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Friday, August 05, 2011

BPP: Any player/Any era: Vada Pinson

“quintessential role player”...The countdown to Kim Pinson begins now!

What he did:If baseball awarded the equivalent of Oscars, Pinson would have been a perennial Best Supporting Actor nominee. One of the quintessential role players of the 1960s, Pinson did many things well, hitting for average and power, stealing 305 bases lifetime, and finishing just shy of 3,000 hits. He was never really a star, overshadowed by Cincinnati Reds teammates like Frank Robinson and Pete Rose, though Pinson placed as high as third in MVP voting in 1961 when he led Cincinnati to the World Series. In another era, a fellow blogger told me, Pinson might have been more.

...Why: First of all, count Pinson as another great hitter who may have missed out on the Hall of Fame because his prime years happened to fall in the 1960s. Like Jimmy Wynn, Frank Howard, Bob Watson, and maybe a few others from this decade, Pinson might have had a better shot at Cooperstown had he not peaked at a time that so clearly favored pitchers. As it stands, he went the full 15 years on the writers ballot for the Hall of Fame, and if he’s not a viable Veterans Committee candidate today, he at least rates an honorable mention.

Maybe the ’70s and ’80s weren’t the 1920s or ’30s or late 1990s, able to add 40 batting average points and 50 to 100 home runs to Pinson’s lifetime totals. But it’s likely his .286 batting average and 256 home runs would rise enough in any other time in baseball history since the Deadball Era to get him enshrined. He might not approach Dawson’s 438 home runs, but he’d surely increase his .327 to .323 advantage in on-percentage and have a chance at 3,000 hits (and near-automatic enshrinement.) And one can only wonder how many more bases Pinson would have stolen than Dawson’s 314.

Repoz Posted: August 05, 2011 at 12:15 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, reds, sabermetrics

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   1. Perry Posted: August 05, 2011 at 03:48 PM (#3893392)
One of the quintessential role players of the 1960s


The author must have a different definition of "role player" than I do. Pinson averaged about 155 games a year in CF throughout the 60s. That's not what I call a role player. And it's true that he played most of his career in a pitchers' era, but it's also true that Crosley Field was consistently one of the better hitters' parks in the league.

Very, very good player for a very long time. But I don't think playing in the 60s kept him out of the HOF.
   2. OCF Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:23 PM (#3893420)
Pinson's Hall of Merit thread, complete with contributions from a family member. It's one of our livelier threads.
   3. RobertMachemer Posted: August 05, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3893445)
The description of generally pretty good to good at everything reminded me of my memories of Von Hayes.
   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3893459)

The author must have a different definition of "role player" than I do. Pinson averaged about 155 games a year in CF throughout the 60s. That's not what I call a role player.


I don't see "role player" as having anything to do with playing time. A role-player is a player who is good enough to contribute to a pennant-winner, but not good enough to carry a team on his own.
   5. rr Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:03 PM (#3893462)
Pinson was before my time, but I became aware of him from reading The Long Season and Pennant Race, as he was a very key player on both 1959 and 1961 Reds, and those were IIRC his two best years. He was the second-best position player on those teams behind Frank Robinson and was a hell of a player both years. I have tried to learn a bit about him. I bet he was fun to watch in his heyday. It turned out that he had shaved a couple of years off his age and was born in 1936, so his aging curve makes more sense that way. Like a lot of guys, stats were held down a bit by playing his peak years in the 1960s even though he had Crosley Field working for him. He was 33 by the time they lowered the mound etc. in 1969 and had a bad year that year playing for the Gibson/Brock Cardinals. They traded Bobby Tolan to get him, and Tolan had very big years in Cincinnati in '69 and '70 (helped by Crosley Field) before his injury in 1971.

Pinson was apparently a pretty mild-mannered man, although Earl Lawson, the old-guard Cincy sportswriter, pissed him off and Pinson lost his head and punched him. Varying accounts of what set it off. He comes off very well in both of Brosnan's books, although Brosnan did not appear to interact with him all that often, the times being what they were (and with Pinson's not being a fellow pitcher).

His HOM thread was one of the few I have read and as noted, his daughter Kim showed up and argued on her dad's behalf.
   6. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3893477)
I was surprised too at seeing Pinson referred to a role player. "Role player" isn't really a term I associate with any other sports but basketball. (Although, apparently relievers feel more comfortable when they know their role."

