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Friday, February 14, 2014

Jim Fregosi dies at 71; first star player in Angels history

Farewell, Jim Fregosi. Think I still have his signed bar napkin.

Jim Fregosi, the first star player in Angels franchise history and the manager who guided them to their first American League West championship in 1979, died Friday in a Miami hospital after suffering a stroke in the Cayman Islands. He was 71.

His death was announced by the Angels, who retired his No. 11 jersey in 1988.

Fregosi, who spent the last 13 years as a highly regarded scout for the Atlanta Braves, was stricken during a Major League Baseball Players Alumni cruise last weekend. He was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami on Wednesday and removed from life support on Thursday.

“This is really shocking, very sad news,” Atlanta General Manager Frank Wren said. “Jim was involved in every player decision we made. He had so much insight, so much understanding of players and how to put teams together.

“He was a real valuable member of the team and just a wonderful guy, one who always brightened up your day because he loved the game, he loved life.”

Fregosi, who was a special assistant to Wren, received one of scouting’s greatest honors, the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award, at the 2011 Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner in Los Angeles.

“Every scout loved him — he was a legend in the game,” said Dennis Gilbert, the Chicago White Sox executive and founder of the scouts foundation. “He was a hero for scouts, a really good friend, and as a kid, he was my favorite player growing up. He was the heart and soul of those Angels clubs.”

Repoz Posted: February 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obit

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   1. AROM Posted: February 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4656839)
Rest in peace Jim. A HOVG playing career, and a truly great baseball life. Best shortstop of the 60's.
   2. Koot Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4656848)
He was the manager baseball card I would have ten doubles of when I was a kid. I didn't even realize he had been such a good former player until I was older.
   3. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4656851)
It seems like he and Dean Chance arrived at stardom at pretty much the same time, which was pretty cool for a franchise that young.

RIP to a guy who left a hell of a mark on the game.

   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4656852)
Very good player and a pretty good manager to boot.
   5. Dan Lee is a Big Hunk of Neufchâtel Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4656854)
I said this elsewhere on the internet, but baseball doesn't get a whole lot more colorful or interesting than Fregosi's '93 Phillies. It's amazing that he was able to control a clubhouse with Daulton, Kruk, Dykstra, Incaviglia, Hollins, and Mitch Williams, and it's mindblowing that he won a pennant with that many...unique individuals.

The '93 Phillies had such a crazy group of players that Larry Andersen was just another guy.
   6. Jeltzandini Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4656860)
RIP. He was on a Cooperstownish shortstop career path through 1970, his age 28 season. Then he cratered and was a marginally useful part time 3B and 1B after that. Wikipedia says he had a tumor in his foot discovered in 1971. Anyone have the further story on why he fell off so definitively? Did he just injure out of the SS position?

   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4656877)
#5 - not to mention a young Curt Schilling.

Fregosi was also the main piece in the trade that sent Nolan Ryan from the Mets to the Angels.

   8. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4656878)
I always thought of Fregosi as the kind of player who was underappreciated in his time until more advanced analysis recognized how valuable he was, especially as a hitter. But he was highly regarded throughout the 1960s: He got MVP votes in each of his first eight full seasons.
   9. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4656881)
Played in his last game on May 31, 1978. Managed his first game on June 2, 1978. Switched teams in the process, too - PIT to CAL. And the Angels had an off-day on June 1.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4656883)

fregosi didn't take care of himself (by his own admission) got out of shape and it's not easy to recover as an athlete once you let things slip. the combination of gaining weight, possibly a bit too much of it alcohol related and moving to a new league to a tough hitters park and being over 30 was too much to overcome.

1971 was injury related. 1972 and 1973 was what I describe above. I think he cut back on the drinking after the 1972 season but the combination of everything else worked against.

you see that with athletes every so often where just one thing slips and instead of getting it back the whole mechanism falls apart.
   11. Cloude Atlas (Voxter) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4656885)

I remember Fregosi mostly as the manager of the 1993 Phllies. I pulled hard for that team, mostly because of Mitch Williams. I hadn't realized he basically quit managing 15 years ago.

Super perfundo, Jim.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4656892)
I hadn't realized he basically quit managing 15 years ago.

Just six months ago, when the Royals were struggling, there was a report that the team was eyeing Fregosi to replace Yost if they made a change.

I believe they had interviewed Fregosi once before, either before they hired Yost or before they hired Trey Hillman.
   13. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4656893)
oh, and sympathies to the fregosi family.

a huge loss for baseball and everyone who knew him
   14. AndrewJ Posted: February 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4656896)
The '95 Phils started out just as dominantly as the '93 squad -- on June 27th they were 37-18 before a slew of injuries sent them reeling. Only three regulars had more than 500 PA, only one starter had more than 162 IP.
   15. Shredder Posted: February 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4656916)
Hopefully he's up there chatting with my dad. Sat in his Angels season seats on the first base side for game four of the 1986 ALCS, which is to this day is the most memorable sporting event I've ever attended. Really nice person.
   16. Padraic Posted: February 14, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4656937)
Not sure if Jayson Stark has written about this yet, but one of the all-time great TV sporting moments as a kid was seeing "The Trial of Jim Fregosi" on the Great Sports Debate on Prism in Philly. Local Philly radio guys Angelo Cataldo and Glenn Macnow were the attorneys, Al Morganti was the judge and, believe it or not, Stark played Fregosi. He wore a pillow under his jacket and had 5 cigarettes in his mouth.

