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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jim Rice

Eligible in 1995.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2007 at 09:25 PM | 489 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:34 AM (#2298062)
Okay, let's take a look at something.

From 1976 through 1979, Jim Rice came to bat with 1,752 men on base. He knocked in 319 of them. The Boston Red Sox as a whole in those years put 7,910 men on base and scored 2,499 of them; taking out Rice's contribution, 35.4% of Red Sox runners ended up scoring.

Major league teams scored 29.1% of their baserunners over those years (I guess I should probably be using AL-only for this stuff, but that ship has sailed), so the Sox were 21.6% better than average. As we learned on the last page, Rice would have been expected to score 28.9% of the time he reached base under average circumstances; he was actually at 30.1%. However, as Red Sox hitters (remember, excluding Rice) were 21.6% better than average at scoring runners, perhaps the expectation is closer to 35.1%, which would be 312 runs scored. Rice's 257 runs scored now seems inadequate. I don't think that's entirely fair; one would have to look at the batters most likely to bat behind Rice in the lineup to make real adjustments; there is no reason to believe that the batter that came after Rice were equally better than average as the batters that came before Rice. In fact, that is very likely not to be true, as he batted in the middle of the order.

The non-Singleton Orioles of those years scored 31.2% of their available baserunners, just a bit above the major league average of 29.1%. That's an advantage of 7.2%. Of course, all the same caveats apply here as apply to Rice.

So the quality of their teammates was certainly a factor. Not sure how much, based on these things ... someone smarter will have to put that together, if so inclined.
   302. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2298063)
So when we disagree with each other on any topic at all we're hypocritically inconsistent, and when we agree with each other we're parroting some sort of a party line.

No one took issue with your gay little band of crusaders choosing to agree or disagree with each other depending on the subject; at issue was one crusader's alternately taking offense at another's dishonest argumentation and then defending the practice when it's used against others. Really plain ####### English, which you still managed to misinterpret. *wink*
   303. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:48 AM (#2298069)
LAWBH, it's really not that difficult, unless you are trying to quantify exactly how much influence the teammates have. I've looked at this in some detail over the last few days. It's obvious to the most casual observer that Rice played in a much better hitting environment than Singleton, and that it had little to do with either.

I did a little calculation today. I looked at the average runs/game of Singleton's teams over his career as a regular, 1971-1984. It was 4.25. Then I looked at Rice's teams from 1975-1988, but I removed Rice's contributions (his RC) and replaced them with, zip, 0, nada. Not even replacement level. An automatic out every time through the batting order for 14 years. Those teams averaged, 4.25 R/G.

That they averaged the same is an interesting coincidence. That they are anywhere close speaks volumes.

That, IMHO, is the cause of the lion's share of the imfamous 28%
   304. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:52 AM (#2298071)
LAWBH, it's really not that difficult, unless you are trying to quantify exactly how much influence the teammates have.

Right, which I was kinda hoping to do, but once I got deep into it, it became obvious that that would be quite a bit of work. It's one of those things that when you start doing it, you then realize how many adjustments you're not making.
   305. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:00 AM (#2298072)
It's one of those things that when you start doing it, you then realize how many adjustments you're not making.


Right, like earlier when I was comparing the SLP of the 4 positions batting behind the Rice, KS position for select years. It may have loooked like I was cherry picking, but it was the only years in which both of those players occupied a set place in the lineup. When a guy bats all over the place, what do you do, besides going through the box scores one at a time?
   306. ptodd Posted: February 15, 2007 at 08:14 AM (#2298138)
New to the board and have read through most of the posts, may have missed some, but just wanted to make a few points that could be considered.

Rice home vs away splits. Definitely Rice hit better at home than on the road. But can players adjust their hitting to be more effective in the park they play 50% of their games? I think so (I did a study on players from 1972-2005 which showed the average player had something like a 0.030 OPS advantage H vs A). Does this mean he could not adjust to playing in Yankee stadium if he were a Yankee? His Yankee stadium splits incidentally are .336 BA/.386 OBP/.661 SLG/1.047 OPS. Rice usually had problems hitting on the road against west division teams, maybe he did not get up for these games. Who knows?. And if you voted for an Cubs players in the HOF take a look at their Home/Away splits.

Rice was RHB having a hand advantage over the pitcher less than 30% of the time. Remember this when comparing him to switch or LHBers who enjoy the advantage 70-100% of the time. Which is more important, park or hand advantage. Jim Rice had the 19th highest OPS among all RHB who acquired 5000 PA between 1920-1992. The run environment in 1920-1941 is comparable to 1993-2006. If looking at only those players from 1941-1992 Rice is ranked 8th and 1-11 are all in the HOF except #8. (I do not believe in OPS+ since I do not agree with the way they do PF adjustments)

DP rate. It is interesting that a lot of the folks who point out that RBI's are not important due to they are related to opportunities point out his DP's. Rice had a lot of opportunities to hit into DP's. What you are looking at are an extra 20 outs per year, and a some of those outs resulted in runners scoring from 3B or advancing a base. His DP rate is a negative, but is overwhelmed by his RBI rate.

MVP. Rice was in the top 5 in voting for MVP 6 times (winning once). Why? Because the metrics of the day for which Rice was being valued were RBI, SLG, HR, BA. Are we all saying that if Rice was playing today and understood that to get a 20 million AAV contract he had to have a higher OBP by getting more walks that he could not have learned to do so? It is kind of like your boss telling you in January what he wants you to get done in the coming year so as to give you a nice bonus, but when bonus time comes, he tells you that something else was more important than what you did focus on, so he gives you a lousy bonus.

Injuries. Jim Rice suffered 2 hand injuries in 1975 (last week of the season) and 1980 that affected probably affected him in subsequent seasons 1976, 1981 (strike shortened) and perhaps 1982. So 3-4 of his peak season years were affected to some extent by injury.

From 1975 to 1986, Rice led the American League in total games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, total bases, extra-base hits, go-ahead RBIs, multi-hit games, and outfield assists.
   307. tjm1 Posted: February 15, 2007 at 09:56 AM (#2298148)
Are we all saying that if Rice was playing today and understood that to get a 20 million AAV contract he had to have a higher OBP by getting more walks that he could not have learned to do so?


First - probably not. Very few players today can learn to walk more. The A's have tried coaching this in the minors, and it doesn't help very much. It sounds easier than it is. Maybe Rice could have gone from a 55 walk a year guy to 75, but for the most part great hitters react, rather than decide. It takes a lot of time to retrain their reactions, at least for most of them.

Second, it doesn't matter. We're trying to evaluate him based on how good he was, not how good he could have been with better coaching.

Third - many of the managers of the 1970's appreciated the value of a walk. They didn't talk about it much, but if you look at batting orders and rosters, you can see that a lot of teams used medium batting average, high walk rate guys as leadoff hitters. It was only the sportswriters who didn't. It was in the 1990's that this flipped around, and the last few years that everyone appreciates the value of the walk (except for some of the BBTN commentators).

Injuries. Jim Rice suffered 2 hand injuries in 1975 (last week of the season) and 1980 that affected probably affected him in subsequent seasons 1976, 1981 (strike shortened) and perhaps 1982. So 3-4 of his peak season years were affected to some extent by injury.


Again, this focuses on what he might have done, not what he did. Tony C probably would have been a first ballot HOFer if he weren't beaned. Dickie Thon, too. And I think you're reaching to say 1982 was affected by a hand injury towards the end of 1980.
   308. ptodd Posted: February 15, 2007 at 10:34 AM (#2298151)
Third - many of the managers of the 1970's appreciated the value of a walk. They didn't talk about it much, but if you look at batting orders and rosters, you can see that a lot of teams used medium batting average, high walk rate guys as leadoff hitters. It was only the sportswriters who didn't. It was in the 1990's that this flipped around, and the last few years that everyone appreciates the value of the walk (except for some of the BBTN commentators).

The 70's were a lower run environment than today and a walk was less valuable then, and then when you consider the value of a walk based on lineup position it is certainly much more valuable for the team when the lead off hitter walks than when your top slugger batting 3rd or 4th walks, no matter what the run environment.


