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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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   101. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5607344)
Flip
   102. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5607345)
A CF who plays shallow might "steal" catches from his corner OF, but also from his 2B/SS.


Any catch a CF, coming in on the ball, makes instead of an IF floating back on a ball, is a higher percentage out. Any outs "stolen" from infielders in this manner is a marginal improvement for the team's defense, even if the IF would also have made the catch, simply because the OF coming in has a better angle on both the catch and holding runners from advancing after the catch.

That said, most of the catches Andruw "stole" by playing shallow were not pop flies that an infielder simply peeled off on. He took away singles. Little looping liners that landed in front of other CF's he caught on the fly. Balls played on a hop by Steve Finley, Andruw caught. And he did this because he was so insanely talented at going *back* on the ball in the gap. Andruw's genius was the ability to play shallow and steal those singles into outs, yet still cover every inch of the deep gaps that Devon White ever got to.
   103. Mefisto Posted: January 16, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5607381)
Any catch a CF, coming in on the ball, makes instead of an IF floating back on a ball, is a higher percentage out.


At some point in a defensive zone this is true, but it's not true for most pop flies. IF catch them essentially every time. The whole issue is how many of which kind Jones is getting credit for.

As for the rest of your comment, of course an OF who can play shallow and still cover the gaps will be better. What we'd like to do, but can't because we lack the data, is sort out which category of balls in the air were more significant in Jones' case.
   104. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:08 PM (#5607398)
What we'd like to do, but can't because we lack the data, is sort out which category of balls in the air were more significant in Jones' case.


Okay. So go ask people who saw him play. Ask people who saw him and other game-historic defenders at the position play. Augment your lack of data with secondary sources. Stop punting the question to "nope, can't be that good" just because your data is uncertain.
   105. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5607403)
At some point in a defensive zone this is true, but it's not true for most pop flies. IF catch them essentially every time. The whole issue is how many of which kind Jones is getting credit for.


As to this, I watched pretty much 90% of every game the man played in CF. You may write my observations off as fandom or anecdotal or just from a guy you don't like. The politics of glory run that way a lot, after all. But those weren't the outs Andruw stole. He didn't steal outs from Raffy Furcal. He got to balls Klesko had no chance on (particularly when playing next to Brian Jordan in RF, who was also a fabulous defender,) and he stole singles from looping line drives.
   106. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:15 PM (#5607405)
As to this, I watched pretty much 90% of every game the man played in CF. You may write my observations off as fandom or anecdotal or just from a guy you don't like. The politics of glory run that way a lot, after all. But those weren't the outs Andruw stole. He didn't steal outs from Raffy Furcal. He got to balls Klesko had no chance on (particularly when playing next to Brian Jordan in RF, who was also a fabulous defender,) and he stole singles from looping line drives.

But you didn't watch 90% of games played by Mays, and Blair, and Devon White, so you really can't help us here.
   107. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5607410)
I looked at plays per 9 innings above average. This is not a stat I really like, because the denominator should be balls in play instead of outs made by the team. But it is easily available, and over a long career the factors that should be adjusted for should even out a bit.

This shows plays above average, not runs, but even with that in mind the results are much more extreme than any of the other defensive measures we have. Jones does very well on rate (+0.18 per 9) and plays made (+297). Willie Mays is lower on rate (+0.12) but higher on plays (+324) since he played so many more games in center field.

Others ranking very high, around 300 plays, are Garry Maddox (+275), Curt Flood (+314), Mike Cameron (+269), and Dwayne Murphy (+290). I think it's reasonable to adjust a defensive rating, when considering the game's highest honor, to consider Andruw in the same range as these guys but not far, far above. I did not look at players before 1950 or so, so no Tris Speaker or DiMaggio brother.

One player does rank extremely high by this, Richie Ashburn at +0.35, +673. Kiermaier and Cain (+.37, +.36) are active players with similar high rates but few innings to date and we have not seen their decline years. Bill James knew there was a ballpark problem with Ashburn, he wrote a full article about it in one of his books. Maybe one of the historical abstracts, but it might have been Win Shares, I don't remember. I am also aware of the Ashburn problem, and since I put park factors into the Total Zone calculation from the start Ashburn rates well, but not exceptionally well in TZ defense.

I do not post this with any belief that raw RF/9 above league should be a substitute for PBP fielding metrics, but it is worth at least looking into as a guideline, as something that anybody can verify from looking at the player's BBref page, and something that can be calculated consistently across any baseball era so long as we have accurate traditional fielding stats and innings totals.
   108. Mefisto Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5607417)
He got to balls Klesko had no chance on


Everybody agrees he should get full credit for those plays.

So go ask people who saw him play.


In addition to what snapper said, it turns out that's not very helpful. Ex. A: Derek Jeter.
   109. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5607420)
In the other direction, poor Mickey Mantle. He had a 2.49 RF/9, against a league of 2.73. Had Mickey come up in the 90s we'd have a subset of statheads talk about how overrated he is by defensive metrics since he was actually costing his team hundreds of runs, just like his teammate Jeter.
   110. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5607428)
But you didn't watch 90% of games played by Mays, and Blair, and Devon White


Bobby Cox saw Mays and White play. He still maintains that Andruw was heads and shoulders ahead of them both.
   111. Palm Beach Pollworker Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5607429)
Willie Mays...played so many more games in center field.

That's really it, though, isn't it. Andruw may have been unquestionably a better CF in his prime, but Mays played for longer and part of 'fame' is longevity.
   112. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5607438)
Andruw may have been unquestionably a better CF in his prime, but Mays played for longer and part of 'fame' is longevity.


Somebody go take down that Koufax plaque.
   113. dlf Posted: January 16, 2018 at 03:00 PM (#5607480)
Andruw played with a lot of different corner OFs and MIs. Has anyone looked at, for example, Keith Lockhart or Bret Boone or Jeff Blauser or Rafael Furcal or Michael Tucker or Brian Jordan's defensive numbers with Jones behind him and while he toiled elsewhere? If it was purely or even largely discretionary plays that is causing Jones to look so good in the metrics, those players' stats should decline in ATL and increase elsewhere.

To a lesser degree, we could also do that with the Braves pitchers. Are the BABIP #s for Glavine similar as a Met or Millwood similar as a Phil or Schmidt in San Fran or Neagle with his prostitutes in Colorado?

Purely anecdotally, but while the numbers show that Atlanta consistently had good to great defenses through the 14/15 season run, the only non-pitcher who consistently fielded his position at the top of the league from my eyes was Andruw. Furcal was fine as were a handful of the RFs, but there were more clunkers than fielding wizards. And yet, we debit the pitchers for defensive support that seems more appropriate to the Blair, Belanger, Grich, BRobby O's.
   114. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5607536)
Here's Glavine:

With Braves through 1996: .285
Braves 1997-2002 .278
Mets 2003-2007 .292

Of course Neagle is going to look worse in Colorado, just because of Coors.

Millwood

1997-2002 Braves .282
2003-2012 6 teams .311

Smoltz
1988-1996 .276 pre-Andruw
1997-2007 .297 with Andruw

2008-09 is small sample size for him.

Maddux
1986-92 .287 Cubs
1993-96 .267 pre-Andruw Braves at his absolute peak
1997-03 .289 Andruw Braves
2004-08 .296 Post Braves career
   115. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 16, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5607558)
Peak Maddux was rolling balls off the bat to 2B, FTR.
   116. Rally Posted: January 16, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5607566)
A lot of those balls never even made it to second, Maddux made the plays himself.
   117. dlf Posted: January 16, 2018 at 05:12 PM (#5607610)
Thanks for the data in #114 Rally. Obviously we'd need to look comprehensively rather than ad hoc to do a meaningful WOWY comparison, but equally obviously, I lack the patience and interest to do it myself. That being said, I would assume that folks doing the deeper dives into defensive metrics do track such information to help calibrate the results of UZR, BIS, etc.
   118. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: January 16, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5607618)
In the other direction, poor Mickey Mantle. He had a 2.49 RF/9, against a league of 2.73. Had Mickey come up in the 90s we'd have a subset of statheads talk about how overrated he is by defensive metrics since he was actually costing his team hundreds of runs, just like his teammate Jeter.
And won a gold glove in a year in which his RF/9 (in CF) was 2.23 vs league of 2.58.

Interestingly, that was his age-30 season- the same season age as Jeter's first GG.
   119. Zach Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:08 PM (#5607683)
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.


I disagree. I think that historically sabermetrics has been weighed down by the number of impractical suggestions that numbers guys have made. Things like batting Babe Ruth leadoff, putting a poor defender with a big bat at catcher, etc.

