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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Edgar And The Hall of Fame - A New Look

“When you match up the best hitters of all time Edgar is on a very short list not just in his quality but in quantity of value he added above the league average. His career was a lot shorter than a lot of people who are in the Hall of Fame but there are players who played five and six more years that he has more offensive value added over the course of the career. It is the on base component he added, as much on base value over his career in twelve qualifying seasons as Pete Rose did in twenty-two and Pete Rose is an all time on base guy, and Edgar had the power to go along with it!”

In twelve years Edgar Martinez had as much on base value as Pete Rose did playing ten more years. Make no mistake, Edgar was an impact offensive player. He was not beating out infield singles. This production Blengino is talking about is not a yearly average, it is not adjusted for career length. It is cumulative. Edgar simply was able to do more, dramatically more, in a shorter amount of time than others in the Hall of Fame. Should he be penalized for that?

If you take away questions about the position and the years played and look at the accomplishment and the raw numbers what you have in front of you according to Blengino is one of the best hitters in the history of baseball.

“In my book he is one of the twenty-five best hitters who’s ever played the game and all of the other guys on that list are in the Hall of Fame, and the vast majority of them were first ballot. For me he is an absolute first ballot slam dunk.”

EnglishMariner Posted: December 20, 2009 at 09:52 PM | 213 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, mariners

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   101. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3419072)
(**) In the same way that we don't dock Ozzie Smith for the offense a better bat at SS -- and there were plenty out there -- might have provided his teams.
Huh? Yes we do.
   102. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:36 AM (#3419073)
Eddie Murray had some success, but the data points are very limited.

The data points really shouldn't even include Eddie Murray, who hadn't been a majority DH in any of the 11 years since his rookie season when he was traded to the NL.
   103. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:39 AM (#3419074)
This isn't true. He makes his team hire someone else - a worse hitter to play the field. That's the specific I said about Manny.


I know; I didn't reference it -- other than in passing (**) -- because it's senseless. He didn't crowd anyone out, because the Mariners would still have employed a DH. You're positing a choice they didn't make.

(**) To repeat: we don't dock people for the fictional performance of people who weren't in the lineup because they were. Ozzie Smith kept a better bat out of the Cardinal lineup with his stellar defense.
   104. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:40 AM (#3419075)
Huh? Yes we do.

How? We say he had a career 87 OPS+, but we don't subtract anything from that, or his defensive wins, based on the bat he crowded out. Under your silly scenario, we'd have to say, "The Cardinals could have played a better bat at short and made up for it with a better glove at third, and might have been better off."
   105. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:41 AM (#3419076)
In the same way that we don't dock Ozzie Smith for the offense a better bat at SS -- and there were plenty out there -- might have provided his teams.

Of course we do. Only there weren't "plenty out there," not in the mid/late 80's. The AL had Ripken and Trammell. (Yount became an outfielder.) And Ozzie was the best-hitting SS in the NL, unless you think a flukish half season by Hubie Brooks means something.

If Ozzie had hit like Mark Belanger, he wouldn't deserve to be a Hall of Famer. For that matter, Mark Belanger isn't a Hall of Famer.

Ozzie Smith kept a better bat out of the Cardinal lineup with his stellar defense.

Who would that be? Ozzie was already in the upper half, offensively, of the people on the field for that team.

I'll add that the career 87 OPS+ does not fairly represent his offensive value, not for someone with that extreme of OBP ahead of SLG value and a great baserunner as well.
   106. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:46 AM (#3419078)
If Ozzie had hit like Mark Belanger, he wouldn't deserve to be a Hall of Famer. For that matter, Mark Belanger isn't a Hall of Famer.

Interestingly, the difference in career OPS+ between Belanger and Ozzie is exactly the same as between Edgar and Jim Rice.
   107. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:47 AM (#3419079)
Who would that be? Ozzie was already in the upper half, offensively, of the people on the field for that team.

The guys they could have acquired if they'd built their team differently.
   108. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:49 AM (#3419081)
Can we all agree that Martinez was greater than Jim Rice? :-)
   109. Srul Itza Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:53 AM (#3419082)
If Vlad or Ortiz gets over to the NL, you'll have an argument, but until then, I don't see it.


Well, at this stage of their careers, I don't know if their bats would carry them.

But you look at a guy like Adam Dunn, who has played in the NL all his career, and you have to think that his natural position was DH all along.

If a guy hits enough, they find a place for him.
   110. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:58 AM (#3419085)
The guys they could have acquired if they'd built their team differently.

Interesting fantasy world there. Who were they supposed to put at SS? Ripken or Trammell? Those guys aren't exactly fungible, you know. When he's already the best-hitting SS in the league, just about the only way to beat that offensively is to force someone who isn't really a SS at all (like Hubie Brooks) into the position. With the talent they had, Pendleton might have survived at SS and they maybe could have gone out and found a better-hitting 3B - only Pendleton wasn't a better hitter than Ozzie, not then. You might as well say just replace Pendelton with a better hitter. Ozzie was a better offensive player than Coleman. "Building the team differently" might involve getting a different LF; I still don't see what that has to do with Ozzie.
   111. LargeBill Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:00 AM (#3419088)
Srul,

Ya just had to bring up Adam Dunn, didn't you? :-) Not sure how he'd do it, but I almost think Dunn could commit errors as a DH. He is going to make for some interesting HoF arguments in a decade or so. He's been cranking out 40 homers a year and at that rate they start to add up pretty quick.
   112. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:02 AM (#3419090)
How? We say he had a career 87 OPS+, but we don't subtract anything from that, or his defensive wins, based on the bat he crowded out. Under your silly scenario, we'd have to say, "The Cardinals could have played a better bat at short and made up for it with a better glove at third, and might have been better off."

I think the point is that any and all of these scenarios are sort of factored into the general concept of replacement level. The Cardinals could have replaced Ozzie with a +0 hitting, -20 fielding SS, or a -20 hitting, +0 fielding SS, or anything in between. With Ortiz, the Red Sox could do the same sort of thing - only if the replacement was a sufficiently good defender, he would push Manny to the DH spot and save the team some extra runs in the field.

If that makes any sense.
   113. BFFB Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:09 AM (#3419095)
I know; I didn't reference it -- other than in passing (**) -- because it's senseless. He didn't crowd anyone out, because the Mariners would still have employed a DH. You're positing a choice they didn't make.


that line of reasoning relies entirely on constructing thought experiments, which makes it reasonable for assessing what should or could be done to improve a team but has no place in retroactively assigning value for things that have already occured.
   114. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:15 AM (#3419099)
I think the point is that any and all of these scenarios are sort of factored into the general concept of replacement level. The Cardinals could have replaced Ozzie with a +0 hitting, -20 fielding SS, or a -20 hitting, +0 fielding SS, or anything in between. With Ortiz, the Red Sox could do the same sort of thing - only if the replacement was a sufficiently good defender, he would push Manny to the DH spot and save the team some extra runs in the field.

If that makes any sense.


Any position on the field is susceptible to the "Manny/Ortiz" argument being deployed against Edgar. A different Cardinal combination of 3B/SS/CF/2B during the Ozzie era might have been more productive than the one the Cardinals actually used ... or it might not have been. Just as a different Mariner 1B/3B/LF/DH combo may have been more productive than the one with Edgar in it.

When he's already the best-hitting SS in the league, just about the only way to beat that offensively is to force someone who isn't really a SS at all (like Hubie Brooks) into the position.

I'm assuming you're saying this in jest, because Ozzie wasn't close to the best hitting SS in the league (at least Yount, Ripken, Trammell, and Brooks were in different stratospheres as hitters). Hubie Brooks may not have "really" been a SS, but he actually played SS, and on good teams. I'd suggest again that it's a wise principle to focus on things that happened in the actual world of actual games, rather than what didn't happen in imaginary games.
   115. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:27 AM (#3419102)
Any position on the field is susceptible to the "Manny/Ortiz" argument being deployed against Edgar.

Yes, but in most cases the offense/defense tradeoff between positions cancels out, making the extra cases superfluous. That's not always the case with DHs.

