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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Paul Molitor

Eligible in 2004.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 19, 2007 at 04:27 PM | 112 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 19, 2007 at 04:29 PM (#2491396)
Guaranteed to be our first DH inducted.
   2. frannyzoo Posted: August 19, 2007 at 04:46 PM (#2491405)
Is it too early to start the Edgar Martinez thread?
   3. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 19, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2491413)
Is it too early to start the Edgar Martinez thread?


Gar is not eligible until 2010.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: August 19, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2491430)
Molly is probably over-rated. Durability issues early. DH (no defensive value) late. I expect to have him top 10 but not in an elect-me position, unless of course we have elected Dizzy Dean and Kirby Puckett in the meantime. That will help Molly to move up a bit.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: August 19, 2007 at 06:37 PM (#2491518)
My system will have Molitor at
DH 44 pct
3B 30 pct
2B 15 pct

The other DH pcts so far:
DH (1.42) - RJackson 23, Brett 19, Murray 19, Winfield 14, Yastrzemski 13, TSimmons 12, FRobinson 11, DwEvans 11, BWilliams 10, DaEvans 10

He'll have the 19th most "time" at 3B...
   6. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2007 at 07:39 PM (#2491617)
Molitor was an interedting player in that no matter the defendive position he was pretty good. He started out as a shortstop but once Yount showed up to play in '78 that was no longer an option. He made the ASG at second base but after the injury and with Gantner around Milwakee decided on center. But Gorman Thomas pouted so much come 1982 Paul was at third and did just fine.

To semi-quote Bill James on Jackie Robinson you should not underestimate the combination of intelligence, drive and talent. Now Molly wasn't as great as Jackie but he was something similar in his ability to move around the diamond while always contributung at a fairly high level.

HOWEVER, he kept getting hurt. On really weird injuries. Paul was always in shape so that wasn't the issue. But if he wasn't stepping in a divot in the outfield he was wrenching something charging a bunt.

The single most intelligent move in the career of Tom Trebelhorn was having Paul move to DH. Just might be the best personnel move by any Brewer manager. That or Crandall sticking an 18 year old at shortstop.

Paul was one of the best drag bunters of his time. Regrlarly voted one of if not THE best baserunner of his era. Terrific late in the game. When Elias used to publish that stuff I enjoyed seeing Paul's name near the top for "late and close" situations. That compact swing allowed him to wait and wait and wait on a pitch. I will always remember that quick flash of the bat, the ball sliced to the rightr center gap and Molly racing around the bases.

Flawed? Yes. But only in that his body wouldn't consistently LET him play defense. Unlike so many others, he could field just fine. Like I wrote, interesting player.
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 19, 2007 at 09:05 PM (#2491769)
Should he be slotted as a DH or a "Fielder?"

DH time is under 50%, so he did spend most of his time as a fielder. That's why I just stick him at 3B and forget it.
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 19, 2007 at 09:12 PM (#2491777)
Should he be slotted as a DH or a "Fielder?"


I'm slotting him as a DH on his plaque if and when he's inducted, Eric.
   9. OCF Posted: August 19, 2007 at 10:11 PM (#2491794)
With his particular playing time combination, it seems only fair to compare his offense with to the "bats": 1B/LF/RF. Can he stand up to the comparison? Yes he can. In my system he's quite close in offensive value to Billy Williams, and that's pretty good company. He doesn't have any really big years to stand out at the top (well, 1987 might have been heading there, but he didn't play a whole year), but the long-career package is quite good. As for adjustments to that: a DH is worse less than an average-fielding 1B/LF/RF, but then that 45% or so of his time as a 2B/3B is worth more than a generic "bat." His use as a leadoff hitter gave him more PA than he might otherwise have had. I'm using RC which does credit him for his SB but it doesn't credit him for his non-SB baserunning which was quite good. (HW mentioned his baserunning - he was probably thinking of both kinds of baserunning but particularly the non-SB kind.)

He'll be #1 on my ballot.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 19, 2007 at 10:36 PM (#2491818)
IMO, the position of DH is just as important to winning as the other nine are. That doesn't mean that a 150 OPS+ at DH is the same as that OPS at catcher, center field or even first base, of course.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2007 at 10:37 PM (#2491821)
OCF:

I didn't realize how spoiled I had become on runners taking the extra base or scoring easily from second no matter the number of outs until Robin and Paul had left the team.

Different studies have shown both players were among the best of their time at running the bases.

Now it's station to station.

Sigh........
   12. kthejoker Posted: August 20, 2007 at 01:44 AM (#2491918)
Carney Lansford career totals, 1978-1986: 1139 G, 1307 H, .292/.339/.428/.767
Paul Molitor career totals, 1978-1986: 1010 G, 1203 H, .291/.348/.418/.766

And then Paul went on to hit 2,116 more hits from his age 30 season onward (5th all time, behind Pete Rose, Sam Rice, Cap Anson, and Honus Wagner.)
   13. baudib Posted: August 20, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2491920)
Molitor hit .368 .435 .615 in 29 postseason games.
He hit .327 w/RISP for his career.
   14. yest Posted: August 20, 2007 at 02:59 PM (#2492162)
DH time is under 50%, so he did spend most of his time as a fielder. That's why I just stick him at 3B and forget it.

I knew if we were at it long enough we would finally agree on something
   15. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:00 PM (#2492164)
I think Molitor should be slotted as a 3B/DH.

