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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

S.I. Verducci: Is Boston’s feared DH destined for the Hall of Fame?

Hey…Jim Rice only played 530 Games as DH.

Finally, there’s the completely unscientific test: give me your five best hitters in baseball. You don’t have to crunch the numbers on this one. Just tell me the five guys who you think are the best in the business at squaring up a baseball. If you didn’t have David Ortiz on that short list in any of the past four seasons, I’d have to question what you’ve been eating for breakfast.

Sprinkle in a .317 postseason average for teams that are 8-3 in postseason series, two RBI championships, a home run title, five top five MVP finishes, two world championships, and Ortiz has the eye-catching accolades that impress voters.

So is he a lock Hall of Famer? Not yet, but he could be before he begins that next and last contract. Give Ortiz two to four more seasons that bear a decent resemblance to the past five, and I wouldn’t care if he stuck around long enough to hit 500 home runs.

No pure DH has ever been enshrined at Cooperstown. (Paul Molitor did play almost half of his games at DH.) Harold Baines and Jose Canseco haven’t come close to election. Martinez will be such an interesting, rare case study that the electorate likely will need several ballots to sort through it. If so, perhaps Ortiz will be the one giving a boost to Martinez’s candidacy. After all, it may take just a few more seasons for a guy who doesn’t play defense and who might not hit 500 homers to be regarded as a no-doubt Hall of Famer.

Repoz Posted: March 04, 2008 at 05:34 PM | 104 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, red sox

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   1. xbhaskarx Posted: March 04, 2008 at 05:57 PM (#2705868)
I wouldn’t care if he stuck around long enough to hit 500 home runs.


well that's good.
   2. The Good Face Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:00 PM (#2705872)
Boston's feared DH


Haven't we had enough threads about Jim Rice?
   3. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:04 PM (#2705877)
Ortiz will get some support, but I can't imagine him making it in. Being a career DH who wasn't a regular of any note until age 27 are two major things to overcome.
   4. BeanoCook Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2705883)
I watched him in Minnesota and was convinced he had talent and that the Twins were screwing him. Obviously he was not their "type" of player. Still, I never would have said HOF.

He would have to have 4 more seasons of what he has done, not just 2, for me to consider him.
   5. DKDC Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2705884)
He's still three seasons of non-decline away from Albert Belle territory.

I don't see it happening unless he has an unexpectedly long career.
   6. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2705885)
After all, it may take just a few more seasons for a guy who doesn’t play defense and who might not hit 500 homers to be regarded as a no-doubt Hall of Famer.


Even setting aside the DH/defense issue and moving beyond David Ortiz specifically, who was the last "no-doubt Hall of Famer" elected who didn't reach one of the three major career milestones: 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, 300 Wins? For guys who don't reach those milestones, the BBWAA seems to me to be having more and more trouble evaluating those guys and figuring out which of those guys to put in and which to leave out and they seem to make the wrong decisions on those guys as often as not.
   7. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:11 PM (#2705887)
If any career DH who wasn't a regular of note until age 27 is going to make the HoF, it oughta be Edgar Martinez.
   8. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:11 PM (#2705888)
It'll be interesting to see what happens to Edgar Martinez.
   9. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2705889)
Ortiz has a 156 OPS+ as a Red Sox. His OPS+ has increased for 8 straight seasons. 3 more dominant years and a gradual decline and he'll likely make the HOF.

His career looks similar to Delgado's at their respective points in their career.
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2705890)
Here's something else unusual about Ortiz: He has slugged at least .592 for five consecutive seasons, a level of sustained power-hitting excellence that is historically rare. Ortiz is one of only 11 players in history with that kind of streak, with only Barry Bonds (8 straight), Babe Ruth (7 and 6), Hank Greenberg (7), Mark McGwire (6) and Ted Williams (6) with more consecutive such seasons.

This is the flipside of the "Biggio staggering up to nice, round 3,000"-- the extremely particular "landmark" number that only exists to hop over the potholes on a specific player's stat line. Unless there's a .592/.592/.592/.592/.592 Club I haven't heard about? Needless to say, the other cited players don't require a ".592" to keep their slugging streaks going.

What's weirder is that Verducci breaks out this kind of digit finessing just before a "just tell me your five biggest hitters" gut check. And also that he cites Ortiz's "remarkable streak" in improving his OPS+ for four consecutive years, when it's actually been eight.
   11. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2705894)
If David Ortiz were still a Minnesota Twin this article wouldn't exist.
   12. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:15 PM (#2705898)
Edgar, best seasons (by OPS+): 188, 166, 165, 164, 160, 158. Career: 147 in 2055 games
Ortiz: 171, 161, 158, 145, 144 (remarkably, all within the last five years and has increased every year). Career: 139 in 1192 games.

Even including postseason heroics (to which Edgar is no stranger), Ortiz has a long, long way to go.
   13. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:16 PM (#2705903)
Ortiz has a 156 OPS+ as a Red Sox.


And also that he cites Ortiz's "remarkable streak" in improving his OPS+ for four consecutive years, when it's actually been eight.


If David Ortiz were still a Minnesota Twin this article wouldn't exist.


All three of these statements are related.
   14. bibigon Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2705906)
Ortiz will get some support, but I can't imagine him making it in. Being a career DH who wasn't a regular of any note until age 27 are two major things to overcome.


I dunno - I could see him pulling a Jim Rice "most feared hitter in baseball" shtick. Combine that with being media friendly, the clutch thing, 2004, and a feeling that BeanoCook echoed - that the reason his career numbers are only so-so is because the Twins were screwing him, and I see a guy with a pretty strong shot of making it. Of course Rice isn't in, but he does get ever so close, so clearly stuff other than career numbers matters.

For what it's worth, somewhat surprisingly, PECOTA has him aging freakishly well. Not a real significant difference between his 2009, age 33 projection (.393/.527) and his 2014, age 38 projection (.387/.516). Even his 2008 is pretty similar (.403/.542).
   15. Valentine Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2705907)
Rice has 282 career win shares, with a five-year peak representing roughly half of that total. Ortiz has 166 career win shares, with 114 coming in the last four years. If Ortiz continues to play at his current level for two more years and a reduced level over the next five, then he'll pass Rice in both Peak and Career. Another World Series title would go a long way towards cementing his credentials. He also has a better relationship with the press (and they are the ones voting) than Rice ever did.

Most likely, Ortiz' production will fall off before then and he will have no real chance at the HOF.
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2705911)
A lot of guys have been among the top 5 hitters in MLB over a stretch of several years and not made the Hall. That's not much of an argument - Ortiz is not a great enough hitter for his 3- or 4-year peak to be no-doubt HoF quality, so he needs to extend his peak/prime.

Edgar Martinez is a great comp, becuase he got started late, and was a full-time DH through his peak. Basically, Ortiz has, at the age of 31, about matched Martinez through the age of 33. Martinez stayed at this level for 5-7 more years, and he's probably going to be short of the Hall.

IF - and this is the huge, Papi-sized if - Ortiz actually can maintain his peak production into his mid-30s in a way comparable to Martinez, he's probably going to the Hall of Fame. If Edgar Martinez had the sort of historically great postseason peak that Ortiz did, he'd be a no-doubt Hall of Famer. Papi, though, needs that long peak to have a shot.

Basically, I agree with Verducci that if Papi can maintain this peak through the beginning of the next decade, he'll make the Hall and be, at least, relatively deserving. The odds of a Papi-shaped man maintaining his peak production through his age 35 season, though, are not nearly as good as Verducci seems to imply.
   17. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:24 PM (#2705913)
Everyone seems to agree that Edgar Martinez is borderline for the Hall. Here's how they compare:

Martinez: 2055 games, 147 OPS+
Ortiz: 1192 games, 139 OPS+

The thing is that Martinez had a huge run starting at age 32; Ortiz would have to do something similar to be a serious candidate, which seems unlikely. (If he did, as a practical matter, the voters would likely push him in on the strength of his postseason record.)