Regardless, I don't see this as an argument being "deployed against" anyone. It's an argument about what replacement level should be for a DH.

I'm assuming you're saying this in jest, because Ozzie wasn't close to the best hitting SS in the league

I think he's referring to the National League. In fact, I'm sure of it, because he explicitly says this in post 109.

Ozzie vs. Hubie Brooks... from 1984-89, Ozzie posted an OBP-heavy 100 OPS+, with an average of 38/8 SB/CS per year. Hubie posted a SLG-heavy 112 OPS+, with an average of 6/6 SB/CS a year. They're pretty comparable as offensive players.
   116. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:31 AM (#3419105)
I'm assuming you're saying this in jest, because Ozzie wasn't close to the best hitting SS in the league

I'm not saying that in jest. Ozzie was the best offensive SS in the NL from about 1984 through 1987.

Hubie Brooks once batted .340 in 80 games and then missed the rest of that season. That was very valuable, but it wasn't his true talent level. Compare Brooks to Ozzie offensively and you're trading off a little power (Brooks) for OBP and baserunning (Ozzie) and it's not much of a difference.

Brooks's OPS+ from 1984 to 1987: 114, 101, 160 in 80 games, 88 in 112 games.

Ozzie's OPS+ in the same years: 95 in 124 games, 101, 98, 105.

But OPS+ also overrates Brooks (as SLG-first offensive player) and seriously underrates Ozzie (extreme OBP-first player and a great baserunner).

I am focusing on the world of actual games.

I see that Eric J did the same thing extended through 1989; in '88 and '89, Brooks was an outfielder. (And somewhere in there Larkin became the best offensive SS in the league, but that's starting to be a different generation.)
   117. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:38 AM (#3419110)
Ozzie vs. Hubie Brooks... from 1984-89, Ozzie posted an OBP-heavy 100 OPS+, with an average of 38/8 SB/CS per year. Hubie posted a SLG-heavy 112 OPS+, with an average of 6/6 SB/CS a year. They're pretty comparable as offensive players.

Brooks was a much better hitter during his time at SS, and a much better hitter generally. The numbers are right there for everyone to see. Ozzie couldn't touch Brooks's 161 in 1986. '87 was a down year for Hubie; other than that, he was comfortably into 100+ territory every year from '84 to '91. Thirty-eight steals in the mid-80s in Busch Stadium isn't really that special. Ozzie was top 10 in steals only 7 times in his career (I'd have guessed more), never better than third.

Ozzie was a light-hitting SS with excellent speed and an otherwordly glove; there's no need to make him more than that. His 87 career OPS+ is right in line with the type of hitter anyone who watched him would think he was.
   118. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:42 AM (#3419114)
I'm not saying that in jest. Ozzie was the best offensive SS in the NL from about 1984 through 1987.

OK. You're way off, but OK.(**) His OBP wasn't that great, anyway, regardless of your opinion of OPS+.

That's four seasons out of 19 he played.

I am focusing on the world of actual games.

Other than docking Brooks a bundle for the games he didn't play in in 1986, when he had a 161 OPS+ -- a peak Ozzie couldn't see with the Hubble.

(**) Why focus on the NL? Trades and free agency signings between AL and NL teams were allowed back then.
   119. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:55 AM (#3419127)
Thirty-eight steals in the mid-80s in Busch Stadium isn't really that special.

I'm not even sure what this means. The steals help provide Ozzie's team with runs that Brooks's team didn't get. I don't care whether they were "special" or not.

This is all kind of beside the point anyway. Without Ozzie, the Cardinals could have replaced him with a +0 hitting, -20 fielding SS (with respect to positional average), or they could have gone with a -20 hitting, +0 fielding 2B and moved Herr to SS, or a -10 hitting, -10 fielding 3B and moved Pendleton to SS; any of those options give them roughly the same total team production.

The Red Sox could have replaced Ortiz with a -20 hitting DH, or they could have replaced him with a -20 hitting, +0 fielding LF and moved Manny to DH. If Manny's defense was bad enough, the second option would make them a solidly better team than the first one, and since that kind of player falls under the general category of freely available talent, it can be argued that the replacement level used for Ortiz should be adjusted upward by some fraction of Manny's negative defensive value.
   120. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:03 AM (#3419130)
I'm not even sure what this means. The steals help provide Ozzie's team with runs that Brooks's team didn't get. I don't care whether they were "special" or not.

They were used to show that Ozzie was some kind of superlative baserunner. The number doesn't show that. Thirty-eight steals in that environment is nothing special.

Ozzie's slugging percentage pales in comparison to the lesser-hitting post-WWII middle infielders in the HOF:

Ozzie: .328
Rizzuto: .355
Maz: .367
Pee-Wee: .377

Not a lot of pop there.
   121. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:05 AM (#3419133)
They were used to show that Ozzie was some kind of superlative baserunner.

They were used to show that Ozzie was a better baserunner than Hubie Brooks, which is relevant when comparing their effectiveness on offense.
   122. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:07 AM (#3419134)
OK. You're way off, but OK


No, he's not way off. Smith was the best in the NL during that time and was noted for it back then, too.
   123. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:13 AM (#3419136)
If you're arguing that Ozzie's baserunning advantage is all (or even in part) a park-based illusion, well, OPS+ is adjusted using run-based park factors, which would be influenced by park effects on baserunning, which don't appear in OBP or SLG. So OPS+ would be underrating him (due to the overstatement of Busch's positive effects on hitting) by exactly the same amount as raw baserunning stats overrate him.
   124. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:17 AM (#3419138)
No, he's not way off. Smith was the best in the NL during that time and was noted for it back then.

He won one Silver Slugger during that time, and in his whole career -- 1987, when Hubie Brooks, a much better offensive player, was still feeling the effects of the hand injury that cost him part of the 1986 season, one in which he OPS+'d a phenomenal 161 on the way to the second of back-to-back Silver Sluggers.

So, for those keeping score, the Silver Slugger 1984-87 tally is: Hubie Brooks 2, The Best Offensive Shortstop in the League 1.

The thing that was really "noted" back then was that the Expos were going to fall apart with their personnel losses and that they were nuts to play Hubie Brooks at shortstop. They didn't, and weren't.
   125. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:18 AM (#3419139)
We say that Manny "can" play LF because Manny does play LF, a managerial decision that's clearly based 99% on his offensive abilities, and not his "added" defensive skills. Put Ortiz on 1B, as the Red Sox have done on many past occasions, and we could say the same thing about him.

Ever see how bad Manny was at defense? IMagine that the Red Sox, a team we know values and analyzes these things, have said "Manny in LF +Ortiz at DH + fielding 1B >> Manny at DH + Ortiz at 1B + fielding LF" That says a lot.


Maybe and maybe not. It may just be a case of its being more important to have a good fielding first baseman than it is to have a good fielding leftfielder in the smallest outfield patch in the Majors, where poor range and a mediocre arm can be disguised to a great extent. It may be that Ortiz is an even worse first baseman than Manny is a leftfielder. And it may be a combination of the two. In any case, I'm not denying Ortiz's defensive putritude, nor Manny's. But the bottom line for Boston is that they want both of them in the lineup, and when Ortiz is hitting as he has in seasons past, his bat more than makes up for any defensive deficiencies.

Put Edgar in his prime in the National League and he'd find a spot in just about any team's lineup, defense notwithstanding. He wouldn't be the first statue ever to man a position.

That's a terrific thing to assert, but it never happened. So I'll say "No". THose players, AFAICT haven't ever made it over to the NL "where they'd find a place NMW". Like Jim Thome or Jason Giambi, BOTH of whom were DHs that came to the NL this past season, and were relegated to pinch hitting.


Jim Thome hasn't hit at prime Edgar levels since 2007, but when he was with the Phillies they were more than happy to put up with his defensive klutziness at first base. And Jason Giambi was competing with Todd Helton. If Thome were hitting at Edgar's level, he very well might have replaced James Loney. Comparing either of those situations to an "Edgar in his prime" (which is what I'd said) doesn't really pose the issue objectively.

