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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joe Torre

Eligible in 1983.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 07, 2006 at 12:57 AM | 80 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:02 AM (#2129595)
It would have been nice if the Mets had had him when he was really good...
   2. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:56 AM (#2129829)
Multi-positional non-shoo-ins give me a headache. I don't believe in the way the uber-measures try to balance the positions so I only use them for within-position comparisons and do the balancing myself. For a guy like Torre that's excruciatingly difficult.

With those hitting numbers:

At C, he's in with a healthy career length.
At 3B, he's in with a decent, but not great career length.
At 1B, he doesn't have enough bat and has career length issues.

What about the mixture? He's probably in, but how do I rank him against the backlog? Ugh. They can't all be easy like Aaron & Robinson. :-)
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:59 AM (#2129838)
At C, Freehan to me was more valuable, as was Ted Simmons.

At 3B, Brooksie was more valuable.

At 1B, well, there were a bunch.

A real borderliner, but possibly above the line.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#2129859)
Whoops... let me clarify my post before it hijacks the thread. Usually I look at batting numbers and then rank versus others at the same position and then adjust for defense at the end.

If a full-time C puts up Torre's hitting numbers, he's in easy. Better than Freehan, probably better than Simmons (who is ten years away anyhow). Of course, Torre was not a full-time C.

If a full-time 3B puts up Torre's hitting numbers, he's probably in. The career could be a bit longer, but its comparable to Santo in length and bat-quality. Of course, Torre was not a full-time 3B.

If a full-time 1B puts up Torre's hitting numbers, he's out. He's below Cash, Cepeda, and probably Boog. I always bring in borderline corner guys into the equation as well which brings in Frank Howard. No shot. Of course, Torre was not a full time 1B.

I hope that's more clear now.

So, what do I do to balance all that? Guys that have their own positional balance schemes (or rely on WARP or some sort of modified WS) may have a method that does this automatically. For me, multipositional guys (especially within a season) have always been a weakness of mine.
   5. OCF Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:58 AM (#2129922)
Here's a listing, by my adjusted RCAA system, best to worst. This is not RCAP - this is just evaluating these men's offense, period.

Torre      84 53 43 40 31 31 28 23 17 15 15  9  9  5  4  0 --8
Freehan    53 46 28 26 25 21 13  4  2  1  0 
--5-10-14
Bresnahan  60 43 40 38 26 23 19 19 17  9  6  5  1  0 
---6
Campanella 54 52 41 34 24 17  6 
--8-18
Schang     30 28 28 27 23 20 18 17 16 15 14 12  9  9  9  0 
---


Of course, several extra years should be interpolated into the middle of that Campanella line.

David Foss said, "If a full-time C puts up Torre's hitting numbers, he's in easy." I'll go further than that: using offense only and ignoring both position and defense at that position, by system puts him roughly tied with Berra (Berra a slight career edge, Torre with more in his big years), and clearly ahead of Cochrane and Hartnett. In other words, I would have him as one of the top two hitters for a catcher that we've seen in the major leagues. (2nd or 3rd if you include Gibson.) I'll also remind you that we only considered Cochrane and Hartnett as easy HoMers because nearly all of us are giving some form of "catcher bonus."

That's if Torre were a catcher. I do have David Foss's problem with him. I'll also remind you that he does have as many games caught as Bresnahan, and that Bresnahan's best offensive year came as an outfielder.

If he were a third baseman, I'd have his offensive value quite close to Santo's. Like Cash, he has that one monster year that sticks way out; Santo's best year is not such an outlier.

If he were a first baseman, his offensive value would be something like Sisler's and well behind Cepeda or Cash (and a reminder that he came to my team - the Cardinals - by being traded for Cepeda.) I have one oversimplified, peak/career balancing number. I don't use it all that much, but here are some corner outfielders whose overall position on this oversimplified number come up close to Torre's: Minoso, Kiner, Keller, Tiernan, Stovey, B. Johnson, L. Brock. I have Frank Howard well ahead of him as a hitter.

But, of course, Torre has far more defensive value than Frank Howard. But on the other side, Freehan has far more defensive value than Torre.

Leaving the whole thing no clearer than David Foss left it.
   6. DCW3 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:14 AM (#2129943)
Now that BPro has stats going back to 1960, I've been working on an update of my GWAA article, expanding it to include all players who debuted in 1960 or later. You can read about the methodology in the link, but basically it involves calculating how many wins a player was above or below average each year (using RCAP and RSAA) and then only counting his above-average seasons, creating, I think, a nice melding of peak and career value.

Joe Torre has to be the biggest surprise I've found. I've always thought of Torre as no better than a borderline Hall of Famer, but he comes in with a GWAA of 38.26. That is well past borderline (which is around 25-30 GWAA)--that's pretty much slam-dunk Hall of Fame territory. Through 2005, Torre's GWAA ranks 36th among all players to debut in 1960 or later. Among players from this group eligible for the Hall, he ranks 17th. (Counting Billy Williams, who was still technically a rookie in 1960, thirty-four players from that group have been elected to the Hall of Fame.) The only Hall-eligible players with higher scores who haven't been elected are Dick Allen and Bert Blyleven--both of whom, unlike Torre, are often referenced as particularly egregious omissions. (That's right, Torre scores better than Santo--quite a bit better, in fact.)
   7. mulder & scully Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:22 AM (#2129945)
Joe Torre and Win Shares by Position:

1961: C 100%, 13 WS, tied for 2nd in NL behind Roseboro's 20 with Bailey and Burgess
1962: C 100%, 9 WS, tied for 9th in NL behind Burgess and Dalrymple's 19
1963: C 105g, 1b 37, OF 2. 20 WS, most in NL for a catcher, but only caught 75% of his games.
1964: C 96, 1b 70. 28 WS, most in NL for a catcher, but only caught 58% of his games.
1965: C 100, 1b 49. 23 WS, most in NL for a catcher, but only caught 67% of his games.
1966: C 114, 1b 36. 29 WS, most in NL for a catcher, caught 76% of his games.
1967: C 114, 1b 23. 18 WS, 4th in NL behind McCarver's 30. Caught 83%.
1968: C 92, 1b 29. 15 WS, 4th in NL behind Haller's 27. Caught 76%

St Louis
1969: 1b 144, C 17. 23 WS, 3rd in NL for a first baseman behind McCovey's 39 and Lee May's 26. 1st base 90%
1970: C 90, 3b 73, 1b 1. 25 WS, 3rd in NL for a catcher behind Bench 34 and Dietz 29, but only caught 55% of his games.
1971: 3b 161. 41 WS, best player in NL. 100% 3rd.
1972: 3b 117, 1b 27. 18 WS, 5th in NL behind Hebner's 22. 81% 3rd base.
1973: 1b 114, 3b 58. 19 WS, 4th in NL behind Perez' 32. 66% 1st base.
1974: 1b 139, 3b 18. 16 WS, tied for 5th with 2 others in NL behind Garvey's 27. 89% 1st base.

