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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In a world without stats, who would be the best baseball player?

This started with a crush on Starling Marte.

Marte is an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates and my favorite baseball player to watch. He’s fast enough to have stolen 47 bases last year, third-most in the majors. His arm is one of the best in the game, capable of firing 101 mph bullets from the outfield. He is strong enough to have hit a baseball 460 feet, something only 48 other hitters have accomplished outside of Coors Field over the past two years. (Bryce Harper hasn’t. Mike Trout hasn’t.) He might be the most creative base slider in the game. He has demonstrated a talent for getting hit by pitches. Over the past three years, he has been the best defensive left fielder in the game, and this year, he will finally get to be a very good defensive center fielder.

I also know (or think I know) exactly how good Marte is: He was the 28th-best position player last year (by WAR) and the 53rd-best hitter (by OPS+). You might think those advanced stats are junk, but whatever stats you prefer, you have some idea how good he is: The 13th-best hitter (by batting average) or the 91st-best (by runs scored). We’ve all got stats. We all use our stats.

What if we had none? Not just no WAR but no nothin’. What if some ministry of information outlawed the collection of baseball statistics and we were all left to judge players exclusively by what we saw, what we perceived and what we remembered? Who would be perceived as the best player in baseball? Who would be the first player chosen in a franchise draft? Or, the more important question: With how much eye-rolling would actual major league general managers respond to a weird thought experiment on the subject?

Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:23 AM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: pirates, sabermetrics

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   1. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:09 AM (#5405598)
Barry Bonds.
   2. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:14 AM (#5405609)
What if some ministry of information outlawed the collection of baseball statistics and we were all left to judge players exclusively by what we saw, what we perceived and what we remembered? Who would be perceived as the best player in baseball?

This post-modern world would be dominated by Mystique and Aura.

Who would be the first player chosen in a franchise draft?

Derek Jeter, obviously.
   3. GGC Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:15 AM (#5405611)
Current or all time? All time, I'd be tempted to mention Mickey Mantle or Satchel Paige, but even without stats, it would be tough to top Ruth.
   4. BDC Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5405617)
TFA seems to be limited to position players. But on the theory that they'll still add up team wins and losses, I'd guess that the best player in a statless world would be the starting pitcher with the most impressive W-L%, even if actually figuring that percentage was forbidden. So in recent eras, first Sandy Koufax, then Pedro Martinez, now Clayton Kershaw.

   5. Rally Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:26 AM (#5405621)
Top current player would be Aroldis Chapman, assuming 105 MPH radar gun readings don't count as "stats" and are outlawed.

You might point out that Kershaw or Scherzer or Verlander pitch many more innings than Chapman does. But I suggest you keep it to yourself because innings pitched are statistics, and I would report you to the ministry of information as stat user, and they would burn you at the stake.

Chapman rules.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:28 AM (#5405626)
Yadier Molina!

If we didn't keep stats and were limited just to our observations in the games we watched, I would have guessed Brian Dozier was the greatest home run hitter in baseball history.
   7. Rally Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:28 AM (#5405627)
For position player maybe Giancarlo Stanton. He hits the ball harder and further than everyone else.
   8. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:29 AM (#5405629)
I mean, this would be tilted toward players who were obviously spectacular physical specimens, or who did spectacular things with the bat and glove. Ruth and Bonds would rate high, but so would Trout, Mantle, Mays -- and Bo Jackson, potentially. The stars of no-hit shortstops might shine brighter. Physical freaks like Randy Johnson or Richie Sexson would draw our attention.
   9. Mike Webber Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5405632)
Isn't this kind of what the Negro Leagues were? No one appears to have any problem identifying Oscar Charleston or Josh Gibson, the player that might be "overrated" of that group might be Cool Papa Bell. So while we'd likely all still be able to figure out Mike Trout is awesome, maybe Jarrod Dyson and Billy Hamilton would be all-stars too?
   10. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5405633)
I think players who play regularly for winning teams would be overvalued. The snark of #2 actually would be accurate, I think Jeter would be viewed as the best in his day. Trout would get dinged ("if he's so good why doesn't he help his team win?") and I think Kris Bryant might be seen as the best player.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5405642)
There is also a bias for players that play like we did when we played (or how we would have liked to play). That's why you see sportswriters adorn so much love for scrappy no-hit middle infielders like David Eckstein. And guys that give a good interview or are likeable would get good press, which would get more fans to think they are better than they are. Salvador Perez, for example, is okay, but is such a lovable guy (and has had post-season success) that I think people think he's better than he is.
   12. kthejoker Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:40 AM (#5405643)
All-time top 5:

