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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Forgrave: Is it the beginning of the end for Ichiro?

NO! Ichiro has decided to be Againstgrave!

And that storyline is this: Will 2012 mark the continued decline of one of the greatest pure hitters of our time, Ichiro Suzuki, a man whose astounding career has been wasted on a mostly moribund team?

After all, Ichiro will make $17 million in the final year of his contract. He’s 38, and his always-impressive numbers took a dive the last couple seasons, last year bottoming out with a .272 average and a .310 on-base percentage, both career lows. Those are barely acceptable numbers for a power hitter, much less a player like Ichiro, the man who made the single sexy again (and who once told the New York Times, “I think there’s sexiness in infield hits because they require technique”). He finished last year with only 30 extra-base hits, including only five home runs.

...“Ichiro is his own coach,” Mariners hitting coach Chris Chambliss told FOXSports.com. “He doesn’t really confer with me, and why should he? He’s had a great career without me. Ichiro knows what he’s doing. He knows how to play the game. He knows how to hit. A lot of the adjustments he makes are on his own.”

This adjustment, in theory, ought to make him less of a singles hitter and more a middle-lineup guy who drives the ball. And, in theory, it ought to help a Mariners offense that was the majors’ worst in 2011, scoring a league-low 556 runs and hitting a league-low .233.

“He’s swinging the bat great,” Chambliss said. “He’s hitting the ball all over the field with authority. And that’s what we want. His lifetime average is .326 — we want Ichiro to hit .326. Whether he does it from one stance or another stance is not a factor… His stance looks different, and everybody’s making a big deal over it. But he’s been a great hitter for a long time, and he’ll continue to be, because he knows how to get the bat on the ball.

Repoz Posted: March 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM | 104 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mariners, sabermetrics

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   1. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: March 15, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4081765)
How much of a dead cat bounce does Ichiro have in him?
   2. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 15, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4081783)
“Ichiro is his own coach,” Mariners hitting coach Chris Chambliss told FOXSports.com. “He doesn’t really confer with me, and why should he? He’s had a great career without me.

I, too, have had a great career without Chris Chambliss.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: March 15, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4081790)
If Ichiro was a Quinn Martin production, this would be the beginning of the epilog.
   4. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: March 15, 2012 at 07:37 PM (#4081792)
I have had a mediocre career, and Chambliss has not seen fit to try to help me even once.
   5. Tippecanoe Posted: March 15, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4081801)
pure hitters


What year is this? This was always faint praise even last century when it was last used.
   6. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 15, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4081807)
Is it the beginning of the end for Ichiro?


Yes.

Or no.
   7. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: March 15, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4081811)
Has the time finally come for Ichiro to decide to hit 30 home runs?
   8. jingoist Posted: March 15, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4081813)
Yeah; where the h*ll is Chamblis when we need him?

I cant hit for sqaut anymore; I swing like a rusty gate.

Does Chamblis offer to help me get better?

No.

Then again, I'm 67 and overweight; perhaps that may have something to do with my lack of success.
   9. John Northey Posted: March 15, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4081854)
Maybe Ichiro can do a 'Ty Cobb 1925'. Wikipedia mentions how Cobb said he could hit home runs if he wanted to, decided to prove it one day and went 6-6 with 3 home runs and a double, then 2 more home runs the next day before feeling his point was made.

So put Ichiro down for around 175 home runs and records all over :)
   10. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 15, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4081856)
Has the time finally come for Ichiro to decide to hit 30 home runs?

There is a terribly unrealistic and sentimental part of me, that so wants to see this happen.
One Dave Kingman season, and out.
   11. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4081887)
.194/.226/.948. Book it.
   12. Srul Itza Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4081896)
Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Ichi-Rico?

OR

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
   13. Walt Davis Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4081918)
.194/.226/.948. Book it.

Damn, nearly 5 bases per hit ... only Ichiro!!
   14. Morty Causa Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4081919)
   15. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4081927)
.194/.226/.948. Book it.
Damn, nearly 5 bases per hit ... only Ichiro!!
Is there perhaps a loophole in the rules, where it does not actually say that a baserunner has to stop running the bases after reaching home plate safely?

I would be pretty surprised if there was such a loophole, but honestly I wouldn't be totally surprised.
   16. The Well-Tempered Javier Vasquez (loungehead) Posted: March 15, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4081935)
Hopefully it would at least draw a distinction between a home run and a runner being batted in, or else we'd be in infinite loop territory. Yankees/Red Sox games would turn into 14-hour marathons (an increase of nearly 2 hours!), and teams would draft based on long-distance running abilities.
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 15, 2012 at 11:37 PM (#4081941)
and teams would draft based on long-distance running abilities.


As opposed to the way they used to draft. On the basis of track & field.
   18. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4081953)
...a man whose astounding career has been wasted on a mostly moribund team...