Again, this focuses on what he might have done, not what he did. Tony C probably would have been a first ballot HOFer if he weren't beaned. Dickie Thon, too. And I think you're reaching to say 1982 was affected by a hand injury towards the end of 1980.

The 1980 injury was a fractured wrist and not a hand injury, my mistake. Jim Rice was never the same hitter after that, even after 1982.

As for what he did, I wont repeat myself on Rice's accomplishments from 1975-1986 but I think we did enough. Not a slam dunk by any means, and marginal at worst, but certainly enough, IMHO.
   309. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 02:32 PM (#2298172)
Rice home vs away splits. Definitely Rice hit better at home than on the road. But can players adjust their hitting to be more effective in the park they play 50% of their games? I think so (I did a study on players from 1972-2005 which showed the average player had something like a 0.030 OPS advantage H vs A). Does this mean he could not adjust to playing in Yankee stadium if he were a Yankee? His Yankee stadium splits incidentally are .336 BA/.386 OBP/.661 SLG/1.047 OPS. Rice usually had problems hitting on the road against west division teams, maybe he did not get up for these games. Who knows?. And if you voted for an Cubs players in the HOF take a look at their Home/Away splits.


I don't disgard his home stats. I specifically said earlier his home production helped his team; it was well above what Fenway gave in terms of park effect.

The point is, statements like "I went to 150 games at fenway from 1976-1979 and I have to tell you, Rice was the greatest hitter in the league. No one else was close." can be disgarded, or at least discounted. For those 4 years, Rice hit like Albert Pujols at home. On the road he was more like Brian Downing. From 1977-1979, Rice hit a HR every three games at home and drove in nearly a run a game. It's understandable how that may warp one's perspective. But objectively, he doesn't quite measure up. 4 half seasons of Ruthian like hitting in a career of otherwise good but not great production is not enough.
   310. tjm1 Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2298183)
From 1975 to 1986, Rice led the American League in total games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, total bases, extra-base hits, go-ahead RBIs, multi-hit games, and outfield assists.


Yes, but where did he rank in outs made over that same span? Probably also first, since his on base percentage was quite low for an elite player. And this year range is carefully chosen. I bet if you make it any 12 year span including Rice's best years of 1977-1979, Rickey Henderson beats out Rice in several of those categories, as would George Brett, Mike Schmidt, or Joe Morgan.

I guess the biggest problem I have with his HOF candidacy is that you have to cherry pick a particular length of career, 12 years, and decide that anything else is irrelevant. If the length you look at is that short, and the player was really not a contributor at any useful level in any other seasons, like is the case with Rice, then I think the player really needs to be THE BEST in the league during that time.

Rice wasn't. He's number one in a lot of important offensive categories, but there are a host of players who never had (or almost never had) OBPs during that time as low as Rice's career average of .352, and many of those guys (e.g. Brian Downing, Keith Hernandez) also had decent slugging percentages, and much more defensive value than Rice. Basically, though, the whole issue on Rice boils down to his on base percentage being too low for a corner outfielder with a short career. If you don't really value OBP, and pick a bunch of statistics, like at bats, which favor low OBP players over otherwise high OBP players, then of course you end up valuing Rice very highly. He was a very good player. Give him an extra 20 walks a year, or and extra two seasons in his peak, and he's probably good enough. Rice would have the lowest OBP of any HOF leftfielder except Lou Brock, and Brock was (1) probably a mistake (2) he had a very long career and (3) he was a superior baserunner. Rice is probably better than a few of the other guys, too - some of the 1930's LFers, but I just don't see him as good enough.
   311. tjm1 Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2298188)
Rice bumped up a bit in 1986. It happened with Mays in 1970. Clemente kept nudging his walks up as he got older. Duke Snider walked 56 times as a 22 year old and was up to 108 by age 28. Check out Jack Clark or Gary Sheffield or Willie Stargell or Jeff Bagwell sometimes. It's actually quite common to learn to walk more.


Yes - individual players increase their walk rates as they develop the status of feared power threat. Also, late in their careers, a lot of players start walking more because they swing and miss more. A late career walk spike is very often a sign that the end is coming soon for a player. I'm not convinced that more than a handful of players have increased their walk rates by actually becoming more selective at the plate. High walk rate players are usually players who take a lot of strikes, and are comfortable hitting behind in the count. They don't just refuse to swing at bad pitches - they also refuse to swing at pitchers' pitches on the edges of the strike zone.
   312. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:17 PM (#2298191)
and Brock was (1) probably a mistake (2) he had a very long career and (3) he was a superior baserunner.


(4) One of the greatest World Series performers ever. Puts Jeter to shame.
   313. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:36 PM (#2298206)
and Brock was (1) probably a mistake (2) he had a very long career and (3) he was a superior baserunner.

(4) One of the greatest World Series performers ever. Puts Jeter to shame.


Lou Brock is one of the prime examples of the difference between the HOM and the HOF. Brock was a historically great baserunner who had three great World Series for a much-chronicled and beloved team, and with a long career to boot. You're not going to keep a player with those highly visible credentials out of the HOF, and to call his selection a "mistake" is to exhibit a misunderstanding of what the HOF is all about.
   314. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 03:53 PM (#2298214)
to call his selection a "mistake" is to exhibit a misunderstanding of what the HOF is all about.


Agree 100%
   315. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 15, 2007 at 04:04 PM (#2298219)
The problem with Brock in the HOF is that there are a lot of players comparable and better who have to buy a ticket in order to see the plaque room in Cooperstown. Yes, they may not be as "great" (equal to celebrity and not value in this case), but it's hard to say no to them and yes to Lou.
   316. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: February 15, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2298226)
BTW, is it proper use of the idiom to say "Lou Brock is the exception that proves the rule.", the rule being that an OF needs to have a decent OBP to get into the HOF? IOW, you can get in, but you have to bring to the table something analogous to Brock's body of work.
   317. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 15, 2007 at 04:21 PM (#2298230)
The 70's were a lower run environment than today and a walk was less valuable then...

A walk may have been worth a smaller fraction of a run in the 70's than in the 90's; I'm really not sure. I am however, quite sure that a run is worth more in a low-run environment. After all, that's why we adjust for park and era in the first place. On balance, I would think that every baserunner would be more valuable, not less, in a lower scoring environment.
   318. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 15, 2007 at 04:24 PM (#2298232)
The problem with Brock in the HOF is that there are a lot of players comparable and better who have to buy a ticket in order to see the plaque room in Cooperstown. Yes, they may not be as "great" (equal to celebrity and not value in this case), but it's hard to say no to them and yes to Lou.

But isn't that why the HOM was established in the first place, to replace the excess spin with a bit more objectivity? Once again, I think the HOM is a great idea, but the criteria for HOM selection is never going to become the HOF's, and the best you're going to be able to do is to peck around the edges in a handful of cases like Blyleven. The HOF is always going to reward "celebrity," great postseason performances, traditional counting stats, dominance in a key (or visible) category, personality (in borderline cases), "impact on the game," and so on. It's never going to properly value players stuck on mediocre teams who grind out 10 to 19 games a year and never get to 300.

This is why Dizzy Dean and Lou Brock are in the HOF, and why Bert Blyleven isn't. And it's also why you now have a HOM. But even though lots of Primates obviously confuse the two institutions, they shouldn't expect that a majority of the HOF voters are likely to follow them in their beliefs, or even fret about it too much.
   319. JPWF13 Posted: February 15, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2298265)
The 70's were a lower run environment than today and a walk was less valuable then...

A walk may have been worth a smaller fraction of a run in the 70's than in the 90's; I'm really not sure. I am however, quite sure that a run is worth more in a low-run environment. After all, that's why we adjust for park and era in the first place. On balance, I would think that every baserunner would be more valuable, not less, in a lower scoring environment.


Ditto- a walk in the 70s was lss likely to result in a run because the lower overall hitting environment made it less likely that that baserunner would eventually be driven in. However, 1 run was worth more in the 70s than today. As far as a scoring enough runs to WIN a game, I think the value of a walk in the 70s as opposed to today was pretty much equivalent.

