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Monday, January 15, 2018

Andruw of Center Field

The real issue is that people who see themselves as pro-analytical or post-analytical revolution, people who see themselves as sophisticated consumers of information, are in fact behaving in a manner which is identical to the pre-analytic arguments commonly used before 1975.  They argue that Andruw Jones has 63 WAR or whatever it is and that other players who have 58 WAR are in the Hall of Fame, therefore Andruw should be in the Hall of Fame as well.  This is no different than arguing that Herb Pennock won 240 games and he is in the Hall of Fame and Waite Hoyt won 237 games and he is in the Hall of Fame and Whitey Ford won 236 games and he is in the Hall of Fame, so David Wells, with 239 wins, obviously deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as well.  It is precisely the same argument; it is just using a “new” statistical category, rather than an old one.  Or, to apply it to a hitter, Yogi Berra drove in 1,430 runs, Charlie Gehringer drove in 1,427 runs, Joe Cronin drove in 1,424, Jim Bottomley drove in 1,422, Robin Yount drove in 1,406 and Ed Delahanty 1,400, and all of those guys are in the Hall of Fame, so how can you say that Joe Carter shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame when he drove in 1,445 runs, you moron, you.

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:38 AM | 213 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: andruw jones, bill james, hall of fame, sabermetrics

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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5606602)
From TFA:

Some people will say "Maybe Andruw Jones really WAS a better defensive center fielder than Willie Mays. Maybe Andrelton Simmons really IS a better defensive shortstop than Ozzie Smith."

Well. . .yeah, maybe he was. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Let’s figure that out before we elect him to the Hall of Fame, rather than electing him first and then working on the gigantic hole in the argument for him later. That’s a way of saying that you don’t think it’s a problem, that we’re comparing apples to oranges. I think it’s a problem.


James want to put this on the basis of an inter-generational comparison, and I'm not a fan of doing inter-generational comparisons precisely because we are comparing apples to oranges. I'd much rather look at it as a comparison among peers - where does Andruw fit relative in the context of his own era, where we have more data?

-- MWE
   2. dlf Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5606613)
I find his discussion about the importance of the experts in baseball analytics in this and a couple of other recent articles to be - as politely as I can make it - rather odd with his frequently written opinion about the lack of importance of experts in law, handwriting analysis, and many other areas.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5606615)
James want to put this on the basis of an inter-generational comparison, and I'm not a fan of doing inter-generational comparisons precisely because we are comparing apples to oranges. I'd much rather look at it as a comparison among peers - where does Andruw fit relative in the context of his own era, where we have more data?


We have more data, but we don't know yet whether it's actually better data. Chris Dial did work a long time back, and Tango has done something similar, showing that zone-based systems over rate rangy OF. There are lots of discretionary plays that are caught >95% of the time, and when rangy OF go out of their zones to catch them, they inflate their individual stats without actually helping the team.
   4. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5606618)
I'd much rather look at it as a comparison among peers - where does Andruw fit relative in the context of his own era, where we have more data?


That's really the problem - even beyond divining the truth of defensive metrics... it's just hard to see a ballot in the near future where one can fit him, at least/especially until someone can make an authoritative pronouncement that yes, his glove was really that good (at least, at its peak).

Blame it on the slow pace of inductions and the still weeding our way through the PED era, but the only way I could see voting for him (if I had a vote) would be if I were to engage in an awful lot of strategic voting... skipping superior players I suspect don't need the vote while also making the determination keeping him on the ballot trumps keeping others on the ballot.

More so than any player I can think, his HoF chances would have been extraordinarily helped if it had been a career ending injury at age 30 rather than the buffet table that undid him.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5606621)
hey argue that Andruw Jones has 63 WAR or whatever it is and that other players who have 58 WAR are in the Hall of Fame, therefore Andruw should be in the Hall of Fame as well. This is no different than arguing that Herb Pennock won 240 games and he is in the Hall of Fame and Waite Hoyt won 237 games and he is in the Hall of Fame and Whitey Ford won 236 games and he is in the Hall of Fame, so David Wells, with 239 wins, obviously deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as well. It is precisely the same argument; it is just using a “new” statistical category, rather than an old one.


To the extent it even happens*, it isn't precisely the same statistical argument. WAR was created, largely, to solve the problem of calculating and comparing the value of each individual ballplayer. RBIs are designed to measure who drove in a run.

Look at it this way: if we knew that WAR was absolutely accurate to the tenth of a point, then it would be perfectly reasonable for a voter to determine that Andruw's 63 WAR made him a HoFer and someone with 58 was on the other side of the line.

On the other hand, RBI totals are not and have never been a legitimate way of serving as a tool to determine the value one player created over another. And little to no subjectivity exists with RBI totals already.

* Which, in my limited experience, is very, very rare.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 15, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5606622)
It is precisely the same argument; it is just using a “new” statistical category, rather than an old one.

Which is, of course, what makes it entirely different...but, reading SoSH's post above, he beat me to it.
   7. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5606625)
It is precisely the same argument; it is just using a “new” statistical category, rather than an old one.


It's not precisely the same: generally speaking, guys knew they were driving in runs and were paid to drive in runs, and RBIs was a pretty precisely defined term. Obviously, none of that is true of any of the versions of WAR or WAA. One thing I think would be useful is if people spoke of WAR in a passive sense - to say that a player has been allocated WAR rather than to say a player earned it.

   8. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:36 PM (#5606637)
It's not precisely the same: generally speaking, guys knew they were driving in runs and were paid to drive in runs, and RBIs was a pretty precisely defined term. Obviously, none of that is true of any of the versions of WAR or WAA. One thing I think would be useful is if people spoke of WAR in a passive sense - to say that a player has been allocated WAR rather than to say a player earned it.


It's not precisely the same thing because one has a rate component and the other is a ridiculous stat that has no actual purpose in explaining a value of the player. Not sure why war needs to be allocated, it's an earned stat, unlike RBI or pitcher wins, which is a random component that is a team based stat. The argument being made in the article is just piss poor logic and plain stupidity.

Comparing wins or rbi to war is akin to seeing snow and thinking global warming is false. It's an argument made of out deliberate intentional ignorance. Rbi and to a lesser extent, wins don't tell you value of a player in any way, they tell you a possible skill of a player, but that is just one skillset of many that help determine the overall value of the player. War attempts to incorporate it all into one number, argue the validity of those numbers, sure, but comparing wins/rbi to war is just an idiotic misdirection, design to keep your sycophants under control and superficially agreeing with you, but has no real valid reasoning behind it.


Every Andruw Jones argument I've seen by the stat community usually goes the same, regardless of which side of the fence they are leaning. It starts with war, then a discussion on the accuracy of the defensive component, then people talk about regressing, then someone else comes in saying there is no telling which way regressing would have gone for players in the past, and they might have been helped by regressing, and then another group talks about the selective nature of Andruw's defense, then they do some comparisons to actual players(Lofton, Edmonds, Puckett, Beltran etc.) and nobody feels confident in saying he's over the line or behind the line.
   9. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5606647)
Every Andruw Jones argument I've seen by the stat community usually goes the same, regardless of which side of the fence they are leaning. It starts with war, then a discussion on the accuracy of the defensive component, then people talk about regressing, then someone else comes in saying there is no telling which way regressing would have gone for players in the past, and they might have been helped by regressing, and then another group talks about the selective nature of Andruw's defense, then they do some comparisons to actual players(Lofton, Edmonds, Puckett, Beltran etc.) and nobody feels confident in saying he's over the line or behind the line.


If he was going to get fat and one-dimensional, he'd have helped himself a lot more by becoming just a pure, patient mistake hitter... well, I suppose he tried to be that - so let's say more successful at it beyond a relatively nifty ~300 PAs with the 2010 Chisox.

Comparing him to the other CFs you list - he's significantly and noticeably behind all of them on pure oWAR (39.3 per BBREF - everybody else is comfortably in the 50s or better) - basically adding a paltry ~2 oWAR in his last 5-6 seasons.

   10. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5606651)
Comparing him to the other CFs you list - he's significantly and noticeably behind all of them on pure oWAR (39.3 per BBREF - everybody else is comfortably in the 50s or better) - basically adding a paltry ~2 oWAR in his last 5-6 seasons.


So I'm guessing we don't judge players by their complete value? I missed the memo that says we judge them strictly based upon their offense. I'm not sure why oWar is anything anyone would ever use in a debate about the hof. That is closer to James concept of using rbi or wins. It's a component of a players value, but it doesn't show his full value. (note: I'm not an Andruw for the hof person, but I am a person that finds the article written above by Bill James to be utter garbage and full of crappy arguments that 20 years ago James would have torn the writer into pieces if he read something as poorly constructed and researched, and filled with straw man arguments)
   11. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5606655)
So I'm guessing we don't judge players by their complete value? I missed the memo that says we judge them strictly based upon their offense. I'm not sure why oWar is anything anyone would ever use in a debate about the hof. That is closer to James concept of using rbi or wins. It's a component of a players value, but it doesn't show his full value.


That's not what I'm saying.

Perhaps I didn't say it clearly enough, but I'm making two main points:

#1 The other CF generally regarded as good defenders actually don't rely as much on the more questionable defensive component for their overall value as Jones.

#2 Those other CFs (excepting Puckett, of course) managed to make themselves still-useful (quite useful) once/if it was fair to say they no longer were providing excellent CF defense.