I also don't think people realize how good Martinez's peak was. Best five years, OPS+:

Martinez 185
Ortiz 171
Martinez 166
Martinez 165
Martinez 164
Ortiz 161
Martinez 160
Ortiz 158
Ortiz 145
Ortiz 144

Obviously I had more seasons to pick from with Martinez, but I think people generally would guess that Ortiz's Boston years would measure up well to Martinez's best seasons, but that's not exactly the case. Although Ortiz has been a little more durable.

Ortiz is just too far back right now to be a serious candidate. And Martinez also had 563 games at 3B.

EDIT: I see some others made some of the same points I did.
   18. aleskel Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:28 PM (#2705919)
so, Verducci's point here is: "David Ortiz is a very good baseball player. If he continues to be a very good player, in the near future he will be remembered as a very good player"

way to go out on a limb there, Tom.
   19. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:30 PM (#2705923)
Ortiz, like Martinez, was a relative late-bloomer in the majors who became a dominant hitter with no significant defensive component to his game.

Edgar's got 563 games at 3rd and 28 at first. Ortiz has 238 games at first.

should Jim Thome be considered a lock for the Hall just because of 500 homers and Ortiz might not be granted the same preferential status?

Thome has 492 games at third and 1101 at first. He's also been a much better hitter than Ortiz.

Give Ortiz two to four more seasons that bear a decent resemblance to the past five, and I wouldn't care if he stuck around long enough to hit 500 home runs.

Four might be reasonable. Two is not enough if you're trying to compare him to Edgar or Thome.

Finally, there’s the completely unscientific test: give me your five best hitters in baseball. You don’t have to crunch the numbers on this one. Just tell me the five guys who you think are the best in the business at squaring up a baseball. If you didn’t have David Ortiz on that short list in any of the past four seasons, I’d have to question what you’ve been eating for breakfast.

It really comes down to this. Verducci is going to vote for him. But I doubt he'll vote for Brian Giles because he was one of the five best hitters in the league from 99-02. Or Giambi when he was one of the best hitters from 00-03.

Btw, Ortiz has been in the top in OPS+ once in the last four years. While he has probably been one of the five best hitters over the last four years (which is a obviously an endpoint used to pump up Ortiz' supposed dominance), he hasn't been head and shoulders above the crowd over that time (he's probably second, behind Pujols), or in any one year. Verducci is really overstating his peak.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:32 PM (#2705931)
Ortiz has a 156 OPS+ as a Red Sox. His OPS+ has increased for 8 straight seasons. 3 more dominant years and a gradual decline and he'll likely make the HOF.

For whatever reason, probably the size of his body, Ortiz strikes me as a guy that will hit a wall suddenly, not a guy with a gradual decline. He'll be an interesting case, but my prediction is he probably doesn't get in.
   21. The Good Face Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:41 PM (#2705945)
I won't think of him as deserving unless he can at least approximate Edgar's career value, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him voted in. The postseasons plus his cuddly, larger-than-life persona will go a long way. Edgar was better, but never won a world series and was kind of a quiet guy who exuded cool professionalism.

I also expect him to decline fairly suddenly sometime in the next 3 years. I'll be VERY surprised to see Ortiz still raking when he's 38.
   22. Jon T. Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:44 PM (#2705950)
Over the last five years Papi has leveraged his production incredibly well, so he's been more valuable than his OPS+ would suggest
   23. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:44 PM (#2705951)
Delgado and Ortiz comparion.

Through age-31 season:

Delgado: 5467 plate appearances, 143 OPS+.
Ortiz: 4937 plate appearances, 139 OPS+.

Delgado age 32-35: 2392 PA, 131 OPS+.
Ortiz: ?

Delgado's probably needs 550 homers to get into the Hall and maybe more than that.

Ortiz deserves credit for postseason heroics. Delgado deserves credit for playing defense.

Ortiz did his damage for Boston. Delgado for Toronto.

Ortiz probably has a better chance of getting in than Delgado.
   24. Jimmy P Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:48 PM (#2705954)
I dunno - I could see him pulling a Jim Rice "most feared hitter in baseball" shtick. Combine that with being media friendly, the clutch thing, 2004, and a feeling that BeanoCook echoed - that the reason his career numbers are only so-so is because the Twins were screwing him, and I see a guy with a pretty strong shot of making it. Of course Rice isn't in, but he does get ever so close, so clearly stuff other than career numbers matters.

This is exactly what I think will happen. He's seen as one of the big reasons that the Red Sox won that first World Series, not just for his play but for his "personality" and "leadership". He's BIG PAPI, not just David Ortiz. Granted, he'll have to continue for another 3-5 years on this pace, which isn't a given for a man of his size, but if he could age like Frank Thomas, then I think he's almost a lock. He probably shouldn't be - neither should Schilling - but both of them will.

Judging how much better Rice keeps getting every year (he gets more votes, so he must be gaining skill and having a better career), and the almost forgone conclusion that he's going to make it next year, I don't see how Ortiz doesn't. I mean, the media hated Rice, and he hated them, right? Well, the media loves Ortiz, and he plays them well.
   25. villageidiom Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:49 PM (#2705955)
For whatever reason, probably the size of his body, Ortiz strikes me as a guy that will hit a wall suddenly, not a guy with a gradual decline. He'll be an interesting case, but my prediction is he probably doesn't get in.
PECOTA takes body type into account, IIRC. And as mentioned above...
For what it's worth, somewhat surprisingly, PECOTA has him aging freakishly well. Not a real significant difference between his 2009, age 33 projection (.393/.527) and his 2014, age 38 projection (.387/.516). Even his 2008 is pretty similar (.403/.542).
And they have him at ~600 PAs per season in that time.

Not saying you're wrong; I imagine the body type plus the knee problems aren't a good combo.
   26. bibigon Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:56 PM (#2705967)
PECOTA takes body type into account, IIRC.


It takes height and weight into account - which has Ortiz listed at 6'4" 230lbs. I can't eyeball weight, but my impression is that people around here are very skeptical of that listed weight. If he's really 6'4", 270lbs or something, we might get a different story.

My guess is it's the positional thing which is saving him however as far as PECOTA goes.
   27. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:56 PM (#2705968)
He probably shouldn't be - neither should Schilling - but both of them will.
Schilling fits perfectly well into the lower-middle tier of Hall of Fame pitchers.
   28. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 06:57 PM (#2705969)
I think Frank Thomas would be a good comp, too. Thomas was basically a DH playing historically awful 1B. I think most of us think Thomas should get in no question...so if Ortiz can hit like Thomas, then I'd be good with it. Otherwise, he'd be mighty iffy.

Bodywise, I have Mo Vaughn or Cecil Fielder for a comp. And those guys didn't end strong.
   29. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:04 PM (#2705978)
Through age-31 season:

Delgado: 5467 plate appearances, 143 OPS+.
Ortiz: 4937 plate appearances, 139 OPS+.


So Ortiz is behind, and doesn't have the fielding.

Ortiz probably has a better chance of getting in than Delgado.


If so, that's only because we see that Delgado may be done, and if Delgado is done he's clearly short of the Hall.

But Ortiz has a long way to go -- 650 games at a 139 OPS+ -- to get to where Delgado is offensively.

And that's before considering defense.
   30. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:10 PM (#2705982)
I abandoned weight in my projection system for the reason people are discussing: the obvious disconnect between listed weights and the reality. This applies to both the source data used to make the projections, and the eventual input data for current players. The error levels involved make the data extremely suspect.

The temptation to use weight is because it seems to have a greater effect on statistics than height does, but it just isn't worth it. The system continued to use height though, as did the College system.
   31. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:13 PM (#2705987)
if Ortiz can hit like Thomas, then I'd be good with it.


But, of course, he can't (or hasn't shown that ability yet). Through age 29, Frank Thomas had an OPS+ of 182 and a season-low of 174. Through age 31, David Ortiz has an OPS+ of 139 and a season-high of 171.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:16 PM (#2705989)
Given that he is not athletic enough to play 1B, even when he was young, and is WAY closer to 280 than 230 lbs, and has knee problems, I'm guessing Ortiz starts to decline in the next couple of years, and is not effective past 35.
   33. pkb33 Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2705993)
Obviously I had more seasons to pick from with Martinez, but I think people generally would guess that Ortiz's Boston years would measure up well to Martinez's best seasons, but that's not exactly the case.

