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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ZiPS Career Projection - Tony Conigliaro

Since the question came up, here’s how ZiPS see’s Conigliaro’s career playing out, projected onward from the beaning.

Obviously, this is extremely speculative.

Also, I did not cut him off before the 1982 season, since we’re speculating on history anyway.


Year     AB   R   H   2B   3B   HR   RBI   BB   SO   SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG
1964     404   69   117   21   2   24   52   35   78   2   4 .290 .354 .530
1965     521   82   140   21   5   32   82   51   116   4   2 .269 .340 .512
1966     558   77   148   26   7   28   93   52   112   0   2 .265 .333 .487
1967     492   82   140   17   7   28   94   40   85   3   5 .285 .347 .518
1968     553   86   155   24   6   31   93   51   100   2   4 .280 .348 .514
1969     554   91   158   24   5   34   96   55   100   3   5 .285 .356 .531
1970     576   97   164   25   4   38   98   64   106   3   5 .285 .362 .540
1971     581   99   164   26   4   39   100   66   112   3   5 .282 .361 .542
1972     565   96   160   27   3   37   98   68   111   2   5 .283 .366 .538
1973     554   93   153   26   3   35   94   69   109   2   4 .276 .362 .523
1974     539   87   147   27   2   31   88   66   104   2   4 .273 .358 .503
1975     529   87   144   26   2   29   84   61   105   1   3 .272 .354 .493
1976     523   85   139   26   2   27   80   60   108   0   3 .266 .348 .478
1977     501   78   132   25   1   24   74   62   102   0   2 .263 .351 .461
1978     478   73   126   25   2   22   74   60   98   0   3 .264 .353 .462
1979     454   68   119   23   2   19   69   58   91   0   3 .262 .353 .447
1980     439   64   114   22   2   17   65   54   88   0   2 .260 .349 .435
1981     257   37   67   13   1   9   41   33   54   0   1 .261 .352 .424
1982     312   41   78   14   2   9   49   40   67   0   2 .252 .348 .393
1983     251   33   62   12   1   7   45   31   56   0   1 .249 .342 .390
1984     186   23   45   9   1   5   34   22   41   0   1 .244 .333 .374
Total   9827 1548 2672   459   64   525 1603 1098 1943   27   66 .272 .350 .492

Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:27 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:43 AM (#3024592)
Dan, did you account for the league offensive levels? You've got Conigliaro going from .280/.348/.514 in 1968 to .285/.356/.531 in 1969, which looks like a completely normal bump for a player turning 24.

But the league levels jumped from .230/.297/.339 in 1968 to .246/.321/.369 in 1969. Assuming you didn't figure in any additional offensive contexts, if I take his ZIPS 1969, and add in the bumps from 1968, I get .301/.380/.561, which is a nice little Hall of Fame-type season. And all the other seasons moving forward would take a similar step up.
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:45 AM (#3024593)
Well, this proves I'm right.

:-)

Seriously - he didn't peak as high as I'd have liked -- frankly I think the projection agrees with Steve more than it agrees with me, except for the 529 homers -- but it gets him into the Hall.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:48 AM (#3024595)
Dan, what say you about Tom's question?
   4. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:50 AM (#3024597)
I didn't do offensive levels. Except for 1968, the differences weren't really drastic when the DH is considered.

You have to remember that with an exercise like this, a peak is always going to look lower, simply because nobody hits their mean projection every year.
   5. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:56 AM (#3024600)
Took away 4 homers - Craig reminded me to do the strike!
   6. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 10, 2008 at 04:58 AM (#3024602)
Four seasons with 34+ home runs yet <100 RBI. Obviously he wasn't clutch, unlike Jim Rice. What's ironic about that is that it was Tony C. who worked so hard with Rice when the latter got to the Red Sox, teaching him how to adjust his swing so that he hit as well on the road as he did in Fenway. As we all know, this transformed Rice from a very good player into a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
   7. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 05:04 AM (#3024604)
The projections are done in a context in which league-average for Fenway is .730. Just looking Yaz as a comparison (his career matches the projected years for Coniglario pretty closely), the context for Yaz's career was a .733 OPS, so it works out just fine from a career standpoint.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: December 10, 2008 at 05:26 AM (#3024615)
Don't buy it for a minute, for the reason I've stated before: no aggregate projection system is reliable starting at age 19, because of the tiny sample size of age-19-beginning careers to base it upon.
   9. Repoz Posted: December 10, 2008 at 05:27 AM (#3024616)
Would have won two more HR titles...and made the world forget Bill Melton.
   10. Steve Treder Posted: December 10, 2008 at 05:29 AM (#3024618)
Also don't buy it because this resembles no actual career in history: there has never been a player with this offensive profile who performed as consistently and durably and with as much longevity as this. Nice fantasy, but not plausible.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 05:41 AM (#3024625)
Don't buy it for a minute, for the reason I've stated before: no aggregate projection system is reliable starting at age 19, because of the tiny sample size of age-19-beginning careers to base it upon.