I also remember that some in the game and the media did use to talk about the value of working the count and even taking a walk back then- it was perfectly acceptable back then for a ballplayer or writer to talk about that- it began becoming UN OC so to speak only when statheads said, yes working the count and taking walks are good AND WE CAN PROVE IT MATHEMATICALLY, and MoneyBall merely solidified the luddite counter revolution. I bet if you asked Joe Morgan in 1975 about his approach to hitting he'd say something quite sensible that BTFers would agree with- if asked today, he'll say (just as Mike Schmidt did recently) that he took to many pitches and accepted too many walks and should have been more agressive at times and gave himself up at other times.

What it comes down to for individual players though- is not so much what era they were playing in, but what team are they on and what is the philosophy of that team and its coaches- and what I vaguely recall is that the Sox- or at least some asscoiated with them- were on Rice's case from very early to be more selective- some players may have been on teams with hacktastic philosophies- and would be more selective if playing now- I really don't think Rice is one of them.
   320. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 15, 2007 at 05:21 PM (#2298284)
The funny thing is about Blyleven though, Andy, is that he pitched damned well in the post-season and was a key guy on 2 WS winners like Brock was but that is just sort of forgotten for some reason. Why didn't Blyleven get hung with the "is a winner, rises to the occasion" label?

I think part of it was that he did it for small market teams that were considered rather fluky, whereas Brock played for the tradition-drenched Cardinals in an era when they were the toast of the National League. So I think Blyleven himself was blown off as some sort of fluke, and that is rationalized by pointing to his won/loss record.


That small market / fluke team factor probably enters into it as well, though if Blyleven had spent the entire 1970's with the Pirates and had established more of an identity with that certifiably very good team, it might not have been much of a detriment in his case. My hunch (and it's only that) is that borderline cases who flit around from one unglamorous team to another are not given quite as much of a shake as those who play most of their career with one team, or with a series of big name teams. This is a question that someone else might want to look into in a bit more depth.
   321. kwarren Posted: February 15, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2298300)
The problem with Brock in the HOF is that there are a lot of players comparable and better who have to buy a ticket in order to see the plaque room in Cooperstown. Yes, they may not be as "great" (equal to celebrity and not value in this case), but it's hard to say no to them and yes to Lou.

The Hall of Fame puts a lot more emphasis on fame than merit. I don't think most of the voters do it consciously but that is the way the elections end up going. This explains Puckett, Brock, Fingers, Sutter, Eckersley to some extent, all the support for Rice and Gossage etc.

It's quite likely that guys like Puckett, Brock, and Rice will quite properly not be going into the Hall of Merit.
   322. kwarren Posted: February 15, 2007 at 05:40 PM (#2298305)
The 70's were a lower run environment than today and a walk was less valuable then

This is clearly incorrect. Each separate run is more valuable and all base runners are more valuable in lower run environments, and that icludes walks.
   323. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2298319)
Guys! Tango has a model for this.

Plugging in the AL line from, say, 1977, when the league hit 266/330/405, gives us a run value of .386 for walks using the Markov method, and .327 using Base Runs. Plugging in the line from 2006 (275/339/437) gives us a run value of .401 by Markov and .341 by Base Runs.

Now, I didn't try to adapt the runners advancing numbers for the two years (I think John Jarvis has that stuff somewhere), but walks are less valuable in low-scoring environments. Why? Because each baserunner is less likely to score, and when a runner reaches base, there are less likely to be runners on to be advanced. That bit about each runner being less likely to score is exactly what we were examining earlier with the Rice vs. Singleton baserunning discussion.
   324. Danny Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:01 PM (#2298322)
Plugging in the AL line from, say, 1977, when the league hit 266/330/405, gives us a run value of .386 for walks using the Markov method, and .327 using Base Runs. Plugging in the line from 2006 (275/339/437) gives us a run value of .401 by Markov and .341 by Base Runs.

Now, I didn't try to adapt the runners advancing numbers for the two years (I think John Jarvis has that stuff somewhere), but walks are less valuable in low-scoring environments. Why? Because each baserunner is less likely to score, and when a runner reaches base, there are less likely to be runners on to be advanced. That bit about each runner being less likely to score is exactly what we were examining earlier with the Rice vs. Singleton baserunning discussion.

But why run values instead of win values?
   325. BDC Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:06 PM (#2298330)
To be fair about Brock's OBP, at his peak he was putting up .320s when his league had an OBP of .310, even as low as .300. His lifetime raw OBP looks a bit weaker than it is.
   326. Steve Treder Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:06 PM (#2298331)
But why run values instead of win values?

Exactly. Since each baserunner is less likely to score in a lower-scoring environment, then each run that does score is correspondingly more valuable.
   327. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:11 PM (#2298335)
Plugging in the AL line from, say, 1977, when the league hit 266/330/405, gives us a run value of .386 for walks using the Markov method, and .327 using Base Runs. Plugging in the line from 2006 (275/339/437) gives us a run value of .401 by Markov and .341 by Base Runs.

Not to get all semantic or anything, but the run value of a walk in a given environment doesn't account for the difference in the value of a run in the respective environments. In your example, a 1977 AL walk was worth about 4% less than a 2006 AL walk in terms of scoring a run, but runs were 8.5% harder to come by in the 1977 AL.
   328. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2298339)
The 70's were a lower run environment than today and a walk was less valuable then

This is clearly incorrect. Each separate run is more valuable and all base runners are more valuable in lower run environments, and that icludes walks.


I don't know whether walks were less valuable then, but I disagree with your logic. In very low run environments, a run is obviously more valuable. However, a runner on first base would have a very low probability of scoring. If a hitter takes more pitches, there is a tradeoff that exists between a higher chance of drawing a walk and a lower chance of an extra-base hit (by not swinging the bat early in the count / at all). While a walk results in a run less often in lower run environments, a home run always results in a run and is more valuable when runs are scarce. This is the premise behind the theory that teams with higher SLG have an advantage in the playoffs. When it is more difficult to score a run, home runs have far greater impact than in high run environments. Does this make it more worthwhile to swing away at the expense of drawing walks? It likely depends on the hitter in relation to the rest of the lineup. I would guess that the lower the run environment and the better the hitter in relation to his teammates, the more incentive for him to swing the bat.
   329. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2298341)
But why run values instead of win values?

Well, because that's what Tango's model presents.

The Runs Per Win was certainly lower in 1977 ... lessee ... I should really be driving to work now, but, anyway ...

... actually, I don't have time for this. Maybe later today. Or someone else can. I'm sure the RPW formula from Total Baseball is online somewhere, or someone can reverse Pythagenpat to determine the RPW for the two different environments.
   330. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2298390)
Okay.

It occurred to me that we don't need Tango's theoretical run values; Tom Ruane already did the work for us. An unintentional walk in the 1977 AL was worth .288 runs, and in 2004 (the most recent season on the list), .333.

Okay, runs per win.

Over here, we have 1977, where the AL averaged 4.53 runs per game, and over there is 2004, where it was 5.01.

Using Pythagenpat, I find that the Runs Per Win in 1977 (i.e. the number of runs you need to score over the course of a 162-game season to gain one additional win) is 9.12. A walk is .288 runs, .288 divided by 9.12 is .0316. A walk is .0316 wins.

For 2004, the RPW is 10.08. The walk is worth .333 runs, .333/10.08 = .0331.

Let's pick two more extreme seasons, 1968 AL and 1996 AL.

The RPG for 1968 was 3.41, and in 1996 5.39.

The run value of the BB for 1968 was .262, and in 1996 .345.

The RPW for 1968 was 6.86(!), for 1996 10.85.

The win value of the walk in 1968 was .0382, in 1996 .0318.