Right ... except for the year they won more games than any team in the history of baseball. And the next two years with 93 wins each. And the other 2 years above .500. All that talent wasted on a team that never did anything, except for the years that they did.
   19. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: March 16, 2012 at 02:41 AM (#4081980)
Number 12 wins for the Little Caesar reference.
   20. Ron J Posted: March 16, 2012 at 03:16 AM (#4081983)
#9 That's the claim that gave RSB the "Ty Cobb could have ... if he'd wanted to" meme.

As was pointed out then it's a weird kind of claim in that his batting average is off the charts too. It boils down to I could have had a .750 batting average if I was willing to try to hit home runs.

The other thing worth noting about the 6-6 game. It was a 14-8 score with 31 hits and 17 walks by the two teams. In other words Cobb wasn't the only guy who had a nice day at the plate. (Also of note, Dutch Leonard is credited with the win despite not making through the 5th. Leonard has a game score of 10. 4.1 IP, 10 hits and 8 ER. Ken Holloway walked the only guy he faced and Ed Well is credited with a 4.2 inning save (or retro save I know the save rule didn't exist) . Somehow Joe Bush has a better game score despite giving up 5 hits and 2 walks to the 11 batters he faced. Oh well, it's not really designed to evaluate miserable performances.

And there were a total of 7 HR and 29 hits in the next game. I'm thinking the wind was probably blowing out in this series.
   21. Ron J Posted: March 16, 2012 at 03:26 AM (#4081985)
#15 An old cricket story (details nabbed from Yahoo answers. I had heard the general outline of the story before)

The first ball of an 1893/94 match between Western Australia and Victoria was hit into the branches of a jarrah tree just inside the field of play. The ball was out of reach and so the home side appealed for "lost ball". The umpires however disagreed seeing as the ball wasn't lost because everybody could see exactly where it was.

The batsmen carried on running while the home side tried to find an axe to cut down the tree. They couldn't find an axe but instead brought out a shotgun and tried to blast the ball from the tree.

After several misses, the ball was finally dislodged and fell onto the outfield.
Nobody thought to catch it. Therefore the batsmen claimed the 286 runs they had accumulated. The home side then declared their one-ball innings and went on to win the match.


I just love the details. What, nobody has an axe? Oh good, you brought your shotgun to the game. How else would you get a ball out of a tree?
   22. Greg K Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:16 AM (#4081996)
Not to mention the fact that a tree is in play!

Other fun elements...
I imagine there was some lively banter between the guys running and the fielders not participating in the shooting gallery. If only to alleviate the boredom. Running back in forth in silence a couple hundred times probably gets dull.

Did the batsman actually run for all 286 runs? Did he take breaks every 20 runs? Or just start walking?

I also imagine that the dispute between the umpire and the players was rather prolonged. The introduction of a shotgun to the field of play probably livened things up in that regard.

I wonder if around run 125 the umpire started regretting his decision.
   23. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 16, 2012 at 08:29 AM (#4082012)
This adjustment, in theory, ought to make him less of a singles hitter and more a middle-lineup guy who drives the ball.

Stop hittin' those mamby-pamby singles and drive the ball, son, so the outfielders can run underneath and catch it! Be a real man!
   24. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 08:38 AM (#4082017)
His lifetime average is .326 — we want Ichiro to hit .326.


I'm not sure Chambliss understands the aging curve.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4082049)
It always amazes me how few doubles he has hit.
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4082060)
It always amazes me how few doubles he has hit.


And it's not like he loses doubles to triples due to his speed. He's averaged 26 doubles and 7 triples. Per 691 ABs.
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4082064)
For me, its more striking that the 27 and 6 are per 225 hits.
   28. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4082065)
Ichiro could decline gracefully....if he wanted to.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4082067)
Well, there's also the 9 home runs he averages.

But I'm sure that batting him 3rd will suddenly bring out the power that had been dormant in a hitter whose high in SLG and ISO has been .465 and .133 in an 11-year career.
   30. JE (Jason) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4082069)
The introduction of a shotgun to the field of play probably livened things up in that regard.

Wait, why was the match played in Mexico?
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4082085)
Wait, why was the match played in Mexico?

Hah! In Mexico shotguns are for kids' parties. Gotta bring at least an AK to a ball game.
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4082117)
Imagine a player whose only goal at the plate was to hit home runs; he didn't try to work the count, didn't care about walking or striking out, didn't care about getting any type of hit other than a home run, didn't care about game situation.

Which player is closest to this? I didn't watch Kingman. Is it him? Juan Gonzalez? Gary Gaetti? Carlos Lee? Alfonso Soriano?
   33. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: March 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4082127)
Did the batsman actually run for all 286 runs? Did he take breaks every 20 runs? Or just start walking?

