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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lou Brock

Eligible in 1985.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2006 at 11:42 PM | 233 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 03, 2006 at 11:46 PM (#2166754)
I personally think Willie Stargell is the last outfielder from the Sixties that we need to elect, but I have a feeling that OCF will try his darndest to persuade me and others here otherwise.
   2. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:01 AM (#2166765)
Lou Brock was the player I grew up with. Lou Brock was the player whose batting average I endlessly calculated. If he goes 3 for 4, will that get him up to .300? How many outs in a row could he have and still be at .300? (He did spend a lot of time near .300, one side or the other.) Sometimes my colleagues complain that the kids who grew up with calculators aren't familiar with decimal approximates of fractions - that they don't recognize .667, never mind .142857. So I ask, does anyone know, to three places, the decimal approximation of 4/13? Anyone who answers that one is a baseball fan, and likely a baseball fan of my generation.

I calculated his batting averages. I projected his stolen bases. And I listened to Harry Caray and Jack Buck say, over and over again, that he was the one who got the Cardinals going; that as he went, so went the team. So I have to work through the connection I have. As a member of this project, I must in the long run go where the evidence leads me. But in the short run, I'll monopolize this thread for a little while, working through this. I hope you'll indulge me in that.

(John, I don't know yet how hard I'll try to persuade anyone of anything - I have to deal with myself first.)
   3. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2166768)
There are several central problems in dealing with the candidacy of Lou Brock. I'll start with the first one.

Is leadoff hitter a special role on a team, with a special mandate - to score runs? Or is the mandate of a leadoff hitter exactly the same as for any other player, to maximize the total runs that the team scores?

If we accept that a leadoff hitter has a special mandate to score runs, then Brock was wildly successful. He scored lots and lots of runs - not quite as many as Pete Rose, to be sure, and for a few years in there not nearly as many as Bobby Bonds, but Brock did lead the league in runs scored twice and five other times finished in the top 5 in the league in runs. His 1610 career runs ranks 40th, and most of the people ahead of him on that list played in much higher scoring times. (And only a few people ahead of him spent much time as leadoff hitters: Henderson, Rose, Molitor, Hamilton, probably a couple of the other 1890's guys although I don't really know where to place the likes of Keeler or Burkett in the lineup.)

But if we take the second point of view, that all offensive players serve the same purpose, then we realize that Brock contributed considerably less to runs scored by players other than himself, and that in doing what he did, he consumed far more than his share of outs. I will say that it's unfair to judge him solely by OPS+, as that doesn't include his base running - but the OPS+ is at least a crude warning about all those outs.

Speaking of outs - I doubt that anyone has ever compiled the career totals for grounding out 4-3, but it wouldn't surprise me if Brock were in the top 10. While his hits tended to be sprayed around, a disproportionate number of his outs were pulled on the ground.

Some of the other central problems:

Brock has a long, peakless career. He shares that with Beckley, although those two otherwise have little in common. There's not much here to appeal to peak voters; his case will have to be made with career voters.

His case will have to be made on his offense. He was a corner outfielder, and we're really not going to be able to argue that he was a good defender. Oh, there are mitigations. He was distinctly error-prone, but errors by outfielders normally involve advancement rather than outs. I'll argue that on average, outfield errors are less costly than infield errors. And on the whole, I'd rather have a fast, erratic outfielder like Brock or Lonnie Smith than a Luzinski/Watson class slug.

What to do with post-season records? Brock has one of the most sensational World Series performance records in the history of the game. 21 games, .391/.424/.655. An OPS of 1.077 in the heart of the mid-60's "little dead ball days" against pennant-winning pitching. And 14-2 as a base stealer in those 21 games.
   4. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:05 AM (#2166770)
Brock had a reputation for being a streak hitter who blew hot and cold. Certainly Harry and Jack pushed that notion, and I can certainly see where some of it would be coming from, including his WS performances and the first week of the 1967 season. As a kid tracking his BA, I rode the roller coaster a few times. But it you back off and look at his record by whole seasons, a very different picture emerges, of a player with almost unnatural steadiness from year to year.

I've done some analyses of his raw statistics, split into four phases. Young Brock (1961-1963) who was still trying to find his place in the baseball world, Early Brock (1964-1969), Late Brock (1970-1976) and Old Brock (1977-1979). The details of Old Brock are that he was starting to slip in 1977, was hurt and bad in 1978, bounced back strongly in 1979 (getting his 3000 hits that year), then retired.

The following is a chart showing what he did per 600 AB. (Bear in mind that in most years he had more than 600 AB). Most of the column labels are self-explanatory. The three averages are BA for batting average (the usual), BAnSO, which is batting average when not striking out (and includes the HR), and BABIP is batting average on balls in play, excluding both the strikeouts and the HR. The "Net" at the end of the walks data is BB-IBB+HPB, or number of unintentional walks, plus HPB.

Years    Hits  SO   HR   BA   BAnSO  BABIP  BB  IBB  HBP  Net
1961
-63  155   133  12  .258  .332   .315   49   5    4    47
1964
-69  176   111  13  .294  .361   .344   36   6    4    34
1970
-76  183    90   6  .306  .360   .353   58  10    1    49
1977
-79  162    73   4  .270  .308   .303   35   3    3    35 


That is a fairly unusual career path. I will add that the divide between "early" and "late" was not sudden and sharp - he gradually changed from one to the other, and the choice of 1969/1970 as the dividing line was fairly arbitrary.

Most players gain power as they age; Brock lost power. Throughout the heart of his career, his batting average when not striking out held rock-steady at .360. For that to happen, his BABIP had to creep upwards slightly to compensate for his diminished home runs. The young Brock established a reputation as a player who struck out a lot, and you can see why. The early Brock cut down a little on the strikeouts, but still attracted a lot of attention as a player with a huge number of strikeouts, especially for someone who wasn't a power hitter.

The change from early Brock to late Brock, per 600 AB: 21 fewer strikeouts, 7 fewer HR (losing half the HR), and 15 more unintentional walks. Some part of that change is environmental - the strike zone and mound changes between 1968 and 1969 aimed at reining in the dominating power pitchers. But that wouldn't account for the missing HR. In fact, I get a sense of Brock as being a player less sensitive to the environment than most. Some part of this must reflect changes in his approach and or swing. He was never a highly selective hitter and never would be, but it may be that in a conscious effort to cut down on his strikeouts, he started chasing somewhat fewer bad pitches and thus increased his walks. The change made late Brock a consistent .300 hitter; early Brock had to settle for .290 or so.

The transition to old Brock can be seen as a continuation of the approach change: emphasize contact above all else, cutting down yet more on the strikeouts. The drop in BB suggests he was shortening his counts. But he also wasn't hitting the ball as hard, so his BABIP dropped sharply.

If I start disaggregating this data, not that much happens. Brock really was quite steady from year to year. But break up 1964, and something else leaps out at you:

.          AB  Hits  SO   HR   BA   BAnSO  BABIP  BB  IBB  HBP  Net
64
-Cubs   215   54   40    2  .251  .309   .301   13   0    2    15
64
-Cards  419  146   87   12  .348  .440   .419   27   0    2    29 


His walk rates were the same in both places, and in line with what I'm calling "early Brock." He was actually striking out a little more for the Cardinals. But I've been saying that his BA when not striking out was a rock-steady .360 for the bulk of his career. The .309 for the Cubs in 1964 looks like a seriously unlucky two months, and the .440 for the Cardinals - even more lucky, and for a longer time.

The Cardinal portion of his 1964 season is part of what made him a legend, and a big part of what makes that trade such a legend when lopsided trades are spoken of. It's not just that Brock contributed, it's that he contributed so much immediately. But Brock never was never really a .350 hitter, was never going to be a .350 hitter and realistically never could have been a .350 hitter - in part because he struck out too much. The Cardinal portion of his 1964 season was just a stone fluke.