1) Ruth
2) Williams
3) Walter Johnson
4) Mays
5) Cobb

Current top 5:

1) Harper
2) Trout
3) Stanton
4) Kershaw
5) Bryant

And you have the flipsides, the Stan Musials of the world that are great without ever making a list like this. That'd include guys like Josh Donaldson, David Wright, Verlander, Votto - oh God I've become the lunch-pail guy.
   13. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:44 AM (#5405650)
To kinda combine two threads into one, I’m certain the reason I want the Royals to re-sign Hosmer to a long extension is because I watch him play so much. To my eye he’s the best player on the team by far: he hits line drives all over the park, he has a great eye, avoids strikeouts, very agile in the field, and surprisingly quick on the bases. He’s left-handed, tall, and slender-- the type of first baseman you’d order off an assembly line. He bats in the middle of the order and his teammates love him. The guy is flawless.

If I had no numbers at all—if I couldn’t know he’d hit .266/.328/.433 with terrible defense last year—I’d think he was a perennial MVP candidate.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:45 AM (#5405652)
It's a fairly ridiculous question. We're going to notice that Ruth hits one out of the park every other day or so. That's a "stat" whether we call it that or not. We're going to notice Kershaw almost never gives up more than 2 runs in a game.
   15. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5405657)
This was my favorite part of the article:

For instance, in the example of Trout’s first two weeks of the 2016 season: While he was hitting .259/.359/.370, some of his teammates were hitting better. Kole Calhoun was. Yunel Escobar was. Geovany Soto was. If you were such a close watcher that you noticed they were all hitting better than Trout, there’d still be enough circumstantial clues to tell you Trout is the better player. While Soto was playing three times a week, Trout was in the lineup every day. While Calhoun was batting sixth and playing right field, Trout was batting third and playing center. And while Escobar might have been hitting better, teams were intentionally walking Trout—not Escobar.

In other words: Even if we can’t see and judge and record Trout’s every at-bat, his manager can, and if his manager thinks Trout is the best hitter and capable of handling a premium position, we can at least trust that data.

(...)Of course, that still might not be enough to differentiate Trout from Andrew McCutchen, Adam Jones or Lorenzo Cain, but it narrows our pool considerably. You start to pick a favorite player who checks off a number of filters: Big, strong, hits in the middle of a good team’s lineup, mobile enough to move around the field, young—and you take Kris Bryant. Or tall, middle-of-the-infield player with leadership charisma, obvious pop and youthful handsomeness on a successful team—and you take Carlos Correa.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:57 AM (#5405662)
I don't think Harper would be considered one of the top five players without stats. I think many people would consider him a bust.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5405663)
I wonder if Nolan Arenado would be considered a better player than Bryant. He's a much more spectacular defender at third base, and their raw hitting stats are very similar, such that the impression they make at the plate is going to be very similar. It's only when you correct for park effects - which would probably be disregarded in this exercise - that Bryant moves ahead.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:11 PM (#5405688)
This would correlate fairly highly with what the traditionalists would like:

The Good Face
Athletic looking players
Flashy players
Fast players
Stolen bases
Lots of singles

And would hurt guys the traditionalists downgrade:

Walks
Good fielders who don't look flashy
Junk ballers

   19. Ziggy's screen name Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:14 PM (#5405694)
This is an easy enough question to answer: go to a bar and ask someone who they think the best player in baseball is.
   20. The Duke Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:18 PM (#5405700)
Jack Morris would be in the Hall.