I guess if he walked them, it makes sense because he likely had nothing else to do, but I would think that you'd assume that whenever the ball was dislodged it would have been caught. So the whole time he had to be thinking "this is a waste of time".
   34. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: March 16, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4082128)
"Pure hitter" is a terrible description of Ichiro's style of play, in that a ton of his hits come because he's running like hell even as he's swinging the bat. His hitting is in his legs and his style of play as much as his bat. A "pure hitter" is a guy like Tony Gwynn, who could go up to the plate in a wheelchair and still hit .290.
   35. Adward Posted: March 16, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4082137)
During a baseball camp Chris Chambliss pulled my then 10 yo brother aside and offered him some pitching advice. This event undoubtedly bears ultimate responsibility for his being drafted last year.

Ichiro could win 30 games, if Chris Chambliss wanted him to.
   36. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 16, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4082155)
Imagine a player whose only goal at the plate was to hit home runs; he didn't try to work the count, didn't care about walking or striking out, didn't care about getting any type of hit other than a home run, didn't care about game situation.

Which player is closest to this? I didn't watch Kingman. Is it him? Juan Gonzalez? Gary Gaetti? Carlos Lee? Alfonso Soriano?


My bitter memory says it's Soriano in a breeze. Snark fully intended.
   37. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4082168)
As was pointed out then it's a weird kind of claim in that his batting average is off the charts too. It boils down to I could have had a .750 batting average if I was willing to try to hit home runs.

Babe Ruth said something like this, didn't he? "I could've hit .600 if I shortened up my swing, but I like hitting homers better."
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4082178)
Ichiro could win 30 games, if Chris Chambliss wanted him to.

Oh c'mon! Seattle's not that bad. They'll win at least 50.

Babe Ruth said something like this, didn't he? "I could've hit .600 if I shortened up my swing, but I like hitting homers better."

Maybe, but I'm sure Babe was in full BS mode. Cobb may have been crazy enough to believe it.

Of course, the likelihood is that Cobb just had a great day under favorable conditions, and threw out a snarky, "See, I can hit HRs when I want to" to reporters after the game.
   39. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4082198)
What is the distance that would need to be traveled to amass 268 runs?
   40. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4082213)
As great as we all know Cobb was, I think he may be underrated. He is the premier player of the deadball era, but even so, when Ruth's dominance in hitting was interrupted by that down year in 1925, who had the best OPS+ at the age of 38? Yep.
   41. DL from MN Posted: March 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4082215)
Imagine a player whose only goal at the plate was to hit home runs


I watched the latter half of Canseco's career.
   42. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4082225)
Imagine a player whose only goal at the plate was to hit home runs; he didn't try to work the count, didn't care about walking or striking out, didn't care about getting any type of hit other than a home run, didn't care about game situation.

Which player is closest to this? I didn't watch Kingman. Is it him? Juan Gonzalez? Gary Gaetti? Carlos Lee? Alfonso Soriano?


I would think it's someone like Tony Batista, or Wily Mo Pena.

There are also some non-sluggers that seem to have this approach. I've always felt that Juan Uribe was trying to hit a homerun with every swing, regardless of situation or count.

edit > Jose Canseco walked way too much. He was obviously a homeruns-only hitter, but he wouldn't swing at bad pitches.
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4082232)
As great as we all know Cobb was, I think he may be underrated.

Isn't he a consensus top-5 player of all time? No one has him outside the top-10.

It's hard to call that under-rated.
   44. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4082240)
Of course, the likelihood is that Cobb just had a great day under favorable conditions, and threw out a snarky, "See, I can hit HRs when I want to" to reporters after the game.


From what I understand, there is agreement among several reporters that he said so before the game, and it was written up in the day's paper that way.
   45. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4082264)
Which player is closest to this? I didn't watch Kingman. Is it him? Juan Gonzalez? Gary Gaetti? Carlos Lee? Alfonso Soriano?


I was going to go with Tony Batista, too. It still amazes me that he could hit 32 HR and have an OPS+ of 80. He didn't even strike out that much - he just had a terrible BABIP.
   46. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4082284)
That's the thing about Batista. You could just tell from the path of his swing that he was going for homeruns. Batista's misses were outs. Juan Gonzalez and Alfonso Soriano might also have been swinging for the fences exclusively, but if that's true then they both were good enough that their "misses" could be line drive singles and doubles.

Although Soriano is certainly trending in a Batisterly direction.
   47. AROM Posted: March 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4082288)
Which player is closest to this? I didn't watch Kingman. Is it him? Juan Gonzalez? Gary Gaetti? Carlos Lee? Alfonso Soriano?


I think it's got to be Kingman.

Rob Stratton didn't get to the big leagues but he fits the bill. Check out 2003: 372 AB, .213 average, 32 homers, 36 walks and 175 K. He also had a 200 K season. Listed at 6'4 and 250 he must have been quite a monster.