One little oddity: he was drawing 10 IBB a year? Why would you ever intentionally walk Brock, or for that matter, any other leadoff hitter? It's situational, and while I'm not sure I approve of all of them, at least I understand. Suppose it's the late innings of a close game and there's a runner on second, or runners on 2nd and 3rd, when Brock comes up. If what you really care about are the runners on base, then it's batting average that you're afraid of and Brock (late Brock, anyway) was a .300 hitter. And he was left-handed. He was usually followed by a right-handed hitter who wasn't a .300 hitter. And if you put him on, he can't run with a runner already on second. Yes, you're getting deeper into the the top of the lineup, but any scenario in which Cepeda or Torre bats is one in which the inning and the game have already been blown to pieces.
   5. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:08 AM (#2166772)
What are the what-ifs? What might he have become?

Oddly, the sources I see list a weight for Brock (170 lbs.) but not a height. I'd guess he was somewhere around 5'10" or 5'11". He pretty much maintained the same weight and appearance throughout his career. I remember hearing about his diet theories: he was opposed to the eating of any big meals and thought that one should have six or meals a day, with some of them consisting only of fruit. (Whatever the theory, I'm not going to argue with the results.) And as I've documented, his approach gradually changed in ways that reduced his HR power.

On the one hand, I think the Cub coaching staff thought he was uncoachable, that he wouldn't listen to advice. On the other hand, maybe that was just him finding his own way and his own approach. As a base stealer, he was a craftsman. He was fast, of course, but he was never the fastest player in the game. (In fact, it was nearly obligatory in writing about him to mention that he wasn't the fastest player in the game - often that would have been Willie Davis, but there were others in other years.) He had the whole array of approaches - the one-way lead to draw the throw, the big lead, the "walking" lead in which he might not be that far off the bag but he was still moving. He studied pitchers and he studied moves.

One gets the sense that he didn't sink quite the same effort into his defense.

Suppose things had gone a little differently - perhaps he stayed with the Cubs, perhaps we displace him in time by a couple of decades. Maybe he hits the weights some, bulks up a little, cultivates a little more uppercut in his stroke, lays off more pitches. What could you see him becoming? Well, this player wouldn't have stolen 50 bases a year every year for a dozen years. I could see him belonging to the Reggie Sanders/Brian Jordan/Ron Gant family of players. And the thing is - we're not having HoF conversations about those guys. No, I'm happy he had the career he did.

I've been fascinated with the idea of a "Lou Brock - type player." At one point I thought that Brock had personally originated the type, that left fielders before him were big slow sluggers. I now know enough history to know better, but it's still true that Brock heralded an upsurge of the type. The criteria for being a Brock-type:

Bats leadoff (or else defers to another Brock-type on the same team).
Big-time base stealer, consistently among the league leaders.
Plays LF, or divides time between LF and CF. Takes criticism for his defense - even it it's just unjustified carping about his arm strength.
Not in the lineup to hit HR. (May hit a few anyway.)
Good batting average, albeit usually not a batting champion.
May strike out more than you think a non-power hitter should.

For instance, Willie Wilson shares many of the characteristics, but is a little off by being a topnotch defensive CF and by winning a batting championship. (Probably there's a "Max Carey type" to soak up some of the deviation in this direction.) But there are plenty of good matches: Lonnie Smith (at least early in his career), Luis Polonia, Ron LeFlore, Vince Coleman - although Coleman is starting to get off into guys who were lesser hitters, like Omar Moreno and Otis Nixon. I'd say that Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson belong to the class but transcend it, being much better players than any of the others.

A number of non-defining characteristics seem to follow this class around. One is trouble - trouble with management, trouble with the law. Rickey was always complaining about his salary, making enemies. Coleman had his firecracker incident. Raines and Wilson had cocaine trouble, as did Smith. Polonia was accused of a sex offense. LeFlore did time for armed robbery before he was a baseball player. Of course, part of this is just the undertow and extra risk attached to being black in America - it's so much harder to get away with things, and you know a different class of friends than someone who grew up in the suburbs. Brock breaks this mold. He was mild-mannered, inoffensive, seemed to get along with everyone (although he was never a leader), and was never in any legal trouble that I know of.

One of the oddities of the decline of the African-American baseball player is that if we're going to have Brock-types, we may need to start recruiting them from the ranks of white guys. What else would you call Scott Podsednik?
   6. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:10 AM (#2166774)
What about the trade, Brock for Broglio?

I've said this before, so I'll keep it brief. Trades deserve to be judged based on what was known at the time, and by those standards, this shouldn't be anywhere near any lists of all-time bad trades.

Face it, Brock was a white elephant for the Cubs. They'd brought him up with the hope that he'd play CF for them. He'd played enough CF to convince them that that wasn't his position. They already had Billy Williams for LF. That's a weaker excuse - they could have played Brock in LF and Williams in RF. But look at my earlier posts on the "young Brock": a .250/.260 hitter with limited power, off to a start in 1964 that looks like he's made no progress (he was making progress but the BABIP obscured that) - how is that supposed to be a corner outfielder? Brock wan't some raw teenaged prospect: he was a 25-year-old with over two years of major league experience. Dealing for such people may often be pretty close to what you see is what you get.

And Ernie Broglio was a quality pitcher. He was the exact same age as Bob Gibson and up until that point of his career had arguably outpitched Gibson. He could have had a long, productive career. He didn't (and there has to be an injury explanation although I've never heard it) but that was certainly a surprise.

(I'll have one more post in this series, having to do with actually rating Brock. I'll hold off a few days before I post it.)
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:14 AM (#2166777)
Only 15 minutes after I made the initial post on this thread. Not bad, OCF! ;-)
   8. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:21 AM (#2166781)
I can't type that fast, of course. I've been storing this stuff up.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#2166787)
(John, I don't know yet how hard I'll try to persuade anyone of anything - I have to deal with myself first.)

I understand, OCF. His career was meritorious enough that he deserves a proper hearing from all of us.

I should also point out that Brock was one of my favorites as a kid. He wasn't a youngster when I first saw him, but he broke the season record for stolen bases just at the time when I became obsessed with the sport. I had him on a pedestal for quite a few years, so I have had to divorce my own feelings for him since sabermetrics downgraded his exploits back in the Eighties.

If he had been a Met player, I really would have had a problem then. :-)
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:30 AM (#2166789)
I can't type that fast, of course. I've been storing this stuff up.

Heh. I was just kidding with you, OCF. :-) You had mentioned a couple of weeks back to me that you had been waiting for this thread to be activated, so you typed it up in advance.
   11. DavidFoss Posted: September 04, 2006 at 12:48 AM (#2166803)
Because of all the steals (and the excellent percentage), OPS+ may not be the right tool for him. How are Brock's OWP compared to other borderline candidates? How do his RCAA/RCAP look?
   12. karlmagnus Posted: September 04, 2006 at 01:00 AM (#2166808)
Why can't you take OPS+ and adjust by the net effect of his steals, assuming a 70% success rate is breakeven. It's under 100 bases by my calculation, so OPS+ affected by no more than 3 points, to 112. Thumbs DOWN! 13 adjusted OPS+ points short of Beckley, which is a ton, plus a shorter adjusted career, plus less valuable fielding position. Anyone who votes for Brock and not Beckley isn't doing his arithmetic properly, or is relying on dubious Enron-style sabermetrics.
   13. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 01:01 AM (#2166809)
OK, David, since you ask, I might as well produce the sixth post of my series and not hang onto it any longer - although I reserve the right to change my mind.

Now comes the hard part - what are we to do with him?

He's certainly got markers, and it's easy to see why the HoF elected him. He's got 3,000 hits, and at the time of his retirement, held both the single season and career SB record. (They dug up Billy Hamilton just to make that harder and he passed Hamilton, too.) He's a World Series hero. His most similar players at bbref are a distinguished (if odd) grouping: Tim Raines, Max Carey, Sam Rice, Rod Carew (!?), Willie Davis, Pinson, Jimmy Ryan (!), Zack Wheat, Tony Gwynn (!??), Fred Clarke. The similarity scores are low, and we pick up players from very different eras who aren't really similar.

