 at 10:43 PM (#2339836)
The only players over a 130 OPS+ who played most of the 80s were Schmidt, Mitchell, Strawberry, Guerrero, Brett, Gwynn, and Boggs


This is the low standard deviation you always hear me ranting about.
   60. Paul Wendt Posted: April 19, 2007 at 11:30 PM (#2339882)
I thought it was the outfielders. For fifteen years, I said to myself and sometimes aloud, "When I was a boy all the best players were outfielders." The 3Bmen, Morgan, Carew, Yount & Molitor, Bench Fisk and Carter made it seem that way.
   61. OCF Posted: April 20, 2007 at 06:02 AM (#2340179)
I didn't think that he'd even be a candidate, but now that I'm doing some numbers, Clark is coming out eerily similar to Norm Cash. Very similar career length. One outlier year (which didn't result in an MVP). Persistent durability problems. Cash is pure 1B; Clark is a RF who migrated in mid-career first to 1B, then to DH. I'll present the numbers in a little more detail this weekend.
   62. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 20, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2340260)
Clark doesn't have Cash's plus fielding, though.
   63. Boots Day Posted: April 20, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2340290)
You guys can't analyze the 1987 MVP race without taking into effect not just that Clark missed a lot of games, but that he missed almost all of September, with the Cardinals in a pennant race.
   64. JPWF13 Posted: April 20, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2340341)
You guys can't analyze the 1987 MVP race without taking into effect not just that Clark missed a lot of games, but that he missed almost all of September, with the Cardinals in a pennant race.


That's basically the problem- if Clark doesn't miss that time IMHO he'd be the clear MVP, as it was no one was a clear MVP, and the voters gave it to a man who clearly WAS NOT the MVP (OPS+ in parens).
1 Andre Dawson (129)
2 Ozzie Smith (105)
3 Jack Clark (176)
4 Tim Wallach (121)
5 Will Clark (153)
6 Darryl Strawberry NYM (162)
7 Tim Raines (149)
8 Tony Gwynn (158)
9 Eric Davis (155)
10 Howard Johnson (133)
11 Dale Murphy (156)
12 Vince Coleman (91)
13 Juan Samuel (116)
14 Mike Schmidt (142)
15 Pedro Guerrero (155)

Out of those 15 players, I'd say that Dawson was more valuable than only 2- Coleman and Samuel
just a terrible terrible vote- Dawson did hit well with men on that year- but so did Will Clark- but Clark had only 229 PAs with men on base, Dawson had 328. Dawson drove in 88 teammates, Clark only 56. Clark was very nearly as efficient at driving in baserunners as Dawson, yet Dawson gets 137 rBIs and the MVP, Clark gets 91 and an honorable mention (which is pretty much what he deserved... but he was still better than Dawson)

RBIs, like Wins, could be a useful stat, but it is so misused and misunderstood by the mainstream that it woudl be betetr if the stat just went away altogether.
   65. OCF Posted: April 20, 2007 at 04:53 PM (#2340403)
Just to repeat something I've said before: my 1987 contemporaneous opinion was that the MVP should have been Gwynn - for his Raines-like year.
   66. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:04 PM (#2340415)
I think the battle for the '87 MVP was between Raines and Clark. I would have given it to the former.
   67. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2340436)
The 1987 NL MVP should have been Gwynn hands-down. Eric Davis was better on a rate basis but missed too many games.
   68. sunnyday2 Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2340455)
Win Shares are of course not the be all and end all, but they sure are handy. I guess you could say that reasonable people could disagree who the MVP was but Dawson was a particularly miserable choice--14 WS behind Raines. I remember thinking at the time that Oz woulda been a good choice, but obviously you could pick about 15 guys who would be a "good choice" as in "better than Hawk." Or you could be a stickler on the matter and define a "good choice" as the guy who REALLY deserved it, but even then you'd have at least 3-4 guys to pick from.

As an aside, I can hear it now. A BBWAA HoF voter thinks, well, Dawson won an MVP award and Raines never did, so I'll vote for Hawk and not for Rock. Two wrongs make it right, right? Or, how does that go?

