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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cincinnati Enquirer: Brennaman: It’s past time to put Concepción in Hall

Shove over, Joe!  Marty Brennaman wants Concepción in the HOF also.

Davey was every bit as important to the Big Red Machine as shortstop Pee Wee Reese was to the great Dodger teams of the ‘40s and ‘50s or Phil (“The Scooter”) Rizzuto was to the championship Yankees of the same era. But here’s the rub. Pee Wee and Scooter are in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Davey isn’t, even though he more than earned a ticket.

All three shortstops were scrappy “glue guys” who propelled talented teams to greatness. Davey’s career fielding percentage was significantly better than Reese’s or Rizzuto’s. Their batting averages and on-base percentages were comparable, although Davey had more extra-base hits. And Concepción’s post-season batting average - perhaps the best barometer of a ballplayer’s capacity to deliver when it matters - was a heady .297, far superior to the other two.

Repoz Posted: December 02, 2006 at 02:37 PM | 158 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, hall of fame, reds

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   1. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2249952)
on-base percentages were comparable


Since when does .322 compare to .351 and .366? And Concepcion was below league average in OBP for his career, while Rizzuto and Resse were both 20 points above league average. (I do have to admit I don't think that Rizzuto deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but there's nothing I can do about it.)
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:30 PM (#2249966)
can Cesar Geronimo be far behind
   3. sunnyday2 Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#2249970)
Joe Morgan is no Frankie Frisch.
   4. schuey Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:42 PM (#2249976)
Where's the love for George Foster? Ken Griffey Sr? Jack Billingham? Bill Plummer?
   5. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#2249982)
If Ed Armbrister doesn't get into the Hall, they should just shut the place down.
   6. BDC Posted: December 02, 2006 at 03:55 PM (#2249989)
Concepcion's Hall of Fame case is more like Tony Lazzeri's: about the sixth- or seventh-best player on a great team. But even Lazzeri was a pretty formidable hitter at his peak. Concepcion wasn't; he was just a very good shortstop who could hold his own with the bat. He never made a big impact on you when your team faced the Reds. He was the guy who came up down near the bottom of the order after the top six had beaten your head in, and you said "Oh for the love of Mike, do they have him too?" HOVG, absolutely.
   7. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 02, 2006 at 04:14 PM (#2249993)
Context is everything. Concepción played in *the worst* era in history for depth at the shortstop position. Take a look at what teams that didn't have a real SS in those days had to settle for. In 1974, the Braves ran out Craig Robinson at the position every day, and he hit .230/.280/.265 with -4 defense. The next year, they switched to Larvell Blanks, who hit .234/.292/.293 with -11 defense. In 1976, they finally found someone who could hit SOMETHING--Darrel Chaney hit .252/.324/.331--albeit with -8 defense. But the next year he tanked, dropping to .201/.260/.297, and he was thus replaced with Pat Rockett, whose .254/.330/.303 was far worse than it looks given that 1977 was a very big hitting year and that his fielding was ghastly (about -18 per 150 games). In '78, Chaney and Rockett split time again and hit a combined .194/.262/.251 with -10 defense per 150. In 1979, Pepe Frias hit .259/.290/.320 with -4 defense. In 1980, they brought back Blanks and had him split time with Luis Gómez; the two combined to hit .196/.240/.242. In 1981, Rafael Ramírez hit .218/.276/.303 with -7 defense per 150.
To make clear: for the eight years coinciding with Concepción's peak, the Braves never had the same guy as their starter at SS in back-to-back years, and their starting shortstops averaged 3.5 wins below a player hitting and fielding at the league average. THAT was SS replacement level in the 1970's NL, and measured against that standard, Concepción's league-average hitting and historically great, Ozzie-level fielding (about +20 runs a year from 1974-77) made him a phenomenally valuable player, consistently six wins better than the trash the Braves were throwing out there.
By contrast, the 1950's NL was the all-time historic *high* for depth at the shortstop position. In 1957, for example, Chico Fernández was the *worst* starting shortstop in the league, and he hit .262/.302/.336 with league-average fielding. With precious few exceptions, anyone who was below a 70 OPS+ was a true Gold Glove fielder. The worst regular SS in the 1950's NL were only about 2 wins below a player hitting and fielding at the league average, versus 3.5 in the 70's (which takes a bit of the luster off of Ernie Banks, who only averaged about 7 wins above that much higher replacement level from 1955-61). While I do think Reese's work in the 1940's makes him a legitimate Hall of Famer, you can't look at Concepción (or Banks, for that matter!) outside of the context of his position in his era--a league-average player (100 OPS+, 0 fielding) at SS was worth 1.5 wins per season more than one in the 1950's. Once you take that into account, I think his Hall of Fame case is extremely strong.

I'll be posting this on the Hall of Merit thread when Concepción comes up for election.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2250001)
Dan,
Most of the problem with those Braves teams is that they were just stupid. I'm not sure I have to give Concepcion a boost just because the Braves couldn't get enough of Sugar Bear Blanks.
I haven't looked at the other teams yet (I'll wait til DC's eligible), but I don't know of any specific reason why the Braves couldn't have had a better alternative out there. The fact that all their choices blew chunks is not definitive evidence that no better choices existed.
   9. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 02, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2250007)
I chose the Braves as a convenient example. But the 3.5 number is the average of the worst three starting shortstops in the league each year from 1974-81 by my measure. They are, in fact, (chronological order) Frank Taveras, Enzo Hernández, Craig Robinson, Frank Taveras, Bill Russell, Larvell Blanks, Chris Speier, Larry Bowa, Darrel Chaney, Julio González, Pat Rockett, Bud Harrelson, Frank Taveras, Roger Metzger, Darrel Chaney, Johnnie Lemaster, Bill Russell, Pepe Frias, Larry Bowa, Larvell Blanks, Johnnie Lemaster, Rafael Ramírez, Frank Taveras, and Ivan DeJesús.
There definitely were no better alternatives out there.
   10. Paul Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#2250017)
"And Concepción’s post-season batting average - perhaps the best barometer of a ballplayer’s capacity to deliver when it matters - was a heady .297, far superior to the other two."

Since neither Reese not Rizzuto played in post-season games other than World Series, I compared their OBP with Concepcion's during the World Series. Concepcion's was .296, Rizzuto's .355, and Reese .346 Does Brenneman even know about OBP?
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:11 PM (#2250020)
Dan,
Now it seems you are assuming that the Braves' pool of options came only from other NL starting SSs.
I remember this era - nearly everybody decided that you had to have a spectacular glove at SS, and that's all they cared about. Of this group, Concepcion outhit them all, I suppose.

I think NL teams would have done much better to have gone with other alternatives who wound up instead at 2B, 3B, CF, or stuck in the high minors. They'd have sacrificed some fielding, but added much more back with the bat, imo.

It is true that Concepcion's actual value is connected to his superiority over his peers. But I'm not sure how much bonus I have to give him because NL GMs were collectively stupid.

I'm not locked into this stance, though; it will be something to consider soon enough.
   12. BDC Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:31 PM (#2250030)
Let's say the NBA splits into two leagues of equal strength, but all the point guards in NBA-1 are better than all the point guards in NBA-2. The point guards in NBA-2 are really bad, they are as likely to pass the ball out of bounds as to a teammate. A middling point guard from NBA-1 gets traded to an NBA-2 team for a middling power forward, they suddenly become the only NBA-2 club that can run an offense, and that middling point guard is the MVP. Is he a better point guard than the best one in NBA-1, who doesn't have nearly as much relative value?

Well, that's a doofus way of caricaturing the current argument, but the fact remains that even if 1950s shortstops were much better than 1970s ones, Reese could still be a much better player than Concepcion. In fact one might almost expect that. I think that your argument, Dan, really hinges on the phrase "historically great, Ozzie-level fielding." Concepcion was at least as good a hitter as Smith, so if he was also as good a fielder, he certainly does have an if-then case for the Hall.
   13. frannyzoo Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2250032)
Dan: Thanks for the awful mid-70s SS memories. Very similar, I think, to today's market for pitching. Hopefully, years from now we'll look back at this period as a nadar blip...instead of a permanent condition of pitching suckiness. As for Concepcion, I'm torn as my Small Hall sensibility runs smack dab into my love of good fielding, weak-hitting shortstops. Mark Belanger and Don Kissinger were idols of mine. Maybe a wing of the Hall of Merit could be devoted to such middle infielders. Concepcion would have about the biggest plaque in the wing, of course sitting under the large shadows of the Greek God-style sculptures of Kissinger and Belanger.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2250041)
franny, Don KEssinger called, and he wants his 'e' back.
   15. schuey Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2250043)
The 1970s were a tremendous era for third basemen: Schmidt, Brett, Nettles, Madlock, Cey, Evans, Harrah. But not shortstops.
The best reason to keep Concepcion out is it pisses off Joe Morgan.