More accurately, if we use that one metric it doesn't appear to be the case. I think you can compare the two using different approaches and conclude Ortiz' peak is superior without too much trouble. Keep in mind that the park adjustment in OPS+ is a pretty rough one in this case, especially for a guy who is harmed more than helped by his theoretically hitters park such as Ortiz.

I don't think Ortiz will make it to the Hall in the end; you really need to be a tremendous hitter for a long time to make the Hall when you have zero defensive value. And, for reasons others have noted, he's not likely to do that. Whether he passes Edgar as "best DH" is a closer call for me...we'll just have to see the next couple years to know, I think.
   34. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2705994)
But, of course, he can't (or hasn't shown that ability yet). Through age 29, Frank Thomas had an OPS+ of 182 and a season-low of 174. Through age 31, David Ortiz has an OPS+ of 139 and a season-high of 171.

Thomas does set the bar kind of high. But that's as it should be, as he's probably going to be the worst fielder in the Hall.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:22 PM (#2706006)
What exactly do we mean by "5 best hitters in the game over the last X years"? Do we mean in the best 5 each of those years or in the best 5 if you take all those years together? Ortiz I assume does qualify under the latter, but not necessarily the former. He was 10th in OPS+ in the AL in 2003, 5th in 2004 -- and that was all before the big shift of talent to the AL. Even the last 3 years, he's been no better than 3rd in the AL.

Ortiz's career is nowhere near long or productive enough yet to seriously consider his HoF chances. In another 5 years, Prince Fielder will probably have better career numbers (and just as many games played) than Ortiz has right now.

If Ortiz maintain for another 4-5 years, given the Boston connection and postseason performance, he does have a good shot. But the writers have left a lot of short-career great hitters on the outside looking in (Mize, Klien, Allen, McGwire, Belle, Cepeda, Hack Wilson, probably Edgar) and others took a long while (Kiner, Terry). Even someone like Greenberg had to wait a few years. And that's without considering the DH thing.

It's an excellent peak, but Ortiz's career numbers (if he continued them for another 950 games) are Cepeda-esque. And in OPS+ terms, Cepeda's peak (or his best years at least) are quite comparable right now.

Or to put it yet another way -- here's a list of short-career (<2000 games) corner players with a career OPS+ below 140 who have been elected by the writers and how long they had to wait:

Monte Irvin* 1973 -- 12 years
Joe Medwick 1968 -- 15 years
Bill Terry 1954 -- 13 years

*the Twins may have screwed Ortiz, but I don't think we can consider that the equivalent of the color barrier. :-)

Either Ortiz needs to maintain his career numbers for about 8 more years (2200-2300 games depending on health) or he needs to get his career OPS+ in the 150-160 range in the next 5 years -- which would seem very unlikely as he'd have to repeat the last 2 seasons for the next 4-5. And neither of those would make him a lock. Or the writers have to treat him differently than they have treated other short-career corner players. And again, that's before applying any sort of DH penalty.
   36. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:26 PM (#2706013)
More accurately, if we use that one metric it doesn't appear to be the case.

But OPS+ actually helps Ortiz because it undervalues OBP. Edgar's career OBP is 83 points higher than his league averages, last year was the first season Ortiz has ever had where that's the case.
   37. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:30 PM (#2706025)
I think you can compare the two using different approaches and conclude Ortiz' peak is superior without too much trouble.

Can you present an approach that would lead to that conclusion?
   38. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:31 PM (#2706026)
Here are the top 20 non-HOF 1B/DHs by OPS+ (minimum 4000 PA):
Cnt Player        OPS+  PA  From  To  Ages
+----+-----------------+----+-----+----+----+-----+
 
1 Albert Pujols  167  4741 2001 2007 21-27 
 2 Mark McGwire   162  7660 1986 2001 22
-37 
 3 Frank Thomas   157  9785 1990 2007 22
-39 
 4 Jim Thome      150  8427 1991 2007 20
-36 
 5 Jeff Bagwell   149  9431 1991 2005 23
-37 
 6 Jason Giambi   147  7211 1995 2007 24
-36 
 7 Edgar Martinez 147  8672 1987 2004 24
-41 
 8 Todd Helton    143  6755 1997 2007 23
-33 
 9 Jack Fournier  142  6033 1912 1927 22
-37 
10 Carlos Delgado 139  7859 1993 2007 21
-35 
11 David Ortiz    139  4937 1997 2007 21
-31 
12 Norm Cash      139  7910 1958 1974 23
-39 
13 Will Clark     137  8283 1986 2000 22
-36 
14 Dolph Camilli  136  6352 1933 1945 26
-38 
15 Fred McGriff   134 10174 1986 2004 22
-40 
16 Boog Powell    134  7810 1961 1977 19
-35 
17 John Kruk      133  4603 1986 1995 25
-34 
18 Rafael Palmeir 132 12046 1986 2005 21
-40 
19 Mo Vaughn      132  6410 1991 2003 23
-35 
20 Hal Trosky     130  5747 1933 1946 20
-33 


He has a lot of work to do before catching guys like Clark and Giambi, who aren't making the HOF. He'll then be compared with guys like Helton, Thome, and Delgado--with Edgar and McGriff possibly hanging around on the ballot. There's also the trio of 1B with great gloves and just a bit less bat: Olerud, Mattingly, and Hernandez.

Ortiz has a peak advantage on some of these guys, but not many.

I'd guess Ortiz ends up with a career that falls short of Giambi's, but he gets in anyway.
   39. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 07:42 PM (#2706041)
Obviously I had more seasons to pick from with Martinez, but I think people generally would guess that Ortiz's Boston years would measure up well to Martinez's best seasons, but that's not exactly the case.

More accurately, if we use that one metric it doesn't appear to be the case.


Ok, how about Warp-3 ?

Martinez 11.0
Martinez 10.3
Ortiz 9.7
Martinez 9.5
Ortiz 9.3
Martinez 9.1
Ortiz 8.8
Martinez 8.8
Ortiz 7.5
Ortiz 5.1

EqA (using BP's "adjusted for all time" version)?

Martinez .368
Ortiz .353
Martinez .351
Martinez .350
Martinez .346
Martinez .342
Ortiz .338
Ortiz .336
Ortiz .320
Ortiz .315

I think you can compare the two using different approaches and conclude Ortiz' peak is superior without too much trouble.


I'd be interested in seeing that. But what approach would show that, other than perhaps the hopelessly flawed WPA?

Keep in mind that the park adjustment in OPS+ is a pretty rough one in this case, especially for a guy who is harmed more than helped by his theoretically hitters park such as Ortiz.


He has a 1.026 OPS at Fenway. On the road (for his career, which does include Fenway for his time with the Twins) .930.

But even if it's true that Fenway doesn't help him as much as the typical hitter, I don't see why we should care. Value is value.

(Edited for clarity.)
   40. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:00 PM (#2706053)
But Ortiz has a long way to go -- 650 games at a 139 OPS+ -- to get to where Delgado is offensively.

And that's before considering defense.


I agree with you. I think Delgado will likely end up more deserving of a HOF spot than Ortiz. I just think that Ortiz is more likely to get the love from the voters.
   41. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:00 PM (#2706054)
I think Giambi is as good of a comparison as Edgar. Giambi wasn't a regular until age 25, either.

In terms of careers, Ortiz needs 2300 PA with an OPS+ of 165 to match Giambi at 7200 and 147. Ortiz has only had an OPS+ that high once (in 2007).

For peak, Giambi seems to be well ahead:
Giambi 1999-2003: 3409 PA, 171 OPS+
Ortiz 2003-2007: 3244 PA, 156 OPS+

Giambi playing 1B should add to that advantage.