I'm probably more willing to give Jones defensive benefit of the doubt than most people... but the two facts above just increasingly mount the suspicion that Jones' book-keeping might be a little fluffy on the defensive side.

I.e., I think it's fair to say that Lofton/Beltran/Edmonds are probably better thought of for the offensive contributions today than they were in their prime. Jones is not. By the same token, the fact that he became so instantaneously worthless in virtually every aspect of the game casts further doubt -- i.e., if his defensive contributions were as superlative as range-based ratings say, then how in the world did become so dreadfully worthless that quickly?
   12. Baldrick Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:14 PM (#5606658)
Well. . .yeah, maybe he was. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Let’s figure that out before we elect him to the Hall of Fame, rather than electing him first and then working on the gigantic hole in the argument for him later. That’s a way of saying that you don’t think it’s a problem, that we’re comparing apples to oranges. I think it’s a problem.

Are Andrelton Simmons and Andruw Jones in imminent danger of being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year?
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5606670)
#1 The other CF generally regarded as good defenders actually don't rely as much on the more questionable defensive component for their overall value as Jones.



Agree with this point, but Andruw was also regarded as the best defensive centerfielder of his time period by a pretty good margin. It's not out of the question to think he makes up 5-10 war on defense over 11 years as an elite defender. Beltran probably doesn't belong in this conversation anymore(5 years ago, sure, but having 11000 pa now puts him really out of the conversation in regards to a group featuring Puckett(7831 pa, to Lofton 9235 pa--and even Lofton might be a bit on the high side, but that is only 600 more pa than Andruw) )

I don't think it's out of the question that among his contemporaries, that Andruw might have picked up half a win per season defensively, and maybe even more. Lofton is 135 runs behind Andruw jones by rField, Puckett is 180, Edmonds and Beltran are nearly 200 behind. Even accepting that it overrates Andruw, and you split the difference you are still looking at him gaining 5-10 war defensively on these guys making up much of the difference in oWar.

Of course, contrary to James strawman argument, and as pointed out in post 5, people don't generally say "see this war, this means this guy is in or out." War is just the starting point of the discussion and that has almost always been the case, regardless of the Joe Morgan like idiotic argument that James is making up.

Andruw is clearly a borderline guy(so is Edmonds, so is Lofton, Puckett, Andre Dawson, Jim Wynn, Richie Ashburn, Reggie Smith, Chet Lemon, Fred Lynn, Willie Davis, Johnny Damon etc.) Nobody is going to point to a raw war total and say this guy is in or out because of one number that is magically over the line. These are usually intelligent people, not sportswriters.
   14. fra paolo Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5606671)
Bill James is driving at a point he is not making overtly.

Under Win Shares, the total value a fielder can accumulate is capped at, IIRC, something like 12-17 per cent of the value generated by the fielding team's plays. So a given batted ball is worth 48 per cent to the batter, 35 per cent to the pitcher and 17 per cent to the fielder. Or something like that.

AFAIK, most sources of fielding numbers in WAR award the full value of a batted ball to the fielder. When James had a chance to do it like that, he felt it was wrong and did it differently. Andruw's only really worth about a third of the fielding value he's assigned by WAR.

The argument comes down to that, really. And probably some annoyance that nobody on the WAR side is discussing the distribution of BIP value between pitchers and fielders.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5606673)
So I'm guessing we don't judge players by their complete value? I missed the memo that says we judge them strictly based upon their offense. I'm not sure why oWar is anything anyone would ever use in a debate about the hof.

Because Jone's dWAR is highly questionable.

Also, the way a player ages provides some evidence as to his actual talent level. Truly elite players tend to last forver b/c their so damn good they can slip a lot and still play.

The fact that Jones was a DH by age 32, while Willie Mays was still an everyday CF at age 40, is pretty good evidence that Mays was better in his prime.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:52 PM (#5606685)
The fact that Jones was a DH by age 32, while Willie Mays was still an everyday CF at age 40, is pretty good evidence that Mays was better in his prime.


I think that is a stretch, it just means that Willie Mays aged better, it doesn't mean he was better defensively. (mind you I don't have a problem with that argument at all, as I thought Andruw was overrated, but still probably the best playing at the time)

Because Jone's dWAR is highly questionable.


Why is it highly questionable compared to his contemporaries who are measured in the same way, in which he had the better reputation?

I get why it's questionable with regards to Mays, and I get that it's questionable period, but it's a bit ridiculous to throw the entire thing out and not use it at all in his argument when comparing him to contemporaries. I mean a good portion of Andruw's value is that he was widely regarded as the best defensive centerfielder in baseball for a decade, to just ignore that piece of evidence because you aren't comfortable with the numbers it produces makes zero sense to me. Modify, sure, but not even attempting to include some type of defensive component for Andruw is a chickenshit way of participating in the debate.
   17. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:53 PM (#5606686)
FTR - I've always thought WAA is better used than WAR in HoF discussions... and on that score, Jones does far better (beating, for example, Andre Dawson by about 8 WAA). I think WAR is best used determining contracts, player acquisitions, contemporaneous award voting, etc. If we're electing the game's elites -- I don't think a metric using a baseline of fungible players means as much as a metric that compares a candidate to average players.

...and that's why -

Are Andrelton Simmons and Andruw Jones in imminent danger of being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year?


I care about Jones. Not because I think he should be in - obviously, I don't... but I could be convinced. It's far better to keep a player around for a longer look and ultimately decide "nope" than it is to one-and-done-him into oblivion. Resurrecting such players from the discussion-dead is far harder and more risky than otherwise.
   18. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5606688)
The fact that Jones was a DH by age 32, while Willie Mays was still an everyday CF at age 40, is pretty good evidence that Mays was better in his prime.

No, it's pretty good evidence that Andruw Jones got fat.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5606692)
No, it's pretty good evidence that Andruw Jones got fat.


It wasn't like he went from thin to Gwynn at age 30. He was pretty solidly built for most of his Atlanta tenure, even when he was putting up some eye-popping numbers.
   20. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5606694)
Obligatory mention: James would not be writing this dribble if Win Shares had been accepted as the uberstat rather than the WARs.

Jones was better than his peers using the best data available for his era than Willie Mays was better than his peers using the best data available for his era. Is that enough for the HOF? I don't know. But the discussion begins with acknowledgement of that first fact.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5606696)
FTR - I've always thought WAA is better used than WAR in HoF discussions... and on that score, Jones does far better (beating, for example, Andre Dawson by about 8 WAA). I think WAR is best used determining contracts, player acquisitions, contemporaneous award voting, etc. If we're electing the game's elites -- I don't think a metric using a baseline of fungible players means as much as a metric that compares a candidate to average players.



The only problem with that argument is the same problem with the war argument, and that it still is overrating Andruw's defense. That is why someone brought up oWar, in that they want to completely dismiss Andruw's defense.

Waa very rarely tells you more than war per pa does. Andruw doesn't beat Dawson because of waa, it's because of war/pa, you don't really need to use waa, except as a quick shorthand for war/pa. (and saying Andruw beats dawson in waa is not really fair to Dawson who had nearly 2000 pa more, and who was at 35.5 waa when he had 9566 pa(1977-1992) compared to Andruw who has 36 waa)
   22. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5606706)
The former gatekeepers of the politics of glory were grumpy old men who nostalgically overrated their favorite players from the 40's, 50's and 60's and refused to acknowledge that players form the 70's and 80's could ever be their equals, much less betters.

The current gatekeepers of the politics of glory are grumpy old men who nostalgically overrate their favorite players from the 60's, 70's and 80's while refusing to acknowledge that players from the 90's and 2000's could ever be their equals, much less betters.

If Ozzie Smith is a HOF'er, Andruw Jones is a HOF'er.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:15 PM (#5606711)
Why is it highly questionable compared to his contemporaries who are measured in the same way, in which he had the better reputation?

Because there are a ton of fly balls and pop-ups that are discretionary, i.e. multiple fielders can make the play with a very high degree of certainty.

If rangy CF A (who had a reputation for playing shallow) chooses to take those chances, while another equally good CF, B, doesn't, zone rating will show A as better than B, while A hasn't actually converted any extra outs.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5606712)
AFAIK, most sources of fielding numbers in WAR award the full value of a batted ball to the fielder. When James had a chance to do it like that, he felt it was wrong and did it differently. Andruw's only really worth about a third of the fielding value he's assigned by WAR.


And he can make arguments for better defensive systems. I don't think anyone has a problem with people pushing for better and more accurate numbers. But this article isn't really about that, except peripherally, it's mostly an attack argument against using war. A long series of attack arguments he's put out in the past year or so, on people using war. And in this case it's a pretty crappy attack argument.

Add in, he's arguing points that were brought up 10 years ago, as if he just discovered them.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that I am 100% comfortable with the runs saved estimates derived on behalf of Andruw Jones; in fact it might be 85% or 90%, but it doesn’t matter. Let’s say that we’re 100 confident in those numbers. The problem is that the Runs Saved estimates derived in this manner are much larger than the Runs Saved estimates derived by older methods, which are necessarily conservative because of the limitations of the data. They are not just larger for Andruw Jones; they are larger in general. They are larger for Andrelton Simmons than for Luis Aparicio. Andrelton Simmons’ dWAR as a first-year regular in 2013 was larger than Ozzie Smith’s career high.