Since Brennaman feels Concepcion's .297 post season average is great, does Bill Russell's .294 post season average make him a Hall of Famer.
   16. frannyzoo Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#2250044)
it's Kissinger to me just because I want to kiss him...and I can't spell.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: December 02, 2006 at 05:59 PM (#2250045)
Well, Harrah was a 3B (1099 G) and SS (813 G) and even 2B (244 G) at the end.
   18. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: December 02, 2006 at 06:28 PM (#2250061)
Since Brennaman feels Concepcion's .297 post season average is great, does Bill Russell's .294 post season average make him a Hall of Famer.

Based on the 72 World Series, Gene Tenace should be in, too.
   19. THEOSU Posted: December 02, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2250066)
willie mays hit .247 in the post season. he was obviously unable to deliver when it matters.
   20. The District Attorney Posted: December 02, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#2250077)
it's Kissinger to me just because I want to kiss him...and I can't spell.
Fielding is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
   21. Cheap Seats Posted: December 02, 2006 at 08:06 PM (#2250115)
it's Kissinger to me just because I want to kiss him...and I can't spell.
Women love a man with good hands...
   22. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: December 02, 2006 at 10:51 PM (#2250210)
Wow.

What a blatant attempt to kiss up to Reds fans.

Can a "reinstate Pete Rose" article be far behind?
   23. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 02, 2006 at 10:58 PM (#2250212)
Let's say the NBA splits into two leagues of equal strength, but all the point guards in NBA-1 are better than all the point guards in NBA-2. The point guards in NBA-2 are really bad, they are as likely to pass the ball out of bounds as to a teammate. A middling point guard from NBA-1 gets traded to an NBA-2 team for a middling power forward, they suddenly become the only NBA-2 club that can run an offense, and that middling point guard is the MVP. Is he a better point guard than the best one in NBA-1, who doesn't have nearly as much relative value?

Is this supposed to refer to an AL/NL difference? The AL guys were *worse*--a full win per season worse, actually. Even those 70s Braves SS were good compared to the debacles that some AL teams put out then. Take a look at Rob Picciolo in 1977 (.200/.218/.258), Tim Johnson in 1973 (.213/.259/.243), and Nelson Norman in 1979 (.222/.260/.265)--and there are many, many more like them. One thing I haven't figured out yet is whether to have league-specific replacement levels or to just use the average of the two for both.

As for the fielding, Concepción's defensive peak was definitely comparable to Ozzie's--in his five best years, he averaged 23 BP FRAA and 10.6 fielding Win Shares per 150 defensive games, while Smith averaged 26 BP FRAA and 10.0 fielding Win Shares per 150 games. But Concepción only had six years at that level--the rest of the time, he was above average but not remarkable. What makes Ozzie unique was how long he stayed so good: he was saving 15 or more runs a year as late as 1993. Thus, I have Concepción at just +115 fielding runs for his career, versus +204 for Ozzie. That said, Smith is *well* above the in/out line--not being as great as Ozzie doesn't make one unqualified for the Hall.

I think NL teams would have done much better to have gone with other alternatives who wound up instead at 2B, 3B, CF, or stuck in the high minors. They'd have sacrificed some fielding, but added much more back with the bat, imo.

It is true that Concepcion's actual value is connected to his superiority over his peers. But I'm not sure how much bonus I have to give him because NL GMs were collectively stupid.


I think the way to answer your question, Howie, is to try to come up with defensive talent translations--eg, a guy who is a +5 fielder at 2B would be -7 at SS or something. Tangotiger has done that for the modern era, but presumably those values were different in the 1970s. If you could come up with those numbers, then you could compare players across positions on a level playing field.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: December 03, 2006 at 12:48 AM (#2250282)
Interesting, Dan; I've just been assuming there is no real way to take a shot at analyzing that issue.

Why would no one with a hitting pulse be capable of playing SS at that time? In earlier eras you had glove and bunt and spike and catching equipment and other issues that played against players succeeding offensively and defensively at certain positions. But in the modern era, that stuff doesn't apply.
   25. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 01:35 AM (#2250310)
Well, here's my theory. After holding steady at 16 teams from 1901 to 1960, the major leagues expanded by 63% to 26 teams by 1977. Each time you expand, you create two new jobs for players who would previously have been in the minors. Those two players only drag down the league average by a small fraction (2/10, 2/12, 2/14 etc.), but represent 2/3 of the three-worst-regulars average I use as the base to calculate replacement level. Thus, the gap between average and replacement increases.

The magnitude of this effect seems to be proportional to the defensive spectrum. Replacement level for NL first basemen and corner outfielders barely budged from the 50s to the 70s, dropped by about half a win for NL third basemen (1.0 wins below average from 1952-61, 1.7 from 1969-78) and center fielders (0.6 wins below average from 1952-61, 1.2 from 1969-78), and fell off a cliff for shortstops (2.0 wins below average from 1952-61, 3.5 from 1969-78).

There is some logic to this. Since much more athletic ability is required to play the skill positions, it's perfectly plausible to think that the gap between the 16th and 26th best shortstop was far bigger than the gap between the 16th and 26th best first baseman. Nate Silver's research on Freely Available Talent supports this view: "I tend to think of shortstops like NBA point guards," he wrote. "There are 30 NBA teams, but perhaps only 18 or 20 players in the league at any given time who can really handle the point. Similarly, there are a finite number of players who can really play a major league average-to-plus shortstop."

None of this explains why the shortstop position was so much deeper in the 1950's (2.0 wins below average) than in the 20s, 30s, and 40s (2.8 wins below average). I'd love to hear thoughts on that one.

As for coming up with translations, don't you just have to look at guys who played both positions in the same year, control for the "experience" or "primary position" effect, and see how much they lose/gain as they move along the spectrum, as Tangotiger did? I imagine it would be a lot of work, but the data is certainly there.
   26. Juan V Posted: December 03, 2006 at 01:59 AM (#2250314)
None of this explains why the shortstop position was so much deeper in the 1950's (2.0 wins below average) than in the 20s, 30s, and 40s (2.8 wins below average). I'd love to hear thoughts on that one.


Integration + population growth without team expansion?
   27. The District Attorney Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#2250315)
I do think it's significant that Concepcion was the best SS from 1974-81, but the thing is that that seems to be his entire argument. The HOF is about how much better he is than Phil Rizzuto or Joe Sewell, not how much better he is than Rafael Ramirez. If the only way you can get him to rank with the top SS of all time is to choose a (arbitrary and not terribly long) period of time when every other SS was worse, then that does indeed seem like a "taller than a bunch of midgets" argument.
   28. baudib Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:06 AM (#2250317)
Here are some other remarkably bad performances by shortstops in the 1970s:

Belanger 1970
.218 .303 .259 459 at-bats
Belanger 1979
.167 .273 .217 198 at-bats

Well, there are a lot of bad Belanger seasons. But these two came on pennant-winners.

Eddie Brinkman 1972
.203 .259 .279 516 at-bats

Finished 9th in MVP balloting.

Gene Michael 1973
.225 .270 .278 418 at-bats

I don't really know that this is Michael's worst season, but this is pretty remarkable for a 35-year-old shortstop with no speed, no GG reputation.

Rick Auerbach 1972
.218 .277 .269 554 at-bats
   29. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:10 AM (#2250318)
Integration + population growth without team expansion?

Why would that affect the relationship of replacement level to average? Sure, the level of competition was going up all the time, but wouldn't you expect that to generate more superstars who would pull the average up away from replacement as well?

If the only way you can get him to rank with the top SS of all time is to choose a (arbitrary and not terribly long) period of time when every other SS was worse, then that does indeed seem like a "taller than a bunch of midgets" argument.

As long as the bottom line is winning games and winning pennants, isn't exceeding your contemporaneous peers the *only* thing that matters? It's not about an arbitrary "best [INSERT POSITION] of the [INSERT DECADE]." It's about *how much* you exceed replacement level at your position, *regardless* of whether there are other studs at your position (Jeter's not less valuable because he played in the same league as A-Rod and Nomar).
   30. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:12 AM (#2250320)
The HOF is about how much better he is than Phil Rizzuto or Joe Sewell, not how much better he is than Rafael Ramirez.
No it isn't. The HOF isn't about making arbitrary and unanswerable comparisons of who was better between Concepcion and Rizzuto. These are unknowable questions. It's about asking who excelled more compared to his contemporaries. In that sense it very much is about comparing Concepcion to Rafael Ramirez (and comparing Rizzuto to Eddie Pellagrini). Of course value over replacement is only one thing - you also need to look at value over average. For the Hall of Fame, I'm more concerned with the latter.
   31. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:13 AM (#2250321)
Similarly to Concepeción, guys like Roy Smalley and Rick Burleson were *extraordinarily* valuable at their peaks. I have Burleson's 1981 (straight-line adjusted for season length) as worth nearly as much as Willie McCovey's 1969! (and yes, I can walk anyone through the simple calculation who's curious).
   32. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:21 AM (#2250325)
AlouGoodbye, why does value over average matter? Again, the presence of A-Rod and Nomar didn't make Jeter any less valuable...
   33. baudib Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:25 AM (#2250327)
Similarly to Concepeción, guys like Roy Smalley and Rick Burleson were *extraordinarily* valuable at their peaks. I have Burleson's 1981 (straight-line adjusted for season length) as worth nearly as much as Willie McCovey's 1969! (and yes, I can walk anyone through the simple calculation who's curious).