As for the clutch argument, Giambi was a clutch god before WPA became popular. Tango found Giambi (and Tejada) to be the clutchiest hitter around from 1999-2002. Here are Giambi's career splits:

Bases empty: .267/.379/.498
Runners on: .315/.444/.579

Ortiz doesn't have much of a split there, but he does have the timely hits. Ortiz also has .100 points of SLG on him for the postseason.
   42. pkb33 Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:02 PM (#2706056)
WPA may well be one that does so; it is in fact not hopeless for assessing retrospective value but it isn't perfect either.

The point on park factors is that OPS+ can be misleading in a particular comparison because it applies a single number to all hitters, even though a park plays differently for different hitters. H/R splits are decidedly NOT the answer to that. I don't know that it would change the Martinez/Ortiz peak comparison but I do know it is something to look in the comp---as is often the case, while OPS+ is a good quick stat it is nothing close to the one-stop shopping stat it is sometimes used as here.

As Voros notes, Edgar's spectacular OBP is likely undervalued in OPS+, but that's a different issue.
   43. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:09 PM (#2706063)
WPA may well be one that does so; it is in fact not hopeless for assessing retrospective value but it isn't perfect either.


But you haven't even presented a comparison using WPA, or any other comparison -- even though you said you could show that Ortiz's peak was better than Martinez's without too much trouble, using a different approach.

The point on park factors is that OPS+ can be misleading in a particular comparison because it applies a single number to all hitters, even though a park plays differently for different hitters. H/R splits are decidedly NOT the answer to that. I don't know that it would change the Martinez/Ortiz peak comparison but I do know it is something to look in the comp---as is often the case, while OPS+ is a good quick stat it is nothing close to the one-stop shopping stat it is sometimes used as here.


OPS+ is not bad, especially for two hitters with no baserunning value. And since they were primarily both DHs, we don't really have to position-adjust.

But I also presented EqA and WARP-3.

As Voros notes, Edgar's spectacular OBP is likely undervalued in OPS+, but that's a different issue.


No; it's the same issue. It means that using OPS+ as the tool for comparison favors Ortiz.

And I note that you haven't shown that Fenway helps Ortiz less than the typical hitter; you've simply assumed that. And as long as we're going there, you also haven't shown how Martinez's park affected him beyond standard park adjustments.
   44. BDC Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:15 PM (#2706067)
I don't know if Edgar is the relevant comp in terms of actual HOF voting: he never played in a World Series. The better comp might be Kirby Puckett. As Kiko points out in #6, it seems to be hard for the electorate to figure out the guys who don't have the automatic-pass career numbers. Puckett went in because he was seen as exceptionally valuable by the writers while he was active (excellent showing in MVP voting, like Ortiz) and because he was a crucial element of two World Championships.

Curt Schilling is another relevant case. His career numbers are now about the same as Kevin Brown's in some key categories (W, ERA+), but Schill is going to get considerable support for the HOF even if he catches the bus tomorrow, while I can see Brown dropping away after the first ballot. The difference is the number of championship rings and even more so, the perceived crucialness of the guy's contribution.

Edit: my comment is not meant to predict that Ortiz will go in. Like most people upthread, I think he has a ways to go, even for the most Sox-happy HOF voter.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2706068)
And I note that you haven't shown that Fenway helps Ortiz less than the typical hitter;

Wouldn't the general assumption be that Fenway favors a LH power hitter, like Ortiz, MORE than the typical player?

I always thought weak opposite field flyballs turning into 2Bs, or 1Bs in Ortiz's case, was the main hitting advantage to Fenway.
   46. Exploring Leftist Conservatism since 2008 (ark..) Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2706069)
So is he a lock Hall of Famer? Not yet, but he could be before he begins that next and last contract. Give Ortiz two to four more seasons that bear a decent resemblance to the past five, and I wouldn’t care if he stuck around long enough to hit 500 home runs.


Like everyone else on reading Verducci's headline I thought of Edgar, then I checked E's stats. V. seems way, way off on the "two to four more seasons" business (as, imo are a lot of other posters here)--wouldn't it have to be at least six more good years just to get Ortiz into Edgar's zip code? I realize perception trumps most things, but even Big Papi needs a lot more time as Big Papi just to put the filler into his HOF resume.
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:17 PM (#2706070)
Giambi playing 1B should add to that advantage.


I wholeheartedly disagree. Giambi, at best, is average. At worst, which he's been in NY, he's well-below average. And, in fact, because he insists he hits better as a 1B than a DH, the Yankees have actually trotted out lineups that put a better 1B defender at DH and a weaker one in the field. That shouldn't be rewarded at HOF voting time.

I've always believed that for whatever defensive penalty we want to assess DHs, they more than make up for it in the selflessness that is required of the position. As has been made clear, many players don't want to even think about being a DH because they don't want to be considered half-a-player. Give me a guy who's willing to put his ego aside in the best interests of his team (Edgar, Ortiz, Baines) any day.

This isn't to suggest Ortiz is deserving of the HOF or likely to be. But I do support Edgar.
   48. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2706074)
I've always believed that for whatever defensive penalty we want to assess DHs, they more than make up for it in the selflessness that is required of the position. As has been made clear, many players don't want to even think about being a DH because they don't want to be considered half-a-player. Give me a guy who's willing to put his ego aside in the best interests of his team (Edgar, Ortiz, Baines) any day.

How many runs have the Red Sox lost because they had to play Manny in LF rather than DH him? Is that made up for by Ortiz's "selflessness?"

I also don't think "selflessness" is one of the top 2 reasons Ortiz doesn't play 1B.
   49. Santanaland Diaries Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2706075)
The point on park factors is that OPS+ can be misleading in a particular comparison because it applies a single number to all hitters, even though a park plays differently for different hitters.


It depends on what your goal is. If you are trying to estimate how two players would have done if both had played in the same park, then yes, the park factors are inadequate. If you're using the park factor to figure out what the relative run environments are, the park factor is appropriate. If Ortiz played in a park that had huge outfields and lightning fast turf, an Ichiro-type player might actually create more value than Ortiz, even though we might agree that Ortiz is the superior offensive player in most locations.

Also, as far as Ortiz being "screwed" by Minnesota, I agree the Twins approach didn't suit him. But I also contend that what really screwed Ortiz in Minnesota was his tendency to get hurt.
   50. BDC Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:30 PM (#2706088)
How many runs have the Red Sox lost because they had to play Manny in LF rather than DH him?

Just incidentally, I can't imagine they've lost any; they have had an embarrassment of riches by having both Manny and Ortiz in the same lineup. Anyway, Steve Treder would say that it's a lot easier to play 1B than LF, so the correct move would have been to put Manny, the better fielder of the two, at 1B, and Ortiz would still be DH'ing. If Ortiz were actually a better fielder than Manny, then Manny would be the DH. Ortiz in left field would be horrific (which is certainly a factor against considering him for the Hall of Fame).
   51. Swedish Chef Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:30 PM (#2706089)
The RSN propaganda machine will have no trouble putting Ortiz in the hall, they have shown what they can do with Rice who would be nowhere close on merit. Varitek is a bigger challenge, but that leadership and legendary defense can't be left outside the hall, can it?
   52. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:34 PM (#2706095)
Just incidentally, I can't imagine they've lost any; they have had an embarrassment of riches by having both Manny and Ortiz in the same lineup. Anyway, Steve Treder would say that it's a lot easier to play 1B than LF, so the correct move would have been to put Manny, the better fielder of the two, at 1B, and Ortiz would still be DH'ing. If Ortiz were actually a better fielder than Manny, then Manny would be the DH. Ortiz in left field would be horrific (which is certainly a factor against considering him for the Hall of Fame).

I was thinking more along the lines of Manny at DH, Ortiz at 1B, and Millar/Payton/Youk in LF. As you say, If Ortiz was a better fielder than Manny, then Manny would DH. If they replaced Manny with a better fielder (while keeping his bat), wouldn't they be gaining runs?
   53. SoSH U at work Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2706102)
I also don't think "selflessness" is one of the top 2 reasons Ortiz doesn't play 1B.


If Ortiz wanted to be a d1ck about it, like Bonilla was, he could. If he insisted on playing the field, he could make life uncomfortable for Tito. He chooses not to.

