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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why Are There So Few Third Basemen in the Hall of Fame? - The New York Times

There really are a lot of great third basemen playing right now. Catchers, not so much.

Jones had his own knee problems near the end of his career, but still ranks seventh in career games at third base. Asked how he did it, Jones laughed and said, “Blessed.” The current crop of star third basemen — Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Manny Machado, Anthony Rendon — could only hope to be so lucky.

“Maybe,” Schmidt said, “the greatest players in the game today are third basemen.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:11 AM | 95 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame

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   1. John DiFool2 Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:29 AM (#5614326)
Unbelievably, the article never once mentioned Scott Rolen. Sigh...
   2. Jose Bautista Bobblehead Day Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5614328)
Amazingly, Josh Donaldson (if I remember correctly) is #2 behind Mike Trout with 36.2 WAR over the past five years. His 4.8 WAR in 113 games last year is a rate of roughly 6.5 per ~150 games. If the calf injury that caused Donaldson to miss six weeks isn't a chronic condition or the start of impending physical breakdown, then the following aging curve is plausible:

2018 (32): 6.0
2019 (33): 5.5
2020 (34): 5.0
2021 (35): 4.5
2022 (36): 4.0
2023 (37): 3.0
2024 (38): 2.0
2025 (39): 1.0
2018-25: 31.0
2010-17: 37.3
Career: 68.3

It would make Donaldson an interesting case for the Hall. He'd be in the Rolen/Santo/Nettles class of 3B by career WAR, but voters would likely perceive him to have a better peak than the other three. These are the best five consecutive seasons by WAR for contemporary and HOF-caliber 3B since integration:

Boggs: 42.0
Santo: 41.9
Schmidt: 40.3
Brett: 38.5
Mathews: 36.7
Donaldson: 36.2
Boyer: 33.8
Beltre: 33.5
Robinson: 33.3
Bando: 32.9
Allen: 31.6
Longoria: 31.3
Jones: 31.2
Rolen: 30.4
Bell: 29.9
Nettles: 28.7
Perez: 27.9
Arenado: 27.4
Wright: 27.2
Cey: 26.4
Machado: 26.3
Evans: 24.6
Ventura: 24.2
Seager: 23.6
   3. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:42 AM (#5614329)
Jones had his own knee problems near the end of his career, but still ranks seventh in career games at third base

I was thinking that sounded a bit off, because Jones spent two full seasons as a left fielder. He is in fact 14th in career games at 3B.

EDIT: and I see how they made their mistake. A B-Ref search for >50% third basemen lists Jones as seventh in games.
   4. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5614333)
In terms of career shape, Josh Donaldson is intriguingly close to Al Rosen: both broke in to stay at age 26, were MVPs at age 29, saw their playing time start to slip at age 31. Rosen was through at age 32, and as Jose says Donaldson figures to be around quite a bit longer. I hope so. He is an outstanding player and easy to root for even if he is a Blue Jay :)
   5. The Duke Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5614334)
Had no idea dick Allen was a 3B.
   6. salvomania Posted: January 27, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5614343)
Look how high Boyer is... he was consistently excellent but probably not considered "one of the best players in the game" (even though he did have an 8-WAR season, and another as NL MVP).

But after his rookie year (1954) he had a nine-year run where he never had fewer than 5.2 WAR except the one year (1958) Frank Lane had the great idea of moving one of baseball's best young 3B to center field, which resulted in "only" 3.6 WAR.

His career was too short (just 12 full-time seasons) but as shown above his consecutive peak was better than Beltre, Brooks Robinson, Tony Perez, Chipper, Rolen, Allen, etc.
   7. shoewizard Posted: January 27, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5614344)
Unbelievably, the article never once mentioned Scott Rolen. Sigh...


all I need to know to not bother to click through.
   8. I Am Not a Number Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5614349)
Had no idea dick Allen was a 3B.

Back in the day, 3B was a position where you'd attempt to hide a bad glove.
   9. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5614350)
Schmidt cited several excellent third basemen who have fallen just short of Cooperstown: Ken Boyer, Graig Nettles, Bill Madlock, Buddy Bell and Ron Cey. And, as Jones did on Thursday, he pointed to a current player, Adrian Beltre, as an obvious Hall of Famer.

“He’s got to be considered past me in terms of the greatest of all time,” Schmidt said of Beltre, who has five Gold Gloves. “I don’t know how many you need to have, if you’re a Gold Glove third baseman with 3,000 hits — and he’s close to 500 HRs — he’ll bypass me.”


I think Schmidt is the greatest 3b of all time and I don't think Beltre will surpass will pass him. But where does Beltre rank historically? He has been better in his thirties than he was when he was in his 20s.
   10. Colin Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5614352)
Jones had his own knee problems near the end of his career, but still ranks seventh in career games at third base

I was thinking that sounded a bit off, because Jones spent two full seasons as a left fielder.


Also, most people forget that Chipper lost his expected rookie year to an ACL tear. He was expected to be the Braves' starting left fielder in 1994. Hard to guess how that might have gone, especially since Blauser came back to earth after his big 1993 and Pendleton was pretty awful in 94, possible Chipper might have made it back to the infield within that season.

The Braves had two iron men in the lineup for a good while there, Chipper missing an average of about 5 games a season at 3B from 1995-2003, and Andruw missing an average of about 5 games a season from 1997 to 2007 (including a four-year span where he missed a total of five games). Both broke down pretty hard in their 30s, Andruw accelerating that with his conditioning, but at least Chipper managed to still hit.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5614358)
“He’s got to be considered past me in terms of the greatest of all time,” Schmidt said of Beltre, who has five Gold Gloves. “I don’t know how many you need to have, if you’re a Gold Glove third baseman with 3,000 hits — and he’s close to 500 HRs — he’ll bypass me.”


It's funny that as good as Morgan and Schmidt were, neither guy can look past their relatively lower BAs compared to the other greats.

   12. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:49 AM (#5614359)
Back in the day, 3B was a position where you'd attempt to hide a bad glove.


