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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Will Clark

Eligible in 2006.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2007 at 10:54 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 29, 2007 at 10:56 PM (#2550366)
I expect him to do a tad better in the HoM voting than he did with the BBWAA. :-)
   2. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: September 29, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2550429)
How many players have retired after a season of the quality of Clark's 2000? In 507 PA between the Rangers and the Cardinals, he put up a line of .319/.418/.546, 145 OPS+, including 197 PAs of .345/.426/.655 (168) down the stretch run for the Cards, which pretty much secured him as a fan-favorite that year.

I wonder what hanging around for a few more good-to-decent years would've done for his Hall chances. Not much, perhaps, since it seems to me the biggest reason for his underrating is that his peak is overshadowed by the 90s offensive explosion, but it's worth asking.
   3. Chris Cobb Posted: September 30, 2007 at 12:20 AM (#2550530)
Looks like he'll be #1 on my ballot in 2006.
   4. caprules Posted: September 30, 2007 at 12:29 AM (#2550546)
ESPN had an article a few years ago that talked about best last baseball seasons. IIRC, Tudor and Mantle were named as was Clark.
   5. CraigK Posted: September 30, 2007 at 12:48 AM (#2550589)
Hope he goes in; he'd be the first HoMer that owes my mother a case of beer.

(This all happened in the early 80's, I *think* after he finished at MSU and before he started with the Giants)
Long story short, my mother had a friend who was dating Will Clark. She invited her friend and Will over to her apartment. She and her friend went out the store for a little while. While she was gone, Will apparently helped himself to a six-pack in my mother's fridge because when she came back, the beer was gone.

Funny story, that's all; on topic, a 138 OPS+, four Top 5s in MVP votes, .300 average, 2000 hits, looks to be a lock, IMO.
   6. GregD Posted: September 30, 2007 at 01:10 AM (#2550631)
If he had hung around, would he have fared better in the HOF voting? If you add up the average career of his most-similar list through age 36, you get an extra 300 or so hits, which would help, but it's still easy to imagine the HOF overlooking him with 2450 or 2500 hits. I'm not sure it would have helped him at all. He was just one of those guys who was easily recognizable as very good but only visible as great if you paid close attention to his park and the impact of his "other" stats like 2Bs and BBs and so on. If he had hit 284 doubles and 440 HRs, he'd have made it on the first ballot, though.
   7. BDC Posted: September 30, 2007 at 02:05 AM (#2550679)
Clark's Texas years were interesting. He came in as the savior -- the guy who would finally bring intensity and veteran presence to a clubhouse that was high on talent and low on sealing the deal; kind of like Pete Rose in Philly. He came in, proved himself an irritating red###, annoyed writers, got a rap as a whiner and a bit of a malingerer when he was hurt, hit every bit as well as he could have been expected to, fielded very well, ran the infield like a martinet, kept everyone's nose to the grindstone, and the Rangers won two division titles, by which time everyone was sick of Clark and wanted nice polite Rafael Palmeiro back again.

Clark was a guy, like Rose, Hernandez, or Mattingly, who used first base as a bully pulpit to get the rest of his infield to play well together. There are many good-glove first basemen, including Teixeira, Palmeiro and Pete O'Brien among the Rangers I watched, who just don't take charge like that; they assume everyone is concentrating and doing his job. Clark didn't. His teams didn't always win -- infield concentration is not a decisive factor -- but they stayed focused.
   8. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 30, 2007 at 02:52 AM (#2550721)
Will Clark's pfs:

1986 95
1987 95
1988 96
1989 97
1990 96
1991 97
1992 94
1993 95
=========
1994 100
1995 98
1996 100
1997 105
1998 104
=========
1999 99
2000 95
=========
2000 100

In the 1989 playoffs, a lot was made of the battle of the young 1Bs: Clark v. Grace. This was the series where Clark famously threw across the diamond to snuff a rally.

Just a guess, but if he and Grace had been drafted by each others' organizations, putting Clark in Wrigley from 1986-1993, he might have a plaque in upstate NY. The swing between them was about 10 points of pf. Here's Wrigley's pfs from 1986-1993 alongside SF's.

YEAR CHC SFG 
I;FF (ROUNDED)
---------------------
1986 108 95   13%
1987 104 95 9%
1988 105 96 9%
1989 107 97   10
1990 107 96   11%
1991 105 97 8%  
1992 103 94   10%
1993 102 95 7%
=====================
MEAN 105.1  95.6 10


A 10% boost on his AVG and SLG would mean roughly the difference between .299/.499 avg/slg and .314/.523 in that period. OK, it might not be enough, if the rest of his career went the same, it's just another 60-65 hits and 8-10 HR, but on the other hand, it would mean more RBIs.

Let's look at his big 1989 in particular. The league was at 3.94 R/G in the midst of a minideadball era, and Candlestick played 3% worse than average, so 3.82 or so. Raise Clark up to a more normal 4.5 R/G environment and you're talking about an 18% increase to his offense. That would raise him from .333 avg/.526 SLG to .361/.592, zooming to 212 his and getting him to 40+ doubles and 25 HR. That's a nice signature season even if the HR seem low by today's standards. Clark finished 2nd (to Mitchell) in OPS, first in R (tied with hojo and ryno), second in hits, second in TB, third in doubles, third in triples (!), 10th in HR, third in RBIs, first by 31 BB, second in OPS+, first in RC (tie with Mitchell), fourth in xBH, first in TOB. And played a first-rate 1B, was 8 of 11 in steals and hit into only 6 GIDPs. Nice year.
   9. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:08 AM (#2550736)
A 10% change in run scoring does not correlate to a 10% change in AVG and SLG--more like 4-5%.
   10. DavidFoss Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:18 AM (#2550793)
ESPN had an article a few years ago that talked about best last baseball seasons. IIRC, Tudor and Mantle were named as was Clark.