Luckily, I didn't have to project starting at age 19 since he actually played for a while!

Also don't buy it because this resembles no actual career in history: there has never been a player with this offensive profile who performed as consistently and durably and with as much longevity as this.

Well, obviously everyone's going to be more consistent than in real-life - there's no information available at age 23 as to when the ups and downs will be at age 30.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: December 10, 2008 at 06:02 AM (#3024632)
Luckily, I didn't have to project starting at age 19 since he actually played for a while!

So you're saying you ignored his age-19 performance in the projection?

there's no information available at age 23 as to when the ups and downs will be at age 30.

Of course. No projection system can be expected to predict it. Yet it occurs in real life with great regularity. Which is another way of saying that projection systems are wonderful and valuable things, but shouldn't be relied upon as anyting close to the final word in predicting the long-term career of a young player.

And the fact remains, unaddressed by this (or any other) projection system, that there has never been a player with this offensive profile who performed as consistently and durably and with as much longevity as this. Players of this type, with these rates of HR / 2B + 3B and BABIP - HR and 3B + SB / G simply do not last this long with this kind of durability. They just don't.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 10, 2008 at 06:13 AM (#3024634)
The projection actually looks a fair amount like Willie Stargell. Stargell lasted a real long time.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 06:39 AM (#3024642)
So you're saying you ignored his age-19 performance in the projection?

It washes out pretty quickly. He was in his age 22 season when he got beaned. But the issue of young play is overblown. We actually have quite a lot of data on how 18 and 19 year olds age - time doesn't stand still in the minors.
   15. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: December 10, 2008 at 07:06 AM (#3024646)
RE: #12:

So what though? ZIPS works pretty much as well as all the other available projections systems. Maybe Conigliaro would've fallen apart and ended up out of baseball by age 28 without the injury. Maybe he would have improved and gone on to hit 15,000 home runs. I don't know the likelihood of either of those happening, but ZIPS is certainly capable of estimating better than any human could. This is just ZIPS' best guess given what information it has. The fact that Conigliaro's statline is rarer than Todd Zeile's just means there's going to be more variance in the end. If Dan wanted to spend an absurd amount of time working it out, I would think he could do a career ODDIBE for Conigliaro.

To finish, if the reads like I'm talking down to you, that's certainly not my intention. I have nothing but respect for you, and I enjoy reading all the various things you've written. I just am having trouble understanding your qualms with this. This projection was a response to an article in the newsblog about some guy who claimed Conigliaro would have hit 800 home runs without the injury, and I think posting the ZIPS projection is a perfectly valid way to respond.
   16. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 07:29 AM (#3024652)
If Dan wanted to spend an absurd amount of time working it out, I would think he could do a career ODDIBE for Conigliaro.

More an obnoxious amount of time than an absurd amount of time, so long as I'm doing individual components. If you want OPS+ career probabilities, I hope Andrey Kolmogorov rises from the dead and eats your brains.
   17. RobertMachemer Posted: December 10, 2008 at 07:40 AM (#3024656)
Well, obviously none of the individual years are gonna be right -- most players vary from year to year, sometimes the winds blow out and sometimes they don't, and so forth. But that's not what ZiPS does, is it? ZiPS takes the years before, makes its best average guess of what the next year will be (adjusting for age), then says, "Ok, let's assume that average projected performance is right, what's the next year going to be like?" etc.. So as I understand it, these are (more or less) the "middle" projections, all starting with the "middle" projection for 1968 and going on from there. If Conigliaro's 1968 had been particularly weaker than projected here, all the rest of the numbers would have been worse.

You're always welcome to do your own projections, of course -- and it's certainly fair game to ask the other projections people to weigh in with their projections. Anyone want to write to baseballprospectus et al.?
   18. Posada Posse Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:12 PM (#3024751)
The projections are done in a context in which league-average for Fenway is .730. Just looking Yaz as a comparison (his career matches the projected years for Coniglario pretty closely), the context for Yaz's career was a .733 OPS, so it works out just fine from a career standpoint.