He's acting like this is news to anyone. It's not, it's been mentioned for the better part of a decade on this site, and I'm sure that the same can be said on MGL/Tango's site also. He's not presenting new data, instead he's just discovering things because he has finally decided to read up on the material, and is about a decade behind the rest of the class, yet he's claiming he is the expert when he willingly decided to ignore new data for a decade. It's hard to take him seriously as an expert analyst on the subject of the value of war, when he is a decade behind in his analysis.
   25. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:16 PM (#5606713)
If rangy CF A (who had a reputation for playing shallow) chooses to take those chances, while another equally good CF, B, doesn't, zone rating will show A as better than B, while A hasn't actually converted any extra outs.


So we're back to the "other CF's could have been as good as Andruw if they'd wanted to" bullshit?
   26. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5606717)
The only problem with that argument is the same problem with the war argument, and that it still is overrating Andruw's defense. That is why someone brought up oWar, in that they want to completely dismiss Andruw's defense.

Waa very rarely tells you more than war per pa does. Andruw doesn't beat Dawson because of waa, it's because of war/pa, you don't really need to use waa, except as a quick shorthand for war/pa. (and saying Andruw beats dawson in waa is not really fair to Dawson who had nearly 2000 pa more, and who was at 35.5 waa when he had 9566 pa(1977-1992) compared to Andruw who has 36 waa)


Well, that was me -

But yes, that's the problem with WAA just as with WAR (at least re: Jones).

The reason I think WAA works better than WAR -- and you actually nail it with Dawson. Unlike WAR, I think WAA does a better job smoothing out "just not that good" compilers. I don't use WAA as a pure in/out line - but I do like it as a "deserves consideration" line. And that's why I don't totally toss aside Jones - 36 WAA is a pretty good number. Comfortably above my "line".

I'm neither a peak voter nor a career voter - somewhere in the middle - but I like WAA because I think it makes for a really good shorthand to meet both poles halfway. It's hard to get to get to ~30 WAA without a pretty good peak and it's hard to stay above ~30 WAA without a worthy compiler career.

Doesn't work for everyone - but I do think it's a really good metric to separate out some chaff that sneaks in with the wheat. For example, Omar Vizquel would certainly fall below most people's lines with just ~46 WAR... but only 5 WAA and he becomes "why are we bothering with this discussion at all?". Johnny Damon is another one - a respectable 56 WAR, but just 19 WAA. Not worth looking at any closer.

   27. gef the talking mongoose, amorphous lefty blob Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5606718)
James would not be writing this dribble


When the #### did "dribble" become interchangeable with "drivel," something I see pretty much all the time? Not as bad as "wahlah" (or however the near-illiterate spell it) for "voila," but my god.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5606719)
So we're back to the "other CF's could have been as good as Andruw if they'd wanted to" bullshit?

No, only Ichiro.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5606720)
If Ozzie Smith is a HOF'er, Andruw Jones is a HOF'er.

Why? If we're going by WAR, Ozzie has a tone more. 76.5, vs. 62.8. Ozzie was a really good defender at the hardest position until age 39. Jones was done at 30.

Is it really credible (as WAR says) that Jones saved as many runs (236 Rfield) in 1675 starts in CF as Ozzie did (239 Rfield) in 2477 starts at SS?

   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5606723)
When the #### did "dribble" become interchangeable with "drivel"?

Oh, man, that's right up there with using "spend" as a noun on my list of abominations.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5606724)

If Ozzie Smith is a HOF'er, Andruw Jones is a HOF'er.


Why? I have no problem with Andruw Jones as a hofer, I think it's a stretch, but sure... I'm just not seeing the comparison between him and Ozzie. 15 time all star vs 5 time all star, 13x gold glove vs 10x gold glove, 16 seasons being an above average player, vs 13, 41waa, and 76 war vs 36 and 62. Andruw has a higher peak, but that is about it. Andruw vs Edmonds, or Dawson or Puckett make a logical sense, but Andruw vs Ozzie is too disimilar players that they don't really make much sense to include them as a comparison for a debate/discussion.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5606729)

So we're back to the "other CF's could have been as good as Andruw if they'd wanted to" bullshit?


No. We're back to the limitations of zone based defense measures.

Jones entire HoF case relies on him being a +30 CF in his 5 year prime. Knock him down to merely as good as the greatest CFs of all time, and he has no case.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5606732)
So we're back to the "other CF's could have been as good as Andruw if they'd wanted to" bullshit?


No, the argument is that the team allowed Jones to take more balls, balls that other centerfielders allowed their corner guys to take, and the point is that he wasn't saving those runs/hits, he was just changing the name on the person who got credit for the putout. He's getting credit for plays that would have been made regardless if he was the centerfielder or if it was Dexter Fowler out there. If Dexter is out there, the right fielder would have gotten the credit.

Mind you, this difference is a bit overstated, but it's absolutely is a thing that needs to be considered when looking at the numbers that Jones produced.
   34. Rally Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:32 PM (#5606738)
Some of the defensive ratings on Andruw are mine (in WAR, pre 2002 or 2003), and I don’t believe them 100% either. I think James is going on his anti-WAR stance here and misrepresenting what other people are saying. Maybe there are some out there who say 63 WAR is over the line and should mean automatic HOF induction but I don’t think that is a widespread or representative opinion.

In any case, I look at his contemporaries and see 60 WAR for Edmonds and 68 for Lofton wasn’t even enough to get them a second ballot.

Besides viewing Jones and a superior fielder to Mays, I think there is one more way to argue for his inclusion. Cut his defensive runs in half and view him as a +10 to +15 fielder per season. For career, he’s down to around 50 WAR. That’s a good comp for Chet Lemon, who nobody thought was a hall of famer. But in Andruw’s case, he did just about all of it before he was 30. He had a lot of value packed into a short period of time, and during that time he played for a division winner every year, much of it turning flyballs into outs behind 3 pitchers who went into the HOF on first ballot.

I don’t think I would vote for him in any case, but there is a reasonable peak argument that depends on seeing him as a great defensive CF, but not necessarily the best of all time.
   35. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5606743)
Some of the defensive ratings on Andruw are mine (in WAR, pre 2002 or 2003), and I don’t believe them 100% either. I think James is going on his anti-WAR stance here and misrepresenting what other people are saying. Maybe there are some out there who say 63 WAR is over the line and should mean automatic HOF induction but I don’t think that is a widespread or representative opinion.


Right....

Of course, the problem is that you have to squint REALLY hard to find anyone above Jones' 63 that either aren't in the HoF (and people are fine) or think SHOULD be in... maybe Willie Randolph? Ken Boyer? Larry Walker tends to garner some debate here. If we want to go 19th century - I seem to vaguely recall that the HoM voters had significant disagreements on Jesse Burkett (might be misremembering though). Buddy Bell?
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 02:57 PM (#5606749)
From the Bill James article.
The problem is this. It ultimately damages the analytic community, and it will ultimately bring disrepute upon our community, if we allow people who pretend to be members of our community to make arguments which have obvious flaws, and which may be false because of those flaws. If we allow people who think they are "with us" to make arguments which may turn out in the long run to have been complete nonsense, without contesting those arguments, without pointing out the problems, then it ultimately comes back on us.


This is another bs argument he is making, we have already seen people in the analytical community make claims and it turns out to be false, 15 or so years ago it was common for Prospectus and Neyer to ignore defense, dismiss catcher's ability to call a game, dismiss pitch framing. When Dips came out, it was another decade of research to help clarify the margins, going from a pitcher has no control on a ball in play, to a pitcher has very little control, and these are the characteristics of pitchers who do have more than no control etc.

And the movement hasn't been hurt by these claims, at least not long term. This is the very nature of learning/science. People put out a study, thesis etc, using the data they accumulated, and others look to verify and improve it or refute it. Without people putting out theories/hypothesis, then nobody is going to be able to review the material. It seems like James is saying that only perfectly 100% sure theories should be put out there, and of course that would have meant we never got the pyth for baseball record, runs created, dips etc....as all of those needed to be tweaked from their original concept.
   37. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5606753)
This is another bs argument he is making, we have already seen people in the analytical community make claims and it turns out to be false, 15 or so years ago it was common for Prospectus and Neyer to ignore defense, dismiss catcher's ability to call a game, dismiss pitch framing. When Dips came out, it was another decade of research to help clarify the margins, going from a pitcher has no control on a ball in play, to a pitcher has very little control, and these are the characteristics of pitchers who do have more than no control etc.


So it's not exactly that he's upset others stole his win shares thunder, it's that other people stole his authoritative, dismissive snark!
   38. Jim Furtado Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5606765)
He's acting like this is news to anyone. It's not, it's been mentioned for the better part of a decade on this site, and I'm sure that the same can be said on MGL/Tango's site also. He's not presenting new data, instead he's just discovering things because he has finally decided to read up on the material, and is about a decade behind the rest of the class, yet he's claiming he is the expert when he willingly decided to ignore new data for a decade. It's hard to take him seriously as an expert analyst on the subject of the value of war, when he is a decade behind in his analysis.

It is news to a lot of people. You see it by the arguments they make.

The differing datasets are a real problem. The positional adjustments are a real problem. That's just two issues.

Now, people well-versed in WAR constructions might account for these problems when they argue their cases but a great majority of the people using WAR don't understand the systems' limitations and make arguments the data doesn't support. Most of them, frankly, neither have the time or inclination to really understand the limitations either.