A lot of those arguments were immediately dismissed by people who knew anything about the game, and didn't hold up upon closer analysis by numbers guys, either.

   120. QLE Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:04 PM (#5607716)
putting a poor defender with a big bat at catcher


Mike Piazza doesn't see anything wrong with that.....
   121. cardsfanboy Posted: January 16, 2018 at 09:07 PM (#5607739)
I disagree. I think that historically sabermetrics has been weighed down by the number of impractical suggestions that numbers guys have made. Things like batting Babe Ruth leadoff, putting a poor defender with a big bat at catcher, etc.

A lot of those arguments were immediately dismissed by people who knew anything about the game, and didn't hold up upon closer analysis by numbers guys, either.


And none of those "impractical" suggestions was actually supported by the stat community at large. This is one of those arguments where people try to argue that global warming isn't happening because a few (massive ####### minority) of scientists in the 70's suggest a new ice age....

Focusing on the strawman argument about the extremes, which never had a real say, is ridiculous. As Qle pointed out Mike Piazza was on the receiving end of a lot of that hatred from traditionalists, and he's a hof catcher, and the numbers eventually backed him up. As far as batting Ruth Leading off, that was never a really serious argument, it was proposed to maximize his plate appearances, and the number guys quickly pointed out that he should probably have batted second, and there really is no argument for batting your big bopper 4th, and even worse third. And in probably a decade we will not see teams batting their best hitter 3rd and 4th, but for now they are still doing the clearly stupid thing there. Now there was an argument for batting someone like Adam Dunn first or more accurately your best obp guy should go first, and again, Tango/MGL and others have quickly figured out that there is more than just obp to lineup construction.

   122. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5607886)
I thought I heard Hank Aaron was a leadoff hitter briefly but it appears to not be true, he has 5 games in the leadoff spot but it looks like he was taking a day off and later pinch hit for the leadoff man.

Aaron did bat second quite a bit in 1957 though, for manager Fred Haney on an eventual WS winning team. This was Aaron's first big power year, where he hit his number in homeruns for the first time (he hit exactly 44 4 separate years). He was the #2 hitter in 51 games, hit 19 homers and slugged .656.
   123. GuyM Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5607940)
In the other direction, poor Mickey Mantle. He had a 2.49 RF/9, against a league of 2.73. Had Mickey come up in the 90s we'd have a subset of statheads talk about how overrated he is by defensive metrics since he was actually costing his team hundreds of runs, just like his teammate Jeter.
Rally, to what do you attribute the big gap between Mantle's raw data (terrible) and TZ (a bit below average)? Is it ballpark, groundball pitchers, something else?
   124. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5608027)
It's been so long since I looked into the details that I've forgotten. Probably groundball pitchers has something to do with it. Also Yankees overall had an excellent defense, at least while they were still winning pennants. So there would be fewer balls in play against them than against others. I don't know if the ballpark was a factor at all. I expect Yankee Stadium's dimensions would increase the PO totals of left fielders and decrease for RF, but no idea what it did for center field.


   125. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5608038)
So there would be fewer balls in play against them than against others.


On the other hand, they would have had more outs to distribute.
   126. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5608045)

On the other hand, they would have had more outs to distribute.


???

Every team records roughly the same number of outs. They vary on how many PAs it takes to generate those out.
   127. BDC Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:13 PM (#5608053)
I was trying to find the closest actual thing to batting Babe Ruth leadoff. Maybe Bobby Bonds for the 1970 Giants. Bonds had established himself as somebody with power who drew walks and struck out a lot. Clyde King put him at leadoff, was promptly fired, and Charlie Fox kept him there. It was pretty radical for the time, as I seem vaguely to remember – league leader in strikeouts leading off, no matter how fast he is? Let alone the power he hit for.

But Bonds scored 134 runs and the Giants easily led the league in offense.

Of course doing something like that was predicated on also having Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. If your lineup was Lou Gehrig, Robinson Cano, Cal Ripken, Eddie Mathews, Manny Ramirez, Greg Luzinski, and Johnny Bench, you actually might bat Babe Ruth leadoff :)
   128. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5608070)
Every team records roughly the same number of outs. They vary on how many PAs it takes to generate those out.


Assuming a normal distribution of extra inning games, the best teams record more outs. They more often have to record the full 27 outs when they're on the road, and their opponents less frequently have to record 27 when the good team is at home.
   129. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5608079)
[.]

Nevermind. Got confused as to which side we were talking about, offense or defense.
   130. Ithaca2323 Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5608083)
As I posted on the other thread:

I'm pro Jones. I think I'm pretty analytics friendly, and would actually describe myself, if forced to pick, as a guy who values Career WAR the most when it comes to the Hall.

But I think with Jones, there's too much focus on the trees and not the forest.

He was an all-time elite defensive CF for a decade straight, and during that time was a solid hitter overall, though he was more power than average and OBP. Whether he was the greatest ever, or if the numbers were inflated by whatever amount by stealing popups, doesn't really change the fact that he was an all-time great at a premium defensive position for a long time. And during that time, he was +127 rBat, so this is hardly an Omar situation. I think, broadly speaking, this is the type of career and player the Hall should recognize. An all-time great glove man who helped a decent amount with his bat and on the bases.
   131. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5608142)
Assuming a normal distribution of extra inning games, the best teams record more outs. They more often have to record the full 27 outs when they're on the road, and their opponents less frequently have to record 27 when the good team is at home.


Being on the winning side so much, Mantle should have seen more outs per game than most. But the numbers I posted in #109 adjust for that, looking at range factor per 9 innings. An efficient defensive team like the Yankees from 1951-1964 has exactly as many outs per inning as everyone else, but they would see fewer plate appearances by the opposition.
   132. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5608154)
Being on the winning side so much, Mantle should have seen more outs per game than most. But the numbers I posted in #109 adjust for that, looking at range factor per 9 innings.


I wasn't sure if a defensive player's time was broken down at the inning level, rather than the game level.
   133. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 01:49 PM (#5608170)
I don't know how much is verified fact or estimation, but it looks like bbref has defensive innings for every year in baseball history. One thing they don't have is lf-cf-rf breakdowns for earlier years, but they do have an OF inning total.
   134. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 07:50 PM (#5608448)
Re Omar Moreno and post 84:


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...


OK first of all his total offense contribution includes SB and of course he had some outstanding years including 1979 when he stole 77 bases and gets +10 for rBaserunning, which seems reasonable estimate.

I think you may be missing a season or two in there for instance his age 29 season he's -26 and his age 27 season he's minus 20. But none of that is much important because:

a) given his speed Moreno is not a bad off. liability; and
b) the point wasnt about Moreno per se, but about bad hitting CF.

Moreno in certain years was a bad hitting CF, in late 78 or early '79 Harry Walker worked with him supposedly to chop down on the ball and whatever happened he started to actually hit. BUt he went to HOU and NY and problems started again so his seasons had an up/down pattern to them.

His worst hitting years age 24: -22 (-24 extrapolated to full season); age 27: -25; age 29: -28, age 30 -21 extraplated.

So Moreno as an example of a bad hitter he's about -25 runs down offensively. I am guessing there were CF'ers who hit this badly and didnt steal 77 bases per year.

So that's my only point as a hitter, he's down about 25 runs/year. His defense is valued at +11 and +14 in his 3 good seasons, and just about 0 in his other early seasons. He then hit a wall at age 30 and his defense plunged. So he's not really an example of a great fielder either.

Its not unreasonable to think of a bad hitter as -25 runs. To make up for it with great fielding one would think +25 would be a reasonable guess. Do you think its less than that for fielding ?
   135. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:00 PM (#5608452)

OK first of all his total offense contribution includes SB and of course he had some outstanding years including 1979 when he stole 77 bases and gets +10 for rBaserunning, which seems reasonable estimate.

I think you may be missing a season or two in there for instance his age 29 season he's -26 and his age 27 season he's minus 20. But none of that is much important because:


I think you missed the fact that he did the math already. In his age 29 season he was -28 rbat, + 2 rbase, + 1 rdp.... which is the entirety of his offense production, which is the -25 he listed.
his -18 was his age 27 season, where he was -25 rbat, + 5rbase, + 2 rdp....
his -15 season was his age 24 season where he was -22 rbat, +5 rbase, +2 rdp (rdp is the ability to avoid hitting into a double play)
   136. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5608455)
Its not unreasonable to think of a bad hitter as -25 runs. To make up for it with great fielding one would think +25 would be a reasonable guess. Do you think its less than that for fielding ?