I don't agree with the assertion that a role-player is someone "good enough to contribute to a pennant winner, but not good enough to carry a team on his own," or I would restrict it further.

A role player fulfills a single role, hence they contribute to a team (pennant winner or not), but certainly couldn't carry a team. On the great Bulls teams, Steve Kerr was a role player, he came in and stretched the defense shooting 3's. Will Purdue was a role player, he.....well, he was pretty big. Although Scotty Pippen was probably better at his sport than Vada Pinson was at his, they are similar in that they were very talented, did things to help their teams win, and did many things well. Or, fulfilled many roles. I wouldn't call Pippen a role player, maybe a "complementary player."
   7. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 05, 2011 at 06:51 PM (#3893498)
.....happened to fall in the 1960s. Like Jimmy Wynn, Frank Howard, Bob Watson, and maybe a few others from this decade, Pinson might have had a better shot at Cooperstown....


Does he mean the same Bob Watson that accumulated less than 3.2% of his ABs in the 60's?
   8. Perry Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3893521)
Funny anecdote about Pinson I read in a magazine once, probably Sport. Apparently he was a very quiet guy, at least when he was young, didn't say much. So one spring training game he reaches first base, where Jimmy Dykes is coaching.

Dykes: The batter, he hit ball, you run. He no hit, you no run. Comprende?
Pinson: Perfectly, Mr. Dykes.
Dykes: Where the hell are you from?
Pinson: Oakland, California, Mr. Dykes.
   9. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3893525)
I wouldn't call Pippen a role player,


That's because he was good enough to carry a team on his own.
   10. rr Posted: August 05, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#3893527)
...as Pippen showed in 1994.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2011 at 01:32 AM (#3893946)
As is often the case, the author overstates the run environment of the 60s (relative to 70s and 80s)

In 61 and 62, the NL averaged about 4.5 runs per game, matched only by 1970 and 1987 until 1993. And other than 68, the 60s weren't that different from the 70s and 80s (r/g):

63-67: 3.81, 4.01, 4.03, 4.09, 3.84
71-76: 3.91, 3.91, 4.15, 4.15, 4.13, 3.98
78-85: 3.99, 4.22, 4.03, 3.91, 4.09, 4.10, 4.06, 4.07
88-92: 3.88, 3.94, 4.20, 4.10, 3.88

In terms of HR, HR/g was generally higher in the 60s than the 70s or 80s. BAs were generally a bit higher in the 70s and 80s but just by a couple of points. SBs were much higher in the later period.

1967: 249/310/363
1988: 248/310/363

Since Dawson is the comp ... lgBA/lgOBP/lgSLG for both: 265/331/396 for Pinson; 265/332/396 for Dawson ... don't think you could get any closer. There's no need for a further era/park adjustment for these two, just compare their raw stats, the difference between them being Dawson's superior defense.

Pinson had 2757 hits on a 286 career BA ... to make it to 3000 in the same number of AB, he would have had to hit 311. So, yes, he would have needed the late 1920s NL to make it to 3000 hits.

As is, Pinson's lack of enshrinement has virtually nothing to do with his era and everything to do with the way he aged. From ages 29-36, he had a 95 OPS+ and about 6 WAR. Playing on the astroturf of the 70s isn't likely to have helped his career longevity.

In comparison, from 29-36, Dawson had a 122 OPS+ and about 19 WAR, with one decent year left in the tank.
   12. McCoy Posted: August 06, 2011 at 02:15 AM (#3894018)
Which baseball player can carry a team on his own? There are none and yes it is silly to call any player that can't carry a team a "role player". Hell, if we are going to take it that far then Michael Jordan was a role player since his role was to carry the team. Role players are Lloyd McClendon or Craig Counsell or an old Franco (the pitcher) or Neifi Perez or Lenny Harris or Matt Stairs not some guy who is a starting All-Star CF'er.
   13. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 06, 2011 at 02:26 AM (#3894036)
I wouldn't call Pippen a role player,

That's because he was good enough to carry a team on his own.


He did carry his own team. That team was the Chicago Bulls.
   14. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: August 06, 2011 at 02:33 AM (#3894043)
Does he mean the same Bob Watson that accumulated less than 3.2% of his ABs in the 60's?


Ted Simmons would have been first ballot without having to play 2 seasons in the Sixties.

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