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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tuberty: Dwight Evans’ Strong Sabermetric Statistics Underscore His Overlooked HOF Case

Flippin’ Flegenheimer’s…nothing can kill off Dewey!

By not selecting Evans for the ballot, the Committee overlooked a player with a strong Hall of Fame case underscored by sabermetric statistics finer than any hitter on the Expansion Era ballot and on par with the right fielders he played alongside who are already enshrined in Cooperstown.

...By viewing Evans’ career under sabermetrics rather than just by traditional statistics and milestones, we see that Evans is a much more worthy Hall of Fame candidate than the BBWAA voters of the late 1990’s or the present day Historical Overview Committee realized.  In comparison with the four hitters on the Expansion Era ballot, Evans’ impressive career dwarfs each of them sabermetrically—leading them in all 14 advanced statistical categories—making it clear that “Dewey” is a much better Hall of Fame candidate.  In addition, when matched up sabermetrically against his four Hall of Fame right field peers, Evans is on par with Winfield and Gwynn, leading the former in both career bWAR and fWAR and the latter in fWAR and WARP, while also leading Dawson in all three Wins Above Replacement metrics.  Moreover, Evans leads each of his right field Hall of Fame peers in wOBA and FRAA, while ranking high among them in several other metrics.  One can only hope that when devising future Expansion Era ballots, the Historical Overview Committee will look past career batting average, hits, All-Star selections, and decades old BBWAA voting and take a long, hard, fresh look at overlooked stats such as runs scored, walks, and OBP, as well as sabermetric stats used by Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Prospectus.  While it is true that during Evans’ career he was not as celebrated a player as his Hall of Fame right field peers and he retired shy of certain statistical milestones, his strong performance in sabermetric stats show that the combination of his fine hitting and superb fielding make for a career worthy of not only a spot on a future Expansion Era ballot but eventual Hall of Fame induction.

Repoz Posted: December 14, 2013 at 08:44 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof, sabermetrics

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   1. TRBMB Posted: December 14, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4617876)
Dwight Evans is on my short list of clearly deserving candidate Hall Of Famers who in all likelihood will never see their day. And that has me more and more dismissing the validity of the Hall as anything more than just a museum.

Then there are the idiots who declare Spink and Frick Award winners as Elected and soon to be Inducted Hall Of Famers. A salute to the clown Greg Amsinger on MLB Network. In all likelihood he has never been to Cooperstown or even on the Hall Website.
   2. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4617980)
Yeah, it seems to me that Dewey is overqualified. Hell of a hitter, hell of a fielder, confusingly overlooked.
   3. BDC Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4618007)
In terms of batting average, career length, and milestones, the closest comps to Evans are guys like Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, Chili Davis, and Bobby Abreu; Billy Williams and Tony Perez are the highest HOFers on his "raw" comps lists.

But if you run the search centered on Evans in terms of PAs and OPS+, it's all HOFers (except Tim Raines), and not lesser ones, either:

Player              Rfield    PA OPSWAR/pos  SB      Pos
Roberto Clemente       204 10211  130    94.4  83 
*9/H8745
Wade Boggs             104 10740  131    91.0  24 
*5DH/317
Dwight Evans            65 10569  127    66.9  78 
*9D3H/78
Ernie Banks             54 10394  122    67.7  50   36
/H57
Zack Wheat              54  9996  129    59.9 205   
*7/H89
Charlie Gehringer       34 10244  124    80.8 181   
*4H/35
Rod Carew               16 10550  131    81.0 353 34H
/D657
Tony Perez              14 10861  122    54.1  49  
*35H/D4
Tony Gwynn               5 10232  132    68.9 319  
*98H/7D
Tim Raines              
-7 10359  123    68.8 808 *7H8D/49 


In that light, it really is a big deal that voters haven't adjusted for era and offensive context. Or if they have (as with Ron Santo), they've then counter-adjusted for park, but overshot the calculation.
   4. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4618008)
Dewey belongs.
   5. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 14, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4618010)
I can understand giving Rickey the MVP over Dewey in 1981, but Rollie for 78 IP? Dewey had 6.7 WAR in only 108 games!
   6. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4618024)
I can understand giving Rickey the MVP over Dewey in 1981, but Rollie for 78 IP? Dewey had 6.7 WAR in only 108 games!