Just like I think I guy that plays 40% 1B, 35% RF and 25% LF should be slotted as RF. The guy was 60% OF, 40% 1B, if you are going to put him in one spot, it should be the OF spot where most of his value came from.

Molitor was not a DH for the majority of his career, especially when you consider where he was playing during his most valuable years. Unless 50% or more of your value (not games) are as a DH, you shouldn't be slotted there.
   16. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:07 PM (#2492172)
To add, "Molitor was not a DH for the majority of his career," he was an infielder. He has more games (and value) at 3B/2B/SS (1248) than DH (1174). So his position on his plaque should be the infield position where he played the most, which is 3B. Listing him as a DH most definitely does not give a clear impression of the type of player he was.

This is not Edgar Rodriguez, not by a longshot.
   17. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2492175)
It's not playing time but actual value to his teams when I make my "pigeon holes" for each category. Ernie Banks played more first than short, but I don't think anyone thinks of him as a first baseman. Clearly, the most value that he accrued was as a shortstop.

Molitor was at his greatest as a DH and played the most there, so he belongs under that umbrella, IMO. Of course, since he did play a significant number of games at third, "3B" will be set in bold type on his plaque, as well as "2B" and "1B" in non-bold type. Nobody will get the impression that he was "just" a DH.
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2492177)
Where a guy is "slotted" depends on your purpose. My analysis >>> my ballot slots them where they were each year. What it says on the plaque might not be as fine. But I'm not going to compare Molitor's numbers to, say, Ken Boyer or Pie Traynor as if they are apple pie to apple pie. Nor would I compare him at face value to Orlando Cepeda or Frank Howard. Still, he had durability issues early and was a DH later, so when all is said and done his value isn't quite what his raw career numbers might suggest.
   19. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:11 PM (#2492178)
Except for 1987 when was half DH, half 3B/2B he wasn't a 'full-time' DH until 1991, when he was 34 years old. Even then, he'd still play some 1B, (117 games 1991-93).
   20. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:12 PM (#2492180)
I'm still not at all convinced the first position on his plaque should be DH - no one who comes up at the age of 21 should have a position where he didn't play the majority of his games until age 34 as the first position on his plaque.
   21. Guapo Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:15 PM (#2492184)
Molitor actually started at 3B for Game Four of the 1993 World Series, in spite of the fact he hadn't played an inning at 3B all season. (He hadn't played 3B at all since 1990, or as a regular since 1989.) I wonder how many times that's happened.
   22. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:15 PM (#2492185)
I'm also not at all convinced that he was at his greatest as a DH. His increased fielding value in the 1980s outweighs his increased hitting value as a DH in the

When I get home later tonight I'll do a more detailed analysis.
   23. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:19 PM (#2492188)
Yeah, that's right Guapo - the actually platooned Ed Sprague with the AL MVP that season (John Olerud) in Philly and made sure Molitor was in the lineup, pretty wild.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2492191)
I'm also not at all convinced that he was at his greatest as a DH. His increased fielding value in the 1980s outweighs his increased hitting value as a DH in the


Well, FWIW, Win Shares states it's not close.

Again, I have him listed as a DH/3B. If we want to set up a special section for a DH/3B separate from the other positions, I would have no problem with that. :-)
   25. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2492192)
Whoops, Olerud got 3rd, for some reason I thought he won it. In my brain, I had thought Frank Thomas got ripped off that year. But it when Thomas, Molitor, Olerud, wow.

Olerud does get the Rosenheck MVP that year at least. :-)
   26. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:23 PM (#2492193)
WS overstates replacement level and he was much more durable as a DH.

I'd be shocked to see he had more value from 1991-1998 as a DH (considering during that time he played a full seasons worth of games at other positions) than he did throughout the rest of his career. He basically had 4 1/2 good seasons as a DH (1/2 of 1987 and 1991-94).
   27. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 03:24 PM (#2492194)
Should say WS understates replacement level, whoops!
   28. DL from MN Posted: August 20, 2007 at 04:52 PM (#2492305)
Who is Edgar Rodriguez?
   29. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 05:14 PM (#2492326)
Who is Edgar Rodriguez?


The very good friend of Alex Martinez (A-Mar). :-D

WS overstates replacement level and he was much more durable as a DH.


WS oversates replacement level for all positions, so I don't see that as much of a factor. As for his durablity, that would matter for HoM analysis and for comparing players, but does it really matter for this purpose? He did give his teams much more support as a DH than at third and helped win more games than he would have been able to on the DL.

This is not Edgar Rodriguez, not by a longshot.


Of course not, Joe. On his plaque, I would state Martinez as just a DH in bold, while I have Molitor as a DH/3B.

I understand why some here want Molitor as a third baseman instead of a DH because it feels like some sort of demotion, but I feel he had the greater impact as a designated hitter.
   30. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 07:22 PM (#2492516)
Sorry for the Edgar Martinez mistake, whoops again!

John - I think the key issue is that you are comparing his DH years only against Molitor's 3B years. That's not how I do it (none of the plaques I wrote were designed that way).

I see four distinct groups - C, IF (SS/2B/3B), OF, DH/1B

Whichever of the 3 groups the player had the most impact at (i.e. value) is the group you pull his position from. From there you take the positioin within the group that he had the most impact at.

Harry Stovey is the guy that got that started. He played about (going from memory) 60-65% of his games in the OF, but a plurality of his games at 1B. We decided, rightfully to list him as an OF (LF specifically) on his plaque.