There's a lot to be said for Raines being the most similar - and a lot to be said for Raines being clearly better, especially in peak value.

Of course, there's a definite downside to Brock: just another corner outfielder from a time in which we've already elected a number of corner outfielders; not the peak of a big hitter.

I've been using this modified RCAA system for all of these years. How does he stack up to other corner outfielders and first basemen on the ballot? Here's the chart

Player  Games PA    Offensive yearsbest to worst (modified RCAA)
Brock   2616 11235  53 51 45 41 33 32 30 24 23 21 21 17  5  4  3 ---5-18
Kiner   1472  6256  81 76 70 42 41 28 24 20 10  7
Howard  1895  7353  72 71 63 46 41 40 36 35 25 12 12  8  3  0 
-1
Keller  1170  4604  75 68 65 54 48 47  
*  * 22 20  7  6  3  1
Minoso  1835  7710  59 57 50 44 42 41 39 36  
23 21 21  *  1  0 ---6
Johnson 1863  8047  59 48 35 35 34 32 29 27 22 21 20 17 16
Beckley 2386 10470  38 36 34 29 29 27 24 20 20 20 19 19 15 15 13 10  8  4 
-8
Cepeda  2124  8695  70 63 55 45 43 42 38 30 26 20 13 12  5  4  3 
--7
Cash    2089  7910 100 45 45 38 37 33 33 31 29 29 23 21 17 15  5  3  0
Chance  1287  5099  78 66 66 52 41 29 27 24 23 12  8  7  4  2 


Even as a "peakless" candidate, Brock does have a prime and a career that can stand up in this grouping. RCAA is friendlier towards him than OPS+ would be as it counts his stolen bases. The system is charging him for all of the outs he made, so it does say something that he can stand up within the system. And the system doesn't seem to care that much about longevity or in-season durability, as shown by the high ratings for Keller and Chance. Brock has tremendous longevity, tremendous in-season durability, and the plate appearances of a career-long leadoff hitter. The longevity is a bit padded - there are some substandard years on each end.

Brock has very little defensive value, but then most of this list is of players with very little defensive value. (Chance, Minoso, and probably Beckley are exceptions to that.)

It's not a profile that screams "elect me", but there are enough little nudges: The longevity. The WS performance. The whole "the purpose of a leadoff hitter is to score runs" thing - which would be worth more if I actually believed it. I haven't worked out his exact position, but I think he'll likely be somewhere between 11 and 15 on my ballot - and if he's not there, he'll be between 16 and 20.
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: September 04, 2006 at 01:33 AM (#2166830)
As more of a peak voter I have Brock well down the list of LFers eligible right now: Kiner, (B. Williams), C. Jones, F. Howard, Minoso, Keller, Brock, Estalella, B. Johnson, (Sheckard). His OPS+, usually the gold standard for LFers and other cornermen, in my system and IMO, is pretty pitiful. But it doesn't account for base-running, so I am probably being harder on him than he deserves. I am not sure he will move up among LFers, but even as the #7 LFer he could be anywhere from #23 to #39 on (or, rather, off) my ballot. Don't know yet which end of that range he will be at. (If he is closer to #23, then I am probably underrating Cool Papa Bell.)
   15. Howie Menckel Posted: September 04, 2006 at 01:35 AM (#2166833)
seasons as regular, 100 OPS+ minimum
JBeckley: 152 44 38 33 31 28 27 27 26 26 26 24 22 12 12 05 02
LouBrock: 128 26 24 23 19 15 14 12 11 09 08 07 06 01

Let's be extremely sporting about it and cancel out Brock's running advantage vs Beckley's positional advantage. Both were extremely durable, as few in the decades in which they played approached many counting-stat numbers.

I agree with karlmagnus in calling Beckley a FAR superior candidate.
I have had Beckley around 3-6, depending on the competition. I can't see putting Brock on the ballot, at least at first glance.

I can't imagine how anyone can compare these each as 'peakless' careers: Beckley's 6th-best matches Brock's best, and he has 12 seasons as good as Brock's best 3.
   16. DavidFoss Posted: September 04, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2166889)
Why can't you take OPS+ and adjust by the net effect of his steals, assuming a 70% success rate is breakeven.

You can. Its just when SB totals get large, I like to use the more complex metrics. That's what they are there more. Beckley is indeed a better candidate (and I'm not a big fan of Jake).

40th all-time in runs. 47th all-time in times on base. 17th all-time in at bats and 15th all-time in outs. (anyone know the PA ranking?)

That's a lot of AB & PA for 'just' 19 seasons. Brock had remarkable in-season durability for most of his career.
   17. Chris Fluit Posted: September 04, 2006 at 02:42 AM (#2166891)
Thanks for the rundown, OCF. It was very helpful.
   18. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 03:10 AM (#2166926)
That's a lot of AB & PA for 'just' 19 seasons. Brock had remarkable in-season durability for most of his career.

And he batted leadoff - he always batted leadoff. Leadoff hitters get more PA, and there haven't been all that many long career strict leadoff hitters. He shows up quite well on WS, including three seasons of 30 or more. That's correct - there's nothing wrong with those formulas, But it's also true that that he had more opportunity than most to accumulate that many BWS because he had more PA than most.

I've mentioned it before: he once had > 200 hits in a season without batting .300.
   19. Chris Fluit Posted: September 04, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#2166927)
Also, OCF, you wondered whether or not Keeler batted lead-off. As near as I can tell, the typical 1894 line-up for the Baltimore Orioles would have had John McGraw batting lead-off and Keeler batting second. The same would have been true in 1895. However, 1895 also marks the beginning of injury trouble for McGraw. It looks like, that when McGraw was out of the line-up, the Orioles had second baseman (and McGraw's replacement at third) Kid Gleason bat lead-off with Keeler still batting second. McGraw missed nearly the entire season in 1896. This time, it looks like Keeler was the one moved up. Once again McGraw missed significant time in 1897 and Keeler appears to have taken over the lead-off spot while McGraw was out. Finally, in 1898, McGraw played nearly the entire season for the frist time since 1894. By this time, it looks like Keeler had taken over the lead-off spot and McGraw was now the one to bat second.
   20. Repoz Posted: September 04, 2006 at 03:18 AM (#2166935)
I doubt that anyone has ever compiled the career totals for grounding out 4-3, but it wouldn't surprise me if Brock were in the top 10.

The tail end of Yaz's career says hi...
   21. Northpaw Posted: September 04, 2006 at 03:33 AM (#2166954)
Face it, Brock was a white elephant for the Cubs. They'd brought him up with the hope that he'd play CF for them. He'd played enough CF to convince them that that wasn't his position. They already had Billy Williams for LF. That's a weaker excuse - they could have played Brock in LF and Williams in RF.

The trade is defensible as OCF goes on to state, but do you think the Cubs could have gotten more out of Brock themselves if they had employed a real coaching staff instead of the rotating nonsense?
   22. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 03:40 AM (#2166960)
Brock isn't the best player born in Arkansas (that would be Joseph Vaughan, shortstop) but he'd be the LF on the All-Arkansas team, ahead of Pat Burrell and Wally Moon. If you really want speed and stolen bases on this team, you could put together an outfield of Brock, Willie Davis, and Lloyd Moseby. (Of course other considerations might get you other outfielders, such as Rick Monday.)

Brock does not have the most AB on the All-Arkansas team. His 10332 falls 322 short of Brooks Robinson's 10654. But Robinson had 280 more games, 2896 to 2610.
   23. DCW3 Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:33 AM (#2166996)
(anyone know the PA ranking?)

He's 28th all-time.
   24. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:40 AM (#2166999)
reposting from elsewhere, since it's somewhat pertinent to Brock...

Let me toss another name or two on the pile... Dudes who accumulated about 4000 or more PAs in the 1970s and played either left or right field in a majority or plurality of games. Sorted by OPS+ and then by PAs as necessary. GIDPs included since they are pertinent to the Rice/White debate.