Of course it's less than that for fielding. Heck I'm pretty sure earlier in the thread you said as much. (or someone did) An outfielder might get 400-500 chances over the course of the season probably 60% of them are of the easy variety, and another 15 or so are of the average variety, the number of chances that the player can make any difference is probably close to 25%(or less more than likely) vs every at bat that a player has he can do better than average and he gets about 600 of them or so a year. Defensive plays have a natural limit, and are often time easy to reach the best possible outcome(recording an out)....batting has a natural limit also(homerun every time you come to the plate) but it's not easy, and it doesn't happen anywhere near the same frequency.
   137. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:26 PM (#5608469)
Not sure how you can support that its less than 25 runs/year. If a CF only gets to 40 more flyballs a year, presumably many of those are balls in the gap since we expect him to be making those extra catches on the periphery of his range. If you give weighted run credit of .74 for a double and .23 for an out, that's 40 runs right there....

What do you think outfield kills and baserunner holds are worth? on average?

EDIT: CFB: I thought you had previously posted that Kiemaier had a +37 defensive season?
   138. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:32 PM (#5608471)
Of course it's less than that for fielding. Heck I'm pretty sure earlier in the thread you said as much.


what I said and am trying to defend, is that the most extreme defensive contribution in CF should be about +35 runs and maybe +40 if you can be great at assists/holds/range all at the same time, which maybe has never happened. But +35 seems do-able for an outstanding/historical CF
   139. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:37 PM (#5608475)
...the number of chances that the player can make any difference is probably close to 25%(or less more than likely) vs every at bat that a player has he can do better than average and he gets about 600 of them or so a year.


why are you getting sidetracked into a discussion about batting? What does that have to do with how many defensive runs a CF can save? Its totallly bizarre that you're going to shift into a discussion about batting right there.

Defensive plays have a natural limit, and are often time easy to reach the best possible outcome(recording an out..


again, what is going on? OF course they have a natural limit, so does attendance figures, so does aging, SO what?

So whats your conclusion? Jones is getting to 15 balls in the gap per year. Maybe once every ten days he makes a play that most guys wont. He saves his team 15 runs like this and is arm counts for nothing? Total defensive contribution 15 runs above average.

Right? Is that it?
   140. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5608479)
So that's my only point as a hitter, he's down about 25 runs/year. His defense is valued at +11 and +14 in his 3 good seasons, and just about 0 in his other early seasons. He then hit a wall at age 30 and his defense plunged. So he's not really an example of a great fielder either.

Its not unreasonable to think of a bad hitter as -25 runs. To make up for it with great fielding one would think +25 would be a reasonable guess. Do you think its less than that for fielding ?


OK, but that just makes my point better. I picked Moreno because he's the first guy I thought of. But let's pick your hypothetical player. He's a net 0 (-25 offense, +25 defense). If you put a no D slugger there, what's his D? -20? AsI said, there are no freely available +20 hitters. OK, I said +30, but for +20, it's maybe 3 per team, and a lot of them are at skill D positions. Teams don't have +20 hitters languishing in the minors because there is no where for them to play. If a guy is a +20 hitter, he will have a job.You MIGHT be able to find a +10 hitter with no job prospects, but he will likely give back more than that on D. If he was merely a -10 in CF, someone would be employing him at LF .
   141. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5608481)

EDIT: CFB: I thought you had previously posted that Kiemaier had a +37 defensive season?


I posted that rField said Kiemaier had a +37 season. I didn't post whether I agree with that number. I posted it as a response to someone effectively saying that Jones number was an outlier that that can't take seriously since nobody else has produced numbers within the neighborhood of those numbers.

I'm not arguing for or against Jones in this discussion. I'm arguing for including all data in the argument and making reasonable adjustments but knowing that those adjustments might affect other players etc. I'm also arguing that Bill James is an old fossil that is upset because his methodology didn't take hold and is having a senile argument attacking strawmen, which is something he used to rail against.

I've literally never, ever seen anyone make the argument that Bill James is claiming that people are making on behalf of Andruw Jones.
   142. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:49 PM (#5608482)
I posted that rField said Kiemaier had a +37 season. I didn't post whether I agree with that number. I posted it as a response to someone effectively saying that Jones number was an outlier that that can't take seriously since nobody else has produced numbers within the neighborhood of those numbers.


Over a career, no one has. I didn't think that needed to be spelled out.

And I didn't say it can't be taken seriously. I said I'm skeptical when any player vastly outdistances every other player who ever played the position. I'm more skeptical about the third base gap, even while believing that Brooks is indeed the best ever.

I have no problem believing Andruw was the best defensive centerfielder who ever played. I doubt he lapped the field.
   143. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5608484)
why are you getting sidetracked into a discussion about batting? What does that have to do with how many defensive runs a CF can save? Its totallly bizarre that you're going to shift into a discussion about batting right there.


Why would it be bizarre to think I would sidetrack into a discussion about batting when I was replying to this comment?

Its not unreasonable to think of a bad hitter as -25 runs. To make up for it with great fielding one would think +25 would be a reasonable guess. Do you think its less than that for fielding ?


This comment implies that a bad hitter vs average is the same spread as a bad fielder vs average. Which is of course patently untrue. This is what I was replying to. A fielder has a much smaller variance to improve above average than a hitter. A bad hitter who hits -25 runs below average, would have to make up 25 runs above average on defense, that is of course basic math, but it's much easier to find a guy who is -10 runs of offense and 10 runs on defense, and you are not dealing with nearly as much randomness on the defensive side.

   144. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:52 PM (#5608487)

I posted that rField said Kiemaier had a +37 season. I didn't post whether I agree with that number.


it would probably have been better had you said that. Cause I thought you were saying that in response to someone who said that +30 or so was impossible so it seemed like you were rebutting it, and therefore bought into the number.
   145. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:54 PM (#5608490)
Over a career, no one has. I didn't think that needed to be spelled out.

And I didn't say it can't be taken seriously. I said I'm skeptical when any player vastly outdistances every other player who ever played the position. I'm more skeptical about the third base gap, even while believing that Brooks is indeed the best ever.

I have no problem believing Andruw was the best defensive centerfielder who ever played. I doubt he lapped the field.


And I don't care either way about him, I was just pointing to guys who over 3-5 seasons also put up the same elite rate that Andruw Jones did. Which is the only thing I was pointing out. Andruw was that 30 runs above average guy for basically five seasons, not over his career, the rest of his career he was just a very good cf by the numbers, but what people seem to miss often times with Andruw is that he played EVERYDAY during his peak so not only does he have one of the best rate stats, he combined it with a ton of innings/games played so superficially it is an unworldly total, but it's not an unwordly rate total, it's just that he played pretty much every inning during that time frame.
   146. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5608493)


This comment implies that a bad hitter vs average is the same spread as a bad fielder vs average. Which is of course patently untrue.


Well in general I think the spread between bad hitters to great is probably greater than bad vs great fielders. At least I started the discussion with that in my mind. But now I am not so sure because we dont really stick Jason Giambi or Al Pujols in CF so I dont really know how bad it can be.

I think Misirlou made a similar point about whether Giambi's bat is really freely avaiable or maybe DNierpont said that. But its similar argument.

I think I might agree with that statement for most players, but I am not sure if there are extreme bad fielders that might change the discussion. Of course this is why they came up with replacement value in the first place, or so I thought.
   147. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:01 PM (#5608495)
it would probably have been better had you said that. Cause I thought you were saying that in response to someone who said that +30 or so was impossible so it seemed like you were rebutting it, and therefore bought into the number.


I was rebutting it. I'm not on either side of this discussion. I'm on the side that Bill James was being a ####### idiot.
I'm on the side that says the numbers are out there, and you can't throw them away, you have to include them, you can modify them if you want, but you damn sure better to make that modification complete to everyone, and not just Andruw etc. (I'm literally not an Andruw Jones fan. I think he was one of the most overrated players who played during his prime, and the only thing I actually like about him, is how he handled his first contract extension with the Braves, beyond that I think he's clearly below about 4 other centerfielders who played in the same years as him.) The numbers say he was the best defensive centerfielder of his era, the same numbers that we use for everything else when evaluating players. If you are willing to dock Andruw, then that means you also need to dock every other plus defensive centerfielder of the era, every one that also followed etc.

I'm fine with that, but it needs to be a complete docking, and not a selective docking of just one player "Oh, I don't like Andruw's numbers because it shows he was better than Mays, so let's remove his numbers, but leave Erstad, Griffey, Edmonds, Beltran, Kiemaier, Lofton's etc... numbers alone"... that is bs.
   148. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:06 PM (#5608501)
A fielder has a much smaller variance to improve above average than a hitter. A bad hitter who hits -25 runs below average, would have to make up 25 runs above average on defense, that is of course basic math, but it's much easier to find a guy who is -10 runs of offense and 10 runs on defense, and you are not dealing with nearly as much randomness on the defensive side.


gonna break this down into parts:

"A fielder has a much smaller variance to improve above average than a hitter.."