This was also an issue with Stan Musial, who played more games at 1B than anywhere else, but was clearly an OF.

Molitor may have played more games at DH, but he was clearly a better player from 1978-90 as an IF than he was from 1991-1998 as a DH. Really 1991-94, after that he was barely above replacement level as a DH). So his primary position on the plaque should be the one he had the most value at from 1978-1990.

After that we started listing secondary positions (which I was against, except for in cases like Rod Carew 2B/1B, where a guy was close to equally valuable at both positions) - just because of issue like this..

I'm still against listing all of the secondary positions on the plaque, I think it clutters them up unnecessarily, etc. I mentioned this awhile back, but didn't pursue it. The 'bold' of the 1st position doesn't nearly distinguish it enough. I mean Hank Aaron wasn't a RF/LF/CF/1B/DH, he was a RF, who played a little at the other positions.

However, eventually the website will be organized with lists of players by their position (if you choose, there will be lots of lists actually) and I don't want to see Molitor showing up in a group (DH/1B) where he didn't start playing until he was 34 years old, only had 4 good seasons, and wasn't that type of player anyway.

Does that make sense at all?
   31. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2007 at 07:47 PM (#2492540)
I rate Musial as a 1B because I see LF, CF and RF as different positions.

When I aggregate I use C-2B-SS as glove positions, 1B-LF-RF-DH as hitter positions, and 3B-CF as "hybrids." (Swap the 2Bs and 3Bs through about 1930. And I make special allowances for Hack Wilson [hitter despite being a CFer] and Vern Stephens [hybrid/SS]).

Anyway I have Molitor as a hybrid because he is <50 percent hitter. You don't (in my system) have to be 50 percent hybrid to be a hybrid, you just have to have had more defensive value than a "hitter." Puckett, Dawson and Reggie2 are hybrids. Mollie is a hybird, meaning a combo of offensive and defensive responsibility.

Yet I would call him a DH-3B if there was enough space for 5 characters.
   32. DavidFoss Posted: August 20, 2007 at 07:52 PM (#2492552)
I don't want to see Molitor showing up in a group (DH/1B) where he didn't start playing until he was 34 years old, only had 4 good seasons, and wasn't that type of player anyway.

Molitor has more games at DH/1B (1371) than he does at 2B/SS/3B (1248) or OF (50).

I understand that a "DH" with a career 122 OPS+ is a bit underwhelming and that Molitor was a high-OBP guy who ran very well and not a slow-footed slugger.
   33. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:03 PM (#2492575)
He has more games there David - but he doesn't have more value. I'll run the breakdowns later tonight.

He was more valuable in his 1248 games as a 2B/SS/3B than in his 1371 as a DH/1B.
   34. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:08 PM (#2492589)
I still think DH as the primary designation should only be used on players like Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz, Travis Hafner, Hal McRae. Career DHs.

Even Harold Baines played over 1000 games in the OF, where he was a pretty good RF (great arm). I'd call him a DH/RF (in my mostly one position listings).

To me Molitor is a 3B/DH, and if I were ranking him in a list of players sorted by position, I'd put him on the 3B list.
   35. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2492592)
I rate Musial as a 1B because I see LF, CF and RF as different positions.


Same here. I also detest rounding up outfield positions under the category "outfielders." Center field is not the same as left field.

I'm still against listing all of the secondary positions on the plaque, I think it clutters them up unnecessarily, etc. I mentioned this awhile back, but didn't pursue it. The 'bold' of the 1st position doesn't nearly distinguish it enough. I mean Hank Aaron wasn't a RF/LF/CF/1B/DH, he was a RF, who played a little at the other positions


IIRC, I started doing it because others voters wanted it, Joe. I think you were the only one against it. :-)

I personally like it now and I think the primary positions stand out from the secondary positions. Anybody checking out the Plaque Room for the first time would also be able to read about the difference between the bold and regular type, so it shouldn't confuse anybody.

I would be against changing it.

However, eventually the website will be organized with lists of players by their position (if you choose, there will be lots of lists actually) and I don't want to see Molitor showing up in a group (DH/1B) where he didn't start playing until he was 34 years old, only had 4 good seasons, and wasn't that type of player anyway.

Does that make sense at all?


I'd rather make a new category titled "Mult-position" instead, because that would be more descriptive. Molitor wasn't really what you would call a DH, but he wasn't really a third baseman either. Placing him under "multi-position" would make more sense, IMO.

This was also an issue with Stan Musial, who played more games at 1B than anywhere else, but was clearly an OF.


But he was better in LF, so I had no problem with it. More career value at a position should always trump games played.

I think Stovey fell under the same mindset, but it's so long ago that I may be wrong there.
   36. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:12 PM (#2492594)
Marc, I think LF/RF is a distinction without a difference. Musial played nearly 2/3 of his games in the OF, including most of the prime of his career - I don't see how he could possibly be on the 1B list.
   37. TomH Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2492607)
Babe Ruth was a RF/LF, playing almost half each. Corner OFer should be his category.

Pete Rose. Killebrew. Utility or multi-position is their best position description.
   38. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2492610)
He has more games there David - but he doesn't have more value. I'll run the breakdowns later tonight.

He was more valuable in his 1248 games as a 2B/SS/3B than in his 1371 as a DH/1B.


If you can show that he was more valuable at third than as a DH, then I would agree that he should be a 3B/DH (though I'm skeptical. :-) But I have a problem with the 2B/SS/3B distinction from DH/1B as the arbiter.