NAME              OPS+  EQA GIDPs   PAs
----------------------------------------
Reggie Smith      137   304  150   8050
Ken Singleton     132   301  248   8558
Bobby Bonds       130   297  107   8090
Greg Luzinski     130   296  147   7514
Dave Winfield     129   294  319  12358
Jim Rice          128   287  315   9058
Dwight Evans      127   289  227  10569
George Foster     126   292  196   7812
Rusty Staub       124   294  297  11229
Bobby Murcer      124   292  124   7718
Dave Parker       121   284  209  10181
Roy White         121   291  123   7335
Jose Cruz         120   292  119   8931
Gary Mathews      118   287  179   8119
Ken Griffey       118   286  106   8014
Lou Brock         109   282  114  11235 


Reggie Smith, I hardly know ya! Hey, Bonds, Brock, Cruz, and Griffey sure stayed out of the DP.


I could have included Dustyball, Burroughs, Rudi, Hendrick, Piniella, Cardenal, Jerry Morales, or Ron LeFlore, but the list was long enough.
   25. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:43 AM (#2167000)
Over on the Roy White thread, Dr. Chaleeko mentions another reason besides the SB that OPS+ sells Brock short: his extremely low rate of GIDP. Some of that is simply a consequence of being a leadoff hitter - far fewer runners on base when he batter. But it's also partly a consequence of who he was: harder to turn the 4-6-3 than the 6-4-3, especially if the 2B fields the ball more in the hole than up the middle, and the 3-6-3 and 3-6-1 are much harder. And Brock, the lefty hitter, got out of the box well and was quite fast down the line.

These are some of the reasons why my context-scaled RCAA from post #13 are in such violent disagreement (at least on Brock vs. Beckley) with the OPS+ qouted in in post #15.
   26. OCF Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:45 AM (#2167001)
Dr. Chaleeko posted #24 while I was composing #25; now there's no reason to skip to the Roy White thread.
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:45 AM (#2167002)
The biggest portion of Brock's value appears to be in being above average with big time durability.

For whatever reason, I link him in terms of value, with Minnie Minoso. They are neck and neck in my old LF rankings, around 25th or 26th all-time. In my newer and somewhat still evolving rankings, he's about the same. Just the wrong side of my secondary in/out line (what i call my "tolerable error line") with Minoso just inside that line. I haven't really done a full out ranking with the new system yet that accounts for QoP and stuff like that, so Brock is behind Tip O'Neill. If O'Neill should slip well down the ranks, it's possible that Brock slips within the tolerable error zone.

Needless to say, he's no where near my ballot.
   28. DCW3 Posted: September 04, 2006 at 05:00 AM (#2167010)
Just to throw this out there--do with it what you will--but Brock's GWAA score is a shockingly low 10.69. As should be obvious from the article, that's far, far below Hall of Fame level. While this is certainly a rather crude stat, I think that Brock's score is so low that there's no possible adjustments that could be made that could lift him into Hall territory (unless, of course, you're an extreme career voter).
   29. Chris Fluit Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2167160)
My reasons may be different than yours, Dr. C, but I also have Brock ranked fairly closely to Minnie Minoso. However, considering that I had Minoso on my ballot (about 10th), that means I'll most likely have Brock somewhere about there as well.
   30. Juan V Posted: September 04, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2167172)
Count me in the group that has Brock similarily ranked to Miñoso. If you take a look at my ballots, that´s not a good thing for him.
   31. Paul Wendt Posted: September 05, 2006 at 12:54 AM (#2167664)
Henderson, Rose, Molitor, Hamilton, probably a couple of the other 1890's guys although I don't really know where to place the likes of Keeler or Burkett in the lineup.)

I have lost track of why it matters. But I think you should put Burkett first, Keeler second. (After reading Chris Fluit above, I am intrigued that McGraw batted second in 1898. In the past I have been intrigued by Keeler's transformation into a singles hitter.)

Professor OCF, What do you say about Brock as an extra-base hitter?
   32. Daryn Posted: September 05, 2006 at 01:14 AM (#2167706)
I am an extreme career voter and I will have Brock in my top 3 or 4. They have been playing baseball for about 140 years. 21 players have more hits than Brock. 39 players have scored more runs. And only Rickey stole more bases. All eligible players with more hits than Brock are in the other Hall, and most are inner-circlers.

In the all-time Runs Created list he is sandwiched by Rice, Frisch, McGwire and Brouthers.

Every eligible player who made more outs than Brock is in the other Hall. Like they often say, you've got to be good to lose 20 games and you've got to be good to make 7800 outs (unless you are named after a lagomorpha).

If you are not voting for Palmeiro, Beckley and McGriff types, you can ignore this post, but if you are, he's your man.
   33. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 01:21 AM (#2167718)
Professor OCF, What do you say about Brock as an extra-base hitter?

Going back to my post #4:

"Young" Brock, 1961-63, hit 32 doubles and 9 triples per 600 AB.
"Early" Brock, 1964-69, hit 31 doubles and 10 triples per 600 AB.
"Late" Brock, 1970-76, hit 28 doubles and 7 triples per 600 AB.
"Old" Brock, 1977-79, hit 23 doubles and 5 triples per 600 AB.

The Cardinal 1964 Brock hit somewhat more doubles, twice as many triples, and three times as many home runs per at bat than the Cub 1964 Brock.

The new, big Busch Stadium, opened in 1966, was a worse home run park than either Wrigley or Sportsmans, and certainly a better triples park than Wrigley (don't know about Sportsmans). The park effects aren't easy to see in Brock's records. The decline in HR power that marked the transition between "early" and "late" also accompanied a decline, albeit less drastic, in doubles and triples. The notion that "old" Brock wasn't hitting the ball very hard (hence the decline in BABIP) is supported by the declind in XBH.

Brock did hit a lot of triples. He was left-handed, he was fast, and his park was suited to it. I've forgotten when they put the carpet into Busch; that would have some effect on both Brock's BABIP and his triples.
   34. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 01:23 AM (#2167721)
In the all-time Runs Created list he is sandwiched by Rice, Frisch, McGwire and Brouthers.

Sam or Jim?
   35. Daryn Posted: September 05, 2006 at 01:32 AM (#2167737)
Jim.
   36. Ardo Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:27 AM (#2167894)
As a Detroiter, I look at Curtis Granderson of the Tigers and envision Lou Brock. There are differences - Granderson is already more valuable on defense than Brock ever was, and Curtis is not a base-stealer (yet!), but both are streak-hitting leadoff men with a lot of strikeouts and exceptional athleticism.
   37. Ardo Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:30 AM (#2167895)
BTW, I agree with Howie and Karl that Beckley (who's floating near the bottom of my ballot) is a superior career candidate to Brock. I place Brock in a dead heat with 3-Dog Davis, at about #30.
   38. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:10 AM (#2167906)
I look at Curtis Granderson of the Tigers and envision Lou Brock.

You take your Granderson, your Podsednik, your Carl Crawford - your unpolished 25-year-old who might harness the basestealing, who might get just enough edge on the strikeouts to start hitting near .300. What are the chances that he'll just keep doing it, year after year after year, for a dozen more years, always in the lineup, never (despite what you said about streak hitting) having a slump season? You can understand the career length in Henderson and Raines, because they were so good, but seriously, do you really expect Granderson or Podsednik or Crawford to do that? Polonia didn't. Lonnie Smith didn't, and he was a better hitter than most of these guys. LeFlore didn't, even though he was awfully good for a few years. Coleman didn't come close to doing that, even though he so much better at basestealing. Seriously, what were the chances that Lou Brock himself would do that? That's part of what makes his story so fascinating.

He wasn't a source of good quotes, and he didn't say things that convinced people that he worked very, very hard at his game. But the career is so improbable that there must have been some incredible dedication in there, largely hidden from view.
   39. Chris Fluit Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:12 AM (#2167908)
31. Paul Wendt
I have lost track of why it matters. But I think you should put Burkett first, Keeler second. (After reading Chris Fluit above, I am intrigued that McGraw batted second in 1898. In the past I have been intrigued by Keeler's transformation into a singles hitter.)

