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Thursday, April 10, 2014

If Hank Aaron Had Never Hit a Home Run, Would He Be a Hall of Famer? | FiveThirtyEight

This just in…Hank Aaron was no Dave Kingman.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, hank aaron, sabermetrics

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   1. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4683811)
And if my Uncle Steve had never been arrested on that morals charge, would he have … oh never mind.
   2. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4683825)
No, all seriousness aside, this is a curiosity with numbers, but bears no remote relation to reality. You can't get 3,771 hits without hitting a home run. Even in deadball times, nobody ever got even a thousand hits without a HR: you either eventually hit some inside the park, or a fly ball goes over the fence. If Hank Aaron had gotten 3,771 without a home run, I would put him in the Hall of Fame for violating the laws of physics.

Ben Revere currently has 383 hits without a HR, which is uncanny. That's approaching the limit of belief for a lively-ball player, and obviously one assumes he'll break the string someday.
   3. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4683835)
I agree BDC, but it's still an interesting thought experiment. I think that's what separates the great players from the historically great players: if you disregard a player's most prominent accomplishment, would he still be a great player.

For example, would Rickey Henderson be a HOFer had he never stolen a base? Probably.

Would Jack Morris have been a HOF candidate for 15 years without the 10 inning postseason shutout? Probably not.
   4. Greg K Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4683836)
For fun I converted Aaron's home runs into singles, doubles and triples in the same proportion that his non-home run hits fell into.

Ended up with a line of .305/.374/.387. The most comparable player I've heard of was Heinie Groh, not a Hall of Famer but quite a good player. Though I think Groh had more defensive value.
   5. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4683840)
If he still had 3700 hits I'd have to think he would still be a HOFer.
   6. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4683848)
Among the 500+ HR guys, Babe Ruth has the lowest % of his value from home runs.
I would not have expected that.
   7. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4683849)
Basically, without the power, Hank Aaron was Tony Gwynn. But he had the power too.
   8. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4683865)
If all of his homers had been singles, Aaron would still have his 3,771 hits. Instead of being the second-best home-run hitter of all time, he’d be the third-best singles hitter of all time, after Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

And instead of being accused of using greenies, he'd be accused of mainlining saltpeter.
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4683883)
if hank had not hit home runs he would not have evolved into a pull hitter and I would state with almost certainty that he would have broken then cobb's hit record and set the record out of reach of rose even if pete played to age 50.

aaron was a hit to all fields guy until about 1961 or so when he began more of a pull hitter. if he had continued to spray the ball around the ballpark he would have piled up some ridiculous seasonal/career hit total(s)

if that is stated in the article, apologies
   10. Karl from NY Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4683893)
Among the 500+ HR guys, Babe Ruth has the lowest % of his value from home runs.
I would not have expected that.

I assumed it was the pitching, but bbref says he had only 20.6 WAR from the mound.

It's gotta be the 2062 walks, worth somewhere around 30-40 WAR.
   11. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4683894)
Ben Revere currently has 383 hits without a HR, which is uncanny. That's approaching the limit of belief for a lively-ball player, and obviously one assumes he'll break the string someday.
Jason Tyner was the name that came to mind. But he had only 332 hits before his first/last HR.

(In the majors, that is; he had 600 hits in the minors before his first HR there.)
   12. Jeltzandini Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4683898)
Career slash line 305/374/555. Turn 755 HRs into:

Outs: 244/320/310. That's a bad player despite the 3000 hits.
Walks: 260/374/330. Eddie Yost/Tony Phillips with a longer career.
Singles: 305/374/371. Pretty close to Pete Rose, with 38 fewer SLG points.
Doubles: 305/374/432. Pretty close to Pete Rose, with 23 more SLG points.
Triples: 305/374/493. Will Clarkish slash line, though with an 853 to 48 triples disparity.

All but out guy make the HOF.



   13. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4683902)
Ben Revere currently has 383 hits without a HR, which is uncanny. That's approaching the limit of belief for a lively-ball player, and obviously one assumes he'll break the string someday.


not counting pre-1901, most PAs career with zero homers is 2073, the immortal Tom Oliver, Revere is at 1440 so he's working on it

Most PAs less than 10 home runs is Donie Bush at 8750, most post Deadball era is Sparky Adams with 6175, mots post Jackie Robinson is Bud Harrelson at 5516 (Duane Kuiper with just one in 3750 PAs deserves a dishonorable mention)
   14. Danny Posted: April 10, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4683903)
Jerry Remy went his final 2600 PA (660 hits) without a home run.
   15. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4683912)
if hank had not hit home runs he would not have evolved into a pull hitter and I would state with almost certainty that he would have broken then cobb's hit record and set the record out of reach of rose even if pete played to age 50.


