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Sunday, March 18, 2012

BPP: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Jose Canseco

As sabermetrician turned fatal dietitian, Bill James Gumb, once analyzed…“There isn’t an ocean between Jim Rice and Jose Canseco, just a tested yellow stream.”

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Well, no he doesn’t, but statistically it’s closer than you might think.

In fact, Bill James’s Hall of Fame Monitor has him slightly above the level of a likely Hall of Famer, and his career WAR of 41.7 is better than a cast of Cooperstown inductees, two tenths of a win ahead of Jim Rice. Canseco also leads Rice in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS+, which accounts for the offensive climate in which Canseco played. Considering Canseco’s base-stealing ability and the fact that neither he nor Rice was known for defense, a statistical argument can easily be made that the Bash Brother was a better player than the Red Sox outfielder.

This example does more to reinforce the absurdity of Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame candidacy than to add credence to Canseco’s, but the fact that Canseco has better career numbers across the board than someone inducted only a few years ago at a similar position at least demonstrates that, if not for the steroid baggage, Canseco’s resume is not too far from Cooperstown-worthy. Canseco may be amusing off the field, but between the white lines he was nothing to laugh at.

Repoz Posted: March 18, 2012 at 07:46 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, red sox, sabermetrics

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   1. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 18, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4083438)
between the white lines he was nothing to laugh at.

"It bounces off Canseco's head for a home run!"
   2. flournoy Posted: March 18, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4083446)
No.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4083468)
Does TEH FEAR count in retirement? After all, other players had to worry about him revealing their 'roid use.
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4083471)
Hmm. I think I still take Rice over him, on peak.

He missed a lot of time.

It's close, though.
   5. cardsfanboy Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4083477)
Hmm. I think I still take Rice over him, on peak.

He missed a lot of time.

It's close, though.


I think that last line is the entire point.

I agree about the missing time part. I've been trying to figure out why I'm fine with Larkin's missing time but have a problem with Larry Walker and I just slowly realized, that the the farther you go on the defensive spectrum, the more I'm willing to accept missing time. Obviously catchers of course, but I'm more forgiving to 2b/ss/3b/and even CF for missing time than I am with 1b/RF/LF/DH. Pitchers are a different story.
   6. Booey Posted: March 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4083535)
I'd take Rice too. Canseco only had 2 or 3 seasons where he was truly one of the best in his league (1988, 1991, maybe 1990 if you want to be generous about the 30 missed games). Rice had 5 (1977-1979, 1983, 1986).

But like the article suggested, Rice was a ridiculous selection, so being almost as good as him isn't a very convincing argument. It's actually pretty strong evidence AGAINST Canseco's case.
   7. Karl from NY Posted: March 18, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4083537)
Bill James’s Hall of Fame Monitor has him slightly above the level of a likely Hall of Famer

Maybe the HOF Monitor needs adjusting for the larger set of candidates today. We're only now seeing and judging completed careers from a player population swelled by expansion, medically lengthened careers, and full-time DH roles. There are more HOF Monitor points available now, with more teams, more divisions, All-Star rosters that invite everybody, and the offensive sillyball era making more counting stats available (see Omar Vizquel's hit total.) But the writers don't seem inclined to elect more players than historically, perhaps actually fewer thanks to splinterization of the vote (including PEDs.) So the HOF Monitor will give some false positives.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 18, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4083546)
I think that last line is the entire point.


Yeah, I get that; I wasn't interested in the question of whether Canseco is a HOFer -- since I know he's not qualified. The more interesting question to me was whether I'd take his career or Rice's.


-----

Considering Canseco’s base-stealing ability


Which didn't add that much. 200-88 on the bases, or 69.4%. Not that far above break-even, though in two of his peak seasons ('88 and '91) he did much better than that.

Funny; I remember the 40-40 year well. It's already 24 years ago.

---

I'd take Rice too. Canseco only had 2 or 3 seasons where he was truly one of the best in his league (1988, 1991, maybe 1990 if you want to be generous about the 30 missed games). Rice had 5 (1977-1979, 1983, 1986).