You know what, I'm going to back away from my earlier statement. Your intrigue gave me pause enough to take a second look at my notes. I did a mountain of work concerning the 1890s in general and the Baltimore Orioles in particular back in 2000. At first glance today, I came away with the impressions that I shared above. However, by digging a little deeper, I discovered some notes I wrote to myself that differed. At the time, when I was certainly more familiar with the team in question, I noted that CF Steve Brodie took over as the lead-off hitter for McGraw's mostly missing 1896 season. And for 1898, I continued to list McGraw as the lead-off hitter and Keeler second. Unfortunately, the Orioles didn't play in the Temple Cup that year so there are no postseason line-ups to serve as confirmation.

Keeler should therefore be considered a number two hitter. Even when McGraw was hurt, the Orioles were more likely to use someone else in the lead-off spot (Gleason in '95, Brodie in '96). This also answers another question that I remember reading in a different thread. Somebody was posting about Jeter and wondering whether or not any other team had their best hitter bat second. The only answer at the time had been Paul Molitor, but it looks like Keeler might qualify as well.
   40. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:21 AM (#2167910)
wondering whether or not any other team had their best hitter bat second.

Molitor ever batted second? He batted leadoff in Milwaukee. I lost track of him in Minnesota, but I though he was mostly batting third.

My two favorite examples - and they're nearly identical years - of a best hitter batting second are Robin Yount, 1982, and Alex Rodriguez, 1996.
   41. Chris Fluit Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:25 AM (#2167912)
Molitor batted second for the majority of his stint in Toronto.
   42. Chris Fluit Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:29 AM (#2167913)
32. Daryn
In the all-time Runs Created list he is sandwiched by Rice, Frisch, McGwire and Brouthers.

That was an interesting list to take a look at. Of the top 72, exactly 1/2 of the players are already eligible and we've elected all of them. The top eligible player that we haven't elected is Sam Rice at #73, followed closely by Jake Beckley at #74. The other eligible players that we haven't elected are #88 Vada Pinson, #90 Brooks Robinson (who is in all likelihood going in tomorrow), #94 Jim Bottomley, and two players tied at #98 Orlando Cepeda and Heinie Manush. Brock is at #78.
   43. DavidFoss Posted: September 05, 2006 at 07:32 AM (#2167928)
Carew & Gwynn spent quite a bit of time batting 2nd. Boggs batted second for a year or two. Willie McGee batted 2nd in 1985. Robby Alomar batted second quite a bit. Was he ever the best hitter on his team when he batted #2?

Its the Carew/Boggs/Gwynn type of guys who sometimes end up being great in the #2 slot. Jeter fits this mold of player as well. Obviously when a player is a great a hitter as these guys are, then they would do well elsewhere in the lineup -- and these guys sometimes did just that. All dropped to 3rd in their most powerful seasons and some rose up to 1st from time to time (even Boggs despite the lack of speed).

Of course, many managers nowadays like to have some punch-and-judy lefty contact guy to 'move the runner over', but I never cared too much for that strategy.
   44. yest Posted: September 05, 2006 at 08:34 AM (#2167931)
I think a high BA, low strikeout and gidp (even if he couldn't walk or hit for power though every walks a plus ) player is the best number (which is one of the reasons in many cases I'll over look low walk rates in faver of BA because in many cases it's a seprate advantge(that's not to say I ignore walks because I don't)) 2 hitter provided the number 1 is has a good OBP and's a good base runner
   45. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:42 PM (#2168164)
It's highly nontraditional, but there's a theoretical, simulation-based argument for batting a Babe Ruth/Ted Williams/Barry Bonds dominant high-OBP slugger in the #2 slot. No matter where you bat him, a significant fraction of his HR will happen with no one on base. Putting him that high in the order gets him more PA and causes more damage.

I'll tell you someone I would have liked to see in the #2 spot in the order: Keith Hernandez. I don't think he ever got used there (by sterotype, first baseman don't bat 2nd) but it probably would have made the best use of his particular offensive talents.

The one thing I know is wrong: it's wrong to put the 7th best hitter on the team in the #2 spot, just because he has "bat control," whatever that means.

What do you do if you have two leadoff hitters? One exercise in the use of the top two spots would be to decide what to do with the 1985 KC Royals, who had both Lonnie Smith and Willie Wilson. The fact that they were both base stealers has its impact diminished by the fact that they were batting ahead of a LH batter who was leading the league in SLG. But, let's say you've decided to use them #1 and #2. Both have essentially the same OBP - about .320. (Not anywhere close to a career-best year for either). Both are fast, although Wilson is probably faster. Both steal bases. But Wilson has the higher BA while Smith draws more walks.

The solution is to bat Smith leadoff and Wilson second. After all, the sequence BB-SB-single causes more damage than the sequence single-SB-BB. And that's exactly what Dick Howser did, at least in the playoffs. On the other hand, Wilson had only 43 RBI for the year, even with a 25-21-4 XBH line, so you can't say it worked particularly well. I guess you could go back to the first paragraph of this post - bat the .335/.436/.585 guy second, then have the 2nd and 3rd best hitters on the team (McRae and Balboni) bat 3rd and 4th?
   46. DL from MN Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2168171)
WARP has Lou Brock as a really awful fielder, below average almost every year. Is that accurate or could they be misadjusting for park? His fielding numbers keep him down around 75th on my list. Good fielding would get him into the top 50, but he's still nowhere near a HoM caliber player.
   47. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2168172)
Of course, many managers nowadays like to have some punch-and-judy lefty contact guy to 'move the runner over', but I never cared too much for that strategy.

The only word of that sentence I would quarrel with is "nowadays." As if it were ever different?
   48. sunnyday2 Posted: September 05, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#2168174)
>The one thing I know is wrong: it's wrong to put the 7th best hitter on the team in the #2 spot, just because he has "bat control," whatever that means.

Could you say something to Ron Gardenhire, please?!
   49. Evan Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2168212)
Sandberg spent a large part of his career hitting #2.
   50. sunnyday2 Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2168228)
And ironically it's been said that only a hide-bound conventionalist/traditionalist could possibly have wanted Sandberg batting #2 and Mark Grace #3 instead of the other way around.
   51. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2168231)
Sandberg spent a large part of his career hitting #2.

Bill James commented on the oddity of Sandberg (lower OBP, higher SLG) batting #2 while Mark Grace (higher OBP, lower SLG) batted #3. Something about images being more important than reality. Sandberg was only rarely the best hitter in the lineup, but he was always among the good hitters. One thing to bear in mind: as is also the case with Brock, the additional PA that come with the batting order position give Sandberg an advantage when it comes to counting stats.
   52. karlmagnus Posted: September 05, 2006 at 06:07 PM (#2168244)
I'd like to see Manny bat #2. Not quite the power of a Ted/Ruth/Bonds, but consistently the highest OBP in the American league, and would see far more to hit batting ahead of Ortiz rather than behind him. Ortiz -- lower OBP, more HR, is ideally BEHIND Manny. Every time Ortiz his a walkoff HR or strikes out to end a game (both of which he does frequently) Manny loses an AB.
   53. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: September 05, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#2168258)
OCF,

The one difference in teh guys you mentioned is that Granderson walks a lot as well while those other guys (including Brock) don't do it quite as much. I think that Curtis has the al around game to stick around for a while, though most likely not as long as Brock.
   54. KJOK Posted: September 05, 2006 at 06:41 PM (#2168279)
Brock was my very favorite player growing up (his poster is STILL on the wall on my old room at my parents house...)

So, a couple of observations:

Yes, Brock was a BAD fielder. He was fast, and he would make some spectacular catches, but he would misplay lots of balls, and he could not throw (although he charged the ball well, somewhat making up for his arm).

Brock had a LONG, FLAT Peak - 1964 to 1976 he was a very good player almost every single year.

Based on black ink, grey ink, HOF monitor, etc. Brock is solidly in the middle of HOF players.

