Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Terence Moore: Andruw Jones disappoints with late-career fade after record-setting debut

Visit Career Trajectory.com to see an example of all the humps in action!

Not only was Jones supposed to waltz from Yankee Stadium in October 1996 to the Hall of Fame, he was supposed to do so as a lifetime member of the Braves.

The latter didn’t happen. Jones bolted the Braves as a free agent to sign a two-year contract worth $36 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he did so after 2007—another contradictory season (26 homers and 94 RBIs, but with a .222 batting average and 138 strikeouts).

There wasn’t anything contradictory about Jones’ game after that. He was consistent—just average to bad.

Jones was done with the Dodgers after one season. You could blame that on a nagging injury during what had been a durable career, a .158 batting average and a spot on the bench after then-Dodgers manager Joe Torre decided Jones wasn’t worthy of starting anymore.

In 2009, Jones signed a Minor League contract with the Texas Rangers, and even though he made the big club, he did little worth mentioning. The same was true the next season, when he became mostly an afterthought with the Chicago White Sox.

Then came the Yankees.

Now come the Rakuten Eagles.

Sad. Really sad.

Repoz Posted: December 22, 2012 at 07:42 AM | 73 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. flournoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4330830)
He didn't really "bolt" from the Braves. The Braves announced really early, like the day after the World Series or something, that they had no intention of trying to bring him back. The timing was weird, but it was a good decision then, and an even better one in retrospect.
   2. BDC Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4330840)
You never like to see a great fast outfielder turn into a fat tub of goo, but if Jones is gone from MLB for good, there's this: in baseball history, 133 men have played more games. 39 have hit more home runs, and 13 have more centerfield putouts. If he'd broken in at age 22 and had the same exact career numbers, people would be saying – how long he stuck it out after turning into a fat tub of goo? … maybe, or they might be saying, well, that was a good innings. Which it was.
   3. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4330845)
If people were saying "well, that was a good innings," I don't know how I would respond.
   4. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4330849)
He can still make the Hall of Fame. He's had an excellent career even if he's done as a productive major leaguer, and he might not be.
   5. bjhanke Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4330886)
Just the checking his place on the assorted Leader Boards at BB-Ref, his defense seems to have taken a very serious hit right after 2002. He didn't miss games in 2003 or 2004, but he suddenly stopped leading in categories that he had dominated for the previous 5 years. Does anyone know what might have happened to Andruw in the 2002 off-season? That, just looking at the circumstantial evidence, appears to have been the watershed. - Brock Hanke
   6. spike Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4330888)
Guh - you know who never disappoints? Terence Moore. Consistently smug, confused columns with no central argument that manage to make conventional wisdom seem like considered analysis.
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4330897)
He can still make the Hall of Fame. He's had an excellent career even if he's done as a productive major leaguer, and he might not be.


I ran through these numbers in another thread - no one I can think of in the HoF was not good enough to start the majority of his team's games after age 30.
   8. BDC Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4330903)
no one I can think of in the HoF was not good enough to start the majority of his team's games after age 30

The exceptions are Addie Joss and Ross Youngs, but Andruw hasn't quite had their excuse :(
   9. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4330905)
Does anyone know what might have happened to Andruw in the 2002 off-season?


Is this subtle sarcasm? He signed a five year, $65M contract during the 2002-3 off-season.
   10. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4330909)
I ran through these numbers in another thread - no one I can think of in the HoF was not good enough to start the majority of his team's games after age 30.

Well sure, he'd be an unusual case. Since I could do it more quickly than rWAR, I found that Andruw is 24th all time among position players with 69 fWAR through Age 30. That's pretty good, and there are a couple of guys -- Arky Vaughan, Lou Boudreau -- who didn't do much after Age 30, but yes, it won't be easy.
   11. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4330911)
Maybe he is older than originally claimed.

His ending wasn't spectacularly bad, he did post solid OPS+ in half time play for his last 3 seasons.

   12. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4330939)
The exceptions are Addie Joss and Ross Youngs, but Andruw hasn't quite had their excuse :(

When they were 35, I'll bet they were less fat than Andruw Jones, but a lot gooier.
   13. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 22, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4330955)
After Age 30, he was never even the third-best outfielder on his own team, as evaluated by his manager. That's four different managers, with six Series rings between 'em.

I've never said this before because I know how it sounds, but the Hall of Fame would be irrevocably harmed by expanding to the point that they let Andruw Jones in.
   14. dlf Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4330964)
After Age 30 ...


I'm not sure why the focus should be on what he did before or after a certain age. Either over the course of an entire career, he provided enough value or he didn't. I tend to discount his WAR a bit because of the issue of discretionary chances and because of that, I wouldn't just look at raw WAR, but the fact that he packed essentially the same value into a decade (59.5) that Dave Winfield did in two (59.4) suggests that Andruw was responsible for more real pennants added and would be more worthy. A more gradual decline and acceptable performance in his 30s would have just made him into an inner-circle player.

In terms of unadjusted WAR, Jones has more than Winfield, McGwire, Sheffield, Killebrew, Allen, Sosa, Stargell, Sisler ... You would have to take 20% of his WAR to get him below Puckett (48.2), S.Rice (48.1) and more than 20% to get down to inducted HOF OFs Averill, Cuyler, J. Rice, Roush, Brock, Thompson, Klein, Combs, and Wilson. It would take zero expanding to include Andruw's plaque; just an understanding of the long standing level of performance that has historically be rewarded.
   15. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4330977)
When does someone become eligible for the Hall? I know it's "five years after", but is it five years after the majors? Five years after the majors and associated minors? Five years after professional ball? Something else?
   16. DCA Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4330980)
Brock (#5)

I saw that too this morning -- after thread this was posted but before your post -- in 2003 B-R switches from Rtot to Rdrs for its WAR calculations (Rdrs not available pre-2003), and that might have something to do with it. There's no obvious bias between Rtot and Rdrs when they are both available, but the change in methods is something to consider.

OTOH if you go just by Rtot, Andruw is in pretty age-typical decline from amazing to merely great (defense peaks quite early):

28-35-36-25-27-19-19-17-17-20-6

This is all full seasons with the Braves -- the 19's are 2002 and 2003
   17. Swedish Chef Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4330981)
but the Hall of Fame would be irrevocably harmed by expanding to the point that they let Andruw Jones in.

Well, Jim Rice is in, it is already Hall of the Pretty Good and Frankie Frisch's Teammates.
   18. The District Attorney Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4330986)
Calcaterra points out that this is a "barely rewritten" version of a previous Moore column.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4330987)

I'm not sure why the focus should be on what he did before or after a certain age. Either over the course of an entire career, he provided enough value or he didn't. I tend to discount his WAR a bit because of the issue of discretionary chances and because of that, I wouldn't just look at raw WAR, but the fact that he packed essentially the same value into a decade (59.5) that Dave Winfield did in two (59.4) suggests that Andruw was responsible for more real pennants added and would be more worthy. A more gradual decline and acceptable performance in his 30s would have just made him into an inner-circle player.