He was having a really good year in 1994 too, when the strike hit: 139 OPS+ in 111 of the team's 114 games (2.7 WAR). Which is about 3.8 WAR or so over the full year. So, not great, but good... which doesn't really change your point.



   9. Walt Davis Posted: March 18, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4083580)
On missed time ...

in the end, I don't care about guys missing games in season (for HoF purposes). Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career? Is cramming that into 14 seasons better than 19? Sure, the mythical 14-year Larkin would have had more individually valuable seasons but 19-year Larkin has 5 more seasons where he makes a substantial contribution. Then there's the mythical healthy Larkin who makes it to 10,000 maybe 11,000 PAs -- well, he's just even greater than the real Larkin but it's not fair to compare a player to the one he might have been.

The reason to hold Walker's missed time against him more than against Larkin is because Walker had 1000 fewer PA. (I know that sentence is a mess) There aren't a lot of guys in the HoF with careers (PA-wise) as short as Walker.

I also recommend a look at Willie Stargell's career -- not a single season of 150 games and same PA as Larkin in 21 "seasons." Snider was pretty good from 22-29 but not otherwise. McCovey's career is a mess of missed in-season time. In contrast (from the actual voting perspective), Santo crammed 8600 of his 9400 PA into just 13 years and got blamed for a "short" career because he lasted only 15 seasons and was done at 33.

Durability has value. That value shows up in PAs. Two players with (roughly) equal PA will be a different mix of in-season durability and between-season durability (or aging better). There is already a general preference for peak so why double-penalize the guy who aged well but was fragile?
   10. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 18, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4083606)
Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career?


My thought is that in-season replacement level is lower than multi-season replacement level. That is, if a guy gets hurt in, say, July, and misses a month, your options for finding a substitute for him are extremely limited - probably to whatever utility infielder(s) you happen to have on the roster and/or your starting shortstop at AAA. But when a player retires, so that you have an entire offseason to replace him, you have a lot more options for finding a replacement for him - trade, free agency, the draft if you see his retirement coming within the next few years.

In 2003, Larkin only played 70 games because of injuries. The Reds replaced him primarily with Ray Olmedo who put up a career OPS+ of 51 and amassed a career total of -1.6 WAR.

When Larkin retired after the 2004 season, the Reds replaced him in 2005 with Felipe Lopez who put up an OPS+ of 118 that year and earned 2.5 WAR, and who has gone on to earn 7.0 WAR in his career so far (with a career OPS+ of 91).
   11.   Posted: March 18, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4083609)
Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career?


Because we don't hand out world series trophies for multi-season timespans. We hand them out once per year, and your value is directly tied to how much you improve your team's chances of winning in individual seasons. The most important question to me is: "In how many individual seasons did he significantly contribute to his team?" The stats that he accumulated over multiple seasons couldn't be any less relevant.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: March 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4083614)
in the end, I don't care about guys missing games in season (for HoF purposes). Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career?


To me it is important. It affects the team. Wins per season is the goal of the team, not wins per decade or whatever. The value they produce in season is important. I'm more forgiving of defensive first positions, I guess because they inherently have a higher injury risk. Whether I should be is up for debate.

   13. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 18, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4083797)
in the end, I don't care about guys missing games in season (for HoF purposes). Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career? Is cramming that into 14 seasons better than 19? Sure, the mythical 14-year Larkin would have had more individually valuable seasons but 19-year Larkin has 5 more seasons where he makes a substantial contribution.


Not sure that holds, Walt. As I understand it, you'd rather have the inconsisent player who turns in seasons of great value mixed with seasons of average value than the consistent player who turns in good seasons year after year - since the goal is to win championships, and the flaky player helps you win championships more. I don't see how 9000 PA in 19 years is no different form 9000 PA in 14 years.
   14. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4083826)
Right - this ain't the Hall of Value.
   15. Bob Evans Posted: March 18, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4083909)
Right - this ain't the Hall of Value.