So in extreme conditions, the walk (and, presumably, any other offensive event) has more win value despite having less run value.
   331. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:18 PM (#2298403)
I worded the last sentence of #437 poorly. I meant it as more of a contingency as opposed to equal factors contributing to the equation. More specifically, given that a hitter has a high ISO / XBH rate relative to the team and especially to the hitters behind him in the order, I would guess that the benefit of his swinging the bat increases as the run environment decreases. A hitter with a relatively low ISO could experience the opposite or be unaffected by such a change.
   332. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:25 PM (#2298413)
By simple pyth, I get

2006 AL: 1 win = 9.94 runs
1977 AL: 1 win = 9.07 runs

So, if I'm doing this right, the win value of a 1977 AL walk is .0426 by Markov and .0361 by Base Runs, compared to .0403 and .0343 respectively for a 2006 walk. IOW, despite being less likely to lead to a run, the walk is still more valuable in the lower scoring environment.

Of course, this particular comparison has no direct bearing whatsoever on the difference in value between a Rice walk and a Singleton walk.
   333. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:27 PM (#2298414)
Guess I should have refreshed before I bothered with that.
   334. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:34 PM (#2298421)
The win value of the walk in 1968 was .0382, in 1996 .0318.

So in extreme conditions, the walk (and, presumably, any other offensive event) has more win value despite having less run value.


If you ran the numbers for other offensive events in 1968 and 1996, could we see how the change in their respective win values compares with the change in win value of a walk?
   335. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:42 PM (#2298428)
If you ran the numbers for other offensive events in 1968 and 1996, could we see how the change in their respective win values compares with the change in win value of a walk?

The values you get for home runs will probably be sensitive to your estimation technique. Home runs are unique because they guarantee at least one run scores. In 1996, that guaranteed run probably wasn't that big a deal, but in 1968, a guaranteed run was probably much more important.
   336. Danny Posted: February 15, 2007 at 07:57 PM (#2298442)
Thanks for the work, BHW and IE.
   337. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: February 15, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2298458)
Year LG  1B   2B    3B    HR  NIBB  IBB  HBP   SH    SF     GDP    SO    OOUT  SB    CS
1968 AL .418 .670  .863 1.388 .262 .145 .273 -.054  .128  -.642  -.214  -.182 .193 -.389
/ Runs Per Win (6.86):
        .061 .098  .126  .202 .038 .021 .040 -.032  .019  -.075  -.031  -.005 .028 -.029

1977 AL .453 .752  .962 1.385 .288 .172 .307 -.059  .037  -.776  -.279  -.236 .221 -.419 
/ Runs Per Win (9.12)
        .050 .082  .105  .152 .032 .019 .034 -.006  .004  -.085  -.031  -.026 .024 -.046

1996 AL .492 .818 1.093 1.404 .345 .220 .368 -.153 -.094  -.919  -.325  -.285 .202 -.478
/ Runs Per Win (10.85)
        .045 .075  .101  .129 .032 .020 .034 -.014 -.005  -.079  -.030  -.026 .019 -.044

2004 AL .478 .803  .996 1.397 .333 .209 .351 -.123 -.096  -.891  -.302  -.265 .178 -.452
/ Runs Per Win (10.08)
        .047 .080  .098  .139 .033 .021 .035 -.012 -.010  -.088  -.030  -.026 .018 -.045

By the way, the runs per win I used was to get a team from 81 wins to 82 wins.
   338. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 15, 2007 at 08:24 PM (#2298469)
By the way, the runs per win I used was to get a team from 81 wins to 82 wins.

me too
   339. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 15, 2007 at 08:29 PM (#2298471)
Great stuff. Is there any explanation for the fact that a walk was less valuable but every type of hit was more valuable in 1977 versus 2004? Seems like a plus for Rice in the comparison of eras.
   340. mulder & scully Posted: February 15, 2007 at 08:32 PM (#2298474)
Some great info about the import of walks in various run scoring situations.
   341. kwarren Posted: February 15, 2007 at 11:18 PM (#2298595)
This is the premise behind the theory that teams with higher SLG have an advantage in the playoffs. When it is more difficult to score a run, home runs have far greater impact than in high run environments.

Forget SLG.....didn't Bill James discover in one his analysis of what wins the World Series find that total BB and HR were the two most critical stats in liklihood of winning the series. The team that had the most SB,doubles, and triples was more likely to lose the World Series than win.
   342. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 16, 2007 at 12:11 AM (#2298624)
The team that had the most SB,doubles, and triples was more likely to lose the World Series than win.

And yet if there's one play in my lifetime (OK, so it wasn't in a World Series) I'd love to go back in a time machine and reverse the call on, it would be a stolen base by Dave Roberts.
   343. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 16, 2007 at 12:39 AM (#2298642)
But isn't that why the HOM was established in the first place, to replace the excess spin with a bit more objectivity? Once again, I think the HOM is a great idea, but the criteria for HOM selection is never going to become the HOF's, and the best you're going to be able to do is to peck around the edges in a handful of cases like Blyleven. The HOF is always going to reward "celebrity," great postseason performances, traditional counting stats, dominance in a key (or visible) category, personality (in borderline cases), "impact on the game," and so on. It's never going to properly value players stuck on mediocre teams who grind out 10 to 19 games a year and never get to 300.

You're probably right, Andy, but they're not a monolithic group. I don't think the BBWAA or Vets Committee necessarily are incapable of defining a new set of parameters or delineating a different HOF vision. But as you stated, the HoM is there as an alternate regardless of what Cooperstown does now or in the future.

BTW, you have always been kind to us in our endeavor, which we deeply appreciate.

This is why Dizzy Dean and Lou Brock are in the HOF, and why Bert Blyleven isn't. And it's also why you now have a HOM. But even though lots of Primates obviously confuse the two institutions, they shouldn't expect that a majority of the HOF voters are likely to follow them in their beliefs, or even fret about it too much.

In the case of Dean, his peak case is big. But our electorate tends to be less peak-oriented, so he's on the outside looking in. But a more peak-centered electorate, though still steeped in sabermetrics, might have elected him a long time ago.

Though I have never have had him on my ballot (though he has always been reasonably close), I wouldn't be upset seeing his name in our Plaque Room.

The same could be said for Brock if we relied almost 100% on career stats, which is not unreasonable if that's what you value in a player.

As for fretting about the HOF, I don't. Not that I don't shake my head every once and a while. :-)
   344. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 16, 2007 at 01:49 AM (#2298680)
We all shake our heads at the HOF sometimes, John (Gossage not in? Are they crazy?), and the reason I value these HOM debates (which I mostly lurk on) is that they often force me to look at HOF candidates in a new light. Look, when I first posted way back on Clutch Hits (remember that?), I was thinking that Maury Wills belonged in Cooperstown, and I used to scoff at Phil Wood when way back in the 90'she was preaching to me about Blyleven. But then it's common knowledge that people in their 50s are usually ignorant....

I'm glad that we now have two somewhat parallel institutions, and it wouldn't even surprise me if a few writers peeked into these threads now and then and actually learned a few things. But it also wouldn't displease me if now and then some of the people here cut the BBWAA some slack about the Dizzy Deans and the Lou Brocks. At some point you might think about inviting a few non-ossified mainstream writers to post here and explain how their voting criteria differs from what they perceive the HOM's to be. It might make for an interesting discussion.
   345. Paul Wendt Posted: February 16, 2007 at 07:05 AM (#2298831)
So, if I'm doing this right, the win value of a 1977 AL walk is .0426 by Markov and .0361 by Base Runs, compared to .0403 and .0343 respectively for a 2006 walk. IOW, despite being less likely to lead to a run, the walk is still more valuable in the lower scoring environment.

What some people mean, I believe, when they say that a walk is worth less in a low-scoring environment:
- the value of a walk relative to a single is less in a low-scoring environment
- value(walk)/value(single) is positively related to scoring
   346. tjm1 Posted: February 16, 2007 at 11:10 AM (#2298850)
Yes - I was confusing HOF with HOM when saying Brock was borderline for being deserving. I think every eligible player with 3000 hits is a HOFer, and Brock did quite a bit more than just pile up base hits.