   48. AROM Posted: March 16, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4082293)
I think the toughest part of that description is the lack of walks. To really succeed in hitting homers you have to be at least a bit selective at the plate, waiting for the pitches that are easy to drive. Doing that is going to result in some walks, and if he hit a lot of homers pitchers will be afraid to groove one for you, leading to more walks.

So while it may not win many baseball games, Soriano deserves some respect for his art.
   49. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 16, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4082296)
Rob Stratton didn't get to the big leagues but he fits the bill. Check out 2003: 372 AB, .213 average, 32 homers, 36 walks and 175 K. He also had a 200 K season. Listed at 6'4 and 250 he must have been quite a monster.


Surprised he never tried his luck in Japan...
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4082374)
As great as we all know Cobb was, I think he may be underrated.


Isn't he a consensus top-5 player of all time? No one has him outside the top-10.

The only 4 who I'd think would generally be considered above Cobb by a plurality or majority of Primates are Ruth, Bonds, Mays and Wagner, but after that you're going to get a lot of dispute about era adjustments, positional adjustments, and whether or not pitchers should be considered eligible for the very top rankings. I think that Morty means more that the average fan today probably wouldn't think of Cobb as an all-time top 10, but if you go by the fan-voted ESPN rankings, the old-time player who's much more seriously underrated is Wagner, who's #9 to Cobb's #5. Obviously there's a lot of subjectivity going on here.
   51. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4082405)
More on public opinion: on that All-Century Team, Cobb got the 11th-most votes among all hitters, 7th among outfielders.

Ruth was 2nd for hitters, 1st for outfielders. Bonds was 39th among hitters, 18th among outfielders. Mays was 5th for hitters, 4th for outfielders. Wagner was 24th among hitters, 4th for shortstops.
   52. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: March 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4082409)
Imagine a player whose only goal at the plate was to hit home runs; he didn't try to work the count, didn't care about walking or striking out, didn't care about getting any type of hit other than a home run, didn't care about game situation.

Which player is closest to this?
I suspect that the literal answer to this question would be a mutli-way tie between a bunch of pitchers--probably a bunch of AL pitchers.
   53. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4082422)
Isn't he a consensus top-5 player of all time? No one has him outside the top-10.

It's hard to call that under-rated.


Yeah, I guess so. Maybe I should have gone into qualifying my assertion more. I didn't mean he wasn't considered top shelf. Of course he is. It's just that we're always talking about Ruth and Williams and Bonds, power and walks, but they're players whose dimensions as offensive forces (considering both the hitter's box and the basepaths) are narrower than Cobb's. This gives me the impression that the degree in term of particularity of his accomplishments in the sabermetric era aren't as appreciated.
   54. Ron J Posted: March 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM (#4082445)
#52 How about Earl Wilson? By the standards of the 60s he had real power. 35 HR in 837 PAs. Produced a .195/.265/.369 (76 OPS+) line. Really didn't do much more than hit home runs.

   55. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 16, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4082494)
I don't think Cobb is terrible or anything, but I'd only put him as about the 5th-best CF all-time, not even top-10 among all players.
Off the top of my head, I'd take Mays, Mantle, Speaker, and Charleston over Cobb. Possibly Griffey Jr. too.

DISCLAIMER: through that ELO Ratings dealie, I've discovered that I'm much more of a timeliner than I ever thought I was.
   56. McCoy Posted: March 16, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4082513)
From what I understand, there is agreement among several reporters that he said so before the game, and it was written up in the day's paper that way.

Little known fact, Casper Weinberger was that game.
   57. Tippecanoe Posted: March 16, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4082546)
Off the top of my head, I'd take Mays, Mantle, Speaker, and Charleston over Cobb. Possibly Griffey Jr. too.


Well, while you're at it, you might as well throw in Richie Ashburn, Andruw Jones and Jacoby Ellsbury.
   58. Walt Davis Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4082594)
No Tony Armas love?

1984: 268/300/531 with 43 HR. Led the league in HR, RBI, Ks and TB.

See also 1980, 1981 (led the league in HR and K) and 1985. 252/287/453 for his career.

   59. Walt Davis Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4082599)
Here ya go ... ISO>.25, OBP<.31, by #Ks (seasons)

Armas 156
Kingman 153
Gonzalez 143
Valentin 139
Kingman 135
Post 124
Batista 121
Jacobs 119
Sexson 117



   60. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM (#4082603)
Off the top of my head, I'd take Mays, Mantle, Speaker, and Charleston over Cobb.