Marc, I think LF/RF is a distinction without a difference.


I'm with Marc that they are two different positions (though I admit closer than most two-position comparisons). Not all left fielders can play right if they have a poor arm.
   39. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:23 PM (#2492620)
Phenomenal two-way player. One of the best ever, DH notwithstanding.


Maybe it's me, but I don't consider being a DH a black mark against a player. As I pointed out above, however, is that comparing them with other positions is tricky.
   40. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:24 PM (#2492623)
Interesting little tidbit about Molitor. In 1982 he started 48 double plays while playing third base. That is the third highest figure ever in baseball history.

He did make 29 errors that year. But that was when an error was actally called an error. As opposed to now when the fielder has to be playing on the road and fumble the ball three times AND allow a runner to advance three bases during the process before the official dumb*ss, I mean scorer, will call the play an error.

grumble, grumble.......
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2492624)
Pete Rose. Killebrew. Utility or multi-position is their best position description.


The word "utility" has a stigma against it (Bob Bailor is in the HoM?! :-), so I would use "multi-position" solely.
   42. TomH Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:25 PM (#2492625)
Q for someone who might know this: is it possible that Ruth is considered a RFer because he played in RF more often at home? I see from the 1926 World Series boxes that he played RF at Yankee, and LF in most of the games at St Louis.
   43. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:33 PM (#2492641)
Q for someone who might know this: is it possible that Ruth is considered a RFer because he played in RF more often at home?


I consider him a right fielder because he was more productive there, Tom.
   44. Mike Green Posted: August 20, 2007 at 08:34 PM (#2492643)
"that was when an error was actually called an error"

...and groovin' was groovin'
and dancin' meant everything
we were young and we were improvin'
   45. DavidFoss Posted: August 20, 2007 at 09:00 PM (#2492700)
Q for someone who might know this: is it possible that Ruth is considered a RFer because he played in RF more often at home? I see from the 1926 World Series boxes that he played RF at Yankee, and LF in most of the games at St Louis.

I was under the impression and he would play the smaller of the two fields and Meusel would play the larger one. They both had strong arms, but Ruth had limited range. So, Ruth usually played RF in Yankee Stadium, but he'd play LF in Fenway. Can anyone confirm this?
   46. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2007 at 09:52 PM (#2492751)
If there is no difference between LF and RF, you'd see more players swapping back and forth. Ruth, sure. Are P and RF without a difference? More players play CF and RF than play LF and RF. More players play SS and 3B than LF and RF, at least that come to mind. OF is also not a position, which is just another reason to hate the klafjyt all-star ballot.
   47. sunnyday2 Posted: August 20, 2007 at 09:57 PM (#2492757)
Oh, and I used to have a "utility" list but the players on the list were way too different to compare and rank well. It works better to find which "real" category the utility players belong on. Killebrew is obviously a hitter, Molitor a hybrid. Rose was the hardest. I guess if Lou Brock is a hitter, then Pete Rose is a hitter.
   48. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 20, 2007 at 11:53 PM (#2492873)
Of course there is a difference between LF and RF, but it's minimal, it's not like the difference between LF and CF. It's not even like the difference between 2B and SS.

If it wasn't LF would vastly outhit RF. They don't. Often they are interchangable. RF/LF are so similar that if a player plays more games combined (assuming similar production) there than at 1B that's what he should be called.

At a minimum, I'd call Musial an OF. Calling him a 1B does not describe what he was as a player. My choices in order:

LF (one position is best when possible)
LF/RF
OF
RF
1B
   49. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:06 AM (#2492893)
Using DanR's WARP to figure Pennants Added, and only counting years as one position (since that's how the sheet is organized), Molitor's totals which are conservative, considering all of 1987 shows Molitor as a DH (when he didn't even play 1/2 of his games there):

3B - .3775 (1982-86, 1988-89)
DH - .3744 (1987, 1991-98)
2B - .2175 (1978-80, 1990)
CF - .0144 (1981)

More to follow if I get some time, but that's a start.
   50. sunnyday2 Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:16 AM (#2492910)
Well, picking one position doesn't describe lots of players. Molitor, for one (this is his thread). But again, Killebrew, Rose, ARod. Then there are the OF. Just calling them OF doesn't get at the differences between Kirby Puckett and Albert Belle, e.g. One position is just short-hand and therefore it's, well, just short-hand.

One of the things my system allows is an all-time NL team of:

1B- Musial
LF- Bonds
CF- Mays
RF- Aaron

Otherwise it's Bonds, Mays, Aaron and....Cap Anson. Don't like that.

So it all depends on what you're using it for. When compiling a HoF ballot, you don't have to slot a guy anywhere. You can slot him everywhere that he was.
   51. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:33 AM (#2492925)
Hank Aaron played some 2B as well!
   52. Chris Cobb Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:36 AM (#2492930)
It seems notable that the major debate about Paul Molitor is what position he played . . .