In terms of unadjusted WAR, Jones has more than Winfield, McGwire, Sheffield, Killebrew, Allen, Sosa, Stargell, Sisler ... You would have to take 20% of his WAR to get him below Puckett (48.2), S.Rice (48.1) and more than 20% to get down to inducted HOF OFs Averill, Cuyler, J. Rice, Roush, Brock, Thompson, Klein, Combs, and Wilson. It would take zero expanding to include Andruw's plaque; just an understanding of the long standing level of performance that has historically be rewarded.


i think Jones is a somewhat strange case. His HoF case rests solely on him being the best CF of all time by a long margin.

If you give him "only" Wllie Mays' ten-year fielding peak, he loses ~10 WAR and falls out of the consideration set.

Given how unsure we are about defensive stats, and how far out in the tail Jones stats are, I think we need to be skeptical. Given that, how he performed as a player after 30 may give us some indication of what his true defensive talent was.

You really would expect the best (by far) CF of all time to turn into a below average LF in his early 30's, even if he got fat; this didn't happen to any of the other great CF. A fat Babe Ruth still wasn't the embarrassment in the OF that Andruw became.

That makes me strongly doubt his D was ever as good as the stats say.

   20. baudib Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4330994)
I don't know what's really sad about Andruw. He had a fine career. He declined abruptly, but then so do a ton of players. Is it less sad than Fred Lynn's slow, steady slide into oblivion, or Dale Murphy's fall from grace? Or Don Mattingly's?

Bill James had a good point about these things...if you project people to be the "next Willie Mays," then you are going to be disappointed almost all the time. It also sets up unrealistic expectations. Not even Ken Griffey lived up to that. If you just call them the "next Andre Dawson," it's a lot more realistic. As the next Andre Dawson, Andruw didn't do half bad.

Personally, I never thought Andruw was going to be Mays, or Bonds or Griffey. He started very young and had tremendous skills, so he was obviously very exciting. But his command of the strike zone was terrible even for a 19-year-old. Guys like Mays and Aaron and Griffey were much more polished, and were legit MVP candidates by age 22-23. Andruw was never going to be that guy. A lot of people point to Mike Schmidt and say "he hit .196 as a rookie," but Schmidt's growth was exceptional.
   21. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4330996)
Watching him in the OF for the Yankees the last few years, I don't think I ever saw him leave his feet to make a catch. And hitting the wall would mean that he needs the speed to get there at the same time as a struck fly ball; I don't remember any of those, either.

At the plate, he would swing three mighty times each AB. If he connected for a HR, it was, of course, fantastic. But if he didn't get all of it (even if the result was a single or double), he would get a look of scorn on his face and loaf towards first. I've never seen someone so clearly disappointed not to hit HRs so often.
   22. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4330998)
I don't know what's really sad about Andruw.


I hope he lives to a ripe, old age.

That having been said, I fully expect that late in his life, he will have some (probably unexpressed to the public) regrets about the way his career unfolded. Someone like Mattingly left it all on the field and got hurt; it happens. But someone like Andruw likely left it at Pizza Hut; and better conditioning and dedication to his craft would have most likely led to a different result. The reason why it's sad is because many of us would love to be born with the skills, talents, and opportunity that Jones had, and seemed to take for granted.
   23. dlf Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4330999)
If you give him "only" Wllie Mays' ten-year fielding peak, he loses ~10 WAR and falls out of the consideration set.


Aren't you looking at two different metrics with one being regressed to the mean and the other not? Reduce Andruw's peak to that of Devon White and you'd shave off about 2 WAR.

Anyway, take away 10 WAR and he ends up above Pucket, Rice, Brock and a metric crap ton of pre-expansion HOF players. Make him an average fielder with 0 dWAR and he is better than the bottom of the HOF barrell, still topping folks like George Kell, Pie Traynor, Jim Bottomley, Ross Youngs, Chick Hafey, & Freddie Lindstrom. Ignoring those players who I believe were mistakes that shouldn't be considered part of the standard, if you think he was half as good as his stats suggest, he is well over the historical standard, but would be lumped in with the narrative inductees.
   24. Mike A Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4331001)
Andruw circa late 90s was amazing defensively. Best I've seen in 35 years of watching this game.

Unfortunately, all those CF innings took a toll, and by his early 30s his knees and body were pretty much shot (same thing happened to Dale Murphy). Granted, the weight gain probably didn't help matters, but Andruw may have worn down just the same. Playing CF is rough on the body, and I think that's particularly true for the 'bigger-body' CFs like Andruw, Griffey, Murphy, etc.

The media/HoF treats ends of career differently. If your arm goes out or if you get glaucoma, then there's some empathy. Knees go out, nobody cares. I actually think Andruw had pretty good strike zone command for most of his career aside from an outside slider/junk weakness, but when his knees went, that weakness became more pronounced. Again, the exact same thing happened to Murphy.

As for Terence Moore, I don't know if he believes half the crap he spews. I feel sorry for Andruw because he's often treated this way by the fans and the writers. The expectations were so ridiculously high 'Druw gets little credit for a really nice career, even if he (probably) falls slightly short of the HoF. As noted, he just wasn't Willie Mays.
   25. baudib Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4331009)
If we believe that much of pitching is actually defense...isn't there a lot of defense that can also be pitching?

I think we all agree that there are people, like Jim Palmer, who had better-than-average defensive support, so we discount their achievements slightly. Palmer is an exceptional case, but we make allowances.

But don't fielders also benefit from exceptional pitching?

Anytime you watched a Braves game in the Maddux-Glavine-Cox-Mazzone era, you always heard about how the Braves were exceptional at positioning, and that the Braves' fielders communicated well on where the next pitch would be. The Braves' pitchers had exceptional control, as a group. Won't fielders benefit from that? Hence, part of the Braves' fielding is also pitching (and coaching?).

That, plus some evidence that Jones took an inordinate amount of discretionary chances, leads me to think that Andruw, while an exceptional fielder, may not have been the historically amazing fielder some stats suggest.

Twenty-five years ago, Bill James noted that Richie Ashburn had by far the greatest raw putout totals of any outfielder. But of course, we now understand that having Robin Roberts pitch 330 innings a year had a lot to do with that. I suspect there's a similar effect going on with Jones.
   26. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 22, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4331010)
I don't think Andruw is a HOFer.