The biggest reason is that an NL team just won't take them. You have to play the field, and if you can't, well, you are a half-player and shouldn't be in MLB, much less the HOF.

Just out of curiosity, what do you say when the Old Farts set complains about "pitchers who can't finish what they start?" Do you consider the best starting pitchers of today only "7/9-pitchers" who "force their teams to hire extra pitchers?" You can't deny that pitchers who regularly threw complete games saved at least one roster spot, and enabled their managers not to have to scramble nearly as much with their bullpens?

And are closers "1/9 pitchers?" Is a Trevor Hoffman level closer really not as valuable as an average starter? Or do you take the sensible approach of acknowledging that times change, and judge them by what they were hired to do, and not what they weren't hired to do?

And if you can do that for "7/9" and "1/9" pitchers, why can't you do that for designated hitters?
   126. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:21 AM (#3419140)
Here is where Ozzie ranks among NL players whose primary position was shortstop in total offensive value (batting wins + baserunning wins + SS replacement level) for each year of his career:

1978 6th
1979 15th
1980 3rd (behind Garry Templeton and Iván DeJesús)
1981 8th
1982 4th (Dickie Thon, Bill Russell, Ramón Ramírez)
1983 3rd (Thon, Ramírez)
1984 2nd (Craig Reynolds)
1985 1st
1986 1st (with Brooks not far behind; Hubie just missed too many games)
1987 1st
1988 2nd (Barry Larkin)
1989 1st
1990 5th (Larkin, Jay Bell, Spike Owen, Shawon Dunston)
1991 2nd (Larkin)
1992 2nd (Larkin)
1993 7th
1994 8th
1995 20th
1996 13th

Smith was clearly the best offensive SS in the NL between Thon and Larkin (1984-87), and was a clear second to Larkin from 1988-92.
   127. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:21 AM (#3419141)
He won one Silver Slugger during that time, and in his whole career -- 1987, when Hubie Brooks, a much better offensive player, was still feeling the effects of the hand injury that cost him part of the 1986 season, one in which he OPS+'d a phenomenal 161 on the way to the second of back-to-back Silver Sluggers.


We said offensively, not just with the bat. The Silver Slugger only concentrates on the latter.
   128. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:22 AM (#3419143)
Smith was clearly the best offensive SS in the NL between Thon and Larkin (1984-87), and was a clear second to Larkin from 1988-92.


Who cares where he stood in one of the two leagues? Seriously.
   129. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:27 AM (#3419145)
(**) Why focus on the NL? Trades and free agency signings between AL and NL teams were allowed back then.
Because teh Cardinals didn't need their team to be better than the AL teams - just the NL ones.
   130. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:28 AM (#3419146)
and when Ortiz is hitting as he has in seasons past, his bat more than makes up for any defensive deficiencies.
That's a lovely completely pointless observation that you are completely making up. Ortiz, IIRC, *sat* in interleague away games.

That says A BUNCH.
   131. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:30 AM (#3419147)
Other than Ripken and Trammell (and Yount, but Yount stopped playing SS), who was better offensively?
   132. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:32 AM (#3419148)
I remain flummoxed that so many words have been written for Edgar when much better candidates such as Barry Larkin are all but ignored.

Larkin is one of the ten best Shortstops ever if not the top five. If the writers ignore THAT let the fires of Hell sear their souls
   133. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:34 AM (#3419151)
Jim Thome hasn't hit at prime Edgar levels since 2007,
And what position was he playing, and in what league? And do you know *why* he was in that situation?
but when he was with the Phillies they were more than happy to put up with his defensive klutziness at first base.
He wasn't a defensive klutz. That's part of the point. He wasn't a DH in the AL before he came to the Phils either. He played in the field, unlike Edgar under VERY similar circumstances.
And Jason Giambi was competing with Todd Helton. If Thome were hitting at Edgar's level, he very well might have replaced James Loney. Comparing either of those situations to an "Edgar in his prime" (which is what I'd said) doesn't really pose the issue objectively.
Thome (over the last four seasons) posted a 137 OPS+ Edgar hit like that from age 28-31. Of course, then steroids got into the league...

If you have a DH example, you would use it. Since you haven't, I assume you do not.
   134. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:40 AM (#3419154)
I like Edgar. Wonderful hitter.

And as soon as I fulfill my duties as president of "Elect Dick Allen to the Hall" by seeing Allen inducted I will begin advocating for Edgar.
   135. Srul Itza Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3419155)
in 1986, when he had a 161 OPS+ -- a peak Ozzie couldn't see with the Hubble.


a 161 OPS+ in 80 games = a fluke, not a peak.
   136. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3419156)
Well, it's more fun to argue about Edgar. We all agree that Barry Larkin is awesome and should be in the Hall of Fame. Where's the fun in that?

Yeah, that. We're having a HoF ballot (open to all Primates) in the Hall of Merit section. So far (with over 30 votes in), Larkin is completely unanimous. There's just no dispute there. Edgar is somewhere near 70% of the vote, so he's very much worth arguing over.
   137. Srul Itza Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:02 AM (#3419160)
Is a Trevor Hoffman level closer really not as valuable as an average starter?


I think so. I think around 60 IP, even at a leveraged 140 ERA+, is not as valuable as 195 league average innnigs.

Now if it were Mariano, I might see it differently.
   138. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:09 AM (#3419165)
Just out of curiosity, what do you say when the Old Farts set complains about "pitchers who can't finish what they start?" Do you consider the best starting pitchers of today only "7/9-pitchers" who "force their teams to hire extra pitchers?" You can't deny that pitchers who regularly threw complete games saved at least one roster spot, and enabled their managers not to have to scramble nearly as much with their bullpens?
That would depend on their performance in those last few innings (and for the team overall). There is a balance though, and pitchers that can go longer are absolutely more valuable. Why can't you recognize that a hitter that can field is more valuable as well?

And are closers "1/9 pitchers?" Is a Trevor Hoffman level closer really not as valuable as an average starter? Or do you take the sensible approach of acknowledging that times change, and judge them by what they were hired to do, and not what they weren't hired to do?

And if you can do that for "7/9" and "1/9" pitchers, why can't you do that for designated hitters?
First, yes, closers are much less valuable than starters. Than average? I would have to check the numbers, but yes, there is a balance between quality and quantity. And of course they aren't 1/9th pitchers. They are pitchers. They are required to play both sides of the ball if they want to stay in the game. He's hired to "pitch". "Closer" isn't a position. "Pitcher" is the position - closer is a usage.
   139. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:15 AM (#3419166)
When was the last time a closer had a PA? They'd just get pinch-hit for, except mmaybe in extra innings in the playoffs....

My general rule of thumb for closer valuation is that their wins above replacement are equal to their wins above average times their leverage. (This is a shortcut for the results of a whole chaining model). In a 4.45 ERA league, a 140 ERA+ would be a 3.18 ERA, which is (4.45-3.18)*60/9 = 8.5 runs above average. With standard closer leverage of 1.8, that's about 1.6 wins above replacement. A 100 ERA+ starter in 195 innings would be about 2.3 wins above replacement. So yes, Srul Itza, you're right.
   140. Randy Jones Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:21 AM (#3419168)
When was the last time a closer had a PA?


Mo had 2 PA's this year. He drew a bases loaded walk against K-Rod.
   141. OCF Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:24 AM (#3419169)
There's getting a couple of PA a year, and then there's getting 2 or 3 PA a year and making the most of it: a nod to the legendary career of Terry Forster.
   142. John DiFool2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:35 AM (#3419176)
"Manny in LF +Ortiz at DH + fielding 1B >> Manny at DH + Ortiz at 1B + fielding LF" That says a lot.


It's mainly a function of having Kevin Youkilis on the team. If Youks came up as an outfielder (he's been crap out there on those rare occasions) and couldn't/wouldn't play 1B, then it's Manny that would have DHed and Papi would have been the 1B.

Like Jim Thome or Jason Giambi, BOTH of whom were DHs that came to the NL this past season, and were relegated to pinch hitting.


Or like Manny Ramirez, whom the Dodgers well knew would hurt them in the field, but they traded for him anyway?