Babe Ruth is still the best ever on the strength of his amazing pitching record as a complement to his hitting record.
   21. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:25 PM (#5405711)
I like the Aroldis Chapman answer--he just throws so much harder than everyone else, you'd just have to think he was the best pitcher in the game.
   22. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5405732)
Jack Morris would be in the Hall.

Would he if we didn't know he had The Most Wins In The Eighties™? Absent that, we're left with Game Seven. Would it be enough?
   23. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:02 PM (#5405776)
Carlos Beltran would have been the answer to this question like 10 years ago.
   24. JAHV Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5405797)
It's still Trout.
   25. Russ Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:11 PM (#5405802)
Chapman's pitches are so *heavy*. When he is on, you wonder how anyone can possibly hit anything.

What about the flip side? Who would be very undervalued? On the pitching side all-time, I think it would be someone like Greg Maddux. Struck out a decent number of guys, but basically excelled by walking no one and never giving anyone a good pitch to hit. In the absence of statistics, I think it would be hard to notice a pitcher whose best skills are not walking anyone and never giving up homeruns. With Maddux, you could possibly start to think that his defense was responsible for his results, not his pitching.
   26. Rally Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:11 PM (#5405803)
I don't think Beltran would have rated above Pujols. I think in general careful attention to stats narrows the gap between an all-around great and a bat first player. So without stats, we are left with Pujols and his completely dominant hitting. Who knows, maybe people would even think Pujols was better than Ryan Howard.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:13 PM (#5405807)
Would he if we didn't know he had The Most Wins In The Eighties™? Absent that, we're left with Game Seven. Would it be enough?


I think he'd have cruised in. He had lots of Acey goodness back in the day and Game Seven would count for a lot.
   28. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:22 PM (#5405819)
Andrew McCutchen.
   29. Sweatpants Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:30 PM (#5405833)
In this hypothetical world, Vladimir Guerrero would be thought of the way Mickey Mantle is in the real one.
   30. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:36 PM (#5405844)
When Beltran was in prime, he did things effortlessly. Switch hitter, excellent baserunner, glided in the field, etc. I never watched Pujols on an everyday basis, I can only tell you about Beltran.
   31. GGC Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:37 PM (#5405848)
Absent that, we're left with Game Seven. Would it be enough?


He had a no-hitter on national TV. Not sure if it being on GoTW helps, but it was the 2nd no-no I ever saw. (Thank you very much, Dave Righetti.)
   32. RMc's Unenviable Situation Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:42 PM (#5405860)
Harrison Bergeron.
   33. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:55 PM (#5405886)
25. What about the flip side? Who would be very undervalued? On the pitching side all-time, I think it would be someone like Greg Maddux. Struck out a decent number of guys, but basically excelled by walking no one and never giving anyone a good pitch to hit. In the absence of statistics, I think it would be hard to notice a pitcher whose best skills are not walking anyone and never giving up homeruns. With Maddux, you could possibly start to think that his defense was responsible for his results, not his pitching.


I bet a guy like Yasmani Grandal would be a good answer here. Most of his offensive value comes from walks (he's a career .238 hitter), and he can't run. And a huge chunk of his defensive value comes from his pitch-framing abilities (he doesn't have an incredible arm, and his SB/CS numbers are just league-average). And on the "manager test," since he plays on such a good team he bats at the bottom of the lineup. You'd have to really study the Dodgers to recognize that he's a very good player.
   34. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:58 PM (#5405894)
Would he if we didn't know he had The Most Wins In The Eighties™? Absent that, we're left with Game Seven. Would it be enough?

He made a record 14 consecutive opening day starts. That would clearly stick out in a narrative world without stats.