This makes me think of Ted Williams. Everyone remembers the homer in the last at bat, but his rate stats for that whole season were superb (.316/.451/.645. OPS+ = 189)
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 30, 2007 at 04:24 AM (#2550801)
A 10% change in run scoring does not correlate to a 10% change in AVG and SLG--more like 4-5%.

That's correct. Didn't use 10% change in AVG/SLG. 314/299 = 1.05. Unclear wording on my part, though, so sorry for confusion.
   12. OCF Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:38 PM (#2551041)
Here's one of my last RCAA-related tables, for a collection of "bats." Keller and Kiner are elected, and McGriff won't be eligible for a while. The method is relatively insensitive to playing time, hence tends to overrate those who miss significant time during seasons (such as Jack Clark) and underrate those who are unusually durable in-season (such as Kiner).

Belle...  72 55 54 50 45 40 21 12  9  5  3 -1
J
Clark  76 58 49 44 43 37 34 33 31 25 25 19 14 11  2 ---4
W
Clark  99 81 68 55 47 37 36 35 26 26 20 19 14 10  2
Guerrero  69 64 59 56 53 34 32 18 14 13  2  2 
--2-12
Keller
..  75 68 65 54 48 47 22 20  7  6  3  1
Kiner
...  81 76 70 42 41 28 24 20 10  7
McGriff
.  60 52 50 45 42 38 38 37 28 25 20 18 16 12 11 10  3  0 -5
Strwbrry  60 56 50 45 40 40 30 29 20 19 11  7  6  6  2 
--


Will Clark seems to be the pick of this particular grouping.
   13. OCF Posted: September 30, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2551054)
Will Clark lost the 1989 MVP to his teammate, Kevin Mitchell. Hindsight says it should have gone the other way, but Mitchell was a good candidate - this isn't one of those travesty elections. There are three well-established BBWAA biases that factor into this: (1) RBI, (2) "protection" - that is, the presumption that Mitchell was partly responsible for Clark's performance by batting behind him and "giving him pitches to hit.", and (3) the bias in favor of a new story. Clark was already a well-established star; Mitchell had not previously shown that he could perform at this level.

My own personal tastes would be to turn #3 completely around - to recognize the established performer over the shooting star (who might be a fluke). And as for #2, one could just as plausibly give Clark credit for Mitchell's season.

In 1927, the rules for the voting for the AL League Award rendered previous winners, including Babe Ruth, ineligible. Hence the election of Lou Gehrig was no contest. However, had the election been conducted under modern MVP rules, biases 1, 2, and 3 would all have operated: Gehrig led the league in RBI; Gehrig batted behind and thus "protected" Ruth; and Gehrig, a third-year-player having a breakout year, was the new story. (Ruth had dominated the news for over a decade already.) And maybe Gehrig even deserved it anyway.
   14. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:11 PM (#2551128)
Will Clark lost the 1989 MVP to his teammate, Kevin Mitchell. Hindsight says it should have gone the other way, but Mitchell was a good candidate - this isn't one of those travesty elections.


At the time, I thought Mitchell should have received it, but I have changed my mind since then. But your point is still valid, OCF.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2551239)
Clark was a guy, like Rose, Hernandez, or Mattingly, who used first base as a bully pulpit to get the rest of his infield to play well together. There are many good-glove first basemen, including Teixeira, Palmeiro and Pete O'Brien among the Rangers I watched, who just don't take charge like that; they assume everyone is concentrating and doing his job. Clark didn't. His teams didn't always win -- infield concentration is not a decisive factor -- but they stayed focused.

Excellent observation. This was the most striking feature of Clark's play, even moreso than his picture-perfect swing. He kicked a$$ and took names while playing first base, and he did so, by the way, from the very get-go as a 22-year-old rookie in 1986. Like Rose, Hernandez, and Mattingly, Clark's style was a throwback to the Deadball era, when first base was a critically important defensive position, and the first baseman was very often the vocal captain of the infield.

hit every bit as well as he could have been expected to

This I disagree with. Clark in Texas most emphatically did not hit every bit as well as he could have been expected to. Indeed Clark's offensive drop-off from his 20s to his 30s (which actually began at the age of 29, in his final year in San Francisco) was one of the more dramatic cases in history. Clark's hitting in Texas was a tepid shadow of the way he'd hit most of the time in SF; the true magnitude of it is distinctly masked by the big shift in underlying offensive conditions.
   16. OCF Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:46 PM (#2551276)
Indeed Clark's offensive drop-off from his 20s to his 30s (which actually began at the age of 29, in his final year in San Francisco) was one of the more dramatic cases in history.

Some numbers behind this assertion, using the scale used in my post #12:

First seven years in San Francisco: 20, 47, 81, 99, 36, 68, 55 (That 1988-89 peak came very early in his career.)

Last year in SF: 14

Six years in the AL: 37, 26, 2, 19, 26, 10.

