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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Willie Davis

Eligible in 1982.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 23, 2006 at 10:16 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 23, 2006 at 10:19 PM (#2108850)
Looks like a perpetual backlogger, but he was a lot better than most people gave him credit for.
   2. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 12:19 AM (#2109018)
Maybe our first foray into Japanese baseball, if I am remembering correctly?

Does anyone have a stats line for him for 1977-78?
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:44 AM (#2109262)
I don't know how to format, but here are Davis' Japanese stats:

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB Sac SF K BB IBB HBP SB CS GIDP AVG OBP SLG
1977 72 302 288 47 88 13 2 25 63 180 1 1 18 10 1 2 10 3 6 .306 .332 .625
1978 127 532 509 67 149 21 4 18 69 232 0 6 24 12 2 5 12 3 6 .293 .312 .456
Totals 199 834 797 114 237 34 6 43 132 412 1 7 42 22 3 7 22 6 12 .297 .319 .517
   4. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:46 AM (#2109264)
Here's the link, if anyone can't read the stat lines:

Willie Davis NPB stats
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 24, 2006 at 05:39 PM (#2109751)
I think that Clay Davenport has written at some point that the Japanese leagues are, in the last ten years, about 93-95% QoP compared to the majors. If I am correctly remembering this, then his BA/SLG would be

at 93%
1977 .284/.541
1978 .272/.394

at 95%
1977 .291/.564
1978 .278/.411

I think the Japanese leagues also played a 130 game schedule, but I'm not sure. If so, he'd obviously see a little boost in the counting stats.

IMO his Japanese stats might push him up to the top 30 CFs ever, but not enough to get near a ballot.
   6. Chris Cobb Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#2109780)
Are league stats available for the Japanese Leagues? We could do a better job of assessing Davis if we could get OPS+ . . .

Unless there is good information to the contrary, I would assume that the JaL were somewhat lower in quality in the 1970s than in the 1990s: a 88-90% translation rather than 93-95% seems appropriate to me.

Davis was around a major-league average player in 1976: his 1977 performance in Japan certainly suggests that he had another year in him of about that quality. 1978 seems to be a significant decline, consistent with his being a replacement-level player in 1979 when he returned to the U.S.

Without having access to league-wide data, doing full translations, or identifying major-league comps to assign win shares, I'm inclined to give Davis 20-22 win shares for his Japanese play: 10-12 for 1977 (reduced from an average season for playing time) and 8-10 for 1978 (reduced from an average season due to decline in quality).

Does that sound reasonable?

If, when I do a full study of him, that additional credit would be enough to get him into borderline territory, I would do a more exacting translation, but if he's still clearly below the in-out line, it probably wouldn't be worth the trouble.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 24, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2109833)
Are league stats available for the Japanese Leagues? We could do a better job of assessing Davis if we could get OPS+ . . .

Davis played his two seasons in Japan with different teams, in different leagues. He played for Chunichi Dragons in the Central League in 1977, and then for Crown Lighter Lions in the Pacific League in 1978. Here are the team stats for those leagues (they're not totalled, but a few minutes with a spreadsheet would provide league stats):

http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com/pennantrace1977CL.html

http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com/pennantrace1978PL.html
   8. Trevor P. Posted: July 24, 2006 at 07:45 PM (#2109920)
Is there a line in the constitution saying it's mandatory to count Japanese league stats? Or is it optional?
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: July 24, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2110067)
Is there a line in the constitution saying it's mandatory to count Japanese league stats? Or is it optional?

that's a joe/john question, but...

since Davis played in MLB in 1979, I'd say that there's every reason to count them. I think the constitution would exhort you to take the question of whether to count them or not very seriously since it's not entirely certain at this juncture WHY Davis went eastward. If he did so because he was washed up and needed a lower quality league to maintain his career, that would be one thing, but his 1975 and 1976 seasons check in at 100 and 97 by OPS+, which while not optimal, isn't the kind of tail-end of career that screams washed up.

In 1977, Davis's Japanese League had 29538 PA, 26051 ABs, 7053 hits, 11056 TB, 2485 BB, 559 SH, 178 SF, 264 HPB per the link above.