You know, as great as Dewey was that year, Fingers really did have an historically great year for a reliever. It was one of the few times a reliever really was a legitimate MVP.
Evans just picked the wrong year to have his best season. He had 2/3rds. of a 10 WAR season in ~2/3rds. of a full schedule.
   7. AROM Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4618031)
For MVP, should have been Dewey, Rickey, or Grich. But Fingers was awesome, and probably is deserving of the Cy Young that year. 78 innings is not only more than modern closers will pitch, he did it in 2/3 of a season. That's a 1.04 ERA, with no unearned runs, for a workload that today would be covered by a closer and a setup man.

I did not like giving both awards to a reliever at the time, but as they throw less and less, I have come to appreciate just how impressive Fingers was.
   8. Rob_Wood Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4618040)
What did Greg Amsinger do/say this time? (He is by far my least favorite person of all the MLB talking heads.)
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 14, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4618045)
I think Evans is very marginal, like Whitaker. Evans had two top 10 finishes in WAR for position players a 1st and a 5th, and four in oWAR 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th. Now it's nice that those are very high finishes but it's still not a lot of what I would consider Hall of Fame caliber play.

Evans' case rests entirely on ridiculous career length and big defensive numbers early in his career, both things I tend to put less weight on when looking at a HOF case on bbref.

Without the career length, he'd be a definite 'no' from me (he'd be basically Rocky Colavito) but his career length is what puts him on the borderline. I think Larry Walker has a slightly better case though Walker is overly helped in WAR by the defensive metrics. Zack Wheat might be a good matchup, but again I think Wheat has the slightly better case unless you seriously downgrade the NL of the 1910s. Wheat was also obviously hurt by the live ball era coming so late in his career as it seemed to matchup with his skills much better than the era during his prime.
   10. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4618061)
The Red Sox had 3 primary outfielders between 1975-1987, is the worst one in the HOF?
   11. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4618070)
"...ridiculous career length and big defensive numbers early in his career."

20 years in the MLB, and (almost all) with one team is not what I call "ridiculous". I call it a HOF career. In fact, if he hadn't gone to Baltimore I think everyone who ever played 20 seasons with one team has entered the HOF, except maybe Trammell?
   12. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4618080)
I think Evans is very marginal, like Whitaker. Evans had two top 10 finishes in WAR for position players a 1st and a 5th, and four in oWAR 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th. Now it's nice that those are very high finishes but it's still not a lot of what I would consider Hall of Fame caliber play.

He had 32 WAA - it's not like he was just a compiler of mediocre seasons. He was consistently very good. It's a lot like Palmeiro. Yes, both of them got the numbers they got because they were able to keep playing for a long time. But they were still playing at a pretty high level.

No, his 'peak' case isn't great. But you'd have to be a pretty extreme peak voter to think that a guy punching out a whole bunch of seasons that are a couple wins above average isn't a strong contribution to a HOF case.

I agree with you that Walker is a better case, but disagree that it's slightly better. Walker had 48.2 WAA. That's insanely good. I admit to being a bit skeptical that he was *quite* that good, but even if you give him a modest discount I still think he's in the same ballpark as Thomas and Bagwell, rather than being in a conversation with Raines, Biggio, Sosa, Edgar, etc. He's a slam-dunk HOFer in my book.
   13. AROM Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4618087)
"The Red Sox had 3 primary outfielders between 1975-1987, is the worst one in the HOF?"

Actually 1975-1980, but the answer is yes.
   14. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 14, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4618096)
Palmeiro has exactly the same problem though maybe even to a greater extent than Evans. The problem with WAA is just the same problem with WAR: there's more to adjusting for context than just adjusting for league average and calling it a day. Why I like to look at the rankings by year is that it also adjusts for the relative ease or difficulty his contemporaries had at producing beyond the league average. As far as I'm concerned, an 8.5 WAR season that was 5th in the league is inferior to a 6.5 WAR season that led the league (as long as we don't have real good reasons to think otherwise).

Without doing this you wind up with the idea that 20% of the best 20 players of all time (and 30% of the Top 10) played primarily in the American League in the 1910s (Cobb, Speaker, Collins, Johnson). That simply cannot be true and so there must be something fundamentally inaccurate about the measure that says that it is so (indeed 70% of the top 10 were retired or dead by 1936 which also can't possibly be true).

Evans doesn't benefit so much from this problem, but guys like Walker and Palmeiro do. Because like the first half of the 20th century, players tended to exceed the league average level of play more often and by greater margins in the period from say 1992-2005. And neither WAR nor WAA sufficiently accounts for this to my tastes. As for Walker, I'm also somewhat skeptical that we necessarily have the effects of his park nailed down properly, and suspect that it benefited him more than the WAR numbers suggest.