New York Mets
1975: 3b 83, 1b 24. 8 WS, 11th best 3rd baseman behind Rose's 31. 78% 3rd base.
1976: 1b 78, 3b 4. 10 WS, 9th best 1st baseman behind Watson's 31. 95% 1st base.

Does the above mean anything? I don't know. It is interesting to me how much he played at first base in years when he is listed as a catcher. I know he played the most games at catcher, but he doesn't seem like a full time catcher to me because he didn't catch as much as others did in the National League. I looked at where he ranked in games played at catcher from 1961-1970, except 1969.
1961: 3rd w/ 112. Roseboro most with 125.
1962: 14th w/ 63. Edwards most with 130.
1963: 6th w/ 105. Edwards most with 148.
1964: tied for 9th with 96. McCarver most with 137.
1965: 9th with 100. Pagliaroni and Roseboro most with 131.
1966: 8th with 114. Hundley most with 149.
1967: 5th with 114. Hundley most with 152.
1968: 9th with 92. Hundley most with 160.
1970: 9th with 90. Bench, Edwards, Dietz most with 139.

Can we list him at U for utility? I hope this helps.
   8. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:33 AM (#2129947)
hmm, mulder stats make me think that I probably should lower the bar (in other words measure over 25 WS for peak instead of 20, things like that) for Torre like I do for other catchers because he was still playing games when he wasn't catching.
   9. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:29 AM (#2129955)
We're not counting his managerial career right?
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 11:49 AM (#2129970)
In effect, you could say that Torre was playing at DH when not catching even as a young guy. Just like Joe Mauer.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 07, 2006 at 12:25 PM (#2129983)
I saw Joe catch and as a catcher he was a heckuva hitter.

He wasn't HORRIBLE. He did stop the pitch from going all the way to the backstop on a regular basis. He also managed to get the ball back to the pitcher without causing any problems.

But Torre was a catcher because he was better then the Braves having nobody back there. He wasn't quite Mike Stanley bad but Joe was pretty challenged playing the position. If anyone is going to wander in here and start touting Joe Torre's defensive catching prowess then I will know that some of the denizens of this area are out and out daft.

I suspected as much in previous threads for the HOF. But that will be the clincher for me.
   12. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:05 PM (#2130002)
Thanks to Mulder I was able to run Torre through my 'system' while still on the other side of the world (The rest of the newbies will have to wait until later this week). Anyways, Torre only qualifies for my numerical catching bonus in two seasons and only one of those season was good enough to help his prime at all. However, I am classifying him as a catcer and comparing him to other catchers just not with the lowered bar (about 4/5 due to playing fewer games) that I give catchers. I think his time at C may have shortened his career a bit. Hope that all made sense.

With all of that said, I have Torre pretty close to my ballot and very close to Elston Howard. Torre is ahead of Howard, if you don't give Howard any credit for being forced to ride the pine for half his career, maybe even if you do. Howard has the better peak, Torre has more career (duh) and more prime. I think Howard may rank just above Torre for me which means that Torre will be somewhere in the 18-23 range, which incidentally is also where Bresnahan lies, of this ballot. At least that is where I am at right now.

Also, I wanted to mention that Torre's #10 (or is it 11?) ranking by Bill James is pretty far off, even taking James timeline into consideration. No way was he better than Freehan and I dont' think he was better than Howard. So why does Torre rank so high? I think it is because in his ranking James took a whole player's career and ranked it in the position he played the most. So for Torre, his whole career is rated as if he were a full-time catcher. If I were to do this Torre would rank in my top 10 easy and maybe even higher. This is valid when trying to rank players only be position (and take their entire career into consideration) I guess, but not for us. We need to take into account his accumulated time at other positions and realize that it makes him less valuable than his stats suggest. While I do not have working rankings by position like some voter's, I doubt that Torre is top 20, though it is close.
   13. Chris Cobb Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:34 PM (#2130016)
I like Torre a lot. Yes, he was a bad defensive catcher (he was a worse defensive third baseman, according to win shares, btw), but he was a _great_ hitter for a catcher, and, like Killebrew, he took on glove-heavy positions in ways that probably benefited his team even though he wasn't a great fielding talent.

Also, I think that Torre deserves some catcher bonus even in seasons when he was playing first base part of the time. Catching is hard on the body, so Torre's offense was almost certainly taking a hit while he was catching -- it's not surprising that his top season offensively came late in his career, when he was no longer catching. For 1961-68, 70 some catcher bonus is appropriate.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:40 PM (#2130022)
We're not counting his managerial career right?

Correct. The HOM does not consider managerial contributions.
   15. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#2130026)
We're not counting his managerial career right?

That was the question I was going to ask myself. Is there a HOM category for managers? Is Torre's managerial career supposed to be (a) considered separately in that category; (b) not considered at all; or (c) considered, but only in the context of his whole career, a bit analogous to Eckersley?

Reading the posts so far, I get the feeling that it's only Torre's playing career that's up for discussion. Is this correct?
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:23 PM (#2130068)
Exactly.
   17. karlmagnus Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:43 PM (#2130103)
He doesn't need fancy bonuses from me; bottom quartile but clearly a HOMer. I'd like to vote him down and Powell and Brooks up, but no.
   18. Juan V Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2130123)
As a catcher: clearly #1
As a 3b: mid-ballot, possibly top half
As a 1b: off the ballot

A big range of possibilities here...
   19. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:06 PM (#2130127)
What a juicy year for difficult candidates!!!!

I do employ a catcher bonus. The catcher bonus gives Torre about 15 more Win Shares, more than half of which come during his first three full years behind the plate. Using them he ranks:

-13th all-time among catchers, the number one eligible
-15th all-time among 3B, he or brooks being the top eligible
-22nd all-time among 1B, second behind Allen among eligbles.

Paste them together and he's 17th all-time at some position, and the top or second eligible at all three positions.
   20. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:14 PM (#2130135)
Reading the posts so far, I get the feeling that it's only Torre's playing career that's up for discussion. Is this correct?

Correct. Its in the Constitution... in bold.
   21. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 06:48 PM (#2130380)
Correct - David, only the playing career counts here.

And it was a heckuva career. I've got Torre as easily in. I'll probably have him in my top 5, he may even be my #1 - the numbers have him ahead of Billy Williams who is my top returnee, ahead of Brooks Robinson (who will also be in my top 10) and I haven't sorted out the Dick Allen issues yet. I've got him well ahead of Freehan, for example. And that's with assuming the average hitter at his position put up a .481 offensive winning %, so I think I've definitely accounted for the fact that he was only a 1/2 time catcher (in career terms).

