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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Megdal: Utley: Chase For The Hall

Chase: A breathless explosive story of today tomorrow!

No one is talking about Chase Utley’s Hall of Fame case. And that really ought to change.

It’s nothing new for Utley’s career to be underappreciated. He played on the 2006 Phillies and finished with a higher Wins Above Replacement (per baseball-reference.com) than his teammate, National League MVP Ryan Howard. He played on the 2007 Phillies and finished with a virtually identical WAR to his teammate, National League MVP Jimmy Rollins. And while Rollins and Howard have settled into a post-peak with the Phillies, still useful regulars if not stars, Utley is still the team’s best offensive performer all these years later, in 2014.

In fact, for all his injury struggles, which limited him to 115, 103 and 83 games in the 2010-12 seasons, Utley would have a surprisingly strong case for the Hall of Fame if he were to retire today.

So I was surprised on Friday when I asked him whether I was the first reporter to have inquired about his reaching the Hall of Fame, and the famously humble Utley just smiled, looked me in the eye and said, “Yeah,” while leaning against his bat. He continued a trend I’ve noticed throughout his career: His voice gets quieter when he speaks about himself.

“Honestly, it’s something I don’t think about whatsoever,” Utley said of whether he’ll eventually be enshrined. “I never played this game for accolades or awards. I play it for the passion I have for it.”

But if Utley won’t make his own case in quotes, he’s certainly doing so on the field. Entering Saturday’s game, Utley had accumulated a career WAR of 59.4. There are 13 second basemen ever who have passed that mark, and nine of them already are in the Hall of Fame, while a 10th, Craig Biggio, is widely expected to get in shortly. (Two others, Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich, really ought to be there, too, but that’s another story.)

Utley is also already ahead of Joe Gordon, next on the list and also a Hall of Famer. He’s ahead of Bobby Doerr, Tony Lazzeri, Nelly Fox, Johnny Evers—all Hall of Famers.

And there’s a reason I’m using WAR, by the way. It’s arguably the weakest part of Utley’s case, because it is so heavily influenced by accumulating playing time. Of the 13 ahead of Utley, all but one second baseman, Jackie Robinson, collected at least 8,200 plate apearances. Utley, entering Saturday, was at 5,809. Among the top 30 most valuable second basemen of all-time, none of the others accumulated that much value so quickly.

Repoz Posted: May 11, 2014 at 01:28 PM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. jdennis Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4704495)
He can't say that BBTF talks about it all the time because then it would give away that he more or less plagiarized the exact argument that BBTF posters always use to base his article on. Seriously, he probably wrote this after reading comments on here.
   2. Greg K Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4704503)
I don't know if that's really fair since:

A) a significant part of the article deals with talking to Utley, Hamels, Sandberg, and others about it. Whether you think that's relevant information or not, it's not something that's a part of BTF conversations.
B) I don't think it's a particularly revolutionary way of thinking about Utley's hall of fame chances. I mean how do you discuss Utley's hall of fame prospects without talking about the team-mate MVP thing, WAR (or without explicitly mentioning the stat, the defensive value WAR gives him), and the issue of his playing time.
C) I'd guess he doesn't mention BTF because how many readers would know what BTF is? And it's not like Utley Hall of Fame talk was invented here.

Perhaps I'm just being overly sensitive to the "p word", but it's a fairly serious allegation in my neck of the woods.
   3. bobm Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4704506)
Second base JAWS leaders: baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/chase_utley_is_the_hottest_hitter_in_baseball_and_has_a_shot_at_400/#4689276

Second base WAA leaders:
baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/mitchell_albert_pujols_and_miguel_cabrera/#4704423

ETA: the second list was inspired by another poster's great comment about Utley in that same thread today
   4. bobm Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4704510)
From the comments at TFA:


NeilB
5 hours ago
Could you possibly post some real stats, and not just this WAR and OPS BS? For generations fans talked about Ruth, Williams, Mays and Aaron and WAR and OPS weren't even invented yet. What's wrong with Batting Average, Runs Scored, HRs and RBIs? And his post season career is remarkable - also missing from your HOF discussion. [...]

Howard Megdal
2 hours ago
Hi NeilB! I tried writing this piece originally without BS stats, just the ones you mentioned, but when I tried to file it to my editors, my typewriter wouldn't connect to the Internet.
   5. BDC Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4704516)
OK, here's a "bus list" of comps for Utley that I drew up and then decided was OT in a different thread today. Batters centered on Utley in terms of OPS+ and PAs, ranked by dWAR, completed careers (or active players as in the case of Cano). I also threw in some real stats for those who prefer them :-D

Player           dWAR   PA OPSWAR/pos   Age  HR  RBI  SB   BA       Pos
Chase Utley      17.1 5814  127    59.6 24
-35 220  826 130 .289    *4/H3D
Robinson Cano     6.0 5947  125    45.6 22
-31 205  841  40 .309    *4/DH6
Roger Maris      
-1.7 5847  127    38.2 22-33 275  850  21 .260    *98H/7
Danny Murphy     
-4.0 5979  125    35.9 23-38  44  702 193 .289   *49/873
Sid Gordon       
-4.5 5813  129    38.3 23-37 202  805  19 .283 *759/H384
Bob Allison      
-5.3 5923  127    33.9 23-35 256  796  84 .255     9783H
Hal Trosky       
-8.0 5749  130    30.5 20-33 228 1012  28 .302     *3/H4
John Titus       
-8.5 5818  127    29.7 27-37  38  561 140 .282     *97/8
Richie Zisk      
-9.6 5737  127    24.9 22-34 207  792   8 .287      9D7H
Topsy Hartsel    
-9.9 5793  128    31.3 24-37  31  341 247 .276     *7/98
Jay Buhner      
-12.9 5927  124    22.9 22-36 310  965   6 .254  *9/HD873 


If you make it a "through mid-30s" list, you pick up Jorge Posada and Moises Alou, but you don't pick up much in the way of HOF argument.