(The AL was historically bad, too, without being anywhere near this miserable. G. Bell 26 WS, Trammell 35. At least nobody is voting for G. Bell for the HoF, though I guess an MVP might have legitimized Alan.)

But then all's well that ends well--I mean, a World Championship for my team. So what the hell.

1987 NL WS

Raines 34
J. Clark 33
Ozzie 33
Strawberry 30
E. Davis 30

Murphy 29
Gwynn 29
Wallach 28
Guerrero 28
Schmidt 26
Van Slyke 25
W. Clark 25

...
Dawson 20
   69. OCF Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2340456)
A question about Clark's famous 1985 playoff HR off Niedenfuer: the pavilion in Dodger Stadium has a horizontal aisle about halfway up. Did Clark's ball land below that aisle or above it? I didn't see it - I heard the call on radio. My impression, which could be wrong, was that the ball landed below the aisle, but not by much, and that it got there in a big hurry.

Afterwards, Bill James did mount a vigorous defense of Lasorda's choice not to walk Clark in that situation (top of the 9th, Dodgers ahead 5-4, 2 out, runners on 2nd and third.) His points:

* Taking platoon splits into consideration, there wasn't all that much difference between Clark and Van Slyke against a RHP.
* In looking at the chance of scoring one run to tie the game, you should be comparing Clark's BA to Van Slyke's OBP.
* As for the chances of what actually happened - 3 runs, giving the Cardinals a 2-run lead going into the bottom of the 9th - the comparison was between the chances of Clark hitting a HR and the chances of Van Slyke hitting any kind of XBH.

The moment lives on in legend anyway.

JPWF13 - you're talking about 1987 RBI's. I always like to bring up two-player RBI totals: Clark + McGee versus Dawson + Durham.
   70. Al Peterson Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:38 PM (#2340458)
I love bb-ref.com for many reasons. Sometimes its because you just fall into stats that make you wonder. For Jack Clark looking at the batting splits its how poor an April hitter he was. Candlestick effect, naturally slow starter, anybody with knowledge?
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 20, 2007 at 05:54 PM (#2340472)
It may be an individual award, but it's still a team game.


Correct. But when we give a player credit for driving in more runs because he had more opportunities, then you're giving him credit for something that another player(s) did.
   72. Paul Wendt Posted: April 20, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2340519)
Marc sunnyday
(The AL was historically bad, too, without being anywhere near this miserable. G. Bell 26 WS, Trammell 35. At least nobody is voting for G. Bell for the HoF, though I guess an MVP might have legitimized Alan.)

But then all's well that ends well--I mean, a World Championship for my team. So what the hell.


but Frank Viola didn't have enough wins and Kent Hrbek didn't have enough rbi.

Did the good people of Minnesota realize that Jeff Reardon was the last piece of the puzzle?
Did Minnesota resign him for $1.4 million in 1989? There seems to be a mistake in the salary database.
Jeff Reardon at baseball-reference

Hrbek, Viola, Reardon, Puckett. It's hard to believe that none of the Twin stars but Blyleven is yet eligible here.
   73. KJOK Posted: April 20, 2007 at 06:54 PM (#2340525)
Clark doesn't have Cash's plus fielding, though.


Clark played RF though, while Cash played the less valuable 1B.
   74. JPWF13 Posted: April 20, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2340536)
JPWF13 - you're talking about 1987 RBI's. I always like to bring up two-player RBI totals: Clark + McGee versus Dawson + Durham.


Shouldn't that be Dawson + Moreland?

What's interesting about the huge # of RBI opps that Dawson had that year was that the Cubbies were not a particlulary strong team OBPwise, .325 against a league average of .328 (and the Cubbies played in Wrigley)

As far as lineups went- every inconsistent- Sandberg always batted somewhere ahead of Dawson (OBP of .367) but other than him it was a revolvng cast, Walker (.277), Mumphrey (.400), Dernier (.379), Durham (.348), Martinez (.372), Palmeiro (.346)...)

all in all with the exception of a 100 wasted at bats on the sorry Chico Walker, the 1987 Cubbies did onw thing right- they got the players most likely to get on base batting in front of the man most likely to drive them in (Dawson)- kind of the reverse of the Dusty Baker Cubs) Of course when your team ERA+ is 94 having an efficient offense doesn't really help to much.
   75. DavidFoss Posted: April 20, 2007 at 07:30 PM (#2340553)
Did the good people of Minnesota realize that Jeff Reardon was the last piece of the puzzle?