I guess what I'm saying is that we do ourselves no favors by adhering to a false sense of accuracy for the numbers and adjustments we now have.
   15. Booey Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4618113)
Without doing this you wind up with the idea that 20% of the best 20 players of all time (and 30% of the Top 10) played primarily in the American League in the 1910s (Cobb, Speaker, Collins, Johnson). That simply cannot be true and so there must be something fundamentally inaccurate about the measure that says that it is so (indeed 70% of the top 10 were retired or dead by 1936 which also can't possibly be true).

I agree with you on this point. According to WAR, 7 of the top 20 players of all time - more than a third - were all active every year between 1915-1927 (Ruth, Cobb, Speaker, Johnson, Collins, Hornsby, Alexander). Can a third of the best players ever really all have been contemporaries for 13 seasons? I know, random variation and talent distribution and all that, but that just doesn't seem possible. And that's not even considering that two more top 20 guys (Wagner and Gehrig) careers overlapped this time span for a few seasons at the beginning or end.

But that's where my agreement ends. It's easy to explain why the above could have happened back then - with the color barrier, a very small influx of foreign talent, and inferior scouting and minor leagues, MLB was drawing from a much smaller talent pool and had much weaker resources at their disposal to identify and properly funnel the top talent into the majors, therefore the true star caliber players stood out like a redwood in a patch of rose bushes. But I don't see how that could've happened again. The average player seems SOOO much better than they used to be, and there's a much larger and more diverse pool of talent to draw from. If anything, it seems it would be harder than ever for the best of the best to stand out. Yet they did. There really may have just been a lot of great players from this era. I'm certainly more willing to believe it would be possible now than I would be to believe it happened back in the pre-integration days.
   16. TRBMB Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4618121)
Greg Amsinger needs to change his name to Chris Berman so he can match that idiot and represent MLB Network in the same way, ie. head clown.

For whatever reason, perhaps just his stupidity, he thinks the Spink and Frick winners are thus elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and get inducted in July. He refers to each one as 'Hall Of Famer'

He interviewed Eric Nadel yesterday, announced his 'election' and forthcoming 'induction'. Gee, how about some accuracy, especially when a number of real and actually eligible candidates continue to miss out, some most likely forever.
   17. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4618122)
The problem with WAA is just the same problem with WAR: there's more to adjusting for context than just adjusting for league average and calling it a day. Why I like to look at the rankings by year is that it also adjusts for the relative ease or difficulty his contemporaries had at producing beyond the league average. As far as I'm concerned, an 8.5 WAR season that was 5th in the league is inferior to a 6.5 WAR season that led the league (as long as we don't have real good reasons to think otherwise).

I understand this argument, but I think you’re overstating the case here by quite a bit. While it may be improbable that a bunch of talent was concentrated in the 1910s, it’s not completely crazy. It’s just unlikely. But we see unlikely things happen all the time.

Clemens, Maddux, Pedro, and Randy Johnson all pitched simultaneously. In 1997, Maddux’s ERA+ of 189 was the WORST of the bunch, but is tied for 61st of ALL TIME. It seems wildly implausible that four of the 60 best pitching seasons all happened in the same year. Except that I watched all four of those guys pitch a bunch and they really were out-of-this-world good. Stuff like that just happens sometimes.

I’m also skeptical that the variation in WAR is really all that extreme. Just browsing through the list of top-10 WAR by year on BB-Ref, I see that the only time since 1901 that a guy with a WAR lower than 8 led the league was the strike year of 1981. A WAR in the 6s is occasionally good enough to qualify for the top 10 of the season, but only barely – something that has held true basically throughout history.

The only significant exception I can see to this rule is the period from 1940-1960. Which is not at all surprising. The war was obviously a huge factor, as was the growing population, and the post-war economic boom. If you start to fill out the ranks with better players overall, the replacement level ought to decline. Then you start adding in some black players and the talent base expands even more. That’s probably balanced by the fact that many of the early integrated players were the best of the best, though. But the REAL significant change is clearly expansion. Expand the ranks of players who can be called major leaguers and of course your replacement level will decline. Plus, now you’ve got more players playing – which means you’ve got a higher chance that a good-but-not-particularly-special guy (call him Dick Ellsworth or Larry Dierker) can fluke into an all time great season.

Looking at this from the other side (how easy it is to produce truly GREAT seaons), I went through and checked the seasons that rank in the top 500 all-time for WAR (8.3 or higher) from the modern era. The years with the most such seasons were 2004, 1912 (9), 2001, 1997, 1977, 1920, 1910 (7), 1973, 1972, 1964, 1917, 1914, 1911, 1908, 1904 (6).

