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Monday, February 10, 2014

Fairservice: Buster Posey, Hall of Fame?

Fairservice? Not if Murray Chass gets into the Giants locker room.

Those are impressive names, with Hall of Famers and soon to be Hall of Famers at every turn (and also Jason Kendall!) Buster Posey is on the fast track to “generational talent”, if we care about such things. The comparison to Mike Piazza is most telling, as Piazza never had the same defensive reputation as Posey, who is well-regarded for his pitch blocking, throwing and overall handling of his pitching staff.

Like Posey, Piazza played his home games in a pitcher’s park. During the first five years of Piazza’s career, he hit .347/.412/.601 away from Dodger Stadium, while Posey owns a .321/.389/.521 career line away from AT&T Park.

Two great players, two of the finest catchers in the last 30 years. Piazza went on to a Hall of Fame career, moving to Florida and then the New York Mets, where he posted some of his best seasons through his early 30s. Piazza basically spent his entire pro baseball career in very large pitchers parks.

Buster Posey is set to remain a member of the San Francisco Giants for the next seven years, signing with the Giants through 2021 (with an option for 2022.) He’s a Giant for now and perhaps a Giant for the duration of his career.

Posey acknowledged that last season didn’t play out, on a personal level, as well as he hoped. He showed up to Giants’ media day claiming he added ten pounds of muscles this offseason to allow himself to “stay strong” throughout the system. Heading into his prime, learning more about his body and what it takes to be in productive for all 162, be it behind the plate or with a few breathers at first base mixed in for good measure.

There is no doubt that Buster Posey is a superstar, one of the best players in baseball. He’s accomplished and still young, the core of a competitive team that already achieved the ultimate team prize in 2012 and 2010. Yet somehow he seems slightly overlooked in the greater baseball sphere. If Posey puts together another huge season for the Giants, the soft-spoken Georgian will have no choice but assume his place among the game’s greats.

Repoz Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:22 PM | 91 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, hof

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   1. zachtoma Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4654450)
Which other catchers from this generation have a chance? Joe Mauer? Yadier Molina?
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4654453)
I believe Matt Wieters is already in the HOF, no?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4654457)
It's really silly to talk about the HoF for a guy with <2000 PAs.

Mauer's actually an interesting discussion. How much more does he need, especially now that he won't be getting the C value boost?

His current offensive level probably makes him a 3-3.5 WAR guy at 1B. Will he get a offensive boost now, freed from the rigors of catching?
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:22 PM (#4654464)
Which other catchers from this generation have a chance? Joe Mauer? Yadier Molina?


Considering it's the hall of fame and catchers, it's possible there are none playing now.

McCann is going to get a boost to his reputation and is a heck of a player and with the popularity boost he'll get from playing in New York, maybe the rest of the country will realize it too. (7 all star appearances shows he's not an unknown though)

Mauer has a legitimate argument for being worthy right now.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4654469)
Mauer has a legitimate argument for being worthy right now.

Not really. 5000 PAs, 44 WAR.
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4654474)
He wouldn't get my vote either, as I think that war overrates him personally, but 40+ war range for a catcher puts a player in the discussion. He's 15th all time in war among catchers already.
   7. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4654475)
Mauer is 16th among catchers in WAR right now, in the middle of a bunch of non-HOFers, but who have at least a year more PA's than him. He's first among catchers in batting average and second in OBP. He's in a tie for second in OPS+, tied with Tenace and Fred Carroll (3290 PA) behind Piazza.
   8. Srul Itza Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4654476)
Remind me again what the official WAR cut off is on the HOF ballot?
   9. Srul Itza Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:46 PM (#4654478)
On a less snarky note, Mauer has completed the "prime" portion of the HOF exam, with three batting titles, 3 Gold Gloves and an MVP.

If he falls of the cliff this year, then he probably doesn't make it (unless he literally falls off a cliff). But he does not have to establish "greatness" credentials any more, he just needs a reasonable glide path at first base.
   10. salvomania Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4654481)
There are five post-WWII catchers in the HoF (Berra, Campanella, Fisk, Carter, Bench) and another two retired players who will probably make it in (Rodriguez, Piazza).

Six of those seven post-WWII guys (all except Campanella) have at least 59 bWAR, which suggests that may be a cut-off for consideration, especially with Bench, Carter and Fisk all between 68-75. (So far the only catcher who started his career after 1931 and accumulated at least 50 bWAR but will not get into the HoF is Ted Simmons).

WAR-wise, if Posey essentially has Roy Campanella's MLB career from this point on, that'll get him up around 50 WAR.

Molina needs to play, and be good, until he's 37, with a progression of WAR seasons that go something like 5.5, 4.5, 4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 2.5 and 2.0 to reach that same level, and that's a pretty tall order.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4654482)
Remind me again what the official WAR cut off is on the HOF ballot?

When guys with 70+ and no PED taint aren't getting in, it's a hell of a lot more than 45.

On a less snarky note, Mauer has completed the "prime" portion of the HOF exam, with three batting titles, 3 Gold Gloves and an MVP.

If he falls of the cliff this year, then he probably doesn't make it (unless he literally falls off a cliff). But he does not have to establish "greatness" credentials any more, he just needs a reasonable glide path at first base.


Agreed. He needs to get to ~8000 PA, and ~55 WAR to get my imaginary vote (I do think catchers are held to too harsh a standard).

So 5 seasons of above avg. performance at 1B.
   12. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:55 PM (#4654483)
CFB,

What mechanic is overrating Mauer in WAR? The positional adjustment?

I'd have no problem voting for Mauer for the Hall of Fame as is.
   13. vivaelpujols Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4654487)
Remind me again what the official WAR cut off is on the HOF ballot?


Why is WAR a bad way to look at HOF worthiness?


When guys with 70+ and no PED taint aren't getting in, it's a hell of a lot more than 45.


Yeah but catchers have a much lower baseline. Mauer is very close. One more 5 WAR season and he's in for me.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:17 PM (#4654490)
Yeah but catchers have a much lower baseline. Mauer is very close. One more 5 WAR season and he's in for me.

Yes, like I said. I think he needs ~10 WAR more.
   15. donlock Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:23 PM (#4654491)
Similar batters:

Compare Stats to Similars
Babe Phelps (888)
Jonathan Lucroy (871)
Ted Easterly (863)
Pinky Hargrave (862)
Dick Dietz (858)
Ian Desmond (857)
Butch Henline (857)
Bill Haselman (856)
Carlos Santana (855)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (854)

Drawing a blank on most of these. That HOF stuff may be a bit premature. His defense seems adequate but nothing special.

"The comparison to Mike Piazza is most telling, as Piazza never had the same defensive reputation as Posey, who is well-regarded for his pitch blocking, throwing and overall handling of his pitching staff. Why are you comparing them? Piazza was considered an adequate defender with a weak arm. Not sure what overall handling of his pitching staff even means.Piazza was an awfully good hitter for a long time and he still isn't in the HOF.

There is no doubt that Buster Posey is a superstar, one of the best players in baseball.
I doubt it .
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4654499)
post 15

it's because posey is unique his comps are all over the map. babe phelps was a catcher from the 30's who was a lesser lombardi

ted easterly was a guy who played in the early 1900's and the only reason i didn't have to look it up is because he was a federal leaguer and one of my boys did a report on the federal league in middle school a 1000 years ago

dick dietz was a guy who played full time for 2 seasons because he could hit but was awful at catching

posey is way better than all of these guys
   17. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4654506)
"The comparison to Mike Piazza is most telling, as Piazza never had the same defensive reputation as Posey, who is well-regarded for his pitch blocking, throwing and overall handling of his pitching staff. Why are you comparing them? Piazza was considered an adequate defender with a weak arm. Not sure what overall handling of his pitching staff even means.Piazza was an awfully good hitter for a long time and he still isn't in the HOF.


First 5 years

Player dWAR / total WAR
Posey 2.8 / 16.3
Piazza 2.5 / 22.4
   18. greenback calls it soccer Posted: February 10, 2014 at 08:50 PM (#4654527)
Why is WAR a bad way to look at HOF worthiness?

Because replacement level is a shitty baseline for establishing greatness?

If Trout has three more seasons like he's had to date, who cares if he has five subsequent seasons where he's average or he has ten subsequent seasons where he's average?
   19. Blackadder Posted: February 10, 2014 at 08:58 PM (#4654530)
If Trout has three more seasons like he's had to date, who cares if he has five subsequent seasons where he's average or he has ten subsequent seasons where he's average?