It certainly was good having a 'real closer' instead of Ron Davis. Reardon's season numbers don't look so hot because he had a brutal April & May, but he was a big improvement.

The "last piece", though? Team OPS+ of 96 and ERA+ of 100. They could have used some more pieces. :-)

It was an era of underdogs. NCState, Villanova... and the Twins. The Twins were outscored in the regular season, but they played in the weakest division in baseball, they had very extreme home-road splits and managed to make it to the playoffs the year that the ALWest had home-field advantage... and they didn't waste the oppurtunity.

The '87 team will special because they were the first, but I'm also very thankful that the '91 team that followed was a true champion "on paper" as well as on the field. It legitimized the whole thing... took away a lot of the fluke factor.

Hrbek, Viola, Reardon, Puckett. It's hard to believe that none of the Twin stars but Blyleven is yet eligible here.

The core of the 87 & 91 teams were fairly young. Many of them were part of the famed rookie class of 1982 (Puckett coming along a bit later in 1984).
   76. sunnyday2 Posted: April 20, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2340624)
>Did the good people of Minnesota realize that Jeff Reardon was the last piece of the puzzle?

One TC sportswriter picked Reardon as the Twins' MVP because most everybody else had been with them in '86 and they didn't win. What more proof do you need?

(OTOH didn't they pick up Don Baylor during the season? I think he was the lastest, or at least laster, piece.

Not sure Twins '87 are in the era of NC State ('83) and 'Nova ('85), in any event. The sports world moves a little faster than that. And the Celtics and Lakers were front-runners par excellence, More of a midwestern era (Indiana '87, Kansas '88, Michigan '89; Penn State '86 and Notre Dame '88 football; Edmonton Oilers '87 and '88) maybe (ignoring the Celtics and Lakers, not to mention the NY Giants and DC Redskins for the moment; not sure, in other words, about my midwestern theory, but few of these were underdogs either).
   77. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 20, 2007 at 08:38 PM (#2340634)
Is PSU midwestern? As a Mid-atlantic guy I am a big PSU football fan.
   78. sunnyday2 Posted: April 20, 2007 at 09:20 PM (#2340695)
They are now. Big Ten (Eleven), my man ;-)

And the Pirates (and Steelers) are Central!
   79. Paul Wendt Posted: April 20, 2007 at 11:07 PM (#2340773)
Penn State is borderland. Edmonton, like Montreal, is beyond the fringe. And I won't let you midwestern guys count Denver champions, either. Rochester to Cincinnati to Kansas City-Omaha.
But yes since Ditka and da Refrigerator, times have been pretty good for the midwest in major pro sports, with championships plural in Metrodome and Skydome, and the revivals of the Pistons, Bulls, Red Wings, Bills, Packers, and Indians. Art Modell, ach,


<i>Hrbek, Viola, Reardon, Puckett. It's hard to believe that none of the Twin stars but Blyleven is yet eligible here.

The core of the 87 & 91 teams were fairly young. Many of them were part of the famed rookie class of 1982 (Puckett coming along a bit later in 1984).

True, Hrbek Viola and Puckett are coming up soon because their careers were unfortunately short. Really it's only Reardon and Dale Murphy who should have threads here, I keep thinking. Still playing in 1993? You don't say!
   80. Paul Wendt Posted: April 20, 2007 at 11:18 PM (#2340779)
Pete Palmer's highest ranking batters not in the Hall of Merit (Baseball Encyclopedia 2005)
Adjusted Batting Wins, career, HOM eligible 1997
40.3 Jack Clark
38.3 Frank Howard
38.1 Ken Singleton
37.8 Norm Cash
37.7 Bob Johnson
37.0 Reggie Smith --that happens to be five consecutive on the all-time list
36.8 Rusty Staub
35.9 Orlando Cepeda
34.0 Pete Browning
33.7 Boog Powell
31.7 Babe Herman
31.2 Jack Fournier