The only CLEAR pattern there is the deadball era, because pitches threw a bunch more innings. I would certainly be amenable to time-lining those values in some fashion. But outside of that, while it was certainly a bit easier to accumulate more WAR in the post-strike era, it doesn’t seem radically different than the 1970s.

Counting up these seasons by decade, you get the following distribution:

1900s - 38
1910s - 53
1920s - 34
1930s - 33
1940s - 29
1950s - 33
1960s - 41
1970s - 40
1980s - 22
1990s - 34
2000s - 39
2010s – on pace for 25

I don’t see much meaningful information there. If you take out the pre-1920s pitchers it’s basically a flat trendline. The only really weird result is the 1980s, rather than the periods around it.

If we just look at the period you mentioned and cherry-pick to isolate the most extreme years (1993-2004) and exclude the strike years, the average number of players who had one of these seasons was 4.8, compared to 3.6 over the whole period since 1901. That’s certainly a jump, but it’s not wildly out of line with the numbers from the mid 60s to late 70s, and it’s lower than the deadball era.

Now it’s possible that there WAS something unique about this particular time period in that a lot of the growth in high-WAR seasons came from hitters. The other two periods with high numbers were eras defined by pitchers throwing lots of innings and racking up high WAR numbers. If I get sick of grading exams over the weekend, I might check how this looks if we only use the numbers for hitters.

tl;dr - It might have been a bit easier to get big WAR or WAA numbers in Walker's era, but not by enough to make his numbers fall down to the level of the group below him, unless you also think his fielding numbers were wildly wrong (which I personally do not).
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: December 14, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4618127)
If Evans' age 32 to age 37 seasons were his first six seasons (at ages 21 to 26), then he would have been seen as a superstar and maybe Hall-bound. Knocked in 100 runs 4 times, scored 100 3 times, often hit close to .300, and everyone knew he was a really good fielder even back then (5 Gold Gloves before his late peak, and it was harder to get one if you aren't a superstar, or at least it seemed that way back then).

Sure, his stellar walk rates (114, 112, 106 etc) weren't appreciated at the time, but his real problem was a wrongly-sequenced career. Follow up those "first six" seasons with the backfill of the other 14 years, and he's a Duke Snider-type Hall guy - everyone would have agreed he was great, and then he kept being pretty good after that.

A surprising number of Hall guys didn't do much of anything after age 30 - but it didn't matter. But get started at age 32 - too late, we already "know" you ain't that good, so who cares what you do late? Jeff Kent has a similar problem with his age-20s career on this ballot, in fact.

Ernie Banks moved from SS to 1B after age 30 season and never posted better than a 116 OPS+ thereafter. Now, his peak was better than either guy so that's his rightly-earned HOF peak ticket (and nobody noticed his dismal walk rates), but I think the author is overthinking this one.


   19. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 14, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4618136)
A surprising number of Hall guys didn't do much of anything after age 30 - but it didn't matter. But get started at age 32 - too late, we already "know" you ain't that good, so who cares what you do late? Jeff Kent has a similar problem with his age-20s career on this ballot, in fact.


True. My theory is that greatness is seen as genetic and something that should be basically unobtainable through hard work. A late career peak or period of greatness contradicts that.
   20. Matt Welch Posted: December 14, 2013 at 09:42 PM (#4618168)
I think it's always illustrative to compare players with their exact contemporaries in terms of WAR, slicing it whatever way floats yer boat. If you take Dewey's best season & see where it ranks among position-player WAR that year, and then do the same for his best consecutive runs of 3, 5, and 10 years, and also his time as a starter, and then his whole career, you get something like this:

1/ 3/ 5/10/S/ C
3/11/15/15/8/11

That's not particularly impressive for a Hall of Famer. Compare him to Larry Walker, Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield:

NM 01/03/05/10/St/Ca
LW 01/03/06/05/05/05
RJ 02/04/02/03/05/06
DW 03/06/06/11/17/21
DE 03/11/15/15/08/11

Obligatory WAR-isn't-the-end-of-the-conversation disclaimer here.