Brock of course made a HUGE difference in at least 1 pennant race - 1964.

Brock has one of the all time greatest World Series Records - 92 PA's, .391/.424/.655 (this in the deadball 1960's!) with 14 out of 16 stolen bases.

Putting it all together, I have him as very similar to not Minoso but Max Carey, only with less defensive value, which is going to leave him off my ballot...
   55. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 06:47 PM (#2168286)
What karl says in #52 makes sense to me.

jschmeagol: Smith and LeFlore drew decent numbers of walks, too. Of course LeFlore's unsavory past led to him getting off to a late start and cocaine + rehab ripped a crater in the middle of Smith's career.

[LeFlore's bbref "bullpen" page has only an innocuous comment about him playing in a senior league in 1989. Someone should add the details about his prison record - it's an inescapable part of his story.]
   56. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 07:45 PM (#2168332)
KJOK: you use an RCAA method that's a little differnt than mine, coming from a different primary source. To what extent does what you see agree with or differ from what I posted in #13?
   57. Chris Fluit Posted: September 05, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#2168335)
1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted:
I personally think Willie Stargell is the last outfielder from the Sixties that we need to elect, but I have a feeling that OCF will try his darndest to persuade me and others here otherwise.
What about McCovey?
   58. Juan V Posted: September 05, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#2168340)
What about McCovey?


He´s more of a 1Bman, isn´t he?
   59. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2168341)
McCovey is no more an outfielder than Brock is a centerfielder. Yes, he stood around out there for 275 games, but we'll classify him at the position he belonged at all along.
   60. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 05, 2006 at 08:08 PM (#2168349)
He´s more of a 1Bman, isn´t he?

Without a doubt, Juan. Not even close.
   61. Steve Treder Posted: September 05, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#2168370)
Magnificent discussion of Brock, OCF. Truly great stuff.

Regarding Broglio:

And Ernie Broglio was a quality pitcher. He was the exact same age as Bob Gibson and up until that point of his career had arguably outpitched Gibson. He could have had a long, productive career. He didn't (and there has to be an injury explanation although I've never heard it) but that was certainly a surprise.

There certainly was an injury explanation. Broglio had battled arm trouble off and on before 1964, and almost as soon as the Cubs acquired him his elbow began to really go south. He underwent elbow surgery in the 1964-65 off-season (which was a very rare, highly invasive, last-ditch procedure in those days), and obviously if anything that just made things worse.

But I completely agree that the assertion that the Cubs made a bad deal with Brock-for-Broglio, or that the Cards made a great one, is 100% Monday morning quarterbacking. No one said so at the time, and no one should have; it appeared to be at least a fair deal, if anything favoring the Cubs because of the Shantz-Clemens/Toth-Spring components.
   62. BDC Posted: September 05, 2006 at 08:28 PM (#2168372)
Very interesting thread. Lou Brock would seem to define in many ways the contrast between the HOF and the HOM. I remember Brock's career in considerable detail, since I was a National League fan from when I became conscious of the game in the 60s through his retirement. In 1967-68 Brock was a major star and a large part of the Cardinal pennant-winners (as he had been in '64, when I was paying more attention to dropping out of nursery school). But as visible and popular a player as he was, even at the time we (my playground crowd) didn't think of him as an inner-circle HOF type. There were Mantle and Mays, first off, and then Aaron and Robinson, and then Clemente and Kaline and Yaz, and huge sluggers like McCovey and Allen and Killebrew and Frank Howard, and there were a bunch of guys like Billy Williams, Vada Pinson, Reggie Smith and Rusty Staub who were at least as good as Brock when you looked at runs and RBIs and that sort of thing, without even getting to the glove wizards and the catchers and the pitchers. Appreciation for Brock was a sort of refined taste and depended on the mystique of the stolen base. You got creds for deep thinking in my sixth-grade class if you appreciated the stolen base.

Lou Brock was respected deeply, though, and as he grew older and kept piling up records, he was widely admired. As a very dedicated player, but also as a thinker of sorts, or at least an inventor ... the Brock-a-Brella is still seen occasionally. I also remember getting a pair of Lou Brock sneakers when I was maybe eleven years old. Then as now, sneakers were seen as the key to athletic ability. The Brock sneakers had red rubber soles without the usual tread or ripple pattern. They had a big trench sweeping across the sole and another smaller trench in the heel. This was supposed to propel your foot in Lou-Brock-like ways. That kind of stuff, plus the obviously impressive career totals and the postseason heroics, was more than enough for Cooperstown. And I think very justifiably so. Cooperstown is meant to record the great heroes of the game, and Lou Brock was one of them, even if his actual ability or value was merely fine instead of outstanding.
   63. KJOK Posted: September 05, 2006 at 11:22 PM (#2168498)
KJOK: you use an RCAA method that's a little differnt than mine, coming from a different primary source. To what extent does what you see agree with or differ from what I posted in #13?

I don't see a whole lot of difference - RC From Sinnis Encyclopedia:

Year    RCAA    RCAP    OWP
1971    40    27    0.679
1968    35    21    0.685
1969    29    20    0.637
1973    29    14    0.644
1967    27    17    0.629
1964    23    13    0.605
1972    18    -4    0.591
1974    18    8    0.582
1965    16    19    0.572
1966    14    15    0.570
1975    12    8    0.566
1970    10    -1    0.539
   64. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2168506)
Thanks, KJOK. Agreed on '71 and '68 being the two best seasons, although I have '67 better than '69 and '73.

For calibration purposes, what do (a) Beckley and (b) Minoso look like expressed the same way?
   65. KJOK Posted: September 05, 2006 at 11:33 PM (#2168507)
Brock Batting Order:

Brock didn't bat leadoff EVERY Year - Here are the years with the Cardinals where he didn't bat almost exclusivley leadoff:

1964 - 2nd
1965 - 1st & 2nd
1976 - 3rd(!) & 1st
1979 - 2nd
   66. KJOK Posted: September 05, 2006 at 11:41 PM (#2168514)
For calibration purposes, what do (a) Beckley and (b) Minoso look like expressed the same way?


Beckley
    RCAA    RCAP    OWP
1890    46    25    0.690
1900    33    37    0.665
1904    29    20    0.672
1902    28    19    0.660
1894    27    29    0.608
1899    26    29    0.628
1903    25    17    0.642
1888    24    16    0.740
1895    19    25    0.592
1897    19    16    0.608
1893    18    17    0.577
1889    18    3    0.597
1891    16    14    0.584
1901    11    17    0.564
1905    8    -1    0.563
1898    3    4    0.530
1896    0    6    0.510
1892    -2    -22    0.499




Minoso
    RCAA    RCAP    OWP
1951    55    49    0.749
1956    53    30    0.717
1954    48    44    0.714
1957    34    7    0.665
1958    33    14    0.672
1959    30    19    0.654
1953    25    19    0.619
1960    25    5    0.618
1955    16    3    0.589
1961    15    14    0.576
1952    15    10    0.583



and Max Carey
Year    RCAA    RCAP    OWP
1922    39    30    0.653
1925    38    34    0.670
1923    35    30    0.654
1917    23    11    0.635
1921    19    11    0.597
1920    13    5    0.592
1912    12    8    0.570
1924    8    6    0.541
1916    8    -3    0.548
1918    7    0    0.552
1919    6    2    0.588
1913    5    0    0.539
1915    4    0    0.538
1914    1    -13    0.516
1911    -3    1    0.486
   67. OCF Posted: September 05, 2006 at 11:49 PM (#2168519)
Man, I must not have been paying attention in 1976. Come to think of it, I spent most of that summer in Rochester, NY - out of radio range. It looks like they were trying out the younger Mumphrey and the faster McBride in the leadoff spot, while mumbling "bat control" and wasting the #2 spot on Kessinger/Harris. It was the last year of Red Schoendienst's primary run as manager. Brock kept his >50 SB streak alive anyway.