Giambi could have recognized that he's not a very good defensive first baseman, move to DH and focus his energy there. He's generally resisted.
   54. BDC Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:41 PM (#2706105)
If they replaced Manny with a better fielder (while keeping his bat), wouldn't they be gaining runs?

I see your point, but the choice might be good 1B/very bad LF vs. very bad 1B/somewhat bad LF. (Or possibly, as with someone like Payton, decent LF who cannot hit.)

It's very hard to know, and that's why my comment was very incidental. As with the Jeter/AROD alignment in NY, it's hard to argue that the team's awkward defensive arrangements have hurt their W-L record.
   55. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 08:43 PM (#2706108)
I see your point, but the choice might be good 1B/very bad LF vs. very bad 1B/somewhat bad LF. (Or possibly, as with someone like Payton, decent LF who cannot hit.)

I think we agree and are talking past each other. I'm not saying the Red Sox should have played Ortiz at 1B. I'm saying that if he could be an adequate defender at 1B while staying healthy (which I don't think he can), he'd save the Red Sox runs by allowing them to move Manny to DH.
   56. BDC Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:01 PM (#2706121)
Agreed :)
   57. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:08 PM (#2706128)
If Ortiz wanted to be a d1ck about it, like Bonilla was, he could. If he insisted on playing the field, he could make life uncomfortable for Tito. He chooses not to.

He may also know that if he insists on playing the field, he might be able to make it in the lineup for 100 games. A big reason he doesn't play the field is because of his chronic knee issues. He can't play as regurlarly or as pain free while playing first. He certainly chooses not to be a dick about it, but I bet most of that is because he knows how much it hurts to play the field and how much of a greater risk it is for him to put on the first baseman's mitt with any regularity.

As with the Jeter/AROD alignment in NY, it's hard to argue that the team's awkward defensive arrangements have hurt their W-L record.

The Jeter/A-rod thing is almost exactly like what San Diego is doing with Kouzamoff/Headley. Headley is the better hitter and defender, but the Pads realized Kouzamoff would be a disaster in left while Headley could probably make himself respectable out there. So they put the better, more talented player further down the defensive spectrum. It weakens the individual value of the player and strengthens the team. Of course, the Yankee situation involves people some fans have already chosen to hate, so ridiculous reasons (Jeter is selfish, the Yanks can't evaluate defense) have been invented to support what made, and still makes in hindsight (Jeter's defense had improved before last year's injury, A-rod's turned in his two best offensive seasons because he can add more bulk at his new position), perfect sense.
   58. Danny Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2706144)
The Jeter/A-rod thing is almost exactly like what San Diego is doing with Kouzamoff/Headley. Headley is the better hitter and defender, but the Pads realized Kouzamoff would be a disaster in left while Headley could probably make himself respectable out there. So they put the better, more talented player further down the defensive spectrum. It weakens the individual value of the player and strengthens the team. Of course, the Yankee situation involves people some fans have already chosen to hate, so ridiculous reasons (Jeter is selfish, the Yanks can't evaluate defense) have been invented to support what made, and still makes in hindsight (Jeter's defense had improved before last year's injury, A-rod's turned in his two best offensive seasons because he can add more bulk at his new position), perfect sense.

Do you think the Yankees would have been better off moving Jeter to CF, keeping A-Rod SS, moving Bernie to DH, and signing a 3B?

As for the move to 3B helping A-Rod with the bat, his 154 OPS+ since becoming a Yankee is right in line with his Texas years.
   59. sunnyday2 Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:29 PM (#2706161)
>>Edgar, best seasons (by OPS+): 188, 166, 165, 164, 160, 158. Career: 147 in 2055 games
Ortiz: 171, 161, 158, 145, 144 (remarkably, all within the last five years and has increased every year). Career: 139 in 1192 games. Even including postseason heroics (to which Edgar is no stranger), Ortiz has a long, long way to go.

As if HoF voters will have even the remotest knowledge of any of this.
   60. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:32 PM (#2706164)
Do you think the Yankees would have been better off moving Jeter to CF, keeping A-Rod SS, moving Bernie to DH, and signing a 3B?

I did at the time, but I'm not sure it would have been. In 04, Jeter is 30, there are no good 3b on the market and the Yanks have two of the worst corner OFers in the world. Is that a great time to send the guy into CF with little preparation? There have been no All-Star 3b (or SS really, Furcal and Renteria I guess) on the market since then, while there have been 5 (Hunter, Matthews, Beltran, Damon and Pierre, ok 4) CFers out there. The Yanks also had OF talent in the system, with little to no infield talent. It has not been a perfect transition, A-rod's defense in 05/06 and Jeter's in 07 were pretty ugly sights. But Jeter's D 04-06 and A-rod's overall game, outside of '06, are pretty much perfect world scenarios that I believe were along the lines of what the Yanks were hoping to get. CF has been tumultous, but alot of that is something that could have been fixed post trade (like signing Beltran). You could probably construct a situation where the Yanks platoon Mike Lamb and Morgan Ensberg to make the team better, or assume that Jeter automatically becomes a + 5 defender in CF (possible I suppose), but in the long term, I think the Yanks decision was among the best, if not the absolute best (I have no clue what that might have been) they could have made.
   61. Srul Itza Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:44 PM (#2706178)
If Ortiz wanted to be a d1ck about it, like Bonilla was, he could.

Could he? He was picked up after being dropped by Minnesota. It is not like he was such a hot commodity; look at his salaries, his first four years in Boston. He was probably very happy to have been picked up by Boston, and was going to play wherever they wanted him to.

By the time he graduated from David Ortiz, cheap pick-up, to Big Papi, Boston Legend, he was clearly a DH with no going back.

If he insisted on playing the field, he could make life uncomfortable for Tito. He chooses not to.

You call this selflessness. I call it enlightened self interest. He isn't "taking one for the team" by DH-ing. He is avoiding embarrassment and injury, and lengthening his career, by being half a player. I don't see why he should get any special consideration for that.
   62. Srul Itza Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:54 PM (#2706190)
CF has been tumultous, but alot of that is something that could have been fixed post trade (like signing Beltran).

I seem to recall that the story was that the Yankees were going to either trade for/sign Big Unit or sign Beltran, and Big George steered the decision to Randy. That worked out real well.
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: March 04, 2008 at 09:55 PM (#2706191)
He isn't "taking one for the team" by DH-ing. He is avoiding embarrassment and injury, and lengthening his career, by being half a player. I don't see why he should get any special consideration for that.


That's very much speculative. We don't KNOW he would get hurt playing first, any more than we KNOW Edgar would have.

What we know is that they are injury risks with great bats, so logic suggests putting them in the position that reduces that risk (and a posiiton that has to be filled). We also know that because they have good attitudes, it isn't an issue as it would be with some other players. One of those players, Giambi, combines injury concerns with the inability to field, and some want to give him credit for playing the field. I'll take Edgar's attitude of playing where the damn manager puts his name in the lineup over the shaky fielding corner outfielders/1B who remain in the field because they don't want to be seen as 1/2 a player.

We also know that if they were NLers, or the DH was never adopted, they'd be at first base.
   64. Srul Itza Posted: March 04, 2008 at 10:04 PM (#2706196)
That's very much speculative.

No more than your comments about how Ortiz is being "selfless"
   65. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 04, 2008 at 11:34 PM (#2706255)
No more than your comments about how Ortiz is being "selfless"


Fine, I'll defer to yours. I'd prefer enlightened self-interest over selfishness that negatively impacts the team, as I think Giambi's preference amounts to, yet Danny suggests that Giambi's defensive value gives him an advantage. I fail to see it.

Take Papi out of the equation (partly because I suspect my Red Sox fanhood makes it seem I'm crafting this defense specifically to support him, though I've been saying it here for years; partly because he doesn't have, or is likely to have, a HOF case; and partly because, as you noted, his first real action was at DH, lessening his capacity to pull a power play).