That's interesting. I don't doubt it, but if it's true it reminds me that things don't always happen in reverse. You or Treder or someone who was alive at the time and saw him play can feel free to correct me, but I remember reading when I was a kid Mike Schmidt say IIRC he never wanted to be a power hitter, he wanted to "get on top of the ball and hit the son of a ##### like Roberto Clemente," be a line drive hitter for average. But he flopped at it, catastrophically; he went back to being a power hitter with some shame.
   16. Moeball Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4683916)
Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds (issues with performance-enhancing drugs notwithstanding) would still be slam dunks.


Had Barry Bonds put up the career numbers projected in the article - zero homers but still 93 WAR - it actually would have helped his HOF cause as there would be no "issues with performance-enhancing drugs" to factor in.

aaron was a hit to all fields guy until about 1961 or so when he began more of a pull hitter. if he had continued to spray the ball around the ballpark he would have piled up some ridiculous seasonal/career hit total(s)

if that is stated in the article, apologies


Not stated in the article, harveys, but interesting to think about. I always thought that switch in approach to pulling the ball more came later - I remember reading interviews with Aaron about 1966 or 1967 - he was talking about how he had hit 32 and then 24 HRs his last two years in Milwaukee (although he was still hitting for high batting averages)but when the Braves moved to the Launching Pad in 1966 Hank was specifically focusing on going more for the long balls since he had figured out very quickly that was what the new ballpark was favoring...
   17. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4683923)
I vote no, he certainly wouldn't be a HOFer if he never hit a homer.
For fun I converted Aaron's home runs into singles, doubles and triples in the same proportion that his non-home run hits fell into.

Ended up with a line of .305/.374/.387
Since the end of the deadball era, the most PA for a player with 75% of games at 1B/LF/RF and a SLG <= .400 is Mike Hargrove, who lasted just under 6700 PA. In other words, if the entire universe of baseball remains the same, including all of the other hitting abilities that Aaron possessed except his HR power, he wouldn't have lasted long enough to accumulate 3700 hits and in fact wouldn't even be a footnote in baseball history (Whitey Lockman is #2 with 5691 PA) or only a footnote because of something else (Hargrove's managing career, Vice Coleman's (#5, 5970 PA) SB).
   18. Morty Causa Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4683924)
I don't know. Being able to get other hits besides home runs is not unrelated to power.
   19. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4683933)
Outs: 244/320/310. That's a bad player despite the 3000 hits.
Walks: 260/374/330. Eddie Yost/Tony Phillips with a longer career.
Singles: 305/374/371. Pretty close to Pete Rose, with 38 fewer SLG points.
Doubles: 305/374/432. Pretty close to Pete Rose, with 23 more SLG points.
Triples: 305/374/493. Will Clarkish slash line, though with an 853 to 48 triples disparity.

All but out guy make the HOF.
How do you figure?

Yost never even appeared on a HOF ballot. Phillips was litterally one and done - he got 1 vote. Clark did only slightly better, with 23 votes, but still only lasted the one year on the ballot.

Rose is the only comp on your list who, in a vacuum, makes the HOF.
   20. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4683935)
Singles: 305/374/371. Pretty close to Pete Rose, with 38 fewer SLG points.

That's Brett Butler (290/377/376) with more singles and fewer walks (and no home runs).

You know you're dealing with counterfactuals when Brett Butler is an obvious comp for Hank Aaron, if you only take away Butler's power hitting.
   21. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4683937)
More hard hitting statistical journalism from 538.
   22. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4683939)
I don't know. Being able to get other hits besides home runs is not unrelated to power.
It obviously is related to power, but if he ends up with a .400 SLG (IOW, if all of his HRs become hits in the same proportion as he hit them in real life), he isn't good enough for a long career as a 1B/COF hitter.