Not really. It was more that 3B was a position where you'd try to get some offense in an era when most guys who could defend at SS or 2B were going to hit .210 with no power or walks, if you were lucky.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5614362)
These are the best five consecutive seasons by WAR for contemporary and HOF-caliber 3B since integration:

Arenado: 27.4


It's worth noting that these are the only five seasons of Arenado's career so far, including his age-22 season when he had a 81 OPS+. With any luck, he'll be up in Rolen/Chipper territory after this year.
   14. TomH Posted: January 27, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5614363)
Agree with th epoint, but kinda exaggerated there. MOST guys who could defend? So MOST good middle infield gloves had OPS of 500? Yes, they were bad in the 70s, but...
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5614364)
OK, put it this way... Dick Allen played 97% of his team's defensive innings at 3B as a 22-23 year old and was -9 Rfield total. He was a perfectly cromulent defender as a young man. His D went south in a hurry, but that's pretty common.
   16. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5614369)
where does Beltre rank historically?

There are roughly three kinds of very-long-career third basemen (that links to the games-as-3B list I mentioned earlier).

There are great hitters (Mathews, Santo, Schmidt, Boggs, Jones) who were at least decent fielders, and they have to be the inner circle at the position. Schmidt was also a great fielder and is hence the consensus #1, no matter what he himself now thinks :) Frank Baker, George Brett, and David Wright had somewhat shorter careers at 3B, but are akin. AROD has only about half as many 3B games as Schmidt or Boggs, though of course he's comparable as a hitter. (Brett, as we were saying on some other thread this winter, was as great a player as almost any third baseman, but didn't stick at the position as long.)

Then there are the glove-first guys, the shortstops playing out of position: Aurelio Rodriguez, Willie Kamm, Ossie Bluege. Nobody thinks they're Hall of Famers.

But almost everybody else is a Beltre-type, even if Beltre himself has had a truly odd career. The type is a pretty good hitter, but no threat to dominate his league offensively. He sticks around, sometimes forever, because he is an excellent infielder, and he sticks at 3B because he hits way better than the traditional shortstop. Sometimes he has an MVP season if he leads the league in something and gets credit for a strong team showing (Robinson, Boyer, Pendleton) or has an MVP-type season where he doesn't win for some reason (Beltre, Rolen). But then there's a ton of other relatively similar guys, at least as similar as star ballplayers get (Nettles, Gaetti, Cey, Bando, Bell, Wallach, Ventura, Hack, Clift, right back to Larry Gardner and Lave Cross).

So I guess the question is whether Beltre is the best of his group, and then whether he's so much better that he's bidding for entry into the inner-circle group. Much as I am insanely in love with Beltre, I don't think he was ever as great a player, especially at their peak, as Jones or Mathews, let alone Boggs and Schmidt. Santo is a little harder to place because he wasn't quite as great a hitter as the rest of the inner circle, but was the second-best fielder of them. His career is not like Beltre's in shape or length, but Santo may have been roughly equal to Beltre at the top level he clearly established.

So I guess I'd be OK with Beltre "tied for fifth-best all-time" at 3B, Brooks Robinson not far behind in seventh place, maybe Brett eighth. But that's just an initial attempt to think aloud about it.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5614372)
So I guess I'd be OK with Beltre "tied for fifth-best all-time" at 3B, Brooks Robinson not far behind in seventh place, maybe Brett eighth. But that's just an initial attempt to think aloud about it.

It's hard for me to figure Brett that low. He was just so much better offensively than Beltre, and especially Robinson. In these "All-time position X" conversations, I don't think we should give too, too much credit to volume.

From 34 on (when Brett moved off 3B), Brooks Robinson had 856 games with an 91 OPS+. Does that really move him past Brett?
   18. The Duke Posted: January 27, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5614377)
Isn’t beltre basically the best 3B of his generation? I guess you have rolen and Jones who were closing their careers their careers and you have Arenado and Machado starting theirs .
   19. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5614380)
In these "All-time position X" conversations, I don't think we should give too, too much credit to volume

I suspect I have been influenced by the Walt Davis Doctrine :)
   20. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 02:09 PM (#5614386)
Pie Traynor should be in the list with Hack and Clift, too. I don't know if Pie Traynor was any better a player than Robin Ventura, maybe not as good, but he too was a star and highly-regarded defensively, and he hit in the middle of the order for good teams. Traynor's stock has dropped a lot in the last 50 years, but it shouldn't drop to the point of thinking that he was some kind of journeyman.
   21. Booey Posted: January 27, 2018 at 02:18 PM (#5614390)
I think there's two obvious reasons why there's fewer 3B in the HOF:

First, there was virtually no great 3B in the first half of MLB history. In the 2nd half (1950's-present), there's been plenty and they seem to be getting elected almost on par with most other positions.

And secondly, as the article mentions, the best hitters at 3B generally don't stay there. I'd guess there are more great former 3B than at most other positions. So the guys that do stay there tend to be the good fielding, okay hitting types rather than the great hitters putting up obvious HOF numbers. Look at someone like Robin Ventura. He had a very good career (56 WAR, 28 WAA). His career numbers make him one of the best overall 3B of his era, but he was rarely the best in any given year because he kept finishing behind temporary 3B. For example:

- Thome hit .314/.438/.558 (157 OPS+) in 1995 and .311/.450/.612 (167 OPS+) with 38 HR and 116 rbi in 1996 at 3B.

- Edgar hit .343/.404/.544 (164 OPS+) in 1992 at 3B.

- Sheffield nearly won a Triple Crown, hitting .330/.385/.580 (168 OPS+) with 33 homers and 100 rbi in 1992 at 3B.

- Pujols hit .329/.403/.610 with 37 homers and 130 rbi in 2001, playing more games at 3B than any other position.

Ventura rarely if ever put up seasons like that. To extend the time frame a bit, Cabrera won back to back MVP's and a Triple Crown averaging .338/.417/.620 (176 OPS+) with 44 homers and 138 rbi at 3B in 2012-2013. But of course, none of Thome, Edgar, Sheffield, Pujols, or Cabrera are really 3B. I think Rolen is hurt by this type of comparison too; other than 2004, his peak offensive seasons don't really stand out either compared to the best 3B seasons of the era (often by temporary 3B).
   22. Morty Causa Posted: January 27, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5614392)
Had no idea dick Allen was a 3B.