If Edgar Martinez had been more interested in preserving his reputation as a "complete player," he could have resisted efforts to make him a fulltime DH. He didn't. And if he compiled the exact same career as a 3B-1B, then he's no longer borderline (or at least he's got a better shot). Now maybe his health issues would have prevented that. We don't know. What we know is that Edgar set aside his ego enough to accept the fulltime DH role, which a lot of guys can't/won't do. I hate like hell to see him penalized for that at HOF voting time while some corner outfielder/first baseman with marginal defensive skills is considered a full player, and thus more worthy of enshrinement.

When I look at the guys who have spent substantial time at DH, I see guys who were generally considered solid pros/clubhouse leaders: McRae, Baylor, Baines, Molitor, Martinez. I don't think it's a coincidence.
   66. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 04, 2008 at 11:52 PM (#2706265)
When I look at the guys who have spent substantial time at DH, I see guys who were generally considered solid pros/clubhouse leaders: McRae, Baylor, Baines, Molitor, Martinez. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Thome
Hafner
Frank Thomas

Of course, the exception would be Aubrey Huff.
   67. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:02 AM (#2706270)
What we know is that Edgar set aside his ego enough to accept the fulltime DH role, which a lot of guys can't/won't do.


But even if true, I don't really care about that for HOF purposes; I care about value. And if I were inclined to give Martinez extra credit for anything, it would be because his teams kept him in the minors far too long.

But wasn't the main reason Martinez was moved to DH that he couldn't stay healthy while playing the field? Or am I not remembering that right?

I hate like hell to see him penalized for that at HOF voting time while some corner outfielder/first baseman with marginal defensive skills is considered a full player, and thus more worthy of enshrinement.


But such a player with marginal defensive skills would still have more defensive value than a DH. Such a player would allow the team to get a hitter into the lineup (such as Martinez) who isn't able to play the field, even adequately -- whether because that hitter couldn't handle a defensive position or because he simply couldn't play the field without getting hurt.

A Chris Duncan who fumbles around in the outfield still allows, say, a Giambi or Ortiz to get into the lineup; Giambi or Ortiz couldn't play the outfield even if you asked them to.
   68. Valentine Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:28 AM (#2706277)
Edgar Martinez suffers from playing in the steroids era. His only remarkable seasons came between 1995 and 2003, when others were stealing the thunder by bashing 50+ home runs a year. Two batting titles, three OBP titles, once leading the league in RBIs. He fails miserably on the "black ink" test, and thus it is unsurprising that he hasn't received much consideration from the voters.

David Ortiz doesn't yet have much "black ink" to his name either, yet he has placed in the top five in MVP voting in each of the last five seasons. (Edgar Martinez only managed that once.) As an "RBI man" on a winning team, he receives even more credit than his numbers would normally deserve. Still needs to keep this pace for another 3-5 years to have any hope of election.
   69. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:37 AM (#2706280)
But wasn't the main reason Martinez was moved to DH that he couldn't stay healthy while playing the field? Or am I not remembering that right?


I don't know if it was because he couldn't stay healthy while playing the field or that because he was injury prone and the possessor of a valuable bat, the Ms decided that keeping him out of the field lessened the risk of further injury. Mariners fans are welcome to fill me in.

But such a player with marginal defensive skills would still have more defensive value than a DH. Such a player would allow the team to get a hitter into the lineup (such as Martinez) who isn't able to play the field, even adequately -- whether because that hitter couldn't handle a defensive position or because he simply couldn't play the field without getting hurt.


But the flip side of that is when a player like Giambi, due to his contract/role in the offense is deployed in the field while a superior fielder is used as the DH. In that case, the team is fielding a suboptimal lineup in order to keep the superstar happy. I don't like to see that rewarded.
   70. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:40 AM (#2706282)
Edgar Martinez suffers from playing in the steroids era. His only remarkable seasons came between 1995 and 2003, when others were stealing the thunder by bashing 50+ home runs a year.


Winning a batting title with a .343/.404/.544 line looks pretty remarkable to me...
   71. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:45 AM (#2706284)
Giving credit to Martinez for being stuck in the minors for too long, as I would, and giving him a bit of additional offensive credit for spending so much time as a pure DH, as I would (it seems to me that evidence shows that hitting suffers slightly for DHs) still leaves Edgar as an arguable Hall of Famer at best. He'd get my vote, though, what with his sterling character and my biased desire to see a Mariners cap on a plaque.

David Ortiz doesn't have as good an argument and won't for a long while yet.
   72. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:50 AM (#2706286)
the Ms decided that keeping him out of the field lessened the risk of further injury


That would about sum up the situation, I'd say. He hit great as a DH and though he'd played decently in the field, the perception was that he'd get more at bats by staying off it.

Besides, he had to make room for superior bats like David Bell and Jeff Cirillo and Russ Davis.
   73. Esoteric Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:52 AM (#2706288)
He fails miserably on the "black ink" test, and thus it is unsurprising that he hasn't received much consideration from the voters.


The other big reason he hasn't received much consideration from voters is because he's not eligible yet. And won't be for a couple years.
   74. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:53 AM (#2706289)
Winning a batting title with a .343/.404/.544 line looks pretty remarkable to me...
In 135 games. And he hit "only" 18 homers with "only 73" RBI. You can see how people would let this one slip under the radar.
   75. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 12:54 AM (#2706290)
But the flip side of that is when a player like Giambi, due to his contract/role in the offense is deployed in the field while a superior fielder is used as the DH. In that case, the team is fielding a suboptimal lineup in order to keep the superstar happy. I don't like to see that rewarded. I don't like to see that rewarded.


Fair enough. Again, for HOF purposes I'm less interested in the reason why a player played where he did, and more interested in how much value (offense + defense) he provided while playing there. But YMMV.

As for Giambi specifically, if he's whined about playing 1B, the Yankees have hardly complied; he's played much less there than in Oakland. Once he became a regular 1B in Oakland he played 146, 142, 124, and 136 games there. His games played at 1B as a Yankee: 92, 85, 47 (injured), 78, 68, 18 (injured).

So I don't think the Yankees have played them there much at all, let alone because of his contract. Hell, they've been running dreck like Mientkiewicz, Phelps, Phillips, and even Miguel Cairo out there.

This year the Yankees are trying to move him back there, but not to placate him; rather, so that Damon and Matsui can both stay in the lineup.
   76. Srul Itza Posted: March 05, 2008 at 01:08 AM (#2706297)
Danny suggests that Giambi's defensive value gives him an advantage. I fail to see it.

The reason you fail to see it is that you have made the mistake of actually watching Giambi try to field. That sort of thing can scar you for life. If you ignore how terrible he actually fields, hold your head to the side and squint a little, then you can see it.

By the way, who are this legion of characters you claim forced their teams to play them, when they should have been content to be half a player?
   77. Danny Posted: March 05, 2008 at 01:22 AM (#2706303)
Danny suggests that Giambi's defensive value gives him an advantage. I fail to see it.

The reason you fail to see it is that you have made the mistake of actually watching Giambi try to field. That sort of thing can scar you for life. If you ignore how terrible he actually fields, hold your head to the side and squint a little, then you can see it.

Yes, I've never seen Jason Giambi play. Stellar point.

While he's a poor defender (though he used to be better), Giambi doesn't hurt his team at 1B nearly as much as Manny has in LF during the Ortiz years. If Ortiz was capable of playing 1B as well and as often as Giambi, the Red Sox could DH Manny and be a better defensive team. They'd be better off losing 15 runs a year with Ortiz at 1B than 30 runs with Manny in LF. The fact that he can't (or the Red Sox think he can't, which is effectively the same thing) gives him less defensive value than Giambi.
   78. Srul Itza Posted: March 05, 2008 at 01:26 AM (#2706306)
That would about sum up the situation, I'd say. He hit great as a DH and though he'd played decently in the field, the perception was that he'd get more at bats by staying off it.

That was pretty much Molitor's story too, wasn't it? He could field well enough, but he couldn't stay in the line-up and field at the same time.
   79. Srul Itza Posted: March 05, 2008 at 01:27 AM (#2706307)
Yes, I've never seen Jason Giambi play. Stellar point

I wasn't talking to you. And you over-read it.