If Andruw were inducted, he wouldn't be the worst player there.
   27. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4331040)
Speaking of turning into a tub of goo I've got 8:00pm reservations at Fogo de Chao. Perhaps I'll try to impersonate a CF'er afterwards to see what that is like.
   28. Colin Posted: December 22, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4331070)
Can someone please elaborate for me on this concept of "discretionary chances" as pertains to Andruw? Because one thing to keep in mind with his defense is that for years he'd often have to cover for some bad corner outfield defender beside him - Ryan Klesko during Andruw's defensive peak, then end-of-career stints from old guys like Bobby Bonilla (!), BJ Surhoff, Dave Martinez and Bernard Gilkey.

Like Mike A above, one thing that strikes me about Andruw's defensive stats is that they're not out of line with what people thought they were seeing in his prime. It'd be one thing if dWAR were telling a different story from the eyes, but in this case the stats and eyes converge.

This leaves us with an odd Hall of Fame case: an eleven year stint with Atlanta thru age 30 with an 841 OPS and historically good defense at a premier defensive position, plus iron-man presence in the lineup (157 games a year); and, a lousy decline phase with a mostly-platooned 740 OPS and bad defense.

If Andruw had been hit by a bus after his time in Atlanta he'd likely be in the Hall. As it stands, his decline likely precludes that. Which is a shame, because a guy who could rack up 400+ homers with his defensive peak should at least get more of a look than most people would give him.
   29. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM (#4331087)
Can someone please elaborate for me on this concept of "discretionary chances" as pertains to Andruw?


Jones played so shallow that he caught a significant number of popups that infielders could have handled.

It'd be one thing if dWAR were telling a different story from the eyes, but in this case the stats and eyes converge.


To a point, yes. You don't hear very many arguments that any of Andruw Jones' contemporaries were better outfielders than he was. But the numberss are also saying that he was better than Willie Mays, and some folks don't buy that.
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: December 22, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4331097)
But the numberss are also saying that he was better than Willie Mays, and some folks don't buy that.


The primary objection isn't to the idea that he was better than Willie. It's to any numbers that say he was significantly better than Willie Mays and everyone else who played the position (Blair, White, Pettis, etc.).

   31. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 22, 2012 at 08:15 PM (#4331107)
If Andruw had been hit by a bus after his time in Atlanta he'd likely be in the Hall. As it stands, his decline likely precludes that. Which is a shame, because a guy who could rack up 400+ homers with his defensive peak should at least get more of a look than most people would give him.


Andruw's best comp might be Dale Murphy. His peak value is slightly cantilevered more to the defensive side of the spectrum. Both have strong peak arguments undermined by precipitous and somewhat disastrous decline phases. Both of them were better players than either Jim Rice or Kirby Puckett.
   32. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 22, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4331109)
Jones played so shallow that he caught a significant number of popups that infielders could have handled.


Doubtful. Jones played shallow and caught a lot of would-be singles, and was stunningly good at going back on balls hit over his head. That's why he was a HOF caliber defender up until the crash. But very few of the balls he chased down in shallow CF were going to be gobbled up by Keith Lockhart or Raffy Furcal.

But the numberss are also saying that he was better than Willie Mays, and some folks don't buy that.


Bobby Cox did.
   33. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4331118)
Doubtful.


I shouldn't have been so curt. Personally, I don't really buy the discretionary chances argument, and I don't have either the data or the expertise to analyze it. I was only trying to state what I understood the argument to be since Colin asked. OTOH, covering for bad corner defenders could lead to a lot of what one might call non-discretionary discretionary chances.

The primary objection isn't to the idea that he was better than Willie. It's to any numbers that say he was significantly better than Willie Mays and everyone else who played the position (Blair, White, Pettis, etc.).


I could have been clearer about that, too.
   34. bobm Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4331137)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2012, From Age 31 to 99, Hall Of Fame Members (as mlb players), Played 50% of games at C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF or DH, (requiring WAR_bat<.0125*G), sorted by greatest WAR Position Players

                                                         
Rk               Player WAR/pos    G From   To   Age   PA
1        Reggie Jackson    17.7 1455 1977 1987 31-41 5802
2          Eddie Murray    16.8 1527 1987 1997 31-41 6402
3             Lou Brock    12.7 1400 1970 1979 31-40 5947
4           Ernie Banks    10.5 1312 1962 1971 31-40 5189
5         Willie Keeler    10.3  892 1903 1910 31-38 3806
6          Rick Ferrell     9.9  950 1937 1947 31-41 3460
7              Jim Rice     8.9  755 1984 1989 31-36 3238
8     Rabbit Maranville     8.1 1315 1923 1935 31-43 5423
9           Duke Snider     7.5  718 1958 1964 31-37 2151
10          Joe Medwick     5.5  482 1943 1948 31-36 1654
11          George Kell     5.5  447 1954 1957 31-34 1699
12           Joe Kelley     4.9  520 1903 1908 31-36 2133
13        Jim Bottomley     4.8  798 1931 1937 31-37 3105
14        George Sisler     4.7 1008 1924 1930 31-37 4440
15          Lloyd Waner     3.9  695 1937 1945 31-39 2425
16          Chuck Klein     3.7  696 1936 1944 31-39 2490
17       Bill Mazeroski     3.1  426 1968 1972 31-35 1501
18          Ralph Kiner     2.7  260 1954 1955 31-32 1033
19   High Pockets Kelly     2.7  478 1927 1932 31-36 1927
20      Hughie Jennings     1.9  172 1901 1918 32-49  697
21           Ray Schalk     1.6  287 1924 1929 31-36  894
22       Travis Jackson     0.9  255 1935 1936 31-32 1053

23          Jim ORourke     0.0    1 1904 1904 53-53    4
24         Sam Thompson    -0.1    8 1906 1906 46-46   32
25        Dan Brouthers    -0.1    2 1904 1904 46-46    5
Rk               Player WAR/pos    G From   To   Age   PA

   35. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4331157)
There were a handful of discretionary chances in short CF. There were also a lot of hard and looping line drive singles that he took away. "Discretion" is a nice term to use for how Andruw played CF in his prime. He had the discretion to play it safe or to play shallower than any CF I think I've ever seen and use his amazing jump and speed to still get back to the wall. He was the best I've ever seen but I didn't see Mays in his prime. Of course I think we've only got maybe a half-dozen posters here who did see Mays in anything close to his prime so I'm confused by this near-certainty that he couldn't have been that much better than Mays.

I ran through these numbers in another thread - no one I can think of in the HoF was not good enough to start the majority of his team's games after age 30.

The misleading nature of this has been pointed out already. Who cares what he did after age 30 if he did so much before age 30. Griffy managed only 6 WAR (-5 WAA) after age 30. Some other HoFers:

Kiner 2.7
Maz 3.1
Klein 3.7
Sisler 4.7
Boudreau 4.9
Medwick 5.5
Wilson 6.4
Snider 7.5
Cepeda 7.8
Santo 7.9

Andruw's 1.1 would indeed be the worst but it's not like any of those were particularly impressive.

