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Monday, July 30, 2012

Fangraphs: Q&A: Reggie Smith, Borderline Hall of Famer

On stats: “From a pure statistical standpoint, I’m still a baseball purist in the old sense. The game is played on the field by individuals, and computers and statistics cannot tell you what’s inside of a person. Until they can put that into a computer and quantify it, only then will I change my opinion. Baseball is played by people.

“I always judged my season by how close I got to 200. I wanted to drive in 100 runs and I wanted to score 100. If I got close to those numbers, that’s how I judged if I had a good year or not. Things like slugging percentage didn’t mean anything to me. It was what I contributed to us winning ballgames, whether it was my presence in the lineup or having the opposing manager having to manage around me. He would pitch around me, which gave me an opportunity to get on base. My on-base percentage only mattered if I was able to score. That’s my feeling about on-base and slugging percentage, because if you’re not scoring, what good is it?

“If you’re talking about from an individual standpoint, the significance of all this is — especially now — players use these statistics for salary reasons. For arbitration, on-base percentages and all these numbers mean something. To me, it didn’t mean anything other than I was doing my job and finding a way to help my team win.”

Thanks to Ed G..

Repoz Posted: July 30, 2012 at 08:39 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 30, 2012 at 08:48 AM (#4195639)
this is a great interview.
   2. Bob Tufts Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4195651)
Per bbref, Smith played at Centennial High in Compton along with Don Wilson and Roy White. Never knew that!

   3. Walt Davis Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4195653)
Gotta agree with HW. Seems like he would have made a great broadcaster or manager too.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:21 AM (#4195658)
When I played Baseball Mogul, I had Reggie Smith. Only player I had ever seen who went into the HOF without making a single All-Star game.
   5. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4195682)
I never knew he was traded by the Cardinals because of a contract dispute. I assumed it was because the Cardinals were just dumb. In any case, he's in the HOM, and probably should be in the HOF as well. An excellent interview.
   6. Juan V Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4195687)
IIRC, he was the last elected player in the last HOM election before we caught up to real time. The very definition of borderline.
   7. djordan Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4195690)
No doubt, this was a GREAT interview.
   8. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4195698)
I was frankly shocked at what a good HOF candidate Smith is: at 60.2 WAR, he's right on my borderline. Toss in a ring, four pennant winners, seven ASGs, a Gold Glove, an MVP, and all the crap he had to put up with being a black man in Boston, and he gets my vote.
   9. Jon W Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4195709)
He was my subject in the Hall of Nearly Great
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4195711)
rmc

smith won an mvp? was that in japan?
   11. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4195793)
Oops. I meant to say "MVP votes", which he received seven times, including Top 5 twice. Fixed.
   12. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4195861)
all the crap he had to put up with being a black man in Boston
Even worse, he was forced for years to play alongside Rick Monday.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: July 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4196298)
"Hey, Monday," or "I don't like Monday," they constantly yelled from the Dodger Stadium stands - that had to be infuriating for Reggie.

#notreally


   14. Walt Davis Posted: July 30, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4196334)
Well, since he was brought up, the one silliness in the article is the claim that, if healthy, Monday would have hit 30 HR in 1977. Monday only hit 30+ once in his career (last year in Wrigley) and he did have 456 PA in 1977 with just 15 HR. Possibly he played hurt some but 15 HR in 456 PA is spot on his career HR rate.

Here endeth my nitpicking.
   15. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 30, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4196355)
Well, since he was brought up, the one silliness in the article is the claim that, if healthy, Monday would have hit 30 HR in 1977. Monday only hit 30+ once in his career (last year in Wrigley) and he did have 456 PA in 1977 with just 15 HR. Possibly he played hurt some but 15 HR in 456 PA is spot on his career HR rate.


1977 was the best offensive context of Mondays' career, he played in terrible hitters park except fro hsi eyars in Wrigley, and his years in Wrigley were low offense years league wide.

offensively 1977 was far and away Mondays' worst year as a regular/quasi regular
It's quite possible that he was not healthy and that a healthy Rick Monday, in 1977, should have been expected to hit 25-30 homer in approx 600 PAs
   16. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4196365)
It's quite possible that he was not healthy and that a healthy Rick Monday, in 1977, should have been expected to hit 25-30 homer in approx 600 PAs
Five 30-HR hitters on a team would have been quite cool. 12 teams have had four 30-HR hitters (although until 1995, the 1977 Dodgers were the only one -- that's sure weird, huh?) No team has managed five.
   17. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: July 30, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4196379)
I always judged my season by how close I got to 200. I wanted to drive in 100 runs and I wanted to score 100. If I got close to those numbers, that’s how I judged if I had a good year or not. Things like slugging percentage didn’t mean anything to me.