League averages .271/.332/.424
Willie's averages .306/.332/.625 = 113 AVG+/100 OBP+/147 SLG+/147 OPS+

For 1978: 28894 PA, 26007 AB, 6890 H, 10264 TB, 1876 BB, 452 SH, 230 SF, 328 HPB

League averages .265/.313/.395
Willie's averages .293/.312/.456 = 111 AVG+/100 OBP+/115 SLG+/115 OPS+

Turns out both are 130 game seasons.

I don't know if the Japanese Leagues used the DH in those years or not. So two work ups for Davis that translate his performance into the NL or AL depending on the DH status, using .88 as Chris suggested above.


1977 non DH league: .260/.285/.449 in 90 games, 324 AB, 101 OPS+.

1978 non DH league: .247/.270/.331 in 158 games, 572 AB, 73 OPS+

1977 DH league: .264/.289/.460, 104 OPS+

1978 DH league: .254/.271/.342, 77 OPS+

These are not bona fida 100% Dr. Chaleeko translations, but just about. I'm still playing around a bit with the walks/OBP stuff a bit and will iron it out as we go along with Japanese guys.

Anyway, a rough translation sees Davis as continuing on the path his U.S. stats show him on. He's at the league average, then declines in 1978 to very same depth he reaches in 1979 in a half year.

Now if you plug in his translated OPS+ into the documented ones you get this for his last five seasons:

104
100
97
101
73
71

I can only hope that all Japanese translations hit the mark this closely. More to Trevor's point, I think it represents evidence that Davis' career was not over and that the two years bewteen his 1976 and 1979 stateside years should probably be looked at very carefully.
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: July 24, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2110179)
As a peak voter, Willie's Japanese numbers aren't going to make any difference to me. I agree with Doc, he is well short of the ballot.

But much better than most people would probably give him credit for. There are lots and lots of "great" players not getting votes. Willie is another.
   11. schuey Posted: July 24, 2006 at 10:55 PM (#2110214)
Anytime I hear Willie Davis's name, my first thought is "3 errors in Sandy Koufax's last game" which is unfair. He was a very good player. Has anyone out there ever seen any film of them (1966 World Series Game 2)? I never have, the years of day baseball and in those days (junior high, not the "middle school" name they use now) I never thought to watch local news. Were his errors understandable (bad sun) or just bad plays (2 on flyballs, one on a throw)? Of course Jim Palmer did pitch a shutout that day too.
   12. OCF Posted: July 24, 2006 at 11:06 PM (#2110225)
One thing that people said at the time - they said that Davis was the fastest player in baseball. They made a point of saying that because he was a teammate of Wills - he was faster than Wills, faster than Brock. It's not clear to me what evidence that was ever based on.

Two of the places you'd look for that speed in his statistical record would be range factor in CF and triples. Both are subject to park effects. In particular, Dodger Stadium has a relatively small amount of area in CF, cutting down on both CF range and on triples.

In the NBJHBA, James does a translation of Davis's statistics to another time and place.
   13. KJOK Posted: July 25, 2006 at 05:49 AM (#2111216)
Davis played 2,237 games in CF. That's A LOT!

And I have a Japanese Translation Method in place. Just need to plug Davis' numbers in...
   14. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: July 25, 2006 at 06:01 AM (#2111222)
What are our rulings with Japanese numbers? If we aren't going to include Sadaharu Oh and company, why include Willie Davis or, down the line, a guy liek Cecil Feidler's numbers? At the same time Davis and Fielder have had very significant MLB career and their japanese stats aren't different than Cuban Winter League or Mexican League stats in this context.

