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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Luis Gonzalez and Steve Finley

Luis Gonzalez is eligible in 2014. Steve Finley was eligible in 2012.

DL from MN Posted: January 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 12, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4345739)
Luis Gonzalez has one of the more interesting careers. Like Dwight Evans, he managed to increase his offense in his 30s. From ages 23-30 he posted a 109 OPS+ with a low of 93 and a high of 123. Then from ages 31-35 his OPS+ was 140, with single seasons (in chronological order) of 137, 130, 174, 125, and 134.

And the increase wasn't just based on home runs, either, but just a flat increase in skills across the board. He hit .269 from ages 23-30 and then hit .314 from ages 31-35. He increased his walks. He increased his doubles. He stopped trying to steal. (I know people will say steroids, but part of the increase resulted from his BABIP going from .285 from ages 23-30 to .310 from ages 31-35, and it's hard to see how steroids increases BABIP. But, well, maybe.)

This comparison doesn't really work, and not that he had a ton of steal attempts before age 31, but he, like Bonds, seems to have made a conscious decision to trade speed for power.

Not a Hall of Famer, and not particularly close, but I have a ton of respect for his career.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4345745)
Finley's career is also very interesting. In my mind he was linked to Gonzalez in that I knew he had hit more home runs in his 30s than in his 20s and so I had assumed that his overall offensive production was also better in his 30s. But, to repeat what I said elsewhere a couple weeks ago:

I can't pinpoint why, but Finley's OPS+ wasn't actually better in his good seasons in his 30s -- with all the home runs and extra walks -- than it was at ages 26 and 27. Except for age 31 (136 OPS+).

Some combination of park effects, increased offensive era I would imagine. It's strange, though.

Finley did change the shape of his offense in his 30s, like Dwight Evans and Luis Gonzalez to name two, but unlike those two he didn't actually get much better offensively in his 30s.

One of my favorite players, anyway.


Finley, too, was walking more and hitting more home runs and doubles in his 30s -- and stealing less.

I'd take him on my team any day. Not a HOFer, though.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 12, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4345759)
Baseball Prospectus on Gonzalez, before the 2000 season:

"I wouldn’t want to rely on him to hit .320 with power again."
   4. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 14, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4346913)
I can't really blame BPro for that comment. Gonzalez hit 268/341/432 (109 OPS+) through 1998, then 294/385/513 (125) after that, including several late decline years. Gonzalez's 1999 looked like a fluke year; the number of guys who become elite hitters at 31 is very small. Instead 2001 was the fluke, when Gonzaelez bested his career high OPS by 182 points and his OPS+ by 37.

Finley's career is hard to eyeball intelligently if you just look at the slash line. His 30s were more or less like his 20s, but most of them were spent in Phoenix at the height of the sillyball era so his slash line went way up. He added 100 points of OPS in Phoenix, but that was only good for 4 points of OPS+. And BBRef has his Rbat decline from 8/162 in San Diego and Houston to 7/162 in Arizona despite those 100 points of OPS. He was in a stupid hitting park in a stupid hitting era.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 14, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4346925)
I can't really blame BPro for that comment.


Oh, I agree. I just thought it was interesting to note in light of the second half to his career that he did have.
   6. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4346935)
I can't pinpoint why, but Finley's OPS+ wasn't actually better in his good seasons in his 30s -- with all the home runs and extra walks -- than it was at ages 26 and 27. Except for age 31 (136 OPS+).

Some combination of park effects, increased offensive era I would imagine. It's strange, though.


It's mostly a league run environment effect. The league profile suddenly became dramatically different when Finley started hitting doubles and home runs than it had been when he was hitting singles and triples:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/smoothing-the-80s-and-90s-part-one/
   7. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4346937)
Oops, meant to include this quote:

A lot of Finley's transformation was clearly attributable to weight training; whether steroid-aided or not, Finley is as well conditioned a ballplayer as one will ever see. His extraordinary durability and career longevity attest to that. But it also appears that Finley made a deliberate change in batting approach beginning in '96, turning on the pitch and being a bit less focused on putting the ball in play. At any rate, the coincidental timing of Finley's new-found power with the high-octane environment of the mid-to-late 1990s made his career shape look more unusual than it might have.
   8. AROM Posted: January 14, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4346944)
(I know people will say steroids, but part of the increase resulted from his BABIP going from .285 from ages 23-30 to .310 from ages 31-35, and it's hard to see how steroids increases BABIP. But, well, maybe.)


Hitting the ball harder would increase BABIP. The general trend of the suspected/proven steroid guys who had power surges is this:

Strikeouts increase
Homers increase
Batting average at least stays the same.

Bonds is actually the only one who decreased his strikeout rate while upping his power.

   9. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4352459)
Finley also made a big commitment to sort of specialized training, to using light weights and a swiss exercise ball to condition his back and core muscles. I've still got several pages that I tore out of some magazine around 10 or 12 years ago where Finley was explaining all the exercises he does. And he made a big point that he wasn't using weights over 20 pounds. I just wanted to add that because as soon as "weight training" is mentioned everyone's thoughts go to some guy becoming a powerlifter on roids or something like that and I don't think Finley every got very big, which is consistent with his only using light weights.
   10. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4352497)
RC, what kinds of drills in particular out of curiousity?
   11. Delorians Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4352627)
In September 1991, the Houston Astros had the following players on their roster:

Craig Biggio
Jeff Bagwell
Ken Caminiti
Luis Gonzalez
Steve Finley
Kenny Lofton
Curt Schilling
Pete Harnisch
Darryl Kile

Caminiti was 28, the others were all 25 or younger. This formed the nucleus of the next few years, and produced 2 future hall-of-famers who contributed to several division title and a World Series appearance, but if they had held onto Schilling and Lofton, wow.
   12. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4352664)
Finley's workout, described in 2001: http://www.primeblueprint.com/articles2.htm
   13. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4352678)
Hmm. I need to add Caminiti to my mental list of players who hit better in their 30s than they did in their 20s.

Caminiti, ages 24-29: 94 OPS+.

Caminiti, ages 30-38: 129 OPS+.
   14. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4352679)
Finley's workout, described in 2001: http://www.primeblueprint.com/articles2.htm
Hmmm....according to that article, Finley introduced Kevin Brown and Matt Williams to the "miracle workout" as well, and they swore by it too.

Hmmm....
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4352681)
Craig Biggio
Jeff Bagwell
Ken Caminiti
Luis Gonzalez
Steve Finley
Kenny Lofton
Curt Schilling
Pete Harnisch
Darryl Kile


Sadly, 2 of the 9 were gone by 2004.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4352684)
Hmmm....according to that article, Finley introduced Kevin Brown and Matt Williams to the "miracle workout" as well, and they swore by it too.

Hmmm....


And don't forget that since Bagwell once spoke to Finley, Bagwell must have been on steroids too.
   17. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: November 27, 2013 at 11:51 PM (#4607143)
Bump

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