If the goal is getting as close to the truth as we can get, having the most famous analyst talk about the problems is an advantage not a detriment.
   39. bachslunch Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5606766)
@36: agreed with this. We do the best we can with what we know, and there’s no reason to throw out the best available tools and do nothing just because something better may come along in future. Most of life is a work in progress.
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:36 PM (#5606769)
If the goal is getting as close to the truth as we can get, having the most famous analyst talk about the problems is an advantage

Having him say that it's just as dumb/flawed/limited as relying on wins or RBI is not.
   41. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5606773)
When the #### did "dribble" become interchangeable with "drivel," something I see pretty much all the time? Not as bad as "wahlah" (or however the near-illiterate spell it) for "voila," but my god.
It's of a piece with people who use "jive" for "jibe."


EDIT: I nevertheless agree with 6-4-3 that James is p(r)etty jealous of WAR because it beat out Win Shares.
   42. Rob_Wood Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5606774)
I agree with most of the criticism of Bill James on this topic. However, I do think he has a good point that consumers of baseball analytical information are typically not in a position to discern "good" statistical information from "bad" statistical information. And there is a version of Gresham's Law that leads to bad statistical information driving out (or devaluing) good statistical information. Having said that, I think James takes that point a bit too far.
   43. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5606784)
It is news to a lot of people. You see it by the arguments they make.
Yep, so when I see Rally write...
Maybe there are some out there who say 63 WAR is over the line and should mean automatic HOF induction but I don’t think that is a widespread or representative opinion.
... I have to disagree. I see this argument all the time, sometimes from people who should know better, and often from people who don't. I like, and use, WAR a lot when writing about baseball and player values, but if all of us recognize the inherent questionability of elements of it, then we shouldn't be treating WAR as an argument-ender that a lot of people seem to consider it to be.
   44. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 15, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5606785)
Now, people well-versed in WAR constructions might account for these problems when they argue their cases but a great majority of the people using WAR don't understand the systems' limitations and make arguments the data doesn't support. Most of them, frankly, neither have the time or inclination to really understand the limitations either.


I agree with most of the criticism of Bill James on this topic. However, I do think he has a good point that consumers of baseball analytical information are typically not in a position to discern "good" statistical information from "bad" statistical information. And there is a version of Gresham's Law that leads to bad statistical information driving out (or devaluing) good statistical information. Having said that, I think James takes that point a bit too far.


Isn't that perhaps more on the producers than the consumers though? As CFB points out - those of us merely on the consumer side have been burned before on hopping on new-fangled bandwagons too quickly, so I think there is a lot more caution than BITD.

However, once a metric becomes accepted as sort of common parlance - as WAR has - I don't think it's unfair to look at a list of the top 100 (or in Jones' case, 105) players given a metric accepted as a good baseline and say "if 99, then why not this one?"

There are enough peers now that maybe it's time for the analytics community to go peer review rather than crowd-sourced review :-)
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:00 PM (#5606788)
There are enough peers now that maybe it's time for the analytics community to go peer review rather than crowd-sourced review :-)

Have you seen the shambles peer review has become in academia?
   46. fra paolo Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5606793)
But this article isn't really about that, except peripherally, it's mostly an attack argument against using war. A long series of attack arguments he's put out in the past year or so, on people using war.

No, I disagree. The article is fundamentally about that (the value of a batted ball to a fielder). Andruw Jones is simply a case where this topic manifests itself significantly.

James' assault on WAR is an attack on certain assumptions in calculating WAR that differ from Win Shares. The whole AL MVP argument was about that. This is the same thing.

Regardless of the arguments made in the MVP debate, where I thought he chose his battleground poorly, James is making a solid point here.
   47. fra paolo Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:14 PM (#5606798)
Obligatory mention: James would not be writing this dribble if Win Shares had been accepted as the uberstat rather than the WARs.

Whether this statement is true or not, it is just a distraction from the matters James raises.

With the MVP thing, he was on weak ground.

Here, not so much.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5606803)
What's the evidence that Willie Mays was a superior CF?

Were discretionary flyballs not invented until the DRS era? Did Willie never steal an out? Does TZ, which is primarily based on number of plays made and based on a model that predicts DRS, magically avoiding the counting of discretionary plays?

All we have for Mays is reputation, a few grainy highlights and that he had a RF/9 that was .12/9 better than the average CF of his time ... an average CF which the evidence we have suggests was not as good defensively as the CFs of Andruw's era.

For Andruw we have reputation, many highlights (and lowlights) and that he had a RF/9 that was .18/9 better than the average CF of his time ... and was .21/9 better than Mays. Starting point, Andruw made many more plays per year than Mays in raw terms and a few more plays per 9 in relative terms. It's on the "Mays supporters" to establish (not speculate) that the difference is due to factors unrelated to the quality of each player's defense ... just to get Mays up to Andruw's level.

Which is not a hard argument to make since that comp is based on career numbers and Mays played much longer so it includes his "decline" phase. Unfortunately b-r doesn't let you sum/average across years in its fielding table but in his 20s Mays had RF/9s in the 2.8 to low 3's range, appearing to be a bit better than Andruw. Andruw would counter with lower BIP rates in his era and then somebody's gonna have to get out the spreadsheet.

It's also useful to keep in mind that it's not all apples to oranges. Through age 25, Andruw's Rfield is based on TZ, not DRS. The really big numbers are all TZ years. For the years in which we have both, his TZ and DRS totals differ by seven in TZ's favor (if I added that right). In the pre-DRS era, he's credited with about 170 Rtz in 6 full seasons. Any issues with Andruw's defensive rating have little/nothing to do with DRS.

But yes, the first thing one should do (but rarely does due to laziness) when comparing WAR across eras is to replace an Rfield based on DRS to one based on TZ so that it is (more of) an apples-apples comparison. In Andruw's case, that increases his Rfield by 7 runs.

James is sloppy in saying that DRS is "larger." That's wrong. It works out on average to be the same. It has a higher variance which means that you are more likely to get values at both extremes -- that is simply the nature of the way TZ is calculated and the limitations of the data we have pre-DRS. But that extra variance is as likely to hurt as to help. Now, in a case like Andruw's where he's at the extreme, it's reasonable to assume that any measurement error variance has worked in his favor ... but very little of his defensive value comes from the DRS era and his DRS is actually lower than his TZ in those years so in fact there is no evidence that he was helped by the extra variability in DRS.

Anyway, using TZ, Andruw had 243 compared with Willie's 178 and Andruw did it in far fewer innings. Note the first 1+ seasons of Mays is missing TZ -- not sure why -- so the gap is likely 15-20 runs smaller. But even at his peak, Mays couldn't keep up with Andruw in TZ.

Andrelton vs Ozzie: For ages 23-27, Andrelton has 79 TZ (65 less than his DRS); Ozzie had 63. Andrelton's era has fewer BIP and I think a lower G/F ratio although neither guarantees fewer balls hit to SS. This might explain Ozzie's much higher RF/9 (he ranged from about 5.5 to 5.85; Andrelton is in the mid-4s. Still Ozzie made about .7 more plays per 9 while Andrelton just .4. Other than pop-ups, there are almost no discretionary plays for SS although some GB might get cut off by the 3B or pitcher before they get to the SS.

So doubt about Andrelton vs Ozzie is much more justified than doubt about Andruw vs Mays. There is a massive gap between TZ and DRS for Andrelton and, although his TZ is still higher than Ozzie's, it's not entirely clear why given how many more plays (in raw and relative terms) Ozzie seemed to be making. Of course Andrelton hits better than Ozzie did in those early years so, even if we sub his Rtz for Rdrs, Simmons has a 2 WAR lead. (Ozzie makes back a good bit on baserunning ... that baserunning difference possibly another indicator that Ozzie likely had at least as much range. Mays also had a baserunning gap over Andruw but only about 25 runs over 10 seasons.)
   49. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5606813)
What's the evidence that Willie Mays was a superior CF?


I've always said, I can believe that Jones is the best defensive CF ever.

I can believe he's actually much better than Mays was.

I find it hard to believe he's much better than everyone who ever played the position.

   50. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5606814)
He's getting credit for plays that would have been made regardless if he was the centerfielder or if it was Dexter Fowler out there. If Dexter is out there, the right fielder would have gotten the credit.

Mind you, this difference is a bit overstated, but it's absolutely is a thing that needs to be considered when looking at the numbers that Jones produced.


Considered, sure, but one shouldn't make too much of this. It was Jones catching those balls, not David Justice (or whomever), and so he deserves credit for catching them (even if Justice would have caught them). Now if you don't want to give Jones credit for those catches based in his zone, but based on Justice's, I suppose that makes sense. It doesn't help the team any more to have Jones catch them than to have Justice catch them, so Jones shouldn't get extra credit for going way out of his zone. But he absolutely should get credit for them, as those catches really did help prevent runs from scoring.

N.B. We should keep separate talk about how much value Jones is generating from how talented a fielder he is. The catches that Justice would have made contribute some, but only a small, amount of extra value. But that he can get over there indicates a considerable amount of talent. Personally I care a lot more about value than talent, but it's worth noting that the discretionary catches indicate different things for these two categories of evaluation.
   51. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5606821)
I'm not sure what 49 is saying. IIRC, by dWAR the only CF between Jones and Mays is Paul Blair. You could be saying:

(1) You think Paul Blair is rated too low.
(2) You think that the variance among CF defensive ratings is too high. So Jones, Mays, and Blair all ought to be closer to the rest of the pack.
(3) You think that there must be someone among all the thousands of CFs throughout MLB history who fits in between Jones and Blair.

