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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Holmes: Top 20 Yankees of all-time according to WAR

Ross Moschitto…you’ve been screwed again!

20. Don Mattingly, 39.8

Not surprised that Mattingly rates in the top 20, even considering his short career, but I am a bit surprised about some of the players that are ahead of him, like Combs, who is generally accepted as one of the weaker center fielders in the Hall of Fame. But, that’s one of the features (or failings, depending on your POV) of WAR – it gives bonus points to players who man important defensive positions. Mattingly was a first baseman and DH for pretty much his entire career. In looking back at Donnie Baseball’s career I am a bit surprised that he only had four seasons in which he was a great ballplayer. The rest of his career was borderline All-Star quality, especially for a first baseman. I watched him play, and I remember thinking that he was very good for a few years, but that he was never scary good like George Brett or Mike Schmidt or even Jim Rice.

17. Roy White, 43.0

It’s fashionable to call White “underrated” – and in fact I can email you 3-4 articles from The Sporting News from the 1970s that mention White and use the word “underrated” a lot. When I did my player rankings he kept coming up ahead of Jim Rice, no matter how I tweaked the formula.* When I emphasized park effects, White would be ahead of Rice. When I de-emphasized career and emphasized peak performance, Rice nudged real close or even surpassed Roy, but White wasn’t far behind at all. It doesn’t seem like Roy White could possibly have had a more valuable career than Jim Rice (44.3 WAR), but it’s quite possible he did when you factor that Jim Ed was a DH for a long time. By the way, White was almost an exact match for Lou Whitaker as an offensive player.

5. Derek Jeter, 69.3

Jeter contributes 4.3 WAR per 162g and he’s still humming along. However, and this is a part of WAR I wonder about – he gets “credit” for being a shortstop even if he’s obviously one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball. Yes, dWAR “subtracts” WAR from him for his lack of range, but there’s still a positional adjustment. Someone who lives and breathes WAR is invited to explain to me how that makes sense. Seeing as how Jeter is now getting only about 2 WAR per season, if the Yankees move him to another position (say left field), he would be basically a marginal major league player, at least according to this stat. If he somehow keeps getting that 2 WAR per, he could skip past Joltin’ Joe, but he has no chance of getting any higher on this list.

*Used my Super-Umbrakinesis Power to darken.

 

 

Repoz Posted: October 10, 2012 at 02:45 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Tricky Dick Posted: October 10, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4262067)
Seeing as how Jeter is now getting only about 2 WAR per season, if the Yankees move him to another position (say left field), he would be basically a marginal major league player, at least according to this stat.


Presumably Jeter will be a better fielder, relative to his position, in LF than shortstop. If his LF defense is average, his WAR will improve, it seems to me (just looking at fWAR).
   2. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 10, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4262080)
McGunnigle: Bottom 20 Yankees of all-time according to WAR

Enrique Wilson     -3.0
  Andy Hawkins     
-2.9
  Jeff Johnson     
-2.7
 Bill Robinson     
-2.6
      Eli Grba     
-2.6
     Duke Maas     
-2.6
   Tony Womack     
-2.5
  Johnny Sturm     
-2.3
  Ken Holtzman     
-2.2
   Ed Whitson      
-2.1
  Ruben Sierra     
-2.1
 Alex Ferguson     
-2.0
Pee
-Wee Wanninger  -2.0
   Mike Kekich     
-2.0
    Lou McEvoy     
-1.9
      Ken Clay     
-1.8
  Curt Blefary     
-1.8
  Hack Simmons     
-1.7
Hensley Meulens    
-1.7
 Steve Balboni     
-1.7 
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: October 10, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4262093)
Berra’s career WAR is higher than that of Dickey, his predecessor, by about 4 wins. But Dickey had a better WAR per 162g of 5.3 to 4.9. It’s really a toss up, in my opinion, as to who was the best catcher in Yankee history.


If this doesn't make people question war, then nothing would.