Could we have a side election on his position? That'll be more suspenseful than waiting to see who finishes at the top of the 2004 ballot.
   53. sunnyday2 Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:46 AM (#2492942)
DanR, might be fun to pick an all-playing-wierdly-out-of-position-team. Aaron at 2B would be a start. Kirby Puckett played a little IF in a pinch. Obviously you'd have your choice of pitchers.
   54. OCF Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:49 AM (#2492946)
Once you start getting into 18-inning games, almost anything can happen with positions. I still like the finish of a certain Dodger game that had Jeff Hamilton pitching, Eddie Murray playing 3B, and Fernando Valenzuela at 1B.
   55. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:54 AM (#2492949)
Sticking to big names, Jimmie Foxx regularly caught games, and Babe Ruth played his share of 1B. Lou Gehrig was once put on a lineup card at SS but I don't believe he ever took the field there (I forget the details).
   56. Paul Wendt Posted: August 21, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2492984)
21. Guapo Posted: August 20, 2007 at 11:15 AM (#2492184)
Molitor actually started at 3B for Game Four of the 1993 World Series, in spite of the fact he hadn't played an inning at 3B all season. (He hadn't played 3B at all since 1990, or as a regular since 1989.) I wonder how many times that's happened.</i>


38. TomH Posted: August 20, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2492607)
Babe Ruth was a RF/LF, playing almost half each. Corner OFer should be his category.

iiuc, Ruth switched mainly because of differences among ballparks regarding differences between left and right fields regarding
- size, where is there more ground to cover?
- geographic orientation, where is the sun?

joe jackson? i don't recall reading about his ballparks

--
In newspaper baseball coverage from at least a decade before Babe Ruth, I have noticed countless references to the sun in game stories and several references to managerial/captainly decisions about who would play the sun field. I don't recall references to arm strength as a factor. Regarding the sun field, the issue was not only who can better handle the sun but who is willing to play the sun without fussing much, and player status, etc. As a veteran star, Reggie Jackson had a say in whether he would fill the DH role (and that is commonplace today, I believe). As a veteran star Jimmy Ryan has a say in whether he would play the sun.

CF could be the worst sun field. I'm not sure of an example so I'll say no more now.

DanR:
Lou Gehrig was once put on a lineup card at SS but I don't believe he ever took the field there (I forget the details).

Lou Gehrig suffered a minor injury. The Yankees were away, batting first, and replaced Lou Gehrig, shortstop, in the middle of the first inning. I suppose that continued a notable run of appearances in the starting lineup.

--
Why did Molitor play 3B in the World Series without any game time at the position in three years? He had been a skillful infielder. I suppose Toronto thought the risk of injury too great, for whatever skill he would recover in-game relative to taking infield practice.

Before Mickey Stanley played shortstop in the 1968 World Series, he split CF and SS on August 23 and September 19. In the last six games of the season he played shortstop only, for the first time in his mlb career. Why? I suppose there was no reason to fear injury (at age 25), whereas Molitor (at age 36 with serious injury history) was the regular DH in order to avoid injury in the field.
   57. DavidFoss Posted: August 21, 2007 at 03:36 AM (#2493063)
DanR, might be fun to pick an all-playing-wierdly-out-of-position-team. Aaron at 2B would be a start. Kirby Puckett played a little IF in a pinch. Obviously you'd have your choice of pitchers.

Harmon Killebrew played 2B when he was an 18-year old bonus baby. Didn't take long for him to get too old for that though. :-)

As DanR said, Foxx came up as a Catcher. Later he started two All-Star Games at 3B despite the fact that he rarely played there. He subbed another AS-Game at 3B as well (the immortal Pinky Higgins was starting that year). This was done in an attempt to get both him and Gehrig into the lineup. Foxx also has a career ERA+ of 255 in ten appearances. Not a bad display of versatility for a big slugger.

Mel Ott's year at 3B was one of the finest offensive years in 3B history.

They tried Yaz at 3B for a month trying to get Cecil Cooper into the action.

When McCovey first came up, they tried moving Cepeda to 3B. Three errors in four games put an end to that experiment.
   58. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 04:12 AM (#2493100)
Don Mattingly played 2B during the 9th inning of the Pine Tar game, right? And they tried at 3B for about 4-5 days at one point around 1985-86 too, right?
   59. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 04:13 AM (#2493102)
I think Ron Guidry played in the OF during the 9th inning of the Pine Tar game too.
   60. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:40 AM (#2493209)
He's light years away from being even considered for the HoM, but Matt Stairs at second base is about as weird as it gets.
   61. baudib Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:52 AM (#2493210)
I saw Matt Stairs play second base when he was at AA. He looked awkward. He then crushed a home run into the Delaware River.
   62. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 11:14 AM (#2493217)
Shinjo played 2B at the SABR game in St. Louis this year. It's not Matt Stairs, but it was still strange.
   63. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2493376)
Is post #50 good enough for Molitor being 3B/DH or do I have to go further . . . I'd rather not waste the time on it if I don't have to . . .
   64. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 04:02 PM (#2493410)
According to Rick Cerone, Guidry played OF regularly when the Yanks were blowing out the Blue Jays. It ticked him off, as he felt the Jays were being shown up. Someone should run a tracer...

Also, Pudge completed a game at Fenway playing 2B last year.
   65. BDC Posted: August 21, 2007 at 04:08 PM (#2493420)
Guidry played center field for one inning in a 9-4 win over Toronto, on 9/29/79. No chances. His only other OF appearance was the Pine Tar conclusion.
   66. Cblau Posted: August 21, 2007 at 07:28 PM (#2493674)
On September 26, 1954, Casey Stengel used a starting infield of Eddie Robinson 1B, Moose Skowron 2B, Mickey Mantle SS, and Yogi Berra 3B. The latter 3 made 1 error in 18 chances. The Yankees lost 8-6.
   67. JPWF13 Posted: August 21, 2007 at 08:01 PM (#2493728)
I saw Matt Stairs play second base when he was at AA. He looked awkward. He then crushed a home run into the Delaware River.