Lighten up, duuude.
   80. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 05, 2008 at 01:36 AM (#2706312)
By the way, who are this legion of characters you claim forced their teams to play them, when they should have been content to be half a player?


I don't know that I said, or implied, legions. I know Bobby Bo put up a stink, and Giambi has expressed his desire not to. Bonds has previously said he wasn't interested (though I think he's since softened his stance). I believe others have expressed similar sentiments, though how many had the leverage to force the issue is uncertain.

At the same time, I look at it this way. If Edgar gets little to no consideration from the BBWAA because of his all his time at DH leaving him "half a player," I think future borderline HOF candidates will remember that and be more likely to balk at occupying the position in the future, subsequently handicapping their teams at the expense of their personal goals. I'd hate to see that attitude encouraged over what I perceive is the team-first attitude espoused by guys like Edgar.
   81. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:05 AM (#2706329)
He could field well enough, but he couldn't stay in the line-up and field at the same time.


Or at least the team was afraid of that possibility. As with Ortiz, we're not sure that he'd have been out of the lineup more by playing the field. Edgar's injury troubles, as I recall, were occasional hamstring issues that came from running the bases.
   82. LargeBill Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:32 AM (#2706339)
Another guy similarly hurt by a late start, who I'm surprised no one has mentioned, is Ryan Howard. Howard was basically major league ready when Philadelphia decided they had to overpay for Thome. Ridiculous decision. Thome obviously was more accomplished at the point and would be more of a certainty. However, the difference between what could be expected from the two players was not sufficient to spend those dollars on hitting vice pitching. End result was a two year delay in Howard getting a full time job. If Howard reaches the HoF it will be doubly amazing since he will be playing catch-up to reach HoF expectations.
   83. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:39 AM (#2706344)
I don't think either Ramirez or Giambi are as bad defensively as commonly perceived. Giambi is probably worse, though, and is probably physically hurt more by playing the field a lot.
   84. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:40 AM (#2706345)
f Edgar gets little to no consideration from the BBWAA because of his all his time at DH leaving him "half a player," I think future borderline HOF candidates will remember that and be more likely to balk at occupying the position in the future, subsequently handicapping their teams at the expense of their personal goals.

I don't.
   85. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:40 AM (#2706347)
As an "RBI man" on a winning team, he receives even more credit than his numbers would normally deserve.

Damn those RBI. If he only he created more imaginary runs, rather than driving in actual runs.
   86. Danny Posted: March 05, 2008 at 02:45 AM (#2706349)
Another guy similarly hurt by a late start, who I'm surprised no one has mentioned, is Ryan Howard. Howard was basically major league ready when Philadelphia decided they had to overpay for Thome. Ridiculous decision.

Howard put up a .825 OPS in the South Atlantic League the year before the Phillies signed Thome. In 2003, Thome's first year in Philly, Howard played the whole year in the Florida State League. He then crushed AA and AAA in 2004, Thome's second season. Howard then took over for Thome halfway through the 2005 season.

The Phillies may have moved Howard too slowly through the system, but there wasn't much reason to think he was MLB ready in 2003. I have a hard time comparing a guy who played fewer than 200 games in the upper minors (Howard) with someone who played over 500 (Edgar).
   87. CrosbyBird Posted: March 05, 2008 at 03:44 AM (#2706359)
Curt Schilling is another relevant case. His career numbers are now about the same as Kevin Brown's in some key categories (W, ERA+), but Schill is going to get considerable support for the HOF even if he catches the bus tomorrow, while I can see Brown dropping away after the first ballot. The difference is the number of championship rings and even more so, the perceived crucialness of the guy's contribution.

I think this is a little unfair to Schilling, who is 14th in career strikeouts with 700+ more than Brown, with a better career WHIP, fewer walks, and 3 #2 CY finishes to Brown's single #2 finish. Brown's peak is better the fewer years you consider (especially best season to best season) but Schilling has a pretty strong peak too.

I brought this up a few months ago re: strikeouts. 3000 strikeouts is a huge milestone for HOF purposes. Of the 15 pitchers with 3000+ strikeouts, only 6 are not in the HOF: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Bert Blyleven, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez. Clemens might be held out but only because of PEDs, and I can't for the life of me figure out why Blyleven is out. RJ, Maddux, and Pedro are locks. The only other pitcher in baseball that's close is Smoltz (2975 right now), and he's a very likely HOF pitcher.
   88. Howie Menckel Posted: March 05, 2008 at 03:58 AM (#2706363)
We do set the bar high with DH types - as we should.
adj OPS+ leaders

Ortiz
2003 - Delagado RAMIREZ TNixon Giambi ARODRIGUEZ THOMAS Huff Posada DYoung ORTIZ
2004 - Hafner GUERRERO Mora RAMIREZ ORTIZ Guillen SHEFFIELD Durazo Matsui IRODRIGUEZ
2005 - ARODRIGUEZ Hafner Giambi ORTIZ GUERRERO RAMIREZ Sexson Teixeira Roberts SHEFFIELD
2006 - Hafner RAMIREZ ORTIZ Thome Dye Giambi Mauer Morneau THOMAS GUERRERO
2007 - ARODRIGUEZ CPena ORTIZ Ordonez Posada Thome GUERRERO Cust Upton Granderson

Martinez
1992 - MCGWIRE THOMAS EMARTINEZ Tartabull GRIFFEY MOLITOR PUCKETT Mack WINFIELD MOLITOR
1995 - EMARTINEZ THOMAS Belle Salmon PALMEIRO Vaughn JoValentin Thome Knoblauch RAMIREZ/BWILLIAMS
1996 - MCGWIRE THOMAS Thome EMARTINEZ ARODRIGUEZ Belle Anderson GRIFFEY Vaughn RAMIREZ
1997 - THOMAS GRIFFEY EMARTINEZ Justice Thome Vaughn BWilliams Ramirez TMartinez Burnitz
1998 - Belle BWilliams EMARTINEZ Thome Vaughn EDavis Delgado Griffey JGonzalez RAMIREZ
1999 - RAMIREZ PALMEIRO Giambi JETER Garciaparra BWilliams Jaha BWilliams Green Belle
2000 - Giambi RAMIREZ Delgado THOMAS ARODRIGUEZ EMartinez Garciaparra Glaus BWilliams Justice
2001 - Giambi Thome RAMIREZ ARODRIGUEZ EMARTINEZ BBoone RAlomar Gonzalez Delgado PALMEIRO


ok, maybe Thome deserves CAPS and not Palmeiro?
   89. Danny Posted: March 05, 2008 at 03:58 AM (#2706364)
I think this is a little unfair to Schilling, who is 14th in career strikeouts with 700+ more than Brown, with a better career WHIP, fewer walks

I think this is pretty much due to Schilling being a FB pitcher and Brown being a GB pitcher. Brown makes up for the stats you cite by giving up fewer extra base hits.

Brown's peak is better the fewer years you consider (especially best season to best season) but Schilling has a pretty strong peak too.

Brown's peak isn't that short. From 1996-2001, Brown had a 163 ERA+ in 1350 IP. For reference, Johan Santana has a 141 ERA+ in 1310 IP for his career.

Schilling's never had a 163 ERA+ in any season (high of 159). Schilling has a very good peak, especially when you factor in the postseason, but he can't touch Brown no matter how the numbers are sliced.
   90. Ray (CTL) Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:22 AM (#2706382)
I brought this up a few months ago re: strikeouts. 3000 strikeouts is a huge milestone for HOF purposes. Of the 15 pitchers with 3000+ strikeouts, only 6 are not in the HOF: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Bert Blyleven, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez. Clemens might be held out but only because of PEDs, and I can't for the life of me figure out why Blyleven is out.


But doesn't Blyleven kind of refute the point?
   91. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:27 AM (#2706387)
I think this is pretty much due to Schilling being a FB pitcher and Brown being a GB pitcher. Brown makes up for the stats you cite by giving up fewer extra base hits.