I doubt you're worried about Paul Blair's dWAR, so I'm skipping (1). As for (2), that's an interesting thought, but I'm not sure what the evidence would be for it. And as for (3), sure maybe. Betting on the field is often a good idea, but even if it's true it wouldn't be relevant to Jones' HOF case, and it would be a lot more interesting if we could pick out who among those thousands was up there with Jones and Blair.
   52. K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5606834)
The evolution of framing statistics over the last few years suggests we should be leery of making cross-generational comparisons. Strategies change. The composition of skills within the player population changes. Colorado gets added as context. So it probably doesn't take too many Dunns or Mannys to prop up a few Crawfords and Pierres. Jones may have performed better relative to his peers than Mays did while still being worse defensively. Or the same. Or better.

I mean, just picking through some numbers on bbref, it appears the existence of Willie Davis hurt Mays' defensive numbers in the early 60s?
   53. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5606838)
(1) You think Paul Blair is rated too low.
(2) You think that the variance among CF defensive ratings is too high. So Jones, Mays, and Blair all ought to be closer to the rest of the pack.
(3) You think that there must be someone among all the thousands of CFs throughout MLB history who fits in between Jones and Blair.


2 and 3, but not limited to them. And as for 2, not just centerfield. I'd say the same about third.

Betting on the field is often a good idea, but even if it's true it wouldn't be relevant to Jones' HOF case,


Jones' case is entirely based on his defense, and based on him being the best defensive centerfielder, by a lot, of anyone who has ever played, despite adding nothing to his defensive resume after age 30. I find that hard to believe.

   54. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:05 PM (#5606860)
and based on him being the best defensive centerfielder,


Whether he's the best or not doesn't matter, what matters is how good he was. Let's say that, because of sketchy records kept during the deadball era, Tris Speaker was a much better fielder than we currently credit him for. Indeed, if we were to have better records, we would see that Speaker was better than we currently say that Jones is. So Jones isn't really the best defensive CF ever, he's #2. But we are (let's assume) completely right about the number of runs he saved. Jones' HOF case doesn't get any weaker because of super-Speaker.
   55. DanG Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5606867)
When the #### did "dribble" become interchangeable with "drivel," something I see pretty much all the time?
I think it's kind of Tysonesque:

"I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian."
   56. Sunday silence Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5606868)
The fact that Jones was a DH by age 32, while Willie Mays was still an everyday CF at age 40, is pretty good evidence that Mays was better in his prime.


Sandy Koufax says "hello."
   57. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5606869)

Whether he's the best or not doesn't matter, what matters is how good he was. Let's say that, because of sketchy records kept during the deadball era, Tris Speaker was a much better fielder than we currently credit him for. Indeed, if we were to have better records, we would see that Speaker was better than we currently say that Jones is. So Jones isn't really the best defensive CF ever, he's #2. But we are (let's assume) completely right about the number of runs he saved. Jones' HOF case doesn't get any weaker because of super-Speaker.
The same applies to Mays. As Mike Emeigh alludes to above, Jones' case relies on his comparison to his peers, not to people from long ago. It doesn't matter what his ordinal ranking is; all that matters is whether his actual defense was worth as many runs as dWAR gives him credit for.
   58. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:19 PM (#5606875)
Jones entire HoF case relies on him being a +30 CF in his 5 year prime. Knock him down to merely as good as the greatest CFs of all time, and he has no case.


So, are all WAR defensive number sfrom Jones's era suspect, or just his?
   59. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5606877)
But we are (let's assume) completely right about the number of runs he saved.


Sure, but I don't know why we have to assume that.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:30 PM (#5606889)

Sure, but I don't know why we have to assume that.


It was a hypothetical example. He was saying that Jones case isn't based upon him being the best defensive outfielder of all time, it's helped by being a great defensive outfielder, that case doesn't change if we find out he was number two all time or number three or whatever. If the numbers we are using for Jones right now are 100% accurate.

Of course there is debate on the accuracy of the numbers. That is half of what this thread has been about.
   61. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:36 PM (#5606894)
So, are all WAR defensive number sfrom Jones's era suspect, or just his?


Outfielder numbers are suspect, especially for centerfielder because originally they didn't attempt to account for the selectivity of the position, but Jones numbers are probably more suspect than others because of his great range and shallow positioning, meaning it was easier for him than other centerfielders to take the ball from his corner guys. Sad thing is that this is selective taking of balls is still indicative of the quality of his great defense, it's just not something that provides actual 'value' to the team.
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:39 PM (#5606897)
It was a hypothetical example. He was saying that Jones case isn't based upon him being the best defensive outfielder of all time, it's helped by being a great defensive outfielder, that case doesn't change if we find out he was number two all time or number three or whatever. If the numbers we are using for Jones right now are 100% accurate.


And my point is, I don't have such faith in the accuracy of the numbers precisely because he so far outpaces everyone else, despite adding nothing to his case after age 30. I'd be more inclined to trust that he added that much with the glove if anyone else was in the neighborhood of doing the same.

   63. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5606900)
Sad thing is that this is selective taking of balls is still indicative of the quality of his great defense,


I'd say that's somewhat true. In some cases, it will indeed be reflective of his great range. In other examples, it will simply be reflective of how high the ball was hit, and how likely his corner outfielders were to defer to him.
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:44 PM (#5606901)
Sandy Koufax says "hello."

Sandy Koufax played in the single best environment ever for suppressing runs, including the illegal Dodger Stadium mound. Ironically, Bill James covered this extensively in his book on the HoF.

Koufax's a borderline HoF. Whitey Ford was better. He's not remotely as good as the guys from his era who kept up the performance through their late 30s.
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 05:44 PM (#5606902)
I'd be more inclined to trust that he added that much with the glove if anyone else was in the neighborhood of doing the same.


Kevin Kiermaier
RField Games
15-----108
42-----151
25-----105
22-----98
(462 games 104 rField or 39 Rfield per 650 pa)
There is one person who is doing better than what Andruw was doing. Andruw's peak was 33Rfield per 650 pa.

Edit: at his peak, Darin Erstad was 27 rField per 650 pa, Juan Lagares is 31 Rfield per 650pa,
   66. gef the talking mongoose, amorphous lefty blob Posted: January 15, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5606917)
Oh, man, that's right up there with using "spend" as a noun on my list of abominations.


"Ask" as a noun is also code for "please beat me to a pulp ASAP."
   67. QLE Posted: January 15, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5606930)
A lot to weight in on, that I think we've missed so far:

I find his discussion about the importance of the experts in baseball analytics in this and a couple of other recent articles to be - as politely as I can make it - rather odd with his frequently written opinion about the lack of importance of experts in law, handwriting analysis, and many other areas.


Not if you assume that "baseball experts" mean "Bill James" and "experts in other fields" are "people who dare to challenge Bill James"- it's a streak that was in his writing as early as the 1980s, and it's only gotten worse as he's been granted secular sainthood.

Blame it on the slow pace of inductions and the still weeding our way through the PED era, but the only way I could see voting for him (if I had a vote) would be if I were to engage in an awful lot of strategic voting... skipping superior players I suspect don't need the vote while also making the determination keeping him on the ballot trumps keeping others on the ballot.


This really depends on how many people you think are worthier- by my math, it's only twelve people, and finding room for him on a strategic ballot doesn't seem that hard.

It's not precisely the same: generally speaking, guys knew they were driving in runs and were paid to drive in runs, and RBIs was a pretty precisely defined term. Obviously, none of that is true of any of the versions of WAR or WAA.


All that really needs to be said about this argument is that WAR, at least in all the versions I am familiar with, doesn't reward players for having good teammates.

The former gatekeepers of the politics of glory were grumpy old men who nostalgically overrated their favorite players from the 40's, 50's and 60's and refused to acknowledge that players form the 70's and 80's could ever be their equals, much less betters.


More like 1920s and 1930s- note that there is a fairly large pile of players from the late 1950s and 1960s who deserve to get in that aren't in, and how few players from that era the VC (the chief source of poor HOF inductees) has inducted.

Unlike WAR, I think WAA does a better job smoothing out "just not that good" compilers.


Yes and no, I would argue- yes, it can point out easily some of the more obvious compilers like Damon, but, because WAA is ultimately closely linked to WAR in its accumulation, I feel there are two places it falls apart: it underrates players with strong peaks who had poor seasons in their careers (I'm not comfortable with the idea that one can play one's way out of the HOF), and it can overrate players who had a bunch of decent years but not many great ones (Will Clark is a good example of this).

Of course, the problem is that you have to squint REALLY hard to find anyone above Jones' 63 that either aren't in the HoF (and people are fine) or think SHOULD be in.


This all depends on who is drawing the line and why- the position players with the highest career WAR I'm inclined to give a firm no to are Willie Davis and Zach Wheat, but there are other position players in the 60s whose cases I'd argue merit debate (Dwight Evans, Randolph, Winfield, Beckley, and Sheffield).

If the goal is getting as close to the truth as we can get, having the most famous analyst talk about the problems is an advantage not a detriment.


Yeah, but it's fame based on work that is now chiefly over thirty years old- when was his last major new contribution, The Politics of Glory? Arguing for deference seems a bit much- would we give it to Pete Palmer?

So, are all WAR defensive numbers from Jones's era suspect, or just his?