He wasn't. He was placed at third base at the beginning of the game, like a potted plant.
   23. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 27, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5614401)
These are the best five consecutive seasons by WAR for contemporary and HOF-caliber 3B since integration:


Dick Allen doesn't belong on this list. Or at least not as high. In the years when he played the majority of his games at 3B, which was only 4, his WAR was 28. You can't give him credit for 1968 when he played only 10 games at 3B. Also Tony Perez is given credit for a 4.7 season when he was a full time 1B rather than a 3.2 season when he was a 3B. Ditto Chipper Jones, where his peak WAR includes 2002 (5.7 WAR) when he was a LF rather than 1997 (3.9).
   24. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5614413)
Mentioning Dick Allen points to a type of player who is not on the 3B-games-played leaderboard: the great hitter who was a bad fielder but stayed at 3B because of the massive oWAR benefit he provided. There are pretty bad outfielders who stay there for their whole careers, and of course first basemen, but the third basemen get moved to 1B or the bench or the fat farm.

The top 20 third basemen by OPS+ through age 26, for instance … well, I can just do a real quick list. This is >50% at 3B through age 26, games are total games, not games at 3B:

Player           OPS+    G
Dick Allen        163  748
Eddie Mathews     149 1029
Jim Thome         145  647
Mike Schmidt      139  625
Evan Longoria     137  637
David Wright      137  847
Jim Ray Hart      134  770
Bill Madlock      133  561
Bob Horner        131  689
Richie Hebner     131  777
George Brett      130  885
Chipper Jones     129  622
Ron Santo         129 1053
Gary Sheffield    128  730
Sal Bando         128  537
Pablo Sandoval    126  712
Scott Rolen       126  744
Bobby Bonilla     126  601
Eric Chavez       123  869
Harlond Clift     122  891 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/27/2018.

Many of them are guys I mentioned in #16 who had very long 3B careers. But then there's Allen, Thome, Hart, Horner, Hebner, Sheffield, Sandoval, and Bonilla. Allen is by far the best hitter of them all at those ages, but none of those guys were long for third base. This is really just more context for Booey's point, but is another reason why there are not more inner-circle HOF third basemen.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5614417)
#19: God bless you son.

#23: I'd grant Chipper a mulligan. He wandered off 3B for just two seasons then came back and played it competently for many more. The primary issue with multi-position career players is that they are nearly always moving down the defensive spectrum. A SS who can play SS through his late 30s shouldn't be compared (without adjustment) to one that could no longer play the position after 30. In Chipper's case, his ability to play the position adequately isn't a concern. His years in LF are essentially similar to a slugger spending his last two seasons at DH after a career in the field.

Which brings us to the notion that I can see a case for placing ARod on the 3B list. Roughly 50/50 for his career but, as a general rule, if you can play SS, you can play 3B and, when he did make the switch, ARod was an excellent defensive 3B. ARod probably could have continued to be a SS for several more years but we don't know for sure; I'm highly confident he could have been an excellent 3B from the start. If I had to assign him to one position for his career, I'd be more comfortable sticking him at 3B.

Not that I'm saying we should but ARod from ages 20-34 is a match for Schmidt's career -- 10,000 PA for each; ARod ahead by 100 Rbat, Schmidt ahead by 7 dWAR, ARod laps him on the bases. ARod then added 2000 more PA (of pretty average production). Concentrating on those ages does miss out on about 200 ARod starts at 3B though so it's about a 4/3 split of SS/3B.

But leaving him out of it, I'd still go Schmidt, Mathews ... then everything is a bit of a jumble but probably Boggs, Beltre, Chipper, Brett. Then another clump of Santo, Rolen and Brooks where this morning I'm too lazy to balance career length, offense, defense and era to decide their order. Boggs got the nod for #e as the best combo of offense, defense and career length in that bunch. Beltre has a case too obviously which is why he's #4. Chipper is ahead of Brett mainly for more games at 3B.

Beltre is tough because of his weird career arc. He was puttering along as the second coming of Brooks just fine.

AB 19-30: 6877 PA, 105 OPS+, 45 WAR, 22 WAA, 17 dWAR
BR 21-31: 6907 PA, 113 OPS+, 52 WAR, 30 WAA, 22 dWAR

And then he turned into prime Vlad at 3B. Or if we're willing to swap walks and hits, kinda close to peak Santo:

AB 31-38: 4772 PA, 133 OPS+, 49 WAR, 33 WAA, 11 dWAR
RS 23-29: 4815 PA, 144 OPS+, 54 WAR, 36 WAA, 10 dWAR

So 60% not quite prime Brooks and 40% not quite prime Santo is obviously one amazing player, just not one it's easy to compare to Wade Boggs who was pretty much just Wade Boggs (with expected decline) the entire time. Or Schmidt. But I suppose I can see a better case for Beltre as #1 than I can possibly see for Boggs or Mathews so maybe I should put Beltre at least #2.

Having been recently surprised by how much Stanton's projected value (in WAR terms) varied by potential home park, I wonder what Beltre's second half would look like if it wasn't played in a park (and a year in Fenway) that is pretty ideally suited to him ... of course after spending the first half in parks that are probably ill-suited to him.
   26. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5614418)
Mentioning Dick Allen points to a type of player who is not on the 3B-games-played leaderboard: the great hitter who was a bad fielder but stayed at 3B because of the massive oWAR benefit he provided.


Actually, he was a great hitter who got moved down the defensive spectrum pretty quickly. He was only a full-time 3Bman for three seasons, and those were not even consecutive. He doesn't belong in a conversation about great 3Bmen because he wasn't primarily a 3Bman.

But again, he handled the position just fine at the start of his career.
   27. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:15 PM (#5614419)
Sorry, cerc, I phrased that convolutedly, but I completely agree with you. Moving down the spectrum generally indicates that if you'd stayed any longer you'd be pretty bad before long.

It is hard to point to a 3B who battled the position to something less than a draw and still ended up with a really long career there (No Hornsby or Jeter of third basemen.) Third basemen are too easy to move, I guess. They can clearly play first base, and some have the arms for corner outfield.
   28. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:20 PM (#5614424)
It is hard to point to a 3B who battled the position to something less than a draw and still ended up with a really long career there (No Hornsby or Jeter of third basemen.)


Aramis Ramirez. 10th all time in games at 3B, -85 rField..Ed yost, 13th all time (2008 games at 3B), -112 RField.