I have no problem with including Davis' Japanese stats but I am not all for doing Oh's. So what is the cut-off? 6 years in MLB? 10 years? A majority? Where would Ichiro, Matsui, etc. go? Of course by the time we are voting on Ichiro and Matsui (assuming we are still doing this project and I hope we are) we may have already done a comb over of the japanese leagues and may have everything figured out.
   15. Sean Gilman Posted: July 25, 2006 at 08:38 AM (#2111241)
The consensus decision on the Japanese Leagues, which I won't even pretend to understand, was that they are only relevant if the player ever played in the US. So Davis, Fielder, Ichiro!: yes; Oh: no.
   16. sunnyday2 Posted: July 25, 2006 at 11:16 AM (#2111254)
>The consensus decision on the Japanese Leagues, which I won't even pretend to understand, was that they are only relevant if the player ever played in the US. So Davis, Fielder, Ichiro!: yes; Oh: no.

And this is consistent with what we did with the Carribean leagues.
   17. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 02:25 PM (#2111396)
He played for Chunichi in 1977 and Crown Lighter in 1978.

In BP 2006, the park factors for Chunichi were reported as 945, 945 and 937 for 2003-2005. Anyone have any idea if it was such a severe pitcher's park in the late 70s too?

As for Crown Lighter, they became Seibu the next year, a team which is still around -- this according to baseballreference.com. At the Seibu official web site there appears to be no "history" section, though I must admit my head was spinning trying to navigate it. In a Google search I learned that the Crown Lighter Lions played in Kyushu, in southwestern Japan. Couldn't find any park data on Kyushu.
   18. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 02:33 PM (#2111404)
I don't know my Japanese provinces from my cities, from my ***, from a hole in the ground. :) But it appears that Kyushu is a province or region, and Fukuoka is the biggest city in Kyushu. Baseballreference.com shows that the Crown Lighter Lions were owned by the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation, so perhaps the Lions played in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka has a current team, with park factors reported in BP 2006 as 950, 953, and 952. Of course I have no way of knowing if they are playing in the same ballpark (probably not), and even if they are, it's been almost 30 years. But it has been fun looking this stuff up.

P.S. I believe Fukuoka was a common phrase hurled by Expos', Nationals' and Brewers' fans when a certain player was not having a good outing. :)
   19. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#2111415)
I think that Clay Davenport has written at some point that the Japanese leagues are, in the last ten years, about 93-95% QoP compared to the majors.

You are correct. His current thinking (from the BP web site) can be paraphrased as follows: He wrote in BP 2001 that Japanese baseball was about Triple A level. The Triple A multiplier is .860. He thinks he was wrong in BP 2001. He followed with a conclusion that in the last ten years or so Japanese baseball is .941, and wrote a subsequent article saying he thought it was perhaps slightly lower, at .92 or .93, but definitely above Triple A level.

That doesn't help us with the 1970s, and we probably can't get much help in that regard, since there wasn't as much switching between MLB and JPL at that time and therefore less comparative data.

My hunch would be that in the 1970s, the Japanese leagues were not as strong as they are now. I don't know if they were at Triple A level, but I'll probably split the difference between Triple A and the current multiplier, and use something like .89.
   20. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#2111435)
I've sent an e-mail to the heads of the SABR Japanese baseball committee asking if they know of any sources indicating ballpark dimensions or other park factors in the late 1970s. I'll let you know if I hear anything.
   21. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 04:18 PM (#2111505)
Response from SABR's Rob Fitts, Chairman of the Asian Baseball Committee, regarding ballpark data from the 1970s in Japan:

"there are no studies in English that I know of. most Japanese parks in the late 1970s were 91-92 meters down the line (295-298 ft) and 120 meters (394 ft) to CF."
   22. sunnyday2 Posted: July 25, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2111591)
>most Japanese parks in the late 1970s were 91-92 meters down the line (295-298 ft)

Holy ####.
   23. OCF Posted: July 25, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#2111619)
I'm willing to take Davis's Japanese numbers. However, using what Dr. Chaleeko posted, I get something that contributes very little in my offensive system. Overall, I have Davis placed quite clearly behind Pinson, and Pinson didn't make my top thirty.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: July 25, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#2111623)
I'm willing to take Davis's Japanese numbers. However, using what Dr. Chaleeko posted, I get something that contributes very little in my offensive system. Overall, I have Davis placed quite clearly behind Pinson, and Pinson didn't make my top thirty.