That's a lovely completely pointless observation that you are completely making up. Ortiz, IIRC, *sat* in interleague away games.

That says A BUNCH.


No he didn't. The fact that you didn't bother to check & just kept blathering on says a bunch. I hope Maynard is out there chuckling at you right now (I actually saw a post from his here this summer-guess TPTB banned him).

Games played at 1B, David Ortiz:

09: 6
08: 0
07: 7
06: 10
05: 10
04: 34
03: 45

Typically there's 18 or so IL games/team, IIRC, 9 in away games.

IIRC the 0 for '08 is because his DL stint coincided with IL play. In any event he was in a quasi-platoon with both Youks (and often Lowell in the later years) in IL away games.
   143. Srul Itza Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:36 AM (#3419177)
Thanks for the info, Dan. I based on those numbers, Mariano, at 70 IP of 200 ERA+, comes to around 17.3 runs above average, or a little more than double what you got for Trevor, so that should be 3.2 wins above replacement -- better than an average starter. Of course, Mariano comes in for the end of the 8th inning more often than Trevor does, so the leverage would go down, I guess, but still, it should be a bit better than the 195 IP of 100 ERA+ (if I haven't completely buggered the math).
   144. Ron Johnson Posted: December 22, 2009 at 03:36 AM (#3419179)
Chris, I see a little bit of circular reference in your argument -- and I may have missed your point. But how about Milton Bradley (yeah, DHing for health related reasons, but played badly in limited time in the field in 2008)

All in all, I find it logical that a fair number of notoriously bad fielders (plus guys whose wheels are gone) in the NL end up DHing. Greg Luzinski could play left -- in the sense that it was a legal option -- but everybody was happier with him DHing.

As for Ortiz sitting in IL games, team construction would seem to have a lot to do with that. Up until this year Lowell was a pretty good option and their corner OF could all hit too. And this year while Lowell wasn't himself neither was Ortiz.

Giambi was DHing quite a bit in 2006 but started in the NL parks most if not all of the time. His rep at this point was brutal and they were DHing him to give playing time to some pretty ugly bats.

(Hope I haven't completely missed the point)
   145. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:03 AM (#3419185)
's mainly a function of having Kevin Youkilis on the team. If Youks came up as an outfielder (he's been crap out there on those rare occasions) and couldn't/wouldn't play 1B, then it's Manny that would have DHed and Papi would have been the 1B.
Uh, no. That pesky Kevin Millar, and FFS, they acquired *Casey Kotchman!* to keep Ortiz off the field.
Or like Manny Ramirez, whom the Dodgers well knew would hurt them in the field, but they traded for him anyway?
You are missing the argument. Manny *can* play LF adequately, and hit a ton. This doesn't make any sense.
Games played at 1B, David Ortiz:

09: 6
08: 0
07: 7
06: 10
05: 10
04: 34
03: 45

Typically there's 18 or so IL games/team, IIRC, 9 in away games.
I suppose I let his sitting against the Phils color my view. And notice how his participation in those games has dwindled. Also, you should look up "IIRC", so you'll know what it means.
   146. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:04 AM (#3419186)
Chris, I see a little bit of circular reference in your argument -- and I may have missed your point. But how about Milton Bradley (yeah, DHing for health related reasons, but played badly in limited time in the field in 2008)
It's a circular response to "Oh, the NL teams would *find* a place for him." Oh, how do you know? Where are they?

There aren't examples that I can see.
   147. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:09 AM (#3419189)
Giambi was DHing quite a bit in 2006 but started in the NL parks most if not all of the time. His rep at this point was brutal and they were DHing him to give playing time to some pretty ugly bats.
Giambi has played 1B more than DH in all but 2 seasons, and one of those was 70 DH and 68 1B. He's never been the DH that we are talking about.
   148. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:18 AM (#3419195)
I don't really see the point of this Manny/Ortiz digression.

You can do this sort of thing with any position - which the Ozzie Smith discussion was meant to illustrate. But, of course, it got sidetracked by a conversation about Hubie Brooks. Such is the way of Primer.

Anyways, the real point is that you can always point to extreme examples, but for most teams they have neither Manny NOR Oritz. They have a slot in the lineup that has to be filled and find it difficult to acquire someone who can hit meaningfully better than the average first baseman to put there.

The Manny/Ortiz dilemma is pretty rare. The "gee, we're running out some real goobers in our free hitting slot" problem is a lot more common.

If you have Edgar, yes you then have to slot in your 'worst' defensive player from the eight other guys you want to start somewhere in the field. However, this is something that EVERY team does. They have a guy from whom they want to get as much offense as possible - and who is GUARANTEED to be league average defensively for his position.

If you don't put Edgar there, then someone else is taking that spot.

It's a real spot. It's not hypothetical or imaginary or whatever. The DH exists and 14 teams play with one. That the average DH doesn't seem to hit any better than a first baseman means that when a team is searching out for a DH, they're going to value Edgar a lot.
   149. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:25 AM (#3419197)
You can do this sort of thing with any position - which the Ozzie Smith discussion was meant to illustrate. But, of course, it got sidetracked by a conversation about Hubie Brooks. Such is the way of Primer.


Right. A more illustrative example would be along the lines of "What if Ryne Sandberg could play SS? Then the Cubs could have gotten another second baseman who hit better than Shawon Dunston. Thus, we have to dock Sandberg for that inflexibility."
   150. RJ in TO Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:36 AM (#3419206)
The Manny/Ortiz dilemma is pretty rare.


In 2009:
The Jays had Lind and Snider.
The Red Sox had Bay and Ortiz.
The Twins had Kubel and Cuddyer
The White Sox had Thome, Dye, and Quentin
The Angels had Abreu and Vlad

There were a lot of teams in 2009 that used a bad to terrible fielder in the field because there was already an even worse (or more health impaired) fielder blocking up the DH spot. While Manny's defensive numbers in Fenway may have been an extreme version (and partially a park effect), it's not really a rare dilemma for a team to have.
   151. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:38 AM (#3419210)
The Manny/Ortiz dilemma is pretty rare.
Well, it also happened to Edgar (I guess). Otherwise, he'd play, and you wouldn't have to run Russ Davis/Doug Strange/Andy Sheets (74/58/34 OPS+ marks) out there.
   152. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:40 AM (#3419211)
And beyond that, I find the idea that a fielding statue like Kiner or Williams has any real "advantage" over a DH of comparable offensive value to be of little practical significance, since it means assigning an absurdly exaggerated value to that 25th man on the roster that the statue leaves room for.


For those who have looked -- was Ted Williams's defense really this bad?
   153. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:40 AM (#3419212)
Right. A more illustrative example would be along the lines of "What if Ryne Sandberg could play SS? Then the Cubs could have gotten another second baseman who hit better than Shawon Dunston. Thus, we have to dock Sandberg for that inflexibility."
That's what you guys are missing. There are a limited number of roster spots. About 3 or 4 for offense. Sandberg *is* playing both sides of the ball. The DH isn't. You have to run 8 fielders out there, and teh DH isn't one of them. The analogy isn't right.
   154. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:42 AM (#3419215)
I'll say it: Manny quit the last few seasons at Fenway. His first few seasons were just "weak". He quit fielding altogether out there. He wasn't a DH on the field - he was a fielder who quit fielding.
   155. RJ in TO Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:47 AM (#3419220)
For those who have looked -- was Ted Williams's defense really this bad?


His total zone for his last three years was terrible, but was actually decent for the years before that (1954 and onwards). In terms of fielding percentage, and range factor (for whatever they're worth), he looks like he was about where you would expect him to be, which is slightly below average. At least based on what's available, he doesn't look like he was a butcher.

Of course, for evaluations of defense from that long ago, I'd prefer to go with the evaluations from his contemporaries, which were generally not flattering.
   156. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:56 AM (#3419223)
In 2009:
The Jays had Lind and Snider.
The Red Sox had Bay and Ortiz.
The Twins had Kubel and Cuddyer
The White Sox had Thome, Dye, and Quentin
The Angels had Abreu and Vlad

My point is that it's actually pretty rare for teams to have a full-time DH who is playing there because he is legitimately one of the best hitters in the game. It's even more rare for a team to have a guy playing that role who last longer than a couple years.

