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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ted Simmons

Eligible in 1994.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:12 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:18 AM (#2284054)
17 HOF votes. Yeah, I just love the 5% rule.
   2. OCF Posted: January 22, 2007 at 08:17 AM (#2284231)
I've got him as the rough equal of Hartnett and Cochrane as an offensive player. Of course, Tenace is right there as well. Simmons never had a very good defensive reputation, and he finished out his career as a 1B/DH - but he's a lot more of a catcher than Tenace or Bresnahan.

What were the late-70's Cardinals, anyway? Talented underachievers? Or just a team full of holes, even if there were some front-line stars? (After all, if the ace of your staff is Bob Forsch, just how good can your pitching be?) The three key talents were Simmons, Keith Hernandez, and Garry Templeton - and there are many stories to be told about all three.
   3. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: January 22, 2007 at 08:31 AM (#2284237)
With a catcher bonus, I have Simmons in a coin-flip with Keller for #2 on my 1993 ballot.
   4. DCW3 Posted: January 22, 2007 at 09:39 AM (#2284241)
On offense, Simmons is remarkably similar to Johnny Bench with a few lousy years added on. Bench had 8669 career PAs with a 126 OPS+. Simmons had 9685 PAs with a 118 OPS+. But take away Simmons's dreadful 1984 season and the three years he spent as a bench player with the Braves at the end of his career, and he has 8686 PAs with a 123 OPS+. That still gives a small advantage to Bench, but Simmons would probably get a little positional boost in that comparison that would narrow the gap somewhat--in his bad years, he rarely caught, so, excluding them, he spent a higher percentage of his career games at catcher than Bench did. Simmons never had a season with the bat like Bench's 1972, but outside of that season, his offensive peak is at least as good as Bench's.

Now, obviously there's a huge--and very difficult to quantify--defensive gap between the two. But it's still astounding that one guy is regularly talked about as the greatest catcher of all time, while the other couldn't manage 4% of the vote his one year on the HoF ballot.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: January 22, 2007 at 12:51 PM (#2284261)
A fiendishly tough class to rank. Some offense, some defense. Some peak, some career. Some "intangibles" :-)

But one thing I know, Ted Simmons will rate the highest among the bunch. And just off the top, I think he will be the only one to make the ballot. The rest look like borderline to HoVG.
   6. TomH Posted: January 22, 2007 at 02:10 PM (#2284277)
Can someone remind me the cirucmstances behind the Cards' trading of Ted to Milwaukee:

December 12, 1980 (Simmons age 31, all-star) : Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Rollie Fingers (age 34, very good) and Pete Vuckovich (age 29, starting pitcher) to the Milwaukee Brewers for Sixto Lezcano (age 27, good player coming off injury), David Green (age 20, prospect), Lary Sorensen (age 25 starting pitcher), and Dave LaPoint (age 21, prospect).

Were the Cards rebuilding? They just had a poor year in 1980, but it was all bad luck in one-run games, and they came back to have a good season in 81 with essentially the same team totals. But this trade seemed to give a lot away. I oughta remember, but I must have been studying too hard in college at the time....
   7. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:00 PM (#2284298)
TomH:

By all accounts Herzog and Simmons clashed almost from the beginning. As soon as the Cards signed Porter, folks suspected that Simmons would be traded. What threw folks is that the very next day after the Porter signing Herzog does the Rollie Fingers trade that involved Terry Kennedy. And Kennedy was the perceived heir apparent to Simmons. So after folks figured "Well, you can't trade Simmons now with just Porter around to catch" off goes Simmons to Milwaukee WITH Fingers.

If you look at the timeline Porter gets signed on December 7th, trade with San Diego on the 8th, and then Simmons, etc. trade on the 12th. Bang, bang, bang.

I know it's been written that Whitey asked Simba to move to first, but I have never really bought that story. Herzog valued defense and while he never cared for Hernandez he recognized the guy was a whiz out there while also being a solid bat. Simmons certainly didn't have the speed to play the outfield for Herzog.

Simmons was and is a smart, strong-headed guy. Herzog wasn't interested in having someone around who had his "own ideas" of how to get things done. So he traded him.

Simmons was a slow, solid offensive player with an ok glove. Porter was a slow, solid offensive player with an ok glove. The difference was that Darrell did what he was told with no comment.

I am sure others closer to the situation have more to add. But that is how I recall the situation.