I mean at first glance yeah it seems like it. But Im not so sure. Like what are pitchers batting .100? And what are the best hitters batting these days .350? So that's a .25 spread. And you just said above that a good fielder might make a difference on 25% of the plays..?? SO I dont think we've proved this although I think most people myself included would have thought so.

"it's much easier to find a guy who is -10 runs of offense and 10 runs on defense..."

OK yeah but I dont think that's going to prove that offense is skewing more in the positive than defense. Right? All it says is that small variances are easier to find than large ones. Is that what you're saying??

"...you are not dealing with nearly as much randomness on the defensive side.

Cause why? Cause you say so? I mean we started out with this assumption and its still an assumption and I dont see any proof of that.

   149. Mefisto Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:08 PM (#5608503)
It does make sense to dock Andruw's numbers IF one thinks that there's something unique about the way he played which overstates his value.
   150. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:10 PM (#5608504)
If you are willing to dock Andruw, then that means you also need to dock every other plus defensive centerfielder of the era, every one that also followed etc.

I'm fine with that, but it needs to be a complete docking


Well yeah, That's fine, I agree. But then you dont have an opinion on how much contribution an elite CF can make on defense?
   151. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:12 PM (#5608507)

It does make sense to dock Andruw's numbers IF one thinks that there's something unique about the way he played which overstates his value.



RIght, but then if he's taking discretionary plays at the expense of losing deep fly balls, wouldnt the Braves be making a gigantic mistake? ANd no one thinks that do they?
   152. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:19 PM (#5608513)
I'm on the side that Bill James was being a ####### idiot.


Yeah, its nothing new. He's 100% at all times, a great writer. Clear, concise, witty, uses analogies very well etc .

But even in his prime, he could get into some silly BS about something totally bizarro. Like he's talking about some player that doesnt have a great skill set and he starts talking about Julie Andrews. "What do you do with her? She sings she dances, she's a good actor but what do you do with her?"

I dunno. Cast her in movies??

Or he's suddenly decided that Dick Allen cost his teams more pennants than anyone in history. And he's not even close to the HoF and no one in baseball ever believed this only Bill James.

Or that Hal Chase is banging all the wives of his teammates. IS there any record of that?
   153. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:23 PM (#5608515)
I have no problem believing Andruw was the best defensive centerfielder who ever played. I doubt he lapped the field.


give us numbers. Give us seasonal estimates.
   154. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:24 PM (#5608516)

Well yeah, That's fine, I agree. But then you dont have an opinion on how much contribution an elite CF can make on defense?


I do have an opinion on what an elite centerfielder can make on defense, 25 runs seems like the extreme end of the equation, including the arm, but excluding park effects. I think if I did the math, it of course wouldn't be a round number like 30, but it seems like 22-29 is a reasonable range for an elite centerfielder, depending on the era and run scoring environment. (obviously if you have 3-5 other elite defensive centerfielders in the league it would be much harder to put up high numbers like that, but if you have a league that has Dexter Fowler and McCutchen playing everyday in center, it might be a bit easier to hit the high mark.)


(and if you recenter Jones numbers at 25 rfield for his best season, you are looking at a drop overall of about 30-50 rfield and dropping him to 57-60 or so war and 31-33 waa)
   155. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:29 PM (#5608517)
Teams don't have +20 hitters languishing in the minors because there is no where for them to play.


OK how do you know this? There are/were guys like Ken Phelps, or say that guy from Slippery Rock (Matt Smith?) who plays for the Cards. There are guys like that in the majors.

is it not unlikely that there are guys in the minors who are just one tick below Ken Phelps, or Mike Easler who are sitting the minors cause they'd be -30 runs on defense. You dont think there's any? Im guessing there's 20 guys like that. I have no idea but I think there's gotta be.
   156. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:39 PM (#5608521)
It does make sense to dock Andruw's numbers IF one thinks that there's something unique about the way he played which overstates his value.


It's very unlikely that Andruw is the only player benefitting from the defensive system that is unique. I mean nobody has ever watched Erstad play and thought he was comparable to Andruw as a defender, it's was just the numbers geeks who put that out there, after the numbers came in. And I'm not seeing anything from Lagares that makes me think he's better than Andruw or Kiemaier or Pillar, and these guys are putting up numbers on par with Andruw.

Unless you have the data to back it up, then you have to rely on regressed data, and the regressed data still says Andruw is elite.



RIght, but then if he's taking discretionary plays at the expense of losing deep fly balls, wouldnt the Braves be making a gigantic mistake? ANd no one thinks that do they?


I think you missed the entire point of the argument based upon that comment. Nobody is saying he's taking discretionary plays at the expense of anything. They are fully acknowledging Andruw has one of the best ranges of all time, but that he is also taking a larger than normal percentage of discretionary plays. The systems being used to evaluate defense is more or less a modified zone rating concept, which is plays per innings played made, and he's making catches on balls that his shortstop or second baseman or left fielder or right fielder is making, probably to the tune of 40 or so plays a year. Assuming that is the case, that means he is taking plays that would have been made by other players roughly every four games, his rf per 9 throughout his career was 2.68, league average was 2.21, you reduce his 2.68 by .25 and you end up with a 2.43 rf per 9, still great, but no longer the greatest of all time (of course it's probable that other centerfielders are also taking discretionary plays away, but maybe their average is one every 12 games or so, so the league average might really be 2.2025 or something like that)
   157. Sunday silence Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5608522)
25 runs seems like the extreme end of the equation


I dont think so, he's got to get at least that many runs on just balls in the gap no? I mean couldnt we just look at video tapes from recent playoffs and strat counting how many great plays in the gap there are? as a proxy for doing this game by game season by season.

This is what I was trying to do in the playoff threads this year. I was counting how many times a GB gets through the infield with men on base (its much higher than with no one on) and then working on the weighted runs being saved by elite middle infielders. We coudl do the same with outfielders.
   158. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5608525)

is it not unlikely that there are guys in the minors who are just one tick below Ken Phelps, or Mike Easler who are sitting the minors cause they'd be -30 runs on defense. You dont think there's any? Im guessing there's 20 guys like that. I have no idea but I think there's gotta be.


That would go contrary to pretty much every historical anecdote on baseball. There are probably guys in the minors who could hit +20, but they aren't in still in the minors because people think their glove is keeping them from the majors, they are in the minors because the scouts and their bias's have decided they aren't +20 hitters for whatever reason.
   159. Mefisto Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5608527)
It's very unlikely that Andruw is the only player benefitting from the defensive system that is unique. I mean nobody has ever watched Erstad play and thought he was comparable to Andruw as a defender, it's was just the numbers geeks who put that out there, after the numbers came in. And I'm not seeing anything from Lagares that makes me think he's better than Andruw or Kiemaier or Pillar, and these guys are putting up numbers on par with Andruw.


Well, if it was unique, then by definition Andruw was the only one who benefited. :)

More seriously, the modern data tracking systems should be able to tell us if more recent CF are taking easy plays away from other defenders. We have no way to do that for earlier periods except to rely on anecdotal reports.
   160. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:53 PM (#5608528)
I dont think so, he's got to get at least that many runs on just balls in the gap no? I mean couldnt we just look at video tapes from recent playoffs and strat counting how many great plays in the gap there are?


Not really, great plays are a product of illusion. I'm a Jimmy Edmonds fan of course, and there are plenty of great plays he was making that other great centerfielders were making that didn't look so great. (mind you, I'll debate with anyone that Edmonds got a better first step than Andruw....Andruw's strength was his ability to accelerate to top speed better than anyone I ever saw, and running a direct paths) But without knowing zones, looking at video you are looking at an already biased tape. If a guy insists on playing out of position, then him making a great play in the gap, that another guy who was in a better position would have made rather easily, the first guy shouldn't get bonus points for that.
   161. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:02 PM (#5608532)
To put Jimmy Edmonds out there, one of the greatest, if not the greatest play I saw him make, was in the playoffs against Houston, 2004 NLCS game seven. He got a great jump on the ball, and went full tilt to make the catch. It would have been a nearly impossible catch for ANY centerfielder that started from where he started, the problem is that he was way out of position, he was playing too shallow, and was shaded over to right field, for a ball that was hit left center. Whether this issue was a coaching or a player issue, any centerfielder that is positioned straight up gets that ball with about four steps to their right.