And man, if Roger Maris can't get to the HOF with consecutive MVPs, a monumental HR record, and two more rings than Utley, this is not a promising list. I'm talking about the prospect of impressing a bunch of BBWAA voters, not of his making the HOM, which is far greater, obviously.

Utley's dominance of his own list in WAR comes largely from defense, where advanced metrics see him as phenomenal, whereas his reputation is AFAIK not any greater than Cano's, which is to say fine but nothing to make you forget Mazeroski.

The parallel that comes to mind is Nomar Garciaparra, a flashier and better-known player with equally nil HOF chances at the moment. But Utley is active and playing well despite his age, and call no man happy or miserable until he dies, as Montaigne or somebody used to say.

EDIT: Note that the parameters of the search are very narrow. It is not hard to find similar batting careers. Obviously it's exceedingly hard to find them by strong middle infielders. But Maris was no slouch defensively, and Danny Murphy – a now-forgotten Philadelphia second baseman of a century before Utley – was a good fielder and a comparable hitter relative to his own league, though with less oWAR, probably due to positional context (deadball 2B tended to be pretty good hitters).
   6. bobm Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4704521)
                         
Rk         Player WAA/pos
1     Roger Maris    19.7
2      Sid Gordon    16.1
3     Bob Allison    15.1
4     Harry Davis    13.4
5    Danny Murphy    13.4
6      Hal Trosky    11.3
7      John Titus    10.8
8     Richie Zisk     6.3
9      Jay Buhner     2.4



Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/11/2014.


Utley 42.4 WAA
Cano 24.5 WAA
   7. bobm Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4704524)
Nomar

                                 
Year   Age  Tm  Lg    G   PA  WAA
1996    22 BOS  AL   24   93 -0.1
1997    23 BOS  AL  153  734  4.3
1998    24 BOS  AL  143  652  4.9
1999    25 BOS  AL  135  595  4.5
2000    26 BOS  AL  140  599  5.3
2001    27 BOS  AL   21   91  0.1
2002    28 BOS  AL  156  693  4.4
2003    29 BOS  AL  156  719  3.7
2004    30 BOS  AL   38  169 -0.6
2004    30 CHC  NL   43  185  0.7
2005    31 CHC  NL   62  247 -0.6
2006    32 LAD  NL  122  523  0.9
2007    33 LAD  NL  121  466 -2.9
2008    34 LAD  NL   55  181  0.3
2009    35 OAK  AL   65  169 -0.7
14 Seasons         1434 6116 24.2
                                 
BOS (9 yrs)         966 4345 26.5
LAD (3 yrs)         298 1170 -1.8
CHC (2 yrs)         105  432  0.1
OAK (1 yr)           65  169 -0.7


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/11/2014.
   8. DavidFoss Posted: May 11, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4704560)
WAA will overrate Utley a bit because he gets hurt a lot within seasons.

Summing up his (WAR-2) still gets you a number in the high 30s, though, which is excellent.
   9. HowardMegdal Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:13 PM (#4704637)
Article came from seeing the Phillies were in town, getting curious about his career value, plugging second basemen into Play Index, and getting sufficiently wowed by what I saw to go write about it, talk to Utley and those around him, and see what they thought.
But thanks for the false, reckless plagiarism charge, 1.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:56 PM (#4704648)
Great response from Howard posted in #4.

Of course using traditional stats,

Among second baseman with at least 5000 pa at the position,

Utley's OPS+ of 127 is 6th all time, his average of .289 is 22nd, obp of .374 is 14th, his slg% of .499 is fourth, his ops of .873 is also fourth... That is the rate stats.

Counting stats his 210 hr is 12th all time(and realistically will probably break the top 5 around the end of next year) He's currently 43 in runs scored with 872, 1005 will put him in top 20 territory. His 826 rbi is 26th and 1000 will put him top 15 all time. The thing that hurts Utley is not winning a gold glove, when he very well should have several right now.

Basically right now, Utley has a good argument as one of the 15 best second baseman in history. The problem is that second base is widely underrated. Jeff Kent is never going into the hof, Biggio had to wait three years, Grich is probably never going in, and Whitaker is going to be lucky if the Vets committee puts him in. All of these guys have arguments in line with Utley's.
   11. HowardMegdal Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4704652)
10. Agree completely on 2B being underrated. But do you really think Kent is never getting in? Also, Whitaker has such a good case, I'd be surprised if a future, more forward-thinking Vets Committee keeps him out.
But seriously, 2B needs more reps.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4704654)
Agree completely on 2B being underrated. But do you really think Kent is never getting in?

yes
Whitaker has such a good case, I'd be surprised if a future, more forward-thinking Vets Committee keeps him out.

nope

Utley has as much chance as Grich, which is to say--none

sad but true
   13. AndrewJ Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4704655)
Chase is a great player -- the SOE article doesn't even mention his seven career World Series home runs -- but I think he'll have to move up in the all-time counting stat lists before he's taken seriously as a Hall candidate.
   14. Greg K Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:22 PM (#4704663)
There are a few guys active now who I'm pretty sure I would put in the Hall comfortably (Utley, Beltre, Beltran) but I somehow see them having a very difficult go of it.

Come to think of, who are the players active in 2014 who are in for sure? Just Jeter and Pujols? After that you've got Cabrera and Ichiro who may fit into that category. Then a bunch of guys who are building cases.