As #61 notes, I feel this argument can be made about outfield defense generally- it's just that it is an issue that affects Andruw Jones more than anyone else because, firstly, he's the one who has the most to lose, and, secondly, the fact that he is relatively borderline even if we give him full credit- if he's only as good as Blair/Mays, he's very much on a knife's edge, and, if he's only as good as Lofton, than he doesn't belong at all. In contrast, Lofton gets much less of his total value from fielding and gets substantial value from aspects of his play (baserunning and avoiding double plays) that don't benefit Jones any, and there aren't really any other outfielders of the period who have as much of importance coming from outfield value. It also should be notes that this is not merely punitive against Jones- Winfield and Sheffield's cases also are strongly effected by this, as they become much more deserving if their fielding isn't as bad as the metrics suggest.
   68. Sunday silence Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:14 PM (#5606935)
Sandy Koufax played in the single best environment ever for suppressing runs, including the illegal Dodger Stadium mound. Ironically, Bill James covered this extensively in his book on the HoF.



You apparently missed my entire point which is that HOW Sandy Koufax finished his career tells us almost nothing about what he was like at his peak.

*****

If say, A Jones really is taking balls away from other fielders, and he's doing this to such an extent that no one else in OF history needs this sort of adjustment then isnt that pretty good evidence that Jones has or is close to having the greatest range of all CF'ers?

ANd if so then its a question of how much WAR value his range has over other CFs. I did some rough numbers a few months go and this is what I come up with for the max difference between an outstanding CF and an average CF.

Range: 25 runs+ (based on getting to maybe 40 balls in the gap) (this is for CF less on the corners)
Kills (outfield assists) 10 runs (based on say a Clemente or JOnes having 20 assists vs an average guy with say 10)
HOlds 5 runs (based on having a +10% better hold rate than average, its usually about 220 or so baserunners/year and an outstanding OF might hold 22 guys, which at .25 runs/base is about 5 runs)

Mind you , these are weighted runs which isnt exactly the same as WAR (I forget the details of WAR) but basically credit for making the out is .23 runs, and double is worth about 0.75 runs etc .

Total about 40, but its possible no one has ever achieved that because they would have to be outstanding at all three abilities at the same time.

I think A JOnes had a plus 37 runs on def at least one season, and someone I was looking at recently had +35 (was Ellsbury?) so it seems do able.

So I get about max 40 although realistically its probably 35.


Look it another way. It seems clear that an outstanding central defender can save 30-35 runs a year vs average defender, but an outstanding offensive player can create more runs with his bat. Like a Bonds or Ruth might create what 80 runs better than avg hitter?

OK so you can still get more value out of an outstanding hitter. But if defenders were worth anything less than say 30 runs why would you even be playing good defense, poor hitters out there? Would you just fill the outfield with Jason Giambi/Pujols/Cabrera etc. out there?


After all, if say the very best defender can only save 20 runs on defense,what difference does it matter? YOu can stick your slowest sluggers out there and it may cost you 20 on def but they make up 40 on offense so its a win.

No one manages baseball teams like this, but if you read enuf threads on BTF you'd think half the primates would manage like this.

In other news, congratulations on the recent successful lobotomy operation.


   69. Mefisto Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:17 PM (#5606938)
For Andruw we have reputation, many highlights (and lowlights) and that he had a RF/9 that was .18/9 better than the average CF of his time ... and was .21/9 better than Mays. Starting point, Andruw made many more plays per year than Mays in raw terms and a few more plays per 9 in relative terms.


I don't think this argument cuts the way you think it does. The argument about Jones is that he was taking outs away from teammates who could have caught the ball just as easily. If this argument is true, then it's precisely RF which would be exaggerated in Jones' favor. All you did was re-state the case that Jones made more plays, which is clearly true but the importance of which is the very issue in dispute.

If what you're saying is that Mays might have taken plays away from his teammates just as much as Jones did, so that we should still treat Jones and Mays as holding the same relative position, then sure anything "might" have happened. But then the burden on you is to come up with evidence of that. Otherwise we could say that about any CF and we'd be chasing our tails.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5606940)
You apparently missed my entire point which is that HOW Sandy Koufax finished his career tells us almost nothing about what he was like at his peak.


Koufax didn't stink for 5 years, he got hurt and stopped playing. If he had been traded to a neutral park, and put up 7 healthy seasons of 90 ERA+, that would give us information about how much of his peak was talent, and how much circumstance.

   71. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:35 PM (#5606949)
If say, A Jones really is taking balls away from other fielders, and he's doing this to such an extent that no one else in OF history needs this sort of adjustment then isnt that pretty good evidence that Jones has or is close to having the greatest range of all CF'ers?


Not really. Obviously no matter how you cut it, Andruw Jones is on the short list of greatest defensive outfielder of all time, it's just where he is at, and how much value that actually provided, is the point of the argument(and as 67 points out, Jones relies more on his defense than others so he has "more to lose")

If Jones is taking balls away from other outfielders, it can be indicative of his range, but it also is maybe not adding anything to his value. If he is fielding balls that would have been caught normally, he is getting credit for something that isn't actually helping the team. Of course an argument could be made that if he is able to range that far over, his corner fielders are allowed to play closer to the line therefore getting to more balls also.(which is of course just another part of the argument)
   72. Hank G. Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5606950)
If what you're saying is that Mays might have taken plays away from his teammates just as much as Jones did, so that we should still treat Jones and Mays as holding the same relative position, then sure anything "might" have happened. But then the burden on you is to come up with evidence of that. Otherwise we could say that about any CF and we'd be chasing our tails.


When was the evidence presented that proved that Jones was taking an abnormal number of fly balls away from the other outfielders? All I’ve seen is people saying that he might have done that, and it would explain (at least part of) his extraordinary defensive numbers.
   73. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:45 PM (#5606958)
OK so you can still get more value out of an outstanding hitter. But if defenders were worth anything less than say 30 runs why would you even be playing good defense, poor hitters out there? Would you just fill the outfield with Jason Giambi/Pujols/Cabrera etc. out there?


After all, if say the very best defender can only save 20 runs on defense,what difference does it matter? YOu can stick your slowest sluggers out there and it may cost you 20 on def but they make up 40 on offense so its a win.

No one manages baseball teams like this, but if you read enuf threads on BTF you'd think half the primates would manage like this.

In other news, congratulations on the recent successful lobotomy operation.


20 runs above average, that is still 40 runs better than Giambi in center, and probably closer to 50 runs. And of course if two or three teams start putting Giambi/Thome out there in center, the difference between the elite and average will get stretched out. So now Andruw Jones who was maybe 25 better than average is now 35 above average, and that is without him actually getting better, but the average being dragged down.
   74. Mefisto Posted: January 15, 2018 at 07:55 PM (#5606964)
When was the evidence presented that proved that Jones was taking an abnormal number of fly balls away from the other outfielders? All I’ve seen is people saying that he might have done that, and it would explain (at least part of) his extraordinary defensive numbers.


Chris Dial and others have put up lots of posts and comments on this topic. I can't try to find them now, but I found them very persuasive and I think others did too.
   75. BDC Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:00 PM (#5606968)
HOW Sandy Koufax finished his career tells us almost nothing about what he was like at his peak

I took it as having to retire at 30 because of a damaged arm isn't essentially different from becoming suddenly fat and bad at 30.

As to Jones's value before he got fat and bad, here are his closest batting comps ages 20-29:

Player            dWAR   PA OPSRbaser      Pos
Andruw Jones      24.1 6504  117   12.8  
*8/9HD7
Cal Ripken        19.3 6375  122    4.0   
*6/5HD
Robin Yount       12.0 6177  117   34.9 
*6/D78H3
Richie Ashburn     7.5 6109  112    9.2    
*8/7H
Roberto Alomar     1.7 6232  119   32.5   
*4/HD6
Vada Pinson       
-0.8 6741  119   25.8    *8/9H
Justin Upton      
-3.8 6043  122    9.8  *97/HD8
Ruben Sierra     
-10.2 6197  112   14.8  *9D/78H 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/15/2018.

An intriguing list because all the others with positive dWAR are Hall of Famers. Maybe that's all the peak you need for the HOF?

But then: Ripken won another MVP at age 30 and was still outstanding at 35. Yount won another MVP at age 33. Alomar was still outstanding at age 33. Ashburn was still outstanding at age 33.

Which just brings one back to the problem that most of Jones' HOF case lies in his being otherworldly at defense. And your typical HOFers with cases like that (Maranville, Aparicio, Smith, Mazeroski, Brooks Robinson) were really good defenders long into their thirties.

   76. Sunday silence Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:04 PM (#5606969)
And my point is, I don't have such faith in the accuracy of the numbers precisely because he so far outpaces everyone else...


OK so a fair question would be: How many runs per year do you think an outstanding CF can save vs an average CF? And same question for a poor CF vs avg CF.

Give us an estimate. We will plug in those numbers and see if those make sense given how managers use positional players, how we attribute runs to pitcher instead of defense, trades involving central defenders, what the TZ and BRIs numbers say, etc.
****

Here's another interesting stat I came across, under the Advanced Pitching page on Baseball Reference: IF/FB which is flyballs that end up in the infield (this includes line drives). The MLB average (at least for Gerrit Coles career) is 12%.

Now how many of those were pop outs (as opposed to line drives) Well I dunno, lets say 8% of batted balls are Inf pop outs.

Ok so how many lazy fly balls to right center can there be, that are actually within say David Justice's range that A Jones took away from him?

That's a good question for Soshu:

About how many times a year do you think A Jones would have taken an easy flyball away from a RF or LF?