Not to mention Garry Templeton.
   34. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:29 AM (#2250328)
As long as the bottom line is winning games and winning pennants, isn't exceeding your contemporaneous peers the *only* thing that matters? It's not about an arbitrary "best [INSERT POSITION] of the [INSERT DECADE]." It's about *how much* you exceed replacement level at your position, *regardless* of whether there are other studs at your position (Jeter's not less valuable because he played in the same league as A-Rod and Nomar).

Absolutely not. If all the guys at a position in a given decade are dregs, then none of them belong in the HOF. We can tell this by comparing them to othe players at other positions, and discern that, in fact, they are a relative drag on their teams' efforts rather than making a substantial contribution to them. In Concepcion's case, of course, he was making a contribution (rather than being a drag), just not a HOF-worthy contribution. Your approach would mean that we have some quota of players at each position from each era who MUST get in, or something awfully close to that, simply by virtue of the fact they exceed their contemporaries at their position, regardless of whether that actually contributes value towards winning more generally. But I don't think it works that way. Value towards winning is accrued across the roster, and up and down the line-up. The fact you as a SS may be better than the other SS doesn't mean nearly enough.

It certainly doesn't mean HOF-worthiness.
   35. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2250334)
AlouGoodbye, why does value over average matter? Again, the presence of A-Rod and Nomar didn't make Jeter any less valuable...
Sure it did!

If Jeter's the only great shortstop around, then if the Yankees have him they have a huge advantage over all the other teams at that position. They've got a big head start to making the playoffs. But if there are other shortstops around as good (or better), then he's not nearly as much of a help in winning the championship.

Let's try a little thought experiment; suppose Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguz and Nomar Garciaparra (all circa 1999) are all free agents. How much would you be willing to pay for Jeter? Now suppose Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra just got run over by buses. How much would you be willing to pay for Jeter now? Because his value just shot up.

Ultimately it is value above average that wins ballgames (or at least, ballgames beyond the 81st win) and it is most certainly value above average that wins pennants.
   36. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#2250335)
Your approach would mean that we have some quota of players at each position from each era who MUST get in, or something awfully close to that, simply by virtue of the fact they exceed their contemporaries at their position, regardless of whether that actually contributes value towards winning more generally.

Huh? That's simply not true. What matters is *how big* the gap is between a player's performance and that of his peers. Let's take this to the most extreme hypothetical situations.

1. You've got a league where you can get a first baseman with 150 OPS+ freely for the minimum salary floating around the minors, but if you play him anywhere but 1B he will be minus 100 runs with the glove. In that case, even if a guy leads the league with a 165 OPS+ every year for two decades, if he's a first baseman, he's still only a 30-WARP career player and is nowhere near my Hall of Fame.

2. You've got a league where a freely available shortstop has a 50 OPS+. The best SS in the league has a 70 OPS+, and no one else is over 60. Even if he's the best-hitting shortstop in the league for two decades, he hasn't exceeded replacement level enough to sniff the Hall.

3. You've got a league where a freely available shortstop has a 50 OPS+, and there are three shortstops with 110 OPS+'s. Even if none of them are near any offensive leaderboard, and even if they don't exceed the positional average by thaat much since the three of them together represent a good chunk of the average, if they play at that level for two decades, they're all *clearly* Hall of Famers. This is, in fact, exactly what happened in the 1980's with Ripken, Yount, and Trammell.

Value towards winning is accrued across the roster, and up and down the line-up.

This is obviously true. And since every team has to field a shortstop, if your shortstop beats the crap out of everyone else's, you will win a lot more games, regardless of whether the positional average at SS is a 60 OPS+ or a 130.
   37. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:54 AM (#2250336)
[quoteUltimately it is value above average that wins ballgames (or at least, ballgames beyond the 81st win) and it is most certainly value above average that wins pennants.]

Yes, but that's not necessarily what makes HOFers. Concepcion may be the best SS of his era, but that doesn't make him a better HOF candidate than Wad Boggs, who was merely the thrid best 3B of his era.

If Concepcion is in under your criteria, which 2 of 3 are in, Vada Pinson, Dale Murphy, Amos Otis?
   38. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:54 AM (#2250337)
AlouGoodbye, in your thought experiment, I would be willing to pay *slightly* more for Jeter than before, since the tragic passing away of Rodríguez and Garciaparra means that the Mariners and Red Sox will have to acquire the 30th and 31st-best shortstops around, leaving me with the 32nd instead of the 30th, slightly increasing Jeter's value. But it would be a very small effect. What am I missing here?
   39. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 02:59 AM (#2250340)
Pinson definitely not, he only had one season above 5 WARP by my measure. Murphy has the peak but not enough career. I haven't gotten to AL OF yet in my system so I couldn't tell you about Otis, but what "player type" is he supposed to represent?
   40. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:06 AM (#2250341)
. I haven't gotten to AL OF yet in my system so I couldn't tell you about Otis, but what "player type" is he supposed to represent?


The best CF of his era.
   41. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:09 AM (#2250342)
AlouGoodbye, in your thought experiment, I would be willing to pay *slightly* more for Jeter than before, since the tragic passing away of Rodríguez and Garciaparra means that the Mariners and Red Sox will have to acquire the 30th and 31st-best shortstops around, leaving me with the 32nd instead of the 30th, slightly increasing Jeter's value. But it would be a very small effect. What am I missing here?
You're missing (and utterly missing) the idea of scarcity. You say it well in 36 "if your shortstop beats the crap out of everyone else's, you will win a lot more games" but you don't seem to be able to follow your own logic. If Jeter's the only great shortstop, then your shortstop beats the crap out of everyone else's. If there are two other shortstops around his level then he only beats the crap out of 27 other teams' shortstops - which is obviously not as good.

There's another thread around here about the Pirates in which Littlefield is (rightly) castigated for not realising that a $1 player is more valuable than 5 20 cent players. You appear to be making the same mistake.

Let's try this another way; suppose there are 30 shortstops all very close in value, but all way way above replacement level. If they have long careers, are these 30 guys ALL Hall of Famers? Would you pay a lot for the 30th best shortstop, on the grounds that he's way above replacement - even though you have the worst shortstop in the majors?

Your model is not how the real world works. 70 VORP guys are paid more than twice as much as 35 VORP guys - and appropriately so. How am I going to win with a team of league-average players?
   42. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:11 AM (#2250343)
See, I could care less if he is the best CF of his era or if he is no. 10. Again, in a hypothetical league where you have 10 absolute superstars at a position and everyone else is positively heinous, I would elect all ten to my Hall of Fame. The question is what was replacement level for AL CF in the 1970's, and I haven't calculated it.
   43. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2250346)
Would you pay a lot for the 30th best shortstop, on the grounds that he's way above replacement - even though you have the worst shortstop in the majors?

Of course I would! Let's say that there are 30 shortstops who are all 3 wins above average, and replacement level is 5 wins below average. If I DON'T pay a lot for shortstop #30, I'm EIGHT WINS behind every other team in the league, and there's no way in hell I make that up! And yes, in that hypothetical situation, they would all be Hall of Famers for me.
   44. The District Attorney Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:28 AM (#2250348)
The HOF isn't about making arbitrary and unanswerable comparisons of who was better between Concepcion and Rizzuto. These are unknowable questions.
Hoo boy, yeah, it's totally "arbitrary" when a HOF voter tries to figure out the merits of players from different eras. Are you serious with this?? If you're allowed to vote for players of different eras, then you have to compare players of different eras in order to decide who to vote for.
   45. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:30 AM (#2250349)
It's about *how much* you exceed replacement level at your position, *regardless* of whether there are other studs at your position

Well, I think this is where we fundamentally disagree -- in two ways. First, to me, the HOF isn't just about how much you are above the very minimum level a player must maintain to stay in the league. It's how far you are above some greater, historical standard measured by the performance that HOFers past have achieved, which is only in part a function of how much you tower over your contemporaries.

Which leads me to my second point: how much you tower over your contemporaries is not entirely position-specific. A player doesn't become a star just as a shortstop (or a third baseman, or whatever), but also as a player, overall. If Davey Concepcion just wasn't one of the great players of his time, if no shortstops of the '70s were among the great players of the era, then none of them get in, even if he was much the best of that bad lot.
   46. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:30 AM (#2250350)
Well I'm afraid that if you don't care if a guy is the best CF of his era or no. 10, and if you think that being the worst shortstop in the league for 15 to 20 years can make you a Hall of Famer, then you take a distinct minority position. While I applaud you for taking your viewpoint to its logical conclusion, it seems pointless to discuss the matter further.
   47. Howie Menckel Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:32 AM (#2250352)
"Jeter's not less valuable because he played in the same league as A-Rod and Nomar."