From the Milwaukee side it was well known that Herzog REALLY wanted David Green. It's forgotten now but Green was a uber hot prospect in his day. Alas, drugs got in the way of a career.
   8. DavidFoss Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:05 PM (#2284305)
That was a busy off-season. Fingers never wore a Cardinal uniform, he was obtained with Gene Tenace for Terry Kennedy and a bunch of prospects/scrubs the week before. Lynn to CAL for Tanana, Burleson and Hobson to CAL for Lansford. Durham for Sutter. The Indians got Blyleven for prospects/scrubs.

Sports Illustrated "Old Faces In New Places" article that spring was a hoot to read. All those color pictures of recognizable guys in new uniforms... for 1981 that article was a big deal.
   9. TomH Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:42 PM (#2284347)
Thanks. I just read Herzog's book (You're Missing a Great Game), and not much was in it on this front. He does talk a lot about how important a great closer was ("my teams in KC lost the playoffs to the Yankees because they had Goose and Lyle and we were too cheap to get a closer"), but he didn't keep Fingers on his team (!). And of course one reason the Cards were champs in '82 was Rollie (on the Brewers) was hurt for the World Series. Whitey (and again, he was a great manager, I'm not trying to pound on him) whines a lot about their "unfair" WS losses in 85 (Denkinger) and 87 (injuries), but neglects to mention they were pretty fortunate to win a Series in 82 that could have gone either way.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 22, 2007 at 03:43 PM (#2284349)
I'll have Simmons very high on my ballot. He and Quincy Trouppe are going to be right next to each other, bang, bang.

In fact, Trouppe and Simmons are have many things in common:
-both were catchers who could really hit, and while Simmons' glove is often poo-pooed (when it may well have been average), Trouppe's glove was never spoken of in the NgL lore, leading one to believe it wasn't considered an asset. On the other hand, Trouppe's glove and game-calling experience were cited when he was recalled from AAA to Cleveland in 1952, so he couldn't have been awful either.
-both were athletic in some ways, but neither was fast (that I'm aware of)
-both were smart guys, Simmons a college grad from Michigan (I think), Trouppe didn't have the education, but his son QT Jr is a top-flight U.S. poet, suggesting that Trouppe had ample native intelligence to pass to his progeny.
-both played other positions than catcher (trouppe played 3B frequently while in Mexico).
-both played deep into their 30s.

Anyway, I'll have them both on my ballot and right next to one another, right behind whoever of the big four doesn't poll enough this year.
   11. JPWF13 Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:07 PM (#2284374)
Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Rollie Fingers (age 34, very good) and Pete Vuckovich (age 29, starting pitcher) to the Milwaukee Brewers for Sixto Lezcano (age 27, good player coming off injury), David Green (age 20, prospect), Lary Sorensen (age 25 starting pitcher), and Dave LaPoint (age 21, prospect).

Were the Cards rebuilding? They just had a poor year in 1980, but it was all bad luck in one-run games, and they came back to have a good season in 81 with essentially the same team totals.


To add to what others have written:

1: the Cardinals at that time were considered underacheivers- people looked their roster and couldn't figure out why they didn't win more- no one looked at pythag (ok maybe 1-3 people on the planet did)- no one calculated third order winning percentages- the idea that they were just unlucky wouldn't even occur to the vast majority of baseball people (as opposed to today where it would occur to bseball people- mostly because statheads ould bring it up- before being ridiculed and rejected out of hand)- so you have a talented team that doesn't win? Well then the whole is less than the sum of the parts- break the team up and start over.

2: Bill James has written that either Simmons was insubordinate or held himself above/apart from the team- Whitey exiled Simmons to establish who was in charge

3: Whitey was allegedly not allowed to do anything about the encroaching drug problem in KC- in STL if he decided that drug use was affectring a player's performance (Skates, Keith H.) sayonara

4: Ahhh David Green, he's the first super prospect I remember who turned out to be a few years older than advertised: hit .284/.325/.422 (OPS+ of 106 back then) at 22 and you are a super young player, hit .284/.325/.422 as a 25/26 year old? you are a good 4th OF
   12. DavidFoss Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:19 PM (#2284390)
but he didn't keep Fingers on his team (!).