Most teams have a lot of churn in their DH - which gives them more flexibility, sure, but which also means that they're getting a lot less offense out of one of their 9 positions.

What this suggests is that teams often actually have difficulty finding a guy to DH who can provide them much more offense than they're going to get from some of the other positions.
   157. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:00 AM (#3419226)
His total zone for his last three years was terrible, but was actually decent for the years before that (1954 and onwards). In terms of fielding percentage, and range factor (for whatever they're worth), he looks like he was about where you would expect him to be, which is slightly below average. At least based on what's available, he doesn't look like he was a butcher.

Of course, for evaluations of defense from that long ago, I'd prefer to go with the evaluations from his contemporaries, which were generally not flattering.


Thanks, Ryan. The LF wall also would impact his range factor, although would not impact contemporaneous observation.
   158. John DiFool2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:01 AM (#3419227)
And notice how his participation in those games has dwindled.


Nope-in '03-'05 they had the Immortal Kevin Millar at 1st (and some leftfield), and Papi got in quite a few games in Fenway as the 1B.

2009: 6 out of 9 games started in NL parks.
2007: 7/9.
2006: 7/9.
2005: 8/9.
2004: 7/9
2003: 4/9

Go ahead and claim that a drop of one game in '09 means his "participation has dwindled." Go right ahead.

Overall point is that they'd get him in the lineup, DH or not, and LA (you cheerfully ignored the Manny example-why's that?) figured his bat would more than compensate for Manny's glove-and they were right.
   159. sunnyday2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:06 AM (#3419230)
The vote against Edgar can only represent one of two things:

You are all so busted.
   160. John DiFool2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:08 AM (#3419232)
What this suggests is that teams often actually have difficulty finding a guy to DH who can provide them much more offense than they're going to get from some of the other positions.


A study is hidden in this sentence. Bill James once long ago lamented the reluctance for teams to stick a good young hitter who may have some issues in the field into the DH slot and just let him rake. The DH seems to be an "old player's" position, for guys with old player's skills-which helps to explain the churn. And then there's the little matter of how some hitters can't cope very well with the role-wasn't it Reggie Jackson who had some pretty bad splits as a DH as compared to how he hit in the field? [checking-what a concept] Even considering that most of his DHing was in his decline phase, he still had a craptastic .227/.332/.407 line as a DH. It may be harder for teams to find someone who can maintain their production there than one might think.
   161. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:10 AM (#3419234)
For those who have looked -- was Ted Williams's defense really this bad?


Well, if you want some anecdotal evidence which means absolutely, positively nothing:

I remember my father (who was a Yankees fan before Joe DiMaggio was a rookie) giving his impersonation of Ted Williams playing the outfield:

He would stand up, remain perfectly still, and shout out, "You got it, Dom! Lots of room, Dom!"

I know that contributes next to nothing towards answering your question, but it brought back some fond memories for me; and for that I thank you.

DB
   162. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:11 AM (#3419235)
I ignored the Manny example? I responded to that specifically:
150. Primer Dial Soap Posted: December 21, 2009 at 10:03 PM (#3419185)
Or like Manny Ramirez, whom the Dodgers well knew would hurt them in the field, but they traded for him anyway?
You are missing the argument. Manny *can* play LF adequately, and hit a ton. This doesn't make any sense.
   163. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:12 AM (#3419237)
2009: 6 out of 9 games started in NL parks.
2007: 7/9.
2006: 7/9.
2005: 8/9.
2004: 7/9
2003: 4/9

Go ahead and claim that a drop of one game in '09 means his "participation has dwindled." Go right ahead.
Oh, my bad - he's always sat some of the away games in IL...which I said to begin with.
   164. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:15 AM (#3419238)
you cheerfully ignored the Manny example-why's that?
This is rich considering you ignoring the acquisition of Casey Kotchman.
   165. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:18 AM (#3419241)
Just out of curiosity, what do you say when the Old Farts set complains about "pitchers who can't finish what they start?" Do you consider the best starting pitchers of today only "7/9-pitchers" who "force their teams to hire extra pitchers?" You can't deny that pitchers who regularly threw complete games saved at least one roster spot, and enabled their managers not to have to scramble nearly as much with their bullpens?

That would depend on their performance in those last few innings (and for the team overall). There is a balance though, and pitchers that can go longer are absolutely more valuable. Why can't you recognize that a hitter that can field is more valuable as well?


Of course I realize that. Hell, that's the main reason I'd take a park neutralized peak Dimaggio over a park-neutralized peak Williams, in spite of the chasm in their BB rate. All I'm saying about Edgar is that his offensive numbers put him over the line. I'm not putting him over a great all-around player like Larkin, I'm just putting him in the HoF. In spite of all my rhetoric in defense of Martinez the DH, he's one of only three DH's I'd put in Cooperstown, Thomas and Molitor being the others---and Molitor in fact brought a lot more to his game than hitting.

And BTW I also think that pitchers who can give you nine on a consistent basis are inherently more valuable than pitchers who can't, even with slightly worse rate stats. And it's for the same reason that you use when talking about the DH: It eases the pressure on the bullpen.

And are closers "1/9 pitchers?" Is a Trevor Hoffman level closer really not as valuable as an average starter? Or do you take the sensible approach of acknowledging that times change, and judge them by what they were hired to do, and not what they weren't hired to do?

And if you can do that for "7/9" and "1/9" pitchers, why can't you do that for designated hitters?


First, yes, closers are much less valuable than starters. Than average? I would have to check the numbers, but yes, there is a balance between quality and quantity.


I think we both agree that the key issue here is the balance between quality and quantity, and to quantity I'd add long-term durability. What makes Rivera so great isn't what he's done in any given year; it's that he's repeated it now for 14 years in a row. As of now, Rivera is the only pure closer I'd put in the HoF, and in fact one of the other reasons for supporting him---not that he needs it---is his ability to go two innings when necessary.

And of course they aren't 1/9th pitchers. They are pitchers. They are required to play both sides of the ball if they want to stay in the game.

Of course that's only in the National League, and in interleague games played in NL parks. No AL pitcher is "required" to do anything other than pitch.

He's hired to "pitch". "Closer" isn't a position. "Pitcher" is the position - closer is a usage.

That's simply semantics, since with rare exceptions "closers" are a category unto themselves---a unique subset of pitchers who almost never pitch more than 1/9 of a game. When rating them, you compare them to other closers, not to starters.
   166. John DiFool2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:20 AM (#3419244)
That the average DH doesn't seem to hit any better than a first baseman means that when a team is searching out for a DH, they're going to value Edgar a lot.


Many years they hit worse, and [checking-what would the world come to if someone bothered to examine the actual facts I wonder] sometimes, in the '00's AL at least even the RFers or even LFers often outhit them.
   167. John DiFool2 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:24 AM (#3419246)
Oh, my bad - he's always sat some of the away games in IL...which I said to begin with.


No, you strongly implied that he sat in all of them:

Ortiz, IIRC, *sat* in interleague away games.


Nice attempt at a backpedal.

As for Manny, depends on what you mean by "adequate"-the Dodgers figured that they'd live with his fielding, and have. Yes, the "Fenway Effect" might have something to do with the sudden jump in his defensive ratings once in LA, or it could be SSS noise. Ortiz would likely be "adequate" (as in, close to the defensive replacement line)-and whoever played him there wouldn't care, just like the Dodgers don't care (or don't care-much) about Manny's D.

And you really can't be serious about Kotchman (I assumed that was a joke-then I remembered you never joke)-the only time Papi played 1st in these last few years was in NL parks. You really think Kotchman is there purely as defensive replacement for nine games/year? [and he joined them after IL played was over-but I know you can't let facts get in the way of your arguments, such as they are).
   168. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:47 AM (#3419262)
A more illustrative example would be along the lines of "What if Ryne Sandberg could play SS? Then the Cubs could have gotten another second baseman who hit better than Shawon Dunston. Thus, we have to dock Sandberg for that inflexibility."