Give us a number...
   77. Sunday silence Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:11 PM (#5606975)

20 runs above average, that is still 40 runs better than Giambi in center, and probably closer to 50 runs.


well lets stay with 40 runs for the moment (I know you said 50 later). Doesnt Giambi put up more than 40 runs in batting that your better CF who arent good fielders? I am not saying Jim Edmonds/A Jones/Lofton but guys like Omar Moreno or Devon WHite.

Wouldnt Giambi be a better CF (in terms of overall runs produced/saved) than Omar Moreno?
   78. Sunday silence Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:17 PM (#5606981)

I took it as having to retire at 30 because of a damaged arm isn't essentially different from becoming suddenly fat and bad at 30.


Right, I think you get my point. Although maybe you can make a case that it is different which goes back to one of the posts made at the start of thread which susggested had Jones done down with an injury we might think of his HoF chances as being better.

I dunno, but fact us that none of us, or almost none of us knows what is going on with these players and their personal problems. There could be mental issues, there could be health issues, there could be family issues, who knows?

I really wouldnt want to base my HoF analysis on whether someone quit too early or whatever. Basically did he have enuf of a career contribution? Sounds to me like 63 WAR is enuf of a career contribution, although not a slam dunk of course.

If Jones seems to qualify based on career WAR (and its only Bill James challenging these numbers) then what are we left with? Narrative? He was a very important member of a team that won a number of pennants. That seems like enuf to me. ALthough compared to Lou Brock say, AJones wasnt really the center piece of those Braves teams.

Maybe thats what hurts his HoF chances in the end. We know Jones was a good player but we always think of Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine, Justice (perhaps?) before we think of Jones ??
   79. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:24 PM (#5606985)
Now how many of those were pop outs (as opposed to line drives) Well I dunno, lets say 8% of batted balls are Inf pop outs.


From this article from Fangraphs

I took their chart and put it in excel spreadsheet and ended up with these numbers.

Hang Time   Infield   Shallow    Routine    SlightlyDeep Deep 
1.5 to 3.0  2
,349      20,732      6,926      1,438       128 
3.0 to 4.0    676       6
,073      7,859      7,264      1,536 
4.0 to 5.0  2
,104       5,444      6,472      8,580      6,982 
5.0 to 6.0  5
,660       7,250      6,502      7,254      6,912 
6.0 plus    3
,036       3,772      2,411      2,162      1,291 
Total      13
,825      43,271     30,170     26,698     16,849 
130
,813
             10.57
%      33.08%    23.06%     20.41%     12.88


So it looks like about 10.57% of pop ups are infield. (at least in 2013)
   80. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 15, 2018 at 08:26 PM (#5606986)
but it also is maybe not adding anything to his value.


Again, Jones stealing plays from Justice DOES add to his value (unless those are replacement-level plays for Justice). The credit for those plays has to go somewhere, and it was Jones who made the play. So even if some of his value comes from stealing plays from other fielders, that's still real value that we should count in his favor. The only complication is that since those plays are way out of his zone, zone-based defensive measures will give him too much credit for them; for such plays he should be getting credit based on Justice's zone.
   81. RJ in TO Posted: January 15, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5606996)
When was the evidence presented that proved that Jones was taking an abnormal number of fly balls away from the other outfielders? All I’ve seen is people saying that he might have done that, and it would explain (at least part of) his extraordinary defensive numbers.

Chris Dial and others have put up lots of posts and comments on this topic. I can't try to find them now, but I found them very persuasive and I think others did too.


Dial has discussed it repeatedly over the years. Michael A. Humphreys also discusses it in Wizardry, and mentions his system includes some adjustments to compensate for perceived ball hogging tendencies (in that Andruw was seen to be taking away plays from the 2B and SS on short high fly balls/deep popups that would normally be caught by them due to him playing very shallow, which would increase his range factor, but add no effective value, in that these balls would have been caught anyway by the infielders). This is discussed on Page 314 of the paperback for Andruw specifically, and on pages 75-76 for the general issue of ball hogging from other outfielders.

Even after his adjustments, Humphreys still picks Andruw as the greatest defensive center fielder, but it should be noted that he ranks his defense as being about 30 runs below (through 2008) that used by B-R for their WAR calculation.
   82. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5607003)

Look it another way. It seems clear that an outstanding central defender can save 30-35 runs a year vs average defender, but an outstanding offensive player can create more runs with his bat. Like a Bonds or Ruth might create what 80 runs better than avg hitter?

OK so you can still get more value out of an outstanding hitter. But if defenders were worth anything less than say 30 runs why would you even be playing good defense, poor hitters out there? Would you just fill the outfield with Jason Giambi/Pujols/Cabrera etc. out there?

After all, if say the very best defender can only save 20 runs on defense,what difference does it matter? YOu can stick your slowest sluggers out there and it may cost you 20 on def but they make up 40 on offense so its a win.
When you say that "defenders were worth anything less than say 30 runs," you omit something: 30 runs compared to what? Replacement level, no? But Giambi is not a replacement level CF defensively. He is way below replacement level. (Remember, it's not just balls not caught; it's singles turned into doubles, doubles turned into triples.)
   83. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 09:35 PM (#5607004)

I'm not sure what 49 is saying. IIRC, by dWAR the only CF between Jones and Mays is Paul Blair. You could be saying:
Note that all three of these guys were noted for playing unusually shallow in CF.
   84. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:04 PM (#5607018)
well lets stay with 40 runs for the moment (I know you said 50 later). Doesnt Giambi put up more than 40 runs in batting that your better CF who arent good fielders? I am not saying Jim Edmonds/A Jones/Lofton but guys like Omar Moreno or Devon WHite.

Wouldnt Giambi be a better CF (in terms of overall runs produced/saved) than Omar Moreno?


Maybe, maybe not. But Jason Giambi is not the platonic ideal of a freely available no position hitter. He's way, way above that level. A guy hits like Giambi, he plays, period. I doubt a freely available no position hitter is probably no better than 20 runs better than a glove only CF. Omar Moreno, is IS the platonic ideal of a no hit, glove first CF, had only one season where he was below -20 runs on offense. In the years in which he was a regular, he was (from best to worst) +2, +1, -3, -15, -18, -25. Average of -10. So for someone to be 40 runs better, he needs to put up +30. Last year there were 21 players with more than +30 batting runs. Drop it to 20 runs and it's 44, fewer than 2 people per team. These guys aren't looking for work. The guys looking for work are guys like Logan Morrison, who has an average of +4 batting runs in his 8 year career.
   85. Mefisto Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:17 PM (#5607028)
Note that all three of these guys were noted for playing unusually shallow in CF.


Mays didn't play unusually shallow. A bit shallower than medium, but that's it.
   86. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:23 PM (#5607033)
Again, Jones stealing plays from Justice DOES add to his value (unless those are replacement-level plays for Justice). The credit for those plays has to go somewhere, and it was Jones who made the play.

No, no it doesn't. If the play was 99% likely to be caught by the RF, LF, SS, or 2B, Jones running 300 feet at a world record sprint, and making the greatest play in history adds zero value to his team. The ball would have been an out if a dead man were playing CF.
   87. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:29 PM (#5607039)

No, no it doesn't. If the play was 99% likely to be caught by the RF, LF, SS, or 2B, Jones running 300 feet at a world record sprint, and making the greatest play in history adds zero value to his team. The ball would have been an out if a dead man were playing CF.
Well, it adds 1%. And that little only if you assume that these other players do not adjust in any way to the fact that Jones is catching these balls, which would seem odd. If Jones catches balls that, on other teams, would be caught by the LF, then Jones' LF can play further away from that spot on the field, thus enabling him to catch other balls that other LFs wouldn’t catch.
   88. Ziggy: The Platonic Form of Russell Branyan Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:32 PM (#5607041)
(unless those are replacement-level plays for Justice)


Quoting myself because it's relevant to snapper's reply. If there's a 99% chance of the ball being caught by someone else then it doesn't add extra value, because those are the plays that replacement-level players would make. But if it's a play that David Justice makes 85% of the time (making numbers up here), but which a CF makes only 2% of the time, Jones is creating value for his team. Not a HUGE amount of value (since Justice probably would have made the play anyway), but some, since there was a 15% chance that Justice would have missed it.

Edit: Fizzy drink to Nieporent.
   89. cardsfanboy Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:44 PM (#5607046)

Quoting myself because it's relevant to snapper's reply. If there's a 99% chance of the ball being caught by someone else then it doesn't add extra value, because those are the plays that replacement-level players would make. But if it's a play that David Justice makes 85% of the time (making numbers up here), but which a CF makes only 2% of the time, Jones is creating value for his team. Not a HUGE amount of value (since Justice probably would have made the play anyway), but some, since there was a 15% chance that Justice would have missed it.


One thing being missed though, is if Andruw runs that 300 feet and ends up not making the play, the person who get's penalized is Justice as the guy who missed the play, even though he was deferring to Andruw Jones. And no matter how great Andruw Jones was, I know he wasn't perfect. So it's also possible not only is Andruw Jones getting credit for plays that would have been made, but is also not being "penalized" for plays that he tried to make and failed. In batting terms that is like getting credit for hits and only charged an at bat when you did get a hit.
   90. SoSH U at work Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:45 PM (#5607047)
But if it's a play that David Justice makes 85% of the time (making numbers up here), but which a CF makes only 2% of the time, Jones is creating value for his team. Not a HUGE amount of value (since Justice probably would have made the play anyway), but some, since there was a 15% chance that Justice would have missed it.