He was a hitting machine as catchers go. Offensively comparable to Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.
   22. OCF Posted: August 07, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#2130404)
There's been occasional talk about having a manager's wing, after we catch up to "real time." (If so, I'm guessing it would have a somewhat different electorate.) John McGraw has been considered as a player - he has his supporters but overall hovers in the deep backlog. I would assume that he'd be an easy shoo-in as a manager only.
Frank Chance is another case. He's also in our deep backlog, with a handful of supporters. He might be the same as a manager - attracting support, but not enough to get over the top. That the Hall of Fame is willing to mix and combine categories is a very good thing for Chance and others like him (Schoendienst?). Now in terms of our support, I would assume that Torre > Chance as a player and quite likely also Torre > Chance as a manager.

...he may even be my #1 - the numbers have him ahead of Billy Williams...

That's a large position bonus in operation.
   23. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#2130432)
That's a large position bonus in operation.

Not really.

BW has a 132 OPS+ in 10519 PA
JT has a 129 OPS+ in 8801 PA

Williams has three extra seasons worth of PA's but other than that they were pretty comparable with the stick.
   24. DCW3 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#2130448)
That's a large position bonus in operation.

Keep in mind that corner outfielders hit *extremely* well relative to the league during Williams's era--far better than we are used to today. In my opinion, Williams--in fact, most corner OFs/first basemen from his time--are rather overrated because this fact isn't recognized enough.
   25. sunnyday2 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2130474)
Is that overrated? Or underrated? If you meant to say overrated, then I don't understand the point.
   26. DCW3 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2130534)
Is that overrated? Or underrated? If you meant to say overrated, then I don't understand the point.

My point is that guys like Williams generally don't have rigorous enough positional adjustments applied to them. Throughout most of the '60s and '70s and really into the '80s, teams were willing to live with a whole lot less offense from their middle infielders than they are today. This lowered the overall offensive level of the league, and made it a lot easier for corner OFs and 1Bs to put up big numbers relative to the league. Williams's 170 OPS+ in 1972 looks a little less impressive when you take into account that the league's average LF put up a 124 OPS+. Chris Speier, a shortstop with a 116 OPS+, had only 8 fewer RCAP than Williams that year.
   27. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2130562)
DCW and David Foss hit the nail on the head.

For the record, Torre scores higher than Billy Williams with no position bonus. The position bonus is what might push him to #1.

IMO he's a much more glaring modern HoF oversight than Santo.
   28. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2130565)
When I say 'no position bonus' I mean no extra bonus for the shorter career catchers have. It does take into account that Torre was a C/3B for most of his career, and that Williams was a LF.
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:51 PM (#2130567)
I guess I'm somewhat puzzled as to how a guy can receive a position bonus when he played the position poorly. I understand Casey said, "If you don't have somebody back there you have a lot of passed balls" but Torre was just a few steps above that very minimal standard.

I need to remember why the Braves traded Ed Bailey. Bailey did a fine job in his one year as Joe's lefty counterpart especially handling Tony Cloninger. If you want to gather the impact of Joe at catcher check out Tony's wild pitch count in his 3 years in the rotation. I can't prove (without going to retrosheet) that Joe was party to most of those. But I know that Ed caught a fair number of Tony's starts in 1964. And after Ed was traded the next two years Tony's totals shot up (on a percentage basis).
   30. DavidFoss Posted: August 07, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#2130570)
For the record, Torre scores higher than Billy Williams with no position bonus

Well, that I don't see. More OPS+ and more PA. No advantage in basestealing or GIDP's. Is Torre that much more OBP-heavy? I suppose when its that close it might depend on what PF's you favorite metric uses.
   31. DCW3 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:01 PM (#2130581)
I guess I'm somewhat puzzled as to how a guy can receive a position bonus when he played the position poorly. I understand Casey said, "If you don't have somebody back there you have a lot of passed balls" but Torre was just a few steps above that very minimal standard.

Well, I would say that it's because there *is* a minimum standard--not too many players can play catcher with even the minimal level of competence that a team demands. Obviously, I never saw Torre play, but look at a guy like Craig Wilson today--as a 1B/OF, he's a bench player, but if he was allowed to catch, he'd be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball. But his defense at catcher is evidently so weak that his teams haven't been willing to give him that opportunity, even with the potential benefit of getting a whole lot of offense out of that slot.

Harvey, can you shed any light on what was up with Torre winning the Gold Glove in 1965? Obviously, I know that Gold Gloves are pretty much worthless as a measure of defensive ability, but I'm just wondering what the reasoning was there. Was Torre a poor defender who was considered a good one in the media (a la Derek Jeter), or was it just a really inexplicable choice, where nobody ever thought of him as a particularly good defender (like Abreu winning last year)?
   32. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2130588)
"Well, that I don't see. More OPS+ and more PA. No advantage in basestealing or GIDP's. Is Torre that much more OBP-heavy? I suppose when its that close it might depend on what PF's you favorite metric uses."

Torre played C/3B/1B, Williams played LF.
   33. DL from MN Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:08 PM (#2130592)
I give a catcher bonus based on the fact that catchers play fewer games than other position players. It's not based on the ability to play catcher worth a darn, it's a recognition that catcher is a very tough position to play every day.
   34. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#2130597)
"I guess I'm somewhat puzzled as to how a guy can receive a position bonus when he played the position poorly."

Harvey most of us give a bonus for catchers just for being back there. The wear and tear shortens careers considerably. That's what is meant by a position bonus.

Plus the numbers just don't show Torre as that bad of a catcher. Not that numbers are everything, but perhaps he wasn't as bad as you remember Harvey? Or maybe you were particularly tough on the hometown guy? I'm not saying that as a jab, I'm really curious as to whether or not you are possibly overstating how bad he was. I mean everyone thought Ted Simmons was a terrible catcher until Bill James did the work and showed he wasn't.

Sean Forman did some work on metrics regarding catchers blocking the plate for his SABR presentation, I'll ask him if he has anything on Torre specifically. I know his study showed that Piazza for one was very good at blocking the plate, while Pudge isn't.
   35. sunnyday2 Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2130605)
Matt LeCroy.

Came up to the majors as a C-DH. Pretty good hitter, absolutely sucked behind the plate. Eventually the Twins gave up on him because he couldn't catch and as a 1B, well, he totally sucked and they decided they couldn't put him out there either. And while as a C he was a pretty good hitter, as a DH he was average or even below average.

If he could catch he would still be with the Twins. That has value and the catcher bonus provides that value.
   36. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:22 PM (#2130618)
The numbers at Prospectus show Torre as a bad catcher in 1965 (-7 FRAA), which jives with Harvey's Cloninger comment.

But the thing is, that's his only bad year.

He's +5 in 1961-62, and +6 1966-67. He ranges from -1 to +2 from 1963-64 and 1968-70.

Torre's batting average also dropped 30 points in 1965 and he played in 6 fewer games - was he hurt that year, perhaps an injury that would hurt his throwing or his ability to block the plate?

Also, Ed Bailey shows up as much worse than Torre in 1964, -7 FRAA to 0 for Torre (Bailey caught about 45% to Torre's 55%).

Torre threw out 17 of 41 runners that year, Bailey 13 of 38. Torre had 10 PB and 3 errors, Bailey 6 PB and 8 errors.