Maybe 10th and 13th don't make your cut as really long careers. Except, Hornsby was 32nd at 2B.
   29. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5614438)
No, those are good counterexamples, Misirlou.
   30. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5614439)
Moving down the spectrum generally indicates that if you'd stayed any longer you'd be pretty bad before long.


Let's not sugarcoat it, he stayed long enough to be pretty terrible. He was passable for two years. Shouldn't have played another 300+ games there after that.
   31. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 27, 2018 at 05:19 PM (#5614452)
I think Bill James said that there just aren’t that many long career third basemen. Jimmie Foxx And Cal Ripkin both spent a significant amount of time at 3B, but Foxx got moved to 1B and Ripkin moved from shortstop, so neither is on a list of third basemen. This generation has a similar pair with Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera. When I play strat-o-matic with the HoF cards, my second favorite third baseman (after Schmidt) is Mel Ott. Nobody thinks of Ott as a third baseman. Harmon Killebrew is another in the Foxx-Cabrera mold.
   32. Booey Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5614472)
I know we criticize them a lot for (mostly) ignoring Rolen, taking forever with Santo, etc, but I actually somewhat understand why the Hall has such a hard time with 3B. It may seem unfair that 3B are basically expected to hit like 1B, but the best hitting 3B in any given year pretty much DO hit like 1B (cuz that's where they usually end up), in a way that the best hitting SS, 2B, and C don't. The guys that can actually STICK at 3B generally don't hit like that though, so the best hitting peak 3B and the best hitting career 3B often end up being different people. When that happens, neither group looks or "feels" like a HOFer.
   33. Srul Itza Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:06 PM (#5614473)
I wonder what Beltre's second half would look like if it wasn't played in a park (and a year in Fenway) that is pretty ideally suited to him ... of course after spending the first half in parks that are probably ill-suited to him.


Similar questions, in reverse, could be asked of Boggs, who really took advantage of Fenway with opposite field doubles off the wall.

At the same time, his peak WAR is head and shoulders above Beltre, where he averaged 8 WAR for a 7 year run. Of course, I sometimes wonder if WAR fully captures just how much of a slug Boggs was on the bases.


At this point, I have them at 3 and 4, but I really have a hard time slotting them. Beltre may resolve that, if he continues to defy Father Time for another year or two.




   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:18 PM (#5614479)
I sometimes wonder if WAR fully captures just how much of a slug Boggs was on the bases.

He averaged 110 runs scored over those years, including leading MLB twice, as well as finishing 4th, 5th (Tied) and 10th (Tied).

That makes me think he wasn't THAT bad.
   35. Booey Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:25 PM (#5614480)
That makes me think he wasn't THAT bad.


Or that he was just on base a ton. .360 every year with 100 walks gives you a damn good OBP.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5614482)
That makes me think he wasn't THAT bad.


From my perspective, he had virtually no instincts on the bases. On the other hand, he didn't compound the problem the way Posada did by taking stupid chances, so he probably didn't net as badly as he could have.

Or that he was just on base a ton. .360 every year with 100 walks gives you a damn good OBP.


Jim Rice's 131 GIDP over a four-year stretch can attest to that.
   37. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:44 PM (#5614487)
Also, most people forget that Chipper lost his expected rookie year to an ACL tear. He was expected to be the Braves' starting left fielder in 1994.


He was drafted as a SS and played there in the minors, but no one believed that he could stick there in the majors. His future was clearly at 3B but he wasn't going there anytime soon because of Pendleton (91 MVP, team leader, etc.). Then Ron Gant broke his leg, and the Braves opened up LF in spring training to Chipper, Klesko, and someone else I can't remember rigbt now (too much merlot -- Tarasco?). They all crushed through spring training. Quite a competition.
   38. Srul Itza Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:46 PM (#5614489)
Or that he was just on base a ton. .360 every year with 100 walks gives you a damn good OBP.


He led the league in Times On Base EVERY year from 1983-1990, and except for 1984, was 1st, 2nd or 3rd in doubles each year.

And it is not like there was nobody in the line up behind him to drive him in.

So of course, he scored quite a few runs. But he still underachieved.

Again, not that, when it all washes out, he wasn't a great player and No-Doubt Hall of Famer. The differences I am talking about are at the edges, in terms of whether he is the 3rd or the 4th best Keystone player of all time.

On the other hand, he didn't compound the problem the way Posada did by taking stupid chances, so he probably didn't net as badly as he could have.


Boggs knew his limitations.
   39. Mefisto Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:47 PM (#5614491)
Jim Rice's 131 GIDP over a four-year stretch can attest to that.


Sounds like Boggs was clogging up the bases and making Rice look worse. :)
   40. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: January 27, 2018 at 06:49 PM (#5614493)

- Thome hit .314/.438/.558 (157 OPS+) in 1995 and .311/.450/.612 (167 OPS+) with 38 HR and 116 rbi in 1996 at 3B.

- Edgar hit .343/.404/.544 (164 OPS+) in 1992 at 3B.

- Sheffield nearly won a Triple Crown, hitting .330/.385/.580 (168 OPS+) with 33 homers and 100 rbi in 1992 at 3B.

- Pujols hit .329/.403/.610 with 37 homers and 130 rbi in 2001, playing more games at 3B than any other position.


A million teams have tried this -- often they were good teams to begin with -- but has anyone ever really won with the strategy of hiding a bat at 3B?
   41. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 27, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5614502)
A million teams have tried this -- often they were good teams to begin with -- but has anyone ever really won with the strategy of hiding a bat at 3B?

1997 Marlins. Had a 28 year-old Sheffield in RF, a 30 year-old Moises Alou in LF, and then stuck a 34 year-old Bonilla at 3B (he had been a free agent). At that point, Bonilla had been a corner outfielder for several years... and he showed why in 1997. He only played 60 games at 3B after leaving the Marlins, almost all with the Dodgers in 1998.
   42. bookbook Posted: January 27, 2018 at 07:45 PM (#5614503)
To be fair, Edgar was a decent defensive third baseman, And Pujols could handle the position if it weren’t for the demon Plantar Fascitis
   43. bookbook Posted: January 27, 2018 at 07:46 PM (#5614504)
Sheffield? It’s unclear why he couldn’t play defense — he certainly had the tools.
   44. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:01 PM (#5614507)
Giving a flying #### is a tool.
   45. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5614508)
has anyone ever really won with the strategy of hiding a bat at 3B?