   35. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:58 PM (#5405896)
Also consider national exposure. Guys like Nolan Arenado toil in relative obscurity while guys on the Red Sox and Cubs are on TV all the time.
   36. DavidFoss Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:00 PM (#5405904)
Harrison Bergeron

Ah. Forced to use the fungo bat with slippery batting gloves while wearing foggy glasses and having 10 pound weights attached to each wrist. And he *still* hits home runs!+
   37. flournoy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:04 PM (#5405913)
I think Kris Bryant might be seen as the best player.


Last I saw of him, some out of shape sound technician was making a fool of him in batting practice.

And speaking of Maddux, he passes this test with flying colors. He wasn't just a guy who never walked anyone and never gave up homers. He made baseballs do things that nobody else could do even with a Wiffle Ball.
   38. Ziggy's screen name Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:11 PM (#5405924)
How far down the rabbit-hole do we want to go here? With no stats, does Yasmani Grandal have a major league job?
   39. Astroenteritis Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:13 PM (#5405926)
That's easy. Just put jeans on all of them and see who can sell the most.
   40. Jim P Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:20 PM (#5405936)
As a long-time competitive ultimate Frisbee player, I found this article quite relevant. There has been a national championship since 1979 but even now the stat-keeping is sporadic and inconsistent, despite many local efforts over the years. In evaluating player, it feels like most of the people fall victim to the "traditionalist" view, though my team always prided itself on the ability to recognize the players who did the little things well (and, just as importantly, to recognize those that made impressive plays or throws but weren't actually that valuable). Players would be vaguely aware of what their stats would look like but it was just too much effort to bother recording them.

But generally speaking, when there have been stats, the stats line up pretty well with subjective opinion. The one area where stats really helps is in pointing out the rarity of certain negative events that go hand-in-hand with certain positive events. Without stats, you might know that Curt Schilling doesn't walk a lot of batters while having a high strikeout rate, but you'd never know that his K/BB ratio was off the charts.

Another way I view this question is, "who's the best player in my pickup basketball game?"
   41. A triple short of the cycle Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5405970)
Jeff Francoer. Looked like a ballplayer. Toolsy. Usually made a good first impression by hitting very well at the beginning of his tenure with a new team.
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:06 PM (#5406013)

Who would be the first player chosen in a franchise draft?

Derek Jeter, obviously.

I don't think even the broadest definition of "stats" includes "the direction left."
   43. Baldrick Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:16 PM (#5406022)
One thing to consider for the hypothetical: have stats ALWAYS been banned? Because I think that would make a big difference.

There's a lot of stuff that that we know, because because we had all kinds of stats to clarify. We understand the value of home runs and strikeouts and such. Even if we weren't allowed to collect that information anymore, we'd still know the relative worth of different actions.

But if we NEVER had that kind of information in the first place, how we would calibrate? It seems to me that contact hitters would be massively overvalued in that world, given how aggravating strikeouts are, given that walks feel like mistakes by the pitcher rather than achievements of the hitter, and given the lack of clarity about how much extra base hits are actually worth.
   44. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:33 PM (#5406046)

Guys like David Ortiz who have a lot of big clutch hits would be thought of very highly.
   45. Rusty Priske Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5406049)
Without stats I think the only really big change would be that players with really flashy defensive styles would be valued more than they are now. I don't mean the ACTUAL best fielders. I mean the ones that LOOK like they are the best. The Brandon Phillipses and the Kevin Pillars.

Base stealers would probably be worth more as well.

(I would say home run hitters as well, but they are already pretty highly valued.)
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:36 PM (#5406053)
He made a record 14 consecutive opening day starts. That would clearly stick out in a narrative world without stats.


Isn't that a stat?
   47. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:39 PM (#5406060)
I nominate Brandon Phillips:

1. Puts the ball in play a lot - never ever walks, and strikes out at an acceptable level (36th in K/PA among active hitters with 3000 PA*)
2. Makes "spectacular" plays in the field (I use quotes because he's usually just a couple runs above average by the stats but he sure looks good doing it)
3. He steals his share of bases.
4. He seems to have lots of fun on the field.