Sean's study took into account the particular pitchers each catcher caught - I really hope he has info on Torre and Freehan, I sent him an email already.
   37. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:26 PM (#2130627)
Also, Torre for his career threw out 221 of 541 that attempted to steal on him (41%). That seems like someone who was pretty good at that phase of the game to me.

Freehan threw out 433 of 1174 (37%).
   38. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:26 PM (#2130628)
Joe:

I have repeatedly defended Simmons elsewhere and did before Bill or anyone had done the legwork to substantiate that fact.

Milwaukee was blessed with a legitimately good defensive catcher in Del Crandall immediately before Joe and trust me, I am NOT judging Torre by THAT standard as he would fail miserably.

But among his contemporaries you had the "Johnnys" in Edwards and Roseboro who won the awards in '64 and '66 respectively. Folks always point to offense but Torre had a BETTER offensive season in 1966, caught MORE games in 1966, and Roseboro won the award despite having pretty much the same season that he had in 1965. Figure that out.

Joe simply didn't have the mobility one wants in a catcher. And as the game wore on particularly in July and August his glovework/footwork would get sloppy. He could still hit because I guess he could gather himself sitting in the dugout beforehand. But if it was a hot/humid day Joe would get careless back there. And trust me, the pitchers noticed.

The Braves semi-platooned him despite not having a good option after Bailey left. Gene Oliver? Uecker? Rico Carty caught a few games I think.

Again, he wasn't a Train wreck. But he wouldn't be anyone's idea of a "solution" unless it was him or Gino Petralli........
   39. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:33 PM (#2130639)
BTW Munson was incredible at throwing 427 of 960 (44.5%).
   40. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:38 PM (#2130645)
BTW Harvey, the same metric (FRAA) shows Crandall as +115 for his career, which is very good.

It shows Torre as a little above average. Given a 41% CS rate, and not an ungodly number of errors or PB (though he was probably below average in that phase of the game), I'm inclined to agree with that assessment - as it also fits with what you say - that he'd get tired (I prefer that to lazy), and some pitches would get by him.
   41. KJOK Posted: August 07, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#2130675)
Torre's defensive stats are OK for a catcher, and since he won a Gold Glove, "eyeball judges" apparently thought he was at least OK also.

1967 & 68 were very injury plagued for Torre. Torre underwent ankle surgery before the 1968 season, which came from Clay Dalrymple stepping on it in the 1967 season. He also apparently started having some knee problems.
   42. Chris Cobb Posted: August 07, 2006 at 10:15 PM (#2130681)
Win shares gives Torre a C at catcher: below average, but not dreadful.
   43. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:15 AM (#2130821)
Joe simply didn't have the mobility one wants in a catcher. And as the game wore on particularly in July and August his glovework/footwork would get sloppy. He could still hit because I guess he could gather himself sitting in the dugout beforehand. But if it was a hot/humid day Joe would get careless back there. And trust me, the pitchers noticed.

I rememer reading Torre's autobiography about six years ago. In it he says pretty plainly that he had trouble controling his weight throughout his career, especially in Milwaukee. Given that, I wouldn't doubt that he did tend to wilt during the year and that his catching may well have suffered as a result.
   44. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:39 AM (#2130853)
Another thing that I would point out to folks who continue to question whether my memory is accurate is if Joe was ok at catcher why would a team only let him catch a little over 100 games a season? It wasn't like any of the Braves pitchers had some personal caddy a la Maddux and Eddie Perez, etc. And it wasn't that the Braves had some perfect platoon mate available to give Joe a break after Ed Bailey was traded. And it certainly wasn't that the Braves were a canny organization that understood a guy could only stand so much catching. Nor was it common in that day to limit your first string catcher to just over 100 starts behind the plate.

Maybe, possibly, just perhaps the team had him catch because they really didn't have a good option but when possible they tried to wedge somebody else in there to see if a legit alternative existed?

Who would do that if a guy was an average defensive catcher and was such a fine hitter?

But then, maybe he wasn't average after all.

Could be..................
   45. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:23 AM (#2130897)
Harvey . . . let's look at it in detail, maybe there's an explanation.

In 1961 Torre was 3rd in the NL in games caught with 112. Roseboro caught 125 and Dalrymple caught 122.

In 1962 he must have been hurt, he only played 80 games, but caught 62 of them. He didn't play from 4/17-24 - he was off to a slow start hitting. He only played 4 games between June 16 - July 7. They also shut him down for the season September 19 (season ended September 30). He wasn't platooned as much as he was just benched for long stretches, again not sure if it was due to injury or not. The team finished 15 1/2 out, so he wasn't shut down for a better player down the stretch or anything. Del Crandall was the vet and put up a 108 OPS+, I could see why they didn't catch the 21 year old Torre every day.

In 1963 - 5th in the league in games caught with 105, others as high as 148 (Edwards), with McCarver, Roseboro and Dalrymple also ahead of him. But the Braves still had Del Crandall, who was a great defensive catcher coming off a 108 OPS+ season.

1964 - Crandall is dumped and Ed Bailey comes in to be the backup, he catches 80, Torre, 96. Usual suspects (Edwards, Roseboro, McCarver, Dalrymple) ahead of Torre, as well as Bartell. Can definitely see what you are saying this year, but Bailey was coming off a 147 OPS+, of course they were going to find time for him to play.

Was Torre hurt in 1965? He didn't play a game anywhere but catcher until July 4. He was hitting .331 at the time. He was on and off for 3 weeks, between 1B and C, then exclusively caught for a week and a half before playing nothing but 1B for all of August, into September. Then he went back to catching for a few weeks and played both the last two weeks.

That doesn't seem like a situation where they were trying to get a backup catcher in there because they didn't like Torre's defense. It seems like an injury and they kept trying to get him in there whenever they could.

1966 - same thing, he catches all year, up until May 22. Then he goes to 1B for a month. After that he mostly catches the rest of the way, basically playing 1B on his non-catcher days.

1967 - no real pattern other than that he catches all of April, then they start getting him some games at 1B as the season wears on, but they are mostly sporadic. Only 3 catchers in the league catch signficantly more games than Torre's 114 (Grote was also ahead of him at 119).

1968 - Torre only plays 5 games before May 19. When he comes back he goes 0-for-4 with 3 K's in his first game as a catcher, then plays 1B for a week before sitting out 3 more days. After that he catches 86 of the remaining 115 games (a pace that would put him at 121 for the season).

1969 - Torre moves to St. Louis and to 1B because of Tim McCarver, though Torre backs up. But . . . Torre was such a bad catcher that after the season they felt confident enough in Torre going back behind the plate that they traded McCarver as part of the Dick Allen deal.

1970 - Torre is back at catcher until they call Ted Simmons up in June.

I see what you are saying, but I also don't see anything that screams, "We don't think this guy could catch." He was very good at throwing out runners. That's most of catching defense isn't it? Sure he wasn't great at blocking the plate. But it's not like his PB numbers were insanely bad either.
   46. KJOK Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:39 AM (#2131035)
Another thing that I would point out to folks who continue to question whether my memory is accurate is if Joe was ok at catcher why would a team only let him catch a little over 100 games a season?