I've got his last, mixed-league year in 2000 estimated at 35, but have little confidence in that number.
   17. BDC Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:48 PM (#2551287)
Clark's offensive drop-off from his 20s to his 30s (which actually began at the age of 29, in his final year in San Francisco) was one of the more dramatic cases in history

Fair enough, Steve. I guess I had this (inaccurate) feeling that Clark was somewhat older than he actually was when he came to Texas -- he had been around so long already. But yes, taken in historical terms, Clark's career pattern looks somewhat like Joe Medwick's: awesome in his mid/late 20s, and then very much weaker (and much less durable) in his 30s ...
   18. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2007 at 05:55 PM (#2551340)
But yes, taken in historical terms, Clark's career pattern looks somewhat like Joe Medwick's: awesome in his mid/late 20s, and then very much weaker (and much less durable) in his 30s ...

It sure does. Other guys who come to mind are Vada Pinson and Johnny Callison.

When the Giants let Clark go as a free agent following the 1993 season, the local sports media was aghast at what a travesty this was. I disagreed, feeling that his huge power loss in '93 was a very bad sign.

I had a good buddy who was the local SABR chapter president, and the SF Chronicle drafted him to write an op-ed piece in the sports section making the case that the Giants were making the right decision in letting Clark walk. (One of their staff columnists took the hysterical sky-is-falling-because-he's-leaving side.) My buddy asked me for help, and I gave him precedents like Pinson and Callison (and I can't remember who else; I wish I'd thought of Medwick but I don't think I did).

Needless to say, we were proven very right.
   19. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 30, 2007 at 08:54 PM (#2552121)
I think one of Will's shortcomings--and this is nitpicking really--was that he was too good. The game came so easy to him that he didn't have to work out or hit the weights they way other players did. His famous line about working out in S.F. was that he's start lifting weights when they starting moving back the fences. It was a funny line until he turned 30 and those fences seemed awfully far away. One of the reasons we in the Bay Area loved watching him hit and play is because he made it look so easy--The Natural. The guy had Phil Mickelson's body but he was still great. Until... Keith Richards once said that if he'd been any better at playing guitar he wouldn't have been any good and Will's career is illustrative of that. But he still had a great career and I'm only analyzing why it fell a bit short of what we thought it would. It was a lot of fun watching him play. Probably only Rickey! was as much fun to watch if you were into Bay Area baseball in the 80's and early 90's.
   20. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2007 at 08:58 PM (#2552129)
Good point, Shooty. Clark was never overweight, but beyond that he never gave a crap about conditioning, and it absolutely came back to haunt him as he aged.
   21. Jeff K. Posted: September 30, 2007 at 09:09 PM (#2552141)
My all-time favorite player (ahead of the ever immortal Mike Stanley), and someone who was absolutely shafted by the BBWAA. I didn't expect him to get elected, and to be frank, I wouldn't have voted for him if I had the chance. But to be dropped after one ballot did such a dishonor to his career (if in fact such a thing can be done by HOF voting, but if it can grant honor, why can it not grant the reverse?) that I felt sickened. I only tangentially pay attention to what you guys have done here, so I have no real grasp on whether he's a fit for the HoM, though I have been paying attention to recent balloting and it seems he has a real chance.

Excellent observation. This was the most striking feature of Clark's play, even moreso than his picture-perfect swing. He kicked a$$ and took names while playing first base, and he did so, by the way, from the very get-go as a 22-year-old rookie in 1986.

Indeed, and one reason I was a fan of his long before he came to my favorite team (one of the best days of my baseball life.) You weren't going to out-game Will. A lot of people don't like that, and perhaps I wouldn't either if I had to play with him. But as an outside observer, his attitude was a reason to pull for him, not against him.
   22. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 30, 2007 at 09:11 PM (#2552142)
I didn't expect him to get elected, and to be frank, I wouldn't have voted for him if I had the chance. But to be dropped after one ballot did such a dishonor to his career (if in fact such a thing can be done by HOF voting, but if it can grant honor, why can it not grant the reverse?) that I felt sickened.


I've never understood this. If you wouldn't have voted for him, why would it bother you that others didn't as well?
   23. DCW3 Posted: September 30, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2552156)
How many players have retired after a season of the quality of Clark's 2000? In 507 PA between the Rangers and the Cardinals, he put up a line of .319/.418/.546, 145 OPS+, including 197 PAs of .345/.426/.655 (168) down the stretch run for the Cards, which pretty much secured him as a fan-favorite that year.

I don't think I've ever seen a player more locked-in at the plate than Clark in his first couple weeks with the Cardinals--or a fan base adopt a player more quickly.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: September 30, 2007 at 10:02 PM (#2552267)
There is a fundamental and illogical disconnect in the HOF voting dynamic.

I have a number of friends who have votes, and I have, shall we say, worked in the same field as them.
I also have a twin brother who is a CPA and an auditor, so suffice it to say that I am a "half-breed" of two fields that seem to have little overlap.

Professional writers nearly universally have a basic inability to grasp mathematics or even basic logic, in most cases.

So when they set up a system - "gain 5 pct of the votes on the first ballot, or you're eliminated" - they don't understand that it is bumping right up against an 'unofficial rule' - meaning, don't vote for a guy on the first ballot unless he is a sure Hall of Famer.

It's obvious to an outsider that the combination is a lethal one.
If we recognize the reality of the 'first ballot Hall of Famer' tradition (sensible or not doesn't even matter here), than anyone with numerical common sense would never set up a rule that sets eligibility based on inevitably-skewed first-year results.