Canseco's pretty famous.
   16. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM (#4084105)
Maybe the HOF Monitor needs adjusting for the larger set of candidates today.

This. Hell, Miguel Tejada has a HOFm of 148 (!) and there's no way he's getting in. Gary Sheffield has 158 and he's probably not making it. And Todd Helton (164) is kinda iffy, thanks to Coors.
   17. AROM Posted: March 19, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4084139)
Not sure that holds, Walt. As I understand it, you'd rather have the inconsisent player who turns in seasons of great value mixed with seasons of average value than the consistent player who turns in good seasons year after year - since the goal is to win championships, and the flaky player helps you win championships more. I don't see how 9000 PA in 19 years is no different form 9000 PA in 14 years.


That's true in a no-division, first place takes all league. Dodgers were better off with 5 great years from Koufax and then nothing instead of 10 very good years from someone else.

It's not true in a league where 4 (and now 5) teams qualify for postseason play. At least under the assumption that getting to the postseason is the goal, and once there it's essentially random.
   18. Booey Posted: March 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4084171)
Gary Sheffield has 158 and he's probably not making it.

Only for the same reason that Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, etc aren't making it.
   19. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: March 19, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4084179)
"Does he belong in the Hall of Fame, Jose Canseco?" would be a fun TV show on MLB Network during the winter months.
   20. DanG Posted: March 19, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4084199)
corner-OF/1B/DH types with similar PA, OPS+ and WAR to Canseco

Player            WAR/pos OPSRfield   PA From   To
Ellis Burks          47.9  126    
-31 8177 1987 2004
Orlando Cepeda       46.8  133     
-9 8698 1958 1974
Rocky Colavito       46.4  132     57 7559 1955 1968
Carlos Delgado       44.2  138    
-43 8657 1993 2009
Bobby Veach          43.6  127     30 7571 1912 1925
Brian Giles          42.5  136    
-75 7836 1995 2009
George Foster        42.5  126     38 7812 1969 1986
'Jose Canseco        41.8  132    -30 8129 1985 2001'
Ken Singleton        40.6  132    -59 8559 1970 1984
Don Mattingly        39.8  127     34 7722 1982 1995
Boog Powell          39.7  134    
-10 7809 1961 1977
Moises Alou          38.2  128    
-29 7913 1990 2008
Magglio Ordonez      34.6  125    
-53 7745 1997 2011 
   21. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4084259)
between the white lines he was nothing to laugh at.

"It bounces off Canseco's head for a home run!"


"Canseco looks in for the sign."
   22. Chris Fluit Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4084290)
The only Hall of Famer on the list in #20 is Cepeda and he's a debatable choice.

However, despite ending his career as a DH, Burks is a center fielder. He played 1062 of 1612 games in the field in center. Even if you add in his ~300 games as a DH, he still played more than half his games in CF.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 19, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4084338)
In the end, I don't care about guys missing games in season (for HoF purposes). Barry Larkin had 9000 PA -- what more do you really need to know? Why is that any different than any other 9000 PA career? Is cramming that into 14 seasons better than 19? Sure, the mythical 14-year Larkin would have had more individually valuable seasons but 19-year Larkin has 5 more seasons where he makes a substantial contribution.

It's primarily a peak vs. career argument. Larkin would have had a higher peak if he had played more games in-season. Total career value being equal, I like guys with higher peaks - can't imagine anyone who wouldn't.

I do think there's value in consistency that is often underrated by the sabermetric community, because it enables a GM to plan the rest of his roster prior to the season when there's more time and flexibility to make adjustments. But that's a secondary point.
   24. DanG Posted: March 19, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4084450)
However, despite ending his career as a DH, Burks ... still played more than half his games in CF.
Fair enough. We can dismiss Burks, expand the PA parameters and add in Rice and Ortiz:

Jose Canseco           41.8  132    -30 8129 1985 2001
Jim Rice               41.5  128     24 9058 1974 1989
David Ortiz            34.2  136     
-7 7266 1997 2011 

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