He was listed as a 2B when he was farm pick of mine in a roto league
I never saw him play until years later- my first thought was, "some idiot thought this guy could ever ever ever be a 2B in the majors?????"

Years later, the Mets trade for a minor league 2b named Victor Diaz, when I first saw him play with the Mets, my thought was, "how on earth could two different teams let him play 3+ minor league seasons at 2b instead of sticking him in an OF corner learning to track flyballs- he was never ever ever going to be a MLB 2b".

I didn't see Stairs when he was young (and presumably thin), but I did see Diaz only a few weeks removed from playing 2B (and at what was reportedly a low weight for him)- and it should have been obvious to EVERYONE that he had no future at 2B...

There are other guys like this, I know that some feel a hitter should play as far left on the defensive spectrum as possible, but sometimes that's pushed to just an absurd level.
   68. sunnyday2 Posted: August 21, 2007 at 08:59 PM (#2493798)
Well, Killebrew didn't just play 2B as a kid. He was a 2B.
   69. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2493827)
Is post #50 good enough for Molitor being 3B/DH or do I have to go further . . .


I might as well end the discussion since I'm not going to win it anyway.
   70. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:41 PM (#2493839)
What the heck does that mean John?

You asked for evidence and I provided it - and didn't get any reaction. I was just asking if more was needed.
   71. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:50 PM (#2493845)
What the heck does that mean John?


There should have been an emoticon after my sentence, Joe. :-)
   72. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 21, 2007 at 09:54 PM (#2493848)
All good . . . tone does not come across in text sometimes.

:-)
   73. KJOK Posted: August 22, 2007 at 12:51 AM (#2494171)
Should say WS understates replacement level, whoops!


Win Shares:
Molitor - 414
Bancroft - 269

WARP1
Molitor - 112
Bancroft - 111

Obviously, you usually don't see this much difference between the two measures (Win Shares usually being around 3 x WARP1).
   74. KJOK Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:03 AM (#2494203)
Why did Molitor play 3B in the World Series without any game time at the position in three years? He had been a skillful infielder. I suppose Toronto thought the risk of injury too great, for whatever skill he would recover in-game relative to taking infield practice.

Before Mickey Stanley played shortstop in the 1968 World Series, he split CF and SS on August 23 and September 19. In the last six games of the season he played shortstop only, for the first time in his mlb career. Why? I suppose there was no reason to fear injury (at age 25), whereas Molitor (at age 36 with serious injury history) was the regular DH in order to avoid injury in the field.


If the point hasn't already been made, Molitor was certainly not moved to DH because he couldn't field, but because he had a tendency to get hurt playing the field. Early in his career, he was labeled 'injury prone', and later in his career he was near iron-man, so the moved 'worked'.

In 1993, the World Series was played by the rules of the home team, meaning no DH in away games for Toronto, and obviously Gaston didn't want to sit one of his best hitters for half the World Series, plus Sprague was the one black hole in the lineup (besides catcher), so it made sense to gamble a bit on his defensive rustiness and play Molitor at 3B for the Series.

For the 1968 Tigers, Kaline had been hurt part of the year, so they had Willie Horton, Stanley, and Northrup as the OF'ers for much of the year, but Kaline was back, and SS was a HUGE black hole offensively, so instead of having to sit one of his OF'ers and suffer with no SS offense, Mayo Smith gambled that Stanley was athletic enough to hurt the team less with his defense at SS than he would help them offensively.
   75. DavidFoss Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:16 AM (#2494249)
Win Shares:
Molitor - 414
Bancroft - 269

WARP1
Molitor - 112
Bancroft - 111

Obviously, you usually don't see this much difference between the two measures (Win Shares usually being around 3 x WARP1).


Win Shares has a low replacement for batting, but no one sets a lower replacement level than FRAR. Apparently, average SS's saved 50 runs a year over replacement.

Here's the B/F splits:

Win Shares:
Molitor 89/11
Bancroft 61/39

WARP1 (approx by BRAR/FRAR):
Molitor 74/26
Bancroft 31/69

Never mind the double-counting of replacements here. Replacement hitters are usually good with the glove.
   76. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:18 AM (#2494262)
I'll have to look a bit more closely, but I don't think Molitor will make my top 10. A 122 OPS+ for a guy who played a plurality of his career at DH and was never an outstanding fielder? Doesn't exactly grab my attention. If it weren't for his baserunning he'd probably miss my ballot entirely.
   77. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:20 AM (#2494269)
Replacement shortstops are most definitely not usually good with the glove, DavidFoss--they average 5.5 runs below average per 162 according to Nate Silver. The other positions are all basically average. This is a big part of why my ballot is usually stocked with shortstops.
   78. DavidFoss Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:32 AM (#2494312)
they average 5.5 runs below average per 162 according to Nate Silver.

Sure, five and a half runs. I figured fielding only required athleticism and practice to be adequate. Hitting requires that freakish coordination and muscle-memory. The minors are usually stocked with adequate fielders who could hit .200 in MLB.

Still, its not *fifty* runs a season. Dave Bancroft accumulated 703 FRAR and 110 FRAA. 593 FRAR-FRAA over his career is an obscene amount of value assigned to just being average.
   79. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:38 AM (#2494339)
In the 23 inning Giants-Mets game in 1964, Wille Mays played three innings at shortstop.