Andrelton Simmons is a breathtaking fielder (did you see what he did yesterday?); he could easily make the HOF as Ozzie Smith (87 OPS+). But if he hits like Neifi Perez (65 OPS+), he won't get the playing time..
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4683944)
jim

hank was a natural to hit the ball to all fields. he evolved into a pull hitter. in the 50's if we had a hit spray chart hank would be showing power from pole to pole


   24. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4683946)
Yost never even appeared on a HOF ballot. Phillips was litterally one and done - he got 1 vote. Clark did only slightly better, with 23 votes, but still only lasted the one year on the ballot.

Rose is the only comp on your list who, in a vacuum, makes the HOF.


Will Clark with some 5000 more PAs (same rate stats) would have been a 1st ballot HOFer
   25. Jeltzandini Posted: April 10, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4683961)
Will Clark with some 5000 more PAs (same rate stats) would have been a 1st ballot HOFer


Yeah, the comps were for slash lines, not career totals. Hank had a substantially longer career than all but Rose on that list. Triple Hank still has 3771 hits to Clark's 2176. That's an easy call. Walk Hank is dicier but still has 3016 hits, way more than Yost or Phillips. Walk Hank would make it on the magic hit number, and would be remembered fondly for a 23 year career of extreme leadoff pestiness.
   26. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4683964)
How valuable can you get if you almost never hit a home run? Top WARs of the lively-ball era, 20 or fewer HR:

Rk          Player WAR/pos HR dWAR   PA  SB   BA         Pos
1    Mark Belanger    41.0 20 39.4 6601 167 .228      
*6H/45
2      Maury Wills    39.5 20 12.0 8306 586 .281      
*65/H4
3     Johnny Pesky    31.7 17  6.6 5515  53 .307        654H
6    Billy Goodman    26.9 19  2.8 6443  37 .300    435H
/796
7       Bill North    26.7 20  3.5 4621 395 .261     
*8H/9D7
8       Larry Bowa    22.6 15 18.7 9109 318 .260       
*6/H4
10     Rey Sanchez    20.5 15 20.5 5246  55 .272     
*64/H5D
11   Bud Harrelson    20.4  7 14.1 5516 127 .236     
*6H/457
13   Jamey Carroll    16.8 13  5.9 4225  74 .272 
*456H/79D81
14      Otis Nixon    16.7 11  0.9 5800 620 .270    
*87H/9D6 


Obviously speed and defense help a lot. That's a fine bunch of careers. But the ones who really did have strong reputations as offensive players were Wills & North (because of the SB) and Pesky & Goodman (throwback types who hit .300 and drew a lot of walks despite almost no power). Basically, as several here have noted, it's hard to generate much offense without some power to keep the pitchers honest.
   27. OCF Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4683970)
BDC: shouldn't Ozzie Smith be at the top of that chart?
   28. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4683971)
I thought we agreed 538 was warmed over junk we already knew and not worth our time. In the last week alone besides Aaron without Homers, there was the Toolsiest Players and Nate Silver on Paul Krugman on Nate Silver.

So I guess we changed our minds?
   29. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4683974)
10 Rey Sanchez 20.5 15 20.5 5246 55 .272 *64/H5D

I'm glad that Rey Sanchez's dWAR matches exactly to his WAR/pos. It seems so right.
   30. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4683975)
I didn't realize there was a requirement about what we could and could not read. Is there an approved reading list somewhere?

Personally I like this kind of thing. It's just silly little fun and I've been enjoying the back and forth that has gone on. BDC's list in #26 is interesting to me for example.
   31. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4683976)
OCF, Smith hit 28 career home runs. I was trying to find the guys who as close to literally never reached the fences. Smith may have had a lower HR rate, true, given his career length.
   32. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4683983)
Here's a slightly revised list of top careers with a HR/PA rate of less than 0.0035 (kinda arbitrarily pegged to about Belanger-range power):

Player           WAR/pos dWAR HR    PA  SB   BA      Pos
Ozzie Smith         76.5 43.4 28 10778 580 .262     
*6/H
Richie Ashburn      63.4  5.3 29  9736 234 .308  
*8H/794
Nellie Fox          49.0 21.0 35 10351  76 .288   
*4/H53
Mark Belanger       41.0 39.4 20  6601 167 .228   
*6H/45
Maury Wills         39.5 12.0 20  8306 586 .281   
*65/H4
Johnny Pesky        31.7  6.6 17  5515  53 .307     654H
Billy Goodman       26.9  2.8 19  6443  37 .300 435H
/796
Dave Cash           25.4  8.7 21  6057 120 .283   
*4/H56
Larry Bowa          22.6 18.7 15  9109 318 .260    
*6/H4
Rey Sanchez         20.5 20.5 15  5246  55 .272  
*64/H5D 


And now, yes, we get some HOFers, who stuck around long enough to hit more than 20 HR. Thanks!