With the exception of the '81 explosion, he rarely felt like or measured up as one of the 10 best players in baseball. Voros is right -- it's like Palmeiro and Whitaker. My Hall preferences guys who knock your socks off, even if I wish he was actively on the bubble of consideration.
   21. Baldrick Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4618173)
Compare him to Larry Walker, Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield

Dave Winfield was a first ballot HOFer. Reggie Jackson was a slam-dunk sure-thing first ballot HOFer. Larry Walker is over-qualified. Not being as good as those guys is not a reason to lock someone out of the HOF.

I'd rather compare Dewey to, say, Andre Dawson or Billy Williams - solid HOFers, but not open and shut cases. If he looks worse than them by this metric, that would do a lot more to convince me.
   22. Matt Welch Posted: December 14, 2013 at 10:55 PM (#4618179)
I'd rather compare Dewey to, say, Andre Dawson or Billy Williams - solid HOFers, but not open and shut cases.


Sure. Here's Dewey, Dawson, Williams, and Tim Raines:

NM 01/03/05/10/St/Ca
DE 03/11/15/15/08/11
AD 02/03/03/08/13/17
BW 03/05/07/07/10/12
TR 06/05/04/06/05/10
   23. Sunday silence Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4618251)
Without doing this you wind up with the idea that 20% of the best 20 players of all time (and 30% of the Top 10) played primarily in the American League in the 1910s (Cobb, Speaker, Collins, Johnson). That simply cannot be true and so there must be something fundamentally inaccurate about the measure that says that it is so (indeed 70% of the top 10 were retired or dead by 1936 which also can't possibly be true).


Here we are on a web site that emphasizes statistics and you violate the first rule of statistics by using a ridiculously small sample size. I mean 3 or 4 guys? That's your idea of a trend or something?
   24. Tippecanoe Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4618257)
He's 36th all-time in games played, but 50th in times on base and 59th in total bases. The disrespect in voting came because, despite the very long career as an outfielder, he didn't reach or even approach any old-school milestones. Not a good thing for a pure career candidate.

We can worry about him once Raines and Walker are in.
   25. BDC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4618262)
He's 36th all-time in games played, but 50th in times on base and 59th in total bases

Not necessarily disagreeing with you here, but another interesting feature of Evans and the career leaderboards is that he's 110th in Hits and 29th in Walks. His profile tilts in the same direction as Stan Hack and Jimmy Wynn among his fellow HOMers/non-HOFers: he got on base an awful lot, but not in a way that led to the showier milestones.
   26. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4618298)
Actually 1975-1980, but the answer is yes.


I hate to pick-nits, but the 3 primary outfielders on the Red Sox between 1975-1987 were Evans, Lynn, and Rice. The fact that Lynn left after the 1980 season doesn't change that.
   27. Matt Welch Posted: December 15, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4618505)
The Red Sox had 3 primary outfielders between 1975-1987, is the worst one in the HOF?


Doing my prior WAR-in-context exercise on just the three of them:

NM 01/03/05/10/St/Ca
DE 03/11/15/15/08/11
FL 01/04/08/14/19/25
JR 01/04/12/13/20/26

Rice and Lynn both had the highest position-player WAR in the majors during their best season; Dewey's was 3rd. Their best 3-year runs were 4th best in the majors over their time periods; Dewey's was 11th. His edge comes in what he did outside his best 10-year stretch -- compile 36% of his career WAR, compared to just 17% for Lynn and 11% for Rice.

   28. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4618609)
I basically agree with Baldrick.

Also ... WAR is a measure of value, not a measure of ability or greatness. Those generally go hand-in-hand but not always and especially not always across eras. It has little choice but to vary greatly in any comparison where league composition varies greatly. There are only so many wins it can hand out and that number has been reasonably constant for over 100 years. If stud starters threw 30% of their team's innings in the 1910's it has no choice but to give those starters huge WAR values. For position players we don't have such dramatic shifts in usage but it still can't avoid the fact that in 1911, Cobb had 18% of his teams total bases ... exactly the same percentage as Aaron had in 1959.

As far as I'm concerned, an 8.5 WAR season that was 5th in the league is inferior to a 6.5 WAR season that led the league (as long as we don't have real good reasons to think otherwise).

Without doing this you wind up with the idea that 20% of the best 20 players of all time (and 30% of the Top 10) played primarily in the American League in the 1910s (Cobb, Speaker, Collins, Johnson).


But ... Cobb led the league in OPS+ 9 straight years and 11 of 12; he led in position player WAR 5 times and oWAR 8 times. He had 11 BA titles, 7 OBP, 8 SLG, 8 RC.

Aaron led the league in WAR once, position WAR once, oWAR 3 times. He led in BA twice, OBP never, SLG 4 times, OPS+ 4 times, RC 3 times. But WAR sees the gap as only 9 wins over 20 years. WAR looks more on track than a league ranking methodology.