I would support him with two more ~10 win seasons.
   20. bobm Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4654535)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, From 1st season to 5th season, Played 50% of games at C, (requiring WAR_bat>=0, WAR_off>=0, WAR_def>=0 and At least 1500 plate appearances), sorted by greatest Adjusted OPS+

                                                                 
Rk             Player OPS+ WAR/pos oWAR dWAR   PA From   To   Age
1         Mike Piazza  155    22.3 22.8  2.5 2223 1992 1996 23-27
2        Buster Posey  143    17.6 16.2  2.8 1850 2009 2013 22-26
3      Roy Campanella  132    20.5 20.1  2.9 2416 1948 1952 26-30
4         John Romano  129    12.8 13.2  2.1 1650 1958 1962 23-27
5        Chief Meyers  128    16.2 16.7  3.2 1976 1909 1913 28-32
6           Joe Mauer  127    19.5 20.3  1.9 2388 2004 2008 21-25
7           Joe Torre  123    15.3 13.7  3.2 1893 1960 1964 19-23
8          Yogi Berra  123    12.3 12.1  1.0 1925 1946 1950 21-25
9     Victor Martinez  122    12.1 14.7  0.1 2075 2002 2006 23-27
10       Brian McCann  121    14.3 14.8  2.8 2372 2005 2009 21-25
11      Jason Kendall  121    19.9 21.0  2.4 2682 1996 2000 22-26
12     Thurman Munson  121    20.6 18.3  6.2 2284 1969 1973 22-26
13       Johnny Bench  121    22.2 19.1  6.6 2576 1967 1971 19-23
14     Ernie Lombardi  120    11.5 12.3  1.0 1815 1931 1935 23-27
15        Bill Dickey  119    13.3 12.9  1.7 1869 1928 1932 21-25
16     Gabby Hartnett  119     8.6  9.0  0.7 1519 1922 1926 21-25
17      Walker Cooper  117     9.1 10.0  0.7 1610 1940 1944 25-29
18    Mickey Cochrane  117    17.8 18.3  1.6 2610 1925 1929 22-26
19     Darrell Porter  114    10.7 10.2  3.0 1560 1971 1975 19-23
20         Tom Haller  114    11.8 11.2  3.2 1680 1961 1965 24-28
21        Gary Carter  113    16.1 12.9  5.3 2168 1974 1978 20-24
22         Bob Brenly  111     7.4  9.1  0.1 1649 1981 1985 27-31
23        Ted Simmons  111     8.0  8.4  1.8 1536 1968 1972 18-22
24         Spud Davis  111    10.2  9.5  2.0 1714 1928 1932 23-27
25          Tony Pena  110    15.0 11.7  6.3 1939 1980 1984 23-27
Rk             Player OPS+ WAR/pos oWAR dWAR   PA From   To   Age
26       Rick Wilkins  109    12.6  9.0  5.8 1618 1991 1995 24-28
27   Manny Sanguillen  109    16.0 12.2  7.3 2200 1967 1972 23-28
28       Gus Triandos  109     6.6  5.7  1.3 1560 1953 1957 22-26
29         Alex Avila  108     9.1 10.2  2.1 1769 2009 2013 22-26
30       Craig Biggio  108    14.4 16.8  0.2 2591 1988 1992 22-26
31      Lance Parrish  108    10.6  9.5  4.0 1879 1977 1981 21-25
32      Butch Henline  107     8.6  8.4  1.7 1608 1921 1925 26-30
33        Harry Bemis  105     9.7  9.7  2.9 1614 1902 1906 28-32
34    Jonathan Lucroy  104     8.0  7.9  2.7 1691 2010 2013 24-27
35    Terry Steinbach  103     7.6  8.3  1.0 1755 1986 1990 24-28
36     Russell Martin  101    16.0 12.6  7.0 2713 2006 2010 23-27
37         Jody Davis  100    11.4  9.4  5.6 2338 1981 1985 24-28
38       Rick Ferrell   99    10.3 10.2  1.9 2092 1929 1933 23-27
39       Johnny Kling   99     8.7  8.5  2.9 1753 1901 1904 25-28
40       Matt Wieters   98    13.0 11.1  6.1 2610 2009 2013 23-27
41        Don Slaught   98     5.3  6.6  1.4 1574 1982 1986 23-27
42      Brian Downing   98     8.4  8.1  2.5 1530 1973 1977 22-26
43       Bill Freehan   98     9.4  8.6  3.9 1958 1961 1966 19-24
44     Ivan Rodriguez   97    12.2  9.2  6.4 2183 1991 1995 19-23
45    Benito Santiago   97    10.8  8.0  5.9 2040 1986 1990 21-25
46     Johnny Edwards   97    10.2  9.4  3.9 2113 1961 1965 23-27
47      Bruce Edwards   97     5.9  6.2  0.9 1514 1946 1950 22-26
48        Carlos Ruiz   96     8.9  6.1  5.3 1692 2006 2010 27-31
49         Jake Early   96     4.9  5.4  1.2 1584 1939 1943 24-28
50      Jason Varitek   95     4.7  5.4  1.5 1509 1997 2001 25-29
Rk             Player OPS+ WAR/pos oWAR dWAR   PA From   To   Age
51       Steve Yeager   95     8.9  6.7  5.2 1546 1972 1976 23-27
52     Clint Courtney   94     4.3  4.0  2.0 1589 1951 1955 24-28
53    Charles Johnson   92     9.9  4.6  7.9 1809 1994 1998 22-26
54        Pat Borders   92     4.7  4.8  2.5 1617 1988 1992 25-29
55     Clay Dalrymple   92    10.5  7.2  6.4 2004 1960 1964 23-27
56      John Roseboro   92     5.7  6.6  1.7 1773 1957 1961 24-28
57        Sammy White   92     4.0  4.4  1.6 2059 1951 1955 23-27
58         Ray Schalk   92    12.4 10.8  5.6 1946 1912 1916 19-23
59        Kurt Suzuki   91    11.3  9.5  5.5 2509 2007 2011 23-27
60      Kenji Johjima   91     5.4  6.5  1.3 1722 2006 2009 30-33
61      Butch Wynegar   91    15.3 11.8  8.3 2920 1976 1980 20-24
62    Ramon Hernandez   90     8.6  7.3  4.8 2139 1999 2003 23-27
63       Jim Sundberg   89    18.8 11.9 12.0 2610 1974 1978 23-27
64         Dave Rader   89     3.3  4.7  1.4 1727 1971 1975 22-26
65       Del Crandall   89     7.0  5.7  3.4 1943 1949 1955 19-25
66       B.J. Surhoff   88     7.9  8.6  3.0 2546 1987 1991 22-26
67           Al Lopez   88     4.6  4.4  1.7 1716 1928 1933 19-24
68      Randy Hundley   86     8.3  5.6  5.5 1802 1964 1968 22-26
69          Pat Moran   86     4.7  4.7  2.7 1607 1901 1905 25-29
70      Jimmie Wilson   85     3.3  3.7  1.0 1748 1923 1927 22-26
71          Bob Boone   84     4.7  3.4  4.4 1920 1972 1976 24-28
72         Joe Oliver   83     2.8  1.0  4.4 1916 1989 1993 23-27
73     Admiral Schlei   83     5.6  5.6  3.5 1716 1904 1908 26-30
74          John Buck   82     1.6  4.5  0.3 1914 2004 2008 23-27
75       Brandon Inge   82     6.7  4.3  4.7 2071 2001 2005 24-28
Rk             Player OPS+ WAR/pos oWAR dWAR   PA From   To   Age
76          Toby Hall   82     3.6  2.4  3.5 1501 2000 2004 24-28
77        Jeff Newman   81     2.9  2.1  1.7 1575 1976 1980 27-31
78       John Bateman   81     1.3  2.7  1.4 1573 1963 1967 22-26
79        Ray Lamanno   81     3.9  3.9  1.4 1547 1941 1948 21-28
80        Brad Ausmus   80     6.9  4.1  5.3 1807 1993 1997 24-28
81      Oscar Stanage   79     4.5  4.7  2.7 1559 1906 1912 23-29
82       Boss Schmidt   79     4.2  4.9  2.4 1545 1906 1910 25-29
83      George Gibson   78     6.3  5.5  4.7 1939 1905 1909 24-28
84      Yadier Molina   76     5.0  0.6  7.3 1914 2004 2008 21-25
85       Buck Rodgers   76     2.2  1.4  4.3 2052 1961 1965 22-26
86        Mickey Owen   74     2.2  2.1  1.7 1874 1937 1941 21-25
87         Al Spohrer   74    -0.0  1.0  0.5 1630 1928 1932 25-29
88          Red Dooin   73     2.1  3.2  2.1 1697 1902 1906 23-27
89      Paul Casanova   72     2.8  2.2  3.8 1757 1965 1969 23-27
90        Jerry Grote   72     2.3  2.1  2.8 1517 1963 1968 20-25
91          Hal Smith   71     1.7  1.6  2.7 1679 1956 1960 25-29
92         Mike Tresh   70     1.0  1.2  1.3 1705 1938 1942 24-28


   21. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4654540)
Note the writer said Piazza never had the same defensive _reputation_ as Posey. While I'm not sure what Posey's defensive rep is I know that Piazza's defensive rep (among most media and fans at least) was terrible. People tended to only look at throwing in those days and Piazza was terrible. On the saber side, we mostly scoffed at things like catcher ERA. Piazza's lousy rep may not have been justified but it was real.