I'm not questioning your memory, but as Joe pointed out, in the '60's not too many catchers were catching 130 games a season.

Also, the Braves had a problem AT FIRST BASE, and as stupid as it may appear, they seem to have saw Torre's ability to play 1B as a solution instead of just getting a decent 1st baseman and leaving Torre behind the plate.
   47. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:32 PM (#2131144)
Also, the Braves had a problem AT FIRST BASE, and as stupid as it may appear, they seem to have saw Torre's ability to play 1B as a solution instead of just getting a decent 1st baseman and leaving Torre behind the plate.

Which Torre? Seriously, they had the wrong Torres in the wrong places.
   48. KJOK Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2131527)
JOE Torre. Frank was long gone...
   49. sunnyday2 Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:51 PM (#2131582)
Frank Torre is a great story, BTW, the man who single-handedly cost the Braves several pennants...well, Fred Haney had something to do with it.
   50. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:15 PM (#2131630)
sunny:

I am no fan of Frank Torre but he really only undercut the 1959 effort.

The Braves, like the Brewers of the late 70's/early 80's, allowed themselves to be satisfied with below average production from offensive positions because they were getting GREAT production elsewhere.
   51. JPWF13 Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:46 PM (#2131793)
The Braves, like the Brewers of the late 70's/early 80's, allowed themselves to be satisfied with below average production from offensive positions because they were getting GREAT production elsewhere.


Bill James drew a similar comparison between the early 80s Expos and the 1950s Braves - both teams couldn't figure out why they couldn't win- they had superstars- but it was the failure of those teams to appreciate that guys like Doug Flynn and Frank Torre and Roy McMillan were not adequate- they had negative value and sucked away many of the wins the superstars were adding
   52. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:51 PM (#2131799)
JP:

There really was no excuse for the Braves to settle for Andy Pafko in left field (as one example). Just because Eddie was hitting 35-40 homers a year at third base doesn't make it ok for your left fielder to slug .400.

Sigh........
   53. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:55 PM (#2131807)
And let's be honest, the Dodgers didn't need another World Series in the grand scheme of things. Another ring for Hank in 1959 would have been much cooler.
   54. JPWF13 Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:59 PM (#2131816)
Harvey

Pafko was ok- a little better than Bruton- but none of these guys were going to push you towards a championship

and aside from 57/58 they always had 2-3 starters with ERA+ under 100.
   55. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:32 AM (#2132887)
dwc3 - I just skimmed your article (will read in its entirety when I have more time), pretty cool idea.

I think the way to take defense into account is to add in Baseball Prospectus' FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average). I've been using them for awhile now, and I'm pretty comfortable they they are the best guess for years with no PBP data. While I like many of the ideas in Fielding Win Shares, I think there is more guesswork there, and the numbers aren't 'run based'.

I would use the adjusted for season, not for all-time numbers though. I don't agree with adjusting fielding for all-time, as so much of fielding value is dependent on the context of the era. And you are already adjusting for position by using RCAP instead of RCAA, so you definitely shouldn't use FRAR.

Just a thought, hope it helps.
   56. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:47 AM (#2132963)
In 1962 he must have been hurt, he only played 80 games, but caught 62 of them. He didn't play from 4/17-24 - he was off to a slow start hitting. He only played 4 games between June 16 - July 7. They also shut him down for the season September 19 (season ended September 30).

Torre was called up into the National Guard Reserve in those weeks of 1962. This was a situation that befell many young players in the Vietnam era '60s. Don't ever assume these guys were hurt without first checking out their military reserve status.

Other young stars in the '60/'70s who spent many regular season days on the Military Reserve list:

- Ken Holtzman (1967)
- Larry Dierker (1967)
- Rod Carew (weekends in 1968 and 1969)
- Richie Hebner (weekends in 1971 and 1972)
   57. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#2132975)
Was Torre hurt in 1965? He didn't play a game anywhere but catcher until July 4. He was hitting .331 at the time. He was on and off for 3 weeks, between 1B and C, then exclusively caught for a week and a half before playing nothing but 1B for all of August, into September. Then he went back to catching for a few weeks and played both the last two weeks.

That doesn't seem like a situation where they were trying to get a backup catcher in there because they didn't like Torre's defense. It seems like an injury and they kept trying to get him in there whenever they could.


I could be wrong but I have a dim memory that Torre was dealing with a tender arm the second half of that year.
   58. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:53 AM (#2132987)
1968 - Torre only plays 5 games before May 19. When he comes back he goes 0-for-4 with 3 K's in his first game as a catcher, then plays 1B for a week before sitting out 3 more days. After that he catches 86 of the remaining 115 games (a pace that would put him at 121 for the season).

Torre was never really healthy in '68, coming on slowly from early hurts and not really ever getting to 100%.
   59. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:59 AM (#2133014)
As I recall it, Torre was widely considered to be a pretty good defensive catcher. It was just that his bat was so great that the Braves were always angling ways to work him into first base in order to be assured of squeezing 500-600 at-bats out of him. And later in his career, he was so well-established as a great hitter that the Cardinals weren't about to devote him to catcher.

This may well have been covered earlier in this thread (I haven't read it all), and if so I apologize, but Torre completely re-engineered himself over the winter of 1969-1970. He lost something like 40 pounds, a huge weight loss, and never gained a pound of it back; his visual transformation was stunning, and you can see how it revitalized his hitting ability, at least for a couple of years.
   60. sunnyday2 Posted: August 09, 2006 at 11:07 AM (#2133115)
When I think of Torre now, I think Joe Mauer. But think Joe Mauer with no DH. (IOW the Twins DH Mauer quite a lot.)
   61. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2133363)
When I think of Torre now, I think Joe Mauer.

That's a good call, though Mauer bats left-handed.

The guy I've always thought was a closer comp to Torre is Mike Piazza. Torre wasn't quite the hitter Piazza was, of course, but he was a tremendous hitter. Moreover they resembled one another in build and appearance; both were tremendously strong right-handed hitters with easy, graceful, perfectly balanced contact-oriented swings. Torre threw better than Piazza (who doesn't?), but other than that they were both good-but-not-great defensive catchers.
   62. andrew siegel Posted: August 09, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2133510)
Of all the good hitting, acceptable but no better fielding catchers who have come up to the big leagues, only five of them by my count have managed to have long productive careers (Schang, Torre, Simmons, Piazza, and Biaggio). What is interesting is (1) that each of them found longterm success along a completely different career path and (2) each of those career paths is littered with lots of failures. There doesn't seem to be any magic bullet for managing a young talent of that type.
   63. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 09, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2133515)
his visual transformation was stunning, and you can see how it revitalized his hitting ability,

So Torre did Steroids, right?