Probably a minor quibble, but Tony C. was traded to the Angels in 1971, the season after he hit 36 home runs. I've always wondered about that trade; were the Red Sox aware that he was still having vision problems? Seems like the only justification to trade a 25 year old who just hit 36 home runs.
   19. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:22 PM (#3024756)
Probably a minor quibble, but Tony C. was traded to the Angels in 1971, the season after he hit 36 home runs.

True, but I didn't want to automatically assume he was going to be traded if his career trajectory was different.
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:27 PM (#3024765)
Here's what BP projected for Griffey after the 1997 season:

Here’s Vlad’s projection of his career line, based on his career up to now:

AB H DB TP HR BB SB CS BA OBP SLG
12026 3551 774 40 723 1617 237 91 0.295 0.379 0.547

Pure rubbish, but if anything it seems low. Vlad also doesn’t project playing time well; it keeps trying to give 800 plate appearances a year to great players, and this is another example of that. (The projections throughout the book have been tempered to reflect reality somewhat more accurately—this particular exercise has not.)
   21. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:27 PM (#3024768)
I think Vlad is/was Gary Huckabay's system.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:30 PM (#3024777)
That didn't format right. (Where's the edit function on these pages?)

AB H DB TP HR BB SB CS BA OBP SLG
12026 3551 774 40 723 1617 237 91 0.295 0.379 0.547
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:30 PM (#3024781)
I give up.
   24. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:31 PM (#3024782)
According to this article, the Conigliaros felt that Carl Yaztrzemski ran Tony out of town, but it doesn't really explain why:

The Conigliaros have always presented a united front before a world they have long construed as hostile. Tony's retirement triggered Billy's anti-Yaz diatribe. Things might have been different, Billy said, if the brothers had been allowed to play in the same outfield.

"Tony was traded because of one guy," Billy had said in the clubhouse before leaving for Nahant. He pointed to Yastrzemski. "Tony was the best clutch hitter we had, and yet he got traded. Why? Because Yastrzemski runs this team. Johnny Pesky [a former manager], Ken Harrelson [also retired] and Tony are all gone because of him. I know I'm next, but I don't care."


It also says that by the time he was traded to the Angels, Tony was blind in his left eye.
   25. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:42 PM (#3024793)
Thanks for that article, Tom. I've been looking at that Harrelson trade recently.
   26. Posada Posse Posted: December 10, 2008 at 02:49 PM (#3024800)
Agreed, good article, thanks for posting.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 10, 2008 at 03:05 PM (#3024820)
It would have been better if I had spelled "Yastrzemski" right.
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 03:57 PM (#3024877)
Two interesting things from that article pertaining to our discussion:

One, it validates to a large degree Steve's argument that Conigliaro was injury prone. Conigliaro says that he suffered from a string of non-eye related injuries, at least from 1969-1971. Snipping now:

Tony never produced as a hitter for the Angels. His average was .222 and he had only four home runs. He suffered from a succession of injuries, the most severe being a pinched nerve in his neck.

...

"I've had a broken thumb, a broken wrist, a broken hand, a broken arm, a fractured cheekbone, a dislocated jaw, a fractured shoulder blade and a cracked finger," he protests. "And people say I'm a hypochondriac."


But, second, it also seems highly unlikely that Conigliaro had good vision in 1969 and 1970 when he put up OPS+s of 103 and 117 after the injury. Steve said we don't know what his vision was in those years, but it seems obvious that his vision was at least poor in 1969 (see the underlined portion below, where Conigliaro says he lied about how good his vision was in order to make it back to the majors), and by 1970 had largely deteriorated (see the bold portions below). If Conigliaro is telling the truth, that means that he pretty much did put up the 117 OPS+ in 1970 on one eye:

At dawn of the day before, Tony had issued the startling announcement that, at age 26, he was quitting the Angels and ending forever his frequently brilliant but sometimes calamitous seven-year career in the major leagues. He had virtually no vision, he said, in the left eye that was struck by a pitched ball four years ago.

...

But all his injuries the past three years had one benefit, he says. They served to effectively camouflage his real trouble—diminishing vision in his left eye. He nearly lost the sight of the eye and came reasonably close to losing his life when he was struck by a pitch thrown by Jack Hamilton in 1967.

...