I see Berra and Bench as the toss up for greatest catcher of all time, I barely see Dickey making the top 10 lists.
   4. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: October 10, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4262103)
Ruth has to give back .2 WAR for his pitching as a Yankee, which makes him barely worth what he was paid.
   5. DL from MN Posted: October 10, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4262120)
Berra had an extra 1300 plate appearances on Dickey but that's mostly due to WWII taking them away from Dickey.
   6. DCA Posted: October 10, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4262224)
Berra and Dickey both have about 1700 games at C. I think both were equally well regarded defensively, but I may be wrong. Dickey leads in career OPS+ 127 to 125, and his appears more weighted to OBP. Berra's extra PA are as an OF (actually, he hit a bit better as an OF than a C, so the difference between them as catchers is even more in Dickey's favor).

Basically, the difference between the two is about two seasons of an average corner OF. Without even looking at WAR. WAR seems to back that up.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: October 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4262229)
Dickey: 313/382/486, 127 OPS+
Berra: 285/348/482, 125 OPS+

The AL 30's context is always a hard one to adjust for but a 34 point advantage in OBP is tough to overcome. Dickey is credited with 262 Rbat vs 228 for Berra despite Berra's PA advantage. Berra makes a good bunch of that back with baserunning, etc. actually (12 on the bases, +10 on DP). But I don't find it hard to imagine that Dickey was a better offensive player, especially on rate stats (and the author looked at WAR/162).

Dickey had 1628 starts at C and never played elsewhere. Berra had 1641 starts at C and added 245 starts in the OF -- which is the other way of looking at his 1300 PA advantage. In the end WAR gives them equal Rpos which, if anything, would be WAR slightly favoring Berra not Dickey. Yogi did catch right up until the end but he didn't catch 100 games in a season after 34. From age 35 on, Yogi had 1276 PA (there's that PA advantage again) as a part-time C/LF with a 112 OPS+ and 5.2 WAR (1.7 WAA).

Speaking of WAA, bWAR puts it at 33.8 for Berra vs 31.5 for Dickey so Berra ahead there. In WAR he's ahead by about 4.

All of which basically boils down to -- they were about equal as Cs but Berra's time in LF pushes him ahead.

I've never understood the Bench-Berra toss-up myself. I never saw Berra play but I can't imagine he challenged Bench defensively. Obviously I have even less of an idea what Dickey's defense was like.

I'm not sure what the big "OMG, WAR is stupid" moment is supposed to be here. Dickey's peak is pretty hard to beat ... but bWAR puts Berra slightly ahead. Berra had the longer career but the extra bit was pretty much all in LF. Neither one is particularly close to Bench nor should they be. Where you rank them relative to Carter, Fisk, Rodriguez and Piazza is pretty much all about how you feel about peak vs. career.

Such things as WAR credit for Dickey or the fact that he played at a time when Cs didn't last any longer than he did might be taken into consideration. Near as I can tell, Dickey was 4th in career games at C through 1950 behind Lopez, Hartnett and Ferrell. However both Lopez and Ferrell played through the war when Dickey didn't. Through 1950, it's close between Dickey, Hartnett and Cochrane as the greatest C to that point. After that, other than Bench, it's pretty much down to how you timeline and your peak/career preferences. And measure C defense of course but only HW can apply the eyeball test to Dickey. :-)

   8. Chokeland Bill Posted: October 10, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4262242)
I'll give extra credit to Bill Dickey for having a better acting career than Yogi.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4262247)
I've never understood the Bench-Berra toss-up myself. I never saw Berra play but I can't imagine he challenged Bench defensively.

Since baserunning wasn't much of a factor in the AL of Berra's era, and his arm wasn't on the same planet as Bench's, his defensive reputation stems almost exclusively from his handling of pitchers. The best testimony to that skill I've seen is in the book Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat, and it was testimony of the highest order. During the 50's Berra's defensive rep was exceeded only by Campy's and Jim Hegan's, with Del Crandall sometimes rating a mention. Whether or not dWAR backs that up, I have no idea.