They signed Porter on Dec. 7th, 1980.
They traded for Fingers on Dec. 8th, 1980 -- giving up Kennedy but picking up Tenace.
They traded for Sutter on Dec. 9th, 1980.
They traded Fingers and Simmons away on Dec. 12th.

Swapping Kennedy for Tenace gave Kennedy a place to play everyday. Tenace hit quite well as a backup.
Of course, OCF is the Cardinals master, so he'll likely have a long post on this.
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:37 PM (#2284417)
How 'bout we just have a thread for trades involving the Cards and Brew?
   14. DavidFoss Posted: January 22, 2007 at 04:52 PM (#2284434)
How 'bout we just have a thread for trades involving the Cards and Brew?

Looks like the Brew got the better end of the deals, but the Cards won the series. :-)
   15. OCF Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:05 PM (#2284445)
Simmons was smart and he was a leader - the only thing is that being a leader isn't a positive trait, it's a neutral one by itself. You have to decide if you like the direction he's leading in. Most of Whitey's 1980-81 trade binge was cold hard rationalism about making the team he wanted, but I think there were two emotional or personal elements to it. The first such element was that with Porter available as a free agent, Whitey considered him to be "his guy" (having had him in KC) and wanted him. The second such element was that he wanted Simmons gone. He wanted Simmons gone to clarify who the boss was - Whitey wanted to be in absolute control of the team, and Simmons was the one guy who could have stood in the way of that.

Whitey didn't much like to have young guys sitting on his bench. He preferred veterans with defined roles as his reserves. With the young players he preferred to decide who was his kind of player and either put them in the lineup or move them out. The three key younger guys on the edge of the lineup he inherited were Terry Kennedy, Leon Durham, and Tommy Herr.

Kennedy could play, and had been blocked behind Simmons. But Kennedy wasn't going to play anywhere but C (yes, he did have some early games in the OF, but Whitey valued speed in the outfield too much to continue that), and once Porter was signed, he became dispensible - and was used to obtain Fingers. That Whitey obtained Tenace in the trade makes sense in the "veterans on the bench" idea; Tenace would be a second catcher and a PH.

Durham was being hyped to the skies in Cardinal-land as that great rarity of the franchise: a farm-grown player who could hit for power. But I think Whitey looked at him and saw someone who wasn't going to take Hernandez's job at first and who was too slow to be Whitey's kind of outfielder - and that made him dispensible. Herr, on the other hand, was exactly Whitey's kind of ballplayer and someone he wanted in the lineup.

Sutter was available because he'd won his salary arbitration case and the Cubs were livid about having to pay him that much money. (No, don't look at the raw numbers, not if you don't want to laugh yourself silly.) Fingers was available because - well, I forget why San Diego was shopping him. My sense was that Whitey was pursuing both Fingers and Sutter in parallel negotiations, not really expecting to get both. Someone above reported the trade as Durham for Sutter; it was actually Durham and Ken Reitz for Sutter. Looked at from this distance, it may be hard for you to fathom how highly regarded Reitz was at the time, but he was. I sense that Whitey saw through that, and understood Reitz's limitations. That trade did two things for Whitey - it got him his closer, and it opened a lineup spot for Herr (with Oberkfell moving over to cover third.)

Both the Fingers trade and the Sutter trade went through. At that point, Whitey still had three problems: 1. He had both Fingers and Sutter and only expected to be able to properly use one of them, 2. He needed to get a grade-A prospect back to mollify the fans about trading away Durham, and 3. He still wanted Simmons gone. Those issues then drove the mega-trade with the Brewers, with David Green poised as the answer to #2. I score the trade as a net talent loss for the Cardinals, but not severely so - and after it, it was unquestionably Whitey's team. As for Simmons: he was a catcher who'd caught a lot of games. He was past his prime. His offense dropped drastically in his first year in the AL, and although he recovered from that somewhat, he never got all the way back to where he'd been for the Cardinals.
   16. Boots Day Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2284447)
Has any other team traded away two future Cy Young winners in the same trade?

You look at the talent in that trade, and it sure looks like the Cardinals got hosed. But they were World Champs a year later. If you add in the fact that they then traded Lary Sorenson for Lonnie Smith, it doesn't look so bad.
   17. Paul Wendt Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:11 PM (#2284450)
As I recall, Earl Weaver said around 1979 that Ted Simmons was the player he most wished he had. Maybe for the 1970s - Earl's player of the decade? (It's believable. Catcher was always a weak spot in the Orioles lineup and Earl wasn't above provoking attention.)