Tris Speaker? Explain.
   61. McCoy Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4082610)
It seems to me that ever since Gay wrote that book Tris his status has soared. The book kind of makes him out to be an Uber-Mays.
   62. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4082613)
Pedro Cerrano.
   63. Morty Causa Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4082615)
I always wonder why so little is made of Speaker. Yeah, okay, he's great--next!. If Cobb had been in the other league, Speaker might have a bigger claim on our imagination (and Honus a lesser one?).
   64. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 16, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4082616)
Somebody with PI access to bbref should run a query like "max hr/bb where hr >= 25", or maybe even "max hr/(h+bb) where hr >= 25".
   65. AROM Posted: March 16, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4082624)
Cobb had 156 offensive WAR, and speaker had 122. Speaker was the better defensive outfielder, but 350 runs better? That's what he'd have to be to surpass Cobb. With the others listed, it just depends on how you compare different eras.
   66. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM (#4082632)
Obviously small sample size, but Shane Spencer 2003: 10 HR, 5 BB, 15 non-HR hits.
   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 16, 2012 at 08:32 PM (#4082642)
George Bell and Bo Jackson also come to mind.
   68. Walt Davis Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:05 PM (#4082653)
Somebody with PI access to bbref should run a query like "max hr/bb where hr >= 25", or maybe even "max hr/(h+bb) where hr >= 25".

Can't really get the max in p-i. HR/(h+bb) turns up tons of good seasons -- Sosa's 3 60 years, McGwire's 58/65/70, etc. BB<HR by #Ks gives Cory Snyder 166 in 87 and Butch Hobson 162 in 77. Soriano 2002 and Galarraga 1996 then you get Armas and Kingman seasons already mentioned. Snyder's not a bad pick for this type but he ended up with many more BB than HR. Nobody with fewer BB than HR for a career (3000+ PA) but Armas (251/260) and Gonzalez (434/457) come close. Lower it to 1000 PA and you turn up a few with fewer BB than HR:

Bill Schroeder, a C, with 61/58
Todd Greene, a C, with 71/67

and, beautifully,

Fernando Valenzuela with 10/8
Livan Hernandea with 10/9

but both those guys had pretty good K rates. :-)
   69. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4082660)
Fernando Valenzuela with 10/8
Livan Hernandea with 10/9
Nice!
   70. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4082663)
Tris Speaker? Explain.
...
Cobb had 156 offensive WAR, and speaker had 122. Speaker was the better defensive outfielder, but 350 runs better? That's what he'd have to be to surpass Cobb. With the others listed, it just depends on how you compare different eras.

Cobb was probably a better overall hitter.
But Speaker was not far behind (168 vs. 157 lifetime OPS+, both in very long careers), and Speaker was the consensus greatest defensive CF before Mays.
It's partly an aesthetic judgment - I like Speaker's overall game better, and if I had to start a team with one or the other I'd grab Speaker.

If I had to start a team with ANY CF it'd be Mays. I can't come up with somebody between 1973 and 2011 who's even in the discussion. Griffey's the closest, I guess.
Which is weird, because I feel like you could argue for a more recent Greatest Ever at nearly every other position: Clemens; Bench; Pujols; Morgan; Schmidt; A-Rod or Ripken; Bonds.
But Mays in CF, and Aaron in RF, really tower over the field, even 40 years later.

EDIT: maybe a better way to put it -
do I want the extremely durable, OK-to-good CF whose average year is top-3 in the league in OPS+,
or do I want the extremely durable guy who plays center like prime Mays or Andruw, even though he's "only" top-5 in OPS+ every year?
   71. mex4173 Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:29 PM (#4082666)
Comparing Cobb/Speaker, not having RoE and RDP data probably hurts Cobb more than Speaker right?
   72. McCoy Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4082667)
Except that Cobb should also have a ton more outs on base as well.
   73. The District Attorney Posted: March 16, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4082670)
if I had to start a team with one or the other I'd grab Speaker.
If you assume that your fictional team has a clubhouse and has to get along with each other, the argument in favor of this position is pretty obvious. Heck, Detroit allegedly was repelled enough by Cobb's psychosis that they almost traded him for Elmer Flick, who, although great, was no Tris Speaker.

It's certainly true that Speaker, playing the same position at the same time in the same league as Cobb, gets overshadowed. I think there are some other reasons for Speaker's underratedness. To the extent that his value was in outstanding defense, that does not translate as well a century later as offense does. And his legacy gets diffused by virtue of splitting his career evenly between two teams. I also lack an image of him that would make him unique in my mind. I couldn't tell you anything about his personality. (I'm sure the lack of stories about him is partially an effect of his being overshadowed, but it's a cause as well, I think.)
   74. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:25 PM (#4082704)
If you assume that your fictional team has a clubhouse and has to get along with each other, the argument in favor of this position is pretty obvious.

Why would my fictional team not have a clubhouse?
In the name of team unity, I'm fine with just the pre-Laz-E-Boy Barry Bonds in LF.
   75. mex4173 Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:33 PM (#4082714)
Except that Cobb should also have a ton more outs on base as well.