I think, though, that World Series heroics really affect only the most borderline cases. Blyleven's still on the outside looking in, as is Dwight Evans (OK, his heroics came in losses). Alan Trammell carried the Tigers through the 1984 playoffs, and isn't in. None of these guys did as much as Brock in the postseason, but if more than a handful of voters really cared a lot about postseason play, I think Trammell, especially, might have done better.

It will be interesting to see which gets talked about more for Roberto Alomar - the tremendous performaces or the spitting incident - I suspect it will be the spitting incident.
   347. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 16, 2007 at 02:23 PM (#2298863)
I think, though, that World Series heroics really affect only the most borderline cases. Blyleven's still on the outside looking in, as is Dwight Evans (OK, his heroics came in losses). Alan Trammell carried the Tigers through the 1984 playoffs, and isn't in. None of these guys did as much as Brock in the postseason, but if more than a handful of voters really cared a lot about postseason play, I think Trammell, especially, might have done better.

Sorry about my poor choice of words, but when I say "heroics," I'm talking about remembered heroics in the ESPN highlights sense, not a statistical line in the record books. And this standard generally denotes only the most spectacular examples in one series (Clemente, Gene Tenace, Reggie Jackson), or a solid record compiled over enough postseason appearences to sink into everyone's consciousness (Brock, Jeter, Smoltz). Blyleven's 5 games scattered over 17 years, good as they were, aren't likely to jar many memories, which is what this is all about.

And if you poll 1,000 people who actually watched the 1984 postseason for the player who sticks out in their minds, I guarantee you that 990 would say Kirk Gibson, not Trammell, and the other 10 would probably name either Steve Garvey or Leon Durham.

I know that this isn't a fair distinction, but can you seriously doubt its truthfulness? Remember again, this is the writers and the HOF I'm talking about, not the baseball scholars here and the HOM.

It will be interesting to see which gets talked about more for Roberto Alomar - the tremendous performaces or the spitting incident - I suspect it will be the spitting incident.

I've thought about that on and off almost since the night that it happened. I hope Alomar gets in the HOF, and I think that he probably will in the long run, but it sure wouldn't surprise me if more than a few posturing writers make this an excuse not to vote for him.
   348. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 16, 2007 at 03:24 PM (#2298887)
What some people mean, I believe, when they say that a walk is worth less in a low-scoring environment:
- the value of a walk relative to a single is less in a low-scoring environment
- value(walk)/value(single) is positively related to scoring


Perhaps that is what some people mean, but is it pertinent to the Rice/Singleton comparison? Initially, the difference being debated wasn't the value of a high average vs low average with similar OBP, it was the value of a higher OBP with poorer baserunning. Some people were arguing for devaluing Singleton's walks because of his baserunning, which I suppose is reaonable (but how much?). Then some others argued that the walks should be further discounted because they came in a lower scoring environment. How exactly do you get from there to the difference between a walk and a single? The question remains the absolute value of the walks.
   349. TomH Posted: February 16, 2007 at 04:07 PM (#2298908)
prelim ballot

1. Schmidt
2. Rice
3. everybody else

:)
   350. jingoist Posted: February 16, 2007 at 06:06 PM (#2298992)
Remember guys, HoF voters take all sort of incedental issues into account when they vote for a player. They worry about his morals, his attitude toward sportswriters, etc.
HoM voters specifically DO NOT consider such intangibles; they just vote for the guy who helped his team win the most games possible via his on-the-field contributions.

I'm a big Blyleven fan, as a pitcher, not necessarily as a human being.
I still believe the single biggest black mark against the guy was his attitude toward his team-mates and the media. Most guys thought he was a d*ck; from most things I've read he was a d*ck.
Sportswriters don't vote for borderline guys who are d*icks.

And trust me Alomar will be tarred with the same brush, as will Kent and Sheffield, though neither will be slathered to the extent that Rik Albert has been.
   351. tjm1 Posted: February 16, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2299108)
And if you poll 1,000 people who actually watched the 1984 postseason for the player who sticks out in their minds, I guarantee you that 990 would say Kirk Gibson, not Trammell, and the other 10 would probably name either Steve Garvey or Leon Durham.


Trammell was the MVP back then, so the writers watching that series thought he played the best, but Gibson added to his legend with his outstanding at bat in the 1988 World Series. You are probably right, then, that what people remember is colored by other more recent events, and that people now would say Gibson was the hero of the series for the Tigers.

I'm a big Blyleven fan, as a pitcher, not necessarily as a human being.

I know Blyleven had a reputation for playing rough practical jokes on his teammates, but I never heard before that his teammates really disliked him. He's an incredibly popular Twins announcer, partly for the same sense of humor.
   352. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 17, 2007 at 03:46 AM (#2299227)
partly for the same sense of humor.

there's some story out there about him wearing a t-shirt in the locker room during reporter sessions that said "I love farting."

You got to love that. (Unless you're my mother.)
   353. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 17, 2007 at 03:58 AM (#2299230)
And if you poll 1,000 people who actually watched the 1984 postseason for the player who sticks out in their minds, I guarantee you that 990 would say Kirk Gibson, not Trammell, and the other 10 would probably name either Steve Garvey or Leon Durham.

Trammell was the MVP back then, so the writers watching that series thought he played the best, but Gibson added to his legend with his outstanding at bat in the 1988 World Series. You are probably right, then, that what people remember is colored by other more recent events, and that people now would say Gibson was the hero of the series for the Tigers.


I doubt that that that Gibson home run off Gossage in 1984 needed any booster shot from 1988. It was far, far and away the dramatic high point of an otherwise pretty dull World Series. This isn't to dispute your point about Trammell the MVP, but you could probably look back at the last 20 or 25 World Series and for half of them be hard pressed to remember who the MVP was at all, whereas moments like Gibson vs. Gossage are few and far between.
   354. Howie Menckel Posted: February 17, 2007 at 04:00 AM (#2299232)
Huh.
Like a lot of HOM voters, I ran away from this thread about 350 posts ago.
But to be fair, looking at the recent posts.... well, you've come a long way, baby.

Not that I'd necessarily vote for Rice, but at least I see a lot of thought-provoking comments of late - some of them related to Rice as well.
   355. tjm1 Posted: February 17, 2007 at 06:33 AM (#2299260)
whereas moments like Gibson vs. Gossage are few and far between.


You're probably right - most people remember individual home runs more than actual play in the whole Series. I bet a lot of people think of Joe Carter and Tony Perez as great post-season players because they had dramatic, famous home runs in the post-season, and the reputation of high RBI players as clutch hitters gives some statistical support to their general impressions. Of course Perez's playoff numbers are much worse than his regular season numbers. Carter's playoff numbers are slightly worse than his career regular season numbers, but that's mostly due to horrible ALCS play.
   356. ptodd Posted: February 28, 2007 at 10:29 AM (#2304321)
Recently I studied the effect of batting handedness among hitters. We talk about the advantage that hitters have due to park, era, league, etc but what about players who need to face a pitcher from the same hand as they hit 70% vs 30% of the time. So I looked at players who accumulated 5000 or more PA from 1920-1992 using Baseball References database. There were 486 such players (9.1% SHB, 56.6% RHB, 34.4% LHB).

Their performance on average was as follows

SHB 275/345/383/728
RHB 276/343/419/752
LHB 288/363/439/802

SHB did not seem to get much of any advantage from batting both sides of the plate, that is probably because they have 2 different swings to worry about, and most would do better choosing one side or the other.

LHB had a significantly better result than RHB, being 50 points higher on OPS. Not saying we should add 50 points of OPS or 12 points BA to every RHB to compare to a LHB, just saying it is a factor to consider between 2 players when all else else is equal, in which case you should vote right.

In Jim Rice's case, his 854 OPS is ranked 26th among all RHB who played between 1920-1992 and had 5000 or more PA (270 players), and he is 3rd among RHB who played in his era (1972-1992) out of the 90 who meet this criteria.

Just for fun if I adjust his road OPS to compensate for the fact he is a RHB, it is a respectable 839, which would rank him 44th among the 135 LHB who played between 1920-1992 and 8th among those LHB between 1972-1992.