They were different types of batters, but I remember Simmons and Sanguillen as half-model catchers. Why can't we get a catcher who hits like that? Soon Bob Boone was supposed to be the other half-model while Bench was or had been the full-model.

The Orioles never (itseemed) even had a catcher whose defense was as good as Philadelphia thought Bob Boone's was.
   18. OCF Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:19 PM (#2284462)
Has any other team traded away two future Cy Young winners in the same trade?

The problem with that is that Vuckovich was nowhere near deserving the CYA that he won. Vuckovich for Sorenson straight up would have been a pretty even deal. And, once the first pair of trades had been made, one or the other of Fingers and Sutter needed to move on; from that point of view, it made sense to hang on to the younger Sutter and deal the older Fingers.

If you add in the fact that they then traded Lary Sorenson for Lonnie Smith, it doesn't look so bad.

And Lezcano was part of what they traded for Ozzie Smith.
   19. OCF Posted: January 22, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2284501)
3: Whitey was allegedly not allowed to do anything about the encroaching drug problem in KC- in STL if he decided that drug use was affectring a player's performance (Skates, Keith H.) sayonara

Hernandez, yes; that was the background of that trade. But Lonnie Smith was allowed to do rehab and return. When he was finally dealt to KC in 1985, that was, as they say, business, not personal. Trading Smith primarily sent the message that the job belonged to Vince Coleman.
   20. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2007 at 06:03 PM (#2284506)
> I'll have Simmons very high on my ballot. He and Quincy Trouppe are going to be right next to
> each other, bang, bang.

Agreed, Simmons then Trouppe. There are a couple of players between them and the top of the ballot for me though.
   21. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 22, 2007 at 10:21 PM (#2284736)
Simmons spent the second half of 1987 as Zane Smith's personal catcher. The Braves saw Smith as ace material who just needed a little more schooling, Chuck Tanner never liked Ozzie Virgil or Bruce Benedict as receivers, so Simmons caught every one of Smith's starts after late July. Zane was real good for a while and won 7 of 8 starts with 5 complete games, but then wore down after so many innings (and was hurt much of 1988). He ended up with an ERA around 4.20 before Ted, 3.90 after, but also two consecutive games with 5 unearned runs in each. I remember the Braves being very very happy with Simmons' influence on Smith.

Anyway, I thought that this speaks a little to Simmons' late-career reputation, at least among the Chuck Tanners of the world.
   22. Juan V Posted: January 22, 2007 at 10:45 PM (#2284755)
Yeah, right now I'm also thinking Simmons, then Trouppe. But, there should be enough room between Simmons and the borderline to fit Trouppe in :)
   23. KJOK Posted: January 23, 2007 at 01:34 AM (#2284861)
Can someone remind me the cirucmstances behind the Cards' trading of Ted to Milwaukee:

December 12, 1980 (Simmons age 31, all-star) : Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with Rollie Fingers (age 34, very good) and Pete Vuckovich (age 29, starting pitcher) to the Milwaukee Brewers for Sixto Lezcano (age 27, good player coming off injury), David Green (age 20, prospect), Lary Sorensen (age 25 starting pitcher), and Dave LaPoint (age 21, prospect).


It's been covered pretty well above, but I'll add that after Porter was signed and before Simmons was traded, Whitey was taking quite a bit of heat about what he planned to do with Simmons, especially when his answer was to move Simmons to 1B, and move Hernandez, the Gold Glove 1st baseman, to LF...of course, Whitey never REALLY intended for that to ever happen, but it was an interesting cover story until he unloaded Simmons.
   24. DizzyDean17 Posted: January 23, 2007 at 10:15 PM (#2285299)
LaPoint and Green were also involved in the deal that brought Jack Clark to the Cardinals, and he was a key component of the '85 and '87 NL championship teams.

That deal also included Jose Uribe, the original player to be named later, according to Rocky Bridges.
   25. OCF Posted: January 23, 2007 at 11:02 PM (#2285321)
An interesting, an mostly unanswerable, speculation would be what kind of offensive career Simmons would have had had he not been a catcher. Lets say, just for the sake of the argument, that he started as a 3B, then moved to 1B after about 5 years. He would unquestionably have lasted longer and hit more - but would that have made him more valuable? Perhaps not.