This is a great catch.... but in play by play defensive system, it rates out to routine.
   162. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:21 PM (#5608540)
is it not unlikely that there are guys in the minors who are just one tick below Ken Phelps, or Mike Easler who are sitting the minors cause they'd be -30 runs on defense. You dont think there's any? Im guessing there's 20 guys like that. I have no idea but I think there's gotta be.


Phelps and Easler were +20 hitters twice each in their careers. Easler's 3rd best was 14 and his 4th best was 8. Phelps was a little better, 18 twice, then 5.
   163. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5608660)

To put Jimmy Edmonds out there, one of the greatest, if not the greatest play I saw him make, was in the playoffs against Houston, 2004 NLCS game seven. He got a great jump on the ball, and went full tilt to make the catch. It would have been a nearly impossible catch for ANY centerfielder that started from where he started, the problem is that he was way out of position, he was playing too shallow, and was shaded over to right field, for a ball that was hit left center. Whether this issue was a coaching or a player issue, any centerfielder that is positioned straight up gets that ball with about four steps to their right.


If you dont think that should count as a catch that an average CF doesnt get to, its no wonder you think AJones is only worth 15 runs on catches he makes in the gaps.

So let's see. He plays out of position, and gets to shallow balls that no one else can get to. Because otherwise what would be the point of playing out of position? Right? Because only someone playing that shallow could get to those. but those dont count cause well he's right there those were easy. Then there are the routine catches, that neither of us count. Then there are the balls he has to go way out of his way for, because he's out of position. You dont count those either because a normal guy is standing there and that would be routine for an average CF>

Then there's the like 15 balls a year he gets to that an average CF cant and you count those. Yeah OK got it. I can see where you get 15 runs now.
   164. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5608678)

Phelps and Easler were +20 hitters twice each in their careers


First of all I am not saying Phelps had a long career. He also had years in there you are not counting where he didnt get the AB.

For instance in 1988 he had +18 runs in 244 AB. If they had played him in the field he would surely get over 25. IN 1984 he had +18 in 360 AB. I remember him having a large platooon differential but still they could have probably found another 100-150 AB for him, but what's the point of even mentioning that if you cant be intellectually honest?

And isnt my whole point that they didnt play him because he couldnt field? So of course he doesnt get enuf AB, but isnt it clear that for at least four seasons if he had enuf AB vs RH he could produce 25 runs?

I am not arguing that Ken PHelps had a long career. Only that it appears he couldnt field and but he could slug .550+ vs RH.

So you're position is that there's no players in the minors that could even produce 20 runs a year with the bat? Not a single player. All the good bat/no field guys are all in the majors. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Right?
   165. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:22 AM (#5608720)
Players will surprise you, there are probably some non-prospects in the minors who could give you a +20 season, maybe even hold that level for a few years. But they are harder to find, they are certainly not as obvious as Ken Phelps was back in the day.

The thing is every team has a few people who do minor league equivalencies or projections as part of their job. In the 1980s Bill James invented the method. People in charge of baseball teams mostly didn't pay attention to him. Those that did probably thought he was crazy, and spent their mental energy trying to come up with justifications on why his method would not work, instead of spending their time trading for Ken Phelps.

Phelps was a bit of a late bloomer as a hitter but in 1980 he had a .988 OPS in AAA. He was 25. Next year it was 1.148, but he must have been hurt, only 78 minor league PA and 22 in the bigs. Next year, a full one in AAA, his OPS was 1.175. He hit 46 homers and knocked in 141 runs.

Back to the minors again, he had a 1.209 OPS in the Mariner's system. He also got 50 games in the big leagues, didn't do great but his 100 OPS+ was a bit better than the Mariner DH, Richie Zisk.

For all his minor league slugging, Phelps was sent back to the minors. He finally got to play in 1984 only because injuries opened up a path to playing time.

If there was an obvious Ken Phelps in the minors right now I would be all over him, and harass my team until they signed him. But there are 29 other teams that have someone doing the same sorts of calculations and there would be plenty of competition.
   166. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5608778)
But you're saying all the ones that can hit well, can also field decently? That doesnt strike me as being the natural state of things. Surely there must be guys who are at least B+ sluggers and D- fielders. None? Really?

The fact that there are people doing calculations on this sort of thing doesnt prove there arent any. My contention is that these types exist but there's no pt. in playing them because they cant field.

Looking at Easler's stats, I really just mentioned him w/o even bothering to study his stats he actually produced 30 runs twice, but was otherwise completely meh for most of his career. I remember him as being a butcher in LF which is probably why they sent him to BOS for both DH and a short LF. THe numbers dont really show him to be a really bad def. fielder but visually it seemed like he was. I pulled this guys out at random and maybe i should look harder and find better examples.

Say someone like Dave Kingman. There' cant be anyone who's like sort of like Kingman, not quite as much power just as bad in the field?
   167. GuyM Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5608790)
I think it is useful to separate James' two arguments here: 1) that we cannot and should not directly compare defensive WAR ratings based on play-by-play data (like DRS) with pre-2003 defensive ratings (Total Zone), and 2) there is no remotely serious HOF case for Andruw Jones once you recognize the validity of point #1. On point #1 I don’t think there is any real disagreement: it seems clear that the range of ratings is much larger using PBP data, resulting in much higher ratings for top fielders. Future research may allow us to some day make a reasonably accurate conversion of TZ to DRS/UZR, allowing for valid comparisons of fielders (and this would be a great project for young saberists to undertake). But unless and until that happens, we cannot validly compare pre-2003 and post-2003 fielders using defensive WAR.

However, this important insight tells us relatively little about Andruw Jones’ HOF case. That is because DRS and TZ provide very similar assessments of his fielding for 2003 to 2012. So if we simply ignore the problematic PBP data, and rely on TZ for Andruw’s full career (as we do for earlier players), his fielding runs decline by only 16 runs, from 236 to 220, lowering his defensive WAR by about 1.6 wins and reducing his total WAR from 62.8 to 61.2. In other words, he remains – at first blush - a borderline HOF candidate.

Now, Bill is also right that defensive ratings have larger error bars than offensive ratings, so any player like Andruw whose case rests largely on defense should receive additional scrutiny. Let’s start with the fact that there are actually two versions of TZ, TZ1 used 1953-2007 and TZ2 used 2008-date. As Charles Saeger calculated, there is somewhat more variation in TZ2. But it’s a difference of degree, not kind (unlike the transition to PBP metrics)—I think we can still make valid comparisons over the 1988 line. I compared the top outfielders in these two eras, and the best (top 10% or top 20%) post-1988 OFs average 14% higher TZ ratings than earlier players. While it could be true that the range of fielding talent is higher in more recent decades, let’s be conservative and attribute all of this to the TZ methodology. That means we should boost the TZ for great CF before 1988 (like Blair or Mays) by 14% if we want to compare them to Andruw.

What does this mean for Andruw? Actually, not much. The TZ2 metric, using more information, is presumably more accurate than TZ1, so what we are really saying is that earlier CF are a bit better than TZ1 says. How does Jones stack up if we make this adjustment to TZ prior to 2008? Here are the top 10 CF in defWAR per 600 PA thru the end of Jones’ career (yes, innings would be a superior denominator, but B-Ref Play Index doesn’t provide that):

Blair 1.91
Piersall 1.59
Pettis 1.57
Jones 1.56
White 1.20
Maddox 1.12
Johnson 1.04
Flood 1.03
Lofton 1.02
Mays .99

By this measure, Andruw is one of the top 4 CF in history, with Blair the clear leader in this group. Is this a plausible set of ratings? I think so. Still, it’s fair to say that we should carefully examine any HOF case individually that relies on extreme defensive value. If we just look at raw putouts, did Jones make outs at an elite level? Yes. Did Jones “steal” plays for teammates? As best I can tell, Atlanta 2B, SS, LF, and RF did not see any decline in plays when Andruw arrived (Brian Jordan put up incredible ratings in RF playing with Jones). As far as I know, no one (including Bill) has offered any evidence that would lead us to doubt that Andruw Jones was one of the 4-5 best CF in history, or that he created something like 22 wins with his glove. I think the burden now shifts to the skeptics to make their case, if they can.

A word on Willie Mays. Does TZ understate Mays’ defense, even after adjusting for the gap between old and new TZ methods? Maybe, I have no idea. But I don’t see why that should change our view of Jones’ HOF candidacy. Mays' presence in this discussion seems mainly designed to say “defWAR says Jones was twice as good as Willie Mays, so please ignore this metric” (along with Jones’ Hall candidacy). This is clever, as it appeals to the assumption most of us older fans have that Willie was the greatest, but if TZ is wrong about Mays that tells us little about Jones’ case. (Note that being “twice as good as Mays” on these metrics actually means making one more catch every 12 games, not as wildly implausible as it may first sound.) Of if Mays is really “only” about the 10th best CF (far more likely), that also seems irrelevant to Jones’ case. So for now, let’s set Willie aside (although a separate discussion on why TZ may get Mays wrong could be fascinating).