The 1983 Dodgers put Pedro Guerrero at third, despite his not being such a great outfielder; they won their division and had the best record in the NL (lost the NLCS, though).

The 2012-13 Tigers were very successful shifting Miguel Cabrera to third after several years at first base.

And of course the 1975-76 Reds had one of the great runs after shifting Pete Rose to third. I don't know that they were exactly "hiding" him: he had been an infielder before, and he did OK at 3B, but as I remember him he was kind of immobile and his arm was below average. He did hustle :)
   46. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:11 PM (#5614510)
Giving a flying #### is a tool.

He didn't have the "not being a tool" tool.
   47. BDC Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:22 PM (#5614513)
The other historical example that comes to mind is the 1967-68 Cardinals putting Mike Shannon at 3B so they could play Roger Maris in RF. Shannon was a pretty good hitter for the mid-'60s, and a decent outfielder, but he had never played the infield before. He did not have a good year in '67, though he hit OK (.245 12 77 was really not that bad in 1967). In '68 he was excellent (.266 15 79!) Overall he was never well-regarded as a defensive third baseman, but the strategy certainly worked out for his team.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:34 PM (#5614515)
Sounds like Boggs was clogging up the bases and making Rice look worse. :)


It's the other side of the RBI coin. And when you've got Boggs and Evans hitting directly in front of you, that's a lot of change.
   49. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 27, 2018 at 08:45 PM (#5614516)
The Pirates used Bill Robinson as a super sub in 1976-78, including about 80 starts at third. He finished 11th in the MVP voting one year and they averaged 92 wins, though they couldn't beat the Phils. The Pirates also moved Bob Elliott from center to third in the early 40s, he won the MVP in 1947 with the Braves and the pennant in 1948.
   50. TomH Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:44 PM (#5614527)
a note about Rice's GIDPs: He lapped the league even when Boggs WASN'T hitting in front of him. in 82, Boggs came up in June and hit 5th or 6th. In 83, he still hit 5th 1/3rd of the time. Brilliant lineup management there by Mr Houk.

I loved Boggs' OBP, but it's hard to rank a guy wiht 1500 career runs and 1000 RBI higher than his comtemporary George Brett, who didn't have as favorable a hitting enviroment, and drove in 500 more while scoring as many.
   51. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 27, 2018 at 09:57 PM (#5614528)
Don't know if this qualifies, but "hiding a bat at 3B" reminds me of Troy Glaus. He was one of the top sluggers on the Angels for years as a 3B, while they had Darin Erstad and Scott Spiezio at 1B. Of course he was at the start of his career and was always a 3B, not moved there from elsewhere.
   52. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:00 PM (#5614532)
Well, Erstad was lefthanded, so flipping him and Glaus probably wouldn't have improved the Angels' infield defense.
   53. ReggieThomasLives Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:07 PM (#5614533)
The Dinosaur on Rollerskates.
   54. djordan Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:12 PM (#5614536)
#33-36, Boggs career Rbaser is -8. The number is -9 for his Red Sox years. He wasn't great on the bases. Beltre ws a career +4, Schmidt was -2. For some perspective, Brett's number is +35.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:27 PM (#5614537)
Don't know if this qualifies, but "hiding a bat at 3B" reminds me of Troy Glaus. He was one of the top sluggers on the Angels for years as a 3B, while they had Darin Erstad and Scott Spiezio at 1B. Of course he was at the start of his career and was always a 3B, not moved there from elsewhere.


Troy Glaus was always considered a decent fielder.. not great or anything, but he did his job there.
   56. bookbook Posted: January 27, 2018 at 11:50 PM (#5614543)
Didn’t Glaus lose the ability to play 3b due to injuries (like Ryan Zimmerman)?

Of course, Erstad was one of those classic CF-1b’s you hear so much about...
   57. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2018 at 12:03 AM (#5614544)
Well, there's teams winning and then there's still highly productive lousy-fielding 3B whose teams didn't win despite having such a good player. For example, Torre won an MVP and put up 6 WAR despite a -25 Rfield at 3B for a team that did win 90 games but came in 2nd. I also think of Bill Madlock who was excellent for lousy Cub teams despite booting balls wherever.

#49 ... I'm sure you know all this but it's almost a Pirate tradition. Hebner had some lousy, some OK defensive years as a platoon 3B on teams that won the NL East 5 of 6 seasons. After the period you mentioned, they put Madlock there for 1979 (and later) -- apparently no worse there in his 30s than he'd been in his 20s. When they got good again in 1990, they platooned Backman there -- looks like he eventually wrestled it to a standstill but he started out terrible. Then Bonilla for a good chunk of 1991. Maybe they should trade for Schwarber, stick him at 3B and they'll start winning again.
   58. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 28, 2018 at 01:20 AM (#5614545)
Torre probably would have had a higher WAR at 1B. The Cardinals didn’t even have a good first baseman that year, but they didn’t have much in terms of 3B options either. Dick Schofield vs. Joe Hague’s offense would have been an intriguing question.

Actually, a better answer for the successful team putting a big bat out of position at 3B is the 2013 Tigers with Miguel Cabrera.
   59. OsunaSakata Posted: January 28, 2018 at 04:50 AM (#5614547)
Up to the 1980s, some catchers were moved to 3B. The most notable one was Johnny Bench, which was a disaster.
   60. McCoy Posted: January 28, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5614568)
Re 57. Don't forget they had Aramis there back when he didn't realize he was a statue.
   61. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 28, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5614573)
I'm sure you know all this but it's almost a Pirate tradition.


Frank Thomas (not THAT one) 1956-58. The Pirates didn't win anything in those years, but in 1958 they went from perennial dormat to perennial contender, winning 84 games for 2nd place. Thomas had a career year with the bat and was 4th in MVP.
   62. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 28, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5614577)
but has anyone ever really won with the strategy of hiding a bat at 3B?


The Giants played Mel Ott at 3B for 60 games in 1937 and won the pennant. He played 113 games at 3B in 1938, and the Giants finished 3rd, 5 games behind the Cubs.
   63. Mefisto Posted: January 28, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5614589)
Not sure that Ott counts for "hiding a bat". He was +6 Rfield both those seasons.
   64. Leroy Kincaid Posted: January 28, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5614592)
Why Are There So Few Third Basemen in the Hall of Fame?