I suppose A-Rod is his own whole kettle of fish.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4704668)
I not only don't think Kent will get in, I don't think he should go in.

On the "will he?" question, he got just 15.2% last year. Tough ballot, etc. but he's also 18th in WAR on that ballot, as close to McGriff in 19th as Sosa in 17th. So it will be a long time before the backlog clears out enough to make him a serious candidate. I don't expect to see him to advance from where he is anytime soon -- I'd guess it's more likely he falls off than it is that he ever cracks 30%.

Of course what a VC, structured in god knows what way, might do 20+ years from now I have no real opinion on.

As to should he -- (1) still a tough ballot from a saber perspective even if you ignore the PEDs guys; (2) even for "2B" as defined by JAWS, he's 18th in career WAR and 25th in WAR7 -- neither a good peak nor career candidate. His flashy raw numbers are partly the sillyball context. So (3) he fits in fine with the (mostly) pre-integration 2B like Gordon, Lazzeri, Doerr, Hermann and (later) Fox but he is simply not that impressive from a post-expansion perspective. (4) By JAWS, Cano will pass him this year and Pedroia probably by the end of next year.

In the BBTF HoF 2014 ballot, Kent came in 18th. He might eventually make it up the much easier HoM ballot but still finished 8th there, behind Kenny Lofton. Of the 34 ballots cast there, he got only 11 top 10 votes. The gap between him and Buddy Bell is about 50 points, the gap between him and Sosa (6th) is 150 points. (Remember, the HoM ballot no longer features, Bonds, McGwire, Walker, Edgar, etc. because they were already elected. There are very few players who debuted more than 2 years ago that are serious candidates.)
   16. Walt Davis Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4704674)
After that you've got Cabrera and Ichiro who may fit into that category.

These guys are locks to go into the HoF at this point (that's "will" not necessarily "should") ... barring roids or some horrible drunk-driving incident or something. Cabrera may have sealed it with the triple crown but I think the 2nd MVP made it certain. Yes, even if he Murphies at this point.

Ichiro has been a lock since he hit the 10-year mark even if our glorious sabermetric revolution is in full-flower in 5+ years.

Outside of those guys, Beltre, Beltran are closing in; Utley, Ortiz, Rollins and I suspect Hunter will have their champions; Wright, Mauer, Cano are getting close; Longoria and Tulo leading the way in the younger set.

Votto is interesting -- he's actually only a year younger than Mauer but is still 1300 PA behind an oft-injured C due to his late start. I'm having a hard time seeing him compile the sort of career numbers (HR and RBI especially) voters will want out of a 1B even if his career lasts long enough (and he needs a good 4000+ PA in that regard). In short, if Bagwell has a tough time, what are they gonna do to Votto? His best hope is that OBP does displace BA among voters (reasonable chance within 10+ years) and he's led the league 4 straight years and might easily add a few more before he's done -- then at least they'll see him as Boggs/Gwynn.
   17. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:52 PM (#4704676)
Also, Whitaker has such a good case, I'd be surprised if a future, more forward-thinking Vets Committee keeps him out.


more forward-thinking Vets Committee
Whitaker, Grich, Hernandez, and Dwight Evans sure hope so but so far the Exp Era ballot and the Screening Committee that puts together the ballot seem as forward thinking as reader NeilB in the comments

Nice article. Great response to NeilB in the comments about the typewriter and the internet
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4704677)
10. Agree completely on 2B being underrated. But do you really think Kent is never getting in? Also, Whitaker has such a good case, I'd be surprised if a future, more forward-thinking Vets Committee keeps him out.
But seriously, 2B needs more reps.


I think Whitaker gets in someday, I do not think that Kent has a chance. And think Grich is unlikely also. But Whitaker goes in after both Morris and Trammel.

Utley has as much chance as Grich, which is to say--none


Disagree. I think Utley has a chance if he makes it to as many plate appearances as Grich. That is another 2500 plate appearances or so, that puts him at 350 career homeruns(2nd all time among 2nd baseman), 1200 runs and rbi(only 6 second baseman have done that) Add in that the average writer and fan is probably more informed on the value of obp/slg park effects etc than they were when Grich was eligible, and Utley is a much better candidate.

Kent suffers because of his defensive reputation, his teammates shadow, and his general disposition/personality. Kent is the hitting version of Kevin Brown in my mind.
   19. BDC Posted: May 11, 2014 at 10:06 PM (#4704679)
That is another 2500 plate appearances or so, that puts him at 350 career homeruns

Wait, fanboy: Utley has averaged about 500 plate appearances per season in his 30s, with about 17 HR per those 500 PAs. Even five more seasons at that rate, which gets him to 2,500, leaves him with only about 300 home runs. He's just got an uphill battle. I think I'm just going to enjoy him while I can – I got to see him play for the first time in person, last month, because the only time I was at a game in Philly during his career, he was inevitably injured :(
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: May 11, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4704682)
Ok, 300 homeruns, puts him 3rd all time on the list among second baseman.
   21. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 11, 2014 at 11:00 PM (#4704695)
After that you've got Cabrera and Ichiro who may fit into that category.


Those two guys are locks, they will go in within 3 ballots. I'll Ray et al argue about the validity of the cases themselves.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: May 12, 2014 at 12:42 AM (#4704721)
By the way, WAR does not ding Kent badly for his defense. He's dead-average through age 37, then it goes to pot. But ignoring those last three years drops his WAR from 55 to 52 while boosting his WAA from about 26 to about 28. Or you can pretend he was average defensively those 3 years and his WAR is up to 59 and WAA up to 29. Neither really changes the picture much.