The common-sense approach might be as simple as "If you don't gain 5 pct of the ballots within 3 (5, 7) years, you are eliminated."

In many respects, the writers have done a great job on voting of players. Nearly all of the terrible mistakes were by ex-players, managers, coaches, etc.
All they needed was a little modesty in realizing their logical shortcomings, and they'd be able to fix the 5 pct rule.

I might have an avenue to press this case, and I guess I really ought to try this offseason.....
   25. Jeff K. Posted: September 30, 2007 at 10:22 PM (#2552319)
I've never understood this. If you wouldn't have voted for him, why would it bother you that others didn't as well?

Because I wouldn't have voted for any number of people who do stay on the ballot, and I do not see how the voters can justify voting for those people and not voting for Clark.
   26. sunnyday2 Posted: October 01, 2007 at 12:33 AM (#2552390)
A clear #1 on my ballot.
   27. Rick A. Posted: October 01, 2007 at 12:43 AM (#2552399)
These are selected quotes from the Kirk Ginson thread. There's some discussion about Will Clark, the 1988 MVP voting and Win Shares there.


2. OCF Posted: June 25, 2007 at 03:05 PM (#2416839)

So what do people think about his 1988 MVP? Here's the voting:

Gibson 272 with 13 1st place
Strawberry 236 with 7 1st place
McReynolds 162 with 4 1st place (McReynolds ahead of Strawberry?)
Van Slyke 160
W. Clark 135
Hershiser 111
Galarraga 105

22. DavidFoss Posted: June 26, 2007 at 11:40 AM (#2418340)

Win Shares gives the NL MVP to Will Clark (37 WS) in 1988 by a comfortable margin, but it has Gibson tied with Bonilla & McReynolds for second with 31 WS, Strawberry in 5th with 30.

Its one of those MVP votes that sticks out because the numbers don't look gaudy, but on closer look it doesn't look so bad. Not a lot of standout years that season.

25. Alex Gordon's #1 Fan Posted: June 26, 2007 at 12:26 PM (#2418395)

So what do people think about his 1988 MVP? Here's the voting:

Yikes, no one hit better than .313 that year? Only Straw hit more than 30 homers? Did they raise the mound that year?

I remember Gibby's one year with KC. I think he felt he had something to prove after getting let go by the Dodgers. He got off to a terrific start, and was among league leaders in several offensive categories in April. He then went on a 5-40 slump that brought his average down to the Mendoza line. I remember him being pretty awful in the field and he almost cost Bret Saberhagen a no-hitter that year. I also remember him hitting a ball over the entire right field seats onto the concourse.

Then we dealt him to Pittsburgh for Neal Heaton to make room for.....Kevin McReynolds. Blech.
26. JPWF13 Posted: June 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM (#2418421)

Did they raise the mound that year?


No they expanded the strike zone.

In 1987 the NL went .261/.328/.404 and the AL went .265/.333/.425 it was the most offensive year in literally decades

They then expanded the strike zone- which pre season led to a great quote from BJ- "giving Danny Jackson a high strike is like giving a Grizzly bear the first swat".

In 1988 the NL went .248/.310/.363 and the AL went .259/.324/.391 (and Danny Jackson went 23-8 2.73 in 261 IP and hurt his arm...)

In hindsight 1988-1992 looks like an artificial lull in offensive levels- from 1984-1987 Baseball was clearly trending towards mroe offense and home runs- MLB put tey brakes on with a 1987/88 rule change.
27. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 26, 2007 at 02:22 PM (#2418511)

Win Shares has a strange Will Clark fetish. I'd be interested if a WS expert could explain what exactly makes it so high on him. Did those Giants outperform their Pythagorean records or component stats? Why didn't Kevin Mitchell benefit to the same degree, then?

28. DavidFoss Posted: June 26, 2007 at 02:38 PM (#2418529)

Did those Giants outperform their Pythagorean records or component stats?

That was the first thing I checked. They underperformed by 3 games that year. In season durability is one issue (with WS's low baseline). Lack of positional adjustment and the small contribution to fielding probably helps Clark, too.
29. JPWF13 Posted: June 26, 2007 at 02:53 PM (#2418537)

Win Shares has a strange Will Clark fetish.


Seems like it
The 1988 Giants won 86 Games
that's 258 win shares to go around
Team OPS+ was 108, ERA+ was 97
Offense gets 55%? (pitching 45, ignoring Dee for the moment)

The team scored 670 runs (637 runs created)
Will the Thrill had 113 runs created or 17.7% of the Giant's offense that year.
If the Giant's offense was assigned 142 winshares (55% of 258) and Will gets 17.7% then that's 25...
He did hit .316/.457/.620 with RISP and I think WS adjusts RC for that- but he also hit .251/.358/.398 when the game was tied...

seriously, unless BJ is going to divulge ALL his formulas his WS marks for Clark are pretty inexplicable

30. Alex Gordon's #1 Fan Posted: June 26, 2007 at 03:12 PM (#2418548)

Win Shares does favor "thrill" quite heavily.
31. Chris Cobb Posted: June 26, 2007 at 03:36 PM (#2418573)

seriously, unless BJ is going to divulge ALL his formulas his WS marks for Clark are pretty inexplicable

??

All the formulas are in print in the win shares books -- your estimtes are off because you are not using the formulas correctly.

For batting win shares, a player gets a percentage of the team batting win shares equal to his share of team runs created _above the background runs_, not of total team runs created.