Mays has more WAR and a similar/better league record as Cobb -- 9 WAR titles, 10 position WAR titles but only 6 oWAR titles. But just 2 OBP wins, 5 SLG, 6 OPS+, 5 RC. Either method leads to roughly the same conclusion.

Musial had 4 WAR, 4 posWAR and 6 oWAR. 9 RC titles is awfully good. WAR does give Cobb a 23 WAR edge only about 5 of which is baserunning and none on defense so your method might work better here (i.e. Musial and Cobb about equal).

ARod has 5 WAR, 6 posWAR, 9 oWAR but only 2RC. He is 35 WAR behind Cobb -- some of that is Cobb's extra 2000 PA.

Speaker looks a bit like Aaron -- 0 WAR, 3 posWAR, 1 oWAR, 2 RC and a smattering of BA, OBP, OPS+ titles. Tip -- don't share a good chunk of your career with Cobb, Ruth or Mays. From 1909-1923, Speaker was in the top 5 in posWAR every year but one. From 1956-69, Aaron was outside the top 5 once. Aaron is 5th in career posWAR, Speaker 6th.

And of course there's Mr. Bonds. 6 WAR, 11 posWAR, 8 oWAR, 9 OPS+, 9 RC. And Mr. Ruth -- 10 WAR, 11 posWAR, 10 oWAR, 12 OPS+, 9 RC. WAR does give Ruth the oWAR edge by 13 but your method would give him a small edge too. More controversial is WAR putting Cobb ahead on oWAR as well.

Mantle 5 WAR, 6 posWAR, 9 oWAR.

I'm not seeing any major issues here. WAR has managed to recognize the greatness of Aaron and Speaker and ARod despite not leading the league all that often. We can quibble about the sorting of Cobb, Speaker, etc. relative to Musial, ARod, Mantle -- i.e. possibly the WAR gaps are "too big".

But surely the issue isn't really here at the top. But as we move down, it seems to me that WAR does a lot better. League rankings have kind of a hard time adjusting for position but here we've got Robinson (0 WAR, 1 posWAR, 2 oWAR), Rickey (1,3,2 despite almost all his black ink coming from SB and R) and Morgan (2,4,6 ... maybe under-rated by WAR) right next to each other. A guy like Derek Jeter (a mere 10 black ink, 0/1/2 on WAR) right next to Eddie Mathews (16 black ink, 0/0/1). By the time we're down to Biggio at #46, it's 17 black ink, 0/0/0 on WAR, only 4 top 10 posWAR. He's just ahead of Molitor and Alomar, just behind Gehringer, light years behind Morgan and Hornsby -- that seems roughly correct to me. Gehringer had a bit more black ink and top 10 WAR finishes; Molitor has about the same WAR ranking numbers as Biggio; Alomar has much less black ink and about the same WAR ranking numbers.

So I'm just not seeing any obvious bias. I'm sure there are examples where rankings would give a truer pictures but also examples where a WAR count does. But guys who dominated a league in an era are clustered together. Guys who were #2 in their league but only because they played with Mays, Ruth, Bonds, etc. are clustered together. Guys who contributed through mashing are clustered with seemingly equal guys who contributed through other means or by positional adjustment. Gehringer, Biggio, Molitor and Alomar are tightly clustered with pretty similar rankings (by WAR or black ink) and roughly similar positions (Molitor not so much).

The ranking test presumably would make the most difference to peak candidates. Allen goes 0/1/2 on the 3 WAR types along with 3 OPS+ and 2 RC. But I don't know that anybody has ever denied that Allen hit like Aaron/Robinson for a decade. His HoF failure and his WAR ranking come primarily from the same source -- his short career. (Also little defensive value and the other baggage.) Wow, from ages 22-30, Allen had 61 oWAR (he gives back 10 in defense). It's just the peak/career debate in a different guise though -- sure, I'd take Allen over Darrell Evans 8 days a week and twice on Sunday despite their having equal career WAR but ...

This is all a straw man anyway. How often do you see anybody serious comping guys from pre-Ruth baseball? How often do people ignore peak/career issues and, when they do, when does it take longer than a minute for somebody to point it out. I rarely make comps of modern players to anybody pre-integration/pre-war and recently have tilted towards post-expansion (it's 50 years now, plenty of data, avoids a lot of these population compositional issues ... why even the AL had discovered that black people existed by 1960).

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