Now on to park factors. I did yet another study on the home vs away benefits of all players regardless of park between 1960-1995 who had at least 3000 PA at home. At home it was 795 and away was 758, so a 37 OPS advantage regardless of park. Since this study included over 2 million PA I feel it is significant.

So for fun again I adjust Rices home OPS by using his actual road stats and adjust for the core home vs away advantage and hand advantage, and adjust the road for hand advantage, so this gives a theoretical for Jim Rice in a park neutral environment as a LHB.

Home-Actual 920 OPS, Theoretical 789+37+50 = 876 OPS
Away Actual 789 OPS, Theoretical 789+50 = 839 OPS

Total Actual 854, Theoretical 857 OPS

IMO, Jim Rices advantage at Fenway is no more an advantage for him than a LHB has over a RHB at a neutral park. Now you can argue that my adjustments are not accurate, but you can make the same arguments about park adjustments. Jim Rice did what he did as a RHB where he did it and until someone proves that Jim Rice could not have performed as well at Yankee stadium where he had a career OPS of 1047, then he belongs in the HOM and the HOF

I probaby should have broken it down OBP and SLG but no time.
   357. OCF Posted: March 01, 2007 at 04:27 AM (#2304917)
My reply to ptodd: there is a major conceptual difference between a platoon advantage and a park adjustment.

Yes, left-handed batters have a relative advantage in a majority right-handed world. But being able to bat left handed is a real physical skill, just as being strong is a real physical skill or being able to run fast is a real physical skill. Left-handed batters contribute more to their teams winning than do right-handed batters. Is that fair? I don't think "fair" comes into it; we're asking what wins ball games. Estimating the size of the platoon advantage is a worthy exercise - but it is not something to be adjusted away.

But if one plays one's home games in a ballpark that inflates offense, then one produces more runs - but the value of those runs is diminished because the opposing team also scores more runs, and one's own teammates also produce more runs themselves. The mere act of scoring more runs because the environment favors it does not win ball games, and that means it must be adjusted away.

Did Jim Rice take unusual advantage of his home park? Did Mel Ott? Gavy Cravath? Was Jimmy Wynn able to hit in the Astrodome when others couldn't? This is all interesting information, but deep down, I don't really care. I want to know how well they hit, however they managed to do that, and in what overall run environment. I don't care what Rice "would have" hit in Yankee Stadium; I case what he did hit in the overall mix of parks he played in, averaged together.

As a corner outfielder, most of what Jim Rice has to sell to us is offense. His handedness is an intrinsic part of his offensive abilities; his offensive contributions are what they are. Those contributions must be considered within their appropriate offensive context; this is where park and league adjustments must be made. Of course, Rice made substantial offensive contributions. And so did Tommy Henrich, Harry Hooper, George Foster, Dixie Walker, and Topsy Hartsell. That's the neighborhood I've got Rice in. I think Rocky Colavito was better, and Jose Cruz, and (not yet eligible), Albert Belle. I'm not voting for Colavito and Cruz, and I'm not all that likely to vote for Belle. I am voting for Frank Howard. In raw terms, what Howard did may not look that impressive alongside Rice, but context is everything.
   358. Brent Posted: March 01, 2007 at 06:32 AM (#2304951)
SHB did not seem to get much of any advantage from batting both sides of the plate, that is probably because they have 2 different swings to worry about, and most would do better choosing one side or the other.

LHB had a significantly better result than RHB, being 50 points higher on OPS. Not saying we should add 50 points of OPS or 12 points BA to every RHB to compare to a LHB, just saying it is a factor to consider between 2 players when all else else is equal, in which case you should vote right.


Since most left-handed batters are outfielders or first basemen and most 2B, 3B, SS, and C are right-handed or switch-hitters, it's misleading to refer to the differences in hitting rates as an "advantage" or "disadvantage," without first controlling for defensive position played. Part of the reason a left-handed first baseman hits for a better average than a switch-hitting shortstop is because he has to in order to make up for the difference in defensive responsibility.

Also, I agree with OCF's comments.
   359. baudib Posted: March 01, 2007 at 08:07 AM (#2304962)
One detail about Rice that should be noted (I didn't read all five pages, so excuse me if it was) is that something has to be done in the field of sabermetrics to avoid penalizing players like Rice for their high DP rates when they are accumulated under extenuating circumstances.

Rice is probably hurt by this more than any other player; it is remarkable that so many can drone the line about his high RBI total being about context and, in the next breath, rip him for his high GDP totals.

The increase in Rice's GDPs occurred about precisely the moment Wade Boggs entered the Red Sox lineup. There has never been a player in the history of baseball who reached first base without advancing somehow to second base under his own power as Wade Boggs, and I don't believe it is particularly close. Add in the fact that Dewey Evans was a high OBP/stationary baserunner and you have the resulting DP orgy. Willie Wilson would ground into 20 DPs a year batting cleanup on this team.

I don't think it's necessarily enough to get him into the HOF or HOM, but Rice is being unfairly weighed down by 50-60 outs or so in most observer's analysis.
   360. ptodd Posted: March 01, 2007 at 01:38 PM (#2304984)
OCE, I completely disagree with you on the LHB being a skill, it is genetic for LH throwers, and for those who throw RH, it is related to their development(learning to hit as a LHB at an early age). I have never heard of anyone who changed the hand they batted after the age of 20, except for SHers who decide to hit 100% as LHB or RHB. If you know, let me know.

HOFers generally are not platooned, and RHB face RH pitchers 70% of the time and LHB face LH pitchers 30% of the time

Did you ever think that Fenway park helps guys like Mark Bellhorn and Kevin Millar more than it helped Rice? Rices Hr's were generally HR in most parks. In fact, he may have lost Hr's in his LD's hit for distance that would hit the wall.

Paths to Glory, Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt address this issue:

... Determining how another park might affect a player is highly uncertain. Is the player a pull hitter who can take advantage of the new setting or a spray hitter who may not gain a similar benefit? Maybe most important, however, and almost impossible to model, is the fact that players are intelligent and can adapt to their surroundings. For example, Hall of Famer Mel Ott hit an incredible 323 of this career 511 home runs in his home park, the Polo Grounds in New York. As baseball historian Stew Thornley has pointed out, he learned to take advantage of his environment. In his first four years in New York, Ott hit 30 home runs at home and 31 on the road. It makes sense for ball clubs to try and determine which type of player or playing style best fits their home parks, but this is often surprisingly complicated.

So Jim Rice adjusted to Fenway, and the adjustment may or may not have hurt him on the road, but on average, home and away taken together and averaged , he was unquestionably a HOFer.

Rice was also a good defensive LFer. In Fenway, this is a more important defensive position than RF and as important as CF. Those who argue that his assists are helped by Fenways short LF wall, fail to mention that a Mike Greenwell did not come close to Rice in assists, and that the various defensive metrics rate LFers harshly since they assume a LFer should catch a FB hitting 30 ft off the wall.
   361. ptodd Posted: March 01, 2007 at 01:51 PM (#2304985)
Brent. You point is well taken on position adjustments and deserves more scrutiny. That said, keep in mind that not all RH throwing players (2B, SS, 3B, C) hit as RHB.
   362. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: March 01, 2007 at 02:22 PM (#2304991)
In fact, he may have lost Hr's in his LD's hit for distance that would hit the wall.


Rice's HOF case rests almost entirely on his 1977-1979 peak. For those years combined, he hit 82 HR at home and 42 on the road. For the rest of his career he was pretty even, for a total of 34 more at home. But if he had hit as many at home in those three years that he had on the road, we would not be having this conversation. The myth that Fenway hurt Rice's HR totals needs to be put to rest.

OCE, I completely disagree with you on the LHB being a skill, it is genetic for LH throwers, and for those who throw RH, it is related to their development(learning to hit as a LHB at an early age). I have never heard of anyone who changed the hand they batted after the age of 20, except for SHers who decide to hit 100% as LHB or RHB. If you know, let me know.