Following the win share book, the 1988 SF Giants won 83 games, for 249 win shares to go around.

Hitters were assigned 138.3 win shares, or 55.5% of total. So far, so good.

Now, Clark had 113 runs created out of 637 team runs created.

Background runs created = Outs X league avg. runs/out X park factor X .52

For Clark that is

31 = 433 X .14346 X .96 X .52

For the Giants as a team that is

316 = 4413 X .14346 X .96 X .52

Clark's bating win shares are thus

((113-31)/(637-316))*138.3 = 35.3

Win shares actually assigned Clark 34.3 bws for 1988, so some of the numbers I've used must be a little bit off, but it's clear that the printed results correspond to the printed formulas.

It's questionable that batting win shares are the best measure of Clark's offensive value for that season, but there's nothing inexplicable about where those numbers come from.
32. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: June 26, 2007 at 03:59 PM (#2418601)

James specifically talks about Clark (esp the 1989 season) in one of the book's miniessays. The gist goes like this (working form memory, don't have it at my work):
-the park adjustment helps him a little
-avoiding DPs helps him a little
-good SB rates (even on small amounts of steals) helps him a little
-good defense helps him a little
-good with RISP helps him a little

Add up the littles and you get a lot.

That was my recollection of his explanation of Clark.
33. JPWF13 Posted: June 26, 2007 at 04:17 PM (#2418621)

Background runs created = Outs X league avg. runs/out X park factor X .52



So essentially since the Giants created so few runs, subtracting "background runs"* gives Clark a disproportionately large of their offense (25.5%).

The Giants created 637 runs with 4413 outs (Will Clark created 113 with 433)
If Will Clark were replaced by a "background" hitter (ie: 31 runs in 433 outs)**
The Giants would have created only 555 runs and their pythag would be 75-87 rather than 86-76
11 wins (11 * 3 = 33)...***

*BJ doesn't like the phrase "replacement level"?

** 31 runs in 433 outs? Even in 1988 there was no team that would play a 1B that BAD. The worst 1B in the league that year was Moreland- 52 RC in 411 outs - equal to 55 in 433 outs (next worse was Stubbs with 57 per 433 outs) Both played in parks with similar park factors to SF.
Without the Thrill the Giants wouldn't have scored worse than 575 runs - a Pythag of 78-84 (8 wins short, 8*3 =24) I know James deliberately set his baseline low, but in this case it acts to really boost the Thrill's offensive winshares a bit too high

*** so if WS has a replacement level built in why did THT feel the need to calculate a Winshares above bench stat? Because James' "baseline" is way way too low...
34. JPWF13 Posted: June 26, 2007 at 04:30 PM (#2418636)

Add up the littles and you get a lot.

That was my recollection of his explanation of Clark.


My favorite was his explanation for why Kevin Seitzer in 1987 was a better HITTER than Mark McGwire 1987. Why? Because Seitzer had a better offensive winning percentage ("OWP").
Seitzer hit .323/.399/.470 in a slight hitter's park
McGwire hit .289/.370/.618 in a pitcher's park - how could Seitzer have a higher OWP?

What was OWP? OWP was defined as what the winning percentage would be if you took an entire team full of one player combined with average defense and pitching.
However, OWP in practice didn't do that- James took a shortcut, rather than figure out park factors and adjust either his league baseline or the batter's production he simpy took the aggregate r/g figure for the player's team- so Seitzer got the benefit of KC's 118 ERA+ staff and KC's 93 OPS+ offense and McGwire got the disadvantage of Oakland's 95 ERA+ staff and Oakland's 107 ops+. (in other words the context for Mcgwire was not "average" it was inflated because Oakland had good hitting and poor pitching, Seitzer's context was absurdly low for the same reason).

OWP was a great idea, but James' execution was poor and he eventually abandoned it-
It's something that drives me (and others I've noticed) nuts, he'll have a great idea work on it, declare it finished, abandon it and then when anyone who tries to tweak his ideas/formulas - he claims it's all a waste of time, let's move on etc etc...
35. Chris Cobb Posted: June 26, 2007 at 05:42 PM (#2418683)

JPWF13: Nice practical explication of the problem with the WS "background runs" baseline!
36. Joe Dimino Posted: June 26, 2007 at 09:36 PM (#2418998)

JPWF13 - what are you talking about in post 34?

OWP had nothing to do with the team's pitchers. Can you please provide a source (like a page number from an Abstract or something) for your accusation? Maybe I'm forgetting something he wrote?
37. Cblau Posted: June 26, 2007 at 10:48 PM (#2419220)

According to Player Win Averages, the MVP probably should have been Eric Davis. Player Win Averages
38. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: June 27, 2007 at 12:46 AM (#2419357)

Because James' "baseline" is way way too low...

It's only too low if you want it to do something it's not supposed to do. It works extremely well to do what it's supposed to do. My buddies at THT created WSAB because they want to use Win Shares to do something it wasn't designed to do.

The fundamental thing to remember about win shares is that if you want to use the concept of "replacement level" in *any* way, you should use something else. As I put it last week to a friend, win shares are about accounting, not economics.

41. Mike Green Posted: June 27, 2007 at 10:01 AM (#2419562)

This will come up when it's time to discuss Will Clark, but it was not only Win Shares that liked Will Clark's defence during the period 1988-90. BP's metrics also did.