I agree, to some extent.
And I also agree that Concepcion is not that much more valuable because he played in the same league as Blanks and Chaney.

This argument I guess comes down to 'merit vs value' - Concepcion had a lot of value because the other teams tried to match Concepcion's defense instead of trying to beat his offense, but that has nothing to do with Concepcion himself - it has to do with a lot of dumb GMs who kept moving Harrah-types off SS when they could have been much better off with that choice.

We debated Joe Sewell ad infinitum off this very premise, and he got elected to the HOM after about 50 tries - without me, for one, having him in the top 15.
   48. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 04:09 AM (#2250379)
Sam M, what determines being a great player overall, if not exceeding replacement level at your position? I agree with you completely that if there are no great players at a position in a given era, the best one shouldn't get into the Hall just because he's the best. But you still have to define what makes a great player, and I don't see what other definition there could be than exceeding replacement level at your position.

AlouGoodbye, I only agreed that being the worst SS in the league for 15 to 20 years can make you a Hall of Famer in your reductio-ad-absurdum hypothetical. In fact, since I define replacement level based on the worst three starters in the league at a position, the worst SS in the league is by definition below replacement level.

Howie Menckel, couldn't the merit-versus-value debate be resolved simply by getting defensive translations between positions? You're almost tempting me to try to do it myself....
   49. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 04:32 AM (#2250397)
Sam M, what determines being a great player overall, if not exceeding replacement level at your position?

Put it in the context of Davey Concepcion. Did anyone ever consider him a serious MVP candidate? Well, admittedly, he finished fourth in the strike year, 1981, but frankly that was pretty much a joke and even then he got no first place votes. Would he ever actually have been a legitimate MVP candidate to anyone who knew what he was talking about? No, not even close. In his long, very nice career as a fine player, he finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting a grand total of twice, and while I haven't studied it closely I'm fairly confident in stating the view that Concepcion was never once, not for an instant, one of the 10 best players in the National League. (He might have had one of the 10 best seasons once or twice, but that's a different thing.)

Remember this as well: the "replacement level" is not independent of the quality of then-current crop of players manning a particular position. It's a function of league-average performance. Thus, if the group of SSs in the 1970s sucked, then the replacement level that Concepcion is exceeding is going to be lower than it is in an era when the shortstops are better. He should/must be penalized for that.
   50. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 05:26 AM (#2250421)
the "replacement level" is not independent of the quality of then-current crop of players manning a particular position. It's a function of league-average performance.

Why is replacement level a function of league-average performance? It has nothing to do with league-average performance. It has to do with freely available talent, and the gap between the freely available level and average does move up and down over time and that is exactly what we are talking about.


I think Concepción was the third best player in the league in 1979, after Schmidt and Winfield, and 1981, after Schmidt and Dawson. I have him at fourth in 1974 and 1976--after Morgan, Schmidt, and Bench ('74)/ Ron Cey ('76), and fifth in 1978 (after Dave Parker, Cey, Jeff Burroughs, and Ted Simmons). I think he was certainly one of the ten best NL players of the decade. But I draw that conclusion, of course, based on how bad replacement level SS were back then.
   51. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 05:58 AM (#2250430)
Why is replacement level a function of league-average performance? It has nothing to do with league-average performance.

Is that a serious question? The replacement level is set at a certain percentage of league average positional performance. Or, as Keith Woolner put it:

We define a replacement level player as one who hits as far below the league positional average as the league backups do relative to league average, who plays average defense for the position, and is a breakeven base-stealer and baserunner.

So if the league positional average is bad in a particular era, then the replacement level in that era is going to sink. The replacement level is within a set range of the positional average, regardless of how good the positional average is. If the positional average is magnificent, then replacement level is within that range of magnificent. If the positional average is terrible, well . . . you get the idea.

So Davey Concepcion was a lot better than terrible. That does NOT qualify him for the Hall of Fame.
   52. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 03, 2006 at 06:15 AM (#2250439)
In fact, since I define replacement level based on the worst three starters in the league at a position, the worst SS in the league is by definition below replacement level.

I think you're unnecessarily limiting your pool from which you're calculating replacement level in two ways.

First, you're implicitly assuming that the 24 best shortstops active in 1976 were distributed one per team. Doug Flynn was the utility infielder on the 1975-76 Reds. In those two years, he played 183 games, 37 at shortstop, and put up OPS+'s of 85 and 83. In mid-1977 he was traded to the Mets, for whom he proceeded to play 156, 157, 128, and 105 games from 1978-81 (the last of those seasons was strike-shortened, of course). Isn't it a pretty safe bet that Doug Flynn was a better shortstop than guys like Darrel Chaney, Frank Taveras, and Enzo Hernandez?

Second, you're limiting the pool of possible "replacement" shortstops to guys who actually played shortstop. In 1975 and 1976, isn't it possible that Joe Morgan and Pete Rose would have been better choices as starting major-league shortstops than Chaney, Taveras, and Hernandez. The only reason they didn't play shortstop for the Reds was because Concepcion was a better defensive shortstop, though.

Basically, the probability that the 24th-best shortstop in the major leagues in the early 1970s was actually a starting shortstop for a major-league team is really quite small.
   53. BDC Posted: December 03, 2006 at 06:23 AM (#2250442)
Is this supposed to refer to an AL/NL difference? (Dan in #23)

No; my hypothetical two-NBAs story in #12 was simply to eliminate as much as possible the "taller than a bunch of midgets" problem. I tried to imagine two leagues of equal strength (they stand more for the 1950s NL vs. the 1970s NL) where one league had great players at a position and the other league had lousy ones. Even though the "lousy" league does not consist of midgets overall, it still doesn't mean that the best of their bad-position guys is a giant.

Basically, I agree with Sam: a Hall of Famer should distinctly rise above his contemporaries (Concepcion didn't, as a total package), and should match his Hall of Fame peers in absolute terms. Concepcion might be as good, absolutely, as the weaker HOF shortstops (Tinker, Jackson, Rizzuto), but possibly matching some of the inferior selections to the Hall is not much of a case. It is rather the definition of the Hall of the Very Good.
   54. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 03, 2006 at 06:26 AM (#2250443)
I do think it's significant that Concepcion was the best SS from 1974-81, but the thing is that that seems to be his entire argument.

I second this thought completely. Win Shares are easy and fun for everyone, so I use 'em. By my reckoning, Concepcion has lots of All-Star years (top x at position in league over one season) and lots of Best in League at Position Over Time years (top guy at position over three-year period), but he's got no Hall markers on Keltner questions like Best at Position not inducted (Trammell, Dahlen, Glasscock, et al); MVP-type seasons; best player in baseball; Hall comps/standards; having value after his prime. None of those are strengths for him at all.

I don't mind when a guy who dominates a weak era for his position gets inducted if he's got other markers, like Ozzie in the pre-Larkin era as noted in a post above. But Concepcion's just got nothing else going for him besides being the best of a bad lot. Just because Mickey Vernon or Vic Wertz is the best 1B in the AL of the 1950s doesn't make him close to the Hall. Ditto Maury Wills in the 1960s at SS.

If Concepcion, then Fregosi....
   55. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 06:47 AM (#2250453)
Hoo boy, yeah, it's totally "arbitrary" when a HOF voter tries to figure out the merits of players from different eras. Are you serious with this?? If you're allowed to vote for players of different eras, then you have to compare players of different eras in order to decide who to vote for.
But how do you directly compare the two players?

Obviously stats like OPS+ and BRAA and VORP and the like are comparing the player to his contemporaries, so they're out. And so obviously are all awards like Gold Gloves and ASG selections and MVPs. But we also can't rely on the raw stats because they're also context-dependent - the rules and the population of players and the ballparks and the technology and the style of playing the game change over the years. So what are we left with? Scouting observations? I guess that could make sense, but are you really suggesting that's how the Hall of Fame should be decided? Besides which this still leaves you unable to compare Dave Concepcion to Honus Wagner.

Ultimately all you can really do is look at how Concepcion compared to his contemporaries - how well he batted above average/replacement, how well he fielded above average/replacement, his ASG selections, his awards and whatever else you find relevant, and then do the same with anyone else you want to compare him to. To be honest I'm amazed this is even an issue.

Sam -

"Replacement level" means talent which is "freely available." BPro choose to set it as a function of league average performance at each position, because that's a number they can calculate, and they get something reasonably sensible (except at DH, but that's another story). But in fact this may or may not be the true replacement level - which is something that I guess could be empirically determined. But that's difficult. People argue about what that level is - it's often said that the BPro replacement level is too low.
   56. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 07:21 AM (#2250471)
People argue about what that level is - it's often said that the BPro replacement level is too low.