That's about where I am with Davis, too.
   25. KJOK Posted: July 25, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2111625)
I've sent an e-mail to the heads of the SABR Japanese baseball committee asking if they know of any sources indicating ballpark dimensions or other park factors in the late 1970s. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

In 1977, the Dragons played in Nagoya Stadium, dimensions: 300/390/300
In 1978, the Lions played in Heiwadai Stadium (their last year in that park I believ), dimensions: 302/400/302
   26. Jeff M Posted: July 25, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#2111641)
Was the typical Japanese stadium in the 70s a symmetrical Baker Bowl or early '60s LA Coliseum? Both boosted runs 10% or more (and probably boosted home runs even more). If that's true, and there's also a 10% league quality discount, Japanese stats during this era won't help much of anyone.
   27. KJOK Posted: July 25, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#2111716)
As far as I've been able to tell, almost all Japanese Parks were very symmmetrical.

Davis' Japanese Parks are, by my rough estimate, close to neutral.

However, there is about a 7% difference in the SET of Japanese Parks to the SET of MLB parks (current parks, not 1970's) - or in other words, moving from a neutral Japanese Park to a neutral MLB park will reduce a batter's stats by 7% BEFORE applying any competition adjustment.
   28. KJOK Posted: July 28, 2006 at 01:47 AM (#2115075)
Translating him into 1977 NL Neutral Park, and using a .90 multiplier, I get:

G-90
AB-346
R-47
H-97
2B-16
3B-3
HR-21
RBI-63
BB-11
IBB-1
HB-1
SO-25
SB-12
CS-6
SH-0
SF-1
GDP-8
AVE-.281
OBP-.304
SLG-.531
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: July 28, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2115128)
Anytime I hear Willie Davis's name, my first thought is "3 errors in Sandy Koufax's last game" which is unfair.

My only recollection is the three errors in Jim Palmer's game.

My other thought is Bill James judgment that he was hurt more by time and place than any other (prominent?) (recent?) player (non-pitcher?). That is a memory or reading about WDavis maybe 20 years after seeing him on TV.

He was a very good player. Has anyone out there ever seen any film of them (1966 World Series Game 2)? I never have, the years of day baseball and in those days (junior high, not the "middle school" name they use now) I never thought to watch local news.

I saw the game live on TV after school --elementary school, I think they still call it? (Seriously, I think "junior high" implies 3-year high school and "middle school" implies four, same then and now.)

Were his errors understandable bad plays (2 on flyballs, one on a throw)? Of course Jim Palmer did pitch a shutout that day too.

In my mind's eye, WDavis wears sunglasses and an announcer says he lost it in the sun but I don't recall which one and I don't bank on it, either. He made the errors all in a row and broke open the game --"broke open" in 1966 world series context.

Retrosheet shows top of the fifth in Dodger Stadium. That might be shades hades on a sunny weekday.

ORIOLES 5TH: Powell singled to left; On a bunt Johnson popped to
catcher in foul territory; Blair reached on an error by W. Davis
[Powell to third, Blair to second]; Etchebarren reached on an
error by W. Davis [Powell scored (unearned) (error by W. Davis),
Blair scored (unearned) (error by W. Davis), Etchebarren to
third]; Palmer struck out; Aparicio doubled to left [Etchebarren
scored (unearned)]; Blefary made an out to right; 3 R, 2 H, 3 E,
1 LOB. Orioles 3, Dodgers 0.
   30. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:23 AM (#2129889)
From "Black and Blue" by Tom Adelman, about the Dodgers, Orioles and 1966 Series:

"Both Alston and Blair would agree that when a ball got directly in the sun, nothing could help. Tommy Davis, Ron Fairly, and Maury Wills would point out how much further south the sun was at this time of year, which made it even tougher on the center fielder, and it was always especially harsh at this hour.
...
But this time too Davis had lost the ball. It had climbed like the last fly, and then just vanished into the sun. He looked up at the sky imploringly, spread his arms wide, Job-like, beseeching. Willie recalled saying to himself right then, \"####, here's that same kind of ball."

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