So should everyone else. So unless Cobb was only a bit above average or worse on the bases, it shouldn't matter, should it?
   76. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 16, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4082743)
So while it may not win many baseball games, Soriano deserves some respect for his art.

Back when I was trying to find the player with the lowest percentage of strikeouts looking, Soriano was way down at the bottom with Vlad Guerrero at 11% or so. Angel Berroa was at 7% but in terms of his approach at the plate, I don't see any method at all, sir.
   77. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4082803)
The only 4 who I'd think would generally be considered above Cobb by a plurality or majority of Primates are Ruth, Bonds, Mays and Wagner,


I'm not even sure Mays makes that list. On at least one hom vote Cobb outvoted Mays.

Off the top of my head, I'd take Mays, Mantle, Speaker, and Charleston over Cobb. Possibly Griffey Jr. too.


That is insane. I could see Mays, can't see any of the others at all. That is some serious timelining to get Griffey even into the conversation. Mantle loses out due to relative shortness of career and that for a similar number of plate appearances, Cobb was better offensively.
   78. McCoy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4082804)


So should everyone else. So unless Cobb was only a bit above average or worse on the bases, it shouldn't matter, should it?


I'm saying he probably was since it was widely viewed at the time that he was a lot more adventurous on the base path than others. He was often quoted as saying he got thrown out on the basepath to setup something for later.
   79. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:19 AM (#4082805)
do I want the extremely durable, OK-to-good CF whose average year is top-3 in the league in OPS+,

Not sure where top-3 comes from. Cobb led the league in OPS+ nine years in a row from ages 20-28 (with the caveat that at least one of the seasons would not have qualified under modern rules), posting a 189 mark over that span. From 20-35, his average OPS+ drops all the way to 182, which is a figure that leads the league more often than not (it's higher than any AL player has put up in a single season over the last 9 years).

Speaker's best stretch of similar length appears to be ages 22-37, over which he put up a 165 OPS+ - still fantastic, obviously, but also not a small gap even before you account for Cobb stealing over 400 extra bases. You're counting on a big defensive edge here, and Cobb was not bad at defense.
   80. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:25 AM (#4082809)
I'm saying he probably was since it was widely viewed at the time that he was a lot more adventurous on the base path than others. He was often quoted as saying he got thrown out on the basepath to setup something for later.


Without evidence, why would we take his word for it? We don't with modern players when they spout the same nonsense, no reason to take Cobbs word for it either.
   81. McCoy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM (#4082812)
I didn't know we were.
   82. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4082819)
I didn't know we were


Sorry, I misunderstood this part.

He was often quoted as saying he got thrown out on the basepath to setup something for later.


Into thinking that Cobb's word on how he ran the bases was to be used as evidence on his aggressive style of play.

I mean it's not like a ballplayer would Ever claim he did something more aggressive or faster or better or was more intense than someone else.

Considering that generally speaking great players are better than average at most aspects of the game, the default assumption on the greats should always be until evidence comes along to prove differently, we should assume they were better than average. (or at least average)


   83. McCoy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4082823)
Are we running numbers? Someone said it's a shame we don't have ROE and RDP for that era because that would probably help Cobb. I responded with Cobb probably has more outs on base as well. That's it. I'm not sure what the point of telling me we shouldn't take Cobb at his word when absolutely no numbers are being bandied about and absolutely no serious discussion is taking place.
   84. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 17, 2012 at 02:28 AM (#4082859)
Not sure where top-3 comes from.

I looked at the last couple of years in the AL and saw that a 168 would get you about top-3, while a 157 would be more like a top 5.

I could see Mays, can't see any of the others at all. That is some serious timelining to get Griffey even into the conversation. Mantle loses out due to relative shortness of career and that for a similar number of plate appearances, Cobb was better offensively.

Griffey: yes, it is. I was trying to come up with the best CF in the 40 years post-Willie-Mays, and he's my pick.

Mantle: maybe. 2400 games isn't a short career. I see Mantle at a similar level of dominance - averaging an MVP-quality season over about thirteen years - but 45 years later.
Again, it's not a purely statistical argument. I'm just spitballing it - the two players each had great / high / long peaks, but one of them was a half-century later; I'm assuming the later guy was better unless the later league is obviously weaker than the earlier, for some reason.

Also, when he's really done as a hitter I hope Ichiro! takes up the knuckleball and turns into Hoyt Wilhelm for a few years at the end of his career.
   85. Sunday silence Posted: March 17, 2012 at 03:49 AM (#4082884)
Number 12 wins for the Little Caesar reference.