EDIT: Neat coincidence that Goodman & Pesky, also Cash & Bowa, were teammates for a while.

   33. OCF Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4683984)
Smith hit 28 career home runs.

My bad. I had it in my head that it was a much smaller number than that.
   34. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4683987)
Will Clark with some 5000 more PAs (same rate stats) would have been a 1st ballot HOFer
OK, yes. If Hank Aaron had 853 triples, he'd be a HOFer. But not many people get to 13000 PA.

Of course, that would be the 3B total (among his contemporaries) of Clemente, Willie Davis, Mays, Brick, Pinson, Rose, and Hank himself combined. Or the total of the 3 highest career 3B totals of all time (Sam Crawford, Cobb, Wagner).
   35. SandyRiver Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4683996)
Among the 500+ HR guys, Babe Ruth has the lowest % of his value from home runs.
I would not have expected that.


Surprised it's not Teddy Ballgame - slightly higher BA/OBP but 20% lower HR/PA. Must be the pitching.

(Also thought, "Why not Gehrig?", then remembered he fell a few HR short of the qualifier.)
   36. BDC Posted: April 10, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4683998)
In other trivia, two of Maury Wills's 20 HR were inside the park, but all of Ozzie Smith's 28 seem to have been outside. Once in 1991, Ozzie drove in Bryn Smith on a homer, leading to the interesting B-Ref PBP note "Smith Scores, Smith Scores."

EDIT: Hank Aaron hit one inside-the-park HR, off Jim Bunning in 1967.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4684002)
Aaron and Cobb ... not quite buying it HW. 4200 hits in the same AB would have required a BA of 3397. Ted Williams has done that post-war, Gwynn came close (338) and then there's Boggs at 328. The young Aaron did win two batting titles but even from 21-25 his BA was "only" 329 and he hit 340 or better only once in his career. From age 26 on, he'd have had to hit 346 and only Cobb has beaten that number (Speaker and Ruth tied). Gwynn is pretty close at 341. All of those other candidates are at least 1300 AB behind Aaron's post-26 total. In short, Aaron would have had to have about 300 more hits than Cobb post-26 to catch Cobb. (Aaron needed about 3050)

I suppose one could argue that without the pull power he gets walked less leading to more BIP but we're getting deep into the weeds there.

It can't be ruled out of course, especially given how close he did come ... and the young Aaron's slash line is very close to Musial's post-26 slash line (slightly more power, many fewer walks) and Musial managed a bit over 2800 hits. Sam Rice just missed 3000 from 26 on but Rose remains the only guy to pass that mark. 4200-hit Aaron would have needed another 57 hits to be ahead of Rose.
   38. Moeball Posted: April 10, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4684025)
the young Aaron's slash line is very close to Musial's post-26 slash line (slightly more power, many fewer walks) and Musial managed a bit over 2800 hits. Sam Rice just missed 3000 from 26 on but Rose remains the only guy to pass that mark. 4200-hit Aaron would have needed another 57 hits to be ahead of Rose.


When Rose got to about the 3500 hit level I remember thinking "Pete's gonna go for it - he's still getting around 200 hits a season and it's becoming clear he really wants Cobb's record. If he gets anywhere close to it he's going to hang around until he gets it done". Given Rose's personality and his obsession with all things Cobb, it seemed pretty clear and almost inevitable that Pete was going to make that happen.

With Aaron, had he not been hitting all the HRs but still racking up a lot of hits - I never got the sense that he was really motivated to go for Cobb's record the way Rose was. It's possible that if Hank made it to 4000 hits he might have set his sights on it, but I never felt like he was obsessed the way Pete was.