In 1964/65, Brock's role on the team hadn't quite been settled yet, and Flood had been the leadoff hitter before he came over. In 1979, Brock was the 40-year-old having his last hurrah, making a comeback from a down year - by then, the leadoff spot belonged to the one being promoted as the superstar of the future: Garry Templeton.
   68. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 12:25 AM (#2168571)
The biggest difference between the RCAA that KJOK is quoting and the related statistic I'm using is that I'm making more of an adjustment for the value of each run above average based on the overall scoring environment. The effect of this is that in my system, Brock gets projected forward as a result of the low scoring in his times, while Beckley gets dragged backwards because of the high scoring in his times. But I'm not correcting for season length, and that cuts the other way (although players whose personal seasons are shorter than their teams', like McGraw and Chance, do very well enyway.)
   69. yest Posted: September 06, 2006 at 12:31 AM (#2168578)
not that this adds to much but with Brock on base pitchers and catchers were focused on Brock not stealing which led them to pitch slightly worse
   70. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 12:43 AM (#2168594)
There aren't any particularly good controlled experiments for testing that hypotheses. But in 1973, Brock had an ordinary-for-him year as a base stealer: 70-20. In 1974, he declared total war on the basepaths: 118-33. Ted Sizemore batted 2nd both years, and his OPS+ dropped from 96 in 1973 to 80 in 1974.

That doesn't prove anything, but as I said, we don't have that many controlled experiments. But I don't see much good evidence arguing in favor of this particular hypothesis.
   71. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 06, 2006 at 12:46 AM (#2168599)
IIRC The Book (by Tango, Dolphin, Litchman) seemed to indicate that runners in motion actually decreased a batter's effectiveness. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong because I'm working from memory and don't have it handy right now.
   72. sunnyday2 Posted: September 06, 2006 at 12:52 AM (#2168608)
Doesn't every hitter hit more, and every pitcher pitch worse, with runners on base? I guess if it's a fast runner (a base-stealing threat) then maybe they hit and pitch a little more that way. I would have to think somebody has those splits? Not jut for Brock but for any and all.
   73. Paul Wendt Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#2168858)
What do you learn, identifying a longtime number two batter and finding a season when he putup the best batting numbers on his team? First, one season isn't enough to reveal the best batter. Second, the question is, I suppose, who knowingly uses the best batter second? (FWIW, I believe that Keeler was considered the best batter on the Orioles. But he is on the Dodgers by the time I am reading much.)

In 1964/65, Brock's role on the team hadn't quite been settled yet, and Flood had been the leadoff hitter before he came over. In 1979, Brock was the 40-year-old having his last hurrah, making a comeback from a down year - by then, the leadoff spot belonged to the one being promoted as the superstar of the future: Garry Templeton.

Yes, the question of team batting order doesn't come up entirely (except for the fans); it comes up piecemeal. This spot is someone's position; that spot is for our catcher. Where should we bat Jeremy Giambi, or David Ortiz? Ask Manny.

--
Appreciation for Brock was a sort of refined taste and depended on the mystique of the stolen base. You got creds for deep thinking in my sixth-grade class if you appreciated the stolen base.

That class must have missed the World Series. On the other hand, you could get Detroit games on the radio but who knew of Al Kaline, going to elementary school in the 1960s?

Lou Brock was respected deeply, though, and as he grew older and kept piling up records, he was widely admired. As a very dedicated player, but also as a thinker of sorts, or at least an inventor ... the Brock-a-Brella is still seen occasionally.

Lou Brock invented an umbrella? Does it permit a view from the second-row seats?

I also remember getting a pair of Lou Brock sneakers when I was maybe eleven years old. Then as now, sneakers were seen as the key to athletic ability.

I didn't know who Chuck Connors was.
   74. mulder & scully Posted: September 06, 2006 at 05:21 AM (#2168913)
Chuck Connors?

Are you referring to the Rifleman? Or referring to Chuck Taylor hightops?
   75. Bunny Vincennes Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:20 AM (#2168949)
In 1964/65, Brock's role on the team hadn't quite been settled yet, and Flood had been the leadoff hitter before he came over. In 1979, Brock was the 40-year-old having his last hurrah, making a comeback from a down year - by then, the leadoff spot belonged to the one being promoted as the superstar of the future: Garry Templeton.

Am I wrong to think that Temp sucked for a long time. Dunston=Temp? Just a thought, and not part of the larger conversation.
   76. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 06, 2006 at 11:09 AM (#2168962)
not that this adds to much but with Brock on base pitchers and catchers were focused on Brock not stealing which led them to pitch slightly worse

It probably didn't help Brock's teammate at bat, either.
   77. DavidFoss Posted: September 06, 2006 at 02:24 PM (#2169052)
I'm pretty sure batters do better with 'runners on'. The hole on the right side, pitcher is in the stretch, SS & 2B not playing as deep.

But with a basestealer like Brock, they might be 'taking' more often which may place them behind in the count.

I'm not sure how this balances out. I should get myself a copy of 'The Book'.
   78. DavidFoss Posted: September 06, 2006 at 02:30 PM (#2169064)
Am I wrong to think that Temp sucked for a long time. Dunston=Temp? Just a thought, and not part of the larger conversation.

Templeton bunched his value up with consecutive good seasons as a youngster. He truly did look like he was going to be a good player for a long time. He tanked right around the trade to SD.
   79. BDC Posted: September 06, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2169078)
batters do better with 'runners on'. The hole on the right side, pitcher is in the stretch, SS & 2B not playing as deep

And the simple fact that the pitcher isn't blowing people away to start with, if he's already given up a hit or walk. That dynamic is probably impossible to factor out of the mix.
   80. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#2169136)
Templeton bunched his value up with consecutive good seasons as a youngster. He truly did look like he was going to be a good player for a long time. He tanked right around the trade to SD.

That trade was largely preciptated by a growing feud between Templeton and Herzog. The signature incident was one in which Templeton flipped off some fans and Herzog angrily dragged him back into the dugout. The general feeling among Cardinal fans - and I'll admit that I was among them - was that in trading Templeton for Ozzie Smith (and throwing in Lezcano just to make it more unbalanced), the Cardinals had suffered a talent loss to rid themselves of a behavioral problem. We didn't anticipate how much Templeton would regress, especially in BA, and we didn't understand yet just how good Ozzie was.

But before that: Templeton was closer to a young Juan Samuel than to Dunston, except as a near-GG shortstop. Take a look at some of the extra base hit lines he put up. And there was the widely celebrated year in which, as a switch hitter, he had 100 or more hits from each side of the plate.
   81. DanG Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:06 PM (#2169196)
I believe that Keeler was considered the best batter on the Orioles

Taking a quick look, during his years on the Orioles and Dodgers, 1894-1902, Keeler looks like the best offensive player three times: 1897, 1899, 1902.
1894     OPSSB R+BI
Kelley    161 46 276
Brouthers 132 38 265
Keeler    123 32 259
1895
Kelley    155 54 282
Jennings  143 53 284
Keeler    134 47 240
1896
Kelley    165 87 248
Jennings  152 70 246
Keeler    143 67 235
1897
Keeler    164 64 219
Kelley    147 44 231
Jennings  146 60 212
1898
Jennings  149 28 222
McGraw    148 43 196
Kelley    137 24 181
Keeler    136 28 170
1899
Keeler    138 45 201
Kelley    134 31 201
Daly      128 43 183
1900
Kelley    137 26 181
Keeler    129 41 174
F
.Jones   109 33 160
1901
Sheckard  169 35 220
Daly      133 31 178
Keeler    126 23 166
1902
Keeler    130 19 124
Sheckard  121 23 123
Dahlen    109 20 141 
   82. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2169208)
I might have had it backwards...that having a basestealer on base helps (opening holes, the stretch, etc), but actually letting him steal removes the advantage, and hitting on that pitch tends to be problematic for hitters. Something like that, but I don't remember it quite clearly.
   83. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:20 PM (#2169218)
For a more modern comp if folks could imagine Rey Ordonez playing 2000 games at shortstop and never hitting worth a tinker's d*mn in any given season you would have Garry Templeton.

