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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Toby Harrah

Eligible in 1992.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2006 at 10:27 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 10, 2006 at 10:31 PM (#2257379)
I have no idea if he's a HoMer or not at this point, but I know he's close enough that he shouldn't be ignored by us. The guy could hit for a middle infielder.
   2. Repoz Posted: December 10, 2006 at 10:39 PM (#2257387)
I forget who did the study, but didn't Toby Harrah come out as the greatest "clutch" hitter in the last 35 years...and NOT Bernie Williams!
   3. BDC Posted: December 10, 2006 at 10:53 PM (#2257403)
My first thought about Toby Harrah was how many Godawful teams he played on, though actually looking at the record, aside from the "Seasons in Hell" Rangers, his teams in Texas and Cleveland tended to be mediocre at worst, and some were quite good; he was clearly a major part of that minor success.
   4. Astro-Bonilla Posted: December 11, 2006 at 12:18 AM (#2257471)
I forget who did the study, but didn't Toby Harrah come out as the greatest "clutch" hitter in the last 35 years...and NOT Bernie Williams!
In "Baseball Between the Numbers", Nate Silver has Harrah at #2 behind Mark Grace over that span.
   5. Willie Horton Hears The Who (Dan Lee) Posted: December 11, 2006 at 12:58 AM (#2257493)
Was Harrah the last active ex-Washington Senator?
   6. BDC Posted: December 11, 2006 at 01:09 AM (#2257499)
Was Harrah the last active ex-Washington Senator?

I believe there were stories to that effect in 1986 when Harrah was with the Rangers again (though more of the "last original Ranger" variety). And looking at B-Ref, he seems to have outlasted Jeff Burroughs by one season.
   7. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 11, 2006 at 04:01 AM (#2257641)
Must have been among the worst fielding infielders to spend an entire career in the infield since the war. If he had any defensive value at all, he'd be in a strong position to challenge up the ladder at 3B.
   8. Jose Canusee Posted: December 11, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#2258048)
named to 4 AS teams, only batted in '76. I think there was one year where he may have been the only one on his team and only player who didn't get in. Looks like it might have been '82 with Cleveland; he was raking to the tune of .332/.428/.548 with 17 HR at the break before fading.
   9. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 15, 2015 at 09:05 PM (#4881905)
From the Dan Rosenheck thread:
163. Toby Harrah, $146,788,510

From Kiko's website, showing Harrah as one of the most overlooked players in history:
http://baseball.tomthress.com/Articles/TobyHarrah.php

Defensive Runs for Toby:
Clay Davenport -147
DRA -131
Fangraphs -97
BP/FRAA -96
Baseball Reference -96
Chone WAR -93

   10. Chris Cobb Posted: January 15, 2015 at 10:54 PM (#4881952)
Bleed the Freak:

I am not sure what conclusions you want to imply, if any, from your post on Harrah. I've done some reading around on Kiko's website looking at his player won-lost records system, and one of the things that is not clear to me at all is how this system treats fielding.

The reason Harrah has never gotten traction with the HoM is because his fielding numbers, as you note are consistently terrible, and he doesn't have enough bat to overcome them. Kiko's system finds Harrah's most similar player to be Ryne Sandberg. BBRef's WAR would agree that they are very similar -- offensively. Harrah has 196 career batting runs, Sandberg 192. Sandberg gains 1 run for baserunning and 5 for double plays. Big deal. But Harrah is -96 fielding runs, Sandberg, +60, which results in Sandberg leading in career WAR by a huge margin, 67.5 to 51.2.

Does Dan R's different approach to replacement level make up this difference? If so, why hasn't Dan been arguing for Harrah? (He was only a shortstop for 40% of his career, which probably has something to do with that).

Is Kiko's different conclusion driven, like Dan R's possibly would be, by a different approach to replacement level or a different approach to fielding? Digging into Harrah's record there, it looks like he finds Harrah to be only 2 wins below average defensively, at least 7 wins better than any other system, and finds Sandberg to be only 3 wins above average. It's reasonable to consider that a 5-win difference in fielding value at position could be made up for by Harrah playing higher-value defensive positions. But is this fielding assessment more accurate than these others, which are pretty consistent in their evaluation of Harrah's fielding as quite poor at position (an assessment corroborated by his movement down the defensive spectrum during his career).