Sophisticated evaluations DO "dock" Sandberg: they use positional adjustments for each position, and 2B loses runs relative to SS (plus he gains or loses runs relative to other 2B). Best I can tell, the DH defenders here don't want to apply such adjustments to the DH.
   169. LargeBill Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:50 AM (#3419264)
For those who have looked -- was Ted Williams's defense really this bad?


As others have mentioned, measuring defensive stats from back then is futile. However, a side question is do we sometimes over-estimate how bad the defense is from great hitters because we expect them to be equally good in all phases of the game? My guess is Williams and Ramirez while never great fielders were more indifferent fielders than truly awful fielders. Will players like screw up a few plays a year and occasionally not reach a fly ball a great player would? Sure. I just don't think it adds up to that many runs. If I could find an equal hitter who fielded better than yeah you go with him. Putting it another way, if given the choice between three great hitters to man the outfield who were so-so with the glove or three great fielders with weak sticks . . . . . . over the course of a season which group would contribute to more wins?
   170. Ziggy Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:01 AM (#3419275)
It's probably not useful to contemplate what a DH could have done in the field. Ortiz doesn't field so his fielding is neither a negative nor a positive for him. For Manny it's a negative. Ortiz doesn't get a chance to boot balls, for example, so he can't cost the team any runs with his fielding. This isn't "fair" to Manny, in the sense that he didn't choose to have more skill with the baseball glove than David Ortiz, but that's not relevant. He did play the field in MLB games, and he played it poorly.

Things would be different if the HOF enshrined players for their ability; but, if memory serves, it doesn't.
   171. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:11 AM (#3419281)
Sophisticated evaluations DO "dock" Sandberg: they use positional adjustments for each position, and 2B loses runs relative to SS (plus he gains or loses runs relative to other 2B). Best I can tell, the DH defenders here don't want to apply such adjustments to the DH.

I'm having difficulty following this comment.

What exactly do you think the "DH defenders" are proposing? That there be no positional assessment of the DH? That would, of course, be ludicrous.

But what people are suggesting is that a DH should be treated with the same type of positional adjustment that applies to every other position - your offense is judged according to a baseline established in comparison to all the other positions.

In the same way that a RF is judged according to all other RF in terms of "value above position," you judge a DH the same way. And since the positional adjustment leaves the DH *below* a first baseman, I don't really see how this is unreasonable.

The only difference is that every DH gets exactly average defensive numbers. Because every DH plays his position exactly as well as every other one.

There is a base value to a position - and the difficulties associated with positions are determined by the offensive levels the position provides. Once you establish that base value, in regular positions the players may provide offensive or defensive value, or they may be worse than a replacement or average player.

For a DH, that is true for offense, but they're always equal on defense. They get the basic defensive 'value' associated with their position, but can't improve on it or hurt themselves by doing poorly.
   172. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:43 AM (#3419299)
This isn't true. He makes his team hire someone else - a worse hitter to play the field. That's the specific I said about Manny.

I know; I didn't reference it -- other than in passing (**) -- because it's senseless. He didn't crowd anyone out, because the Mariners would still have employed a DH. You're positing a choice they didn't make.

(**) To repeat: we don't dock people for the fictional performance of people who weren't in the lineup because they were.
Uh, yes, we do. That's the entire concept of "replacement level."
   173. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:55 AM (#3419305)
If you have Edgar, yes you then have to slot in your 'worst' defensive player from the eight other guys you want to start somewhere in the field. However, this is something that EVERY team does. They have a guy from whom they want to get as much offense as possible - and who is GUARANTEED to be league average defensively for his position.

If you don't put Edgar there, then someone else is taking that spot.

It's a real spot. It's not hypothetical or imaginary or whatever. The DH exists and 14 teams play with one. That the average DH doesn't seem to hit any better than a first baseman means that when a team is searching out for a DH, they're going to value Edgar a lot.
This misses the point. Of course you have to put someone in at DH if you're the Mariners. But if Edgar could have played 3B (without getting hurt), then the Mariners could play someone at DH who hit better than Russ Davis, David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, et al. That's where the opportunity cost comes in. You don't just slot in your worst remaining defensive player; you find someone better than your current 3Bman.
   174. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 07:05 AM (#3419308)
Of course I realize that. Hell, that's the main reason I'd take a park neutralized peak Dimaggio over a park-neutralized peak Williams, in spite of the chasm in their BB rate. All I'm saying about Edgar is that his offensive numbers put him over the line. I'm not putting him over a great all-around player like Larkin, I'm just putting him in the HoF. In spite of all my rhetoric in defense of Martinez the DH, he's one of only three DH's I'd put in Cooperstown, Thomas and Molitor being the others---and Molitor in fact brought a lot more to his game than hitting.
Edgar played 70% of his career games at DH. Thomas played 55% of his career games at DH; Molitor played 45% of his. In fact, Molitor played almost as many games in the field as Edgar played total. It makes no sense to call Molitor a DH, just because he happened to play there more than any one other position. As for Thomas, he did play more of his games at DH, but he earned the HOF when he was playing 1B, not DHing. Considering him a DH would be like considering Ernie Banks a 1Bman.
   175. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2009 at 07:15 AM (#3419312)
This misses the point. Of course you have to put someone in at DH if you're the Mariners. But if Edgar could have played 3B (without getting hurt), then the Mariners could play someone at DH who hit better than Russ Davis, David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, et al. That's where the opportunity cost comes in. You don't just slot in your worst remaining defensive player; you find someone better than your current 3Bman.

Once again, obviously this is true. No one is disputing that playing DH is less defensively useful to your team than playing a position in the field.

Duh.

The question is how much difference there is. And my point is that the DH is not some crazy thing totally distinct from all other positions. It is simply one more position with the others that happens to have a quirk where everyone who plays it performs exactly the same defensively. In order to determine the value these players are providing, you determine the baseline difference between them and the next most difficult position to fill (first base) and you're done.

Put another way: a first baseman who is truly atrocious is less defensively useful than a DH. At some point the ease of replacing them overcomes the ease of replacing even the "no defensive value" guy.
   176. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 08:49 AM (#3419329)
Put another way: a first baseman who is truly atrocious is less defensively useful than a DH. At some point the ease of replacing them overcomes the ease of replacing even the "no defensive value" guy.
If that were the case, then the team would just swap said atrocious first baseman and the DH.
   177. Baldrick Posted: December 22, 2009 at 09:06 AM (#3419332)
If that were the case, then the team would just swap said atrocious first baseman and the DH.

Because the one thing we know for sure is that all teams are 100% rational in their decision-making.

Although perhaps I could have more artfully phrased the point as "a first baseman for Team X who is truly atrocious is less defensively useful than a DH for Team Y. At some point the ease of replacing the bad first baseman overcomes the ease of replacing even the "no defensive value" guy."

The point is that figuring out the particular alignment of defensive talent on a team isn't relevant to the judgment of how much value a player is providing in the position they actually play.
   178. bjhanke Posted: December 22, 2009 at 10:36 AM (#3419339)
Ray DiPerna asks, "For those who have looked -- was Ted Williams's defense really this bad?"

You've got a couple of stats-based answers on this, and they're basically right. I got to see Ted play the outfield at the end of his career, and even then, he wasn't lousy. Based on the comments I've heard, he wasn't just "indifferent," either. What appears to have been the case was that if Ted got mad at someone over something, which happened a lot, he had a tendency to go out in left field and, with mostly idle time, let it gnaw at his paranoid ego. Then a fly ball would inconveniently go out there, and it would take Ted a moment or two to realize that he had more immediate concerns than being mad. So every once in a while, he'd fail to make a play that was obviously within his capabilities. Manny sometimes looks like that's what's going on, too. What Ted had that allowed the Sox to keep him in the outfield rather than moving him to first base, was enough speed to really cover the small left field in Fenway and to kind of cover other left fields. This is what Manny has, too. What he lacked that caused his reputation to be less than it could have been was the ability to make any flashy plays at all.