Nonetheless, Conigliaro maintains that his failing sight is the only cause of his abrupt retirement. Phillips has angrily accused him of taking the easy way out of a bad season. Conigliaro replies that by retiring he loses $40,000, the second half of his annual salary that he might have kept had he merely claimed an injury. And in answer to those skeptics who say he had put together two pretty fair seasons for a one-eyed man, he answers that the effort had caused him repeated headaches and nervous tension.

"It's difficult for me to explain the condition of my eye," he said on Sunday. "I can see the sides of a television screen, but I have trouble seeing the center of it. I can see sidearm pitches pretty well, but not somebody like Sam McDowell coming straight over the top. If I closed my right eye against a pitcher like that, I couldn't see the ball at all."

The eye has not been operated on, as is commonly believed, he said. "I didn't want to tell anyone that the eye was not as good as it should be. I let it get out that my vision in my bad eye was 20-30 in a test, but I cheated on the test. I had studied the chart before with my other eye. I felt that if people in baseball knew my eyesight was as bad as it was, I'd never have made it back. Even last year when I was having a great season, I was scared. I could get hit again by a pitch and maybe get killed. I was risking my life in the outfield. Really. I'd lose the ball and it would reappear, bang, in my glove. But my lawyer, Joe Tauro, convinced me that I should not retire. He said it would not have looked right to retire when I was traded."

The trade remains an injury of a different sort. "It was stupid. At the end of the season I told the Red Sox about my eye trouble. I asked them to move me from right field to left, where the sun wouldn't bother me so much in Fenway Park. But they told me no, because that would admit I had a problem. I really felt great when they said that—and I mean that seriously. I needed support, and I thought they were behind me and that we would be there together for a long time. Then came the trade."
   29. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 10, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#3025172)
Would have...made the world forget Bill Melton.

Not a chance, buster!
   30. Walt Davis Posted: December 11, 2008 at 02:31 AM (#3025664)
there has never been a player with this offensive profile who performed as consistently and durably and with as much longevity as this.

Either you're being very picky about your definition of "consistent" or you've forgotten Hank Aaron and Stan Musial and a few other all-time greats. I'd be surprised you forgot Aaron and Musial so I'm guessing it's the former. :-)

If you have forgotten Aaron and Musial then, for god's sake Steve, it's time to lay off the Anchor Steam!

Odd factoid: Aaron's peak as a base-stealer was ages 26-34.
   31. Gamingboy Posted: December 11, 2008 at 02:46 AM (#3025669)
I think this would be neat to see used for Shoeless Joe and maybe Bo Jackson.
   32. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 11, 2008 at 03:22 AM (#3025693)
or Herb Score
   33. Steve Treder Posted: December 11, 2008 at 03:24 AM (#3025694)
Either you're being very picky about your definition of "consistent" or you've forgotten Hank Aaron and Stan Musial and a few other all-time greats. I'd be surprised you forgot Aaron and Musial so I'm guessing it's the former.

Are you kidding me? Neither Aaron nor Musial had anything remotely resembling Conigliaro's offensive profile, particularly as young players.
   34. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 11, 2008 at 03:26 AM (#3025697)
You have to remember that with an exercise like this, a peak is always going to look lower, simply because nobody hits their mean projection every year.


Except Adam Dunn.
   35. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 11, 2008 at 05:00 AM (#3025779)
Dunn has four straight 40 HR seasons. Fred Lynn had four straight 23 HR seasons.

Lynn was a bit more consistent though:

Lynn went 21-22-23-23-23-23-25 over six seasons.

Dunn has gone 46-40-40-40-40 over five seasons.
   36. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: December 11, 2008 at 05:06 AM (#3025789)
As far as I'm concerned, Eddie Murray's 156-156-156-156 OPS+ run is the king of consistent statistics.
   37. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: December 11, 2008 at 05:09 AM (#3025791)
I prefer Eric Gagne's innings-pitched run of 82.3-82.3-82.3
   38. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 11, 2008 at 05:09 AM (#3025792)
Are you kidding me? Neither Aaron nor Musial had anything remotely resembling Conigliaro's offensive profile, particularly as young players.

Conigliaro's offensive profile is a lot closer to Willie Stargell or Ernie Banks. Reggie Jackson is close too, although with a few more walks.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: December 11, 2008 at 05:19 AM (#3025802)
Are you kidding me? Neither Aaron nor Musial had anything remotely resembling Conigliaro's offensive profile, particularly as young players

Ohhh...you mean among guys who hit, rouhgly, 270/340/500 with a 130ish OPS+.