*EDIT: Don't look at the (banned) number - I just use it to reinforce the image of him always putting the ball in play.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:40 PM (#5406062)
Do they keep score in this world? If so, then the guys who were on base the most would be rightly valued, as people would realize the sole objective is scoring runs (and likely not be as distracted by BA as baseball was for much of its history)

If not, I think the guys who hit the ball the hardest the most often would not only be seen as the best - they would be the best. What other point would there be than to just pound that crap out of the ball?

Beyond that, I'd just cosign 24.
   49. Ithaca2323 Posted: February 21, 2017 at 04:06 PM (#5406093)
The 1986/1987 version of Eric Davis
   50. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 21, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5406102)
But if we NEVER had that kind of information in the first place, how we would calibrate? It seems to me that contact hitters would be massively overvalued in that world, given how aggravating strikeouts are, given that walks feel like mistakes by the pitcher rather than achievements of the hitter, and given the lack of clarity about how much extra base hits are actually worth.

So, basically like the first what, 50 years of baseball?
   51. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: February 21, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5406192)
It's still Trout.
Curious, because in a world with pretty good stats, large numbers of people who should know better dispute this.
   52. catomi01 Posted: February 21, 2017 at 05:28 PM (#5406193)
Seems like it would be close to how a slow-pitch team would be evaluated - the best hitters hit the ball hard and far consistently, and make the fewest outs...the best pitchers are the ones who give up the fewest walks, and the best fielders would be the quickest and flashiest.
   53. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: February 21, 2017 at 05:30 PM (#5406197)
I don't think closers would be as highly rated as some are suggesting- we wouldn't have saves, after all. Kershaw or someone like that is my bet- easy to see them dominate more regularly.
   54. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:36 PM (#5406225)
A friend and I spent the summer after graduation road tripping, and we saw MLB games at every teams' ballpark. Point is, we did nothing but watch baseball all summer. And one thing I still remember sticking out to me was that two hitters just seemed superior to everyone else. No matter who was pitching, those two guys were obviously better than them. It was 1998 (summer of McGwire & Sosa), and the two hitters were Barry Bonds and Tony Gwynn.

Thinking back to WHY we both felt like this, I imagine it was because those two guys hit the ball hard so often - they didn't strike out much and they made solid contact so frequently. So that is my answer - someone that makes frequent, solid contact. Albert Pujols was once the master of this. Who is the best at this combination now? Jose Altuve? Danny Murphy?
   55. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:51 PM (#5406235)
large numbers of people who should know better dispute this


Do they? I haven't run into any of them. When Reddit did a poll of /r/baseball, literally everybody who voted in it rated Trout #1, and they're not exactly the vanguard of sabermetrics over there.

I concede that there may be places offline where the discussion is different. But the only people I've met who deny that Trout is the best player in the game are literal nutjobs.
   56. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:54 PM (#5406238)
I'm with #54--I may know the stats say a guy like Chris Davis or Mark Trumbo can still be a great hitter despite striking out all the time, but....I mean, if I had to watch them play every day, the first time one of them struck out with a guy on third and nobody out I'd be so pissed I couldn't see straight.

"But every 4 games he'll hit a homer." I don't care!!!
   57. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:09 PM (#5406244)
I may know the stats say a guy like Chris Davis or Mark Trumbo can still be a great hitter despite striking out all the time, but....I mean, if I had to watch them play every day, the first time one of them struck out with a guy on third and nobody out I'd be so pissed I couldn't see straight.


But the opposite is true, too. You may know that the stats say a guy who homers every other game isn't that great, but holy ####, he homers a lot!
   58. cardsfanboy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:19 PM (#5406250)
I'm not sure how you can have a world without stats for a sport that keeps score. Maybe if stat research never made it past the original box scores (before RBi existed, and where common opinion was that walks was more often the will of the pitcher and not the batter) Where basically we would have batting average, hr, runs, stolen bases(but not caught stealing---and stolen bases include advancing on singles from first to third.) where errors was biggest barometer of quality defense, and strikeouts was the worst result a hitter could achieve and just another out from a pitcher. (remember, Bob Gibson was the second pitcher in major league history to reach 3000 strikeouts--it just wasn't a thing for pitchers)

Looking at that, you would probably like a guy with a good average, a good combination of hr and stolen bases and maybe plays a defense first position.