Sure, but that's never been at issue. There are simply plays that can be made easily by either outfielder (or an outfielder and infielder). If Andruw Jones is handling more of them than an average team's centerfielder, than he's not adding value on those balls. And, no, you're not going to be able to simply position your outfielders so there's no overlap - because then you'd see a lot more of those 15 percent/2 percent balls falling in. You can't eliminate outfield overlap, or at least in any way that wouldn't result in lesser coverage.
   91. Mefisto Posted: January 15, 2018 at 10:51 PM (#5607052)
And that little only if you assume that these other players do not adjust in any way to the fact that Jones is catching these balls, which would seem odd.


I don't think it's odd for 2B/SS. As I understand it, IF position themselves for ground balls. Thus, the fact that they didn't need to reach pop flies wouldn't affect their positioning. It just means that Jones caught a ball that they would have caught anyway.

The other thing to consider is how much the team might gain by having the corner OF play closer to the line. I suspect there's a point of diminishing return there, so at some point Jones would not add value even the other OF did shift.

Edit: Coke to SoSH for making substantially the same point.
   92. Sunday silence Posted: January 16, 2018 at 05:59 AM (#5607080)
Omar Moreno, is IS the platonic ideal of a no hit, glove first CF, had only one season where he was below -20 runs on offense. In the years in which he was a regular, he was (from best to worst) +2, +1, -3, -15, -18, -25. Average of -10.


I dont think we're on the same page quite. I am talking about weighted runs versus the average hitter. If you are quoting WAR for his offense that is adjusted to compare him to other CFers or that's what I thought. I do think you have a reasonable point that should be addressed, so let me look again at the numbers and try to be a bit more clear.



Last year there were 21 players with more than +30 batting runs.


I do get your pt about Giambi being not a freely available hitter, but again I think you're using WAR values here which are adjusted. So again let me look at this again.

you omit something: 30 runs compared to what?


Compared to the average CF'er. Thats how TZ expresses their numbers and BIS. I even mentioned that in the passage you quoted.
   93. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:45 AM (#5607104)
If you are quoting WAR for his offense that is adjusted to compare him to other CFers or that's what I thought.


No. It's adjusted to league and park, but not for position.
   94. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5607140)
Of course, the problem is that you have to squint REALLY hard to find anyone above Jones' 63 that either aren't in the HoF (and people are fine) or think SHOULD be in... maybe Willie Randolph? Ken Boyer? Larry Walker tends to garner some debate here. If we want to go 19th century - I seem to vaguely recall that the HoM voters had significant disagreements on Jesse Burkett (might be misremembering though). Buddy Bell?


I don't think that's a problem at all. There are plenty of players with as much or more WAR as A Jones who are not in the HOF:

Boyer
Reggie Smith
Randolph
Buddy Bell
Dwight Evans
Nettles
Lofton
Grich
Whitaker

Sure, they all have their supporters, but I think Boyer is the one who did the best by BBWAA voting, around 25%. Why is it a problem if a statistic puts Jones in the range of players who are supported by some for the HOF? Do you think a statistic has to show him as obviously unworthy to be valid?

We know Jones was a good player but we always think of Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine, Justice (perhaps?) before we think of Jones ??


Definitely not Justice - the two never played together. Justice was hurt early in 1996 and forced the Braves to call up Jermaine Dye. Andruw came up later in the season, and in the offseason Justice was dealt to the Indians. But we do think of the pitching trio and Jones (Chipper) before we think of Andruw.

I looked at the composition of his TZ rating, from 1997-2001. These are his best years and also predate the time when UZR and DRS have published numbers. He's +30 on average over the 5 year span, which breaks down as:

+23 range
+7 arm

The range part is debatable with discretionary plays and data quality, but the arm part is pretty solid. You can look at the advanced fielding tab on bbref and if you want to put in some work, verify or refute that part. Some of the details: In 1998 he threw out 8 runners at home plate. I don't have a point of comparison but that seems like a lot. In 1999 104 runners had a chance to go 1st-3rd on him, and 80 held put.
   95. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5607142)
The other thing to consider is how much the team might gain by having the corner OF play closer to the line. I suspect there's a point of diminishing return there, so at some point Jones would not add value even the other OF did shift.

Edit: Coke to SoSH for making substantially the same point.


The actual value brought by Andruw in this regard can be measured relatively easily. What's the difference between Ryan Klesko vs Gerald Williams in the lineup?
   96. Mefisto Posted: January 16, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5607147)
It seems to me that one of the advantages of playing shallow -- really shallow like Andruw did -- would be more assists.
   97. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 16, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5607167)
When was the evidence presented that proved that Jones was taking an abnormal number of fly balls away from the other outfielders? All I’ve seen is people saying that he might have done that, and it would explain (at least part of) his extraordinary defensive numbers.

Chris Dial and others have put up lots of posts and comments on this topic. I can't try to find them now, but I found them very persuasive and I think others did too.


I vaguely recall from past discussions that this looked at the performance of OF mates using the same zone-based metrics - especially performance sharing an OF with the star CF with big + numbers vs elsewhere? If I'm recalling incorrectly, wouldn't this actually be how one would go about supporting or poking holes in the idea?

BTW - while I recognize the focus here is on Jones' zone-based defensive performance, it really ought to be noted that Jones led the league in CF assists 3 times and finished in the top 10 seven times (and ranks 34th all time), as well as DPs 3 times (40th all-time). I realize the debate isn't whether he was good or not -- it is whether he was *that* good, but he was more than just pure range.

EDIT: Most of the leaderboard appearances above - and his biggest raw totals - also came early in his career, lending itself to the idea that baserunners eventually quit running on him...
   98. fra paolo Posted: January 16, 2018 at 11:04 AM (#5607192)
I did this last November, but this is as good a place as any to show it again:

CF Fielding Win Sharescareer1951-2011:
Wilie Mays      104.9
Andruw Jones     86.3 
Willie Davis     79.3
Marquis Grissom  77.2
Curt Flood       77.1
Amos Otis        72.1
Steve Finley     71.9
Vada Pinson      69.0
Mike Cameron     67.8
Paul Blair       67.5
* * * *
Devon White      57.8 (#24th) 


Win Shares Above Bench puts Andruw on top:
Andruw Jones    42.4
Curt Flood      38.1
Willie Mays     36.1
Marquis Grissom 30.7
Willie Wilson   28.5
Paul Blair      28.3
Jim Piersall    26.9
Amos Otis       26.4
Mike Cameron    25.3
Willie Davis    24.8
* * * *
Devon White     16.7 (29th


DRA also uses 'traditional' (not zone-basedstats to reach its numbers:
Andruw Jones   20.3
Willie Wilson  17.1
Paul Blair     17.1
Wilie Mays     16.9
Willie Davis   15.2
Darin Erstad   14.0
Jim Piersall   12.7
Gary Pettis    12.1
Garry Maddox   12.1
Devon White    11.4 


Best Consecutive 5/10 averages in Win Shares
Mays 6.9
/6.4
Andruw 9.0
/6.9
Blair 6.2
/5.7
Flood 7.7
/6.7 

It's important to remember that all fielding systems using traditional stats compare against an average for the season at the position, so the data in theory could show that Jones saving more runs than than Mays in relative terms, but that wouldn't preclude Mays being better in absolute terms.

Also this (from that earlier thread):
Andruw's numbers get a big boost from his performance during 1998-2000.

We should be sure we understand why that happened before we make any firm judgements. But, pace James, certainly Andruw is at the front of the queue for 'best-fielding CF of all time'.

EDIT Also this needs to be quoted:
Comparing Flood's 1962 with Andruw's 1999, it does seem that DRA has a more noticeable 'zero-sum' effect than Win Shares on a league basis. Comparing the 1962 Cardinals with the 1999 Braves suggests Win Shares pushes value among fielders around at the team level rather than the league level.

   99. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: January 16, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5607205)
Andruw's numbers get a big boost from his performance during 1998-2000.

We should be sure we understand why that happened before we make any firm judgements. But, pace James, certainly Andruw is at the front of the queue for 'best-fielding CF of all time'.


So just looking at those three years -

Jones played alongside Ryan Klesko, who was - of course - wretched in the OF and Michael Tucker, who was pretty decent in the OF before he hit 30. Tucker's 1998 was about average - but bunched between his first stint in KC and then the following year in CIN when he was above average.

In 1999 - Jones was in between two pretty good defenders in Brian Jordan and Gerald Williams. Jordan's numbers take a slight - but noticeable - hit. Williams dips a bit, too - but not significantly so and perhaps in line with his advancing age (he was 32 in 99).

In 2000- Jones again played between Jordan (who still looks pretty good) and a hodge podge of decent OF defenders (Reggie Sanders) and iron-gloved drek (like Bobby Bonilla).

Somebody better versed than me would have to say definitively, but at least just glancing at the LF/RF guys he played in between during those three years, there's maybe some evidence he was cherrypicking flyballs from his OF mates - just quickly looking at their before/after with Jones, but not a whole lot and certainly not enough to look conclusive by any quick glance.
   100. Mefisto Posted: January 16, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5607221)
A CF who plays shallow might "steal" catches from his corner OF, but also from his 2B/SS.

I think a lot of the debate about Jones can be simplified if we re-state it as one of positioning: how shallow should a CF play? Maybe there's a significant unrealized advantage to be had there, which Jones exploited, or maybe it's just a question of redistributing the chances. Anyway, putting the debate in positional terms might get rid of some of the personal issues.
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