On the other hand, HoF WAR through age 22:

Cobb 24
Ott 23
Williams 23
Kaline 20
Foxx 20
Mantle 19
Hornsby 19
Mathews 18
Bench 18
*** Andruw 17
F Robinson 17
Vaughan 17
Musial 15

So, by WAR, Andruw was one of the greatest young position players in the history of the game. And Andruw's 59.5 WAR through age 30 would rank 22nd among current HoFers (position), right between Santo and Kaline, ahead of Schmidt, Brett, Snider, Boudreau. And Ott, Foxx, Mantle, Mathews, Bench, Vaughan, Santo, Snider and Boudreau all ended their careers at relatively early ages.

You really would expect the best (by far) CF of all time to turn into a below average LF in his early 30's, even if he got fat; this didn't happen to any of the other great CF. A fat Babe Ruth still wasn't the embarrassment in the OF that Andruw became.

I've got my doubts about that. First, Andruw's post-30 Rfield is a whopping -3 in about 2100 innings (1.5 full seasons). What's so embarrasing about that? He did exactly what you said you'd expect even a fat, elite CF to do. Also didn't Andruw have a knee injury?

Yes, Ruth has surprisingly good OF numbers. The fat Tony Gwynn was -63 though. The not-fat Griffey was -81 in CF. The not-too-fat Cedeno was -20. Ages 31-34, Dawson was only +5 in RF then pretty bad after that. The old (36-38) not-fat White was -27. Winfield was atrocious. The chubby Puckett was bad. Grissom was bad from 32 on.

What's rare is for an elite CF to turn into a tub of goo. It is not rare for tubs of goo to not be great OF.
   36. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4331163)
There's a lot of difference between reading the ball off the bat in CF and reading the ball off the bat in LF. And if Andruw's eyes went (Puckett!) then his big advantage - first step off of the bat - would be gone overnight.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4331168)
Aren't you looking at two different metrics with one being regressed to the mean and the other not? Reduce Andruw's peak to that of Devon White and you'd shave off about 2 WAR.


How do you get that? Per BRef Jones 10-year peak is +140 Rfield, Jones is +219. That's more like 8 WAR.

Comparing top-5 consecutive seasons, Jones is at +30 p.a., vs. +20 for Blair, +18 for White, and +12 for Pettis.
   38. bobm Posted: December 22, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4331170)
. Who cares what he did after age 30 if he did so much before age 30. Griffy managed only 6 WAR (-5 WAA) after age 30. Some other HoFers:

I was surprised in 34 how many HOFers hung around to average below 2 WAR per 162 game season (EDIT: games played) from age 31-, and not all of them were from ye olden days.
   39. bigglou115 Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4331180)
I have mixed feelings about Andruw. I'm a Braves fan, but also a small hall guy. I feel like a large part of Andruws problems were physical, he clearly broke down both in the legs and shoulders. But his approach had deteriorated before he left ATL, and that was purely a factor of his decision to try and replicate his 40+ HR success every at bat.

That said, for about a decade he was probably the best CFer in the game. Kind of hard not to at least consider the guy.
   40. JJ1986 Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:29 PM (#4331185)
Aren't defensive stats compared to average? No stat says Jones was much better than Mays; they say Jones was much more valuable than Mays, which seems more possible considering that when Willie played there were a bunch of great CFs while when Andruw played there were Bernie Williams-types roaming center.
   41. zachtoma Posted: December 22, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4331216)

I hope he lives to a ripe, old age.

That having been said, I fully expect that late in his life, he will have some (probably unexpressed to the public) regrets about the way his career unfolded. Someone like Mattingly left it all on the field and got hurt; it happens. But someone like Andruw likely left it at Pizza Hut; and better conditioning and dedication to his craft would have most likely led to a different result. The reason why it's sad is because many of us would love to be born with the skills, talents, and opportunity that Jones had, and seemed to take for granted.


As someone who's been a Braves fan for Andruw's entire career (one of my first memories of the Braves is watching Andruw's 2-HR debut in the '96 World Series), I think this is basically right, and it's why I'm not as upset by Terence Moore's piece as many here. I am aware that many players, especially non-white players, have been unfairly and prejudicially labeled as "lazy." And I'm sensitive to that. But I think Andruw Jones was lazy as far as MLB ballplayers go. Chipper has even said as much himself. At the very least, it can't be denied that his poor conditioning played a big role in his disappointing post-30 career. When he cratered with the Dodgers, it was hard to watch. He never really worked on his hitting approach the way Chipper did and in fact regressed in that facet of his game as he got older; once he lost a step, he was totally exposed, unlike Chipper who had two distinct peaks in his career, the second being in '06-'08 once his power stroke had already faded a bit. It's probably unfair to compare him to Chipper Jones because he was exceptional, but I do, because they were the two guys for the Braves for so many years; maybe that's why Chipper Jones is a Hall of Famer, and Andruw Jones, I think, comes up just shy.
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 23, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4331245)
He can still make the Hall of Fame.


Somehow I don't see him having a 10-year run as a lights-out closer. Maybe a fine managerial career?
   43. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4331307)
By the way, I'm not touting Andruw for the HoF (although I might when he gets closer to the ballot) but he was way too good to dismiss out of hand.

Andruw is Mike Cameron with more power and even better defense and 800 more PA. He's also Jim Edmonds minus 30 points of BA (missed it by that much!) and a lot of defense and 700 PA. No, those don't sound like HoF comps but they're "damn fine player" comps.
   44. phredbird Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:54 AM (#4331315)
The reason why it's sad is because many of us would love to be born with the skills, talents, and opportunity that Jones had, and seemed to take for granted.


if anyone here had seen jones play for the dodgers, they would not think he belonged in the hall of fame in a million years. and it wasn't just because of how bad he played. it was obvious even from the stands how much he had wasted, and how much he had taken for granted.
   45. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:51 AM (#4331349)
Maybe he is older than originally claimed.


I've seen this said before re: Andruw, and I find it very distasteful. The only reason anyone would suggest it is because he's looks Latin. The man has a Dutch passport, and there are 0 age gate cases from Curacao that I'm aware of.

Anytime you watched a Braves game in the Maddux-Glavine-Cox-Mazzone era, you always heard about how the Braves were exceptional at positioning, and that the Braves' fielders communicated well on where the next pitch would be. The Braves' pitchers had exceptional control, as a group. Won't fielders benefit from that? Hence, part of the Braves' fielding is also pitching (and coaching?).


If this was at all true, then you should expect Grissom to have seen a similar boost. But here are his stats from those years:

Year   Age  Tm Rfield
1993    26 MON     12
1994    27 MON     19
1995    28 ATL      4
1996    29 ATL      7
1997    30 CLE     10
1998    31 MIL      6 


The primary objection isn't to the idea that he was better than Willie. It's to any numbers that say he was significantly better than Willie Mays and everyone else who played the position (Blair, White, Pettis, etc.).