Finally, does this all mean Andruw Jones belongs in the HOF? That really depends on your HOF standards. Personally I’m not sure, but I’d lean toward no. But it’s not true that his case hinges on his being “the best CF of all time.” To me, 60 wins/11 playoff teams/top 5 CF is not a materially different case than 60 wins/11 playoff teams/#1 CF. So I think Bill is mistaken when he simply dismisses Jones’ case with comments like these:

Center Fielders who have to get into Hall of Fame before Andruw Jones is considered: Jim Edmonds, Bernie Williams, Fred Lynn, Wally Berger, Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, Johnny Damon, George Gore, Mike Donlin, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Hines, Brett Butler.

The argument for Andruw Jones as a Hall of Famer rests on the belief that he was a BETTER center fielder than anyone or almost anyone before him. I don't see ANY evidence for that proposition, thus don't see any case for Andruw.

Bill is right about the big picture here: we need to be very careful in making defensive comparisons over time, especially with modern play-by-play metrics, and we should approach defensive statistical outliers from any era with appropriate skepticism. But Andruw Jones is a poor choice to be the poster child for these ideas. So, to steal a line from 1964, we should go part of the way with BJ.
(cross-posted at BJ Online)
   168. DanG Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5608825)
Center Fielders who have to get into Hall of Fame before Andruw Jones is considered: Jim Edmonds, Bernie Williams, Fred Lynn, Wally Berger, Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, Johnny Damon, George Gore, Mike Donlin, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Hines, Brett Butler.
Somewhat exaggerated, but basically correct. Nearly all of the center fielders of similar quality to Andruw, who have hit the HOF ballot in the past forty years, have been one and done.

Here are all players debuting after 1948 with 800+ games in CF and between 54 and 75 WAR:

Player         WARWAAOPSRfield    H    PA From   To
Carlos Beltran 69.8 34.1  119   37.1 2725 11031 1998 2017
Kenny Lofton   68.2 38.2  107  107.9 2428  9235 1991 2007
Andre Dawson   64.5 28.8  119   70.2 2774 10769 1976 1996
Reggie Smith   64.5 37.4  137   77.7 2020  8051 1966 1982
Andruw Jones   62.8 36.0  111  235.7 1933  8664 1996 2012
Willie Davis   60.5 26.2  106  104.1 2561  9822 1960 1979
Jim Edmonds    60.3 34.9  132   37.1 1949  7980 1993 2010
Johnny Damon   56.0 19.1  104    2.3 2769 10917 1995 2012
Jim Wynn       55.6 28.6  129  
-27.8 1665  8011 1963 1977
Chet Lemon     55.5 29.6  121   93.0 1875  7874 1975 1990
Vada Pinson    54.1 16.4  111   
-8.2 2757 10403 1958 1975 

There's one HOFer here (Dawson) and one other player who survived past the first ballot (Pinson, who was reinstated). Andruw's problem is Lofton and Smith and Davis and Edmonds and Wynn and Lemon and Pinson. It makes him a borderline candidate, even with all of the defensive credit that WAR calculates. Cut that even a little and Jones clearly falls on the outside of the HOF border.
   169. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:54 PM (#5608826)
Johnny Damon was a worse offense player who couldn't carry Andruw's defensive jock. Jesus. Do you people even watch baseball?
   170. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5608857)
Johnny Damon was a worse offense player

Not really. If you take his best 8600 consecutive PA, he has a 108 OPS+ vs 111 for Jones. Given a much better OBP (352 vs 337 career) they're likely equal offensively.

who couldn't carry Andruw's defensive jock.

Ummm, that's what the chart says.
   171. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:23 PM (#5608867)
But you're saying all the ones that can hit well, can also field decently? That doesnt strike me as being the natural state of things. Surely there must be guys who are at least B+ sluggers and D- fielders. None? Really?


Thing is, baseball has 15 spots for players who can hit but not field a lick. I know there are situations (Pujols, Beltran last year) where the DH at bats are going to an old guy, and it takes a lot for a team to replace these guys even if they have a young slugger who projects a bit better. But if a hitter as good as Phelps were around today, somebody would clear out a space for him.

And if you look through the 2017 minors and see a hitter who looks to be anywhere near as good as Phelps was in the early 80's, please tell me who it is.
   172. GuyM Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5608872)
Center Fielders who have to get into Hall of Fame before Andruw Jones is considered: Jim Edmonds, Bernie Williams, Fred Lynn, Wally Berger, Kenny Lofton, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, Johnny Damon, George Gore, Mike Donlin, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Hines, Brett Butler.

Somewhat exaggerated, but basically correct.

That's not what your table suggests. A strong case can be made that Beltran and Lofton belong in the Hall. The guys with fewer than 60 WAR clearly don't belong, especially those around 50 (Lynn, Butler) -- the difference between a 60 WAR standard and a 50 WAR standard is vast, in terms of the size of the Hall implied. Jones falls between those two categories, a borderline candidate. James' suggestion that Jones is clearly less deserving than all of the players he lists is just silly.
   173. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5608875)
Looking at the Steamer projections on Fangraphs, the best projected hitter with minimal MLB experience is Willie Calhoun. He may well go on to have a better career than Phelps, as he's only 23. His minor league numbers are very good, but not even close to as dominant as Phelps was.

One problem with the Phelps-type slugger is that one dimensional players like that seem to lose it quick. Combine that with reaching the big league late, they don't offer a lot of time as dominant sluggers. The best case for this type of player is probably Travis Hafner, the Indians traded for him after one dominant year in AAA and gave him a job, as opposed to watching him mash AAA pitching for 4 years and then reluctantly letting him have a platoon job.
   174. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:45 PM (#5608881)
If you take his best 8600 consecutive PA, he has a 108 OPS+ vs 111 for Jones. Given a much better OBP (352 vs 337 career) they're likely equal offensively.


Which makes listing him as a "Center Fielder<s> who have to get into Hall of Fame before Andruw Jones is considered" is utterly asinine. The only peer of Andruw who should be on that list is Jim Edmonds. Not Kenny Lofton. Not Bernie Williams. Certainly not Johnny ####### Damon.
   175. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:54 PM (#5608892)
Which makes listing him as a "Center Fielder<s> who have to get into Hall of Fame before Andruw Jones is considered" is utterly asinine. The only peer of Andruw who should be on that list is Jim Edmonds. Not Kenny Lofton. Not Bernie Williams. Certainly not Johnny ####### Damon.

it's a comp list centered on Jones. There have to be some worse players.

Lofton was a better player, so not sure why he shouldn't be on there. Beltran and Reggie Smith were better too.

Bernie Williams isn't listed.
   176. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5608898)
Bernie Williams was a better hitter than Andruw. A much worse fielder. I'm curious how much you have to regress fielding to get them as overall equals. Actually not all that much, if you only give them credit for 65% of their TZ/DRS runs the two players converge around 55 WAR.

That's comparable to the systematic regression that goes into these numbers before about 1988 (whenever project scoresheet data is included in retrosheet) and also ends up with a range of values comparable to what we see from Statcast on baseballsavant.

Andruw's 1999 would go from 36 to 24, Bernie's 2002 from -22 to -14. Last year the range from the best CF (Buxton) to the worst (Span) was +25 to -12. In 2016 it was Hamilton +24 to Naquin and McCutchen at -11.

Those are the guys most changed if you made such an adjustment. Change Edmonds or Wynn by a win, or Damon a fraction of a few runs and their cases do not change. Lofton goes from 68 to 65 - still should be in but the BBWAA treated him the way you'd expect a 45 WAR candidate to be treated.

   177. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:05 PM (#5608901)
I'd rank those peers, in order of who I support for the HOF most, in this order:

Beltran
Edmonds
Lofton
Jones
Williams
Damon
   178. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5608905)
But you're saying all the ones that can hit well, can also field decently? That doesnt strike me as being the natural state of things. Surely there must be guys who are at least B+ sluggers and D- fielders. None? Really?

The fact that there are people doing calculations on this sort of thing doesnt prove there arent any. My contention is that these types exist but there's no pt. in playing them because they cant field.

Looking at Easler's stats, I really just mentioned him w/o even bothering to study his stats he actually produced 30 runs twice, but was otherwise completely meh for most of his career. I remember him as being a butcher in LF which is probably why they sent him to BOS for both DH and a short LF. THe numbers dont really show him to be a really bad def. fielder but visually it seemed like he was. I pulled this guys out at random and maybe i should look harder and find better examples.