Overall, I'd say that, when not mad, Ted was a solid, reliable left fielder, but nothing more. When mad, he was that minus a play every now and then. I doubt that he would have been an outfielder for a team with a really large outfield, because he wasn't that fast (which was the reason he was rejected by the Cardinal scouts when Branch Rickey was running the team). And he wasn't going to make any really difficult plays. But he made the ones you'd expect him to, as long as he was paying attention. And on a large-outfield team, he would have played first base. I have no idea how well.

- Brock Hanke
   179. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:42 PM (#3419349)
Williams could move and throw ok. Poor first step made below average. He would be no different then the typical lf of today.

Late in his career he was all but immobile
   180. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 22, 2009 at 12:59 PM (#3419351)
Of course I realize that. Hell, that's the main reason I'd take a park neutralized peak Dimaggio over a park-neutralized peak Williams, in spite of the chasm in their BB rate. All I'm saying about Edgar is that his offensive numbers put him over the line. I'm not putting him over a great all-around player like Larkin, I'm just putting him in the HoF. In spite of all my rhetoric in defense of Martinez the DH, he's one of only three DH's I'd put in Cooperstown, Thomas and Molitor being the others---and Molitor in fact brought a lot more to his game than hitting.

Edgar played 70% of his career games at DH. Thomas played 55% of his career games at DH; Molitor played 45% of his. In fact, Molitor played almost as many games in the field as Edgar played total. It makes no sense to call Molitor a DH, just because he happened to play there more than any one other position. As for Thomas, he did play more of his games at DH, but he earned the HOF when he was playing 1B, not DHing. Considering him a DH would be like considering Ernie Banks a 1Bman.


All true, but all I meant by the above was that I wasn't just indiscriminately lowering the bar for DHers. By your definition, Edgar is the ONLY DH I'd vote for---a position which in fact doesn't leave me far from Chris, who said in one of his first posts on this thread (#11, to be exact) that he might be "changing his mind" on Edgar himself.

---------------

Overall, I'd say that, when not mad, Ted was a solid, reliable left fielder, but nothing more. When mad, he was that minus a play every now and then.

I wonder if he was "mad" when he misplayed Rizzuto's single into a triple in that final game of the 1949 season, a play that launched a series of events later in the game that arguably cost the Red Sox the pennant.

(And yes, of course I know that without Williams' bat, the Red Sox would have been out of contention long before that. But the point isn't about his unquestionable overall value, only about the sort of untimely lapses that Brock refers to. And if you hear the tape of that game, there's little question that the ball was a routine single that got misplayed into a "triple.")
   181. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:36 PM (#3419354)
Probably worth mentioning, since it got brought up with Ortiz: Edgar was pretty routinely benched during interleague games in the latter portion of his career. 2 games in the field in 2000, 1 in 2001, and then none thereafter through his retirement in 2004. It's my recollection that the M's were concerned about him injuring himself while trying to field, though I might be in error there.

And to clarify a point in my earlier post from way up on page 1: I wasn't saying that a DH would need to put up Bonds/Ruth numbers to be inducted, just that a DH who did so pretty obviously would be (since the opinion had been voiced that someone who wouldn't vote for Edgar wouldn't vote for any DH).
   182. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:40 PM (#3419355)
Uh, yes, we do. That's the entire concept of "replacement level."

No, we don't. There's no adjustment to the metric we compare with replacement level for the runs a better hitter would have created. Ozzie Smith's glove kept a better bat out of the Cardinal lineup. There's no adjustment to Ozzie's record for that reality.
   183. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:44 PM (#3419359)
This misses the point. Of course you have to put someone in at DH if you're the Mariners. But if Edgar could have played 3B (without getting hurt), then the Mariners could play someone at DH who hit better than Russ Davis, David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, et al. That's where the opportunity cost comes in. You don't just slot in your worst remaining defensive player; you find someone better than your current 3Bman.

And, again, that concept isn't unique to the DH position. The Ryne Sandberg example is better than Ozzie Smith, so we'll ride that one. If Sandberg could have played SS, as he did in the minor leagues, the Cubs could have had a better bat than Shawon Dunston in the lineup.(**)

Not to mention that it wasn't Edgar's fault the M's 3Bs generally stunk during his tenure, it was the M's fault.

(**) While we generally give more generic defensive credit to a player for playing SS rather than 2B, no adjustment is made to Sandberg's record for the runs that better bat would have produced. There's no reason to assume that bat would have been a replacement level bat, as there were many 2B available that far exceeded replacement level.
   184. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 01:48 PM (#3419362)
Hey, SugarBear: Are you allowed to go off the course during a marathon?
   185. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3419460)
There is a base value to a position - and the difficulties associated with positions are determined by the offensive levels the position provides. Once you establish that base value, in regular positions the players may provide offensive or defensive value, or they may be worse than a replacement or average player.

For a DH, that is true for offense, but they're always equal on defense. They get the basic defensive 'value' associated with their position, but can't improve on it or hurt themselves by doing poorly.


I don't agree with your claim that the base value for a position is (or should be) determined by offense. That's conceptually wrong. However, it's a side issue as far as this discussion is concerned so I'll move on.

I do agree that you need to establish a defensive value for DHs, and I also agree that all DHs have the same defensive value. What I'm arguing for is that that value should be equal to that of a poor fielding first baseman. Relative to all other positions, such a value would be subtracted from the offensive wins contributed by the DH (i.e., their defensive value is negative). As I understand it, some are arguing that the DH should have a zero defensive value instead of a negative one.
   186. RJ in TO Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:10 PM (#3419469)
It's my recollection that the M's were concerned about him injuring himself while trying to field, though I might be in error there.


I believe your recollection was correct. Especially late in his career, the Mariners were extremely reluctant to use Edgar in the field, mostly because they were sure that he'd hurt himself, or blow something out - he had frequent hamstring-related problems basically from 1993 onwards, which was part of the reason for his transition to DH.
   187. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3419560)
I believe your recollection was correct. Especially late in his career, the Mariners were extremely reluctant to use Edgar in the field, mostly because they were sure that he'd hurt himself, or blow something out - he had frequent hamstring-related problems basically from 1993 onwards, which was part of the reason for his transition to DH.


This seems like what the Yankees did with Matsui this year.
   188. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3419562)
There's no adjustment to the metric we compare with replacement level for the runs a better hitter would have created. Ozzie Smith's glove kept a better bat out of the Cardinal lineup. There's no adjustment to Ozzie's record for that reality.


I don't understand what you're saying here. Ozzie Smith has a certain value on offense, let's call it 2. Ozzie Smith has a certain value on defense, let's call it 42. Hence, Ozzie Smith's overall value is 44 (2+42). We then compare that to "replacement level", let's call that 20. Hence, we say that Ozzie Smith's value over replacement level is 24 (44-20). That "replacement level" could be split between offense and defense many ways, e.g., 10 on offense and 10 on defense. In that case, we see that Ozzie Smith is "below replacement" on offense (2-10 = -8) but that he more than makes up for that on defense (42-10 = 32), leading to his overall value of 24 (-8 + 32 = 24).

What is that analysis failing to take proper account of?
   189. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 22, 2009 at 04:51 PM (#3419570)
I don't agree with your claim that the base value for a position is (or should be) determined by offense. That's conceptually wrong. However, it's a side issue as far as this discussion is concerned so I'll move on.


Actually, the problem with this issue is that this is precisely NOT "a side issue" - it's the core problem. The average DH hits worse than the average 1B (and sometimes worse than the average LF or RF). Which leads precisely to the problem that an average DH will be judged "more valuable" than an average-hitting below-average-fielding 1B if you key your "replacement level" to average offensive performance at a position.
   190. JPWF13 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:09 PM (#3419613)
Ozzie Smith's glove kept a better bat out of the Cardinal lineup. There's no adjustment to Ozzie's record for that reality.


And who was that better bat?
Howard Johnson?
Hubie Brooks?
Kevin Mitchell? (Davey Johnson was truly fearless, HoJo and Hubie could at least fake SS, not so Mitchell, but Davey stuck him out there anyway)

I get your point, but use Everett or Rey Ordonez (or Neifi), Ozzie could get on base and run the bases, he was NOT the offensive sinkhole you seem to think he was.
   191. JPWF13 Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3419630)
What is that analysis failing to take proper account of?