It is a skill in the sense that it is an ability inherent to the player, just like someone is genetically pre-disposed to throw 100 MPH or run to first in 3.6 sec. It is not a park or era illusion, and thus no adjustment is necessary. Just like having 2 hands is a "skill". Just because Jim Abbot overcame that deficiency better than any other one-handed player does not merit extra hall credit.
   363. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 01, 2007 at 02:38 PM (#2304999)
I don't think it's necessarily enough to get him into the HOF or HOM, but Rice is being unfairly weighed down by 50-60 outs or so in most observer's analysis.

I agree with this and have mentioned it in the past.
   364. DL from MN Posted: March 01, 2007 at 05:04 PM (#2305143)
> Rice was also a good defensive LFer.

I've yet to see defensive splits that show this, or really any defensive data at all. We should have decent data for some portion of his career.
   365. Dizzypaco Posted: March 01, 2007 at 05:10 PM (#2305146)
Rice's HOF case rests almost entirely on his 1977-1979 peak

After 475 posts, the myth continues. I believe it has been said several times, but almost every writer who has made a case for Rice does it based on a 12 year period (1975 to 1986, during which time he trailed only Mike Schmidt in runs created), not three.

I'm sure you don't think his 12 year record is good enough for the Hall. I agree with you. But it is the case that his supporters have made.
   366. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: March 01, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2305179)
After 475 posts, the myth continues. I believe it has been said several times, but almost every writer who has made a case for Rice does it based on a 12 year period (1975 to 1986, during which time he trailed only Mike Schmidt in runs created), not three.


Which includes, funny enough, the years 1977-1979.

Sandy Koufax won more games than any other pitcher between 1958-1966. That doesn't negate the fact that his HOF case rests almost entirely on his 1963-1966 peak.
   367. Dizzypaco Posted: March 01, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2305212)
Have you actually read the arguments people have made on behalf of Rice? Every one I have read has made mention of his performance over 12 years. Can you point to any that didn't?

In case you think I am cherry picking, and that leading the league in runs created over a 12 year period is not that big a deal, he're a list of players who have done it in the American League dating back to the 30's: Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastremski, Reggie Jackson, Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, George Brett, Robin Yount, Wade Boggs, Paul Molitor, Ken Griffey, Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmeiro, and Manny Ramirez. Of those that are eligible, every single one is in the Hall of Fame except Rice. Palmeiro won't make it either.

Yet I agree with you - I wouldn't vote for Rice either. But his accomplishments are still pretty good - over a 12 year period. No one talks about Sandy Koufax from 1958 to 1966. But they talk about Rice during the 12 year period. The fact that you or I don't think he was that good during that period does not mean that's not how his case has been built.
   368. OCF Posted: March 01, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2305265)
Run Jim Rice through Sean Forman's handy-dandy neutralizer (to a 750 run environment) and he comes out as .304/.358/.511 with 404 HR. Do the same for Rocky Colavito and get .277/.373/.509 with 403 HR. Where is the legion of passionate Colavito supporters willing to continue arguing his case at great length?

[Side note: yes, Rice's career is slightly longer than Colavito's. But Colavito is one of a number of players who retired after having a "terrible" 1968 season. Admittedly Colavito was down to being a part time player by then, a reserve OF/PH, but his .211 BA with 8 HR was actually an OPS+ of 111.]
   369. ptodd Posted: March 02, 2007 at 07:58 AM (#2305713)
Sandy Koufax won more games than any other pitcher between 1958-1966. That doesn't negate the fact that his HOF case rests almost entirely on his 1963-1966 peak.

And his dominant home vs away splits from 1962 due to the Dodgers moved to Dodgers stadium and raised the mound higher than the rules allowed and it also being the ultimate pitchers park is discounted. Ron Santos gets into the HOM by VC despite his home aways splits, K rate, high GDP rate. Ok, so he was GG fielder, and walked more than Rice, but 216 HR at home and 126 HR on the road beats Rices 208/174 split
   370. ptodd Posted: March 02, 2007 at 09:27 AM (#2305727)
Run Jim Rice through Sean Forman's handy-dandy neutralizer (to a 750 run environment) and he comes out as .304/.358/.511 with 404 HR. Do the same for Rocky Colavito and get .277/.373/.509 with 403 HR. Where is the legion of passionate Colavito supporters willing to continue arguing his case at great length?

Because people had the good sense to look at what he actually did. His fielding and running made Jim Rice look like Tony Gwynn (well maybe that is an exageration). He never played on a team that won a pennant.

The neutralizers on BR are fun but are theoretical, do not treat it with too much importance.

Park Factors in Rices day were on the high end, especially the late 70's, because the lineup was well constructed for that ball park with a lot of right hand power, and the pitchers were not the kind of guys who kept the ball in the park at Fenway. Then in the early to mid 80's, the Sox went to lineups that did not provide a lot of power from the right side of the plate except for Rice and Evans. Armas and Perez and Baylor would come in for 2-3 years, to provide some additional right side power, but for some reason they did not seem to be able to take advantage of Fenway like Rice and Evans, perhaps they needed more time to learn how to hit in Fenway, and the lineup was not able to take advantage of Fenway as well as the late 70's lineups, so the park factor went down not because the park changed, but because the lineup did. In the mid-late 80's changes to the windstream from building on the roof made Fenway less of a hitters park, but by that time Rice was in decline.
   371. ptodd Posted: March 20, 2007 at 02:07 PM (#2314575)
Taking a different approach here.

What Jim Rice brought to the table was RBI's, yet as we all know, RBI's are somewhat a function of opportunity, and also of park, so people have pretty much ignored RBI's when it comes to Jim Rice. How much of Jim Rices reputation for RBI's are due to his park and opportunities? Well we have park factors that adjust, but I have never felt very comfortable with them as they are too theoretical to be accurate, and I have never been able to quantify how much additional opportunity Rice had relative to his peers. Recently I discovered that BP had a RBI pct data going way to back year by year to Jim Rices days and earlier, which led me to the following approach.

We all know from 1975-1988 Jim Rice led the AL in RBI (2nd only to Mike Schmidt in the NL)

Using BM's data base I checked where Jim Rice stood on the road during this period, this eliminates the need to deal with theoretical park factor adjustments.

Dave Winfield 697
Mike Schmidt 668
Jim Rice 626
Eddie Murray 610
Dave Parker 569

So obviously park is eliminated as a reason for his high RBI totals relative to his peers, that leaves opportunity.

In this period, Jim Rice averaged 450 ROB per season (430 during his peak seasons in 1975-1980)

The average player getting 500 or more PA averaged 366. Jim Rice had 23% more RBI than the average regular player in the AL. But this includes all lineup positions, so obviously a player hitting 3rd or 4th in the lineup would get more opportunities. So I compared Rices opportunities with 12 AL players who made the HOF from this period, Winfield, Murray, Jackson, Fisk, Brett, Boggs, Hendersen, Molitor, Ripken, Yaz, Yount, Puckett. Jim Rices opportunities were 17% greater these stars. Of course, 3 of these 12 HOFers were Red Sox players, but Fisk was catcher having fewer PA and spent more than half of this period in Chicago, and Boggs hit at the top of the order.

So I adjust Rice's RBI's (excluding the RBI in scoring himself on his HR's), and I get an RBI total of 566 this drops Rice to 3 RBI below Dave Parker. I didn't calculate Parker and Schmidts RBI opportunities, as I was focused on the AL comparisons. So Jim Rice drops to 3rd in the AL below Eddie Murray.

So then I looked at Eddie Murrays RBI opportunities, and guess what, he was just 10 ROB per season less than Rice over this period at 440 per year. So correcting for this, Jim Rice had 615 RBI in the same number of opportunities as Murray, so Rice is still number 2 in RBI on the road, adjusted for opportunities.

How can this guy not be in the HOF or HOM. Getting on base is just half the battle, someone has to drive you home. That was Rices job, and he did it very well, even on the road, and he did it better at Fenway where he played half his games.

Now as I finished typing this I realize I made a mistake by focusing only in years Rice played. So lets assume the average ROB numbers for these 12 HOFers holds through the entire 1973-1992 period, twenty years post of the DH, pre-juiced era.