As to Mauer ... it's awfully hard to say he's there. Even by peak. Through age 30, at least 75% of games at C, by WAR:

Bench 64
Carter 55
IRod 50
Simmons 45
Mauer 44
Piazza 42
Cochrane 41
Munson 40
Berra 37
Freehan 36

That's just not enough separation, especially with Simmons not in and Piazza not in yet. He does have 1500 fewer PA than Simmons but not substantially different than Munson/Freehan and 1000 fewer than Piazza. His catching days appear to be over with just 885 starts at C -- a few more than Torre (836). Torre already didn't hit the 75% cutoff when he was 30 (he started at 20) but had 48 WAR. As noted, the 3 batting titles, the MVP as a C, 3 more top 10 finishes, 6 AS games and 3 GG puts him ahead of Torre in the non-WAR measures and is really enough to keep him in the conversation.

Basically Mauer is on a path to keep me annoyed 10-20 years from now when people keep calling him a "catcher" despite having only about 6-6.5 full C seasons in terms of starts. For example, through age 30, Freehan already had 300 more starts behind the plate and would go on to total over 1500. Piazza ended up with 1600, Simmons with nearly 1700.

Will he get a offensive boost now, freed from the rigors of catching?

This has often been claimed but I don't think there's much basis for it. Most of the positive cases are guys moved very early -- Biggio, Murphy, etc. -- and even then we don't really know how their offense might have developed if they hadn't been moved. In terms of older Cs, they are generally moved "too late" -- they're kept at C until so much stuff doesn't work anymore that they're pretty much out of gas.

I think this myth exists in large part due to Joe Torre. A good to very good hitter who always spent a fair bit of time at 1B, he was permanently moved off C at 30 ... and put up a 171 OPS+ and won the MVP.* See, it was only the C that was holding him back. But he immediately reverted to a 122 OPS+ followed by two 117s -- pretty much what you'd expect in the early 30s from a hitter of his caliber. 133 OPS+ from 25 to 29, 115 from 31 to 35 with that big ol' 171 in the middle. It looks like a big fluke.

The move off C should increase playing time though ... and it would seem that it must slow down player decline. Not a lot of obvious comps here I don't think. Torre of course and he was good for only about 8 WAR after 30. The Yanks started easing off Berra's C seriously at 33 ... from 31 on he had about 22 WAR but 6 of that was his age 31 with 134 starts at C (but still maybe 18-20 WAR with less C time). VMart's last season of heavy C was age 31, he's had 8 WAR and one missed year from 31-34.

A set of not great comps for Mauer -- expansion era Cs with at least 800 games C through age 30 (missing Berra and VMart) -- and it's not overly promising from 31 on:

Fisk 34
Pudge 18
Piazza 18
Carter 14
Bench 11
Sundberg 11
Kendall 11
Torre 10 ....
Simmons 5

So only guys who stayed at C produced a lot of WAR and only Fisk and Piazza hit well enough to hold down 1B/DH. OK, Torre and Bench for another 3 years or so.

So not too bad. Mauer seems a solid bet for at least 10 WAR (Torre, Bench) with a decent shot at the 15-20 range (Fisk loses about 15 WAR if you put him at 1B/DH, would gain some back in PT). Not what Twins fans were hoping for but certainly at least on the edge of HoF with the peak probably enough to push him over. If history is still useful as a guide and Mauer maintains a career BA over 300 (likely), he's quite possibly first ballot.

Another way to comp his future is to look at similar 1B. From 2010-13, he had 83 Rbat in about 3 full seasons of PAs. Looking at 1B/DH with 70-100 Rbat from 28-30 -- the best comps for Mauer (given OBP and not massive power) are Hernandez, Hal McRae, Youk and AGon. From 31 on, Hernandez had 12 oWAR and 15 WAR, McRae had 17/17 oWAR/WAR, Youk had 10/11 oWAR/WAR, and AGon had 3/4 oWAR/WAR in his age 31 season. The next best comp is Derrek Lee who ended up with 13 more WAR so we get the same conclusion -- a good bet for 10 WAR with a shot at 15-20.

Adding LF/RF to the comps improves things quite a bit:

JD Drew 11
Greer 2
Rose 38
Dw Evans 26
Kaline 28


*WAR hates Torre's defense that year, hitting him with a -25 Rfield. It's plausible as his only previous 3B experience was 72 starts the year before (-6) and he only got about a full season's worth after that (about -10).
   22. BDC Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4654541)
donlock, those comps in #15 must be complete careers as long as Posey's so far: not highly meaningful in that Posey's what, 17 years old?
   23. zonk Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4654546)
I think Posey's defensive rep is good - but admittedly, that's because his CS% is pretty good. He plays in the same league as Yadier, so he's not getting a GG, but I'm betting he gets plenty of GG votes, deserved or not.

Personally, I think Mauer is probably in Puckett-territory right now... his career might not yet be worthy of the HoF, but he'd get some what if bonus if something were to end his career next year. I don't think I'd have a huge problem with him getting in - I mean, 323/405/468 with three GGs, an MVP overcomes the lowish career totals. Another 4-6 years of even decentish offensive output and he glides in easily -- even if his time at 1B is basically median Derek Lee.

I think Mauer goes in now with just nominal additions.... Posey's way too early, but he's on his way.

Molina is a much more interesting case... Defensively, he's got the chops... 17.2 dWAR - with the peripherals across the board to back that up as low, if anything (the question is whether the substantial drop in PBs is a matter of reputation improvement or actual improvement).

If he never learned to hit, he probably needs to tack on an Ozzie-like stranglehold on the GG for the rest of his career... but in the last 3 years, he's learned to hit.

He's got what, 5-6 straight ASGs?

Molina certainly isn't there yet, but I think he's gonna be an interesting case...
   24. gehrig97 Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4654553)
If Trout has three more seasons like he's had to date, who cares if he has five subsequent seasons where he's average or he has ten subsequent seasons where he's average?


Hmm. Ask Don Mattingly about that...

In terms of the article: it is ridiculous to start projecting a HOF case for a catcher with less than 2000 PA. C'mon.

If Mauer can tack on another batting title or two, get to 8000 PA, he's probably in. That Piazza is still on the outside looking in is criminal.
   25. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4654561)
This has often been claimed but I don't think there's much basis for it. Most of the positive cases are guys moved very early -- Biggio, Murphy, etc. -- and even then we don't really know how their offense might have developed if they hadn't been moved.

A couple of other notable ones I can think of are Carlos Delgado and Mike Sweeney.

Delgado didn't catch much in the majors, but he did come up as a big-time catching prospect and had never played any other position in the minors before his call-up. I remember the popular opinion at the time was that freeing him from the catcher position would help him hit, but I see now that he only played 5 innings in the majors as a catcher and he still didn't establish himself until he was 24. (Actually, it might be argued that moving him to LF put much more pressure on him than leaving him at catcher would have.) So, as Walt points out, it's hard to say that moving away from the position helped him hit. Maybe he would have developed into a great hitter anyway.

Sweeney is perhaps more of an illustrative case. He struggled (to hit) as a catcher for 3+ years at the beginning of his MLB career (age 21-24), then when he was moved to 1B/DH in 1999 he immediately hit .322/.387/.520 (129 OPS+) and went on to have several All-Star seasons. As a catcher (675 PA) he hit .259/.324/.406.
   26. zonk Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4654563)
A much lesser case of moving off catcher is Julio Zuleta --

caught - and hit - dreadfully his first two years in short season ball... moved to 1B, put up solid minor league numbers, got a cup of coffee, etc
   27. toratoratora Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:45 PM (#4654564)
Personally, I think Mauer is probably in Puckett-territory right now... his career might not yet be worthy of the HoF, but he'd get some what if bonus if something were to end his career next year. I don't think I'd have a huge problem with him getting in - I mean, 323/405/468 with three GGs, an MVP overcomes the lowish career totals. Another 4-6 years of even decentish offensive output and he glides in easily -- even if his time at 1B is basically median Derek Lee.

This is more in line with my thinking.Toss in the fact that he's a one team player, hometown kid, local hero, clean cut image and he has all the storylines that the writers like. He also already scores a 92 on the HoF monitor and a 45 on the HoF standards. Per JAWS,he's 12 all time among catchers. He has that nice shiny average, the outrageous MVP Season (That's one of the bestoffensive season ever by a catcher, and a terrific lifetime OBP for the position. The writers are putting him in barring a Murphyesque collapse (Speaking of ex catchers moved to other positions).
If Mauer can tack on another batting title or two, get to 8000 PA, he's probably in. That Piazza is still on the outside looking in is criminal.