Garry had a tad more range while Rey was more surehanded. But despite the physical differences the results would be pretty much the same.
   84. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:34 PM (#2169235)
Full name: Louis Clark Brock. Except for the spelling of "Loius" (and who cares about spelling, circa 1800), that's kind of a nice touch for someone who played out his career under the Gateway Arch monument.

Supposedly, Brock was scouted by Cool Papa Bell. That's an interesting contrast: both have long, flat careers (well, Bell has that switch-hitting related slump in the middle). Both relied on speed and baserunning. Neither was anything close to being a hitter of the Mays/Aaron/Charleston class. I'm quite confident that had Brock been Bell's teammate in those ballparks in St. Louis and Mexico, then Brock would have hit a lot of HR as well, possibly more than Bell. Bell does have one obvious advantage: defense. Bell's even greater career length is in part a product of his environment. The whole offensive package? Very difficult to compare.
   85. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2169258)
Where did Rey Ordonez come from as a comp? Ordonez was someone shaken off the glove tree, someone in the Maxvill mold, never a full season with an OPS+ as high as 70. Even the "no one talks about him as a star any more" Templeton in San Diego frequently posted OPS+ in the 80's and 90's.

For the sense of the buzz in St.Louis, look at Templeton's 1979 season: Full-time leadoff hitter (672 AB!). 211 hits, including the famous 100 from each side of the plate. 32-19-9 XBH line (led the league in triples). 26-10 as a base stealer. (OK, he didn't draw walks.) His .314/.331/.458 was an OPS+ of 113, and he'd had a 109 two years before and would have a 111 the next year. Compared to the young Juan Samuel, that's fewer HR, a higher BA, and about the same OPS+, and Templeton (as Harvey ackowledges) was a very good defensive SS.

In retrospect, we should have paid attention to the walks and the OBP, which put some limits on how much of a superstar he could have been. But if he'd just been able to play out a 2000 game career as the player he was in his early 20's, we'd be talking about him as an HoM candidate. It didn't happen, and the reasons might well be behavioral.
   86. KJOK Posted: September 06, 2006 at 04:54 PM (#2169261)
For a more modern comp if folks could imagine Rey Ordonez playing 2000 games at shortstop and never hitting worth a tinker's d*mn in any given season you would have Garry Templeton.

I think a much better comp for EARLY career would be Jose Reyes, only Templeton probably had more fielding range.

We don't know what Reyes will go on to do, but Templeton had the flipping off fans incident, then went into the hospital for psychiatric care for a couple of weeks. When he came back he seemed to be a better, more mature person, but could no longer hit.
   87. Chris Fluit Posted: September 06, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2169367)
This must be my week for making mistakes. Yup, McCovey was a first baseman not an outfielder. I just spaced on that one.

And OCF, you were right about Molitor. I was remembering a line-up of Alomar-Molitor-Olerud-Carter but I had completely forgotten about the presence of Devon White. He was the usual lead-off hitter, followed by Alomar second and Molitor third. All I can say is "D'oh!"
   88. Jay Z Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2169636)
Brock brings up the question of whether offensive metrics account correctly for batting order position. I come from a standpoint of preferring the traditional lineup, with the best hitter third and so on. I think that you get a "construction bonus" that way - you score more runs than if you just started with your best hitter and so on down the line. It's probably just a few runs, but it's still an improvement. Leading off with the best hitter would produce the best stats - you'd get the most home runs, or whatever - but a tad fewer runs.

That being said, should the value of a Brock single be a tad less than the value of a single from a middle lineup hitter? I think you have to account for that somehow. If you treat all at-bats as equal the leadoff hitter gets a benefit because he has more of them. But I think the 3-4 hitters have a greater likelyhood to contribute to runs even with fewer at-bats in a season.
   89. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:01 PM (#2169665)
OCF:

Sigh, I meant once Garry arrived in San Diego. Only instead of getting dumped the Padres let him keep playing. And all I was trying to do was to help folks get an idea as to the nature of the player's output.

Templeton, like Alfredo Griffin, really shouldn't have played as much as he did. But folks had different ways of assessing value at that time so these kinds of players kept their jobs.

They weren't truly BAD players. But having them in the lineup for 150 games a year was ill-advised.
   90. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:13 PM (#2169690)
Complicated, Jay Z. The mere act of getting on base is worth more in the person who leads off an inning than in any of the subsequent hitters. Lots of people lead off innings (side note on why I hate the strategy of walking #8 hitters to get to the pitcher) but leadoff hitters do start well in excess of their share. Also, self-advancement (by double, triple, or SB) are worth a little more earlier in the inning, balanced by the fact that the XBH won't drive anyone in.

Applying this to Brock is a mixed bag. It does put his SB in a favorable context, but the problem is that OBP wasn't a conspicuous strength of his.

As I said, Brock did score plenty of runs, but consumed plenty of outs in doing so.
   91. OCF Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:27 PM (#2169718)
Templeton in SD, OPS+: 80, 77, 79, 99, 69, 56, 85, 82, 75.

A couple of bad years in '86-'87, but that's still well above a Maxvill/Belanger/Ordonez type.

Alfredo Griffin, you say?

Made a name for himself at the age of 21. We'll start with his age 22 season.

OPS+ 69, 49, 54, 71, 48, 76, 93, 79, 50, 72, 44 and then not full time.

It's not a night-and-day difference, but I'd really rather have Templeton.

But having them in the lineup for 150 games a year was ill-advised

I don't see that you'd say that about the S.D. Templeton at all. How easy is it to find a SS who is better than that? Sure the Dodgers could have eased Griffin out of the way and brought up Offerman earlier - but that assumes Offerman is a SS.
   92. BDC Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2169721)
whether offensive metrics account correctly for batting order position

The more usual concern in analysis is to account for batting in terms of fielding position, i.e. does this guy hit well for a shortstop ... but of course on offense nobody has a fielding position. They have positions in the batting order, most of which are pretty much alike, but there are clearly subtle differences.
   93. Daryn Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#2169805)
I was remembering a line-up of Alomar-Molitor-Olerud-Carter but I had completely forgotten about the presence of Devon White.

It was Carter/Olerud at 4/5. The top 5 had a name: WAMCO.
   94. Rob_Wood Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:14 PM (#2169811)
My two cents worth. I won't have Brock anywhere near my ballot. Not enuf offense and below average defense. And I typically love the long-career guys. I remember his 3,000 hit off of Dennis Lamp (literally). Brock's election by BBWAA on his first ballot was a travesty.
   95. Daryn Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:21 PM (#2169827)
You actually remember it or it was a comebacker?
   96. DavidFoss Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:26 PM (#2169832)
You actually remember it or it was a comebacker?

CARDINALS 4TH: Brock singled to pitcher; Brock's 3000th
hit; CAPILLA REPLACED LAMP (PITCHING);

box
   97. DavidFoss Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:31 PM (#2169838)
Lamp ended up missing a start. That game was the 13th. His next game was in long relief on the 21st and he made his next start on the 26th.
   98. BDC Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:42 PM (#2169859)
Brock's election by BBWAA on his first ballot was a travesty

No; perhaps Brock's election by the HOM on the first ballot would be a travesty. But he rather easily meets the criteria of fame that Cooperstown tends to use: some shiny numbers whether peak or career, association with several championship teams. He's in the Catfish Hunter / Kirby Puckett / Don Drysdale group of the Hall of Fame. Merit is not necessarily connected with winning championships, because you can excel in obscurity for years. But champions produce heroes and generate fame, and people like to read about them on Cooperstown plaques. No travesty there.
   99. Mike Webber Posted: September 06, 2006 at 11:07 PM (#2169877)
Supposedly, Brock was scouted by Cool Papa Bell.


I think you mean Buck O'Neil, Buck signed/scouted/mentored most of the black Cubs of that era. Banks, Billy Williams, Oscar Gamble. I believe there is a story about Bell working with Brock on his basestealing, Bell was working as a janitor in St. Louis.
   100. OCF Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2169921)
Thanks for the correction, Mike.
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