The numbers don't say this. First off, the numbers for the old guys (pre-90s) aren't of the same quality, so we shouldn't expect them to show the same highs as the modern era. This means that their prowess is likely underrated, not that the current fellows are overrated. I don't think it is a stretch to think that with modern defensive stats behind them, Blair and Mays might be pretty close to Andruw's career dWAR.

Secondly, many recent guys (White, Erstad, Bourn, Griffey) have defensive peaks in the same range as Andruw, they just didn't stay at that level as long. He's didn't post numbers higher than other contemporary elites (Bourn and Erstad both have higher single season totals); he just maintained that elite level longer than others.

I think it is also telling that a number of people who vocally doubt Andruw defensive prowess seem to be fans of the teams he played for at the end. You guys should really recognize that he was a completely different player by that point. Nagging knee and shoulder injuries, the ballooning butt, the major knee injury with the Dodgers... completely different player by the end.
   46. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 23, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4331385)
I've seen this said before re: Andruw, and I find it very distasteful. The only reason anyone would suggest it is because he's looks Latin. The man has a Dutch passport, and there are 0 age gate cases from Curcao that I'm aware of.


Or maybe people suggest it because his career would have a lot less of that "what the hell happened?" vibe if he was 23 when he came up instead of 19? IOW, I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting age-gate type shenanigans.

The numbers don't say this. First off, the numbers for the old guys (pre-90s) aren't of the same quality, so we shouldn't expect them to show the same highs as the modern era. This means that their prowess is likely underrated, not that the current fellows are overrated. I don't think it is a stretch to think that with modern defensive stats behind them, Blair and Mays might be pretty close to Andruw's career dWAR.


If a major part of your HOF case is that the numbers say that you were arguably the greatest defensive CFer of all time (EDIT: by a wide margin), then your case is hurt if there is a possible major flaw in the numbers. It doesn't matter whether that possible major flaw is in overrating you or in underrating the pre-90s guys.
   47. Colin Posted: December 23, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4331411)
Thanks for the explanation of "discretionary" as you understood it, cercopithecus aethiops. As others have done, I disagree that he was taking many chances from infielders. He played shallow, yes, and occasionally he'd get a ball that hung up long enough that an infielder could have gotten it, but his shallow play mostly caught would-be singles and held runners at third. But, even with that he retained enough speed to get to the gaps.

Andruw was, for many years, both my favorite and least-favorite player, because of his contradictions. He could go on two-month streaks with the bat that looked like what we'd always hoped he'd develop into; but, then Bad Andruw would appear, and he'd flail at everything while almost faling on his ass. It's true, as someone said above, that he never committed to working on his approach like Chipper did, but then, as noted above, who does?

Similarly, he was called lazy; a good bit of that was the natural look of his face, which many people took as a careless smirk after a strikeout. He did have the notorious moment when Bobby Cox pulled him from game mid-inning after loafing after a ball. But, for years after that Bobby was his most ardent defender, especially on work ethic. Yes, Bobby Cox could overpraise his own players, but this came across as sincere, the kind of commentary that he could have easily skipped if it weren't true. And again, he was racking up games every year. I think that in his prime with Atlanta he was anything but lazy, but later in his ATL years and thereafter his work ethic did drop off.

Off field, Andruw had the off year during which he was implicated in the Gold Club scandal in Atlanta, testifying in court about that, to much ridicule from media and fans. And then he had a year where he showed up to camp fat, insisting it would help with his power and late-season stamina. And then showing up fat became more the norm than the exception.

I have no idea what went on with Andruw over the course of his career. Maybe 1300 innings a year of CF took its toll. Maybe His hitting approach always had its problems, and as his body broke down he couldn't adjust, a la Dale Murphy. Maybe life off the field got distracting enough that he no longer could commit to the work necessary to be the player he once was. In some ways he reminds me of Serena Williams in tennis, who could have been the greatest ever, but who fought issues of perception, and dealt with off-field issues (albeit far more serious than those Andruw had) that led to some years of being less than fully commited to the game. However, she recommitted and has come back strong for her late career, whereas Andruw either never did, or never could.

But, for a decade in Atlanta he was damned exciting. I felt like almost every ball from gap to gap was potentially catchable, and when Good Andruw was in the lineup anything could happen. I don't fault him for never becoming the next Mays.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4331437)
Secondly, many recent guys (White, Erstad, Bourn, Griffey) have defensive peaks in the same range as Andruw, they just didn't stay at that level as long. He's didn't post numbers higher than other contemporary elites (Bourn and Erstad both have higher single season totals); he just maintained that elite level longer than others.

C'mon now, one season at +30 is not a "defensive peak". We know very well that you need at least 3 years at that level to have the same confidence in one year of hitting stats.

No, those don't sound like HoF comps but they're "damn fine player" comps.

No doubt, Andruw (even with the adjustments I make) is definitely HOVG.


If a major part of your HOF case is that the numbers say that you were arguably the greatest defensive CFer of all time (EDIT: by a wide margin), then your case is hurt if there is a possible major flaw in the numbers. It doesn't matter whether that possible major flaw is in overrating you or in underrating the pre-90s guys.


Exactly. Even if I grant that he was the best CF ever (maybe, maybe not), but haircut Jones' ten-year defensive peak to merely best ever (slightly better than Blair, White and Mays) he drops 7-10 WAR.

That basically moves him out of serious consideration for a modern player. And that's giving him best CF of all time credit.
   49. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4331461)
If a major part of your HOF case is that the numbers say that you were arguably the greatest defensive CFer of all time (EDIT: by a wide margin), then your case is hurt if there is a possible major flaw in the numbers. It doesn't matter whether that possible major flaw is in overrating you or in underrating the pre-90s guys.


I don't follow. If the flaw is only with Willie's numbers, and he is underrated by 15 dWAR or whatever, then that doesn't affect the fact that Andruw is a 60 WAR player.

C'mon now, one season at +30 is not a "defensive peak". We know very well that you need at least 3 years at that level to have the same confidence in one year of hitting stats.


Well, Erstad had 3 +30 seasons in 4 years, they just came with him bouncing around the field. And White's +30 came mid-career; his peak came in the "old data" period. If anything, he shows the difference of the two datasets. Bourn has 2 +30s in the last three years (if you get to somewhat-cheatingly pick between DRS and TZ each year).