His case rests on his 29-37 years which were the height of sillyball. He had 42 WAR and 25 WAA which is good but not particularly impressive in an HoF context. The rest is roughly 4000 PA of dead average which helps but leaves him far short of impressive career totals.

I mentioned his low WAR7 total. You can debate whether 7 is the right number (I'd probably prefer 8 or 10 ... something closer to prime) but leave that aside. He's behind Randolph, Knoblauch, Whitaker, Pedroia, Biggio, Alomar, Cano, Grich, Sandberg, Utley. For his career, zero out Randolph's 114 Rfield and he's still pretty much in a dead heat with Kent.

Not trying to diss the man. He's at least borderline of course and if your HoF is bigger than mine, put him in. He's not much worse than recent BBWAA selection Dawson and it's hard to argue he was any worse than Puckett, Rice or Perez. But, y'know, slippery slopes.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 01:04 AM (#4704724)
10. Agree completely on 2B being underrated. But do you really think Kent is never getting in?


Yes.

Funny, I have no recollection of Kent with Houston after the Giants, and while I remember he played for the Dodgers at the end of his career, I didn't realize he played for them for four years.
   24. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 01:33 AM (#4704726)
Those two guys are locks, they will go in within 3 ballots. I'll Ray et al argue about the validity of the cases themselves.


Oh, both Ichiro and Miguel Cabrera will go in on the first ballot. Cabrera now is a lock for the first ballot, what with the triple crown silliness and the silly people who obsess over that.

On Ichiro, I'll just note that he's done zip to add to his case since the close of the 2010 season, when he was coming off of his age-36 year with 55 WAR and many people here conceded that he hadn't done enough in MLB yet but they were sure -- just absolutely sure -- that he had a number of productive years ahead.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: May 12, 2014 at 02:21 AM (#4704731)
Depends on your criteria of course.

Since 2010, he's added 4 WAR (and -4 WAA) and, more importantly, 500 hits, over 200 runs, a lot of gp and PA. He passed 2750 hits, 1250 runs, 9000 PA and 2000 games played. He has removed any "career too short" concerns about his MLB-only time.

And that 10 year period before his decline was 55 WAR and 31 WAA. His WAR7 is the same as Sosa's, a smidgen behind Walker, only 3 behind Reggie, ahead of Gwynn and Winfield and most of the pre-expansion HoF guys for those who care.

They got there in very different ways but by WAR, WAA, WAR7, MVPs, AS games and career length, Ichiro and Sosa are pretty much indistinguishable.

By the time he hits the ballot, the backlog may well still be so daunting that he shouldn't crack the top 10 of the saber-aware voter but that will be because of the ridiculous backlog.

Whether he deserves to be in or not is pretty much purely a question of how big your personal HoF is but he's at least borderline even for the smallest Haller.
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 02:38 AM (#4704732)
Depends on your criteria of course.


Not raw hits/runs totals.

Since 2010, he's added 4 WAR (and -4 WAA) and, more importantly, 500 hits, over 200 runs, a lot of gp and PA. He passed 2750 hits, 1250 runs, 9000 PA and 2000 games played. He has removed any "career too short" concerns about his MLB-only time.


No, he has a short career for a HOFer. Jim Rice is thought of as having a short career, burning out early. Ichiro just (yesterday) passed Rice in games played, with 2090.

   27. BDC Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4704800)
a bunch of guys who are building cases

Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle are off to great starts this season and continue to pile up credits. They've entered that thirtysomething epoch when age and aging are irrelevant to pitchers for a few seasons. Neither one was dominant, but most generations of pitchers feature (relative to context) their Tommy Johns and Jim Kaats – their Jack Morrises! – who outlast the greater pitchers and begin to look darn good overall. The best of such guys, like Don Sutton, can be HOFers.

CC Sabathia is a different story, more dominant in his prime but looking toasty of late. However, he's younger than Hudson or Buehrle and has time to turn two or three more career corners and win a very substantial number of games for his era. If he's definitively lost it, he probably stays in the HOVG looking in.
   28. Ron J2 Posted: May 12, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4704960)
I've mentioned it before, but Utley has a very strong peak case -- at least by Dale Stephenson's definition of peak (best 5 years, need not be consecutive).

He ranks 6th in WAR in best 5 seasons. He has 5 seasons with 7+ WAR and only 3 2B (Hornsby, Collins. Lajoie) can top that. Morgan and Gehringer are the only others with 5 seasons of 7+ WAR at 2B.

A lot of that is driven by defense (4th best on the peak list) , and I don't think the BBWAA see Utley in that light. He drops to 12th by oWAR, behind (among others) Sandberg and Alomar and just ahead (fittingly) of Bobby Grich. At their respective best WAR has Utley as a slightly better offensive player than Grich and a better defensive player )Grich ranks 7th with Nellie Fox and Dustin Pedroia splitting them)

I think the BBWAA is likely to see Utley right now as closer to Grich than Alomar or Sandberg.

   29. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4704981)
I think the BBWAA is likely to see Utley right now as closer to Grich than Alomar or Sandberg.


In absolute terms, sure. But I really doubt that Utley gets Grich'd or Whitaker'd when he hits the ballot. I can see him debuting at more of a Trammell-level position (maybe a little higher), from which a slow Hall campaign is possible, plus a better position with the Vets if no such campaign materializes but he hangs around the ballot for the full 15.

   30. Russ Posted: May 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4705053)
You can debate whether 7 is the right number (I'd probably prefer 8 or 10 ... something closer to prime)


But 8 or 10 are not prime numbers! Don't you get it!?!
   31. alilisd Posted: May 12, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4705163)
Ok, 300 homeruns, puts him 3rd all time on the list among second baseman.