That is exactly how a baseball player should be thinking. It's not statistically pure, but I think you need concrete goals, which counting stats are great for. It's got to be hard to stay focused on something like "get my slugging percentage up another 50 points." Concentrate on the raw numbers and let the fancy stats work themselves out.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4196503)
Five 30-HR hitters on a team would have been quite cool. 12 teams have had four 30-HR hitters (although until 1995, the 1977 Dodgers were the only one -- that's sure weird, huh?) No team has managed five.


It was a point that was brought up a lot in the years immediately afterwards. One of my best friends growing up was a Dodger fan(second team) because of that '77 team. To my 7 year old mind that was the best offensive team of all time,(along with Joe Rudi's A's....don't know why, but that is what I thought---and yes it was Joe Rudi's A's to me--and that was probably the '73 team or such) somehow it took another few years until I was about 10 that I gave the Big Red Machine Reds any credit.
   19. Sunday silence Posted: July 30, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4196516)
I think you need concrete goals, which counting stats are great for. It's got to be hard to stay focused on something like "get my slugging percentage up another 50 points." Concentrate on the raw numbers and let the fancy stats work themselves out.



wouldn't just "hit this next pitch hard" do as well?
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4196546)
wouldn't just "hit this next pitch hard" do as well?


Not really. Imagine you are in sales and you know that you have to give a good sales pitch, but you are still going to get shot down 70% of the time, there is a reason that sales has quotas and percentages instead of just saying "try your hardest". Same thing here, he can try his hardest, but the numbers(rbi, runs scored, batting average, slugging etc) are the numbers that tells him he is doing his job.
   21. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: July 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4196596)
wouldn't just "hit this next pitch hard" do as well?


Well, I think it helps to have some metrics for knowing if you've done well. I just think they're more useful for the player if they're directly related to things that happened on the field. When the game's over, you know if you've scored any runs. It doesn't seem as motivational if you have to wait for your OPS+ to be calculated, you know?

I guess what I'm saying is that I think it makes sense for there to be a difference between "metrics the baseball player looks at and tries to achieve every day" and "metrics that most accurately measure success."
   22. AROM Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4196617)
Five 30-HR hitters on a team would have been quite cool. 12 teams have had four 30-HR hitters (although until 1995, the 1977 Dodgers were the only one -- that's sure weird, huh?) No team has managed five.


I'm a bit surprised nobody has done it since then, especially in what people call the steroids era. Even in this new pitcher's era, we have shortstops who are not considered major stars playing on last place teams hitting 30 (JJ Hardy last year).
   23. AROM Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4196624)
I wonder what team came the closest to 5 30 homer guys. 2000 Angels had 4, all with at least 34 homers, and Darin Erstad hit 25.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4196641)
I wonder what team came the closest to 5 30 homer guys. 2000 Angels had 4, all with at least 34 homers, and Darin Erstad hit 25.


Cardinals will this year, if everyone gets hot. :) J/k (they might have 5 hit 20 though which is not a big deal)

Rangers last year had Kinsler(32), Beltre(32), Napoli(30), Cruz(29) and Hamilton(25) Healthy seasons out of Cruz and Hamilton and they might have made it. Yankees 2009 had 7 players with more than 20 homeruns, but only two broke the elusive 30.
   25. The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4196646)
I'm a bit surprised nobody has done it since then, especially in what people call the steroids era.
I think you read this backwards. 11 of the 12 teams that have done it were from 1995 or later :)

Among "5th wheels", Erstad '00 is edged out by Dante Bichette '97, who hit 26. (Walker 49, Galarraga/Castilla 40, Burks 32. This was, BTW, one of four Rockies teams in five years to accomplish the feat.)

   26. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: July 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4196648)
Looks like a dozen clubs had four 30-homer guys. I thought the '97 Mariners might be one, as they hit a record 264 on the season (is that still the peak?), but no. Three guys over 30 (Griffey, Buhner, and Paul Sorrento) plus Edgar with 28.

Three teams have three 40-homer guys, and four have seven 20+ home run hitters.
   27. DanG Posted: July 31, 2012 at 02:38 AM (#4196726)
I wonder what team came the closest to 5 30 homer guys
Only one team had 5 guys with 28 HR: Cincinnati in 1956.

Rookie LF Frank Robinson with 38, RF Wally Post 36, 1B Ted Kluszewski 35, CF Gus Bell 29, C Ed Bailey 28.

Only one team had 6 guys with 25 HR: Boston in 2003. Also the only team to have 8 guys with 85 RBI.

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