I don't necessarily quarrel with that. But the point is, too low or not, the formula they use is to make it a function of league average performance at the position. Now, I guess not everyone has to do that way, and apparently Dan doesn't. But if you do, then it will necessarily be true that a poor era of league average positional performances WILL affect the replacement level. Thus, if you use VORP as your metric, it will make a guy like Concepcion seem better compared to his historical rivals than he is.

Obviously stats like OPS+ and BRAA and VORP and the like are comparing the player to his contemporaries, so they're out.

But Alou, SOME of those metrics are not position-specific. In a case like Concepcion, the thing to do to get a better idea of his merits are to see how good he was as an overall player compared to the best players in the league. And no one ever really believed he was belonged in the company of Schmidt, Morgan, Bench, Winfield, Seaver, Rose, Stargell, and many others.

Let me try this another way. If you think a guy should only be rated compared to his positional contemporaries, let's take this on a one-game basis. Let's say your shortstop (Vizquel) goes 1-for-4 with a single. Fields his position cleanly. The hit leads to nothing when it comes to runs. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds hits for the cycle and drives in three runs. Vizquel's SS counterpart, Reyes, is awful. Takes an oh-fer. Makes three errors, all of which lead to unearned runs for the Giants. Bonds' opposite number, Alou, hits a three-run homer, and also doubles.

Is Vizquel the MVP of the game, because he was more superior than his positional rival than Bonds was? Or was Bonds better because he actually helped his team win the game more than Vizquel did?

To me, Vizquel (Concepcion) doesn't earn merits points because the other SSs sucked. When trying to decide whether to accord him honors, we look at the merits of how HE actually performed. And he was pretty pedestrian. Fine, certainly. But Bonds . . . he's the REAL Hall of Famer.
   57. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 07:46 AM (#2250486)
Isn't the Concepcion question a good one to apply the Keltner list to?

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? Obviously not.
2. Was he the best player on his team? Not on any good team.
3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position? I think so, but we've already established how weak his competition was.
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races? Yup.
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime? Yup again.
6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame? Are you on drugs?
7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame? Nope. (Three on his BR comps chart, although I suppose the #1 choice, Omar Vizquel, might make it. Trammel should, but he's a lot better than Concepcion.)
8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? Not really. Check out the various tests on BR. He does reach 100 on the HOF Monitor, but that's not objective and it's not like he's well above it.
9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics? Don't see why.
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in? No.
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close? Zilch, no, none.
12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame? Nine time all-star, which is pretty good -- but we've already established that the competition was weak.
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant? No.
14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? Nothing significant, to my knowledge.
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider? AFAIK.

That doesn't look great to me. Wouldn't be the worst guy in there, but OTOH nobody would give him a second look if he had played for the Expos rather than the BRM, either.
   58. baudib Posted: December 03, 2006 at 08:03 AM (#2250496)
Well, your Keltner list needs tweaking:

2. Was he the best player on his team? Not on any good team.


Concepcion was the best player on the 79 Reds, who finished first with 90 wins. He was arguably the best player on the team in 1981, when the Reds had the best record in the league.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way? Nothing significant, to my knowledge.


He changed the way that shortstops played on artificial turf. That was pretty significant considering how many turf teams there were during his career.
   59. John DiFool2 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 08:04 AM (#2250497)
If Concepcion, then Fregosi....


Or Bert Campaneris, who is a very good comp for Davey. I loved him
when he played, but Davey simply doesn't quite measure up to the
HoF level (which I agree with Sam M. and others is ultimately the
only thing which counts). Ozzie's OPS is heavily weighted more
towards OBP than Davey, who had more power, and Ozzie held onto
his peak longer. I don't want a Hall overloaded with the likes
of Campy Campaneris et al., which is ultimately where that
argument ends up going.
   60. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 08:37 AM (#2250510)
Baudib:

2) Both your team cites are arguably true (and hence arguably not true.) I won't dispute it. But if he was the best on these teams, he was one of several players at that level, not the star of those teams.

14) I think it's an exaggeration to say he "changed" the way people played on turf. People weren't really playing on it much before his career began, as it only debuted a few years before he did, so it's not like there was an established way of playing on turf. Maybe it would be closer to say that he introduced techniques for exploiting turf.

In any case, granting that your arguments have merit, I don't think it adds much to a HOF case. I stand by the claim that if he had played for any team other than the BRM, nobody would even begin to think of him as a HOFer. (Yes, he contributed to the BRM's success -- but he was hardly the main cause.)
   61. baudib Posted: December 03, 2006 at 09:19 AM (#2250524)
2. No, not really. He was pretty clearly the best player on the team in 1979. In 1981 it's less clear, it could be him or Foster or Tom Seaver. This, incidentally, potentially changes some of your other answers.

14. I think he had been playing on turf several years before doing it. In any event. his intelligence and unique adaptation to turf probably qualifies him as a player better than his statistics.

I don't think he should be a Hall of Famer. But he deserved better consideration on his Keltner treatment than you gave him.
   62. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:15 AM (#2250561)
2. No, not really. He was pretty clearly the best player on the team in 1979.
Well, pulling out my Win Shares book, not at all because I think WS are the be-all-and-end-all, but just because I happen to have the book within arms' reach:

1979:
Concepcion: 24
Foster, Bench: 22

That doesn't sound like "pretty clearly." That sounds like arguably.
   63. baudib Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:22 AM (#2250567)
And WARP1 has it 9.6-6.9 for Concepcion. And in EQR, Foster leads only 93-91. It's pretty obvious that Concepcion has more than a 2-run edge in defense, isn't it? But at least you aren't disputing my claim.
   64. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:56 AM (#2250581)
Kiko Sakata: My actual methodology is to compare the three-worst-regulars average to Nate Silver's Freely Available Talent (FAT) levels for 1985-2005. In almost all cases, the three-worst-regulars average exactly matches the empirically determined FAT level. But when it doesn't (say, it is 0.3 wins below the FAT level), then I set replacement level as three-worst-regulars average plus 0.3 wins. So unless there's reason to believe that the relationship between the three worst regulars in the league and the actual FAT level changed over time, I think I control for the distortion you mention.

Dr. Chaleeko, John DiFool--The gap between Concepción and replacement level SS in the 70s was FAR greater than the gap between Vernon/Wertz and replacement level 1B in the 1950s, or Campaneris/Fregosi and replacement level SS in the 60s/70s. To repeat: I am not saying that being the best player at your position in an era automatically qualifies you for the Hall. I am saying that the size of the gap between your performance and replacement level at your position during your era qualifies you for the Hall, regardless of whether you are the best in the league at your position or the 10th best. Please take issue with the argument I am making, rather than a straw man that I disagree with.

Sam M.--
1. I think using league average is a *terrible* way to calculate replacement level. Where is it written that the gap between positional average and replacement must remain exactly equal in all situations? The presence of Ripken, Yount, and Trammell in the 1980s, or A-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, and Tejada in 1999-2000, didn't magically make the AAAA shortstop who would fill in if they went down a better player. I think the most important point I'm trying to make is that the widely accepted habit of defining replacement level as a % of positional average is flat out wrong, both conceptually and empirically. Nate Silver has it right, and I'm just trying to extrapolate backwards in time from his tremendously important and valuable research.

2. Concepción most certainly does not belong in the same breath as inner-circle Hall of Famers like Schmidt, Morgan, and Bench, widely considered to be the greatest players *ever* at their positions. But I actually think he was fairly similar in overall career value to Stargell--he was like 25 FRAA ahead of Stargell a year, and replacement SS were around a further 25 runs worse than replacement corner OF (and 30 runs worse than replacement corner 1B, where Stargell actually played during most of Concepción's peak), which just about makes up for the 50-55 runs a season of offense Stargell has on him.

3. I would say that I couldn't say who the MVP of the game was until I knew what the replacement levels were. If I could pick up Alou anytime I wanted for the league minimum, but if Vizquel went down I'd have to stick Reyes out there, then yes I would say that Vizquel, not Bonds, is the MVP of the game. In fact, Reyes' performance is far below SS replacement level and Alou's is far above it, so realistically, of course Bonds is the MVP.
   65. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: December 03, 2006 at 01:14 PM (#2250597)
To repeat: I am not saying that being the best player at your position in an era automatically qualifies you for the Hall. I am saying that the size of the gap between your performance and replacement level at your position during your era qualifies you for the Hall, regardless of whether you are the best in the league at your position or the 10th best. Please take issue with the argument I am making, rather than a straw man that I disagree with.

