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Friday, December 02, 2011

Erardi: Behind the numbers: Dan Driessen vs. Sean Casey

Only Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. losing an election could be worse than this! (end crazed Reds fan rant)

Driessen’s sin was in coming along when he did: As a third baseman in his early 20’s who wasn’t talented enough defensively to stick at third base, and yet was stuck behind Doggy at first base…and then when he got his chance to prove he had the stuff to help the Reds win a third straight World Championship in 1977, the starting pitching fell apart… and then when he should have been coming into a second prime at 30, the whole team fell apart and lost 101 games.

Overrated, under-achieving, undeserving ...that is how Reds fans largely (and erroneously) feel about Driessen.

And yet, if the numbers show anything, they show this:

If Sean Casey is a Reds Hall of Famer – and that’s what the fans voted – then so is Driessen.

Driessen outranks Casey 115 to 114 in OPS+.

Driessen outranks Casey 18.5 to 15.4 in WAR.

...And consider this: Except for the fact that Casey had a higher peak value than Driessen – i.e. Casey’s best years were better than Driessen’s best years – everything else about our recollection of Casey is fueled by memory, not reality.

Repoz Posted: December 02, 2011 at 11:09 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, reds, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. salvomania Posted: December 02, 2011 at 03:45 PM (#4005085)
Do either of them deserve it?

Using a pretty generous definition of "a good season for a 1b" (at least 400 ab with an OPS+ of 120+) Casey had three good seasons with the Reds and Driessen only had two. And in 5 postseason series as a Red, Driessen hit below .200 with 1 homer and 2 rbi in 45 plate appearances.

Just wait a few years, Reds, and you should a few more deserving candidates.
   2. Mark Armour Posted: December 02, 2011 at 04:03 PM (#4005102)
So, now we are going to argue about team Halls of Fame, too? Up next: arguing with 10-year-olds about who their favorite player "should" be.
   3. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 02, 2011 at 04:31 PM (#4005136)
Looking at his BBREF page, Driessen was a lot better than I remembered with a longer career.. still not all that.

Sean Casey is a guy I had on my Roto team for 3 years- 1998-2000, I thought he'd turn out better, I thought he'd have a lot more years like 1999 than he did...
   4. OCF Posted: December 02, 2011 at 04:36 PM (#4005139)
Way back in '98 when people were going around doing comparisons of the '98 Yankees to the '75-'76 Reds, I took a long look at those Reds. Two things stuck out. One was that they were an offense-driven team, with rather weak pitching for a great team. The other is that those '75-'76 Reds had just about the stablest 8-man starting lineup I'd ever seen.

Driessen had been a starter before then. It looks like Driessen lost his starting job when Rose was converted to 3B. In effect, he lost his job to either Ken Griffey or George Foster (I'm not sure which of those two). And because the starting was so unusually stable, he got less opportunity to play in '75-'76 that most players in his situation would have had.
   5. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: December 02, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#4005142)
The 2010 class was Chris Sabo, Tony Mullane, and, of course, Pedro Borbon.
   6. Perry Posted: December 02, 2011 at 05:05 PM (#4005165)
It looks like Driessen lost his starting job when Rose was converted to 3B.


No, he didn't play any 3B in 1975, having proven in 73-74 that he couldn't handle it defensively. If anything moving Rose gave him more playing time, since it opened up the outfield quite a bit. John Vukovich was the guy who lost his job when Rose moved. Driessen pinch hit a lot and got some time at 1B spelling Perez and some in the OF, usually playing LF with Foster either out or moving to CF.

Edited to correct the spelling of Vukovich.
   7. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 02, 2011 at 05:06 PM (#4005166)
Two things stuck out. One was that they were an offense-driven team, with rather weak pitching for a great team.


Common knowledge

In 1976 the Reds scored 857 runs, 5.29 per game, league average was 3.98- and their home park was actually reasonably neutral
They scored half a run more than the next best hitting club (Philly) who was nearly a half run up on the 3rd (Pitt) everyone else was clustered near a 7 team tie for 4th, with Sand Diego and Montreal pulling up the rear- and Montreal was a lot closer to league average than Cincy was
   8. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: December 02, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#4005224)
Poz's book about the Big Red Machine, which should probably be considered definitive, says Sparky moved Rose to 3B to (1) get Vukovich out of the lineup and (2) get Driessen into the lineup in LF. However, George Foster then played so well that Driessen remained on the bench.

The Reds then traded Perez to Montreal two years later to open up 1B for Driessen.

Looking at Driessen's career in hindsight, you wonder what all the fuss was about -- screwing around with a couple of HOFers* and a future MVP/HOVG player for meh production at the corners. Apparently, though, the Reds really thought Driessen was their young emerging star, even more so than Griffey or Foster.

Poz's book also says Driessen was from some remote area of the south, unscouted, and basically convinced the Reds to sign him by writing a letter to Dick Wagner.

*Yeah, yeah, Rose isn't actually in and Perez might not deserve it.
   9. toratoratora Posted: December 02, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#4005235)
Two things stuck out. One was that they were an offense-driven team, with rather weak pitching for a great team.


I'm not sure offense driven quite captures how absolutely dominant the Reds were. The 76 Reds led the league in, deep breath, hits, runs, doubles, triples, steals, home runs, bases on balls, batting average, total bases and all three slash categories.
They didn't just rule the league, they swept the freaking field.
That has to be one of the top two or three(I'm being conservative here) all around offensive performances in history.
I mean, these guys did everything well.
Heck, they even finished second in sacrifice flies.
   10. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: December 02, 2011 at 10:31 PM (#4005469)
Jeez, how many teams have led the league on hr's and steals?
   11. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 02, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#4005493)
I'm not sure offense driven quite captures how absolutely dominant the Reds were. The 76 Reds led the league in

Big Red Machine
What also happened in 1976 was that Geronmio had a BABIP driven fluke year as well and posted a very anomalous 125 OPS+


Looking at Driessen's career in hindsight, you wonder what all the fuss was about

He was an above average MLB hitter at age 21, it was likely easy to project him to be a star
he was better than Foster through about age 24/25, Driessen's problem was that Foster took a huge step forward in his age 26 season- hitting .300/.356/.518, OPS+ 139, that was in 1975, Driessen was a 23 year old hitting .281/.386/.429 (OPS+ 125) that year- real nice year for a 23 year old...

Driessen was as good a player as the 33 year old Tany Perez at that point- and eventually did take Doggie's job- but Driessen never became as good as Perez or Foster in their primes
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: December 02, 2011 at 11:25 PM (#4005508)
Jeez, how many teams have led the league on hr's and steals?


Although bb-ref is a great website, some things I wish they would add to pi, is the ability to search team stats, and the ability to search 'rankings'(the latter is less important than the former, and would probably be a somewhat pain to code)
   13. toratoratora Posted: December 02, 2011 at 11:34 PM (#4005513)
Although bb-ref is a great website, some things I wish they would add to pi, is the ability to search team stats, and the ability to search 'rankings'(the latter is less important than the former, and would probably be a somewhat pain to code)

Absolutely seconded.There have been a number of times I've wished this.

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