Well, I doubt that has squa-doosh to do with durability. 270/340/500 ain't old man skills. So, let's see what PI turns up:

Eddie Murray: 284/345/475 OPS+ 132 through 22, 287/359/476 career, noticeably worse after 34.

Cal Ripken: 288/340/486 OPS+ 126 through age 22, 276/340/447 career, but noticeabley worse by OPS+ after age 30 but still putting up rate stats in that neighborhood.

Johnny Bench: 281/330/492 OPS+ 125 through age 22, 267/342/476 career, noticeably worse after age 33.

Using 260<=BA<=290, OBP<=360, SLG>=470 through age 22 with at least 1000 PA, I get only 7 non-Conigliaro players. 3 made the HoF. Obviously one as a SS but he still had a ton of games and Bench who managed over 2000 games even at C.

The others:

Boog Powell: 2042 games played, 264/345/488 through 22, 266/361/462 career

Bob Horner: consistent through age 28 then disappeared -- fits Steve's description

Jack Clark: 1994 games played, 278/339/471 through age 22, 267/379/476 career

Andruw Jones: less said the better but he's already to 1836 games

Now fair enough -- Dan "projects" Tony C to about 11,000 PA which is about 3,000 more than Powell/Clark (roughly the median players here) got and about 2000 less than Murray/Ripken. So that's not realistic. The ZiPS projection looks pretty good to me though through about 1979 (his age 34 season) -- basically Jack Clark with less OBP and more power. And of course that leaves him a littly shy of 500 HR, 1500 RBI and 1500 runs.

Now Steve, if what you meant was "I suspect that's pretty accurate through age 33-34 or so but after that, no way", that's not what I took you as saying. 2000 games, 15 year career, consistent is, to me, durable and consistent and 5 of the other 7 qualifiers did at least that.** If your gripe is just about the last 5-6 seasons, that's fair enough.

** that strikes me as an incredibly high success rate, even for the population of good, young players. The second fewest number of games played among those 7 is Jones at 1836 and counting.

How the Sox would have sorted out Yaz, Tony C, Rice, Evans, Scott, Cooper, etc. would have been interesting.

I do love how, although Tony C hadn't stolen a base since 1975, he was still out there giving it a go every year. :-)
   40. jwb Posted: December 11, 2008 at 06:15 AM (#3025842)
I do love how, although Tony C hadn't stolen a base since 1975, he was still out there giving it a go every year. :-)
Missed hit and runs, trying to avoid Jim Rice GDPs.
   41. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 11, 2008 at 08:43 AM (#3025903)
Couldn't possibly be that. The pitcher would be so focused on being frightened by Rice he would have forgotten all about Icewagon Conigliaro until long after he was standing on second base. Or possibly third base.
   42. kthejoker Posted: December 11, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#3026064)
1943 SO would put him 5th all time.
   43. Steve Treder Posted: December 11, 2008 at 04:45 PM (#3026209)
Now Steve, if what you meant was "I suspect that's pretty accurate through age 33-34 or so but after that, no way", that's not what I took you as saying.

No, I'd say it's pretty accurate (though still unrealistically consistent, but that's the nature of projections) through about the age of 30 or so, but after that, no way.

In the other thread I said that Conigliaro might have had a 500+ HR career, if everything worked out perfectly. That's the career presented in the projection above. Possible, yes, but the best-case scenario, highly unlikely. Far more likely is that he'd have encountered some difficulties along the way, and not aged nearly this well. Far more likely is that he'd have wound up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 HRs (with that stat, of course, being really his only strength), a highly respectable HOVG career, but not a great player.
   44. Obama Bomaye Posted: December 11, 2008 at 10:29 PM (#3026877)
Aaron's peak as a base-stealer was ages 26-34.

Managerial change, I believe.
   45. Repoz Posted: December 11, 2008 at 10:42 PM (#3026896)
How the Sox would have sorted out Yaz, Tony C, Rice, Evans, Scott, Cooper, etc. would have been interesting.

Probably kept Boggs in the minors for another 20-years...just in case.
   46. Steve Treder Posted: December 11, 2008 at 10:51 PM (#3026907)
Aaron's peak as a base-stealer was ages 26-34.


Managerial change, I believe.

Yep. Aaron's getting the green light for once coincided with the departure of Fred Haney and the arrival of Chuck Dressen.

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