My concern with this idea is that it may unfairly benefit players who play in "randomly" weak eras at their position. If SS was, somehow, inherently more difficult to play in the 70's, both offensively and defensively, then I grant that Concepcion deserves credit for his ability to rise above replacement. But what if a substantial portion of the variability in replacement level (as Dan's defined it) is just luck, the varying distribution of the birth of shortstops? In that case, it's not that Concepcion is superior because he's mastered a more difficult position than, say, Trammell, who plays ~5-10 years later, but rather because he's just lucky, born in a generation that produced few shortstops for whatever random reason. In that case, if you swapped Concepcion and Trammell, I suppose you would see Trammell exceed replacement by an even greater margin than he did in the 80's, and Concepcion fall back to the pack.

If the second scenario is a more accurate model, then we need to correct for the context of the ease of exceeding replacement, something not easily accomplished by traditional statistical methods (i.e. standard deviations).

My other point is that, in all likelihood, the truth falls somewhere between the two extremes. It appears that teams were highly inefficient at identifying the best talent to place at SS during the 70's. Because of the emphasis on defense and the belief that a small, athletic player was the only model for SS defensive success, teams limited the pool of SS to weak hitters and forced down the value of replacement. From this perspective, Concepcion becomes a guy who was, by far, the best shortstop who conformed to the image of the athletic shortstop, and therefore, was only the best shortstop who teams would allow to play the position. If that's true, Concepcion is worse than many borderline-HOF SS who came before at after at doing the things that a shortstop job entails, but was better at it than a pool of weak hitting 5'11 defensive specialists.

This reduces to a Frank Baker problem; if Frank Baker knew to uppercut, he might've hit 50 HR's a year. But he didn't know, and neither did his contemporaries. So how do we consider his value compared to the next generation?
   66. DCW3 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2250612)
I don't necessarily quarrel with that. But the point is, too low or not, the formula they use is to make it a function of league average performance at the position. Now, I guess not everyone has to do that way, and apparently Dan doesn't. But if you do, then it will necessarily be true that a poor era of league average positional performances WILL affect the replacement level. Thus, if you use VORP as your metric, it will make a guy like Concepcion seem better compared to his historical rivals than he is.

One thing that should be noted--nobody ever seems to have a problem using OPS+ to compare players across eras. But if you do so, not only you will arguably underrate players like Concepcion from eras where middle infielders hit especially poorly, but you will definitely overrate players at the less important defensive positions. One of the big reasons why offensive levels in the 1970s and 1980s were so much lower than they are today has nothing to do with players being stronger or parks being smaller--it's because teams were much more willing to play a poor-hitting, defense-first player at shortstop or second base. In many years, the average first baseman or corner OF had raw numbers that weren't that much worse than those of today, but they look a lot better in era-adjusted metrics like OPS+ because of all the crappy-hitting middle infielders dragging down the overall league average. Position-adjusted metrics are invaluable for cross-era comparisons like this. A guy like Billy Williams starts looking like less of a Hall of Famer if this is taken into account--his 170 OPS+ in 1972 is a lot less impressive when you realize that the average NL LF had a 124 OPS+ that year. Dick Allen deservedly won the MVP that same season, but his 200 OPS+ that year isn't the same thing as a 200 OPS+ would be today, not when the average AL 1B had a 133 OPS+ that year.
   67. JPWF13 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:39 PM (#2250634)
In many years, the average first baseman or corner OF had raw numbers that weren't that much worse than those of today, but they look a lot better in era-adjusted metrics like OPS+ because of all the crappy-hitting middle infielders dragging down the overall league average.


Couldn't let that go by
1970-79 NL OPS+ leader averaged 176
1970-79 AL OPS+ leadera averaged 172

1980-89 NL OPS+ leader averaged 171
1980-89 AL OPS+ leadera averaged 169

Then when midddle infielders allegedly learned to hit:

1990-99 NL OPS+ leader averaged 190
1990-99 AL OPS+ leadera averaged 185

2000-06 NL OPS+ leader averaged 225
2000-06 AL OPS+ leadera averaged 179
   68. DCW3 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:47 PM (#2250641)
I meant that the guys from the '70s and '80s look better than they actually were, not that they look better than the guys from today. I'm not sure that only looking at the best hitter in the league is a good way to address this, though.
   69. BDC Posted: December 03, 2006 at 03:54 PM (#2250649)
Billy Williams starts looking like less of a Hall of Famer if this is taken into account--his 170 OPS+ in 1972 is a lot less impressive when you realize that the average NL LF had a 124 OPS+ that year

In one sense, maybe, but Williams was still the best hitter in the league that year. If you took all the other bats in the league and distributed them evenly among the positions, he would still be the best hitter in the league. To some extent, I think that all this gearing of offensive contribution to defensive position is useful sometimes and misleading other times. Williams was less impressive than Johnny Bench, for instance, because Williams himself was an ordinary left fielder, and Bench himself was a great catcher -- not really, to my mind, because of what weak shortstops and second basemen were hitting at the time.
   70. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 03, 2006 at 04:19 PM (#2250672)
A fundemantal truth about baseball: talents are not balanced across the diamond over time. There are moments in history where there are vastly unequal distributions of talent betwteen positions and where each position undergoes change. Right now, there's lots of good shortstops. In the 1960s and 1970s, not so much. In the 1960s there were lots of good CFs. Since then, not as many (only Griffey's an obvious HOFer at this point). In 1880-1895, lots of good 1Bs. In 1925-1940 lots of good 1Bs. In between, a combo of busted HOF careers and HOVG careers. That's baseball.

Doesn't mean that having the best guy at the weak position isn't a tremendous advantage, it is, but IMO suggesting that alone makes him a HOFer isn't a good argument unless he also has other markers.
   71. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2250702)
Dave, as we discussed last night, I think that if you want to argue that a 1.5 win per year swing over a decade's worth of data is purely random, the burden of proof is on the prosecution there (I suppose one could do a chi-square test or something to see what the level of confidence is to prove it). However, if you instead want to say that Concepción was a beneficiary of a leaguewide conspiracy to stick banjo hitters at shortstop, that's a legitimate proposition. I don't think you can simply write off the effect of expansion and the probability that the dropoff from #16 to #26 was steeper at SS than at 1B, but given how horrific a lot of these players were I think you (and the broader group) are right that they should have been willing to trade much more defense for offense at short than they were, and that's a tough factor to address quantitatively. One way to do that, as I keep saying, would be to come up with *real* defensive talent translations, similar to what Tangotiger has done for the modern era, to put all players on an equal footing for comparison (eg, +4 defense at 2b would be equal to -9 defense at SS or something). Let me see what I can come up with.
   72. sunnyday2 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 05:35 PM (#2250704)
The way my mind works (or not), I find the easiest way to look at any player is to ask if they are the best player at their position NOT in the HoF. In this case, clearly no.

Borrowing Bill James rankings, not to say they're right or anything, but at least as a basis for discussion--eligible but NOT in the HoF:

9. Alan Trammell 318/35-29-28/132/22.5
15. Jim Fregosi 261/33-28-28/135/22.2
19. Maury Wills 253/32-28-27/128/21.1
20. Johnny Pesky 187/34-28-25/130/23.8
21. Bill Dahlen 393/32-31-27/121/26.1
22. Vern Stephens 265/34-32-27/129/25.9
24. Tony Fernandez 278/25-25-24/118/21.6
25. Bert Campaneris 280/29-26-22/109/19.5
26. Dave Concepcion 269/25-25-24/111/17.5

And then you've got 27. Al Dark, 29. Cecil Travis, 30. Dick Groat, 31. Jay Bell and 32. Rico Petrocelli in the same general vicinity.

Color me skeptical then, that James could be sooooo wrong about all of the 8 guys who are ranked ahead of Concepcion. Or even throw out Bill Dahlen, pretty likely the best player at any position not in the HoF, you've still got 7. You've specifically got Tony Fernandez who looks like a clone, only a little better. I don't see how Concepcion is a HoFer unless Fernandez is, too. I could go either way on Campy.

But then I don't see how you could go either way with Wills or Fregosi...not to even mention Trammell. There is no way in god's green earth that Concepcion goes into the HoF ahead of Alan Trammell, nor even Wills or Fregosi. To me, the arguments FOR Dave Concepcion are just completely fraudulent, completely meant to mislead the voters in the interest of cronyism and/or sentimentality. Or else the people making them are just completely ignorant of the facts--but again, very possibly willfully ignorant of the facts and, again, essentially driven by cronyism and sentimentality. There are no other words to describe Brennaman's article and his ideas.
   73. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 05:57 PM (#2250710)
Trammell is a no-brainer and his exclusion from the Hall is a travesty. "Worse than Trammell" does not mean "not a HoF'er". I didn't know Dahlen's not in Cooperstown either, that's ludicrous.