JUST KIDDING!!!!!
   64. Paul Wendt Posted: August 09, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2133800)
[copied from 1983 1983 Ballot Discussion (#77) and lightly edited[

Joe Torre, playing role: catcher 8, second catcher 1, third base 3, first base 3, hitter 1 [1976]; tidbit 2

Was 1970 a half-platoon at catcher with Torre one of three righties at third?
. Ted Simmons dnp play until Memorial Day, 43 games. Plate appearances 242:82 versus right:left pitchers. Inept in those 82pa. Was he a genuine switch-hitter or still learning?
. Joe Torre, league-leader in games, 526:178 versus right:left, same ratio as catcher-only Simmons. Opening with 43 games at catcher, 18 at third, 22 mixed, 31 at catcher, and 44 of the final 47 at third.

This looks to me like:
- Simmons catcher as much as possible, with Torre third base
- Torre catcher when necessary, with Shannon or Allen third base
The healthy stable prime linchpin (Torre) plays every day but covers two positions as needed without any platoon "need" manufactured or genuine.

Ted Simmons
1968: _2g, __3pa 0:3 right:left
1969: _5g, _16pa 11:5 right(.200 .182 .400): left(.250 .400 .250)
1970: 82g, 324pa 242:82 right(.269 .355 .344): left(.167 .268 .236)

This discussion of 1970 suggests the revised count:
Joe Torre, playing role: first catcher 7, second catcher 1, third base 4; first base 3; hitter 1 [1976]; tidbit 2
   65. Steve Treder Posted: August 09, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2133896)
Simmons in the spring of 1970 was fulfulling a military reserve duty obligation. The plan all along was for Torre to catch until Simmons arrived (hence the trade of McCarver the previous fall).

Once Simmons was there, the original plan was for Torre to move to first base (where he had lots of experience) and for Allen to play third (where he had lots of experience, and Torre none). However, Allen's fielding was just so terrible at third base that year, when Simmons became available the Cardinals converted Torre into a third baseman in mid-season. Torre ended up playing just 1 game at first base that year.
   66. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 10, 2006 at 12:13 AM (#2134061)
However, Allen's fielding was just so terrible at third base that year, when Simmons became available the Cardinals converted Torre into a third baseman in mid-season.

I think it was the Craig Wright piece where Allen relates that his hand injury and nerve damage made it difficult for his middle two fingers to release the baseball when he threw. This meant that his throws acted like a slider because the ball spun off his slow fingertips (in the Neyer/James pitches/pitchers book, a couple guys' sliders are described in this very way). I wonder how many of his errors were of the throwing variety?
   67. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 10, 2006 at 12:28 AM (#2134113)
It's weird, Allen made 8 errors between April 12 and May 4. Then he fielded very well for 8 games - he didn't make an error and had 25 assists - but they moved him off third anyway, when Mike Shannon returned from wherever he was, hurt or in the reserves or something.
   68. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 10, 2006 at 12:29 AM (#2134120)
By the way, did I mention that I love Retrosheet?
   69. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 10, 2006 at 12:38 AM (#2134155)
Sean sent me this regarding Torre and blocking the plate:

Torre was pretty bad.

year team G   savedMP savedMPrate expMPrate Knuckle% |
+------+------+-----+---------+-------------+-----------+----------+
1961 MLN  112 |    5.66 |        0.31 |      1.91 |        |
1962 MLN  |  56 |   -4.72 |       -0.58 |      1.85 |        |
1963 MLN  100 |  -14.24 |       -1.03 |      1.95 |        |
1964 MLN  |  86 |  -13.01 |       -0.99 |      2.28 |        |
1965 MLN  |  90 |   -4.31 |       -0.30 |      2.52 |       19 |
1966 ATL  104 |  -19.08 |       -1.21 |      2.47 |       19 |
1967 ATL  110 |   -1.82 |       -0.11 |      2.07 |       22 |
1968 ATL  |  76 |    3.60 |        0.33 |      2.14 |       18 |
1969 STL  |  18 |   -3.91 |       -1.48 |      1.93 |        |
1970 STL  |  89 |   -0.30 |       -0.02 |      2.32 |        


Freehan was a bit above average.

year team G   savedMP savedMPrate expMPrate Knuckle% |
+------+------+-----+---------+-------------+-----------+----------+
1961 DET  |   |    0.22 |        0.39 |      2.14 |        |
1963 DET  |  70 |   -0.59 |       -0.06 |      1.94 |        |
1964 DET  139 |    8.09 |        0.37 |      2.10 |        |
1965 DET  127 |   -9.51 |       -0.50 |      2.21 |        |
1966 DET  131 |   -1.12 |       -0.05 |      2.04 |        |
1967 DET  145 |   -6.67 |       -0.32 |      2.15 |        |
1968 DET  136 |    3.99 |        0.21 |      2.21 |        |
1969 DET  117 |    7.46 |        0.40 |      2.27 |        |
1970 DET  114 |    6.29 |        0.33 |      2.52 |       15 |
1971 DET  144 |   23.18 |        0.97 |      2.48 |        |
1972 DET  103 |    5.59 |        0.37 |      2.14 |        |
1973 DET  |  98 |   11.21 |        0.73 |      2.03 |        |
1974 DET  |  62 |   -1.18 |       -0.12 |      2.23 |        |
1975 DET  113 |    5.16 |        0.27 |      2.05 |        |
1976 DET  |  61 |    5.70 |        0.55 |      2.17 |        


The comments above are his, not mine.

I think that each saved MP (missed pitch) is a 1/4 of a run with 0 being average.

Basically he uses a formula that predicts WP+PB for a pitcher, based on walks, strikeouts and HBP. He has a different formula for knuckleballers.

I'm not sure what savedMPrate and expMPrate mean. I lost my handout from the presentation, does anyone else have one? Steve were you there?
   70. Steve Treder Posted: August 10, 2006 at 01:45 AM (#2134443)
meant that his throws acted like a slider because the ball spun off his slow fingertips (in the Neyer/James pitches/pitchers book, a couple guys' sliders are described in this very way). I wonder how many of his errors were of the throwing variety?

Allen was always quick on his feet and had pretty soft hands. His throwing was horrendous, you had to see it to believe it. To what degree this had to do with his 1967 hand injury is a good question (on top of his 1965 shoulder injury), but there's no question he had a terrible arm.
   71. Steve Treder Posted: August 10, 2006 at 01:51 AM (#2134466)
I lost my handout from the presentation, does anyone else have one? Steve were you there?

I was there; it was a brilliant presentation, and Sean is obviously about as smart a guy as any of us are likely to encounter. But sorry, I didn't take my handout home.
   72. Steve Treder Posted: August 10, 2006 at 02:23 AM (#2134577)
Mike Shannon returned from wherever he was, hurt or in the reserves or something.

Shannon was returning from very serious kidney illness, that would quickly and subseqently end his athletic career. Geez, Joe, you might want to research some of this stuff? :-)
   73. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 10, 2006 at 12:56 PM (#2135048)
LOL Steve . . . that's why I have you.
   74. Jeff M Posted: August 10, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2135094)
I believe savedMPrate is the number of missed pitches saved above or below the expected missed pitches. The rate means "per 100 opportunities," which I think is PAs with runners on base.