Of course, as we later came to find out, Rose's obsessively competitive personality would be his own undoing, just like Michael Jordan's was. Oh, wait...
   39. DanG Posted: April 10, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4684038)
Players active 1920+, H > (HR * 175), 3600+ PA, listed chronologically

Rk            Player WAR/pos  ISO OPS+    H HR   PA From   To    G  SB   BA  OBP  SLG        Pos
1       Duane Kuiper     4.2 .045   82  917  1 3754 1974 1985 1057  52 .271 .325 .316     
*4H/3D
2         Jerry Remy    14.4 .053   82 1226  7 4963 1975 1984 1154 208 .275 .327 .328    
*4/HD69
3      Frank Taveras     1.7 .058   72 1029  2 4399 1971 1982 1150 300 .255 .301 .313      
*6/H4
4      Roger Metzger     3.4 .062   68  972  5 4676 1970 1980 1219  83 .231 .291 .293     
*6/H45
5         Mike Tresh     3.1 .034   71  788  2 3640 1938 1949 1027  19 .249 .335 .283       
*2/H
6      Johnny Cooney     8.2 .056   87  965  2 3673 1921 1944 1173  30 .286 .329 .342   
*81H9/37
7     Tommy Thevenow    
-5.3 .047   51 1030  2 4483 1924 1938 1229  23 .247 .285 .294    *645/H3
8         Muddy Ruel    18.5 .057   83 1242  4 5295 1915 1934 1467  61 .275 .365 .332      
*2/H3
9       Sparky Adams    15.9 .067   82 1588  9 6175 1922 1934 1424 154 .286 .343 .353    456
/H79
10      Wally Gerber     4.0 .056   67 1309  7 5829 1914 1929 1523  43 .257 .323 .313    
*6/H458
11   Bill Wambsganss     3.8 .068   78 1359  7 6107 1914 1926 1494 140 .259 .328 .327    
*46/H53
12      Nemo Leibold    10.6 .061   91 1109  3 4871 1913 1925 1271 136 .266 .357 .327     897H
/5
13        Donie Bush    39.3 .050   91 1804  9 8750 1908 1923 1948 406 .250 .356 .300     
*6/54H
14      Eddie Foster    24.1 .062   89 1490  6 6325 1910 1923 1500 195 .264 .329 .326     
*54/H6
15       Ralph Young     1.4 .049   79  898  4 4341 1913 1922 1022  92 .247 .339 .296     
*4/6H5
16        Ossie Vitt    15.4 .057   79  894  4 4517 1912 1921 1064 114 .238 .322 .295 
*54/7H8639 
   40. thetailor Posted: April 10, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4684043)
From TFA:
His RBI total would have gone way down; based on the number of runs that Aaron knocked in on home runs and singles throughout his career, I estimate that he’d have 1,232 of them rather than 2,297.

Pretty neat how large the impact would be on his RBI.
   41. CrosbyBird Posted: April 10, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4684050)
For example, would Rickey Henderson be a HOFer had he never stolen a base? Probably.

Stolen bases are a relatively small portion of Rickey's value. He's got close to 90 WAR just from his hits and walks.

In contrast, I think Aaron just misses if you're trading all his HR for 2B, because he also almost certainly loses a really big chunk of his 293 IBB. Not that there's any shame in that. Slightly below the HOF line before considering 755 HR is a pretty spectacular player.
   42. alilisd Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4684077)
Took a look at Aaron's runs scored. I hadn't realized he was tied with Ruth for fourth all time. Pretty cool. But go ahead and subtract his HR from his runs scored and he's still at 1,419, which would put him at 86th, just in front of Clemente. Without assuming he would have scored a single run on any of those HR converted to some other sort of hit!
   43. Cblau Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4684086)
If you convert Aaron's HRs to singles, in 1972 he's a 38-year-old, slow 1B/RF with no arm and a .287 slugging average. You can kiss off those last four seasons and 380 hits.
   44. AROM Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4684088)
Since the end of the deadball era, the most PA for a player with 75% of games at 1B/LF/RF and a SLG <= .400 is Mike Hargrove, who lasted just under 6700 PA. In other words, if the entire universe of baseball remains the same, including all of the other hitting abilities that Aaron possessed except his HR power, he wouldn't have lasted long enough to accumulate 3700 hits and in fact wouldn't even be a footnote in baseball history (Whitey Lockman is #2 with 5691 PA) or only a footnote because of something else (Hargrove's managing career, Vice Coleman's (#5, 5970 PA) SB).


It's a farfetched hypothetical to start with, but if you play a long, Aaron would blow away the career length for any non-power hitter.