The other players listed as inactive by 2005 are Henderson 54.0, Will Clark 40.2, Belle 35.4, Molitor 34.3, Raines 33.8
   81. sunnyday2 Posted: April 21, 2007 at 12:05 AM (#2340842)
BTW I'll tell you (Paul and anyone who is interested) who Jason Morneau reminds me of. Kent Hrbek. Hrbek was one of the best natural hitters I ever saw. Came directly from Class A and swung the bat beautifully and had a lot of success. Unfortunately he didn't stay in shape, he never got any better, and he declined young. But his image and reputation today are less than they probably ought to be.
   82. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 21, 2007 at 11:29 AM (#2341323)
But his image and reputation today are less than they probably ought to be.

Not because he was fat, because he held Ron Gant's belt! He's a real cheater in the McGraw et al. tradition.
   83. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:45 PM (#2343026)
I think Hrbek may be the worst player in MLB history with a retired number.
   84. sunnyday2 Posted: April 23, 2007 at 01:59 PM (#2343041)
DL is of course from MN, so he knows that Hrbie's retired number is exactly analogous to Willie Horton's. ie. local boy makes good, last name starts with H, not otherwise a great candidate for retired number. Still Hrbie is the #40 1B in TNBJHBA, just behind Wally Joyner (better peak, better rate), Hal Trosky (more career WS, timeline) and Bill White (better rate) and just ahead of Roy Sievers (better nuthin'), Andres Galarraga (better rate) and Joe Adcock (better 5 years, better peak).

40. Kent Hrbek 230/25-24-19/104/21.3--much better rate
55. Willie Horton 234/28-21-20/105/18.7--better one year peak

Hrbek .282/.367/.481/127 in about 7100 PA and 1747 G
Horton .273/.332/.457/119 in about 8000 PA and 2028 G

More people probably remember that Hrbie didn't look like a great fielder than remember that he was actually a greater fielder (A- by WS). Horton was a D+.

So I would be inclined to say--Hrbek better rate, better OPS+ and better glove. Horton longer career, better one year peak. I could see you going either way. As DL says, Hrbie "may be" the worst player with a retired number. I would add that Horton may also be the worst. More likely there is somebody a lot worse--does Lloyd Waner have his number retired, e.g?
   85. DavidFoss Posted: April 23, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2343075)
does Lloyd Waner have his number retired, e.g

The Pirates are just getting around to retiring Paul's number this year.

Not counting guys who likely got in partly as a manager (Dierker) or coach (Gilliam) or guys who were honored posthumously due to tragedy (Umbrict, Don Wilson)... then Randy Jones of the Padres has Hrbek beat.

Ted Kluszewski also has his number retired. Hrbek & Kluszewski were similar players. Hrbek's got nothing like Klu's 1954, but his prime is significantly longer and career numbers are better. We can wait until 2000 for a Hrbek-Klu head-to-head (supposed to be talking Jack Clark here :)).
   86. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 23, 2007 at 02:53 PM (#2343089)
"does Lloyd Waner have his number retired, e.g?"

No. The weakest player from the Pirates is probably either Maz or Kiner, and I'd take both over Horton.

The Astros have some pretty strong candidates: Larry Dierker, Don Wilson, and Jim Umbricht (though there are some off-field considerations with that last one).
   87. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 23, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2343103)
Curse you for being fast, David. Other possibilities I noticed during a casual browse:

Expos/Nats: Rusty Staub
Yankees: Roger Maris and Don Mattingly
Brewers: Rollie Fingers
Cardinals: Red Schoendienst
Indians: Earl Averill (if you're a career-over-peak guy)
   88. DavidFoss Posted: April 23, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2343104)
The Astros have some pretty strong candidates: Larry Dierker, Don Wilson, and Jim Umbricht (though there are some off-field considerations with that last one).

Last two... Don Wilson's number was retired after his apparent suicide (which accidentally also killed his son).