This was before the 93 team, and basically they all were roasting Fregosi for burning out his pitchers. The whole Mitch/Roger Mason thing notwithstanding, he'll always be remembered fondly in Philly.
   17. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4656997)
He's the first White Sox manager from after I started paying attention who has died. I thought he did a fairly good job with them without much talent on the roster.
   18. AndrewJ Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4657049)
The whole Mitch/Roger Mason thing notwithstanding, he'll always be remembered fondly in Philly.

Charlie Manuel's going up on the Phillies' Wall of Fame this summer. Surprised Fregosi didn't make it during his lifetime.
   19. Karl from NY Posted: February 14, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4657087)
Am I the only one who gets Jim Fregosi and Jim Leyland eternally confused? Same name, similar age, similar careers as itinerant managers most notably for Pennsylvania teams.
   20. A New Leaf Posted: February 14, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4657171)
I caught a few minutes of him speaking at the All Star Fan Fest when the All Star Game was in Los Angeles of Anaheim a few years back. Nothing uniquely revelatory, but it was still cool to see the original Halo Legend. Not only was he the first star (at least as a position player), he also managed the team to their first division championship.

In Primer lore, once upon a time the Chicago-based Angel fan contingent (who chimed in above) was labeled as part of the Fregosi famiglia.

Ciao, paisan.
   21. TerpNats Posted: February 15, 2014 at 12:34 AM (#4657237)
IIRC, after he succeeded Tony La Russa as manager of the White Sox in 1986, his new uniform spelled his name "Fergosi."

The Sox went to a different-style uniform in 1987...with no names on the back.
   22. bjhanke Posted: February 15, 2014 at 06:51 AM (#4657254)
Here's two questions for AROM:

1) Jim Fregosi ranks at, actually just a bit over, the entry level for the Hall of Fame by the New Historical Abstract. That version of Win Shares is now elderly, but I just wanted to make sure - has your WAR dropped his ranking out of that range and solidly into the Hall of Very Good? If so, do you know where you and Bill James 2000 disagree?

2) Much more complex question. Someone recently commented (maybe even actually you) that your version of WAR starts top-down, like Win Shares, rather than building up by the player and then checking standard deviations against team Run Scored and Runs Allowed by team/season. One reason that I ask this is that I'm not at all certain how to use WAR in this way. The second is that the difference in approaches does, in and of itself, force differences between systems that work top-down and those that work player up.

What happens is that the two approaches treat Luck differently as a result of dealing with what I call "undiscovered value." Here's how it goes (AROM very likely knows all this): In a traditional WAR system, the formulas used to rank players generate player WAR, you sum them up to test different versions of WAR, and your testing standard is how close to matching actual team/seasons your system gets. The difference between your system (or anyone else's) and actual team RS/season is what I call "undiscovered value." Some of it, of course, is skill that we haven't managed to tease out the data yet. And some of undiscovered value is Luck. Previous WAR systems, by their very nature, treat undiscovered value as though it were all Luck. When you've got as close a method as you can get to team RS/season, you stop. And you use the numbers your system gives you, ignoring that pesky undiscovered value because, well, it's just luck. This is, of course, wrong in nitpicky terms. Some of undiscovered value is skill and some is Luck. To assume that it's all Luck is wrong.

When Win Shares the book came out, I looked deeply at the approach, and found that starting team-down makes a huge difference. In Win Shares, if your Win Shares team/season differs from the actual team's season, you force your system to assign all the undiscovered value to individual players. This, essentially, amounts to treating undiscovered value as if all of it were skill, and there was no such thing as Luck. So, WS and WAR have never gotten the same results. If you've developed a top-down WAR system, that is very new (to me) and will change your assignment of undiscovered value, forcing it to be treated as if it were all skill and no luck. So, what I really want to know is how your system treats undiscovered value and luck. I've thought for years that this was the biggest source of disconnect between the two systems. If that's no longer true, it's important at least to me. So, can you answer all this in the short space of a comment? - Thanks in advance, Brock Hanke

   23. Publius Publicola Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4657326)
RIP, Jim. I had your 1964 baseball card, and still remember it.
   24. Publius Publicola Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4657328)
I always thought of him as a offensive SS but bb-ref seems to like his defense as well. His numbers suggest he was very good on the DP.
   25. Ron J2 Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4657339)
#22 The system used in the new HA is closer to extended prime than pure career. See the comment on Puckett for some notion of design philosophy. I get Fregosi at #17 for best 5 years. (James also looks at best 3 consecutive years.) and higher by my definition of prime.

James' system will likely see Fregosi more favorably than WAR.

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