Look at it this way, without power, which seasons would he have not been good enough to play? His rookie year (.280, .322 OBP) maybe not. After that he was a consistent .300 hitter with OBP usually in the .380-.390 range, a fine defender, and a good runner. From age 21-39 he's never coming out of the lineup. Since he was good at age 39 (301/402) he's allowed to play at 40. He's not so good at 40 without the homers, so he doesn't get to play at 41-42.

This Hank still ends up with 3400+ hits. He'd likely grab some more hits back from increased PA being a leadoff hitter instead of a 3/4 hitter.
   45. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4684098)
Walt

A fair point

While possibly biased I think Hank was the rare type who could have been many different types of hitter based on what he deemed best
   46. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4684100)
And if Pete get to play as no power guys at power positions why not Hank?
   47. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4684101)
And Ichiro is what I meant
   48. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 06:39 PM (#4684120)
It's a farfetched hypothetical to start with, but if you play a long, Aaron would blow away the career length for any non-power hitter.

Look at it this way, without power, which seasons would he have not been good enough to play? His rookie year (.280, .322 OBP) maybe not. After that he was a consistent .300 hitter with OBP usually in the .380-.390 range, a fine defender, and a good runner. From age 21-39 he's never coming out of the lineup. Since he was good at age 39 (301/402) he's allowed to play at 40. He's not so good at 40 without the homers, so he doesn't get to play at 41-42.

This Hank still ends up with 3400+ hits. He'd likely grab some more hits back from increased PA being a leadoff hitter instead of a 3/4 hitter.
I'm still not convinced.

From '54-76 (Aaron's career), OPS <.765 (Aaron's HR-less line from #4), 75% of games at 1B/LF/RF:

Lou Brock, 9966 PA.
Filipe Alou, 7907 PA.
Vic Power, 6459 PA.
No one else over 5800.

If you give Brock's hitting ability to Aaron, but not his speed, does he keep a job as a starting corner OF?
   49. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 10, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4684126)
I didn't realize there was a requirement about what we could and could not read. Is there an approved reading list somewhere?

Personally I like this kind of thing. It's just silly little fun and I've been enjoying the back and forth that has gone on. BDC's list in #26 is interesting to me for example.


My sarcasm fail. I was just trying to point out how very good 538 has been lately.
   50. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4684130)
And if [Ichiro] get to play as no power guys at power positions why not Hank?
Because he was there for defense and SB? It's a good question, but I think it would have been a better question if instead of an international free agent he'd started as a real rookie; it's tough to sell "I spent a bajillion dollars on this guy who can't break glass".

I'm not arguing Aaron wasn't good even without the HRs, but the question is "Is he a HOFer with 0 HR?" From looking at guys who hit like that Hank Aaron, I'm just not convinced he gets the opportunity to.
   51. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4684141)
hank could play center in a pinch and was very good in right

one year his manager told him to steal more bases and he stole 31

hank could have done different things if homers were not a specialty
   52. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 10, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4684158)
My sarcasm fail. I was just trying to point out how very good 538 has been lately.


It has it's moments, and I do enjoy some of the sports stuff, but the actual reportage is pretty undercooked. And Nate Silver acting like a brat about Paul Krugman (especially the notion that Krugman is only attacking him now because he left the Times, when Krugman's Time's blog is basically all "David Brooks is an idiot" all the time) doesn't really help even if you are someone who doesn't like Krugman.
   53. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 10, 2014 at 08:22 PM (#4684162)
not looking to push hard on hank's behalf. just sharing that he had a broad base of talents and if one skill was absent a player would refine his remaining skills (defense, baserunning, etc)
   54. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 10, 2014 at 08:25 PM (#4684163)
not looking to push hard on hank's behalf. just sharing that he had a broad base of talents and if one skill was absent a player would refine his remaining skills (defense, baserunning, etc)