His slides are online at Forman's presentation
   75. Jeff M Posted: August 10, 2006 at 01:52 PM (#2135098)
I believe savedMPrate is the number of missed pitches saved above or below the expected missed pitches, judged "per 100 opportunities," which I think is PAs with runners on base.

His slides are online at Forman's presentation
   76. Howie Menckel Posted: August 12, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#2138058)
Torre confuses me as much as Bresnahan and Schang once did, and Freehan's ranking vs each is problematic, so let's try this:

First let's look at everything; a mere 200 PA minimum, and all seasons of adj OPS+. Seasons under 400 PA denoted with *

Joe-Torre 171 57 40 40 37 26 26 25 23* 22 18 17 13 04 04*/91
BiFreehan 145 44 37 27 22 22 06 05/99* 98* 95 84 83 75
Bresnahan 162 45* 40 40 38 34* 32 29 24* 13 04*/89* 70*
WalSchang 139 38* 38* 37* 34 34* 32 23* 22* 21 21* 11 08 05* 01*/84*

Now seasons with 75 pct of games at C:
Joe-Torre 157 26 13 04 04
BiFreehan 145 44 27 22 22 06 05/99* 98* 95 84 83 75
Bresnahan 145* 38 34* 32 29 24* 04*/89* 70*
WalSchang 138* 38* 37* 34 34* 23* 22* 21* 11 08 05*/84*

Torre has five seasons of at least 137 OPS+, and five more over 120, then three more in the 110s. Kind of Indian Bob Johnson-like, but with significant positional bonus even if you aren't thrilled with his catching skills. Torre has nine seasons where he caught more often than played anywhere else.

Freehan has five seasons over 120 OPS+ as a 'true catcher,' which is excellent. Plus he has that 137 OPS+ as a 1B-C. He has five more seasons from 95 to 106 OPS+, which given his position AND his quality defense is a major plus each time. Even the 83 and 84 are acceptable given the context.

Bresnahan has nine seasons over 120, but only three of those both as a primary C and with 400 PA. Still, he can battle Freehan as a peak-catcher candidate, with Freehan supplementing it with extra C seasons and Bresnahan with some heavy hitting in the OF.

Schang rings up 300+ PA 14 times, but in only six of those did he clear 400 PA (including a 413 and a 421). Shades of John McGraw and Frank Chance, each of whom also get positional bonuses elsewhere. Adjust for schedule length, and Schang is nearly even with Freehan in PA, with a better OPS+ (even though he lost a couple of points with a dreadful pair of part-time final seasons).


JOE TORRE
1961 - 104 OPS, 441 PA, 100 pct C
1962 - 104 OPS, 248 PA, 100 pct C
1963 - 125 OPS, 556 PA, 73 pct C, 26 pct 1B
1964 - 140 OPS, 646 PA, 58 pct C, 42 pct 1B
1965 - 140 OPS, 594 PA, 67 pct C, 33 pct 1B
1966 - 157 OPS, 614 PA, 76 pct C, 24 pct 1B
1967 - 126 OPS, 534 PA, 83 pct C, 17 pct 1B
1968 - 113 OPS, 464 PA, 76 pct C, 24 pct 1B
1969 - 126 OPS, 678 PA, 89 pct 1B, 11 pct C
1970 - 137 OPS, 704 PA, 55 pct C, 45 pct 3B
1971 - 171 OPS, 707 PA, 100 pct 3B
1972 - 122 OPS, 613 PA, 81 pct 3B, 19 pct 1B
1973 - 117 OPS, 596 PA, 66 pct 1B, 34 pct 3B
1974 - 118 OPS, 610 PA, 89 pct 1B, 11 pct 3B
1975 - 091 OPS, 400 PA, 78 pct 3B, 22 pct 1B
1976 - 123 OPS, 340 PA, 95 pct 1B
Career - 129 OPS, 8801 PA: 903 games C, 787 games 1B, 515 games 3B

BILL FREEHAN
1963 - 099 OPS, 345 PA, 79 pct C, 21 pct 1B
1964 - 122 OPS, 572 PA, 99 pct C
1965 - 083 OPS, 485 PA, 100 pct C
1966 - 084 OPS, 544 PA, 96 pct C
1967 - 144 OPS, 618 PA, 93 pct C
1968 - 145 OPS, 635 PA, 86 pct C, 13 pct 1B
1969 - 105 OPS, 555 PA, 86 pct C, 14 pct 1B
1970 - 106 OPS, 458 PA, 100 pct C
1971 - 127 OPS, 586 PA, 99 pct C
1972 - 122 OPS, 430 PA, 99 pct C
1973 - 075 OPS, 435 PA, 91 pct C
1974 - 137 OPS, 502 PA, 51 pct 1B, 49 pct C
1975 - 095 OPS, 468 PA, 96 pct C
1976 - 098 OPS, 255 PA, 92 pct C
Career - 112 OPS, 6899 PA: 1581 games C, 157 games 1B

ROGER BRESNAHAN
1901 - 089 OPS, 323 PA, 81 pct C
1902 - 113 OPS, 464 PA, 35 pct OF, 32 pct C, 26 pct 3B
1903 - 162 OPS, 486 PA, 75 pct OF, 12 pct 1B, 10 pct C
1904 - 140 OPS, 468 PA, 85 pct OF
1905 - 132 OPS, 399 PA, 92 pct C
1906 - 140 OPS, 506 PA, 67 pct C, 33 pct OF
1907 - 129 OPS, 401 PA, 91 pct C
1908 - 138 OPS, 562 PA, 100 pct C
1909 - 104 OPS, 288 PA, 86 pct C, 13 pct 2B
1910 - 134 OPS, 299 PA, 96 pct C
1911 - 145 OPS, 281 PA, 97 pct C
1912 - 143 OPS, 124 PA, 100 pct C
1913 - 080 OPS, 189 PA, 100 pct C
1914 - 124 OPS, 311 PA, 85 pct C, 14 pct 2B
1915 - 070 OPS, 254 PA, 100 pct C
Career - 126 OPS, 5374 PA: 974 games C, 281 games OF, 120 games other

WALLY SCHANG
1913 - 138 OPS, 252 PA, 100 pct C
1914 - 137 OPS, 355 PA, 100 pct C
1915 - 121 OPS, 451 PA, 39 pct 3B, 37 pct OF, 24 pct C
1916 - 139 OPS, 399 PA, 63 pct OF, 37 pct C
1917 - 138 OPS, 366 PA, 82 pct C, 12 pct 3B
1918 - 101 OPS, 282 PA, 72 pct C, 20 pct OF
1919 - 134 OPS, 413 PA, 100 pct C
1920 - 132 OPS, 466 PA, 65 pct C, 35 pct OF
1921 - 123 OPS, 513 PA, 100 pct C
1922 - 111 OPS, 490 PA, 100 pct C
1923 - 084 OPS, 315 PA, 100 pct C
1924 - 108 OPS, 421 PA, 100 pct C
1925 - 065 OPS, 191 PA, 100 pct C
1926 - 134 OPS, 332 PA, 96 pct C
1927 - 121 OPS, 311 PA, 100 pct C
1928 - 122 OPS, 325 PA, 100 pct C
1929 - 105 OPS, 334 PA, 100 pct C
1930 - 046 OPS, 116 PA, 100 pct C
1931 - 038 OPS, 091 PA, 100 pct C
Career - 117 OPS, 6423 PA: 1435 games C, 167 games OF, 60 games 3B