Say someone like Dave Kingman. There' cant be anyone who's like sort of like Kingman, not quite as much power just as bad in the field?


Well, my comments were in the context of your plan to put an elite hitter in CF regardless of his ability to field the position. So let's take Phelps. I'll gladly stipulate that if he hed been given a chance to play every day form early on, he could have been an elite hitter for several year at least. What do you think his fielding numbers in CF would have been? The one year he played any significant time in the field, he put up a -11 in 50 some games at 1B. What would he be in 140 games in CF? I doubt very much that he could have produced more with the bat than he gave away in the field.

Dave Kingman in CF? Here are Kingman's batting runs in years in which he qualified for the batting title, leaving out 1984-86 when he was a full time DH: 33, 18, 18, 11, 8 (strike year), 6, 3, -2. His corresponding fielding runs (same years): -9, -3, -4, -4, -9, -4, -16 -1. And that was at LF or 1B. What would those be at CF? At least another -10. So the net, batting runs - fielding runs, - another 10:

+14
+5
+4
-3
-11 (strike year)
-8
-23
-13

1 year below average, 3 years around replacement level, 4 years well below replacement. A Kingman like fielder would have to be a significantly better hitter than the actual Dave Kingman for this to make any sense.

edit: a couple of the numbers were wrong. Fixed.
   179. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5608910)
With Willie Mays and idea that he is the best CF ever, a defensive rate stat is not really fair to him. Guys like Pettis (I am on record as saying he looked like the best my eyes ever saw) only played regularly between ages 26-32, while Mays was still a center fielder in his 40s.

It would be really cool if someone could try taking some highlight film, such as his catch in the 1954 WS, and estimate what the statcast metrics would say about it. Is that a 5 star catch? Given hang time and distance covered, adjusting for going back on the ball, what % of center fielders today could make such a catch.
   180. Rally Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:22 PM (#5608915)
Why would you ever put a Kingman or Phelps in center field? Only possible reason to try and force that kind of bat into a defense-heavy position is if you already have hitters just as good (and also just as bad fielding) filling your 1B, DH (if post 1973-AL), and corner outfield spots.

Outside of the late 90s Oakland A's I don't know if any team ever collected so many DH types. And even then, Billy Beane put faster, non-slugger options in center field. He could have played Jeremy Giambi there (between Matt Stairs and Ben Grieve) but it never happened in real life, only in the wildest imaginations of the Baseball Prospectus writers.
   181. GuyM Posted: January 18, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5608927)
With Willie Mays and idea that he is the best CF ever, a defensive rate stat is not really fair to him. Guys like Pettis (I am on record as saying he looked like the best my eyes ever saw) only played regularly between ages 26-32, while Mays was still a center fielder in his 40s.

Theoretically this is right, but it really doesn't explain the gap between Mays and the handful of guys who have better rate stats. If you look at defWar through age 30, the gap between Mays and Andruw/Blair actually gets bigger, not smaller. Pettis also remains well ahead of Mays on a rate basis.

If we approach this from a Bayesian perspective, how likely is it that the second-best hitter to play CF was also the best fielder? Given the negative correlation between hitting and fielding ability overall, this is very unlikely. The greatest fielders at 3B, SS, 2B, and 1B were all weak-to-OK hitters. Obviously, CF could be an exception. But it's far, far more likely that Mays excellence as a hitter and runner is (slightly) biasing our assessment of his fielding. Certainly, there is lots of evidence that good hitters get more than their fair share of GG awards.

I do hope we see a wave of "forensic sabermetrics," looking not only at fielding but also pitching velocity (how hard did Feller really throw?), base running, exit velocity, etc. I imagine deducing speeds from old film will be very challenging, but hopefully someone is up to the task.
   182. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 18, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5608990)
I imagine deducing speeds from old film will be very challenging, but hopefully someone is up to the task.


Did the cameras in Feller's day shoot a fixed number of frames per second? If so, you'd think (although I'm probably being stupid here) that this wouldn't be hard. Get the actual film. Count the frames between Feller releasing the ball and the catcher catching it. Figure out what fraction of a second that implies. And then divide 60ft 6inches by that number.
   183. GuyM Posted: January 18, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5609040)
#182: my assumption was that there would be enough variance among cameras to make precise velocity estimates (for a pitch, a runner, or a ball off the bat) difficult. But this isn't a topic I know much about.
   184. DanG Posted: January 18, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5609044)
I do hope we see a wave of "forensic sabermetrics," looking not only at fielding but also pitching velocity (how hard did Feller really throw?),
We saw some of this a couple years ago in the documentary film Fastball.
   185. Mefisto Posted: January 18, 2018 at 06:07 PM (#5609086)
With Willie Mays and idea that he is the best CF ever, a defensive rate stat is not really fair to him. Guys like Pettis (I am on record as saying he looked like the best my eyes ever saw) only played regularly between ages 26-32, while Mays was still a center fielder in his 40s.


Mays continued to put up positive dWAR through his age 37 season. He was slightly negative for the next 3 seasons, but at that point in time the Giants were playing 3 CF in their OF: Mays, Bonds, Henderson.

In contrast, Paul Blair started going negative at 33 and Willie Davis at 34 (with 3 negative seasons earlier).

I don't believe any player has as much range at 37, so I have to assume that Mays positioned himself well.
   186. Hank Gillette Posted: January 18, 2018 at 06:53 PM (#5609109)
With Willie Mays and idea that he is the best CF ever, a defensive rate stat is not really fair to him. Guys like Pettis (I am on record as saying he looked like the best my eyes ever saw) only played regularly between ages 26-32, while Mays was still a center fielder in his 40s.


I’ve always thought that when people said that Mays was the best CF ever, they were taking into account that besides his elite defense, he was a dominant hitter too. Do you think those people are only talking about the defensive portion of his game?
   187. cardsfanboy Posted: January 18, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5609183)
If you dont think that should count as a catch that an average CF doesnt get to, its no wonder you think AJones is only worth 15 runs on catches he makes in the gaps.

So let's see. He plays out of position, and gets to shallow balls that no one else can get to. Because otherwise what would be the point of playing out of position? Right? Because only someone playing that shallow could get to those. but those dont count cause well he's right there those were easy. Then there are the routine catches, that neither of us count. Then there are the balls he has to go way out of his way for, because he's out of position. You dont count those either because a normal guy is standing there and that would be routine for an average CF>

Then there's the like 15 balls a year he gets to that an average CF cant and you count those. Yeah OK got it. I can see where you get 15 runs now.


No, very few centerfielders in history of baseball make that play, if they start from where Jimmy did. I will make that claim until my dying day, he got an incredible jump on that ball, he went full tilt, he did everything he had to do to make that play. I think maybe 20-30 players(in their prime) in the history of the game make that play if they started from where Jimmy did.(and I think I'm being VERY generous with that number)..... the thing about defensive stats, is that they don't care about where you are positioned, and they shouldn't. In a perfectly designed defensive system, it would rate the value of a play purely based upon what the average fielder in the league did on that ball hit in that spot of the field in the most similar base out situations and quality batter up to bat.. Considering that the data for that is probably pretty limited, it would then regress to removing the quality/style of the hitter from the equation and continue working backwards until it is able to create a model that has a significant confidence level of gauging the likelihood of a ball hit to that particular spot being caught on average.



   188. cardsfanboy Posted: January 18, 2018 at 09:05 PM (#5609188)
1) that we cannot and should not directly compare defensive WAR ratings based on play-by-play data (like DRS) with pre-2003 defensive ratings (Total Zone), ..........On point #1 I don’t think there is any real disagreement:


And there hasn't been a disagreement on that particular issue for going on a decade now, just because James decided to read up on the state of saber studies from 2007, doesn't mean we have to give him credence for being vastly out of date on the studies. He's way out of touch with current research, and he's acting like he is the first person to discover the flaws of the numbers being used, and he's pushing strawman arguments out there that nobody is making.. These are all of the things he used to rail against, and now he's doing exactly the same thing. The Andruw Jones defensive arguments were common in 2007 if not earlier, and including the points that James is making and acting like he's the first person to think of them, when in reality the rest of the stat community has moved on from it long ago.