Too young to remember him as a player but it seems like Hank actually gets undersold by the HR record. From what ive read over the years it seems like he was a terrific all around player but he gets reduced to "home run champion."
   55. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 10, 2014 at 08:44 PM (#4684167)
Too young to remember him as a player but it seems like Hank actually gets undersold by the HR record. From what ive read over the years it seems like he was a terrific all around player but he gets reduced to "home run champion."
Actually, it's more like "good player who hung around long enough to be HR champ", which really is a shame. He was seen as not as good as Mays or a healthy Mantle (who was?) and it didn't help that each of his last 6 seasons he was one of the 8 (or fewer) oldest in the league.
   56. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 10, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4684188)
Joe Posnanski just had an excellent post along those very lines: Don't diminish Hank Aaron's greatness by calling him the Home Run King.
   57. toratoratora Posted: April 10, 2014 at 10:09 PM (#4684206)
I was eight in 74 so in my memory Aaron was always the guy who broke Ruth's record. But my old man and his pals, when they talked ball, they almost never mentioned Hank as a home run guy. They talked about him as an all around player. Good speed. Good defense. Decent arm.Smart player. Mays lite, so to speak. They called him Bad Henry and it was said with utmost respect.
And they talked about his wrists. Quickest hands in the game, spewed line drives. Not a man to try to throw a fastball by. He scared pitchers who normally blew others away.
The home run thing, it was always almost an addendum comment. "Oh yeah, he broke the record too."
   58. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 11, 2014 at 02:48 AM (#4684259)
And Nate Silver acting like a brat about Paul Krugman


I thought Nate's third person analysis was hilarious.

And even though the sample size was small, it's still likely true that Krugman has a strong bia. He'd love Bitcoins if it was damaging to the other party, or beneficial to his.
   59. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 11, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4684327)
just for kicks sum total of hank against drysdale, Gibson, marichal, Koufax

646 at bats
178 hits
31 doubles
6 triples
40(!) home runs
69 walks
114 strikeouts
.275 batting average

certainly the numbers against Koufax pump things up. was trying to fill out the equivalent of a full season worth of at bats.

I am sure folks could come up with their own version.
   60. AROM Posted: April 11, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4684347)
And if Pete get to play as no power guys at power positions why not Hank?


You'll have to ask Pete's manager.

If you give Brock's hitting ability to Aaron, but not his speed, does he keep a job as a starting corner OF?


Yes. Aaron was pretty fast himself. If he's not hitting for power he probably steals more bases (his success rate was about the same as Brock's). Hank was a far, far better defensive outfielder than Brock. His advantage in fielding was much bigger than Lou's advantage on the bases.
   61. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 11, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4684361)
arom

You'll have to ask Pete's manager.

ha!
   62. AROM Posted: April 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4684364)
I'm still not convinced.

From '54-76 (Aaron's career), OPS <.765 (Aaron's HR-less line from #4), 75% of games at 1B/LF/RF:

Lou Brock, 9966 PA.
Filipe Alou, 7907 PA.
Vic Power, 6459 PA.
No one else over 5800.


You're not even making a case. Of course there's nobody like 10000+ AB, homerless Wee Henry. It's a hypothetical. But if he did exist and put up Hank's exact batting lines except that homers were singles, then tell me at which point, from ages 21-39, you would tell him he's not good enough to play?

I can't see it. But if you can, then pick the year and make a case for why he should lose his job.
   63. bfan Posted: April 11, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4684520)
And Nate Silver acting like a brat about Paul Krugman

So Silver's numbers which show Krugman as being, to 538, mildly indifferent (pre-NYT); sycophantic (NYT co-employee); and then very negative (post NYT employee) suggest to you "brat" by the formerly loved and now attacked person? They suggest something else very different to me.
   64. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 11, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4684599)
So Silver's numbers which show Krugman as being, to 538, mildly indifferent (pre-NYT); sycophantic (NYT co-employee); and then very negative (post NYT employee) suggest to you "brat" by the formerly loved and now attacked person? They suggest something else very different to me.


We're talking about a sample size of a couple dozen articles. And "very" negative? Are you kidding me? It's at most disappointed. Yes, Silver is a brat. He is in real life as well. He's also pretty damned smart, and so most of the time the people he picks on have it coming to them.

But to say that Krugman wouldn't have crushed him if he disagreed with him during Silver's NYTimes tenure is idiotic. Have you even seen how he treats the fellow inmates of the NYTimes op-ed page? I'm pretty sure he has a folder of files titled "David Brooks and Tom Friedman are the dumbest ####### ever" on his desktop.
   65. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 11, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4684622)
I was eight in 74 so in my memory Aaron was always the guy who broke Ruth's record. But my old man and his pals, when they talked ball, they almost never mentioned Hank as a home run guy. They talked about him as an all around player. Good speed. Good defense. Decent arm.Smart player. Mays lite, so to speak. They called him Bad Henry and it was said with utmost respect.
And they talked about his wrists. Quickest hands in the game, spewed line drives. Not a man to try to throw a fastball by. He scared pitchers who normally blew others away.
The home run thing, it was always almost an addendum comment. "Oh yeah, he broke the record too."