And all of two 2B in history have hit at least 80 HR from their age 35 season on. Yes, given the playing time you're granting Utley he could rack up some impressive numbers, but at his age and with his health history there is nothing to indicate he will accumulate that playing time.
   32. Moeball Posted: May 12, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4705343)
WAA will overrate Utley a bit because he gets hurt a lot within seasons.


I understand conceptually that a player with only 100 games played means that his team has to go 60-some games without him, presumably with only a replacement level player taking his place. This does hurt the team somewhat. But I think you're also missing the point about just how far above average Utley has been.

From 2005-2011 - I think most would consider this the peak of the Phillies' run of success - the team had a combined record of 646-488 over a 7-year period, or 158 games above .500. This comes to an average record of 92-70. This included several trips to the playoffs and back to back trips to the World Series in 2008 and 2009, winning the title in 2008. This was one of the most successful periods in Phillies history. They had a winning record every season of that run. As a side point of interest, after the one-year dip in 2006 they improved their W-L record every season from 2007-2011. I don't think you can find many teams in baseball history that managed to do that 5 years in a row!

But I digress - my point is this - over this 7-year period, even taking into account Utley missed significant chunks of the 2010 and 2011 seasons - he only had 28 total fewer games played than Jimmy Rollins and 36 fewer than Ryan Howard. That's 4 or 5 games per season on average. But what actually got accomplished in those seasons? Utley had a WAA of 36.4 - almost double that of Rollins and Howard combined. Think about that for a moment. The guy who never won any Gold Gloves or MVPs was responsible for the team being 72 games over .500 over a 7-year period (each WAA represents 2 games over .500), almost matching the entire rest of the roster, which provided the other 86 games over .500 during that period. That's not just good, that's dominant! The only player in the N.L. who did better over that period was Albert Pujols, and finishing second to Albert Pujols is no shame as far as I can tell.

Even with the time that Utley missed - which was significant - he was clearly the largest reason the Phillies were having such a run of success for several years. I think that should count for something.






   33. Moeball Posted: May 12, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4705356)
Now I have some questions I hope people can help with:

First of all - to the author of the article, Howard Megdal, since I know you're reading this thread:

He played on the 2007 Phillies and finished with a virtually identical WAR to his teammate, National League MVP Jimmy Rollins.


I see Utley with a WAR of 7.8 in 2007 while Rollins comes in at 6.1. Were you using Fangraphs WAR instead of B-Ref? Just wasn't sure where you were getting the numbers from.

2)To bobm or one of our other Primates who's probably smarter at using the Player Index than I am: In looking at the 2005-2011 period for Utley, I saw that he was ages 26-32 during this 7-year run. As noted in my previous post, he had a WAA of 36.4 during the period, or an average of over 5 WAA/season. If I want to look at a list of the best 7-year runs in history for WAA, can I do that? I know they have the WAR7 thingy which will approximate it, I guess, but I was wondering if I could do it for WAA. I did note that I can do a search of players aged 26-32 in the Player Index and was impressed to see that Utley's WAA performance on that list came in at 18th overall among position players. Only Ruth, Hornsby, Mays, Bonds, Gehrig, Morgan, Wagner, Schmidt, Aaron, Pujols, Musial, T. Williams, Cobb, A-Rod, Lajoie, Rickey! and Boggs put together a better stretch of seasons from ages 26-32. This alone should convince people that Utley has a strong HOF case as he's done something that only inner-circle type players have been able to achieve. I also noted that only 3 second basemen were on the above list, so in terms of extended peak - I think 7 years qualifies as a fairly extended peak - Utley's in pretty rare company.

   34. cardsfanboy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4705368)
And all of two 2B in history have hit at least 80 HR from their age 35 season on. Yes, given the playing time you're granting Utley he could rack up some impressive numbers, but at his age and with his health history there is nothing to indicate he will accumulate that playing time.


The only point I was trying to make, was that Utley is in good shape to have pretty impressive traditional career numbers, relative to other second baseman, when it's all said and done, since it was a response to a reader complaining about Megdel using "Saber" stats instead of useless traditional stat.

2)To bobm or one of our other Primates who's probably smarter at using the Player Index than I am: In looking at the 2005-2011 period for Utley, I saw that he was ages 26-32 during this 7-year run. As noted in my previous post, he had a WAA of 36.4 during the period, or an average of over 5 WAA/season. If I want to look at a list of the best 7-year runs in history for WAA, can I do that? I know they have the WAR7 thingy which will approximate it, I guess, but I was wondering if I could do it for WAA. I did note that I can do a search of players aged 26-32 in the Player Index and was impressed to see that Utley's WAA performance on that list came in at 18th overall among position players. Only Ruth, Hornsby, Mays, Bonds, Gehrig, Morgan, Wagner, Schmidt, Aaron, Pujols, Musial, T. Williams, Cobb, A-Rod, Lajoie, Rickey! and Boggs put together a better stretch of seasons from ages 26-32. This alone should convince people that Utley has a strong HOF case as he's done something that only inner-circle type players have been able to achieve. I also noted that only 3 second basemen were on the above list, so in terms of extended peak - I think 7 years qualifies as a fairly extended peak - Utley's in pretty rare company.


The only real problem, is that people who will accept a War/Waa argument isn't going to need that level of convincing, and those who won't accept the argument, isn't going to see anything impressive about that.
   35. BDC Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4705375)
Moeball, others are better than I am at PI. But I do know that you can use the Batting Season Finder to search, say, for guys with multiple seasons of 5.1 WAA or greater. Utley had five such seasons, one of only 27 such players – though 18 of them had six or more. You can thus (somewhat) easily find the guys with the same or more seasons at that level (there aren't many), and you can eyeball how closely those seasons are grouped. That's not quite what you want to do, but it's interesting.