What do you think?
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2015 at 11:27 PM (#4881959)
Chris,

My view of Harrah is based primarily on a conclusion that he wasn't a terrible defender. I explain my fielding system and compare it to other systems here. There are two big differences between my fielding system and most others. First, I don't use location - because Retrosheet doesn't have it for most time - but instead it's keyed off of the final play result (i.e., I put all 6-3 groundouts in the same bucket, instead of putting all ground balls to location 6M as being the same). Second, the effect on balls in play is shared between pitchers and fielders. The result of this latter effect is that I have a somewhat narrower range of fielding ratings than most other systems. Although, I don't think that latter effect is the big story with Harrah. I just don't think he was that bad defensively (he was below average, but not by much).

Basically, the comp with Sandberg, in my system, is a slightly below-average shortstop (Harrah) vs. an above-average second baseman (Sandberg) end up with similar defensive value (and, as you noted, similar offensive value).

That said, my system finds Harrah and Sandberg to be similar, but with Sandberg being better. Working through my preliminary 2016 ballot, Harrah is definitely high in my consideration set, but looks like he'll probably end up just off-ballot (somewhere around 15-25 depending on what I end up doing with old-timers).
   12. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 17, 2015 at 08:42 AM (#4882551)
Chris, I just thought I would post that Dan and Tom have Harrah either borderline or worthy of induction to see if we can glean information from them versus the crowd ratings.

the effect on balls in play is shared between pitchers and fielders. The result of this latter effect is that I have a somewhat narrower range of fielding ratings than most other systems. Although, I don't think that latter effect is the big story with Harrah. I just don't think he was that bad defensively (he was below average, but not by much).


This is fascinating, if Kiko is correct, we need to be careful not to overrate fielders and underrate stone gloves.

69.30 - (8) - Toby Harrah
69.30 - (9) - Jim Edmonds
66.7 - (10) - Bobby Bonds
66.5 - (11) - Fred Lynn
66.4 - (12) - Sammy Sosa
64.0 - (13) - Dale Murphy
63.4 - (14) - Orel Hershiser
62.2 - (15) - Claude Osteen
61.9 - (16) - Bob Friend
60.5 - (17) - Jeff Kent
60.2 - (18) - Jack Clark
60.0 - (19) - Dick McAuliffe
59.8 - (20) - Rocky Colavito
59.3 - (21) - David Wells
59.2 - (22) - Bert Campaneris
58.2 - (23) - Norm Cash
57.8 - (24) - Rusty Staub
57.7 - (25) - Jim Rice

2016 returnees not mentioned above with multiple votes:
50.2 - Kenny Lofton
38.5 - Buddy Bell
41.8 - Luis Tiant
55.0 - Sal Bando
32.4 - Don Newcombe (No integration credit)
50.1 - Brian Giles
52.6 - Kevin Appier
52.9 - Fred McGriff


The narrower range of fielding outcomes seems indicative in the favorable ranking of Clark, Colavito, Staub, and Rice versus Lofton, Bell, and Giles...or maybe this has more to do with the contextual value associated with the sluggers...something else?

Also Kiko, are your figures unadjusted or adjusted for season length (pre 1961 8 fewer games, strike seasons)?
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 18, 2015 at 10:21 PM (#4883676)
Also Kiko, are your figures unadjusted or adjusted for season length (pre 1961 8 fewer games, strike seasons)?


Bleed, I believe the numbers that you quote here in #12 and in #28 of the Ballot Discussion thread are NOT adjusted for season length. If you go to the page at my website where you put that together, though, adjusting for season length is an option ("Normalize seasons to _ games"). I believe this would be the same list adjusted for season length. Harrah bumps up slightly (because of the '81 strike) to 71.1 and pulls noticeably ahead of Edmonds (who bumps up to 70.3 because of the '94-'95 strike). These adjustments just blow up seasonal totals - there's no kind of "regression to the mean" within these seasons or anything.

I've been playing around with the weights here to get a set of numbers that I like for putting my ballot together. I'm hoping to post something in the Ballot Discussion thread in the next few days.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: January 18, 2015 at 11:01 PM (#4883691)

I like the open-minded process.

As others have noted, in the past year or two, even BBTF HOM voting has trended a little toward rote WAR rankings. That's not really where we started, and I still don't think we've progressed as far as we'd like to think. yet.
   15. Ardo Posted: January 28, 2015 at 02:32 AM (#4888935)
Many of these issues came up early in the project when we were discussing Larry Doyle. I wouldn't vote for either him or Harrah, but a reduction in the "defense penalty" for poor-fielding 2B/SS/3B really helps Jeff Kent's case.

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