I would have guessed Churchill but OK.
   86. Sunday silence Posted: March 17, 2012 at 03:57 AM (#4082886)
)
What is the distance that would need to be traveled to amass 268 runs?
a little over 36 miles.
   87. Ron J Posted: March 17, 2012 at 05:26 AM (#4082896)
What is the distance that would need to be traveled to amass 268 runs?


Stumps are 22 yards apart, so we're talking 3.35 miles.

Remember, there are two guys running (or walking/jogging, whatever) so the pace is that of the slowest of the two. And I'm betting his partner hated the way thing turned out. He ran over 3 miles and got no credit for it (the runs are all credited to the guy who was batting even though his partner also has to run)
   88. Tippecanoe Posted: March 17, 2012 at 08:00 AM (#4082914)
As much as I admire Griffey Jr., if you are goinng to timeline to the point where he's better than Cobb, we can just stop talking about the old timers completely. Wagner is now inferior to Jeter, Gehrig < Bagwell, Mussina over Alexander; Dimaggio vs. Lofton is too close to call.

Regarding Cobb vs. Speaker, I get the aesthetic judgment of Speaker's complete game. But they played at the exact same time, and Cobb is the man who is still a household name 100 years later. The Georgia Peach must have been farly stunning to watch in his own right.
   89. cardsfanboy Posted: March 17, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4082926)
Mantle: maybe. 2400 games isn't a short career. I see Mantle at a similar level of dominance - averaging an MVP-quality season over about thirteen years - but 45 years later.


It's not a short career, but after similar number of plate appearances, Cobb is wining on the offensive side of the ledger.


Cobb after his age 35 season, 9970 plate appearances .373/.436/.520/.956; 179 ops+, 135.3 war.
Mantle career 9907 plate appearances, .298/.421/.557/.977; 172 ops+, 120.2 war.

Going by the definition of MVP seasons = 5 war, Cobb posts 18 of those to Mantles 12. Cobb posted 6 seasons over 10 war to Mantles 3,(lowering the criteria to 9 war then it closes up a bit 5 to 6 in favor of Cobb) (Mantle has him beat with 2 12 war seasons vs none for Cobb) I'm not seeing it as Cobb still adds 3100 plate appearance of 135 ops+ ball to the equation.

   90. AROM Posted: March 17, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4082941)
"Griffey: yes, it is. I was trying to come up with the best CF in the 40 years post-Willie-Mays, and he's my pick."

He is, and that shows that we haven't had anyone to seriously approach Mantle and Mays in that time. Well, I guess we could theorize about Bonds being left in center. We've had the next Duke Snider though. Edmonds is a dead ringer.
   91. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4082947)
Well, personality plays a part. Cobb was fairly stunning to be around, as everyone from Sam Crawford to his wives, lovers, and children are on record as attesting.

Yes, we can't know who would do what when with any sort of definitive quantifiable certitude, but we can know with same how a player stacked up relative to his playing context--the players and the game of his time--and then look at how that stands up to how other players stack up in their context. You can talk all you want about ability and what X would have done if he played in Y's time, but you can't get around that Ruth had a OPS+ of 2.07 and Hank Aaron had one of 1.55. That tells you something close to irrefutable.
   92. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4083017)
Yes, we can't know who would do what when with any sort of definitive quantifiable certitude, but we can know with same how a player stacked up relative to his playing context--the players and the game of his time--and then look at how that stands up to how other players stack up in their context. You can talk all you want about ability and what X would have done if he played in Y's time, but you can't get around that Ruth had a OPS+ of 2.07 and Hank Aaron had one of 1.55. That tells you something close to irrefutable.

But what exactly does it tell you that we don't already know? Does it tells you that Ruth was that much better than his contemporaries than Aaron, or does it tell you that the talent level in Aaron's era was so much greater that the OPS+ numbers can't account for it? That's why none of these "all time greatest" discussions can ever be reduced to pure statistics. The talent pool factor has to be taken into consideration, unless all you want to do is to list the OPS+, ERA+ or WAR leaders in numerical order and say that that settles the question.

I mean for crissakes, how can anyone possibly say that Ruth's OPS+ number is definitive of anything regarding relative greatness, when he didn't even have to compete against many of the best ballplayers of his day? I don't have any doubt that Ruth would have excelled in an integrated league like Aaron's, or even in a league like today's, with talent imported from all over the world, but I seriously doubt if he would've put up that fancy lifetime OPS+ number, even with a handy supply of goat testicles. (smile)

   93. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4083036)
You don't seem to understand what "relative" means.

My argument still stands. You just want to go beyond it. Fine. But there still is a thing called how good you are compared to who you played with--and that's how games are won, and players should be judged by how they help their teams win.

It tells you what I told you it tells you. And, yes, you're also right--after that, then comes the deluge. But you can't deny that we know something very very real when we know what I set forth.