In this 1970 game, Johnny Bench was the Reds' starting centerfielder:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN197005262.shtml
   80. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:44 AM (#2494361)
KJOK/Dan R:

KJOK: The point was made in post 6. But thanks for reminding folks. It's a point worth noting.

Dan R: It's interesting that folks look at Molitor move around the field and naturally assume he must have been at best just ok on defense. Curious thing, he was pretty good. And maybe more than that.

In 1979 Molitor made the All-Star team at second base. Along with having a heckuva year at bat Paul played 122 games in the field. Let's see if folks can pick out his numbers relative to some well known other second basemen of that time.

Games Putouts Assists Errors Double Plays

153 340 438 13 111

125 317 332 12 78

126 280 369 9 103

153 335 478 13 128

122 289 413 15 81

Interesting comparison. You have two guys who stayed in the lineup all season so their overall totals were better but some of those guys who played less clearly had better "rate" figures. Who is who in this collection?

Bobby Grich
Frank White (Gold Glove)
Lou Whitaker
Willie Randolph
Paul Molitor

I already mentioned Paul's notable accomplishment at third base. He compares pretty well in 1982 with other third basemen around the league.

I am sure some of the sharpies around here will "explain" how Paul's defensive totals are the result of this or that. I just think it's interesting that as this guy wandered around the diamond he helped get people out.

I thought that was the point of playing defense. Maybe I have that confused...........
   81. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:52 AM (#2494402)
From my memories of Molitor, he looked good wherever he played.
   82. Chris Fluit Posted: August 22, 2007 at 02:22 AM (#2494520)
I remember the same thing, John. I always thought that the move to DH was more about keeping him healthy than about him being a poor defender.
   83. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 04:05 AM (#2494660)
Dan I don't know why you won't like Molitor. Your system has him #60 in Pennants Added; #53 in WARP2 and #89 in "Salary".

Seems like a virtual lock.
   84. McLovin Posted: August 22, 2007 at 05:50 AM (#2494752)
Maybe I have that confused...........

I think it's been pretty well established in this thread that Molitor could play defense, but couldn't stay healthy. But if you really feel the need to keep defending that which has not been attacked, go ahead.
   85. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 09:24 AM (#2494784)
My comment about Molitor's defense is referring to the fact that the defensive stats show him as basically an average to slightly above average fielder, whever he played. Sure versatility has value that my system doesn't capture, but how much can it be?

Joe Dimino, Molitor isn't #89 in Salary after adding in war credit for everyone else...I have him in the 120s. Anyways, I do think Molitor is a deserving HoM'er, but I prefer most of my backlog favorites (not just McGraw but all the shortstops and Reggie Smith) to him.
   86. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 11:33 AM (#2494796)
Dan - you've made an attempt at giving war credit for everyone else? Would you be able to send me that?
   87. DL from MN Posted: August 22, 2007 at 01:47 PM (#2494854)
Molitor is supposed to be one of the smartest ballplayers of his generation and probably does have intangible value that doesn't show up in the boxscore but directly contributes to wins. For example, Molitor is supposed to be really good at stealing signs. He was also great at reading pitchers to pick up moves to 1B.

In 117 postseason AB his batting line is .368/.435/.615!

Some cereal giveaway, I think Wheaties, had a promotion where you could send away for a 3'x2' poster from Sports Illustrated. They also gave away a bunch of posters inside the boxes. I had lots of the smaller posters on my wall (Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins) but the one I sent away for was Paul Molitor (there weren't any Twins available). Molitor was twisted into a corkscrew after a swing at the plate. He loomed large in the room right over the bed.
   88. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 02:15 PM (#2494875)
Post 85:

Well, post 77 (was never an outstanding fielder?) suggested that Molitor was never an outstanding fielder. I disagreed with that assessment. I provided multiple examples of how when Paul was at an infield position, in these instances second base and third base, he made a notable defensive contribution.

I thought part of the goal of the Hall of Merit is to exchange perspectives regarding the player in question. In Molitor's case I perceive that some may regard him simply as a "DH" and assess by whatever standard the voter has created for DHs. I think that would be an imprecise approach and am trying to provide additional information that may be overlooked.

To put it as plainly as possible I think Molitor when healthy WAS an excellent and at times outstanding defensive player whose contribution was undermined by a body that simply could not meet the long-term physical requirements of playing a defensive position.

I hope this clarifies the situation and demonstrates that I was indeed "arguing" in opposition to an earlier claim as opposed to some phantome statement.
   89. DavidFoss Posted: August 22, 2007 at 03:14 PM (#2494955)
I took DanR's "never an outstanding fielder" comment literally, not as a euphemism for "bad". He just meant that he wasn't Gold Glove caliber. He wasn't Buddy Bell or Frank White.

The healthy error rates probably kept him from getting the 'surehanded' label from contemporary sports writers, but statheads look past those things. Most of the metrics have Molitor above average with the glove which is pretty impressive considering how banged up he usually was. The multiple positions really helped his team as well. It makes me think of Gil McDougald in the 1950s.
   90. sunnyday2 Posted: August 22, 2007 at 03:19 PM (#2494969)
I agree. Paulie is a B fielder by WS and that's not B for bad. He just wasn't an A/A+ type of fielder.