Taking a macro look at the SF run prevention ledger in 1989, it is easy to see why. The club led the league in DER at .725, and trailed the league in walks and strikeouts so had many balls in play. The outfield of Kevin Mitchell, Brett Butler and Candy Maldonado was unlikely to be anywhere more than a little above average overall. The infield of Riles, Uribe, Thompson and Clark probably contributed quite significantly to the overall ledger. There is room for debate about how much the first baseman actually contributes to the success of the inner defence in fielding range and receiving, but if any first baseman could be responsible for saving a significant number of runs in a season, Clark's 1989 would be one of the top likely candidates.
   28. Rick A. Posted: October 01, 2007 at 12:43 AM (#2552400)
continued

42. JPWF13 Posted: June 27, 2007 at 10:08 AM (#2419567)

OWP had nothing to do with the team's pitchers. Can you please provide a source (like a page number from an Abstract or something) for your accusation? Maybe I'm forgetting something he wrote?


I have it at home
it was the 1988 Abstract- he had an article arguing that Seitzer was a better hitter than McGwire- because Seitzer's OWP was higher- if you look at an earlier abstract whrre he explains how he calculates OWP you realize the mistake he made - he developed RC then came up with RC/27 outs which he referred to as a ERA for batters
THEN he developed a pythag based upon that RC/27outs- but he did not use the league r/g figures, he used the r/g figures for that player's TEAM- which he even admitted was a short cut method of adjusting for parks

so Seitzer played for a team that gave up few runs and scored few, (let's say 4 and 4) so seitzers rc/27 was pythaged against a baseline of 4r/g
McGwire played for a team that scored 5 and gave up 5, so he was pythaged agaisnt a baseline of 5 runs/g (he didn't call it baseline- he called it "context")

so if Seitzer's RC/g was 7, his OWP would be .754 (7/4), if McGwire's RC/g was 8, his OWP would be lower at .719 (8/5)
43. JPWF13 Posted: June 27, 2007 at 10:10 AM (#2419569)

OWP had nothing to do with the team's pitchers.


It wasn't SUPPOSED to, but the way he actually calculated it, it did, as well as one's hitting teammates as well.
44. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 27, 2007 at 11:40 AM (#2419661)

Clark's defense in 1989 was indeed stellar--Chris Dial's Zone Rating data has it at +10, putting it in a tie (with many others) for the 18th-best defensive season by a 1B since 1987. But here we're talking aboug 1988, which was only average by Zone Rating.

Note that WS wasn't actually that gaga about Clark's defense--he was consistently between 2.3 and 2.9 WS from 1988-91, slightly above average but not the stuff of which Gold Gloves are made. It's his batting WS that are batty. He had 41.1 batting WS in 1989, 5.7 more than his teammate (and league MVP) Kevin Mitchell. In fact, their offense was about equally valuable that year (at least according to my measure--Mitchell had 0.2 more offensive wins above average, but Clark had 35 more PA which makes up the difference relative to replacement level), and BP has Mitchell with 5 more BRAR than Clark. Since they were teammates, it can't be some funky team Pythagorean outperformance factor...what in God's name is going on here?

Clark was a nudge more valuable than Mitchell in 1989, but it was because of his fielding, not his hitting.

45. Mike Green Posted: June 27, 2007 at 12:05 PM (#2419698)

Sorry, DanR. For 1988, Clark's defence may also have been above average, as BP has it. The team DER was significantly above average, with the even less impressive Kevin Mitchell at third. Zone Rating does not, as I understand it, attempt to apportion the success of the infield in turning ground balls into outs among the fielder and the first baseman. With Uribe and Mitchell on the left side of the diamond, that's a relevant factor. I seem to remember Clark making a fair number of swipe tags; I am sure that Steve Treder can supply names, dates and licence numbers with respect to all the events!

47. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 27, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2419856)

BP FRAA includes scooping? News to me...I thought we had no way to measure scooping. (infield errors are part of Fielding WS for 1B, but only like 10%, and Fielding WS for 1B are in such a compressed range anyway that it doesn't matter).
48. jimd Posted: June 27, 2007 at 03:08 PM (#2419961)

It wasn't SUPPOSED to, but the way he actually calculated it, it did, as well as one's hitting teammates as well.

James used the same technique in the first Historical Abstract. I remember noting at the time that it was flawed, though it was better than not attempting any park adjustment. Lacking park adjustments for all teams in all years, he adjusted the batting records dependent on team scoring context. However, that can't tell the difference between an average team playing in a 110 park, and a neutral park team which scored 10% more runs on offense while giving up 10% more runs on defense. It's better than doing nothing because the former is more common than the latter.
49. Paul Wendt Posted: June 27, 2007 at 03:26 PM (#2419978)

WS wasn't actually that gaga about Clark's defense--he was consistently between 2.3 and 2.9 WS from 1988-91, slightly above average but not the stuff of which Gold Gloves are made. It's his batting WS that are batty. ...what in God's name is going on here?

batting well when it counts more than average.
in a word, clutchhitting.

50. Mike Green Posted: June 27, 2007 at 03:26 PM (#2419979)

DanR, BP does not, as far as I know, publish any description of how FRAA is calculated. What I said is that BP has Clark as an above average defensive first baseman in 1988 (as he was consistently throughout his early career). That conceivably could be consistent with an average Zone Rating.