Yes, it can be reduced to metrics--but it also can be reduce to non-metrics, too, if you like. Just know what's what. There's no need to deny either. There is a need not to needlessly conflate and confuse the two, however.

Right now, at this time, players aren't competing against what probably could have been the best ballplayers of the day. Right now there are people who could have written great novels but decided to run whore houses instead. That all has nothing to do with what is relative to context. In fact, there's ultimately this:

We Are Lucky: We are going to die

Still, that there are poets greater than Keats or scientists greater than Newton doesn't negate that Keats and Newton have lived and accomplished what they did, and had value within there context--even if someone in the Negro Leagues of Africa at the exact same time as they might have done as well or better given the chance to be in the big leagues of western civilization
   94. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4083109)
Cobb after his age 35 season, 9970 plate appearances .373/.436/.520/.956; 179 ops+, 135.3 war.
Mantle career 9907 plate appearances, .298/.421/.557/.977; 172 ops+, 120.2 war.

Going by the definition of MVP seasons = 5 war, Cobb posts 18 of those to Mantles 12. Cobb posted 6 seasons over 10 war to Mantles 3,(lowering the criteria to 9 war then it closes up a bit 5 to 6 in favor of Cobb) (Mantle has him beat with 2 12 war seasons vs none for Cobb) I'm not seeing it as Cobb still adds 3100 plate appearance of 135 ops+ ball to the equation.

This seems to be both arguing for Cobb's case both by cutting off his decline phase, and then giving him extra credit for his decline phase, but not accounting for changes in the game at all.

You can also do stuff like this:
Mantle comes out ahead in leagues featuring night games: nearly 2000 total bases in night games alone, compared to zero for Cobb.
Although he was on the decline by then, Mantle put up more than 40 WAR in leagues requiring travel to the West Coast. Cobb never did that.
And obviously, Mantle has a huge advantage in integrated-league play: 120.2 WAR to Cobb's 0.
Cobb probably would've handled the first two just fine. The last one, maybe not.

Anyway, likewise with Ruth vs. Aaron, Williams vs. Bonds, or Wagner vs. ARod. I'm not confident the stats will ever tell us all we'd need to know to be sure - or as sure as some folks are, anyway - when we're choosing among the very best players ever. It's not that the old-timers would be any worse, but all of the players around them, the scrubs and even the average and pretty-good players, who are much better now than ever before. It's harder to dominate a league now, much harder, which also makes me more sure of a dominant modern player's quality. That's why I think Bonds was a greater player than Ruth, even though Ruth had 20 more career WAR (and a better arm); that's why I'd take Roger Clemens over Cy Young or Walter Johnson, and Pujols over Gehrig.
If I had to bet my life on one game, and could only pick MLB players from either 1901-1941, or 1971-2011, I'd pick from the more recent bunch without hesitation.
   95. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4083150)
If a saber-tooth tiger were placed in a situation where his only competitors were rabbits, I have no doubt he'd do well. But what if by changing his time and place, he weren't a saber-tooth tiger anymore; he was a rabbit. That's the problem with putting Bonds in Ruth's time (or Ruth in Bond's time). They would not be the same organism. Yet, I don't see that people understand that when they start all this if-Bonds-played-n Ruth's-time-or-Ruth-played-in-Bond's-time games. They certainly don't explicitly acknowledge it. Bonds would not have had all the advantages of the evolution in training and development of talent that accrued since 1935 if he played in the '20's and '30's, and Ruth would have those advantages if he played in the '90's and 2000's. Yet, I never get the idea that people who play these time change games are aware of that. They certainly don't acknowledging it or try to factor it. So, what's the point? Other than to stroke your pet era. It's merely one more form of engaging in historical presentism. The present is always better than the past until it becomes the past. USA! USA! Ho hum.

   96. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 17, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4083163)
I thought I did explicitly acknowledge it. Ah, well.

The present is always better than the past until it becomes the past.

Maybe? Kind of? You have to hang onto time's arrow until it doesn't reach the target.
As long as I don't turn into one of those BITGOD guys, it's OK with me.

EDIT (from 97): OK. Not taking anything personally.
   97. Morty Causa Posted: March 17, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4083170)
Sorry. I wasn't talking only about what you wrote. Your post was just my springboard--I thought that was clear. Maybe I should have acknowledged that.
   98.     Hey Gurl Posted: March 17, 2012 at 04:13 PM (#4083195)
Somebody with PI access to bbref should run a query like "max hr/bb where hr >= 25", or maybe even "max hr/(h+bb) where hr >= 25"


Here you go
   99.     Hey Gurl Posted: March 17, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4083261)
   100. AROM Posted: March 17, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4083264)
"As long as I don't turn into one of those BITGOD guys, it's OK with me."

Back in my day, we actually looked forward to turning into that kind of guy. That's the way it was and we liked it. We loved it.
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