He's won three. Five is Boggs territory. It's not like catchers commonly win batting titles. What do you want from the guy?
   28. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: February 10, 2014 at 11:12 PM (#4654569)
Hmm. Ask Don Mattingly about that...

Why would we ask Don Mattingly about 10-win seasons? His close-up view of Rickey Henderson in '85?
   29. alilisd Posted: February 10, 2014 at 11:17 PM (#4654570)
@ 15: As pointed out those are complete career as, but it's also true a similarity scores below 900 aren't particularly meaningful. There are better ways to compare players.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2014 at 11:29 PM (#4654571)
He's won three. Five is Boggs territory. It's not like catchers commonly win batting titles. What do you want from the guy?

Partly this is where I was going with my "if history is a guide" comment. Historically HoF voters seemed to salivate over BA and batting titles. With the increased recognition of OBP and downgrading of BA, maybe "batting titles" won't have quite the same cachet when Mauer hits the ballot 10-20 years from now. He could then of course point to his two OBP titles, one SLG and OPS+ titles, etc.

But I'm sure 3 is enough.

A couple of other notable ones I can think of are Carlos Delgado and Mike Sweeney.

I should add that I suspect that if you move them early enough it does help a lot, I just doubt we can demonstrate that very well. Some of that might be what you hinted at ... the goal of moving a guy off C is to relieve the defensive stress which also probably gets him to the majors faster. If the Ms moved Montero to 1B/DH right away, maybe he'd have (learned to) hit in the majors. Also teams will rarely sacrifice defense at C so it's often a slot path to the majors.

Molina would seem to have a hard road to the HoF. He's roughly following the Pudge II path, but Pudge had 50 WAR through age 30 while Molina is at 27 ... or 38 oWAR vs. Molina's 17. He'll likely have a much better case but Molina faces the same problem as Vizquel in a sense -- Molina's 6 GGs are less than half IRod's 13 and still well behind Bench. He won't be recognized as the greatest defensive C ever unless Pudge is anti-roid blacklisted maybe. It can be done -- Boone had 6 GGs from 31 on -- but he's likely to end up looking more like Freehan or Sundberg.

#22 -- good point. Posey's age-based comps are more sensible -- Hartnett, Javy, VMart, Berra -- but it's still guys with much lower OPS+'s than his.
   31. bookbook Posted: February 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM (#4654576)
Did Posada make the hall of merit? If he hasn't yet, he clearly won't for quite some time (if ever).
   32. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 07:36 AM (#4654644)
Ask Don Mattingly about that.


Don Mattingly never had a season in the same neighborhood as Mike Trout.
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:06 AM (#4654649)
Did Posada make the hall of merit? If he hasn't yet, he clearly won't for quite some time (if ever).

He's not eligible for another couple of years, since he played through 2011.
   34. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 11, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4654667)
I think Mauer needs one more 5+ WAR season to be legitimately considered for the HOF. He barely has 5000 PAs as it stands, and that's just not enough. If he can make it to 6500 PAs with an OPS+ north of 130, I'd vote for him regardless of what his numbers were after that.
   35. Dan The Mediocre Posted: February 11, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4654670)
Don Mattingly never had a season in the same neighborhood as Mike Trout.


You have to add his top three seasons just to get Mike Trout's best two.
   36. Ron J2 Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4654688)
Mauer has a funny peak case. In his best 5 years he's only caught 66.3% of his team's innings. That's quite low. HOF catchers in their prime can be expected to catch around 80% of the team's innings. Mauer spends more time at other positions than anybody on the list of hitting catchers other than Torre and Tenace. Well and Buck Ewing (who spent ~21% of his time in his prime at other positions and only caught ~66% of his team's innings. In a sense, the Twins have been handling Mauer like a 19th century catcher/

Even so, by peak Mauer is in the conversation for second best hitting catcher. By oWAR the top of the peak list is Piazza (32.8), Bench (30.9), Mauer (29.9), Carter (28.1).

By OPS+ it's Piazza (165), Lombardi (149) Mauer (147), Campanella (147). Lombardi by the way is the exception to HOF catcher playing time (and yes, I know he's widely regarded as a HOF mistake). He caught less than 62% of his team's innings in his prime.

Another way to look at this is that Mauer already has 5 seasons with 5+ WAR. Only 3 guys (Bench, Carter and Piazza) have more. He already has 6 seasons with 4+ WAR and that's already a tie for 8th (Bench, Cochrane, Piazza, Carter, IRod, Berra, Simmons have more. Fisk, Dickey, Munson, Freehan, Torre have 6 -- though Torre also has an MVP in a season he didn't catch an inning)

In other words, holding out for another season with 5+ WAR is asking for a lot.

I think he's already made the HOF case. Maybe he needs some quality filler, but realistically any catcher has maybe 10 quality seasons in him (and he's going to be hurt in some of those)

Incidentally, many years ago Bill James noted that no great catcher had been worked as hard as Carter in his prime. I have Berra as catching a slightly higher percentage of his team's innings (Berra 87.8%, Carter 87%). But those extra 8 games in a season means that in absolute terms James is correct. (And of course after Howard came up, Berra was spelled a significant amount of the time. When his backups were less capable he handled a very heavy workload)

Interestingly, numbers 3 and 4 or the list are Ted Simmons (82.8% and Mike Piazza 82.1%)

EDIT: OOPS, forgot Posada

EDIT2: Put Posada in the 6 seasons with 4+ WAR.

EDIT3: Cleaned up format.
   37. Brian Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4654698)
He barely has 5000 PAs as it stands, and that's just not enough. If he can make it to 6500 PAs with an OPS+ north of 130,


Does this make sense? You need a minimum of 10 years for the HOF, is it fair to ask a catcher to average 650 PA a year? Seems like if you put the numbers up to be considered for the Hall as a catcher you needn't average the kind of PA's an OF would.
   38. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4654706)
If he had an OPS of 145 or 150 right now and got hit by a bus I'd vote for him, but the HOF minimum, with a low amount of PAs in that minimum, doesn't make an HOFer for me, unless he's clearly the best peak player at his position.
   39. BDC Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4654707)
More germane comps for Posey: batting careers centered on him in terms of PA and OPS+ through age 26:

Player              dWAR   PA OPSWAR/pos  SB      Pos
Buster Posey         2.8 1850  143    17.6   6   
*2/3HD
Larry Doby           0.8 1791  137    14.7  27 
*8/9H463
Giancarlo Stanton   
-0.2 2002  137    14.7  17   *9/HD8
Rudy York           
-0.4 2043  142    16.0  12   23/5H7
Eric Davis          
-0.5 1923  141    20.1 191   *87/H9
Bill Skowron        
-1.1 1575  139    11.1  10   *3/H54
Richie Zisk         
-1.3 1599  140    11.7   1     97/H
Tim Salmon          
-2.6 1775  144    14.2  12   *9/HD8
Lance Berkman       
-3.0 1903  145    13.5  26  *78/9H3
Babe Herman         
-4.2 2199  139    12.8  34   *93/H7
Willie McCovey      
-4.4 2223  142    15.7  10    37H/


Man, it's hard to get to the Hall of Fame.

I included Doby as an interesting comp, though I imagine for both HOF and HOM purposes he has an extra slice of Negro League credit before 1947. But in some ways he is a good comp: key up-the-middle defender with outstanding hitting achievements at a young age. Aside from Eric Davis, most of the other guys were crumby fielders, which makes some sense: a bat that good will carry just about any thickness of concrete glove.
   40. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4654713)


Does this make sense? You need a minimum of 10 years for the HOF, is it fair to ask a catcher to average 650 PA a year? Seems like if you put the numbers up to be considered for the Hall as a catcher you needn't average the kind of PA's an OF would.


Since when was the HOF about admitting those who just barely qualified for it? Larry Walker has 8030 PA and the primary critique against him is not enough playing time. Sending Mauer in with 6500 PA is certainly acknowledging the difficulties of catching.
   41. zonk Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4654723)
Molina would seem to have a hard road to the HoF. He's roughly following the Pudge II path, but Pudge had 50 WAR through age 30 while Molina is at 27 ... or 38 oWAR vs. Molina's 17. He'll likely have a much better case but Molina faces the same problem as Vizquel in a sense -- Molina's 6 GGs are less than half IRod's 13 and still well behind Bench. He won't be recognized as the greatest defensive C ever unless Pudge is anti-roid blacklisted maybe. It can be done -- Boone had 6 GGs from 31 on -- but he's likely to end up looking more like Freehan or Sundberg.