Basism.
   65. BDC Posted: January 28, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5614593)
I guess there's at least two kinds of "hiding" at 3B. One is "this guy might not be a great glove at third, but we have some other hitters, so let's enhance the offense at the cost of stretching the defense" (Ott, Shannon, Rose). And then there's "this guy will be terrible wherever we play him, but he sure can hit and we might as well hope not too many ground balls go to third this year" (Torre, Guerrero, Cabrera).

Some other cases where an individual quasi-3B did really well, irrespective of team success:

Pepper Martin, 1933-35 Cardinals. Martin was a very fast runner and a good athlete. He had been a minor-league infielder but seems never to have played third before some trial appearances in 1932, and then moved there full time so that Joe Medwick could start in the outfield. This move worked out very well, obviously, though Martin eventually returned to the outfield.

Sid Gordon, 1948-49 Giants, moved from the OF so that Whitey Lockman could start. Gordon was an excellent hitter, not much of a fielder anywhere; moved back to the outfield when he was traded to the Braves in 1950.

Andy Pafko, 1948 Cubs, had a great year at the plate, was back in the OF in '49. I'm not sure why they did this. Pafko was a competent outfielder. It allowed them to get Peanuts Lowery in the starting lineup, but that didn't work.

Deron Johnson, 1965 Reds, moved from first base and had a career year. The move seems kind of random in retrospect. The '64 Reds had Johnson and Gordy Coleman platooning some at first base, and Steve Boros at 3B. In '65 Boros went to the minors and Coleman got more playing time. Johnson had been bad defensively even at 1B, and had no case to stay very long at third.


   66. donlock Posted: January 28, 2018 at 12:54 PM (#5614607)
Melvin Mora had never played much third base and was mostly an outfielder/ utility guy when the Orioles moved him to 3B in his early 30s. He hit well there and even made the 2005 All Star Game as a 3b. Was adequate there with the glove and had surprising power. Played 900 games there in his career. Go figure.
   67. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 28, 2018 at 01:52 PM (#5614621)
Bobby Thomson in 1951; he moved from outfield to third base for 69 games so that the Giants could use an outfield of Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, and Don Mueller. They, of course, won the pennant. He played 91 games at third the next season, and then moved back to the outfield.
   68. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2018 at 03:25 PM (#5614649)
There are plenty of short-term experiments, half-hearted attempts, etc. to put the slow-footed slugger there to get the extra bat in the lineup. Mark Trumbo has 8 career starts at 3B; the Braves tried it just last year with 16 starts for Freeman (who seems to have done OK). Dmitri Young got 51 starts. Keith Moreland got 199. (Guerrero, etc. already mentioned.)

It's often been the first port of call for current/former good-hitting Cs ... or not always good-hitting. Russell Martin, Michael Barrett, Brandon Inge, Phil Nevin, Todd Zeile spring to mind (and Bench and Torre). Like Moreland, if you've got an arm and a willingness to stay in front of the balls you get to, some coach is gonna wonder if you can learn to play 3B. Some do quite well.
   69. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 28, 2018 at 03:36 PM (#5614654)
Dave Kingman played 152 games at 3B
   70. TomH Posted: January 28, 2018 at 04:16 PM (#5614666)
some guy named Pete Rose played a mediocre 3B for a team that did OK in the mid 70s
   71. Sunday silence Posted: January 28, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5614672)
Hebner had some lousy, some OK defensive years as a platoon 3B on teams that won the NL East 5 of 6 seasons.


I dont recall Hebner ever being in a platoon arrangement, Walt is there something you recall about that? Looking at the records it seems he played between 120 and 146 games there every year at least from -71 to '78. Maybe when he was a little younger?

The other guys playing 3b in the 70s were like Jose Pagan, Fernando Gonzalez, ARt Howe and some others I dont think Pagan was ever considered the starter though he did play alot there. Fernando Gonzalez was known for being slow and I suppose he started some games. I dont even remember Howe being on the team. I know Hebner was lefty so maybe he sat against certain LHP?
   72. Hysterical & Useless Posted: January 28, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5614676)
Dave Kingman played 152 games at 3B


The mid-60s to early 70s Giants always seemed to have too many outfielders, so a lot of them got tried at 3rd, Jim Ray Hart probably having the longest term.
   73. BDC Posted: January 28, 2018 at 05:10 PM (#5614683)
Hebner is an interesting player – a top prospect, often comes up in lists like the one in #24 as among the best players in his early 20s – and after that he just wasn't as good. He was definitely a platoon player when he got to Philadelphia in the later 1970s. He has weird splits for 1977-78: in very few PAs, he batted .145 against left-handers in 1977, but then .353 in 1978. Maybe one of those effects where they figured he had stopped hitting LHPs at all and in '78 would only give him at-bats against really bad ones.
   74. The Duke Posted: January 28, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5614685)
I had no idea Dave Kingman was a 3b either.
   75. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 28, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5614696)
Pagan started all four games of the 1971 Series over Hebner when the Orioles started lefties. This after Hebner hit two homers against the Giants in the playoffs.

   76. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5614725)
Dave Kingman played 152 games at 3B

Basically all at the beginning of his career so it's more like Thome, Sheffield, Perez. He didn't spend long in the minors but my memory is that, in addition to pitching, he played 3B in college. (How could there not be a SABR bio for Kingman??!!)

I dont recall Hebner ever being in a platoon arrangement, Walt is there something you recall about that? Looking at the records it seems he played between 120 and 146 games there every year at least from -71 to '78. Maybe when he was a little younger?

The most starts he made in a season were 136 and 138, usually less. Those two seasons and 1979 are the only ones where he made it to 550+ PAs, only once over 600. He wasn't strictly platooned -- i.e. he wouldn't often be PH for mid-game -- but he was pretty heavily platooned in terms of SP.

If we take 1972 as an example. For the first 7 games, it was 5 Hebner starts and 2 Pagan. Then you get a very long string of Hebner ... but then that's followed by 2 Pagan, 1 Maz, 3 Hebner, 1 Pagan, 2 Hebner, 2 Pagan, 1 Hebner, 5 Pagan, 3 Hebner, 3 Pagan, 1 Hebner, 2 Pagan, 3 Hebner, 1 Pagan, 9 Hebner, 5 Bob Robertson, 3 Hebner, 1 Robertson, 5 Hebner, 2 Robertson, 3 Pagan, 3 Hebner, 2 Robertson, 1 Pagan ... then a very long string of nearly all Hebner ... then (getting ready for the playoffs?) 2 Pagan, 5 Hebner, 1 Pagan, 2 Hebner, 1 Pagan.