For players with well-above-average offense (like Simmons), the career expectations for that offense are lower - much lower - for catchers than for any other position.

On the other hand, for players with below-average offense, the career expectations might well be higher at catcher than for most other postions. Put it this way: had Ted Simmons started out as a 3B, he might have gotten 3000 hits. Had Bob Boone started out as a 3B, he probably would have lost his job as soon as they came up with someone who could outhit him. (And, had they not been catchers, the Molina brothers would probably have all stalled in the minors.)
   26. DizzyDean17 Posted: January 24, 2007 at 06:18 PM (#2285692)
Bob Boone did start out as a third baseman. It wasn't until 1971, his third year in the minors, that he was switched to catcher.
   27. andrew siegel Posted: January 24, 2007 at 06:33 PM (#2285709)
How many catchers have had 10 consecutive 20 win shares seasons in the major leagues?

By my count, the answer is 3--Yogi Berra who is either the first or second best major-league catcher of All-Time (12 straight seasons); Mike Piazza who is probably the third greatest major league catcher of All-Time (10 straight seasons), and Ted Simmons.

FWIW, Johnny Bench--the other candidate for the top spot--doesn't have 10 straight 20 WS seasons, but he does have 14 straight 19 WS seasons.

I'm not saying that Simmons is the equal of these other guys, but it's nice company to be in.
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:00 PM (#2285728)
You look at the talent in that trade, and it sure looks like the Cardinals got hosed. But they were World Champs a year later. If you add in the fact that they then traded Lary Sorenson for Lonnie Smith, it doesn't look so bad.

And the trading partners, 1969-era clubs without the St Louis once and future pennants: Milwaukee won its only in 1982; San Diego won its first of two in 1984.

Durham was being hyped to the skies in Cardinal-land as that great rarity of the franchise: a farm-grown player who could hit for power. But I think Whitey looked at him and saw someone who wasn't going to take Hernandez's job at first and who was too slow to be Whitey's kind of outfielder - and that made him dispensible.

So Whitey didn't originally plan to get rid of Hernandez? Until recently (here) I thought Hernandez not Simmons was Whitey's cancer in the clubhouse, and partly because he was too big for his britches.
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:03 PM (#2285729)
And the trading partners, 1969-era clubs without the St Louis once and future pennants: Milwaukee won its only in 1982; San Diego won its first of two in 1984.

and Kansas City won its Series in 1985, thanks in large part to Porter!
   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2285737)
Paul:

Nah. Herzog wanted control but winning came first. Hernandez was a smarmy twerp but he could hit AND play a mean first base. Simmons issue was that he was both strong-willed AND a mediocre defensive player at a key defensive position. Toss in being 30 (Herzog always preferred the young and hungry types) and it was a no-brainer that Simba was the man with the short end of the stick.

Whitey tossed Hernandez when he confirmed that drugs were in the clubhouse and that Keith was a user. As in KC, Herzog had zero tolerance for the stuff.

cfb and other Cards fans like to portray Herzog as a blowhard who wasn't that great of a manager. But even if he hadn't won a d*mn thing in either KC or St. Louis Whitey Herzog took a stand when guys like Chuck Tanner were whistling a happy tune with their head turned. On that basis ALONE, Herzog deserves praise.

And if folks equate the "S" issue to the narcotics problem of the late 70's and early 80's then ask yourself what the CURRENT Cardinals manager was doing to confront the situation. Not a thing. Nothing. Nada. Nil. If anything, he was an enabler.

I would respectfully request a Cardinals fan or Herzog detractor to ponder that indisputable fact and explain to me again why Whitey is such a "loser".

Because he doesn't shy away from telling folks he could really manage? Well newsflash! He could.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2285748)
cfb and other Cards fans like to portray Herzog as a blowhard who wasn't that great of a manager.

I actually prefer to think of whitey as overrated and will go over the top in my portrayal of him to get that point across. I like Whitey Herzog, but when you see the lengths that people in St Louis go to to make it seem like he was this uber manager and that TLR is on par with Don Baylor as a manager, then it kinda gets my dander up. I will probably argue that Billy Southworth is the best manager in Cardinal history, but I don't see how anyone could really think that Whitey was better than TLR even before last season.

I would respectfully request a Cardinals fan or Herzog detractor to ponder that indisputable fact and explain to me again why Whitey is such a "loser".