But regardless, the point is Andruw wasn't putting up numbers that were beyond the reach of other players; you guys keep acting like his numbers are a statistical deviation over everything else that has ever happened. The difference was that he could do it year after year, not that he was to CF defensive what Babe Ruth was to HR.
   50. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4331476)
I should be clear: it's certainly possible Andruw's defensive numbers are off. The state of defensive metrics is not exactly rock solid for the current season, much less seasons 15-20 years ago (or more). It's quite possible that the whole range of defensive measurements could be off by any number of runs in either direction. But I think the argument of "There's no way that he's this good, therefore the stats are wrong" is ridiculous; the stats say he is EXACTLY as good as was widely claimed at the time, relative to other players. If you have a specific reason to assail the stats beyond "My first principles say one player can't be that much better than others," then that's great. But if not, I hope you at least consider Brooks Robinson to be an un-deserving HOF, on account of the impossibility that he was 40% better than Boyer and Bell.
   51. Colin Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4331480)
Exactly. Even if I grant that he was the best CF ever (maybe, maybe not), but haircut Jones' ten-year defensive peak to merely best ever (slightly better than Blair, White and Mays) he drops 7-10 WAR.

That basically moves him out of serious consideration for a modern player. And that's giving him best CF of all time credit.


Really, you don't think the Hall of Fame has a place for the best defensive CF of all time? That seems to me to enforce an unduly narrow set of criteria for Hall enshrinement ("Welcome to the Hall of WAR!"). The Hall celebrates accomplishments both numerical and qualitative. A ten-year peak as best defensive CF seems to me the kind of thing that would be a qualitatively Hall-worthy achievement, especially given that he didn't remotely embarrass himself with the bat while providing that kind of defense.

I'm not saying I think AJ should be in, and I'm not saying he is the best CF of all time (just continuing your "even if he is..." line of reasoning). It just seems to me that if the Hall isn't there to recognize excellence in all of its forms - such as the pinnacle of excellence in CF defense - then I'm not sure what exactly the Hall is for.
   52. baudib Posted: December 23, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4331486)
the stats say he is EXACTLY as good as was widely claimed at the time.


Andruw was regarded as a great fielder. I'm not sure he was ever widely acclaimed as the greatest center fielder of all time. Even if he was, he was decidedly not thought of as someone who was a no-brainer Hall of Famer, a "hit by a bus" guy. He wasn't regarded as Albert Pujols, or Ken Griffey. He wasn't even in the same class as Dale Murphy or Fred Lynn. There's a long way to go to reconcile the image of Andruw and that of a guy who should make the Hall of Fame despite a precipitous decline.
   53. The District Attorney Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4331495)
What exactly is going on in these past couple of posts?

That seems to me to enforce an unduly narrow set of criteria for Hall enshrinement ("Welcome to the Hall of WAR!").
Wait, so now we're saying WAR doesn't suggest Andruw should be in? And you're pulling out the kind of argument usually reserved for Jack Morris supporters? How is WAR your enemy here? Really weird.

It just seems to me that if the Hall isn't there to recognize excellence in all of its forms - such as the pinnacle of excellence in CF defense - then I'm not sure what exactly the Hall is for.
To recognize the best players in terms of overall value (offense plus defense). As you surely know.

There's a long way to go to reconcile the image of Andruw and that of a guy who should make the Hall of Fame despite a precipitous decline.
At the age of 30, he was a CF with 368 HR and 10 Gold Gloves. He was absolutely a "hit by a bus" guy. And he got hit by a Twinkie bus.
   54. PreservedFish Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4331498)
Andruw was regarded as a great fielder. I'm not sure he was ever widely acclaimed as the greatest center fielder of all time.


When did people start talking about Ozzie Smith as the greatest SS of all time? If Ozzie got fat and started declining after 5-6 years in the majors, would it have ever happened?

Young Andruw was considered the very best defensive outfielder in baseball, better than Griffey and Cameron and his competitors, and it was common for people to say that he was the best since Mays or the best since Blair/White/whoever or the best they'd ever seen.

The common opinion was also that one day he would take a great leap in his batting, learn how to hit .300 consistently, and I think that would have put him squarely into "future HOFer" track (he was already borderline), maybe even "hit by a bus" territory. "Hit by a bus" is a high standard, one which none of the glove-first inductees (Robinson, Maz, Ozzie) ever reached at a young age.
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4331499)
Really, you don't think the Hall of Fame has a place for the best defensive CF of all time?

Not with only 10 years above replacement level, no. Paul Blair or Devon White might be the best defensive CF of all time; no one makes an argument for them.

With a very little discounting on defense (ay 50 runs/5 wins,still leaving him the best CF of all time by a good margin) Jones is significantly behind Lofton and Beltran by WAR, and in the neighborhood of Edmonds, Abreu, Sheffield, Guerrero, Sosa and Ichiro.

That's borderline territory at best. Only the guys who put up gaudy batting averages (Ichiro, Guerrero) seem to have a good shot. Sheffield and Sosa would, except for steroids rumors/assholishness, but they also be getting in for traditional batting stats (HR).
   56. PreservedFish Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4331501)
"Hit by a bus" is a funny phrase and a funny way of looking at things. What happened to Jones (or Dale Murphy or Roberto Alomar or others) is almost certainly worse than getting hit by a bus, as far as one's HOF case is concerned.
   57. baudib Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4331507)
At the age of 30, he was a CF with 368 HR and 10 Gold Gloves. He was absolutely a "hit by a bus" guy. And he got hit by a Twinkie bus.


At the age of 30, he hit .222 with an 87 OPS+. It was absolutely clear at that point that he was going to have to do more work to get in. He was a lifetime 114 OPS guy, with 1 top 5 MVP vote season. If anything, his case after 10 years is appreciably worse than Fred Lynn or Dale Murphy. The case for Jones as a HOFer is entirely built on him being the greatest center fielder of all time by a distinct margin, as has been noted here.
   58. The District Attorney Posted: December 23, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4331522)
Wait, does "hit by a bus" mean "he would get in even if he were hit by a bus right now", or does it mean "virtually the only thing that could stop him from getting in at this point is if he got hit by a bus"? I understood the latter.

(And I'm talking "will", not "should", so OPS+ is not too important, and career HR and Gold Gloves at a key defensive positions are hugely important.)
   59. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 23, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4331529)
I don't follow. If the flaw is only with Willie's numbers, and he is underrated by 15 dWAR or whatever, then that doesn't affect the fact that Andruw is a 60 WAR player.


It affects the claim that he was the greatest defensive CFer of all time by a huge margin. If his case for enshrinement is that he was a 60 WAR player, end of story, then fine. But if his case for enshrinement is that he was the Ozzie Smith of CF, then he's got a problem.

When did people start talking about Ozzie Smith as the greatest SS of all time? If Ozzie got fat and started declining after 5-6 years in the majors, would it have ever happened?