I'm not gonna track which hand the SP used but that looks pretty platoon-y ... or he had a boatload of minor injuries. They did give him two long stints, possibly hoping he'd prove himself against LHP.

Now in the playoffs against the Reds, Hebner did start all 5 games, including 3 against LHP. Maybe that had something to do with his 188/278/250 line.

For his career, 77% of his PAs came against RHP. I don't know how to get that over a range of years and it probably wasn't that extreme in the Pirate days ... although it did tend close to 3-1 other than those two seasons mentioned earlier. It was also an era where there was a lot of platooning and the Pirates did a lot of shifting around.

Those early 70s Pirates teams were usually kinda fun in those ways. In 72 it wasn't too crazy -- Oliver almost every day in CF, Clemente almost everyday in RF (looks like he was hurt for a bit). Stargell was in almost everyday too but split time 1B-LF to get Robertson's bat in the lineup (also explaining his stints at 3B). Cash and Stennett kinda split 2B but by season's end they were working Stennett into an OF rotation and he started some playoff games in LF. Alley and Jackie Hernandez were splitting SS. It's always possible that Hebner's usage was more "we've got to find PT for all of our talented players so it makes sense to limit Hebner against LHP" rather than "platooning" per se.

They didn't do it as much as my 11-year-old inner-self remembers but those Pirate teams were just fun. Today it would be Stargell in LF and Robertson at 1B and Stennett at 2B and Cash at 3B and Oliver in CF and then the next day it would be Stargell at 1B and Clines in LF and Hebner at 3B and Maz at 2B and Oliver in CF and then the next day it would be Oliver at 1B and Cash at 2B and Robertson at 3B and Clines in LF and Davailillo in CF and then the next day, just to mess with you, for some reason Oliver would be back in CF and the 5'6" Davalillo would be at 1B and Pagan would be at 3B and, what the heck, Stennett in LF. It's like Murtaugh would say "Robertson, you're at 3B today." "Coach, all I got is a first baseman's glove." "Stennett, give Robsertson your glove." "But coach, you said I'm starting at second." "I don't care, you can borrow Cash's glove, give Robertson yours." After Clemente died, they put Sanguillen in RF for crying out loud.
   77. Sunday silence Posted: January 28, 2018 at 11:04 PM (#5614777)
God Sanguillen in RF was just bat #### crazy why on earth would you want to move a guy who's the second best C in the league behind the great Jonhnny Bench?

THe last straw, or how I recalled it was the game in June, Sun. June 10. In the 7th inn. Johnny Edwards hit a ball that was scored as a double (and an RBI) but anything but routine. Sanguillen probably got a late break or something because he has to make this crazy tumbling dive to try to catch the ball in short RF. Which maybe he did or didn't, I think it was more like he trapped it and then it came out of his glove as he came out of this barrel roll. He then threw out Edwards at 3rd. THe Pirates protest and it was replayed on our TV a few times. It was basically a crazy incredible athletic feat by Sangy on a ball that probably was a routine fly ball. Less than a week later he was back at C.

THat season was such a total disaster....Bill James said Kirkpatrick in LF (for KC I guess) was one of the worst OF he ever saw. I think he did play LF a couple times for PIT but I dont recall it.
   78. Harlond Posted: January 29, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5614867)
Guerrero told a story about playing third late in a close game at the same time Steve Sax was playing second, this during the time Sax was having his throwing problems. The Dodgers won, and after the game Guerrero was asked what he was thinking about on the last play. He said he was praying first that the ball wasn't hit to him and second that it wasn't hit to Sax.
   79. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 29, 2018 at 10:08 AM (#5614870)
I think a big part of the Sanguillen move was that Milt May was seen as an unusually good catching prospect. I think Sanguillen alternated some good plays with some hilarity out there, but would have survived if the team wasn't stumbling around generally. His bat never would have matched Zisk or Parker's, though. My sense is that Sanguillen never threw as well after his time in right.
   80. Austin Kearns: The Spy Who Shagged Flies Posted: January 29, 2018 at 10:28 AM (#5614878)
Alas, the Freddie Freeman experiment last season was too short-lived to count, I guess.
   81. SandyRiver Posted: January 29, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5614923)
Harmon Killebrew is another in the Foxx-Cabrera mold.

And like Miggy 2013, he got moved back to 3B for most of 1969 (his MVP year) and 1970. Killebrew played 3rd for a bit over 1/3 of his career. (About 43% 1B, 22% OF, some DH late, and 50+ games at 2B! in his early years.)
   82. DanG Posted: January 29, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5614937)
Most WAA, 40%+ career games at 3B, retired 1980 or earlier

Player          WAAWAROPSRfield    PA From   To
Eddie Mathews   58.6 96.4  143   33.1 10100 1952 1968 H
Brooks Robinson 39.7 78.4  104  293.1 11782 1955 1977 H
Home Run Baker  37.0 62.8  135   35.0  6667 1908 1922 H
Ron Santo       36.7 70.4  125   20.2  9397 1960 1974 H
Ken Boyer       31.5 62.8  116   72.7  8272 1955 1969
John McGraw     29.3 45.6  135    3.0  4940 1891 1907 H
Jimmy Collins   26.4 53.2  113  121.0  7452 1895 1908 H
Heinie Groh     26.1 48.2  118   35.0  7036 1912 1927
Stan Hack       24.8 52.5  119    2.0  8508 1932 1947
Deacon White    22.1 45.5  127  
-19.0  6973 1871 1890 H 

All of these players are in the Hall of Merit.
   83. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 29, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5614941)
Is there some problem with measuring defense in the 1890s, or was McGraw actually a hack? (No pun intended.)
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2018 at 01:10 PM (#5615013)
Is there some problem with measuring defense in the 1890s, or was McGraw actually a hack? (No pun intended.)