A guy like Mike Trout who put up a .326/30/49 line while playing centerfield(along with two other seasons over .315/25/25), might just raise a few eyebrows even in that type of era, and even if we aren't tracking those stats I think all of those numbers are things people watching the game would notice even without the numbers. Of course the problem is that the best player would also have to be on a winner, so it is probably Buster Posey in this alternative universe.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:30 PM (#5406255)
I have actually wondered whether or not a pre-WAR Trout would be acknowledged as a living legend quite the same way that he is now. He's basically a .300/35/110 hitter, which is an All-Star in every era, and he also has 30/30 ability, which was a big deal back in the day. But we perceive him as an inner circle quality player, perhaps the best any of us have ever seen. In an alternate universe maybe he's Dale Murphy - elite, no doubt, but not necessarily legendary.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:33 PM (#5406257)
Curious, because in a world with pretty good stats, large numbers of people who should know better dispute this.


Really? I get that there are people that dispute him winning the MVP over say some other player, but that argument almost always starts with "It's not the best player award, it's the most valuable player award." Even among traditionalists he gets the stats they like, career average of .306, hits 30 hrs a year, steals 30 bases a year, leads the league in scoring every year(well so far 4 out of 5) his big knock is the strikeouts and the relative lack of rbi(still led the league in 2014) on an annual basis. And his defense doesn't take a knock by these people as much as some of the advance stats knock him in a couple of year because he's still a flashy cf. But it's not like there is anyone else people are putting above him as a better player. Harper had one great year, Altuve doesn't have the national exposure and Betts is a one year player propped up by unbelievable defensive numbers. Who else is in the discussion right now for best player in baseball? Posey is a catcher, so he probably doesn't really get the love, Stanton is "one dimensional", McCutchen had a horrible year last year, Bryant and Donaldson feel like the same player, and they lack that speed dimension.
   61. cardsfanboy Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:35 PM (#5406259)
I have actually wondered whether or not a pre-WAR Trout would be acknowledged as a living legend quite the same way that he is now. He's basically a .300/35/110 hitter, which is an All-Star in every era, and he also has 30/30 ability, which was a big deal back in the day. But we perceive him as an inner circle quality player, perhaps the best any of us have ever seen. In an alternate universe maybe he's Dale Murphy - elite, no doubt, but not necessarily legendary.


Trout is hurt by the lack of quality from his team, if he played for the Cardinals or Giants or the Yankees or the Red Sox the past 4 years, he would be viewed in the same light that Joe Dimaggio was viewed. (or Mantle if he had Harpers personality--not saying Harper is a drunk, but his personality is big, like Mantle's, while Dimaggio was a star, he didn't have the outgoing personality of Mantle)
   62. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 22, 2017 at 04:50 AM (#5406410)
I think James McCann is "that guy" for the Tigers. He's athletic, looks good in a uniform (high socks), throws out a lot of basestealers with a legitimate cannon arm, and hits long home runs (average distance last year 418.55 feet -- fourth longest in MLB for guys with at least 10 HR, second only to Stanton if you eliminate Colorado players). He also hustles and carries himself like a "leader."

Without stats, you might still notice that he strikes out a lot and doesn't get on base much. But I think you'd probably guess that he was a star.
   63. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: February 22, 2017 at 09:07 AM (#5406446)
62--Very cool stuff on McCann, thanks. Helps me see him as more than a stat-line!
   64. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: February 22, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5406459)
large numbers of people who should know better dispute this

Do they? I haven't run into any of them.
I know a number of people - people who have watched baseball for decades, one in particular who's played Strat-o-Matic for at least 30 years - who would argue that Cabrera is better. I even asked the Strat guy "You're telling me you'd rather have Cabrera's card on your team than a guy who's the same hitter with a 1 in CF and A speed?" and he said "Yes".

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