If Ozzie got fat and started declining after 5-6, or even 10 years in the majors, he would not be in the HOF.
   60. bigglou115 Posted: December 23, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4331531)
If Andruw hit like Ozzie I'd agree. Andruw hit like a very good player, the question isn't whether his defense alone gets him in, it's whether his defense elevates the rest of his numbers into the Hall. Andruw has much more to build on than Ozzie.
   61. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 23, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4331534)
OTOH, Andruw never really hit like a HOFer, even for a short peak. Seems to me that even among the more sabermetrically inclined voters, all-around cases are going to suffer. So I do think his case is going to have to be more along "defense alone gets him in" lines.
   62. baudib Posted: December 23, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4331545)
People started talking about Ozzie as the greatest defensive SS of all time by 1981-82ish at the latest.
   63. GregD Posted: December 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4331557)
That sounds right to me, baudib. That did not in my experience correlate with anyone talking about him as an HOFer. I remember as late as 1985 that idea getting laughed at. I would guess 87 was the first time there was any chatter of Ozzie as someone who could possibly become an HOFer, and that was his 10th season. Not as he's in, but hey he's somebody to keep an eye on. Breaking .300 stupid as it may seem, help put the nail in the coffin of Ozzie Smith as Mark Belanger, unfair as that was.
   64. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 23, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4331561)
This late September 1987 cover profile is highly complimentary of Smith, but never once speculates about his place in Cooperstown.
   65. bobm Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4331584)
[64] Here's an earlier SI article about Ozzie's Hall chances

June 02, 1986
Possessing More Than Stats, These Three Are Worthy Of Cooperstown
Jim Kaplan

Three kinds of players dominate the Baseball Hall of Fame: batters who hit a lot, sluggers who homer a lot, pitchers who win a lot. Their glitzy stats jump out of the bios sent to electors. But there are equally deserving players who don't make the Hall: men whose numbers aren't catchy enough and whose contributions are often too subtle to be summarized. Some of them are subsequently elected by the Veterans' Committee, but that group's deliberations don't begin until 23 years after a player has retired.

One way to try to right these wrongs is to build up support for worthy but underrated players before they get lost in the shuffle. I have in mind three current players who merit election to the Hall but possibly will not make it based on past voting patterns: Tony Perez, Ron Guidry and Ozzie Smith. ...

Ozzie Smith's chances are quickly dismissed. He's strictly a defensive player, critics say, and fielders aren't Famers. Now wait a minute. Lest we forget, shortstops make the Hall with their gloves as well as their bats: Of the 15 shortstops at Cooperstown, only six had career averages of .300 or higher. And by every measure of excellence, from the memories of old men to the complicated formulas of young computer whizzes, Smith is the greatest fielding shortstop of the last half century.

But Ozzie has a lower lifetime average (.243) than any Hall of Fame shortstop, comes the refrain. Well, batting average can be misleading. Would you take Mike Schmidt and his .266 lifetime average—or Ken Oberkfell and his .286?

O.K., Smith doesn't have Schmidt's power, but Ozzie isn't the offensive liability he has long been perceived to be. For one thing, a .243 average isn't that bad for a No. 8 hitter being fed breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Averaging 56 walks, 34 stolen bases and only 35 strikeouts a season, Smith is a guy who can reach base with two outs and make sure the pitcher doesn't lead off the next inning. Or, with fewer than two outs, he can steal second himself if the pitcher fails to bunt him over. "I have pride in being able to do little things, like score a man from third with fewer than two outs or move a man into scoring position," Smith says.

Last year he learned to drive the ball and had his best season—hitting .276, with six homers and a game-winning tater in the playoffs—while winning his sixth consecutive Gold Glove. In the 1986 Baseball Abstract, Bill James calls Smith, not Willie McGee, last season's National League MVP.

"It's a little early to be talking Hall of Fame," Smith says. Technically he's right. He won't qualify for selection until he completes his 10th season in 1987. Then he should be considered a solid choice. Tony Perez and Ron Guidry are already in my Hall of Fame.
   66. Colin Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4331586)
That seems to me to enforce an unduly narrow set of criteria for Hall enshrinement ("Welcome to the Hall of WAR!").
Wait, so now we're saying WAR doesn't suggest Andruw should be in? And you're pulling out the kind of argument usually reserved for Jack Morris supporters? How is WAR your enemy here? Really weird.


It's only weird if you willfully misread what I've written here. I've neither argued for nor against WAR, just questioned whether WAR is a singular criterion by which to elect people to the Hall. I've argued that Andruw's defensive stats seem generally in line with the perception of his excellence at the time of his peak, and have asked why people discount them. I have asked why there is no place in the Hall for someone even if considered the best at his position while also hitting well. At no point have I actually argued that Andruw should be in, because I haven't actually made the argument that he's the best ever, but instead I'm running with the "even if" scenario posited here.

And, give me a break with your snarky Jack Morris crack. If Jack Morris had any claim in the neighborhood of what was posited above (best defensive CF ever) then you might have a point. But, "best defensive CF ever" is far above anything claimed for Morris. There are precious few people in the history of baseball who can lay claim to being the best ever at any aspect of the game for a significant period of time. All appeals to qualitative accomplishment are not equal to "the kind of argument reserved for Jack Morris supporters".

It just seems to me that if the Hall isn't there to recognize excellence in all of its forms - such as the pinnacle of excellence in CF defense - then I'm not sure what exactly the Hall is for.
To recognize the best players in terms of overall value (offense plus defense). As you surely know.


I have no idea if this line is serious or a joke. Such is the level of discourse around here.
   67. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:59 AM (#4331800)
Andruw was regarded as a great fielder. I'm not sure he was ever widely acclaimed as the greatest center fielder of all time.


I heard it bandied about frequently enough. He very often got called the best since Mays, if not his equal, which given the deification of Willie, was akin to calling him the greatest of all time without succumbing to blasphemy.

Regardless, and I could have been clearer, what I meant was that the stats say he was EXACTLY as good relatively to his contemporaries as he was claimed to be at the time. If you look only at the players we have the same kind of data quality for, his relative quality and longevity fits exactly what what claimed about his defense: he was essentially a unanimous pick for greatest CF of the era and he maintained that acclaim for about a decade.

Paul Blair or Devon White might be the best defensive CF of all time; no one makes an argument for them.


Because a "might" with no evidence isn't much of an argument. Andruw has (a) a better statistical claim and (b) a better "I seent it with my eyes" narrative claim than his near-contemporary White. White might been up there if he'd made the majors at 19 like Andruw instead of his mid-20s, what with defense peaking basically as early as possible, but we'll never really know. Also, White was a slightly below average hitter -9 Rbat, which is pretty big no-no for HOF consideration. Andruw is at +119.

Blair has a more legitimate claim to top all-time CF defense, but even if we think he is short-sold, and in fact as valuable as Andruw, the reason he was never considered for the Hall is obvious: He was a below average hitter, with -33 Rbat, who had an even shorter career than Andruw (~2000 fewer PAs).