I was about to say that while I understand you're talking about perception, I think Molina is a much better defensive catcher than I-Rod... but at least the numbers would indicate that this might not be true.

Given his lifelong Cardinaldom, I am not prepared to defend Molina any further.
   42. Brian Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:22 AM (#4654728)
Since when was the HOF about admitting those who just barely qualified for it? Larry Walker has 8030 PA and the primary critique against him is not enough playing time. Sending Mauer in with 6500 PA is certainly acknowledging the difficulties of catching.


My point is that if he puts up the rate stats for 10 years, gets the necessary black ink and still is short of some PA line-in-the-sand maybe that's why catchers are under represented in the HoF? They are not often going to be compilers, maybe we should view catchers by rates and peak and not throw PA barriers up that may not work for catchers.
   43. GregD Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4654739)
I think most posters here would be in favor of expanding the catching pool in the HOF, right? I haven't looked at the HOM in a while but doesn't it have more catchers than the HOF?

I could imagine there's some difference in whether you do this by admitting the really good hitting part-time catchers (Torre) or the long-lasting relatively weaker-batting catchers (Bill Freehan) but I think there are lots of people on the site who favor, say, Ted Simmons.
   44. plim Posted: February 11, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4654754)
Personally, I think Mauer is probably in Puckett-territory right now... his career might not yet be worthy of the HoF, but he'd get some what if bonus if something were to end his career next year.


I disagree. Yes, some of the ancillaries are there like toratoratora mentioned, but Puckett played until he was 35 (12 full seasons). I see him more in Nomar circa 2003 territory (who, right now is duking it out for relavence in the HOM thread). Nomar finished 2003 with a .323/.370/.555/134 line with 6 full seasons (8 years total including his callup) through his age 29 season.

Sure, Mauer started a little younger, so he's got 8.5 full seasons over 10 years, but having just finished age 30...heaven forbid an injury virtually ends his career, even if he sputters along over 500 games in his next 6 years (including at least one above-average year) like Nomar, is he still in the HOF/HOM?

btw...my definition of "full season" is somewhat dubious - it's more of a sniff test. but, to be consistent, i counted 100+ games as a full season.
   45. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4654802)

My point is that if he puts up the rate stats for 10 years, gets the necessary black ink and still is short of some PA line-in-the-sand maybe that's why catchers are under represented in the HoF? They are not often going to be compilers, maybe we should view catchers by rates and peak and not throw PA barriers up that may not work for catchers.


I don't think there is a PA line-in-the-sand, but Mauer's 10 seasons average out to only 117 games a year. He may have hit the 10 year requirement, and he has a good peak, but he needs SOME meat to his career.
   46. Ron J2 Posted: February 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4654809)
#44 I think Munson more or less answers whether Mauer has done enough yet. I can understand ranking Munson's peak anywhere between the 7th or 15th best peak. That's just short of a viable HOF case in my opinion. And by WAR Mauer's not much ahead of Munson (comfortably within method error)
   47. zonk Posted: February 11, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4654815)

Sure, Mauer started a little younger, so he's got 8.5 full seasons over 10 years, but having just finished age 30...heaven forbid an injury virtually ends his career, even if he sputters along over 500 games in his next 6 years (including at least one above-average year) like Nomar, is he still in the HOF/HOM?

btw...my definition of "full season" is somewhat dubious - it's more of a sniff test. but, to be consistent, i counted 100+ games as a full season.


Well, that's a good point...

In Mauer's favor -

1) Like you said, starting younger means Mauer has 8.5 seasons of premium play rather than 6
2) I tend to give Mauer "best at his position across all MLB" credit - Nomar doesn't get that... I know that sounds Jack Morris-ian, but I always thought that was really Morris' strongest card anyway (if it were true... the problem is that it wasn't true).
3) I was gonna say black ink - but I see I would have been somewhat in error

Ultimately, I think I'd vote for him if some tragedy limits him to, say, another 500 lukewarm games. In a sense - Mauer is probably better off hanging them up if an injury were to turn him into Carlos Ruiz (or, I guess, JT Snow now that he's a 1B). I'm sure he'd never think of it this way -- but get in your 10 years and make a peak case is probably better than Nomar-ing on for another 10 years.
   48. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: February 11, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4654877)
Remind me again what the official WAR cut off is on the HOF ballot?

To get into Cooperstown, you need {mumblemumblerhubarbpeasandcarrotsmumble} WAR, at least. And if you don't agree, you're a gay Commie terrorist who roots for the Yankees.

And that's just that's just to get into Cooperstown, not to be actually enshrined into the Hall of Fame itself.
   49. BDC Posted: February 11, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4654925)
The four players with the most similar complete hitting careers to Joe Mauer:

Player           dWAR   PA OPSWAR/pos  SB      Pos
Joe Mauer         3.8 5060  136    44.3  43  
*2D/3H9
Frank Chance      2.9 5103  135    45.9 403  
*32/978
Tommy Henrich    
-2.4 5410  132    35.7  37  *93/H87
Roy Cullenbine   
-4.1 4786  132    31.9  26 *973H/58
Chick Hafey      
-5.6 5115  133    30.1  70   *789/


Two are in the Hall of Fame, though Chance has a boost from managing and Hafey probably shouldn't be. Of the other two, Henrich missed several prime seasons to the war, and Cullenbine looks as good as he does because he played through the war.

What this tells me is that Mauer has had a very unusual career for any player. There's an argument for him as the best player in his league, even in the game, not just in his MVP season but over a stretch of a few seasons. If he plays another eight years and reaches 2,500 hits, that's a confirmation of his peak greatness. If he vanishes from the face of the earth, he's more like Nomar Garciaparra.
   50. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: February 11, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4654936)
I've heard rhubarb, but peas and carrots? That's madness...
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4655001)
Charlie Keller is the poster-boy for all-peak. From age 22-30 he averaged 157 OPS+, and 7 WAR/650 PAs in 4000 PAs (missed 1 2/3 years to WW2), totalling 40 WAR.

Jim Rice took 4500 more PAs to amass 5 more WAR. Keller really belongs in the HoF.
   52. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4655017)
Jim Rice took 4500 more PAs to amass 5 more WAR. Keller really belongs in the HoF.


Are you assuming Jim Rice belongs in the HoF for this argument? Because if he is your best comp for a player, they should not be in the HoF either.
   53. Ron J2 Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4655019)
#51 Keller's peak isn't really outstanding for a corner outfielder though. It's a good one, but the HOFers he's clearly better than (by peak) are generally regarded as either outright mistakes or truly marginal. Guys like Klein and Rice who are clearly peak candidates, just not objectively qualified on that basis.

I've only just started on corner outfielders but it's pretty clear that he's going to be somewhere in the top 25 by peak but will not crack the top 10. Not a ridiculous HOF case, but ...

   54. plim Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4655030)
Ultimately, I think I'd vote for him if some tragedy limits him to, say, another 500 lukewarm games. In a sense - Mauer is probably better off hanging them up if an injury were to turn him into Carlos Ruiz (or, I guess, JT Snow now that he's a 1B). I'm sure he'd never think of it this way -- but get in your 10 years and make a peak case is probably better than Nomar-ing on for another 10 years.


didn't realize I set you up for a trap - I used the 500 games over 6 years mark because that's exactly what Nomar played after getting injured. He actually had 2 full seasons (one at a 120 ops+ but the second was an 80), but the other years were only 81, 62, 55, 65 g, and overall, he had a .291/.343/.446/102 line. Of course, this is when he shifted over to the corners, thus diminishing his value.

Of course, Mauer has the 2 extra years of non-injured play (and hopefully this year going forward as well), as well as the plusses you mentioned.

Kinda makes you wonder, if Albert Belle wasn't a jerk and didn't cork his bats, would he have gotten the Kirby Puckett treatment, esp given that his hip basically disintegrated...
   55. BDC Posted: February 11, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4655035)
Keller's in the Hall of Merit, FWIW.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4655036)
Are you assuming Jim Rice belongs in the HoF for this argument? Because if he is your best comp for a player, they should not be in the HoF either.

No, I don't think Rice belongs.

#51 Keller's peak isn't really outstanding for a corner outfielder though.

43 WAR in 7 seasons of PT? That's pretty damn good as a peak.
   57. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4655043)
#51 Keller's peak isn't really outstanding for a corner outfielder though.

43 WAR in 7 seasons of PT? That's pretty damn good as a peak.


What about Nomar then? '97-'03 he put up 41 WAR, with a year missed due to injury. Not quite as much offense, but he did it at SS.
   58. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4655051)
What about Nomar then? '97-'03 he put up 41 WAR, with a year missed due to injury. Not quite as much offense, but he did it at SS.

Nomar's close. 41 WAR in 7 seasons, 4000 PA. Avg. 7 WAR per 650 PA, just like Keller. But he doesn't get any war credit.