Up until Aaron got within shouting distance of 714, that's exactly the way that Aaron was described in the sports media right from the start. Your old man's views were typical throughout most of Aaron's career.

But at the age of 23 he was also described in a long article in Sports Illustrated as "the league's best right-handed hitter since Hornsby". And in the first photo in the PDF version of the article (on page 8), the camera focuses solely on Aaron's wrists and arms.
   66. bjhanke Posted: April 12, 2014 at 07:38 AM (#4684962)
Jolly is right about Aaron's reputation, says the guy who was 8 in 1956. There were two reasons why Hank didn't develop a reputation as a homer-hitter, while he did develop one as a slugger: 1) His early years were played in Milwaukee, where a very large ballpark suppressed homers, and 2) Eddie Mathews hit even more homers than Hank did, although he wasn't as good a hitter overall. Eddie didn't last as long as Hank, and the Braves moved into The Launching Pad, and suddenly people were talking about how many homers Hank Aaron was hitting, especially for his age. - Brock Hanke
   67. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4684987)
Not to mention that Aaron's biggest single home run season (47 in 1971) only puts him in a 22 way tie for 74th place among single season home run leaders, in the company of George Bell, Troy Glaus and Kevin Mitchell.
   68. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 12, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4685169)
Freakin' George Bell!
   69. DavidFoss Posted: April 12, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4685193)
But to say that Krugman wouldn't have crushed him if he disagreed with him during Silver's NYTimes tenure is idiotic. Have you even seen how he treats the fellow inmates of the NYTimes op-ed page? I'm pretty sure he has a folder of files titled "David Brooks and Tom Friedman are the dumbest ####### ever" on his desktop.

There is a forced cordiality between columnists on the NYTimes op-ed page. Krugman almost never directly addresses Brooks and Friedman by name. Maybe it still reads harsh in a collegial way, but its nothing like how he writes about others.

Krugman has a tendency to pile on. He had an initial critique of 538 on its initial release and then he repeated variations of that same critique every day for a week. In a way, Silver was saying "I heard you clearly the first time".
   70. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: April 13, 2014 at 03:06 AM (#4685291)
Hank Aaron had 70 or more plate appearances against 11 pitchers now in the Hall of Fame: Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal, Roberts, Koufax, Perry, Sutton, Seaver, Carlton, Jenkins, and Bunning. He put up the following numbers against them (per 650 PA in parentheses):

PA 1413 (650)
AB 1280 (589)
H 357 (164)
2B 64 (29)
3B 13 (6)
HR 69 (32)
RBI 197 (91)
BB 122 (56)
SO 213 (98)
SF 10 (5)
HBP 1 (0)

AVG .279 / OBP .340 / SLG .511

Assuming the offensive context was the same as the rest of Aaron's career, that line is equivalent to a 134 OPS+. Hank Aaron would have been an easy Hall of Famer even if he had faced nothing but Hall of Fame pitching. Truly remarkable.
   71. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4685319)
Willie Mays' line against HOF pitching is eerily similar to Aaron's:

Pitchers: Spahn, Drysdale, Roberts, Koufax, Gibson, Bunning, Carlton, Jenkins, Sutton, Niekro, Seaver

PA 1300 (650)
AB 1146 (573)
H 328 (164)
2B 59 (30)
3B 9 (5)
HR 56 (28)
RBI 146 (73)
BB 133 (67)
SO 191 (96)
SF 9 (5)
HBP 8 (4)

AVG .286 / OBP .361 / SLG .500 / OPS+ 134
   72. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4685371)
He had an initial critique of 538 on its initial release and then he repeated variations of that same critique every day for a week.


Krugman has made four posts regarding 538, one of which was in response to Nate's post on Krugman.

One of Krugman's rhetorical strategies is repetition; four posts on one theme is nothing compared to his usual approach.
   73. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4685380)
One of Krugman's rhetorical strategies is repetition; four posts on one theme is nothing compared to his usual approach.

This is certainly true about Krugman, but that in turn in nothing compared to the way that Krugman's opponents keep repeating the same inane talking points. Retrenchment! Slash the safety net! The genius of the marketplace will solve everything! Only private capital knows how to invest in innovations!

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