(Of course in Hegan's case his offense was so poor, he needed to be a defensive stalwart just to remain in the Majors.)
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 10, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4262337)
McGunnigle: Bottom 20 Yankees of all-time according to WAR

Enrique Wilson -3.0


No way! There are 13 Phillies with more than 3 negative WAR according to BB-ref. Including Rico Brogna, Kimothy Emil Batiste, Putsy Caballero, and long-suffering pitching aces Tully Sparks and Jimmy Ring, who I believe are both on the list because of their horrible hitting in an era when many pitchers actually could hit.
   11. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 10, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4262339)
McGunnigle: Bottom 20 Yankees of all-time according to WAR

Enrique Wilson     -3.0


Finally the Mets beat the Yankees in something, Doug Flynn's -4.9 career WAR as a Met
   12. BDC Posted: October 10, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4262355)
Since baserunning wasn't much of a factor in the AL of Berra's era, and his arm wasn't on the same planet as Bench's, his defensive reputation stems almost exclusively from his handling of pitchers.

Well, there is that catty comment in Ball Four about how Berra used to call fastballs all the time so that his arm wouldn't be shown up. But even that is a second-hand comment.

I'd always imagined Berra's argument over Dickey to be a career vs. peak argument, but as DCA points out, Dickey actually caught more career games than Berra. Bill James once noted that Dickey's name did not come up early in a conversation he once had with an old-timer about great catching arms (Rollie Hemsley and Luke Sewell were the gold standard). One data point about a factor not much more important in Dickey's era than Berra's, but not nothing.

   13. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 10, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4262361)
No way! There are 13 Phillies with more than 3 negative WAR according to BB-ref. Including Rico Brogna, Kimothy Emil Batiste, Putsy Caballero, and long-suffering pitching aces Tully Sparks and Jimmy Ring, who I believe are both on the list because of their horrible hitting in an era when many pitchers actually could hit.


BBRef only includes the offensive (and fielding?) WAR for pitchers when you search by batters, so by this measure the lowest WAR Yankee was Lefty Gomez. I guess WAR is saying that Gomez and Jimmy Ring would be #### DHs when compared to a slugger like, say, Dave Burba.

Also, Ted Kazanski, 1300 PAs at a 51 OPS+!
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: October 10, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4262375)
I've never understood the Bench-Berra toss-up myself. I never saw Berra play but I can't imagine he challenged Bench defensively. Obviously I have even less of an idea what Dickey's defense was like.


Looking at the numbers I never understood it, but I always assumed that Berra gets a bunch of credit that doesn't show up in the numbers. He had 130 games started(in 154 game season) 6 times in his career, including over 140 3 times, Bench did it 4 and 0. Dickey did it 1 and 0. As mentioned, Berra had the reputation of being a great handler of pitchers etc. (so did Bench I thought)


In the new BJHBA he claims Dickey was a platoon player for much of his career, seems weird as his splits are pretty much the same, and he has 20% of his plate appearances against left handed pitching(when I was looking up league average for Whitaker in another discussion, in his era it was about 21% for the league average so I don't think it's too much to assume that might be the case when Dickey played)

Bill James original win shares had Berra with 375 win shares vs Dickey 314..which can be explained almost 100% by the plate appearance differences.
   15. Hit by Pitch Posted: October 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4262443)
Put three Ron Guidry’s in your starting rotation for 14 years and you get what Babe Ruth meant to the Yankees, roughly.


As amazing as that is, it is still an understatement. Ruth's 138 WAR is concentrated in one line up spot which would give the team the opportunity to fill those other 2 positions with above replacement players.
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 10, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4262456)
Well, there is that catty comment in Ball Four about how Berra used to call fastballs all the time so that his arm wouldn't be shown up. But even that is a second-hand comment.

FTR, Berra threw out base stealers at a 49% rate for his career. Even given the leadfooted qualities of AL players in his era, that's still not a bad ratio. And as late as 1958, he threw them out at a better than 50% rate. By comparison, Campy's throw-out rate was 57%, Hegan's was 50%, and Crandall's was 46%.
   17. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 10, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4262481)
In the new BJHBA he claims Dickey was a platoon player for much of his career


In 1929 and 1930 Dickey was primarily a platoon player. In 1929, Dickey started 8 of the 47 games where the Yankees faced a LHP, 98 of the 107 where they faced a RHP. In 1930, the numbers were 4/42 and 87/112. By 1931, the number were 31/45 against LHP, 90/110 against RHP, and through 1939 Dickey was clearly not being platooned - although when he did sit, it was more often against LHP than RHP. By 1940, with Dickey on the downside of his career, he started sitting more frequently against LHP again; in that year he started just 23 of 66 games against LHP, 73 of 89 vs RHP. After 1940 he rarely started against LHP (fewer than 10 times a year) while still getting most of the starts against RHP.