I think you can pretty safely give Keller an extra 1000 PAs of his peak performance, given that he put up 1000 PAs of peak after returning from WW2.
   59. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 11, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4655106)
Why did Keller cease to be a regular after 1946? Did he get hurt? That's certainly what his career looks like.
   60. zonk Posted: February 11, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4655121)
Kinda makes you wonder, if Albert Belle wasn't a jerk and didn't cork his bats, would he have gotten the Kirby Puckett treatment, esp given that his hip basically disintegrated...


I vaguely remember trying to make this case during an old HoF thread -- probably like 7-8-9 years ago when he hit the ballot. Belle has a pretty Kiner-esque case, obvious personality differences aside, based on the raw numbers.

That said, Belle obviously had a different offensive era in his favor and I'm also a bit surprised that Belle doesn't have as much black ink as I remember. Obviously, leading the league in HRs 7 straight years goes a long way...
   61. Publius Publicola Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4655166)
I doubt it .


You doubt a catcher who's accumulated who's accumulated 12.6 WAR the last two years, won a no-brainer MVP and was the centerpiece of a team that's won two World Championships in the last four years is a superstar?

Wow. So what's your definition then?

To me, if you can make a credible case you're the best player in baseball, and I think you can make that case with Posey, then you are a superstar.
   62. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4655173)
Why did Keller cease to be a regular after 1946? Did he get hurt? That's certainly what his career looks like.

Severe back injury, if memory serves. Glancing at gamelogs, it looks to have happened around June 5 of '47.
   63. Publius Publicola Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4655179)
Bill James said in one of the historical abstracts Keller started having foot problems, so much so he couldn't play every day.
   64. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4655207)
Charlie Keller is the poster-boy for all-peak. From age 22-30 he averaged 157 OPS+, and 7 WAR/650 PAs in 4000 PAs

Of those in the HoF, it's Greenberg and Campanella.

Greenberg: 313/412/605, 58 WAR in 6100 PA. Missed 3.5 seasons for the war (and almost all of 41 too -- injured?). Produced at a 6-WAR pace from 22-35, missed essentially all of his age 25 and 30-33 seasons, could have had 80 WAR.

Campanella: 276/360/500, 34 WAR in 4800 PA. Didn't start until age 26 of course. 31 WAR in essentially 6 full seasons (plus one lousy season), 3 MVPs (deserved or not). He may have gotten NeL credit from the writers but with 3 MVP over 5 years I'm not sure he needed any.

Oops, forgot about Kiner. (And Jackie but I don't really count him as "peak-only", he's in for lots of reasons.) Only 6300 PA and a 149 OPS+ but 7 straight HR titles ... and it took him all 15 years to get in.

Those are the sorts of comps any modern peak-only player faces when they hit the writers ballot. Of course that didn't stop them from electing Puckett, the only HoFer who debuted 1955 or later with fewer than 8000 PA. The only other "modern" player below 9000 PA elected by the writers is Bench and the next lowest is Carter at just over 9000. That's also where Stargell, Larkin and Rice land.

Given some of the numbers cited above about % of innings caught, then for a player who was pretty much a C their entire career, somewhere around 7200 PA is the equivalent of 9000 PA and the equivalent of 60 WAR (a reasonable empirical HoF cutoff until recently) is about 48 WAR. That is just above Freehan, Porter and Posada in terms of PA and career WAR. For comparison, Piazza is 59 WAR for 7700 PA so 48/7200 is about .75 wins per "full C season" behind Piazza. That looks a bit smaller than the gap between, say, Stargell and Thomas.

The interesting guy is Munson with 46 WAR in just 5900 PA -- if 48 WAR in 7200 would be at least borderline then 46 in 5900 would seem to be in (by a WAR-based standard). Mauer is at 44 and 5100 PA but not a lot of time at C (Munson had 400 more starts at C) so a tough call as a C ... which will only get tougher as a C/1B unless he has a good 30s. Simmons had 53 WAR in 8100 PA (about 1600 starts at C) at his peak so that's in even though his later crapitude kinda hides that.

   65. Squash Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4655243)
Because replacement level is a shitty baseline for establishing greatness?

If Trout has three more seasons like he's had to date, who cares if he has five subsequent seasons where he's average or he has ten subsequent seasons where he's average?


Am I missing something? Replacement level is just a zero point. As long as everyone's being compared to the same zero point it doesn't matter what that zero point is, replacement level or Babe Ruth.

Re: the second, I don't know that anyone would care, and it wouldn't matter much toward establishing a player's HOF credentials, but 10 average seasons are more valuable than 5 average seasons. It's not easy coming up with an average MLBer. I don't think either of those theoretical Mike Trouts make it into the HOF - however if one of them were, it would be the 10 avg-season Mike Trout because he would have more chance of having hit some career milestones (which matters to voters), as well as would have provided more value over the span of his career (which matters to us).

Unless if one is a pure peak voter, which I think is fairly rare - everyone requires some level of career. Perhaps you are a pure peak voter (I tend more toward peak than career myself as well).
   66. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:19 PM (#4655247)
keller ruptured a disc in his back in 1947 and fought extreme back pain the remainder of his career. he cut his swing down you would not have believed it was the same guy swinging it was so different
   67. Mefisto Posted: February 11, 2014 at 11:39 PM (#4655253)
and almost all of 41 too -- injured?


No, he was also in the service in '41.

Am I missing something? Replacement level is just a zero point. As long as everyone's being compared to the same zero point it doesn't matter what that zero point is, replacement level or Babe Ruth.


Replacement level can be misleading for players with long careers. They can generate years of positive WAR without being actually good. That level of performance has value, but it's not a measure of greatness, which is what the HOF is for.
   68. Squash Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4655464)
Replacement level can be misleading for players with long careers. They can generate years of positive WAR without being actually good. That level of performance has value, but it's not a measure of greatness, which is what the HOF is for.

Have we seen a HOF-level player yet who that's really been an issue for (a few straggling years at the end puts them over a theoretical WAR line)? Usually straggling seems to add 5-10 WAR or so to the end of someone's career, which isn't putting anyone into contention territory on a pure WAR argument unless they've already had a pretty sick career (50-60 WAR), which means they've most definitely been great.

You could say someone like Don Sutton, but he didn't go in on a WAR argument (or wouldn't have, if WAR existed back then), he went in because he had 300 wins. Which I guess is a different version of the same argument, but using traditional stats.

But does this still actually change anything mathematically? (Real question) I'm not a stats genius, but looking at the WAR function it looks like a straight cumulative function, no logarithmic action or whatever. If you change the zero point (move it to league average or whatever) all you do is lower everybody's numbers by the same factor, along with the theoretical WAR boundary for the HOF.

Perhaps what it really is is another version of the peak vs. career argument, but that's going to be had whatever system/stats you use, and doesn't really have anything to do with WAR or how it's calculated.
   69. BDC Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4655496)
There's also the phenomenon of "straggling" decreasing career WAR. At one point Andre Dawson was at 67 WAR, but ended up at 64.
   70. dave h Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4655497)
If two players have the same playing time, then where replacement level is set won't matter - their relative WAR will be the same. But if one player has more playing time, then he will benefit from a lower replacement level (and vice versa). This is possibly the problem with catcher WAR and the Hall of Fame - it's plausible that catcher replacement level is too low because it's based on players who aren't playing full time, and if they were they would not produce at the same rate. Personally, I like wins above average for HOF discussions, but zeroing out any negative seasons (and giving catchers a boost because they're underrepresented for whatever reason).
   71. Squash Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4655517)
If two players have the same playing time, then where replacement level is set won't matter - their relative WAR will be the same. But if one player has more playing time, then he will benefit from a lower replacement level (and vice versa).

How is that different from saying this is another version of the career vs. peak argument? If a player has more playing time he has more chance to rack up counting stats and hit milestones. Still seems like the same argument to me: nothing to do with WAR or how it's calculated, but rather how much weight we give peak vs. career.
   72. Mefisto Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4655518)
Have we seen a HOF-level player yet who that's really been an issue for (a few straggling years at the end puts them over a theoretical WAR line)?


I don't know of any off the top of my head, and the issue may be more theoretical than real. Players do hang on to reach milestones (500 HR, 3000 hits, etc.), but obviously not to reach WAR levels. Still, the milestones seem important to HOF voters, and the extra playing time could be seen as important for some.
   73. Ron J2 Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4655532)
#56 Sure pretty good as a peak, but as a hitter his best 5 seasons are closer to Brian Giles than to the elite corner OF. (Giles put up a 157 OPS+ and spent a fair amount of time in CF in those years). Now some people argue that Giles has a HOF case, and maybe for a big hall kind of guy OK.