I have Concepción as far superior to Fernández--Fernández was only a real full time SS for 10 years, and for the second half of them SS replacement level was much higher than it was in Concepción's day. (Yes, I know this is what we're debating, I'm just reiterating). And while Fernández was indubitably an excellent fielder, and played at a strong All-Star level overall in his prime, Concepción's defense (at least according to WARP and WS) was far superior, and for much longer. Fregosi was a below-average fielder and had a very short career, he's not close. Wills was neither an exceedingly good hitter for his position nor an above-average fielder; all of his value was in his legs. Campaneris, as a contemporary, is a good comp, but falls substantially short, again because he was a good but not outstanding defensive SS. Obviously Concepción's case is dependent on one's accepting WARP and Win Shares' assessment that his fielding was historically great. Pesky only has 600 games at SS, I don't know how he's even in the discussion. Stephens I simply haven't looked at; has his HoM candidacy gotten any traction?
   74. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 03, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2250847)
If you think a guy should only be rated compared to his positional contemporaries
I never said this. I think a guy should only be compared to his contemporaries - of which his positional contemporaries are obviously a very important part, but not the only part.

Question: who would be more deserving of the Hall, Concepcion or Vizquel?
   75. Sam M. Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:12 PM (#2250856)
Question: who would be more deserving of the Hall, Concepcion or Vizquel?

I'd have to study it more closely, but my knee-jerk reaction is it's close, and if you pushed me for an answer I'd say Vizquel. I wouldn't vote for either of them.

Offensively, Vizquel has been about as good relative to the players of his time as Concepcion was to the hitters of his era -- and that's in a greater offensive era. Vizquel has actually now lasted a little bit longer (600 more PAs and counting), and I think he's sustained his defensive value over a longer period -- but I really would need to look at that a lot more closely to reach a firm conclusion.

Am I coming across like a Concepcion basher? I'm not. I think he was a terrific player. Just not a Hall of Famer, that's all.
   76. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:25 PM (#2250863)
My concern with this idea is that it may unfairly benefit players who play in "randomly" weak eras at their position. If SS was, somehow, inherently more difficult to play in the 70's, both offensively and defensively, then I grant that Concepcion deserves credit for his ability to rise above replacement. But what if a substantial portion of the variability in replacement level (as Dan's defined it) is just luck, the varying distribution of the birth of shortstops?

That sounds like you are talking about who had the most talent. But aren't we trying to figure out who had the most value? If everyone else was crappy Concepcion had a lot of value.

Anyway, I don't think Concepcion should be in the HoF, but he's closer than some seem to think. Among guys retired as of '92 I have him as the 18th best SS. I don't think he's all that better than Bartell or Campaneris.
   77. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:46 PM (#2250875)
Fregosi was a below-average fielder and had a very short career

So what? He could really hit. When it comes to value, it doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it. And that's why he's right with, probably above, Concepcion. Both of them, however, suffer from the weak-era-for-SS problem, so neither gets in. I do agree that Vizquel is somewhat similar to Concepcion, but neither would get my vote.

Anybody remember much about the Concepcion/Larkin handoff in 1986? It was about a 2/1 split for playing time (maybe a little larger) in Davey's favor, with the OPS+s going 95/79. Larkin had been drafted the prior June, so it was a quick transition. Larkin OPSed 677 in the Eastern Lg in 1985, then 905 in Denver in the PCL in 1986.
   78. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: December 03, 2006 at 10:54 PM (#2250880)
I haven't got a lot to add to this thread. I saw Concepcion's career and remember it pretty clearly. He was an amazing ballplayer.

He truly was.

I called up his numbers on the Sabermetric Encyclopedia and from 1973-82 he had a Runs Created Above Position of 177 and had a Runs Created Above Average of -2. From 1970-1990 The leaders in RCAP among NL SS were Ozzie Smith (140) and Dave Concepcion (136).

Back then his offense was considered remarkable for his position. On many occasions I recall hearing announcers commenting that his bat was superb for a guy who fields as good as he did and how he didn't drag his team down offensively--remarkable for a guy who played shortstop.

I don't think he's a Hall-of-Famer but I don't find arguing his HOF worthiness to be an absurd notion. During his peak my brother and I had many conversations about whether he'd make the HOF.

He was that good. Probably the second best NL SS over a 20 year span. It's hard to comprehend that when we've recently seen a shortstop top Concepcion's career HR mark in just two seasons.

But at the time he was rightfully considered an elite player. Although we don't put a lot of stock in All Star Game selections the fact he was named to the NL squad nine times over ten years gives us an idea of how highly he was regarded at the time.

I remember Bill James in "Politics of Glory" discussing Phil Rizzuto. James admitted that he was somewhat handicapped in assessing Rizzuto simply because he wasn't there to physically witness his career and how he was viewed at the time. Well I did see Concepcion, read about him, heard what others said about him at the time and while I think he falls a teensy bit shy of the HOF I think he certainly deserves a very prominent placing in the Hall-Of-The Very-Good.

Best Regards

John
   79. DCW3 Posted: December 03, 2006 at 11:40 PM (#2250895)
Question: who would be more deserving of the Hall, Concepcion or Vizquel?

That's a great comparison for demonstrating just how much better shortstops hit today as compared to the 1970s and early '80s. As Sam says, Concepcion and Vizquel do have very similar raw offensive numbers--in fact, Vizquel is Concepcion's number one comp.

Concepcion: 9640 PAs, .679 OPS, 88 OPS+
Vizquel: 10207 PAs, .702 OPS, 85 OPS+

Now, the GWAA stat I worked on has its basis in comparing players to their contemporaries at the same position. Concepcion's GWAA score is 21.63--Hall of Fame borderline is around 30, but considering that that metric doesn't take defense into account, Concepcion actually looks like a pretty decent Hall of Fame candidate there. Vizquel's score, in comparison? 5.09. I don't know that that really means Concepcion was that much better than Vizquel, but it's interesting.
   80. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 12:15 AM (#2250908)
Concepción versus Vizquel?? They're not in the same league, besides being Venezuelan shortstops. I have Concepción with 62.8 career wins above replacement, and Vizquel with just 39. Despite all the hype and hardware, Vizquel was nothing more than a good fielder, with just +57 career fielding runs by my measure (vs +115 for Concepción). And there's something simple OPS+ isn't picking up, since Concepción fares faar better offensively both in my system and in BP's (.257 EqA/-29 BRAA vs. .247 EqA/-139 BRAA). To clarify once again, I am not arguing that merely being the best of your era at a position gets you in, and I don't think we should open the floodgates to *any* of the "comparables" mentioned (Campaneris, Fregosi, Mickey Vernon, whoever). I see Concepción as a gigantic step ahead of that group, for all the reasons mentioned above. Concepción towers over Campaneris, in my opinion; it's not close.
   81. Sam M. Posted: December 04, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#2250933)
Concepción versus Vizquel?? They're not in the same league, besides being Venezuelan shortstops. I have Concepción with 62.8 career wins above replacement, and Vizquel with just 39.

Well, of course, Dan. I knew that would be your view. But is that a function of any difference in their performance, or of a difference in the replacement value each one is rising above in his respective era? If you took Omar Vizquel's exact same performance stats (I know it's a huge assumption, and one we couldn't make in the real world, but for the sake of discussion, let's make it), and translated them into the exact same years Davey Concepcion played, would they be "in the same league"?
   82. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 01:33 AM (#2250950)
You know, Sam, I assumed most of the difference would be in replacement levels, but it wasn't. I have NL replacement SS as about -3.5 wins a season in the 70s, and AL replacement SS as about -3.4 wins a season throughout the 1990's, thanks to the Pat Meareses, Cristián Guzmans, and Neifi Pérezes of the world (Pérez was clearly below replacement level, but the other two are right on the button for Silver's FAT level). The difference is entirely due to greater performance above average from Concepción. I have Concepción's career offense at 1.8 wins below a player hitting at the league (not positional) average for his career, and his fielding as 13.3 wins above average for his career. That's actually right in line with BP, which has him at -29 BRAA and +146 FRAA. Vizquel I have at 15.8 wins below league average with the bat (also in line with BP, which has him with -139 BRAA) and 5.4 wins above average with the glove (much less than BP, which has him at +100 FRAA, since Win Shares and Chris Dial are much less enthusiastic about Vizquel's fielding). That difference of 21.9 wins above league average is exactly what's reflected in my overall WARP scores, since the replacement levels are similar.