-- MWE
   18. Mefisto Posted: October 10, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4262582)
It makes a lot of sense to platoon catchers. They can't play all the games anyway; might as well have them sit out when there's a platoon disadvantage.
   19. bjhanke Posted: October 10, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4262938)
The biggest problem in evaluating Dickey is what ballpark adjustments to make. Yankee Stadium, at the time, was large in general, but short right down the RF line. Dickey learned to float homers right down the line, at which point he stopped being a platoon player. (This is all in the New Historical Abstract). So, ballpark adjustments can vary wildly for Bill. I am old enough to have seen Berra play (I started watching baseball on TV in 1956), and what struck me about his play was how agile he was for a catcher. I mean, you've got a guy who, when his knees started to prevent him from catching, went into the outfield. That's not a normal progression for a catcher, especially an old one. For a catcher, Berra had speed. I can't comment on his arm because, as several have noted, he played at a time when few people stole bases. In fact, the number of actual SBs is so low that it is heavily influenced by hit-and-run attempts where the batter swung and missed. In favor of Dickey is that Berra took very few walks. He didn't strike out, either. Basically, he was like an Alou brother with power. He'd swing at anything, but he could hit it all, and he could hit it out of a tough homer park which he was not exploiting like Dickey was. Personally, the big surprise to me in the New Historical Abstract was that Bill had Dickey higher than Gabby Hartnett. That appears to be a timing adjustment. There was more offense in the 1920s than the 1030s, and Gabby was older than Bill. Berra's 1950s, of course, are a MUCH lower offensive context than either the 1020s or the 1930s. But my guess is that, if you're questioning a ranking of Bill Dickey, you will eventually find out that you are questioning the ballpark adjustment being used. - Brock Hanke
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM (#4262968)
Ibanez not on the list?
   21. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 11, 2012 at 01:35 AM (#4263182)
I'm told Derek Jeter has played in 155 post-season games. I want to add another 4 WAR or something just for that.
   22. bjhanke Posted: October 11, 2012 at 05:58 AM (#4263205)
I had a few minutes, and wasn't satisfied with what I wrote is #19, so I went to Bill James' Win Shares book, which is a really good way of finding out why one player gets ranked higher than another. WS has a list, for each decade, of the highest Win Shares accumulated in the decade, broken down by year, and also has WS for anyone who played at all in the decade and ended up with 250 shares in all decades combines. Dickey, it turns out, grades as the 12th best player of the 1930s, which is his core decade. He has one year of over 30 WS, which is a MVP candidate year, but no other years in that range. He is also only two ordinal spots higher than Gabby Hartnett, who is a 20s/30s catcher more than a 30s guy, and isn't a lot higher than Mickey Cochrane, who also played some of his best years in the 1920s.

Berra is better, according to this analysis. He ranks as the 4th best player in the 1950s, behind only Mantle, Musial and Snider. The next highest catcher, Sherm Lollar, isn't very close. Also, Berra has about 5 years of right around 30 WS, so his peak and prime are a lot higher than Dickey's. For what it's worth, WS does think that Dickey's value was more in defense (30%) than Berra's was (28%), but the difference, as you can see, isn't much. But the difference in peak and primes is a lot. Berra has, essentially, five of the 6 best seasons between the two players. That's why he ranks higher. Also telling is that Yogi piled up those big seasons in the early 1950s. So it's a compact prime and peak. So, at least according to Win Shares, there is really no comparison. Yogi has a higher peak, a higher prime, and a higher standing within his core decade. And he dominates the position much more strongly than Dickey did, although it's not really Bill Dickey's fault that Gabby Hartnett and Mickey Cochrane were in the league in his decade, whereas Yogi only had to content with Sherm Lollar and, way lower, Smokey Burgess and Del Crandall. - Brock
   23. bjhanke Posted: October 11, 2012 at 06:02 AM (#4263206)
Damn. I forgot one. Yogi also had to compete with Campanella, but Campy's career is so scattered and then truncated that he's not really a good standard of comparison until you factor in his Negro League years. - Brock

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