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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stat Attack: Gebeloff: The Scooter’s Numbers

Sir Rob Gebeloff is Looking After Number Ten…Phil Rizzuto.

I decided to do my own little study. I theorized that Rizzuto played in an era when shortstop was a purely defensive position. Perhaps it was unfair to compare Rizzuto to the great sluggers of his day, such as Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams.

I created a database of Rizzuto’s immediate peers: I took every season by every player who appeared in at least 50 games at shortstop in any of the dozen years in which Rizzuto played at least 50 games. So, for example, I only used the two years Ernie Banks overlapped with Rizzuto but all 12 that both he and Pee Wee Reese played 50 games at short. (I threw out stats from Rizzuto’s final, abbreviated season).

That gave me 82 players and 247 seasons. I then summed all the stats and expressed them on the basis of a 500 at-bat season:

What the numbers show is a very average offensive player. It’s almost spooky, in fact, how close to average Rizzuto really was.

Repoz Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:55 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Juan V Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:04 AM (#2485560)
The HOM perspective on Scooter:

These days, he finishes in our mid-backlog, between the low 20s and high 30s. He is commonly grouped with players who share a similar profile, such as Dave Bancroft and David Concepcion. It seems to me that his candidacy depends, to an important degree, on how much war credit he gets.
   2. Rich Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:13 AM (#2485561)
As the Rob Neyer blog entry that I posted on another thread pointed out, Rizzuto was never the same offensive player after returning from WWII.
   3. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:33 AM (#2485570)
"Rizzuto was never the same offensive player after returning from WWII."

I can't value the importance of this sentence, when 1950 is on the same player's CV.
   4. baudib Posted: August 15, 2007 at 09:47 AM (#2485601)
I have no problem with Rizzuto being in Cooperstown. Some metrics suggest that he really was special on defense and I haven't seen strong evidence to the contrary.

His first two seasons show a fairly decent hitter (96, 103 OPS+). Considering his defense and speed and position, he was a good young player. I realize he was 23 as a rookie, not 20, but if you start with his 23-24 performance and project him to improve a bit, that's a heck of a player.

Since he DID dramatically improve his plate discipline in midcareer, I think the shape of his career could have been very different had he not missed the 25-27 seasons.
   5. sunnyday2 Posted: August 15, 2007 at 12:19 PM (#2485620)
>So of course the Rizzuto backers are going to point out his seven World Series titles and special skills, such as the ability to bunt,

Well, the entire article is about his offense. This is ridiculous. The man was among the great SS gloves of his time and probably of all-time. An A+ glove who is just ever so slightly above the position average with the bat can play on my team any time.

Not to mention, Gebeloff's little study probably underestimates his offense too, in the sense (as Juan V. mentioned) that Rizutto missed 3 years during WWII and these 3 years probably would have been better than his own career average years.

In short, his HoF/HoM case does indeed rest on "war credit"...and his glove. As to his offense, was Ozzie Smith a HoFer with the bat?
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2485998)
who're we kidding here?

Scooter's in the Hall solely because of his career as a broadcaster, encompassing:

1. staying in the public eye

2. being identified with the Yankees

3. being lovable


his actual playing career had little, if anything, to do with it


and, as James pointed out, he ain't the worst player in there
   7. LargeBill Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:31 PM (#2486014)
Nope, not the worst player in Cooperstown (close but not worst). I won't lose any sleep over him being in there, but any objective observer understands he wouldn't have gotten in if he played for any other team. Without all of the whining from Steinbrenner and the NY media no one would have thought twice about his absence from the HoF.
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: August 15, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2486134)
C'mon, he's not even close to being the worst player. Does LargeBill know who else is in there?

Just among SSs you've got Travis Jackson. 211 career WS, and a peak of 24. Rizzuto gets 231 while missing 3 years in WWII, and with a peak of 34. Jackson is a B+ glove, pretty good. Rizzuto is an A+. Not close.

And Jackson played 1656 ML games, a little more than 1300 of them at SS, and washed out at age 33 with an OPS+ of 50. Rizzuto played 5 more ML games, all but 9 of them at SS while, oh yes, missing 3 years during WWII. He was a regular SS at ages 35 and 36. Not. Close.

If not for the war (and barring injury) Phil coulda/woulda played 14 years as a ML SS, an all-time great glove with an OPS+ of 93. Ozzie Smith was a regular ML SS for 16 years, an all-time great glove with an OPS+ of 87. Phil is a hell of a lot more like Ozzie than Travis Jackson.

I mean, I'm not even that big of a Phil Rizzuto fan. I hate the f'ing Yankees. And if it was up to me I wouldn't have put him in the HoF either. But the disrespect for his playing career is nothing if not hyperbolic.

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