I have no idea why OPS+ considers them similar hitters. Both my system (which uses Extrapolated Runs and puts the player on an otherwise league-average team and sees how many games that team would win with and without the player) and BP's agree that there was an 11-12 win difference in their offense relative to average.
   83. Juan V Posted: December 04, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#2250956)
Tangentially related, what´s the reasoning for calculating replacement level for each league separately, specially with all the cross-polinization going on?
   84. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 01:52 AM (#2250959)
For everything I've been saying, I should clarify a few points. The real historic low in depth at the shortstop position was in the AL, not the NL, centered around 1980. In the AL, I have replacement SS as about 2.2 wins below average from 1960-65, and then declining steadily to an absolutely ghastly -4.4 in 1980 (right after expansion was finished). It then improved back to about -3.4 in the 1990s, and seems to have improved further to around -3 today. The guys I mentioned from the 70's NL have nothing on what was rolling around the AL in the late 70s and early 80s. Seasons like Cristián Guzman's and Neifi Pérez's worst (2005 and 2002, respectively) were par for the course back then--just take a look at Ángel Salazar. In the NL, the trough isn't quite so extreme--a steady decline from -2 in the late 50s to -3.6 in 1970, where it held until about 1980, when it gradually climbed back to -3 in 1987 and has held constant there ever since. (note: the AL replacement level will always be lower relative to average because of the DH, but so will the performance relative to average of the shortstops in question, so it balances out).

Concepción only gets a small boost in my system (half a win per year tops) relative to 90's shortstops, and indeed is penalized in relation to his American League contemporaries. It's just in the comparison to pre-expansion SS where he gets helped so much. I recognize that on the one hand, he was able to beat up on crappy pitchers who weren't in the league before expansion, and so perhaps I should include a competition adjustment to counteract this effect, but on the other hand, the level of competition was going up every year generally, so maybe those effects cancel out.
   85. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 01:54 AM (#2250960)
Concepcion vs Vizquel

Career batting:

Concepcion -39 BRAA (264 BRAR) in 9640 PAs.
Vizquel -20 BRAA (296 BRAR) in 10207 PAs (and counting).

Clear advantage to Vizquel.

Longevity:

Vizquel already has more PAs and just seventy fewer games in the field. Vizquel will clearly pass Concepcion in this measure by the end of 2007. Vizquel will turn 40 at the start of next season and is still going strong. Concepcion did not play a full season after 1985.

Basestealing:

Concepcion stole 321 bases to 109 CS a rate of 74%.
Vizquel has 366 SBs to 146 CS a rate of 71%.

Advantage Concepcion.

Baserunning:

Both men have good reputations as baserunners. I don't feel qualified to make any serious comment on this. Do we have SLWTs?

Fielding:

Concepcion had a great fielding reputation and won 5 gold gloves. Obviously Vizquel easily trumps that with 11. Rosenheck calls Vizquel "no more than a good fielder" but Dial's ZR disagrees. For instance, Vizquel was rated as +11 in the field this year (+12/150) - and this is in his age 39 season. Given that, I seriously doubt that he's just +57 over his whole career.

I have to give the advantage to Vizquel here too.

Overall, Vizquel looks like a significantly better candidate.
   86. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 01:58 AM (#2250963)
Juan V., as I posted earlier, maybe I should just average the two replacement levels and use the average for both leagues. They have to be calculated independently because the same batting line represents a different amount of wins in the two leagues.
   87. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:01 AM (#2250965)
AlouGoodbye, how are you calculating Vizquel with just -20 BRAA? He comes out far worse in my system, and in BP's. Show me the math.
I have all of Dial's data. He has Vizquel as +56 for his career through 2005 (my numbers don't include '06 yet).
   88. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:08 AM (#2250972)
AlouGoodbye, how are you calculating Vizquel with just -20 BRAA? He comes out far worse in my system, and in BP's. Show me the math.
I was quoting BP. BP has Vizquel at -20 BRAA.
   89. Sam M. Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:13 AM (#2250979)
The difference is entirely due to greater performance above average from Concepción.

By which, Dan, I assume you mean positional average? Or maybe you don't. But if it's positional average, then the point remains: Concepcion is benefitting (actually, even more than he does when it comes to replacement level comparisons, based on the way you do replacement level) from the poor average performance of his shortstop contemporaries. We all know he rose above that average, but it was so much easier to do that then. I believe Vizquel would have, too. I can't prove that, of course, and you may differ from me in that viewpoint.

But my view is that a truly great shortstop, a HOF-worthy shortstop, would have hit the pitchers of the '70s better than Concepcion did. Regardless of how much better Davey did that than the other shortstops -- HOFers do more than Davey did with the bat, or they are Ozzie Smith. HOFers reach an absolute, as well as a relative, level of performance. You don't believe that. There, we differ.
   90. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#2250984)
AlouGoodbye--are we looking at different websites? http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/vizquom01.php definitely has Vizquel with -139 BRAA on my computer and I've just refreshed the page...

Sam M, no, I mean league average, not positional average. Again, unless we are not looking at the same BP data, both my system and BP's have Concepción as some 12 wins better as a hitter than Vizquel, compared to overall league average rather than to positional average.
   91. Dan Turkenkopf Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:20 AM (#2250986)
AlouGoodbye--are we looking at different websites? http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/vizquom01.php definitely has Vizquel with -139 BRAA on my computer and I've just refreshed the page..


One of you is looking at the Adjusted for Season (-139), the other for Adjusted All Time (-20).
   92. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:24 AM (#2250987)
aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh thanks that explains it. Well, my system certainly makes no effort to quantify the tougher competition in the 1990s AL than in the 1970s NL, so that might be a point in Vizquel's favor. But with no timeline effect, Concepción was around 12 wins better than Vizquel with the bat, compared to league rather than to positional average.
   93. Sam M. Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:32 AM (#2250989)
Got it, Dan. My question, then is this: given your expressed view about the critical nature of a player's superiority over his positional contemporaries, why wouldn't you look at positional, rather than league, average?

Of course, my view remains the same in either case: neither Vizquel nor Concepcion is a compelling HOF candidate.
   94. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2250997)
I don't look at averages, period. I look at perofrmance relative to positional replacement levels. I simply brought up their BRAA and FRAA to responding to your question: "But is that a function of any difference in their performance, or of a difference in the replacement value each one is rising above in his respective era?" Assuming that you are defining performance as runs above/below league (not positional) average, in the particular case of Vizquel vs. Concepción, it is entirely due to a difference in their performance, since replacement level at SS was similar in the 1970s NL and 1990s AL.
   95. Mister High Standards Posted: December 04, 2006 at 05:28 AM (#2251075)
This is a fantastic thread.

Thanks.
   96. Howie Menckel Posted: December 04, 2006 at 05:57 AM (#2251088)
Dan, your point of view is intriguing, but it will meet much resistance.

Concepcion's value is clear - he could hit a little, and field well, and the rivals guys at his position couldn't hit at all.
But merit? We don't have to elect Concepcion just because the other teams of the time were dumb.
   97. DCW3 Posted: December 04, 2006 at 08:30 AM (#2251143)
With regards to comparing Concepcion's fielding to Vizquel--unless GMs in the '70s and '80s were completely clueless (which we certainly cannot rule out), wouldn't you at least expect that, by sacrificing offense from the shortstop position for defense, the average shortstop of the time would be more valuable defensively (relatively speaking) than shortstops of today? Which would mean that each FRAA from Concepcion would be more valuable than one from Vizquel, because the average level that Concepcion is being compared to would be higher, right?
   98. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 04, 2006 at 02:52 PM (#2251207)
Howie Menckel, we're assuming that they were dumb, but we don't know that for sure. Again, it's perfectly plausible that the gap between the #16 and #26 shortstop was greater than that gap between the #16 and #26 1B or corner OF, increasing the relative value of SS post-expansion. If I have time this week I'm going to try to come up with some *very* elementary defensive translations to approach this from another angle.

DCW3, you're certainly right about that. But again, simply adding up total runs automatically accounts for this (replacement SS are, let's say, 30 runs below league average with the bat and 10 below positional average with the glove; Concepción is average with the bat and 20 above positional average with the glove; Concepción is 60 runs above replacement no matter how high or low the league average fielder is in absolute terms).
   99. Dan Turkenkopf Posted: December 04, 2006 at 03:04 PM (#2251215)
Dan, I apologize if you've covered this already somewhere in the thread - but when you determine replacement level by averaging the worst 3 starters at the position - is that both offensively and defensively? Are you measuring the whole package or are you calculating offensive and defensive separately?
   100. BDC Posted: December 04, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#2251222)
HOFers do more than Davey did with the bat, or they are Ozzie Smith

Dan's key contention here, I still feel, is that Concepcion was Ozzie Smith. Without that factor, it's hard for me to feel that a .280 hitter with 50 walks a year and sparse power (fully considering his era) was actually a Hall of Famer. For instance, Chris Speier was Concepcion's exact contemporary, and has the exact same career OPS+ (88). Bill Russell also comes to mind (career OPS+ of 82), and while you may think me insane for injecting either of them into a Hall discussion, the problem is that usually the slight inferiors of strong Hall candidates are themselves on the cusp of greatness. Speier and Russell are not (right?), and it's gotta be on account of their gloves; they have to be much more than the slight inferiors of Concepcion for this to work. There are excellent reasons why Speier only got one HOF vote and Russell only three, and there may be excellent reasons why Concepcion should get a boatload, but to my mind they must have to do mostly with defense.
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