Keller does best when you list by what I call prime (best 7 year stretch by WAR, removing best and two worst seasons) because he doesn't have a monster season that doesn't get included and his value is tightly concentrated. So he'll end up ahead of Tim Raines (because Raines lose a 7+ WAR season and a 6+ WAR season -- the latter because it came outside of his best 7 year stretch), and even then as I say, he'll probably crack the top 20. Not a terrible HOF case but not a terrible omission either.

His offensive peak is short of Albert Belle's -- to pick another guy derailed by injury.

One key for Keller is his dWAR is pretty good. Of the guys I've done to date, dWAR in 5 best offensive he ranks 4th (Rickey Henderson, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Keller, Minnie Minoso, Pete Rose, Mel Ott). Now I'm the last guy to argue that defense doesn't matter, but for a corner OF it's very unusual for it to be central to their HOF case.

I'm fine with docking Frank Howard (a better hitter than Keller in their respective peaks and easily the worst defensive player of the guys done so far -- and I've done Kiner, Belle, Sheffield and Manny) but I'm really not confident that Keller was in fact a better defensive player than (say) Stan Musial. (who spent substantial time in CF in his prime)
   74. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4655535)
Am I missing something? Replacement level is just a zero point. As long as everyone's being compared to the same zero point it doesn't matter what that zero point is, replacement level or Babe Ruth.


It matters, if replacement point is very low a player can generate a lot of WAR merely by being average for very long.

If replacement level is too high you have the opposite problem- undervaluing merely average players- the average guy has value, positive value afterall.

   75. Squash Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4655538)
I don't know of any off the top of my head, and the issue may be more theoretical than real. Players do hang on to reach milestones (500 HR, 3000 hits, etc.), but obviously not to reach WAR levels. Still, the milestones seem important to HOF voters, and the extra playing time could be seen as important for some.

I agree with you - what I'm saying is that singling out WAR when it's really just another counting stat doesn't seem logical. One may not like WAR as a stat, but it's still holding everyone to the same standard, so where it's zero point is set doesn't really matter. Peak vs. career seems to be the real argument at play here - WAR as a stat doesn't really have anything to do with it.
   76. Squash Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4655545)
It matters, if replacement point is very low a player can generate a lot of WAR merely by being average for very long.

Yes but the scale, i.e. what is considered valuable, also changes based on how the stat is calculated. With replacement level as the zero point 60 or so WAR is considered HOF-worthy, and there are very few players who have negative career WAR. If the zero point changed to league average then something like 30 WAR would be HOF-worthy, and there would be lots of players with negative career WAR. Moving the zero point doesn't actually change how anyone is ranked relatively, it just changes the number next to their name.

Unless again of course if I am wrong and there is some massive logarithmic function in WAR I'm not seeing. But again it looks pretty straightforward and cumulative.
   77. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4655554)
Am I missing something? Replacement level is just a zero point. As long as everyone's being compared to the same zero point it doesn't matter what that zero point is, replacement level or Babe Ruth.

On a season to season basis you're absolutely correct. The problem is when you start talking about careers of vastly different lengths, where you set that point can completely change things. Mathematically the reason is that if you set an initial replacement level at "an injured Dan Szymborski", as you then move up that replacement level higher and higher, you wind up subtracting more and more value from the guy with the significantly longer career. IE the value of the replacement player level is pro-rated to playing time.

In the WAR calculation, Palmeiro's lead on Jason Giambi is based partially on a gap of 114 runs based entirely on the difference between comparing to replacement or average and the difference in playing time. So that if Giambi had a 30 run lead on Palmeiro compared to average (he doesn't but this is just a hypothetical), when you switch to replacement he'd now be 84 runs behind.
   78. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4655557)
Squash, basically why things can change is that there's multiplication in there to go with the addition. IE, doubling 10 gives you 20, a difference of 10. Doubling 30 gives you 60, a difference of 30. If you have two guys who start at 50 and 65, subtracting 10 and 20 gives you 40 and 45 for the two guys, subtracting 30 and 60 gives you 20 and 5 for them. Thereby reversing the order in which they rank.
   79. Squash Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4655563)
IE, doubling 10 gives you 20, a difference of 10. Doubling 30 gives you 60, a difference of 30. If you have two guys who start at 50 and 65, subtracting 10 and 20 gives you 40 and 45 for the two guys, subtracting 30 and 60 gives you 20 and 5 for them. Thereby reversing the order in which they rank.

True, but then we're talking about a very odd player (the 65 guy) indeed - someone who has played maybe 20 or so 3-WAR years with no build up, no peak, and no decline phase (i.e. someone who has put up a ton of WAR put has never actually been a great or very good player). If someone like that actually shows up I would happily say they are not HOF worthy - but has there ever been a player like that in existence, or is there likely to be?
   80. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4655573)
Palmeiro is sort of that guy but not as extreme, I think. In any event, I just wanted to show that mathematically it is possible to change the replacement level and thereby the rank of two players.
   81. dave h Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4655643)
Squash, even if this argument is just a restatement of peak vs career, how does that go against the original statement in 18 that WAR isn't a great way to determine the HOF because replacement level is a shitty way to measure greatness?
   82. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 12, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4655656)
Moving the zero point doesn't actually change how anyone is ranked relatively


Don Sutton has 68.7 WAR, move replacement level to league average he's down to 23.3
Andy Petitte has 60.9 WAR, move replacement level to league average he's at 30.1
Mariano Rivera has 56.6 WAR, move replacement level league average he's at 32.7

Pete Rose has 79.4 WAR, Jackie Robinson has 61.4 WAR, move replacement level to average and Jackie beats Rose 39.3 to 28.9





   83. BDC Posted: February 12, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4655676)
WAR on B-Ref tends to track WAA, though I notice quite a few discrepancies. Derek Jeter has 72 career WAR but 32 career WAA, for instance, as compared to Chase Utley with 58 WAR and 41 WAA (in a career half the length). I assume that reflects the different distribution of value within the populations of shortstops and second basemen they're being ranked against respectively, though I really don't know for sure.
   84. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 12, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4655749)
Derek Jeter has 72 career WAR but 32 career WAA, for instance, as compared to Chase Utley with 58 WAR and 41 WAA (in a career half the length)
If you see WAR that close and wildly disparate career lengths you are gonna see the guy with the shorter career s having more WAA, the difference between 2b/ss is actually gonna be a very minor element.

   85. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: February 12, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4655761)
WAR is figured by first determining WAA, then adding roughly two wins per full season of play. Jeter has 6,297 more PA, leading to a 243-run advantage in the replacement portion of the calculation.
   86. Mefisto Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4655872)
I'd forgotten I had this link, but it shows WAA and WAR for the top 278 position players through 2009. Take a look at Chipper Jones and Robin Yount to see the potential use.
   87. Squash Posted: February 13, 2014 at 10:05 PM (#4656670)
Squash, even if this argument is just a restatement of peak vs career, how does that go against the original statement in 18 that WAR isn't a great way to determine the HOF because replacement level is a shitty way to measure greatness?

Because WAR, which is currently measured with replacement level as the zero point, does a very fine job of measuring greatness - it's pretty much impossible to hit the theoretical HOF WAR threshold (60 WAR) without having been a great player for some part, usually a long part, of your career. Even Don Sutton, who I mentioned above and who Johnny Sycophant used as a great example of players flopping rankings, was very good for a lot of his career, and more importantly, there's only one Don Sutton - pretty much everybody else who hits the 60 WAR cutoff was great at some point in there career (and Sutton wasn't half bad). We don't rejigger the system because of outliers. There are always going to be outliers. That said I also, as stated above, wouldn't have a problem with Sutton not being in the HOF.

To clarify, I don't think literally no players would swap positions, obviously as demonstrated that is mathematically untrue, but switching to league average from replacement level doesn't mean we suddenly have a sea change in terms of who should be in/out of the HOF. We end up with pretty much the same people. That said, I actually have no problem with going to league average for WAR, in fact I would support that, because I am (much) more of a peak than career fake-voter.
   88. Ron J2 Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4656817)
Further to #53, here's what I have for the peak list for corner OF.