Player
Torre - C 41 pct, 1B 36 pct, 3B 23 pct
Freehan - C 91 pct, 1B 9 pct
Bresnahan - C 71 pct, OF 20 pct
Schang - C 86 pct, OF 10 pct

Notice that Bresnahan and Schang each debuted as 'pure' catchers, quickly started getting moved all over the place, and eventually settled back in later career to being pure catchers again.
Torre, meanwhile, is a C-1B for much of the 1960s, but once he's switched away, he never catches another game.
   77. Paul Wendt Posted: August 13, 2006 at 12:08 AM (#2138514)
OCF #5 data shows
Torre is the spittin' image of Wally Schang in his 7th to 18th best seasons.


mulder #8
I looked at where he ranked in games played at catcher from 1961-1970, except 1969.

[rank 3, 14, 6, 9, 9, 8, 5, 9, 9 in 1961-68 and 1970]

Can we list him at U for utility? I hope this helps.


maybe a utility career but one with few or no utility seasons?

Ninth isn't bad if most teams do have a regular catcher. If six or eight teams split the position two to four ways, then ninth is low.
Peer comparison should include total games played. Was he playing more games than other catchers by playing fewer (but still, mlb average for a regular catcher) at that position. For illustration suppose Torre annually plays 100 games at catcher and 50 elsewhere while another regular catcher annually plays 125 games at catcher and none elsewhere.


jschmeagol #13
In listing Torre as catcher #10, Bill James took a whole player's career and ranked it in the position he played the most. So for Torre, his whole career is rated as if he were a full-time catcher. If I were to do this Torre would rank in my top 10 easy and maybe even higher. This is valid when trying to rank players only be position (and take their entire career into consideration) I guess, but not for us.

I believe that means "valid when trying to list players by position but take their entire careers into consideration, but not for us." Why isn't that valid here? No one here does more than list players by position, every voter's bottom line takes their entire careers into account.


Harvey W
He wasn't HORRIBLE. He did stop the pitch from going all the way to the backstop on a regular basis. He also managed to get the ball back to the pitcher without causing any problems.

But Torre was a catcher because he was better then the Braves having nobody back there.


Chris Cobb
Yes, he was a bad defensive catcher (he was a worse defensive third baseman, according to win shares, btw), but he was a _great_ hitter for a catcher, and, like Killebrew, he took on glove-heavy positions in ways that probably benefited his team even though he wasn't a great fielding talent.

That is a crucial question. Was he good enough at bat and behind the plate that his play helped a major league team win games.


DCW3 #31
look at a guy like Craig Wilson today--as a 1B/OF, he's a bench player, but if he was allowed to catch, he'd be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball. But his defense at catcher is evidently so weak that his teams haven't been willing to give him that opportunity, even with the potential benefit of getting a whole lot of offense out of that slot.


Joe Dimino #36
Torre's batting average also dropped 30 points in 1965 and he played in 6 fewer games - was he hurt that year, perhaps an injury that would hurt his throwing or his ability to block the plate?
. . .
Sean's study took into account the particular pitchers each catcher caught - I really hope he has info on Torre and Freehan, I sent him an email already.


So does "block[ing] the plate" now mean strictly blocking pitches rather than blocking baserunners.


Harvey W #44
Maybe, possibly, just perhaps the team had him catch because they really didn't have a good option but when possible they tried to wedge somebody else in there to see if a legit alternative existed?

Who would do that if a guy was an average defensive catcher and was such a fine hitter?


Anyone who believed that catching is 150 games is not an option might do it precisely the guy was such a fine hitter. Given 125 games catching or 100 catching and 50 playing elsewhere, choose the latter. (In a half-platoon, the 50 games elsewhere would tend to be games against lefty pitchers, with the left-batting 1Bman or 3Bman sitting out.)

Second, me might be below average but not bad. If the middle 40% of catchers don't save blow many runs, then the 30th percentile isn't bad.


Howie Menckel #76
Notice that Bresnahan and Schang each debuted as 'pure' catchers,

Bresnahan was a candidate pitcher for a few seasons including his mlb debut.
   78. Howie Menckel Posted: August 13, 2006 at 12:25 AM (#2138538)
Right, Bresnahan was 4-0 in 6 games for the Washington Senators (5 starts, 3 complete, 110 ERA+) at age 18 in 1897.

But he got only in 2 more games (none as P) before his 'debut' in 1901, and he pitched only 9 more IP the rest of his career...
   79. Paul Wendt Posted: February 11, 2008 at 02:43 AM (#2687867)
Another point or two worth reviving the guy's thread, I hope.
Quoting my Group 2 ballot entry on Joe Torre:
1.
Torre was a good enough batter for HOM consideration as a career DH. In my mind's eye he is slow. (During the batting race with Ralph Garr, Sports Illustrated did a story, a cover story iirc, on "The Tortoise and the Hare".) But Torre hit triples, 29 in four seasons including 5th and 5th in the league 1970-71. Busch Stadium didn't do that without some help from the batter. Right?
2.
As a catcher he worked less than half as much as Simmons, which is a huge difference, more than enough to outweigh Torre's moderately superior batting. Torre and Simmons split the position in 1970. Torre played first base in 1969 with McCarver catching. Does anyone know the expectation when McCarver was part of the Curt Flood /Dick Allen trade? Was Torre expected to resume catching?
For that matter, one year earlier when he went to St Louis, was he expected to catch again?
   80. Howie Menckel Posted: February 11, 2008 at 03:33 AM (#2687885)
I think the Cardinals knew even then that a 20-yr-old Simmons was a star in the making.
If he's ready, great. If only partly ready, well, Torre's a pro, he can handle it.

Interesting that the duo started every Cardinals game that year, 1970. Only other player to make an appearance behind the dish for the Redbirds that year was a 28-yr-old Bart Zeller, who went the 'Moonlight Graham' route by appearing in 1 game (May 21) but never batting.

I don't quite recall - was this deal mainly a "trade of headaches," whether that's fair or not, in terms of Flood and Allen? The Cards may have seen this as a way to get the better player, by offering up their catcher as well.

The Phillies were on a run of preposterous catchers at the time, including Mike Ryan, Dave Watkins, Mike Compton, etc. Lots of .179s and such.
I think McCarver got hurt in 1970; he was back as a regular C in 1971....

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