+3 is basically average. How is that a "hack"?
   85. Jay Z Posted: January 29, 2018 at 01:11 PM (#5615014)
Deron Johnson, 1965 Reds, moved from first base and had a career year. The move seems kind of random in retrospect. The '64 Reds had Johnson and Gordy Coleman platooning some at first base, and Steve Boros at 3B. In '65 Boros went to the minors and Coleman got more playing time. Johnson had been bad defensively even at 1B, and had no case to stay very long at third.


Coleman got a bit more playing time, but it probably was done for Tony Perez, who came up in 1965. Lee May was on Perez' heels as well.

Boros had a good OBP, but 14 of his 47 walks were intentional, because he batted 8th a lot. I don't know if WAR discounts for that, but it probably should. Boros had no power in a hitters' park.

After 1965, the Reds moved Johnson to the OF to take Frank Robinson's place. Tommy Helms took over at 3B. Then after a year of that, Pete Rose moved to the OF, Helms to 2B, Perez to 3B so Lee May could play.
   86. DanG Posted: January 29, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5615039)
was McGraw actually a hack?
No, Mac was very good. Early in his career he was miscast as a SS. After 1900 he was slowed by injuries and managing duties. Here are the league's third basemen from 1894-1900, when McGraw was in his prime.

Player         Rfld WAROPSdWAR   PA
Jimmy Collins  76.0 23.0  109  8.8 3353
Lave Cross     68.0 18.3   96  8.2 3796
Billy Clingman 40.0  6.3   73  5.7 2594
John McGraw    34.0 35.4  138  4.7 3324
Bobby Wallace  23.0 15.0  106  4.3 2710
Chippy McGarr  11.0 
-1.1   62  1.7 1517
Billy Shindle   8.0  5.6   82  2.2 2737
Charlie Irwin   5.0  5.8   81  2.6 2947
Jimmy Williams  3.0  8.6  134  1.0 1148
Billy Nash      0.0  6.1   91  1.1 1970
Fred Hartman   
-9.0  4.3   95  0.2 1476
Arlie Latham  
-12.0  2.9   88 -0.4 1175
Denny Lyons   
-16.0  5.0  111 -0.7 1145
Bill Joyce    
-27.0 23.4  149 -1.1 2766 
   87. Moeball Posted: January 29, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5615080)
It is hard to point to a 3B who battled the position to something less than a draw and still ended up with a really long career there (No Hornsby or Jeter of third basemen.)


Much has been written about Hornsby's inability to handle infield popups, which would seem to be failure at one of the easiest components of playing second base. But it is also the one type of play that hurts his team the least, as there are always other fielders who can catch those popups and still record the out. An inability to handle ground balls or line drives or to turn the double play, on the other hand, would be much more detrimental to the team.

Just about every actual measure of Hornsby as a fielder that I've seen shows him to be a competent second baseman. The narrative about him for several decades was that he was lousy defensively, but I think a lot of that had more to do with how generally disliked he was (deservedly so) than his actual fielding performance.

Bref shows his regular years as a second baseman as being from 1920-1931, and his Rfield for that period is +29. Michael Humphreys' DRA has him a bit less at +14 for his time at second base, but neither of these indicates he was Jeter-level incompetent at the position, so I don't think he should be lumped into that category. (Unless someone has found another defensive measure out there that I haven't seen that shows Hornsby to be horrible defensively?)

I really think that Jeter was quite unique. No shortstop in history that was anywhere near that bad defensively got kept on the position for that long. In fact, I think it was part of the Joe Torre pattern as a manager to find players like himself. Jeter was the most obvious extreme example, but Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams were also examples of players at key positions on the defensive spectrum that Torre put in his lineup that other managers might not. Both were poor defensively (Williams, like Jeter, was still awarded Gold Gloves in spite of his actual deficiencies as a fielder), but excellent hitters. At catcher, shortstop and center field - 3 key positions on the defensive spectrum that frequently are manned by players who are good gloves but poor hitters - Torre chose to put players in the lineup who were poor defensively but excellent hitters. In each case, the offensive upside was more than the defensive downside, so they were all better than average players overall. All were also in the mold of Torre himself as a player, so I don't think it was entirely a coincidence.
   88. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 29, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5615089)
was McGraw actually a hack?
No, but Stan was.
   89. PreservedFish Posted: January 29, 2018 at 02:24 PM (#5615094)
Is there some problem with measuring defense in the 1890s


I'm betting that the answer is yes.
   90. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 29, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5615120)
was McGraw actually a hack?
No, but Stan was.


Wilson too.
   91. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2018 at 04:15 PM (#5615234)
#77 -- Ed Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite WTF examples. He had a season with 55 starts at C and 13 in CF. Interestingly, the Pirates brought his C days to a close which you'd think would make him not very useful but he continued to get 25-30 starts a year as a 1B/OF and, per our topic, his one career start at 3B.

For his career, Kirkpatrick ended up with what must be one of the odder spreads of fielding starts (Biggio will look weird too but he generally wasn't playing them in the same season. Brandon Inge might have him beat though with starts at 2B and a SS appearance) ... Kirkpatrick's starts:

C 262
RF 241
LF 193
1B 111
CF 51
DH 12
3B 2

plus one appearance at 2B.

TZ disagrees with James -- has him positive in LF and CF, only a bit below-average in RF.
   92. Steve Treder Posted: January 29, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5615310)
If only someone had ever written a book on this subject ...

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20555048-third-base
   93. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 29, 2018 at 05:21 PM (#5615311)
has anyone ever really won with the strategy of hiding a bat at 3B?


Dean Palmer? His defensive numbers are.....not good, but the mid '90s Rangers were okay. Famously in first place in '94 despite a losing record, 74-70 in '95, and Division Champs in '96.

   94. Sunday silence Posted: January 29, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5615324)
My sense is that Sanguillen never threw as well after his time in right.


you're probably right about that. The way I recall is that the Dodgers ran all over him in the 74 playoffs. I remember telling my friend this a few years later and he said that's odd, cause Sanguillen was always rated like +1 for his arm when they were playing some strato matic or similar game. Apparently that was his rating prior to '74.
   95. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: January 29, 2018 at 09:40 PM (#5615446)
I'm not gonna track which hand the SP used but that looks pretty platoon-y

Hebner made 93 starts against RHP and 24 against LHP. 18 of the 38 he didn't start were against RHP.

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