Along the lines of what you found, I took a look at total dWAR from ages 26-32. Utley is 14th on that leaderboard, even better than his showing in WAA.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4705385)
Moeball, others are better than I am at PI. But I do know that you can use the Batting Season Finder to search, say, for guys with multiple seasons of 5.1 WAA or greater. Utley had five such seasons, one of only 27 such players – though 18 of them had six or more. You can thus (somewhat) easily find the guys with the same or more seasons at that level (there aren't many), and you can eyeball how closely those seasons are grouped. That's not quite what you want to do, but it's interesting.

Along the lines of what you found, I took a look at total dWAR from ages 26-32. Utley is 14th on that leaderboard, even better than his showing in WAA.

Rk                         Yrs
                              
1              Barry Bonds  14
2              Willie Mays  13
3                Babe Ruth  12
4               Hank Aaron  11
5             Ted Williams  10
6               Lou Gehrig  10
7           Rogers Hornsby  10
8           Alex Rodriguez   9
9             Honus Wagner   9
10           Albert Pujols   8
11            Mike Schmidt   8
12             Stan Musial   8
13            Tris Speaker   8
14                 Ty Cobb   8
15           Eddie Collins   7
16              Nap Lajoie   7
17              Wade Boggs   6
18           Eddie Mathews   6
19                 Mel Ott   6
20             Jimmie Foxx   6
21             Chase Utley   5
22        Rickey Henderson   5
23            George Brett   5
24              Joe Morgan   5
25        Roberto Clemente   5
Rk                         Yrs
26          Frank Robinson   5
27           Mickey Mantle   5
28            Joe DiMaggio   5 



   37. cardsfanboy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4705386)
To bobm or one of our other Primates who's probably smarter at using the Player Index than I am: In looking at the 2005-2011 period for Utley, I saw that he was ages 26-32 during this 7-year run. As noted in my previous post, he had a WAA of 36.4 during the period, or an average of over 5 WAA/season.


I can't figure a way to do that, outside of individually going through 1st 7 seasons...2-8th seasons, 3-9th seasons etc...
   38. alilisd Posted: May 12, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4705393)
The only point I was trying to make, was that Utley is in good shape to have pretty impressive traditional career numbers, relative to other second baseman,


Oh, sorry, I missed that. Cheers!
   39. bobm Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4705438)
[37] a quick and dirty first pass way is to run a query for single seasons with a minimum WAA sorted by name. Then export to your favorite spreadsheet and process.

WAA >= 5 yields 507 player-seasons
WAA >= 3 yields 2022 player-seasons (using ascending and descending sorts)
   40. Moeball Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:58 PM (#4705462)
I can't figure a way to do that, outside of individually going through 1st 7 seasons...2-8th seasons, 3-9th seasons etc...


cfb - thanks anyways, that's kind of what I was afraid the answer was gonna be.


a quick and dirty first pass way is to run a query for single seasons with a minimum WAA sorted by name. Then export to your favorite spreadsheet and process.


bobm - I'll give that a try. Thanks.

Some other things about Utley that intrigue me - I don't get to see him play very often but a couple things come to mind:

1)Is he the smartest base runner ever? I noticed that coming into this season he had 129 career steals...and only 17 caught stealing (success rate of 88%). He's never gonna lead the league in steals, he doesn't have that kind of speed. But every year he steals oh, 10 or 20 bases, and only gets caught 2 or 3 times at most. He's had a couple of seasons where he didn't get caught at all. Is he just really good at picking his spots? Does he do other things like go from first to third really well or other stuff that would indicate he's an exceptionally smart base runner?

2)I also noticed he gets hit by pitch a lot. This is part of what gives him such excellent On-Base Percentages. I wonder, though - I think a couple of times at least it was the getting hit by pitch that put him on the DL for a while, wasn't it? Is it worth getting on base an extra 20 times a season if it also causes you to miss 20 games a season? I guess he crowds the plate a lot? I haven't really watched him play that much so I'm hoping there are some regular Philly fans who can enlighten me about this?
   41. bobm Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:28 PM (#4705477)
2)I also noticed he gets hit by pitch a lot.

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2014, From 1st season to 11th season, (requiring G>=1268, ie top 600 players), sorted by greatest HBP

         Player    G HBP HB/PA From   To   Age   PA   AB
       Ron Hunt 1356 227 0.040 1963 1973 22-32 5645 4809
  Jason Kendall 1545 209 0.031 1996 2006 22-32 6585 5759
  Minnie Minoso 1500 164 0.025 1949 1960 23-34 6558 5586
    Chase Utley 1323 156 0.027 2003 2013 24-34 5671 4910
 David Eckstein 1311 143 0.025 2001 2010 26-35 5705 5041
   Craig Biggio 1539 142 0.021 1988 1998 22-32 6687 5750
Chuck Knoblauch 1552 135 0.019 1991 2001 22-32 7051 6066
 Frank Robinson 1657 128 0.018 1956 1966 20-30 7088 6103
   Art Fletcher 1280 127 0.025 1909 1919 24-34 5015 4595
   Aaron Rowand 1358 126 0.026 2001 2011 23-33 4817 4374
   42. bobm Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4705481)
Chase Utley seasons and HBP, sorted by G. In 2007-2009, he led in the NL in HBP each year and played in 132, 159 and 156 games.