Infield errors are, of course, a weak proxy for a first baseman's receiving efficiency.
51. Paul Wendt Posted: June 28, 2007 at 10:18 AM (#2420931)

Bill James on Will Clark 1989
The "mini-essay" is Win Shares page 213.
Eric's above description may be better than mine because he does not emphasize the clutchhitting effects here, merely lists them among many adjustments that add up to boosting Will Clark 1989 to the best batter-runner season of the 1980s. Of course some of the adjustments are included in every sabrmetric measure so they have no comparative weight.

The park factor BJ used is .9110. The two credits for clutchhitting amount to 11 runs, 8 for batting .389 with runners in scoring position and 3 for hitting 13 of 23 home runs with runners on base. Two other credits not included in every measure are for low GIDP and good (8 for 11) base stealing success; the mini-essay doesn't give run value for these two.

52. JPWF13 Posted: June 28, 2007 at 10:30 AM (#2420940)

The park factor BJ used is .9110.


FWIW BBREF gives San Fran a 97 for that year (96 for '88 and 96 for '90)

Actually looking at SF's home/road numbers
I get raw single season park factors:
1988: .867
1989: .9221
1990: 1.015

Seems a bit odd... According to Ballparks.com there were no changes in dimensions or anything at that time... weather?
53. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 28, 2007 at 11:49 AM (#2421033)

Well, there ya go. .911 is really low, BB-ref has '89 SF at 97 (guess that's the three year average). GIDP and basestealing I account for, but sure, if you give him 11 runs for clutch hitting then it's a totally different equation--11 runs is what 1.3/1.4 wins in the 1989 NL run environment?
54. Eric Chalek (Dr. Chaleeko) Posted: June 28, 2007 at 04:37 PM (#2421492)

James is using a weighted five-year park factor (or am I thinking of park-run adjustment?), if I remember off the top of my head, that's weighted most heavily to the current year (obviously, I suppose).

I'm not crazy about the clutch stuff, myself, so Clark could be puffy. On the other hand, an interesting coincidence is that those 11 runs is about exactly the difference between Clark's WARP1 and Gibson's/Hershiser's!
55. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 28, 2007 at 04:46 PM (#2421499)

I actually agree with both the clutch aspect of WS and their handling of park effects.
56. Paul Wendt Posted: June 28, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2421500)

OK. I scribbled that pretty quickly last night, posted it this morning.
Someone check for transcription error.

Chris Cobb #31 is right, I believe.
>>??
All the formulas are in print in the win shares books -- your estimates are off because you are not using the formulas correctly.<<
But I won't have time to check the detail explanation of the park factor myself.
57. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: June 29, 2007 at 03:49 PM (#2422562)

OWP had nothing to do with the team's pitchers. Can you please provide a source (like a page number from an Abstract or something) for your accusation? Maybe I'm forgetting something he wrote?

JPFW13 referenced this above, but for a period there James made the "opponent" in the Pythagorean to calculate OWP the average runs scored per game for the player's team and opponents. So if a guy had 8.00 RC/27, and his team scored 4.50 and allowed 4.50, it would be (8^2)/(8^2+4.25^2).
58. Devin McCullen took one in the thigh Posted: June 30, 2007 at 10:59 PM (#2424960)

I'm not an expert in park factors, but looking at the Win Shares book, he converts the "park factor" to the "park run adjustment". Doing the math on that, the 89 Giants park run adjustment is .959545. That's the number that gets used when he's converting Runs Created into Batting Win Shares. How that compares to a BBREF Park Factor I could not tell you.
59. Paul Wendt Posted: July 01, 2007 at 10:16 AM (#2425096)

The adjustment must account for (a) that the team plays ~1/2 of its games at home; (b) that the team would play 1/n of its games at home under a league-average-park schedule. For NL 1989, n=12.

Interleague play complicates the theory. So do the Divisions: NL teams have not played 1/n of its away games in each of the other parks since 1969, but most sabrmetricians use 1/n even today.
During the 12-team era (1969-93), by good fortune for sabrmetricians and analysts the two high-scoring ballparks Atlanta and Chicago were split between East and West. The cookie cutters were split Cincinnati in the West and SL-Pit-Phi in the East, which is better than zero-four.

I suppose that park factors in the Western Division were a bit less than 100 during the era, and Eastern ones a bit greater; if so, Western pitchers and Eastern batters are slightly overrated by the standard use of park factors. Maybe it adds up. With Dave Winfield on the board, a practical illustration would be the bias in measured "wins" during over his eight seasons in San Diego. Or since Winfield is a cinch, Will Clark pre-1993.
60. Paul Wendt Posted: July 01, 2007 at 10:22 AM (#2425101)

"the standard use of park factors."
Each team played 45 games at the five other in-division parks (9 each) and 36 games at the six other-division parks (6 each), a detail ignored by accounting merely for 81 games at the eleven other parks (7.36 each).
   29. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2007 at 02:18 PM (#2552740)
He's going to make my ballot but not in an elect-me position. DanR's numbers have him as the best 1B available, lots better than Norm Cash. However, Bob Johnson, Graig Nettles and Reggie Smith rate as equal or better.