Retiring numbers like Umbricht's and Wilson's sure is noble but boy... its not exactly a pick-me-up when some kid in Houston is reading the game program between innings two generations later.
   89. DavidFoss Posted: April 23, 2007 at 03:30 PM (#2343114)
Cardinals: Red Schoendienst
Indians: Earl Averill (if you're a career-over-peak guy)


Eh... Schoendienst was also a manager and coach. And Averill... he's in the HOM. Even if you don't like guys like Averill he's at the very least HOVG and there's loads of other HOVG-types on the list. Jose Cruz, Jim Fregosi, Mel Harder. Wow. Mike Scott is on the list. Another Astro. Looks like they are trying too hard to create a team history in Houston.
   90. DL from MN Posted: April 23, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2343191)
I forgot Willie Horton but I agree - worse than Hrbek. I like Klu better than Kent. I wasn't aware of those Houston picks at all. I'm not in favor of retiring numbers for personal tragedy.

Have they already started planning the ceremony to retire Mauer's 7?
   91. Tom (and his broom) Posted: April 23, 2007 at 05:48 PM (#2343234)
kevin....good comp except that the Young Clark had blazing speed....

Y'know if Jack had traded places with Dave Parker and spent his career in Pittsburgh he could've been an easy first ballot HOF....He just ripped whenever they played in Pit or even against pit....
   92. OCF Posted: April 23, 2007 at 07:11 PM (#2343289)
Y'know if Jack had traded places with Dave Parker and spent his career in Pittsburgh he could've been an easy first ballot HOF....He just ripped whenever they played in Pit or even against pit....

Propose this as a 1984-85 offseason trade: John Tudor plus a few spare parts for Clark. Sure would have been better for both teams than what they actually did, and would have left the Cardinals out in the cold.
   93. sunnyday2 Posted: April 23, 2007 at 07:30 PM (#2343299)
>Have they already started planning the ceremony to retire Mauer's 7?

I hope what they're planning for is to resign the guy. Retiring a guy's number is easier if he finished up with you.
   94. TomH Posted: April 23, 2007 at 07:54 PM (#2343312)
amazing how a word like 'resign' can have multiple pronounciations and meanings that make you misread a sentence....
   95. OCF Posted: April 23, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2343329)
amazing how a word like 'resign' can have multiple pronounciations and meanings that make you misread a sentence

The traditional test for "are you a chemist?" is to pronounce the word "unionized."
   96. DavidFoss Posted: April 23, 2007 at 08:42 PM (#2343338)
The traditional test for "are you a chemist?" is to pronounce the word "unionized."

Wow, I failed that one, and I work with zwitterions and pKa values all the time. Organized labor plays no role in my life or that of my friends or family, either. Oh well. :-)
   97. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: April 23, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2343436)
IMNSHO, Raines is the very easy 1987 MVP choice (and 1986 for that matter). Don't forget he got those league leading 34 WS despite missing the first 22 games for collusion. He was a sparkplug on that team from his first game (which I was at as a 14 year old) at Shea were he went something like 5-for-5 with a game-winning grand-slam and they rolled from there. going 83-60 the rest of the way. The lost the division by 4 games.
   98. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 23, 2007 at 10:33 PM (#2343443)
Organized labor plays a role in the life of everyone in the world with a decent standard of living.
   99. DavidFoss Posted: April 23, 2007 at 10:50 PM (#2343456)
Organized labor plays a role in the life of everyone in the world with a decent standard of living.

:-)

I didn't mean that as any sort of commentary and I certainly understand the historical importance. I just meant that, today, in 2007, I don't have any family or friends that are in a unionized workplace. So, there was no particular reason why that particular meaning of the word should be floating around in my head.

I guess from a chemistry standpoint, we usually use the word "neutral" or "normal" instead of "unionized". (At least with the chemists I hang out with). Its a cool double-meaning of the same spelling though. (Is that called a homonym?).
   100. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 23, 2007 at 10:54 PM (#2343461)
You're taking David too literally, Vaux.
Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
danielj
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Page rendered in 0.6272 seconds
49 querie(s) executed