                             
Year   Age  Tm Lg   G  PA HBP
2006    27 PHI NL 160 739  14
2008    29 PHI NL 159 707  27
2009    30 PHI NL 156 687  24
2005    26 PHI NL 147 628   9
2007    28 PHI NL 132 613  25
2013    34 PHI NL 131 531   5
2010    31 PHI NL 115 511  18
2011    32 PHI NL 103 454  14
2004    25 PHI NL  94 287   2
2012    33 PHI NL  83 362  12
2003    24 PHI NL  43 152   6
2014    35 PHI NL  33 149   4


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/12/2014.
   43. bobm Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:43 PM (#4705487)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1947 to 2014, (requiring SB>=50), sorted by largest SB%

         Player   SB%  SB  CS From   To   Age    G    PA
   Tony Campana 89.2%  66   8 2011 2014 25-28  236   452
     Mike Trout 88.2%  90  12 2011 2014 19-22  372  1655
  Alexi Casilla 87.9%  80  11 2006 2013 21-28  577  1889
    Chase Utley 87.8% 130  18 2003 2014 24-35 1356  5820
    Sam Jethroe 87.5%  98  14 1950 1954 33-37  442  1974
   Jayson Werth 87.3% 117  17 2002 2014 23-35 1172  4621
Jackie Robinson 86.8% 197  30 1947 1956 28-37 1382  5804
    Lou Frazier 86.6%  58   9 1993 1998 28-33  309   626
 Carlos Beltran 86.6% 309  48 1998 2014 21-37 2096  9086
   Jarrod Dyson 86.4%  89  14 2010 2014 25-29  255   742
   Craig Gentry 86.1%  62  10 2009 2014 25-30  349   839
  Jack Perconte 85.7%  78  13 1980 1986 25-31  433  1630
   Kazuo Matsui 85.0% 102  18 2004 2010 28-34  630  2555
   Nate McLouth 84.9% 129  23 2005 2014 23-32  995  3639
    Eric Byrnes 84.9% 129  23 2000 2010 24-34  963  3532
      Jason Bay 84.8%  95  17 2003 2013 24-34 1278  5258
    Pokey Reese 84.7% 144  26 1997 2004 24-31  856  3138
     Tim Raines 84.7% 808 146 1979 2002 19-42 2502 10359
Roger Bernadina 84.3%  59  11 2008 2014 24-30  520  1442
     Eric Davis 84.1% 349  66 1984 2001 22-39 1626  6147
Jacoby Ellsbury 83.9% 251  48 2007 2014 23-30  750  3354
Alcides Escobar 83.7% 108  21 2008 2014 21-27  700  2718
    Eli Marrero 83.6%  56  11 1997 2006 23-32  724  2126

   44. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:47 PM (#4705490)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2014, From 1st season to 11th season, (requiring G>=1268, ie top 600 players), sorted by greatest HBP

Player G HBP HB/PA From To Age PA AB
Ron Hunt 1356 227 0.040 1963 1973 22-32 5645 4809
Jason Kendall 1545 209 0.031 1996 2006 22-32 6585 5759
Minnie Minoso 1500 164 0.025 1949 1960 23-34 6558 5586
Chase Utley 1323 156 0.027 2003 2013 24-34 5671 4910
David Eckstein 1311 143 0.025 2001 2010 26-35 5705 5041
Craig Biggio 1539 142 0.021 1988 1998 22-32 6687 5750
Chuck Knoblauch 1552 135 0.019 1991 2001 22-32 7051 6066
Frank Robinson 1657 128 0.018 1956 1966 20-30 7088 6103
Art Fletcher 1280 127 0.025 1909 1919 24-34 5015 4595
Aaron Rowand 1358 126 0.026 2001 2011 23-33 4817 4374



If Carlos Quentin can stay upright for three more seasons, he'll make a slow jog at Hunt's HBP/PA figure.

   45. stevegamer Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:06 AM (#4705558)
1)Is he the smartest base runner ever? I noticed that coming into this season he had 129 career steals...and only 17 caught stealing (success rate of 88%). He's never gonna lead the league in steals, he doesn't have that kind of speed. But every year he steals oh, 10 or 20 bases, and only gets caught 2 or 3 times at most. He's had a couple of seasons where he didn't get caught at all. Is he just really good at picking his spots? Does he do other things like go from first to third really well or other stuff that would indicate he's an exceptionally smart base runner?


He's really an elite base runner, and as you mention it's not speed. He takes extra bases very well, and steals bases at a great rate.

2)I also noticed he gets hit by pitch a lot. This is part of what gives him such excellent On-Base Percentages. I wonder, though - I think a couple of times at least it was the getting hit by pitch that put him on the DL for a while, wasn't it? Is it worth getting on base an extra 20 times a season if it also causes you to miss 20 games a season? I guess he crowds the plate a lot? I haven't really watched him play that much so I'm hoping there are some regular Philly fans who can enlighten me about this?

He's missed time once or twice due to being hit, but much of his time missed has been due to knee and back issues. I was hoping they'd let Howard walk instead of resigning him, and either sign Fielder or move Utley to first.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:24 AM (#4705573)
Jim Rice is thought of as having a short career, burning out early.

No he isn't. Jim Rice is thought of as having a short useful career, burning out early but hanging on.

Ichiro has 9336 PA.

Sandberg, Rice, Larkin, Stargell, Cepeda, Maz, Snider, Puckett, Kiner all had less. Plus the Cs other than Fisk. That's just the post-integration era and not counting Jackie and Doby. And he'll probably pass Santo this year. It's just 300 fewer than McCovey, 500 fewer than Killebrew, 600 fewer than Mantle. So roughly speaking, out of 52 post-integration position player HoFers, he'd be 38th in PA. Not quite so rosy in games but will be passing Cepeda and Snider this year (most likely) and has an outside shot at Sandberg/Larkin (probably requires some injuries).