I don't think of Whitey as a loser, but he is a guy who won't accept responsibility for his failures and wants extra credit for his success. (as mentioned in post 9, herzogs book he comes off as a whiner, when he succeeded he took credit for it, when he failed he blamed other people, he makes fun of charlie lau and his reputation as if Lau was trying to create the reputation by not giving his students enough information, the years that willie wilson was good was entirely whitey herzogs influence, the years he sucked was when willie refused to listen to him) The book you are missing a great game is a very good book, but it is extremely egocentric. I think Whitey Herzog could manage in this day and age, just because he's said enough good things recently about how his team of the 80's wouldn't work in todays environment and that he spent a great deal of time in his book talking about the importance of obp.





Simmons was my favorite player as a kid growing up, at the time though I never thought he was the type of player that would get considered for the hall of fame (much less a much more prestigious award like hall of merit :) ) I'm glad to see that it looks like he is going to get a much better showing here than he did in the hof voting.
   32. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 24, 2007 at 08:27 PM (#2285773)
cfb:

Thanks for the clarification and I apologize for misrepresenting your stance on the topic.

Sincerely,

Harvey
   33. Mike Green Posted: January 25, 2007 at 04:31 PM (#2286189)
I don't know if someone has mentioned this in connection with other catchers, but Tango did a fascinating piece of research on catcher defence accessible through the research section of retrosheet. He compared catcher PB/WP/BK/SB/CS/E2 rates for the catcher with other catchers who were batterymates of their pitchers. Simmons came out at +2 for his career, even with Carlton Fisk and Darrell Porter (amusingly). Of course, there's more to catcher defence than those items, but some researchers suggest that this is most of it.

Simmons had a below average arm, but seems to have made fewer errors than almost anybody. Presumably he threw fewer balls away.

Simmons was, in a way, an iconic figure of baseball in the 70s. The hair, the attitude, the free agency battles. Incidentally, his Baseball Reference comparables list begins with Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Soon enough.
   34. Boots Day Posted: January 25, 2007 at 04:52 PM (#2286207)
Simmons was also the first player to open a season without a signed contract. I was about seven when that happened, and I thought it meant he wasn't getting paid.
   35. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: January 25, 2007 at 11:22 PM (#2286414)
Simmons shouldn't be receiving the full catcher bonus that some voters may give him. I see the catcher bonus going two ways.

1) A bonus, usually dealing with career value, because catchers have shorter careers based on the wear and tear on their body from catching 125+ games a seasons. Simmons deserves this one because he was catching that many games a year in his prime.

and

2) A bonus, usually dealing with peak value because catchers only play 125-130 games a year making direct comparisons of the peaks b/w catchers and say, 1Bman hard to do. I do not believe that Simmons deserves this bonus for many of his prime seasons as he played a good bit of 1B and OF to augment his catching, thus playing 150-160 games a year. This isn't a penalty for actually playing, as Simmons has some very godo year in there. It is just a recognition taht if you give a slight bonus for catchers due to this factor, as I do, then tread carefully with Simmons. His splits aren't as bad as Torre's (who was only catching about 100 games a season while playing 1B/3B about fifty times a year) but they are enough that his peak shoudlnt' really be fully compared to a guy like Wally Shang if you are giving an in season catching bonus.

All of that said, I dont' think I can put Simmons lower than 7th, which is an easy PHOM spot.
   36. Raoul Duke Posted: January 25, 2007 at 11:32 PM (#2286418)
In small defense of Bob Forsch, two no-hitters ain't too shabby :->
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: January 29, 2007 at 01:53 AM (#2287798)
(revived from the Torre thread, just using the Torre-Freehan part)

Interestingly, Simmons actually performed worse when he didn't catch (well, he stopped catching at the point he stopped hitting so well, basically).
Thru 1983, Simmons was a career 125 OPS+ in 7244 AB. Torre was 129 OPS+ in 7874 AB for his whole career. Simmons, moreso than Torre, stuck around too long.
So Simmons caught almost twice as many games, and was in the same league as Torre as a hitter.
Also a significantly better than Freehan while playing more games at catcher, though he yields the points for defense of course.
Sounds like a HOMer to me.

After Niekro, he's battling right near the top of my entire ballot.
.............................................