Sorted by adjusted offensive wins in 5 best years (and selected by adjusted offensive wins rather than WAR)

AOW = adjusted offensive wins (ie batting runs, baserunning, etc.) above average in 5 best offensive seasons
WAR = WAR in best 5 seasons selected by AOW
oWAR = oWAR in best 5 seasons selected by AOW
dWAR = dWAR in best 5 seasons selected by AOW
OPS+ = OPS+ in best 5 seasons selected by AOW
POS % = percentage of time at primary defensive position in 5 best offensive seasons
POS = primary defensive position in 5 best offensive seasons
WAR 7+ = number of seasons with 7+ WAR (includes time at other positions)
WAR 5+ = number of seasons with 5+ WAR (includes time at other positions)
Prime = WAR in best 7 year stretch with best and 2 worst years removed
Age = Average age in the best 5 years of prime
Player            AOW   WAR  oWAR  dWAR  OPS+  POS %  POS  WAR 7+  WAR 5+  Prime  Age   
Babe Ruth        50.3  62.7  58.5   1.0  236   49.6
%   LF    13      19     48.5   29 41.3RF  
Barry Bonds      46.6  53.2  53.1   0.7  241   96.2
%   LF    14      17     39.7   37   
Ted Williams     44.5  51.7  51.0  
-2.7  220   99.4%   LF     9      13     39.8   24   
Stan Musial      35.7  47.4  45.3  
-1.3  184   32.9%   RF     9      14     36.0   25 24.7LF,22.61B19.7CF  
Hank Aaron       33.4  41.9  42.3  
-3.9  178   75.8%   RF    13      17     34.0   26   
Joe Jackson      31.3  41.1  39.8  
-2.8  183   91.7%   LF     5       7     29.7   26   
Mel Ott          29.8  39.3  37.2  
-0.7  172   84.5%   RF     6      14     30.8   27   
Frank Robinson   29.6  39.4  38.1  
-2.6  172   78.1%   RF     5      11     29.4   27   
Carl Yastrzemski 29.5  43.8  37.0   2.8  170   86.0
%   LF     3       8     30.8   28   
Harry Heilmann   29.0  35.5  37.0  
-4.6  174   98.3%   RF     2       7     27.4   29   
Ed Delahanty     28.6  35.5  34.7  
-2.8  185   82.0%   LF     2       9     26.3   30   
Ralph Kiner      27.5  36.3  37.3  
-4.2  169   92.3%   LF     3       5     28.0   26   
Rickey Henderson 27.4  39.8  35.9   1.9  150   75.1
%   LF     4      12     31.1   29   
Sammy Sosa       26.4  33.0  33.9  
-4.1  162   96.4%   RF     1       6     23.3   30   
Gary Sheffield   26.3  29.5  34.0  
-7.1  172   42.2%   RF     0       6     19.1   33   
Chuck Klein      26.3  30.5  33.4  
-6.2  161   82.6%   RF     1       4     23.0   26   
Larry Walker     26.1  34.4  32.1  
-0.7  163   96.9%   RF     2       6     24.6   32   
Reggie Jackson   25.1  32.8  32.8  
-3.3  169   85.5%   RF     2       8     26.7   26   
Albert Belle     25.0  28.7  32.7  
-7.0  167   97.2%   LF     1       4     23.0   28   
Manny Ramirez    24.9  29.5  31.9  
-5.8  173   44.9%   LF     1       6     21.9   29   
Roberto Clemente 24.8  38.1  32.8   1.5  156   99.8
%   RF     7      10     31.0   32   
Al Simmons       24.3  35.6  31.8  
-0.7  165   61.0%   LF     3       7     27.7   26   
Billy Williams   23.9  30.4  31.7  
-6.3  153   76.2%   LF     1       5     21.1   27   
Willie Stargell  23.9  30.4  30.4  
-4.3  173   94.7%   LF     2       4     21.5   32   
Paul Waner       23.7  31.9  30.6  
-2.1  153   94.4%   RF     0       7     22.1   26   
Al Kaline        23.2  36.4  30.5   2.9  154   85.1
%   RF     3      10     27.4   23   
Jesse Burkett    23.1  28.6  28.8  
-3.7  161   99.6%   LF     1       5     21.5   29   
Brian Giles      22.8  28.4  31.4  
-5.0  157   40.2%   LF     2       4     21.8   30   
Charlie Keller   22.2  31.6  28.6  
-0.5  159   89.8%   LF     0       5     27.0   25   
Tim Raines       22.2  32.1  30.9  
-1.7  142   78.2%   LF     1       6     24.5   26   
Frank Howard     22.2  22.9  30.5 
-12.0  166   62.3%   LF     0       1     15.8   32   
Vlad Guerreo     21.9  31.6  29.4  
-1.0  157   95.4%   RF     2       5     23.4   26   
Sam Crawford     21.7  26.5  30.0  
-7.3  158   81.1%   RF     0       8     21.7   31   
Joe Medwick      21.7  31.1  28.9  
-1.5  155  100.0%   LF     2       1     22.6   25   
Tony Gwynn       21.6  29.9  28.6  
-2.2  151   99.4%   RF     5       6     21.5   26   
Pete Rose        21.4  33.0  32.0  
-0.6  143   40.6%   RF     2       8     24.1   32   
Jim Rice         21.3  30.3  27.3  
-1.2  147   70.2%   LF     1       5     20.2   27   
Dave Winfield    21.1  27.2  29.1  
-5.2  153   85.4%   RF     1       5     18.5   26   
Ken Singleton    21.0  24.8  29.6  
-8.0  153   94.7%   RF     0       4     20.8   29   
Minnie Minoso    21.0  30.3  27.6  
-0.6  146   81.7%   LF     1       5     22.0   29   
Goose Goslin     20.8  32.7  29.0   0.5  151   89.0
%   LF     1       7     25.0   26   
Sherry Magee     20.5  28.8  23.8  
-5.4  156   85.2%   LF     0       4     22.1   28   
Bobby Abreau     20.5  29.8  27.7  
-1.3  146   97.4%   RF     0       7     24.5   28   
Bobby Bonds      20.4  30.9  28.3  
-1.0  140   77.2%   RF     1       7     23.2   25   
Sam Thompson     20.4  25.4  25.8  
-3.3  163   99.5%   RF     0       3     18.0   33   
Dwight Evans     19.8  27.3  27.8  
-3.5  147   88.0%   RF     0       4     20.8   32   
Rusty Staub      18.9  26.5  27.0  
-4.7  148   95.3%   RF     0       4     20.8   25   
Jose Canseco     18.7  23.7  24.6  
-4.6  156   55.3%   RF     1       3     15.7   24   
Heinie Manush    17.5  26.4  25.8  
-1.3  141   79.6%   LF     1       3     18.6   27   
Mike Donlin      17.2  23.9  23.5  
-2.5  154   38.7%   LF     0       2     13.5   26   
Lou Brock        16.7  24.4  24.1  
-4.6  122   79.9%   LF     0       3     19.0   27   
Enos Slaughter   16.6  26.8  25.7  
-2.6  139   65.4%   RF     0       3     20.6   31   
Ichiro Suzuki    16.4  33.0  26.2   4.6  124   78.6
%   RF     2       6     24.4   31   
Harry Hooper     12.1  21.8  18.9  
-0.2  124   99.4%   RF     0       2     14.4   31   
Sam Rice         10.1  21.5  19.0  
-0.4  119   60.6%   RF     0       0     18.0   33   
Bob Meusel        9.3  18.0  17.6  
-2.6  127   44.5%   LF     0       0     13.8   27 
   89. BDC Posted: February 14, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4656905)
Thanks for those clarifications, everyone. I guess the WAR-to-WAA ratio mostly gives a rough gauge of a kind of career-shape difference, then, or at least alerts you to look for one.
   90. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4657003)
If Trout has three more seasons like he's had to date, who cares if he has five subsequent seasons where he's average or he has ten subsequent seasons where he's average?

Most of the guys we are discussing are not Mike Trout, and they certainly aren't Trout + 3 more MVP-caliber seasons. If Trout does that he will have a peak that makes career value debates moot. Most of the other guys we have been discussing are excellent players, but they need to rely on career value to get into the HOF. In that case, an additional 5 average seasons has some determinative value.

This is also consistent with how the voters tend to vote, although they express that preference more by looking at things like counting stats and milestones (500 HR, 3000 H, 300 W) than by looking at WAR. Craig Biggio's last 5 seasons enabled him to get to 3,000 hits, but even without reaching those milestones, Dale Murphy would probably be a HOFer if he had added Biggio's last 5 seasons onto his own career. And Biggio wasn't even an average player during those last 5 seasons.
   91. BDC Posted: February 14, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4657042)
I don't know that it's the extra seasons per se, Inge, but the tendency for those extra seasons to confirm how good a player's peak and prime were. Through age 36, Biggio had 61 WAR; Murphy had 47. Biggio's trajectory was higher, and he had further, thus longer, to fall (apart from the fact that Murphy's decline seemed sudden, it also came younger). Five more years after his career gets Murphy to ~500 HR and over 1500 RBI, sure, but it would also necessitate him being a greater player to begin with. Career numbers tend to serve as proxy for prime and vice versa, though as we've seen that's far from inevitable.

If Murphy'd gotten to 61 WAR by age 37, he'd probably have another couple of HR and RBI titles and hence a couple more MVP awards, and he'd be an easy HOFer even without another five mediocre years and their 100 HR tacked on.

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