With a very little discounting on defense (ay 50 runs/5 wins,still leaving him the best CF of all time by a good margin) Jones is significantly behind Lofton and Beltran by WAR, and in the neighborhood of Edmonds, Abreu, Sheffield, Guerrero, Sosa and Ichiro.


Of course, bWAR is already "discounting" his defense by about 5+ Wins compared to fWAR, which sees him as a +20 defender through his whole Braves tenure. So how about we compromise: let's throw out the optimistic (UZR) as well as the pessimistic (random subtraction to hypothetically just levels), and just settle on the bWAR total as the middle ground, absent some legitimate critique of the underlying data.

It affects the claim that he was the greatest defensive CFer of all time by a huge margin. If his case for enshrinement is that he was a 60 WAR player, end of story, then fine. But if his case for enshrinement is that he was the Ozzie Smith of CF, then he's got a problem.


It's not really about the ranking (though that certainly helps the narrative), it's about the value of the defense. What's important is not that no one else was as good, but rather that his defense was incredibly valuable. If someone else was just as good, that doesn't take away from Andruw's value. The entire "rankings" issue is a red herring; if there are two "best ever" (e.g. Belanger and Smith) it doesn't diminish how good either one was.

OTOH, Andruw never really hit like a HOFer, even for a short peak. Seems to me that even among the more sabermetrically inclined voters, all-around cases are going to suffer. So I do think his case is going to have to be more along "defense alone gets him in" lines.


I agree with you on "what will probably happen" level.
   68. Jick Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4332232)
Andruw was arrested for battery last night. Haven't seen it reported yet other than on Braves blogs. Capitol Avenue Club is where I saw the link:

http://www.gwinnettcountysheriff.com/index.php/inmates/?id=2012691937&random=1356447450113&print;
   69. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4332265)
Wait, does "hit by a bus" mean "he would get in even if he were hit by a bus right now", or does it mean "virtually the only thing that could stop him from getting in at this point is if he got hit by a bus"? I understood the latter.

I've always assumed the former. If the guy's career ended today, would he be in? There are problems with the question, though, because if a player actually gets hit by a bus (or their plane goes down, or they get glaucoma), the voters seem to assign the guy has a normal decline phase. And, as we've seen, that doesn't necessarily happen. If a guy reaches "bus" stage then has a normal decline, he gets in. If he outperforms the normal decline, he's in. But if he doesn't do much, he might be out.
   70. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4332270)
He didn't really "bolt" from the Braves. The Braves announced really early, like the day after the World Series or something, that they had no intention of trying to bring him back. The timing was weird, but it was a good decision then, and an even better one in retrospect.


Given hindsight, is this the best "ahh, let him go" move of all time?
   71. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4332295)
Matt Stairs is the best pinch hitter of all time (probably). Does he get in? Jose Molina could be the best pitch framer of all time.

I think Andruw's case gets hurt the most by Beltran, Edmonds and Lofton who were a bit better than him career wise. Andruw might be able to make it on the strength of is peak, but I doubt voters will be able to recognize just how amazing it was (assuming the defensive numbers are accurate).

I don't really have a huge reason to doubt that they are. WOWY has Andruw at ~410 plays (~330 runs) in CF over his career. B-R has him at ~230 runs over his career.

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/best_worst_wowy_since_1993_through_age_34

And we know that Total Zone artificially reduce the spread in fielding talent. I think all of the evidence shows us that Andruw was better than his B-R numbers, not worse.

The case of Mays is simple. We know that Total Zone reduces the spread in fielding talent, even more so for players pre - hit location data. The further you go back, the more regressed those ratings are going to be, which makes Mays look worse than he actually was. I also think Andruw definitely has a claim on the best centerfielder of all time over Mays. We know that timelining exists - that players are generally better now than there were 50 years ago. I have little reason to doubt that the best defender of the past 20 years is the best defender of all time.

In in the end, I don't buy Snapper's "c'mon, he wasn't a better fielder than Willie" case at all. It's simply not supported by any evidence.
   72. John DiFool2 Posted: December 25, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4332331)
The common opinion was also that one day he would take a great leap in his batting, learn how to hit .300 consistently, and I think that would have put him squarely into "future HOFer" track (he was already borderline), maybe even "hit by a bus" territory. "Hit by a bus" is a high standard, one which none of the glove-first inductees (Robinson, Maz, Ozzie) ever reached at a young age.


His age 23 season (2000) looked at the time to have fit the bill-hit .300, cut K rate down to 13.7%, new highs in most everything (except BB).

We all know what happened the next year: K rate ballooned up to 20.5% (which is more or less where it stayed), OPS dropped 135 points. If he is at a 130 OPS+ for a decade after that he sails in: instead it was 110.
   73. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 26, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4332369)
I blame Merv Rettenmund.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Randy Jones
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread July, 2014
(350 - 7:57pm, Jul 23)
Last: frannyzoo

Newsblog2015 Competitive Balance Lottery Results
(4 - 7:54pm, Jul 23)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogOTP - July 2014: Republicans Lose To Democrats For Sixth Straight Year In Congressional Baseball Game
(2848 - 7:50pm, Jul 23)
Last: bobm

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 7-23-2014
(12 - 7:50pm, Jul 23)
Last: Srul Itza

NewsblogCSN: Enough is enough — time to move on from Ryan Howard
(30 - 7:48pm, Jul 23)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogJeff Francoeur's Teammates Prank Him, Again
(11 - 7:43pm, Jul 23)
Last: Leroy Kincaid

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-23-2014
(18 - 7:31pm, Jul 23)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

NewsblogCameron Maybin Suspended 25 Games
(13 - 7:30pm, Jul 23)
Last: RMc's desperate, often sordid world

NewsblogGeorge "The Animal" Steele Mangles A Baseball
(127 - 7:19pm, Jul 23)
Last: Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge

SABR - BBTF ChapterWho's going to SABR??
(68 - 7:17pm, Jul 23)
Last: AndrewJ

NewsblogAs shifts suppress offense, time has come to consider a rule change
(72 - 7:15pm, Jul 23)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogTony Oliva turns 76; Gardenhire: 'He should be in hall of fame'
(54 - 7:11pm, Jul 23)
Last: Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge

NewsblogBucs Dugout: Manel: Pirates getting creative with defensive shifts
(3 - 7:11pm, Jul 23)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogKorea's Hanwha Eagles have robots for fans who can't attend
(4 - 7:08pm, Jul 23)
Last: 'Spos lost the handle trying to make the transfer

NewsblogGoldman: Eliminating the shift a bandage for a phantom wound
(4 - 6:23pm, Jul 23)
Last: JRVJ

Page rendered in 0.8504 seconds
52 querie(s) executed