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

Joe-Torre 171 57 40 40 37 26 26 25 23* 22 18 17 13 04 04*/91
BiFreehan 145 44 37 27 22 22 06 05/99* 98* 95 84 83 75
TeSimmons 148 45 42 42 36 27 27 24 17 17 14 12 03 /92* 87 74* 61

Now seasons with 75 pct of games at C:
Joe-Torre 157 26 13 04 04
BiFreehan 145 44 27 22 22 06 05/99* 98* 95 84 83 75
TeSimmons 148 45 42 42 36 27 24 17 17 14 12/87 74*



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

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

TED SIMMONS
1970 - 074 OPS, 324 PA, 100 pct C
1971 - 114 OPS, 563 PA, 100 pct C
1972 - 127 OPS, 629 PA, 90 pct C
1973 - 124 OPS, 690 PA, 95 pct C
1974 - 117 OPS, 662 PA, 92 pct C
1975 - 142 OPS, 649 PA, 97 pct C
1976 - 117 OPS, 625 PA, 74 pct C, 20 pct 1B
1977 - 145 OPS, 601 PA, 99 pct C
1978 - 148 OPS, 604 PA, 85 pct C, 15 pct OF
1979 - 136 OPS, 521 PA, 100 pct C
1980 - 142 OPS, 562 PA, 96 pct C
1981 - 087 OPS, 413 PA, 74 pct C, 22 pct DH
1982 - 112 OPS, 581 PA, 89 pct C, 11 pct DH
1983 - 127 OPS, 650 PA, 57 pct C, 43 pct DH
1984 - 061 OPS, 532 PA, 60 pct DH, 29 pct 1B, 11 pct 3B
1985 - 103 OPS, 592 PA, 69 pct DH, 19 pct 1B, 10 pct C
Career - 118 OPS, 9685 PA: 1771 games C, 279 games DH, 195 games 1B

Player
JoTorre - C 41 pct, 1B 36 pct, 3B 23 pct
Freehan - C 91 pct, 1B 9 pct
Simmons - C 77 pct, DH 12 pct, 1B 8 pct
   38. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 21, 2007 at 02:19 PM (#2341360)
Fun fact: by my estimate, Ted Simmons' 1984 (a 61 OPS+ as a primary DH) is the third-worst season by a position player since 1893.

The top (bottom) 10:

1. Jim Levey, 1933 St. Louis Browns: 141 games, 24 OPS+, -11 defense at SS. -4.1 WARP2.
2. Hunter Hill, 1904 St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators: 135 games, 49 OPS+, -23 defense at 3B. -4.0 WARP2.
3. Ted Simmons, 1984 Milwaukee Brewers: 132 games, 61 OPS+ as a primary DH. -3.6 WARP2.
4. Neifi Pérez, 2002 Kansas City Royals: 145 games, 40 OPS+, -14 defense at SS. -3.4 WARP2. And this in the modern low-standard-deviation era. Every bit as execrable as advertised.
5. George Scott, 1968 Boston Red Sox: 124 games, 40 OPS+ (.171/.236/.237), average defense at 1B (although he did win a Gold Glove). -3.4 WARP2 (but a worse rate than all above, at -5.9 WARP2 per season. A 40 OPS+ from your first baseman? Ouch. He was actually a good hitter for his career, and had a 139 OPS+ on the 1967 Impossible Dream team--what happened? Was he playing through an injury?
6. Coco Laboy, 1970 Montreal Expos: 137 games, 48 OPS+, -10 defense at 3B. -3.2 WARP2.
7. Milt Stock, 1924 Brooklyn Robins: 142 games, 55 OPS+, -19 defense at 3B. -3.2 WARP2.
8. George Wright, 1985 Texas Rangers: 109 games, 33 OPS+, +2 defense as an OF/DH. -3.2 WARP2.
9. Tommy Dowd, 1898 St. Louis Cardinals: 139 games, 66 OPS+, -17 defense at RF. -3.1 WARP1.
10. Ivy Griffin, 1920 Philadelphia Athletics: 129 games, 47 OPS+, -4 defense at 1B. -3.1 WARP1.

Other seasons of note: 2001 Pat Meares -2.9 (and -6.9 WARP2 per full seasons!), George Bell 1993 -2.8, Paul Blair 1976 -2.7, Travis Jackson 1936 -2.7, Billy Ripken 1988 -2.5, Cristián Guzman 2005 -2.4, Ron Santo 1974 -2.4, Ken Singleton 1984 -2.4, Joe Carter 1997 -2.1 with 100 RBI, Willie Keeler 1907 -2.1, Lou Brock 1978 -2.1, Andre Dawson 1994 -2.