So I come up with

Dave Winfield 892 in 1364 G
Eddie Murray 806 in 1211 G
George Brett 714 in 1268 G
Robin Yount 658 in 1356 G
Jim Rice unadjusted 649 in 1041 G
Dwight Evans 642 in 1222 G
Don Baylor 624 in 1046 G
Carlton Fisk 620 in 1154 G
Jim Rice adjusted for opp 580 in 1041 G

Pretty much everyone here is in the HOF and HOM except Evans and Baylor

But lets adjust for games to be fair to Jim Rice, adjusting everyone to 1041 games.

Eddie Murray 692
Dave Winfield 680
Reggie Jackson 654
Don Baylor 624
George Brett 586
Jim Rice 580
Carlton Fisk 559
Dwight Evans 547
Robin Yount 505

Now lets readjust Rice 5 based on the 5 guys ahead of him where the average ROB opportunity factor which is 9% and not the 17% we used for the average of the 12 HOFers above

Eddie Murray 692
Dave Winfield 680
Reggie Jackson 654
Don Baylor 624
Jim Rice 609
George Brett 586

So he is in the top 5 in RBI in his era on the road, adjusted for opportunites and games.

One last adjustment. Just noticed that Baylor is only 5% above Rice in ROB per season, below the 9% adjustment used. Readjusting for Rice, brings him to 626, beating baylor by 2.

So Rice is # 4 for road opportunity adjusted RBI/G in the AL from 1973-1992, beaten only by HOFers Murray, Winfield and Jackson.

Jim Rice was #1 in the AL away in RBI/G at home/away, even after opportunity adjustment from 1973-1992, and as I have shown is # 4 on the road. How can this guy not be in the HOF or HOM?
   372. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 02:10 PM (#2314577)
How can this guy not be in the HOF or HOM?

Jimbo insulted all of our mothers. ;-)
   373. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 02:16 PM (#2314583)
As for RBI, everyone knows Rice was damn good with that half of offense, It's the other half that he was lacking, even with his fine BA. Now, some will say that he was paid to drive in runs, not score them. AFAIAC, it's a moot point. He could have been paid also to sing tenor at the Met for all I care. :-) Compared to his peers from all generations, he was real good in overall run production but not great. That's what is keeping him out, at least in the HoM so far.
   374. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 02:47 PM (#2314604)
I don't know. He finished in the top 5 in runs scored 4 times and the top 10 6 times. That's just another of the ambiguities of the Rice candidacy that one can argue about.


His OBP wasn't bad those years in question, Kevin, though his park and teammates probably helped him in the runs department a little.

The other thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post was that his career wasn't that long. If he had played 20 years instead of 16 at the same rate of production, then he would have a real case.
   375. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: March 20, 2007 at 02:52 PM (#2314607)
BTW, I understand those who have Rice on their ballots. What irks me, however, is when I'm told that he belongs in the Hall and it's very obvious, more or less. I respectfully disagree.
   376. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: March 20, 2007 at 04:26 PM (#2314696)
Eddie Murray 692
Dave Winfield 680
Reggie Jackson 654
Don Baylor 624
Jim Rice 609
George Brett 586

So he is in the top 5 in RBI in his era on the road, adjusted for opportunites and games.

One last adjustment. Just noticed that Baylor is only 5% above Rice in ROB per season, below the 9% adjustment used. Readjusting for Rice, brings him to 626, beating baylor by 2.

So Rice is # 4 for road opportunity adjusted RBI/G in the AL from 1973-1992, beaten only by HOFers Murray, Winfield and Jackson.

Jim Rice was #1 in the AL away in RBI/G at home/away, even after opportunity adjustment from 1973-1992, and as I have shown is # 4 on the road. How can this guy not be in the HOF or HOM?


This is not as impressive as it seems. The RBI Opportunities stats on BP are heavily biased against walks. If a player bats with a man on first 20 times, he's better off with a HR and 19 Ks than he is with 20 walks (which equates to 0 for 20). In 2004, when Barry Bonds had one of the greatest statistical seasons ever, he was 88th in the NL in OBI% among players with 300 PA. Royce Clayton was one spot ahead of him. Generally, the bias against walks does not result in misrepresentations of anywhere near this magnitude, but it does force you to look at the results more closely.

Here are the differences between AVG and OBP with RISP for the individuals above...

Murray: 100
Winfield: 90
Jackson: 112
Baylor: 97
Rice: 63
Brett: 103

And the other 3 in your top 8:

Fisk: 88
Evans: 115
Yount: 68

I chose to look at batting with RISP because the vast majority of a player's RBI come in these situations. With RISP, Yount is the only player with a similar walk rate to Rice. All of the other players are penalized relative to Rice for some combination of their selectivity and pitchers' unwillingness to face them. Among the other HOFers previously mentioned, Boggs, Henderson, and Yaz all had higher differentials than anyone listed above, leaving them at a great disadvantage in terms of converting RBI opportunities.

Rice was certainly an excellent run producer and I believe that he is frequently not given the credit he deserves, but your analysis of RBI statistics overstates his value.
   377. Juan V Posted: March 20, 2007 at 08:59 PM (#2314898)
This may be little more than a rhetorical question, but how would RBI rates look if one used outs (w/ROB, w/RISP or whatever situation you are considering) instead of total opportunities? That would be a better stat to see, IMO.
   378. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: March 20, 2007 at 09:37 PM (#2314922)
This may be little more than a rhetorical question, but how would RBI rates look if one used outs (w/ROB, w/RISP or whatever situation you are considering) instead of total opportunities? That would be a better stat to see, IMO.

I've done this for the past 3 years, using the equation (RBI-HR)/LOB. This statistic is similar to BPro's OBI% in that it has the same definition of success, but it designates failure as only those instances in which an out is recorded rather than all instances in which a runner is not scored. I have only found LOB statistics in box scores for 2004-2006, so my research is limited. However, I believe that this metric provides a good snapshot of a player's value from an RBI standpoint when the data is available.

Here are the top 10 performers with at least 400 PA for a team in 2006:

PLAYER..... TEAM RBI HR LOB (RBI-HR)/LOB
Abreu, B.... PHI 65. 8. 108 0.528
Berkman, L.. HOU 136 45 174 0.523
Cabrera, Mi. FLA 114 26 180 0.489
Pujols, A... STL 137 49 188 0.468
McCann, B... ATL 93. 24 151 0.457
Jeter, D.... NYY 97. 14 184 0.451
Sanchez, F.. PIT 85. 6. 180 0.439
Mauer, J.... MIN 84. 13 163 0.436
Bonds, B.... SF. 77. 26 120 0.425
Hafner, T... CLE 117 42 178 0.421
   379. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: March 20, 2007 at 09:47 PM (#2314927)
Let's see if I can make this better-aligned.

Here are the top 10 performers with at least 400 PA for a team in 2006:

PLAYER.... TEAM RBI HR LOB (RBI-HR)/LOB
Abreu, B..... PHI 65.. 8.. 108 0.528
Berkman, L. HOU 136 45 174 0.523
Cabrera, Mi. FLA 114 26 180 0.489
Pujols, A...... STL 137 49 188 0.468
McCann, B. ATL 93.. 24 151 0.457
Jeter, D....... NYY 97.. 14 184 0.451
Sanchez, F. PIT 85.. 6.. 180 0.439
Mauer, J.... MIN 84.. 13 163 0.436
Bonds, B.... SF. 77.. 26 120 0.425
Hafner, T... CLE 117 42 178 0.421
   380. DavidFoss Posted: March 20, 2007 at 09:47 PM (#2314929)
One last adjustment.

Too many "adjustments" for me, especially when RBI is the starting point and many of the adjustments appear tailored to help Rice. The one of career-length was a head-shaker. As John said, career length is a strike against him. ...and after all of that, he ends up in a virtual tie with Don Baylor? How is that supposed to be compelling?

(Don't get me wrong Jim Rice & Don Baylor were fine players and I don't want to imply that they weren't but there are others who fine players as well and I'd rate them as closer to the HOF/HOM than Rice & Baylor.)
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