Player BWAA2 BRWAA2 FWAA WARP2
WillClark _50.2_ _1.2_ _2.3_ _58.8_
NrmCash _47.3_ _-1.5_ _6.5_ _54.6_
BJohnson _51.9_ _0.4_ _2.5_ _65.4_ (2 years extra credit)
GrNettles _18.7_ _-0.3_ _14.9_ _60.8_
RegSmith _46.7_ _0.1_ _3.2_ _60.6_ (1 year Japan credit)

The data shows Will Clark as an above average fielder, but not a great one.
   30. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 01, 2007 at 04:56 PM (#2553031)
DL from MN, you've got to dock Bob Johnson for the wartime competition! The wartime AL actually had a *low* standard deviation because it lost nearly all its superstars, Williams DiMaggio Greenberg etc., so my WARP2 don't penalize it nearly enough. You have to knock off at least 4 wins from his '43-'45, which includes removing his only real peak year. Furthermore, you have to make *some* allowance for the fact that so many of the best players of his day were in the Negro Leagues--how many BWAA would he have had if the league average offense had been pulled up by Josh Gibson and he had had to face Satchel Paige? Johnson seems to me substantially inferior to Smith and Nettles on career and to Clark on peak. He's probably better than Cash, though.
   31. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2007 at 05:35 PM (#2553121)
If I subtract 4 wins (and assume they're all coming from batting wins) then Bob Johnson goes to:

BJohnson _47.9_ _0.4_ _2.5_ _61.4_

He's still in the same neighborhood as Reggie and Thrill and Nettles.

I agree that I've gotten too generous with Bob Johnson, I'll knock off one extra credit year in lieu of a war discount. I will note that between war discounting and not giving sufficient war credit we've underrepresented war era players as a group.
   32. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 01, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2553138)
DL from MN, I agree that Smith's and Johnson's MLB careers were similarly valuable. As far as I see it, the war discount almost perfectly cancels out Johnson's minor league credit altogether because it takes away his peak year, while Smith gets no deductions and Japan credit, putting him ahead. Then discounting Johnson for segregation opens up a fairly big gap between the two. But if you are a career voter and don't think that ML players would have accumulated less value if they had had to compete against black players, then I can see the logic of your position. I'd just add that I don't think it's right to give extra support to 40s players just because some voters (bafflingly) don't give war credit; it sounds like strategic voting to me.

I am really glad that you have found my research useful, DL from MN.
   33. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2007 at 06:23 PM (#2553196)
Taking to ballot discussion...
   34. sunnyday2 Posted: October 01, 2007 at 06:37 PM (#2553232)
>I agree that I've gotten too generous with Bob Johnson, I'll knock off one extra credit year in lieu of a war discount. I will note that between war discounting and not giving sufficient war credit we've underrepresented war era players as a group.

Absolutely and Bob Johnson is not the answer to that question.
   35. Daryn Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:27 AM (#2557127)
Am I the only one that sees a lot of similarities between Clark and Delgado, with Delgado looking slightly better? Same OPS+, twice led the league in runs created, three (Delgado) and four (Clark) MVP type seasons, similar ink scores, both had 5 150 OPS seasons, Delgado with better counting stats in about a season's worth less play.

I don't say this to knock Clark, because I think Delgado is near the end of a Hall of Fame career, but most people don't think of Delgado that way.
   36. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 03, 2007 at 04:48 AM (#2557176)
Similar quality as hitters, but defense and baserunning *very* strongly favor Clark. Plus Delgado already appears to have hit his decline phase and he still has some catching up to do on career offensive value--I don't think he'll make it.
   37. DavidFoss Posted: October 03, 2007 at 05:31 AM (#2557205)
I don't necessarily see the war years as being underrepresented. From Howie's histograms (#69 on the 2005 discussion), 1940-42 have 44/43/39 which is well-represented and 1946-48 have 34/34/34 is decent representation (about the same as the 1960s). The biggest dip is from 1949-55, and Howie notes that there are no close candidates from this era (1948-64 is "done").
   38. ronw Posted: October 03, 2007 at 05:48 AM (#2557208)
I agree, Delgado and Clark are very similar. One more year at 110 OPS+ might equate them offensively.

Ironically, both Delgado and Clark may also be downgraded because of comparisons to contemporaries with "other issues" Clark to Palmeiro and Delgado to Giambi. Looking at the stats alone, I think Palmeiro ranks above Clark, and Giambi above Delgado.
   39. sunnyday2 Posted: October 03, 2007 at 12:49 PM (#2557296)
The big dip in '49-'55 is troublesome but it's not just about the war. It also has to do with the uneven pace of integration. We look at the record and we *think* that black players like Newcombe and E. Howard had normal ML careers, but they didn't. They were held back just as surely as Josh Gibson was held back. Not to the same degree but just as surely.
   40. jimd Posted: October 03, 2007 at 06:22 PM (#2557864)
Similar quality as hitters, but defense and baserunning *very* strongly favor Clark.

Win Shares is very forgiving about fielding issues for 1B and may see the two as very close. WARP is less so. After a quick eyeball of Delgado's WARP record, I don't think he's particularly close to making my ballot; Delgado is Clark-lite. His peak isn't as high as Clark's (Clark has 3 years better than Delgado's best), his prime not as strong because of the relative lack of peak, and his career is considerably less valuable at this point. It appears like a clear miss.

OTOH, Clark looks like he'll probably make my ballot in the 3-5 range. (Though, I haven't done Belle yet.)
   41. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 07:02 PM (#2557929)
I'm probably going to have Clark in the middle of my ballot, FWIW.
   42. deputydrew Posted: October 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM (#2571292)
I'm about as big a Will Clark fan as you'll find. In fact, I've put up a website showing a few thousand of his baseball cards. I'm not sure if anyone here cares, but I thought I'd put it out there.

www.thrill22.com

I hope you enjoy it.

(I'm not sure how to post links here, so you'll have to copy and paste...sorry.)

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