The two single worst non-pitcher seasons over 50 PA I have by rate are Walt "No Neck" Williams in 1974, whose .113/.127/.113 performance was good for a -29 OPS+ and -1.6 WARP2 in just 56 PA, and Joe Cannon in 1980, whose .080/.098/.080 showing represented a -51 OPS+ and -1.4 WARP2 in 51 PA.
   39. Paul Wendt Posted: April 21, 2007 at 04:01 PM (#2341403)
Fun fact: by my estimate, Ted Simmons' 1984 (a 61 OPS+ as a primary DH) is the third-worst season by a position player since 1893.

perhaps because Bill Bergen and other 19-aughts catchers didn't get enough playing time, perhaps because "everyone" had one of those guys so the system measures little cost.


Simmons was also the first player to open a season without a signed contract. I was about seven when that happened, and I thought it meant he wasn't getting paid.

This isn't what you mean, I know, but it seems to me that Clay Fauver was a semi-amateur who agreed to pitch some home games for Cleveland in 1900 but did not complete the season or return. He wanted to be free to travel to Europe and to follow college football avidly. Maybe a quotation will find me again. Fauver was simply a fan, I think.
(Washington catcher Bill Clarke whom I mentioned at Bresnahan moments ago, for his batting, was the baseball coach at Princeton in the spring. MLBplayers were under contract for six months only, so spring training was practically optional, at least for firmly established players.)
   40. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: April 21, 2007 at 09:33 PM (#2341704)
I myself wondered why Bergen didn't show up. He may very well have the lowest career WARP2 of anyone, although I'd have to check--he was below replacement in every single season he played, totalling -15.7 for his career. But he doesn't make the "leader" board for three reasons. Your first two are dead on--his career high in games played was 112, and replacement level for 1900's catchers is extremely low, similar to that of contemporary shortstops. Also, the higher standard deviation of his era relative to the present day actually *helps* him, since he was fewer standard deviations below replacement (which is what WARP2 measures) than he would be in a lower-stdev league. The opposite is true of Neifi Pérez.
   41. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 22, 2007 at 07:49 PM (#2342292)
The Indians got Blyleven for prospects/scrubs.


Blyleven had jumped the Pirates early in 1980, becuase he finally got tired of being pulled from games early by Chuck Tanner. The Pirates basically took what they could get for him.

-- MWE
   42. Paul Wendt Posted: February 10, 2008 at 07:06 PM (#2687657)
mulder&scully;wrote in a ballot comment, "Ballot Thread: Group 2":
4. Simmons: 4th and 5th tied, AS: 3 and 1, GG: 0.
Great hitter. An amazing run in the 70s obscured by Bench and Carter. Boy did he fall off a cliff.


Yes, indeed, as a batter after 14 years (a-half-and-12-and-a-half seasons at catcher), although he was already well below peak in '82-83.
He played at least 2/3 of team games at catcher in all 12 of those seasons, something only three earlier catchers achieved (Schalk, Hartnett, Lopez). His contemporary, Johnny Bench, put up 11, as did Cochrane and Dickey.

Maybe his case supports a general warning to teams that acquire a 10-year high-workload catcher at age 30, but it doesn't support a general warning against working a young catcher heavily. He was too good for too long for that.

DanR (#40 above) rates Simmons 1984 third among the worst seasons 1893-2006. His is a total measure so it identifies bad players who played a lot.

--
Another from DanR's list of worst seasons
5. George Scott, 1968 Boston Red Sox: 124 games, 40 OPS+ (.171/.236/.237), average defense at 1B (although he did win a Gold Glove). -3.4 WARP2 (but a worse rate than all above, at -5.9 WARP2 per season. A 40 OPS+ from your first baseman? Ouch. He was actually a good hitter for his career, and had a 139 OPS+ on the 1967 Impossible Dream team--what happened? Was he playing through an injury?

I skimmed his record and didn't find it at a glance. At baseball-reference it's now OPS+ 39 but 1967 is down to 138, so it remains only a 99-point cliff.

The Red Sox traded Cecil Cooper to get Scott back, Scott plus Bernie Carbo

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