I once used the term mediocre and got jumped on. It just means "average." I mean, not everybody can be above average.
   91. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 03:22 PM (#2494971)
David:

Well, I think if Paul had stayed healthy he would have gained a reputation as an excellent fielder. He was average at shortstop and such fellows tend to do really well when asked to play second or third. If you can handle the most challenging infield position then you have the skills to really excel elsewhere.

I was compelled to write in further detail since Post 85 chose to engage in snark when if the poster had asked me to elaborate I could have clarified my comment.
   92. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: August 22, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2495074)
In Molitor's case I perceive that some may regard him simply as a "DH" and assess by whatever standard the voter has created for DHs.


I don't think anybody was stating that he was simply a DH, Harvey. I know I wasn't. I just felt (and still do, though I will go along with the 3B/DH designation instead of the DH/3B) that he had more value as a designated hitter. But anybody thinking that Molitor was a DH because of some type of defensive deficiency is just plain ignorant.
   93. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 05:43 PM (#2495153)
Right, I didn't mean he couldn't catch the ball, just that his glove isn't a big argument in his favor.
   94. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 06:08 PM (#2495211)
Joe, the numbers are a bit outdated, let me update them and I'll get in touch.
   95. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 06:22 PM (#2495237)
Dan:

Understood.

But I am curious if by your various assessment tools how you grade Molitor's defense? And not in its totality but at each respective position?

Thanks.
   96. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: August 22, 2007 at 06:43 PM (#2495267)
Since Molitor's D is largely in the pre-PBP era, I'm reliant on the uberstats, which show him as a slightly above average fielder when he actually played defense. That seems to jive with his reputation as well, no?
   97. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: August 22, 2007 at 07:06 PM (#2495292)
Going back to the out-of-position thing for a moment ... Mo Vaughn is listed with an inning in CF at BB-Ref, but if you go to his gamelogs, you can't find it. He wasn't really in CF, though: it was a five-infielder situation.

***

I don't know why we'd have to look at Molitor (or anyone else) as being someone primarily of one position. Wouldn't we just look at each year as its own entity, assess its value, add them all together, and move on? OPS+ is a crude measure, but at his primary position each season, with a minimum of 120 games, Molitor ranked:

1978: 10 of 21, 2B
1979: 3 of 19, 2B
1980: 2 of 25 (110 G minimum), 2B
1981: 12 of 27 (60 G minimum), CF
1982: 7 of 22, 3B
1983: 11 of 23, 3B
1984: only played 11 G
1985: 12 of 23, 3B
1986: 17 of 28 (100 G min), 3B
1987: 1 of 11 (110 G min), DH (also played 3B and 2B)
1988: 4 of 20, 3B (played 1/3 of time at DH)
1989: 5 of 21, 3B (less than a fifth of time at DH, some at 2B)
1990: 3 of 28 (100 G min), 2B
1991: 2 of 12, DH
1992: 2 of 8, DH
1993: 1 of 9, DH
1994: 4 of 10 (85 G min due to strike), DH
1995: 9 of 10 (105 G min due to strike), DH
1996: 8 of 13, DH
1997: 9 of 11, DH
1998: 10 of 11, DH

Breaking it down, from 1978 through 1980, he was a 2B. There were 23 2B who played 300+ games over that time; Molitor ranks 3rd in OPS+ amongst them, with a 114. His basestealing is a plus, but likely not enough to move ahead of Randolph at 116 for the second spot, given Randolph was also a good basestealer and likely a better defender. Davey Lopes basestealing also may get him up around Molitor's heels, but I'm comfortable with saying Molitor was the third-best 2B for those years. (Grich is the clear #1, which should surprise no one.)

From 1982 through 1989, he was essentially a 3B. 27 3B played 650+ games over that time; Molitor's OPS+ of 125 ranks 5th, comfortably ahead of Carney Lansford (117), and close enough to Howard Johnson (126) that overall Molitor likely gets the edge on him, as I don't recall HoJo's D being a thing of beauty. The top three -- Boggs, Schmidt, and Brett -- are out of reach -- but that's a pretty impressive top three, and there is no shame in Molitor ranking 4th.

Molitor was a DH from 1991 through 1998. 12 guys played 650 games in that span with 25%+ at DH; Molitor ranks 8th in OPS+ amongst them (122), tied with Julio Franco. Basestealing may catch him up to Harold Baines at 126. (Of true DHs in that span, guys who played 50% or more of the time at DH, Molitor and Franco tie for last, but there are only five of them.) Obviously, defense isn't really a factor for DH.

So he's got three years as the third-best 2B, eight years as the fourth-best 3B (behind three of the greatest at that position), and another eight years as, let's say, the fifth- or sixth-best DH. So he's generally around the 4th-best player at his position(s). Is someone who ranks as the 4th-best player at his position over a course of 20 years a HoF/HoMer? I would imagine so.
   98. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 07:20 PM (#2495303)
BH:

Interesting approach.

Randolph may have comparable basestealing totals. He wasn't Molly as a baserunner. Nobody was. Not of that era.

You want a comparable today? Jeter. Line drive hitter, control of the strike zone, fine baserunner and always making the key play. That was Molly.................
   99. DL from MN Posted: August 22, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2495312)
Would Jeter be JETER if he had played 2B/3B and DH?
   100. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 22, 2007 at 07:47 PM (#2495318)
DL:

Well, Derek has been more durable over the same timeframe than Molitor and that makes a big difference. You have to be in the lineup for someone to notice you.

But smart players invariably end up in the middle of the action. So I think the answer is "yes".......
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