Brown also gave up 172 unearned runs in his career versus 65 for Schilling, which is also due in large part to Schilling being a FB pitcher and Brown being a GB pitcher.
   92. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:29 AM (#2706388)
Kiko beat me to it. Brown gave up 63 unearned runs during that dominant stretch, or almost the same number Schilling's yielded in his entire career.
   93. Danny Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:34 AM (#2706390)
You guys are right about that being part of being a GB/FB pitcher. Do you think it fully closes the peak gap between the two?
   94. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:39 AM (#2706393)
You guys are right about that being part of being a GB/FB pitcher. Do you think it fully closes the peak gap between the two?


Nah, not fully. I'd still take Brown's peak, but I think it does provide a little separation on their overall HOF cases. Of course, while I don't think Brown has much of a chance, I think he'd fit in comfortably in the Hall.
   95. CrosbyBird Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:51 AM (#2706396)
I think this is pretty much due to Schilling being a FB pitcher and Brown being a GB pitcher. Brown makes up for the stats you cite by giving up fewer extra base hits.

Schilling didn't pitch for 7 years in Florida and LA either, but you are right about extra-base hits. Still, for the greater number of extra-base hits Schilling gave up, it didn't amount to many more runs.

I don't know that it makes up or doesn't make up. Whether you do it with strikeouts, or not giving up HR, or inducing double-plays is really just style if the end result is the same. Both pitchers had pretty strong careers as of this moment.

Brown's peak isn't that short. From 1996-2001, Brown had a 163 ERA+ in 1350 IP. For reference, Johan Santana has a 141 ERA+ in 1310 IP for his career.

If you get to cherry-pick Santana's best 6 seasons out of a 20 year career, he might compare more favorably. Those seasons you picked from Brown span from age 31-36. Santana is entering his age 29 season and he's only been a full-time starter for 4 seasons.

It is problematic to average ERA+ over multiple seasons, especially without prorating it for innings. But I concede that Brown had a lengthy peak and a peak-to-peak comparison blows Schilling away. It's remarkable that both ended up in a similar place (~3300 innings, 127 career ERA+, high .590s winning percentage) seeing how different they are as pitchers in style and career distribution.

I think Schilling has distinguished himself with greater performance in his age 39 and 40 seasons, which will also help his case with voters, while Brown's age 39 season was good if a little short, but not as impressive, and his age 40 season was pretty much a disaster. Brown will, probably unfairly, be seen as someone who hung on too long and sullied his legacy; Schilling might do the same, but it seems likely that he'll pitch this season and retire.

Brown also will lose points for poor performance in the playoffs (also a bit unfair) with his worst performances being in the 2004 ALCS, where he was out after the second in game 3 but bailed out by the offense, and out before the second inning was over in Game 7 of "the worst playoff choke ever."
   96. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:58 AM (#2706398)
Brown also will lose points for poor performance in the playoffs (also a bit unfair) with his worst performances being in the 2004 ALCS, where he was out after the second in game 3 but bailed out by the offense, and out before the second inning was over in Game 7 of "the worst playoff choke ever."


Agreed. Brown is going to get hurt because, while he was the best pitcher on back-to-back WS teams, he did it for smaller market teams. But LA didn't accomplish anything in his time there (though he pitched well), and his NY career was never good and ended horribly. I suspect voters are going to remember his stops at the big market franchises more than they did his work in Texas, Florida and San Diego.
   97. CrosbyBird Posted: March 05, 2008 at 04:58 AM (#2706399)
But doesn't Blyleven kind of refute the point?

He might. We'll have to see what happens. I believe that when the dust clears in the next 5-10 years or so, he (and perhaps Clemens although certainly that's a different situation) will be the only 3000+ strikeout pitcher sitting out of the HOF.

I think voters just hate Blyleven for some reason. I can't see any reasonable way to keep him out of the HOF and so it leads me to believe that there's something about him that makes the voters irrational. I think he's so clearly the best player eligible that's not in the HOF that it's just incomprehensible to me.
   98. Danny Posted: March 05, 2008 at 05:05 AM (#2706404)
It is problematic to average ERA+ over multiple seasons, especially without prorating it for innings.

It is pro-rated; it's from BR-PI.

And my point about Santana wasn't that he's not that good or that he won't be as good as Brown. It's just that Brown was never seen as the best pitcher in baseball because he was up against all time greats. In the 6 year period I mentioned, Pedro had a 189 ERA+, RJ was at 172, and Maddux was close behind at 157. Clemens was also dominant for a couple of those years (1997-8).

Santana (who has 156 ERA+ over his past four years) is seen as clearly the best pitcher in baseball because he has lesser competition. Webb is second in ERA+ over that period at 140.

Brown also will lose points for poor performance in the playoffs (also a bit unfair) with his worst performances being in the 2004 ALCS, where he was out after the second in game 3 but bailed out by the offense, and out before the second inning was over in Game 7 of "the worst playoff choke ever."

Brown entered that series with a 3.45 ERA in 78 postseason innings. But, you're right, that 2004 ALCS is likely the postseason performance he'll be remembered for.
   99. Davo cant be eatin thirty hot dogs every day Posted: March 05, 2008 at 05:25 AM (#2706411)
For what it's worth, somewhat surprisingly, PECOTA has him aging freakishly well. Not a real significant difference between his 2009, age 33 projection (.393/.527) and his 2014, age 38 projection (.387/.516). Even his 2008 is pretty similar (.403/.542).
That seems pretty obvious to me. David Ortiz can't run or play defense. In 2014, he's either gonna hit .387/.516 or he'll have retired.
   100. CrosbyBird Posted: March 05, 2008 at 05:43 AM (#2706417)
It is pro-rated; it's from BR-PI.

Serves me right for assuming; I don't have BR-PI. It is pretty close to the straight average (165.3) anyway so I was probably nit-picking.

It's just that Brown was never seen as the best pitcher in baseball because he was up against all time greats. In the 6 year period I mentioned, Pedro had a 189 ERA+, RJ was at 172, and Maddux was close behind at 157. Clemens was also dominant for a couple of those years (1997-8).

This sort of prompts the question of whether something about those years made it easier to dominate the league relative to average more than in other seasons. Certainly Pedro's obnoxious total is a big product of his park... I think it likely that the same quality of performance in a pitching park would have looked a lot less impressive with ERA+.

This is a classic question in comparing across eras. It came up a lot in the Jim Rice discussions with the idea that there's greater variance in performance today so players can show more extreme statistical dominance.

8 of the top 25 ERA+ single-season performances have come between 1990 and 2005.

Santana (who has 156 ERA+ over his past four years) is seen as clearly the best pitcher in baseball because he has lesser competition. Webb is second in ERA+ over that period at 140.

I don't know that ERA+ really works so well at the higher levels anyway. Once you hit the 150+ range, there's a lot of noise in the signal. Noise like unearned runs, or slightly off park-factors. The really gaudy ERA+ numbers tend to be somewhat flukish even in the context of historically great pitchers.

I like your argument in terms of a black ink to black ink comparison. Where I don't think it holds true is in a gray ink to gray ink, and Brown does poorly here while Schilling does quite well.

It's fair to say Brown was disadvantaged by sharing the spotlight with 4 historically great pitchers like Clemens, Maddux, Pedro, and RJ. But if that's the only problem, he should still be dominating the next spots on the leaderboards. Brown has 166 Gray Ink Points, which is below-average for a HOF pitcher. Schilling has 205 which is higher than average.

Santana, who is very likely better than either of them if he has any sort of reasonably long career, has 95 already. Webb (and I feel like it's a coin-flip right now between Webb and Santana as to who is the better pitcher in 2008) has 60. Neither of those two pitchers really have any seasons where they aren't great relative to the league in their careers. There are no sub-100 ERA+ seasons or even sub-120 seasons.

Also, while there may be no other pitchers that have a legitimate claim to "best starting pitcher of the last 4 years" at this snapshot, Santana and Webb will define their legacy over their full careers. Peavy, for example, doesn't average a great ERA+ but he was dominant in 2004 (171) and 2007 (159). Pettitte was great in 2006 (171). Clemens and Maddux and RJ and Pedro weren't all great at exactly the same time and it probably pretty likely that the best pitchers of right now won't be great all at the same time.
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