It is not failing to take proper account of something, the real argument doesn't concern SSs at all, it concerns DHs.

Let's say the average DH hits like the average 1B (pretty much true- though in actual practice the average 1B does slightly better)
The problem as I see it, is that a 1B who hits like the average 1B, but is minus 10 with the glove, gets ranked as being worse than a DH who hits like an average DH- and who is DHing because he'd be minus 20 with the glove if allowed to play the field.

"actual practice" be dammed, IMHO when evaluating players, "replacement level" for a DH should be set higher than that of a 1B- ANYONE can DH (not everyone should of course)- every team (whether they know it or not) has someone unused in their organization who can hit at a league average level - who SHOULD be your replacement level DH? Jack Cust/Brian Daubach/Hee Seop Choi guys like that.
   192. BDC Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:26 PM (#3419661)
Some stuff from PI while I'm wasting time this AM:

NL shortstops who played for spans of >2000 PAs during Smith's years as a regular (1978-93):

Rk            Player OPS+   PA
1       Barry Larkin  116 3923
2       Jeff Blauser  111 2725
3           Jay Bell  107 3109
4        Dickie Thon   99 3946
5    Dave Concepcion   89 5735
6        Ozzie Smith   88 9902
7     Mariano Duncan   87 3575
8     Shawon Dunston   85 3546
9    Garry Templeton   85 7339
10      Chris Speier   85 3839 


IOW, there were five better-hitting SS in the NL for decent stretches during Ozzie's career as a regular, given that: this includes in Ozzie's career totals his Godawful early years with San Diego, and the three really good hitters (Larking, Blauser, and Bell) we're seeing for a prime slice of their career right at the end of Ozzie's productive years. Or, in yet other words, who could you have gotten as an upgrade on Ozzie offensively in the National League, for most of his career? Concepcion, or Dickie Thon: a HOVG player and a HOF talent who got derailed by a beanball. Smith was a pretty fine-hitting shortstop.

If you add in AL shortstops, Ozzie drops to 11th:

Rk            Player OPS+   PA
1         Cal Ripken  121 8525
2       Barry Larkin  116 3923
3      Travis Fryman  115 2279
4      Alan Trammell  114 8554
5       Jeff Blauser  111 2725
6        Roy Smalley  109 5010
7           Jay Bell  102 3498
8     Tony Fernandez  100 6230
9        Dickie Thon   95 4871
10   Dave Concepcion   89 5735
11       Ozzie Smith   88 9902
12    Mariano Duncan   87 3575 


Again, except for Ripken and Trammell (for the most part), who most in this thread have conceded were better baseball players than Ozzie Smith, we're comparing all of Smith's regular years to selected slices of other guys' careers. Yes, you'd have traded Smith even-up to get Ripken or Trammell. You wouldn't have been crazy to trade him even-up for Concepcion at certain stages in their careers. Otherwise, just as a hitter, Smith gave strong value to his teams, considering his position alone, not to mention that he was the greatest fielder ever at that position.
   193. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:28 PM (#3419672)
The problem as I see it, is that a 1B who hits like the average 1B, but is minus 10 with the glove, gets ranked as being worse than a DH who hits like an average DH- and who is DHing because he'd be minus 20 with the glove if allowed to play the field.


Only if you're using "average" as your replacement level.

"replacement level" for a DH should be set higher than that of a 1B- ANYONE can DH (not everyone should of course)


Of course. I'm always baffled when people suggest otherwise.

I just don't understand what the Ozzie Smith example is supposed to elucidate here.
   194. BDC Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:29 PM (#3419673)
Oh, and to get back to Edgar: it certainly seems to me that a DH who hit 1.000/1.000/4.000 in 8000+ PAs would make the Hall of Fame. Gonna add an awful lot of runs to your offense there.

That noted, the question is not whether a DH can make the Hall, but how good he has to be. It's a variant of the question attributed at times to GB Shaw or Winston Churchill or somebody: Madame, would you sleep with me for ten million pounds, Yes of course. OK, would you sleep with me for £5? What do you take me for? We've already established that, Madame, now we are simply haggling over the price.
   195. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:35 PM (#3419693)
"actual practice" be dammed, IMHO when evaluating players, "replacement level" for a DH should be set higher than that of a 1B- ANYONE can DH (not everyone should of course)- every team (whether they know it or not) has someone unused in their organization who can hit at a league average level - who SHOULD be your replacement level DH? Jack Cust/Brian Daubach/Hee Seop Choi guys like that.


I like the concept of replacement player, but when we're using it to downgrade a guy whose job description explicitly states that he doesn't have to play defense, the concept's flaws outweigh its strengths.

The critical flaw, of course, is that unlike in finance where the "risk-free asset" actually exists(**), the risk-free replacement player doesn't. Yes, there is likely someone in an organization that can provide replacement level production, but by the time the organization identifies who that player actually is, they've suffered sub-replacement level production that they'll have to recoup.(***) We see the problem in DMN's example, wherein the Mariners burned through the Russ Davis's and Jeff Cirillo's of the world, never actually obtaining replacement level 3B production. An investor can go into the marketplace and own as big a clump of 10-year Treasuries (customarily used as the "risk-free asset") as he wants, within 30 seconds. A baseball GM can't go into the real-world marketplace and acquire risk-free replacement level production.

(**) Value over replacement player is analogous to "excess return" in finance. The baseline return in finance is known with certainty at the time the asset is acquired. It isn't with baseball players; indeed, a lot of guys bounce between AAA, AAAA, and the Majors precisely because of the uncertainty -- the "risk" -- of their "returns." This probably isn't news to many.

(***) To be precise, run the risk of suffering sub-replacement level production.
   196. Ron Johnson Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:42 PM (#3419716)
Which leads precisely to the problem that an average DH will be judged "more valuable" than an average-hitting below-average-fielding 1B if you key your "replacement level" to average offensive performance at a position.


Nelson Lu has a pretty simple solution to this. If any position out-hits DH he adjusts DH to the best hitting position.

Works for me.
   197. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:51 PM (#3419732)
Actually, the problem with this issue is that this is precisely NOT "a side issue" - it's the core problem. The average DH hits worse than the average 1B (and sometimes worse than the average LF or RF). Which leads precisely to the problem that an average DH will be judged "more valuable" than an average-hitting below-average-fielding 1B if you key your "replacement level" to average offensive performance at a position.


Fair enough and I agree. I was just trying to avoid the philosophical discussion of how to measure defense in the first place.
   198. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: December 22, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3419753)
The commonly accepted replacement level is the average production of replacement players at a position. Sure, there's risk you could suffer below-replacement perormance, but there's an equal chance you could pull a Jack Cust or Russell Branyan out of a hat.
   199. Ron Johnson Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3419811)
Also, just thinking aloud, how about treating Edgar as have the defensive value of a replacement level 1B when DHing. For planning purposes say -20 runs per Ripkenseason (EG every inning of every game). Might be a high considering that Dick Stuart averaged around -10 in totalzone. Sean, any sense of where the very worst 1Bs end up in your structure.

Well that works out to around 8.8 years of every PA DHing. Or -175 or so runs using the -20. Clearly some fine tuning is required but I think it more or less works. That would drop him to some place in the low 50s in Sean's WAR.
   200. Ron Johnson Posted: December 22, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3419836)
#203 I agree with your sense of the definition, but I prefer to think of guys like Cust and Branyan as Phelpser. That is to say that while they were once part of the (more or less) freely available talent pool, their established level of talent suggested that they could hit (and that while they were not good defensive players, their problems were probably overstated)

And the risk of sub-replacement level performance is real. In practice every year pretty much every position sees some team get 10 or more runs less than theoretical replacement level (in structures like Chris Dial's OPD)

EDIT: Which suggests that replacement level in practice is ~10 runs worse than it "should" be. Perhaps suggesting that some management teams going cheap are not doing their job. Though I think that's an unfair way of looking at it. It's completely predictable that a certain number of attempts to fill holes with replacement level players won't work out due to normal performance variations.
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