The 2015 HoF ballot thingy doesn't include PAs, only games and ABs. By games, he would rank 10th on the ballot, ahead of Edgar, Walker, Piazza, McGwire. He's about 100 PA short of Bagwell, even with Trammell, 200 short of Kent, 500 short of Sosa. You're putting a lot of emphasis on fewer than a season's worth of PAs. The only guys substantially ahead of him are Bonds, Biggio, Sheff, Raines and McGriff.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:42 AM (#4705586)
The other thing about "short" careers is that the not-so-swift BBWAA define it as number of seasons.

So, sure, Rice had a "short" career in that if lasted only 16 seasons. But his first and last "seasons" total only 80 games. So he played in over 2000 games in a 14 year period or an average of 144 games per year. That's with a strike year tossed in. Also of his 2090 games, 2007 of them were starts. Jim Rice was a durable guy so no need to punish him for fitting an entire full career into 14 seasons.

Compare to, say, Stargell who played 21 years but only just over 9000 PA and just 2043 starts. Strictly speaking he averaged only 118 games per season. Looking at his good 14 seasons he does get up to 133 game average but it looks like he never started more than 141 games in any season.

This sort of silliness hurt Santo back in the day. "Just" 15 seasons ... but in the 13 middle ones, he averaged 153 games and 661 PA and 2016 starts. In those 13 years, he ended up less than 400 PA shy of Stargell's 21-"year" career and roughly the same number of starts. (Santo added another 193 starts in the two excluded seasons, ending with more career PA than Stargell.)
   48. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2014 at 03:37 AM (#4705617)
"Could you possibly post some real stats, and not just this WAR and OPS BS? For generations fans talked about Ruth, Williams, Mays and Aaron and WAR and OPS weren't even invented yet. What's wrong with Batting Average, Runs Scored, HRs and RBIs? And his post season career is remarkable - also missing from your HOF discussion. [...]"

And, while talking about the above, they elected George Kelly, Pop Haines, Chick Hafey, Rube Marquard, and, eye-openingly, probably the best of this list - Jim Rice. Meanwhile, Santo, Hack and several other obvious cases (Ken Boyer should be in the Hall, but isn't an OBVIOUS case) went begging. H*ll, it took advanced stats to figure out Deacon White, whose career started no later than 1871, for crying out loud.

Also, this next is a question for Walt Davis, mainly (because, once he's chosen a method, his math is pretty much unbreakable), but also for anyone else who wants to weigh in - when you say "WAR", which version are you talking about? There are about half a dozen of the things, and they do not always agree. It would be a help if I knew what, exactly, people were using. I know what Win Shares is. I know what Linear Weights means. But, when someone says "according to WAR", I have, really, no more idea than I did before what they are referencing, and no more idea than I would have if someone, talking about operating systems, just said "Windows." I generally assume that it means BB-Ref WAR, but I could be VERY wrong, and BB-Ref WAR has yet to prove that it is better than the others, anyway. - Brock Hanke
   49. bjhanke Posted: May 13, 2014 at 03:39 AM (#4705618)
I also strongly object to Hal Chase being in the Hall of Fame or Merit, just in case I have THAT wrong, too. - Brock
   50. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 13, 2014 at 05:20 AM (#4705625)
Jim Rice is thought of as having a short career, burning out early.

No he isn't. Jim Rice is thought of as having a short useful career, burning out early but hanging on.


I disagree. He's thought of as having a short career, burning out early, and NOT hanging on because his decline was so steep. I think I characterized him accurately.

Ichiro has 9336 PA.


As discussed before, citing raw PA totals for Ichiro falls on deaf ears with me. He batted leadoff and most of the other guys did not. It's only in the last couple of years that he's lost PA -- and that was due to decline.

Sandberg, Rice, Larkin, Stargell, Cepeda, Maz, Snider, Puckett, Kiner all had less.


And most of those guys are thought of as having had short careers.

Plus the Cs other than Fisk. That's just the post-integration era and not counting Jackie and Doby. And he'll probably pass Santo this year. It's just 300 fewer than McCovey, 500 fewer than Killebrew, 600 fewer than Mantle. So roughly speaking, out of 52 post-integration position player HoFers, he'd be 38th in PA. Not quite so rosy in games but will be passing Cepeda and Snider this year (most likely) and has an outside shot at Sandberg/Larkin (probably requires some injuries).


Again, those guys got fewer PA in large part because they didn't bat leadoff, and they didn't bat leadoff because they were better players.

Being worse at something shouldn't gain someone an advantage, but that's exactly what happens when people compare Ichiro's raw PA totals to the PA totals of other players.

The 2015 HoF ballot thingy doesn't include PAs, only games and ABs. By games, he would rank 10th on the ballot, ahead of Edgar, Walker, Piazza, McGwire. He's about 100 PA short of Bagwell, even with Trammell, 200 short of Kent, 500 short of Sosa.


What am I missing? All of these guys are thought of has having had short careers for HOF candidates. It's one of the reasons I think Bagwell (though deserving) is overrated by people here; it's the main problem with the candidacies of Edgar and Walker and Trammell and Kent and Sosa.
   51. alilisd Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4705787)
for anyone else who wants to weigh in - when you say "WAR", which version are you talking about?


I use B-Ref because I find it the easiest to use with P-I.
   52. bjhanke Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4706464)
alilisd - Thanks for the info! I was serious about the question. It holds up my own analyses and comments here that I don't generally know what method anyone is using. All "WAR" tells me is that they are not using Win Shares nor Linear Weights. And you have a very good reason for using the WAR you use. I do the same thing (or will, when I finally get my new computer and can get back on the web site) for the same reason. If you're gong to do sorts in PI, you should probably use BB-Ref WAR. - Brock
   53. alilisd Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4706566)
Cheers, Brock!

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