Edit: and I don't mind bringing up old arguments, that is fine, we do the Ped arguments all the time around here, which haven't changed since 1998, and I do the same thing with the stolen base argument (and you oppose me with much better research on that issue, but I'm still not comfortable with the conclusions) But to act like you are the guy who is first bringing it up, and in the article where he is basically saying he's the expert and that the amateurs who are pushing unfounded arguments should shut the #### up....when he doesn't even realize he's a ####### DECADE OUT OF DATE in his realizations is just sad.
   189. cardsfanboy Posted: January 18, 2018 at 09:28 PM (#5609213)
I’ve always thought that when people said that Mays was the best CF ever, they were taking into account that besides his elite defense, he was a dominant hitter too. Do you think those people are only talking about the defensive portion of his game?


No. I think that people are saying he's probably the top five best defensive centerfielder in the history of the game who played at least a thousand games at the position (you will have your Erstads or others who have a good year or two, but to be an above average defender at 39 at a premium defensive position, is a very short list of people in baseball history) And that he was probably one of the two best hitters ever at the position.

Willie Mays is on the short list of four people who have a legitimate claim to being the best player in baseball history (and I know on this site I don't have to list them, but that list is Ruth, Bonds, Williams and Mays...and I love Cobb, but there is no way he makes this list) And Mays does it by being a corner hitting centerfielder, while playing center at an elite defensive level for 20 years.....


At the same time, Mays does have the rep of being the elite centerfielder in baseball history, and the numbers don't actually dispute that...among centerfielders with at least 900 games played in center Mays is second all time in rfield with 184.5(Jones is first with 237.5) So we are talking about the guy who is offensively one of the top two hitters ever at his position, and did it for 20 years, and then you add that he is also one of the top two defenders of all time....so yes it's pretty likely that over a 20 year career he was the best defensive centerfielder in history, it's also pretty likely over 15 years he was the best, and over 10 years he was one of the top five(which is when the Andruw arguments enter the discussion)

   190. Rally Posted: January 19, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5609402)
By the numbers Mays stopped being an elite CF at age 35. From that point to the end of his career he was average, between +2 and -3 every year. That includes his final year, I think people on this site know the "Willie falling down in the World Series" story is more due to a fluke play or bad field conditions than a player who just didn't have it anymore.

Very, very few players could play an average MLB center field after 35, but they do exist. One example is Steve Finley, who with a -1 career rfield is not a candidate for all time great. Finley had some awful defensive years with the Padres, but was positive for Arizona from age 36-39, and with the Dodgers at the tail end of his age 39 season. At 40 he was -8 for the Angels, and I watched most of those games. -8 is generous, he looked awful out there. Just did not have the wheels to make a play that required elite running. But then at 41 he's a +2 fielder for the Giants.

It's not a bad assumption that to be one of the few who was average in CF past 35 you must have been a great in your prime, but it does not look like it's true. It's just a group of players who aged better than most. One thing to keep in mind is that elite center field play often involves diving catches and running into walls at full speed. Those kinds of activities are not conducive to longevity in baseball, as Darin Erstad, Eric Davis, and Jimmie Piersall (and many others) could attest to.

   191. Rally Posted: January 19, 2018 at 10:26 AM (#5609406)
Looking at play index, players with at least 50% time in center field, and +10 defensive runs, there has never been a player older than 35 to meet the criteria. Mays at +18 was the best, Devon White and Fielder Jones were the only other 35 year olds to do so. Only a small handful (4-5 each year) were at least +10 at ages 33 and 34.

When it comes to a +20 season in center, the only guys over 30 to do that are Darren Lewis (31, 1999 Red Sox), and Richie Ashburn (30, 1957 Phillies).
   192. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5609417)
At the same time, Mays does have the rep of being the elite centerfielder in baseball history, and the numbers don't actually dispute that...among centerfielders with at least 900 games played in center Mays is second all time in rfield with 184.5(Jones is first with 237.5) ....so yes it's pretty likely that over a 20 year career he was the best defensive centerfielder in history

Rather than rfield, let's use Total Zone so we avoid the problem of comparing play-by-play data (DRS) to the earlier TZ methodology. These are career leaders in CF TZ (Name, seasons, TZ):
1. Andruw Jones (17) 220
2. Willie Mays+ (22) 176
3. Paul Blair (17) 171
4. Jim Piersall (17) 128
5. Kenny Lofton (17) 115
6. Devon White (17) 112
7. Willie Davis (18) 103
8. Curt Flood (15) 99
9. Garry Maddox (15) 98
10. Chet Lemon (16) 96

For Mays we need to adjust for lack of TZ data in 1951-52 -- assuming he was as good then as he was in 1954-56, we add 14 runs to bring him up to 190. And if we adjust for pre-1988 TZ regressing performance more than post-1988 TZ, that brings Mays up to 217 (and Blair up to 195). So I would say Mays and Jones are tied for the top spot in career runs saved (based on TZ), with Blair a strong third. But on a per-inning basis, Mays falls behind Jones and Blair, as well as Piersall, Pettis, and perhaps a few others.
   193. Mefisto Posted: January 19, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5609423)
Mays also missed 1.75 seasons because he was in the military. If one is inclined to give credit for that, his TZ would be greater than Jones on a career basis, but still not per inning. To get a true per inning comparison, we'd need to use just the first X innings of Mays' career (with or without war time credit).
   194. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 19, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5609435)
Looking at play index, players with at least 50% time in center field, and +10 defensive runs, there has never been a player older than 35 to meet the criteria. Mays at +18 was the best, Devon White and Fielder Jones were the only other 35 year olds to do so. Only a small handful (4-5 each year) were at least +10 at ages 33 and 34.

And, I think this is actual evidence that these guys were better fielders than the stats indicate. The hallmark of elite players are they are good when very young, and when very old. I think Jones' precipitate collapse has to impact our evaluation of him. i.e. it is much less likely that a guy who couldn't field at all by 31 was a +30 fielder in his prime, than it is for a guy who was still elite at 35, and average at nearly 40.
   195. Rally Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5609461)
a guy who couldn't field at all by 31


That's not Jones. At 31 he played center field exclusively. His defensive stats are not good, but it's not like he turned into Frank Thomas. He had mid-season knee surgery and made 3 trips to the DL that year. Once he recovered, he was a perfectly fine defensive platoon corner outfielder for the rest of his career.
   196. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5609467)
To get a true per inning comparison, we'd need to use just the first X innings of Mays' career (with or without war time credit).

Doing this doesn't really improve Mays' standing on a per-inning basis. Because he remained a very good outfielder through age 35, his long career did not materially reduce his career rating. If you compare CF though, say, age 30, the story doesn't change much (in fact, Mays probably falls further behind a few other outstanding CFs).
   197. Mefisto Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5609471)
I wasn't sure if that would still be true using your TZ numbers from 192.
   198. Rally Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5609472)
I think Jones' precipitate collapse has to impact our evaluation of him. i.e. it is much less likely that a guy who couldn't field at all by 31 was a +30 fielder in his prime, than it is for a guy who was still elite at 35, and average at nearly 40.


You might be right on Mays. I'd be more convinced if Willie had a more ridiculous RF/9 earlier in his career like Jones did, and some of the guys who didn't last like Pettis or Erstad. But I can't rule it out.

But Steve Finley was also a decent outfielder near and past the age of 40, and I don't think there is even a 1% chance that an omniscient, retroactive statcast could go back to their archives and tell me that Finley was a better outfielder than Jones for their respective 20s. Finley was definitely better in his 30s, and Jones was out of baseball in his late 30s (and only turned 40 last year). I saw Finley play, I saw Jones, and observation is not 100% accurate but in this case I think I can trust it.

The variations of career paths are just too much to let you infer what their peak must have been from their aging. Finley was nowhere near as good defensively as Jones as a young player, but he kept himself in shape, didn't get hurt, and aged far better.
   199. GuyM Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5609493)
it is much less likely that a guy who couldn't field at all by 31 was a +30 fielder in his prime, than it is for a guy who was still elite at 35, and average at nearly 40

This might be generally true for hitting (not sure), but outfield defensive is mostly a function of speed, and speed can decline very suddenly. Look at Mays himself:
Age/DWAR
34-35 3.7
36-37 0.7

This kind of rapid decline is common among great CF:
BLAIR
30-31 3.1
32-33 0.6

PIERSALL
30-31 3.2
32-33 -1.0

LOFTON
31-32 3.5
33-34 1.1

Basically, the defensive performance of a CF in his mid-30s tells us nothing about what he did earlier in his career.
   200. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 19, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5609505)
You might be right on Mays. I'd be more convinced if Willie had a more ridiculous RF/9 earlier in his career like Jones did, and some of the guys who didn't last like Pettis or Erstad. But I can't rule it out.

You also have to consider that through age 26 Mays played his home games in an absurdly shaped ballpark. See:

http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/PoloGrounds.html

I have no idea what weird positioning this led to.
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