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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Monday, August 24, 2009

ZiPS Career Projections, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, and Dickie Thon

I’m getting quite a lot of e-mail on this subject, so here are three more players.

Ichiro gets my translations for him, adjusted to Seattle for those years.  For obvious reasons, he would certainly have come back for the year after that last projection year.

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Dan Szymborski Posted: August 24, 2009 at 06:58 AM | 68 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mister High Standards Posted: August 24, 2009 at 03:00 PM (#3303259)
Tony C.
   2. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 24, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3303286)
So Jeter ends up 20th all-time in doubles and fifth all-time in hits by this projection. Pretty good.
   3. WillYoung Posted: August 24, 2009 at 03:47 PM (#3303314)
Tony Oliva before the 1972 injury, please.
   4. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: August 24, 2009 at 03:54 PM (#3303323)
I assume Jeter's raging syphilis turns him into a lunatic after 2015, because otherwise it looks like he could keep playing pretty well after that time. He'd still be better than most of the SS Boston's run out for the past few years.
   5. RJ in TO Posted: August 24, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3303343)
Tony Oliva before the 1972 injury, please.


I second this request.
   6. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: August 24, 2009 at 04:13 PM (#3303354)
How about Harold Baines before he had his legs removed (basically after 1986)? He rolled the bases on a wheelchair the last 15 years of his career, but he probably outperformed whatever the projection would be.
   7. jingoist Posted: August 24, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3303366)
Hareold Baines was my favorite line-drive hitter during his stints with the Orioles.
I argue that he made the most of what he had left by the time he came to Baltimore.
One of my initial inductees in the Hall of the Very Very Good"; he joins Dewey Evans and Al Oliver amongst my all-time favorite guys to watch.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: August 24, 2009 at 04:54 PM (#3303413)
Kind of on a tangent to this, Ichiro's comps at b-r are all screwed up because he got such a late start on his ML career. Does anybody have any way to figure his 10 top comps from age 27 on?
   9. Aaron Gleeman Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:01 PM (#3303419)
I'd like to formally request Kirby Puckett. And also John Paciorek.
   10. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:14 PM (#3303443)
Tony C."


Dan's done this one already.

I'd like to see Ray Chapman and maybe Harlond Clift post-'42. I think at least one of those guys would be HoF material.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:17 PM (#3303448)
And also John Paciorek.

And Larry Yount.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:18 PM (#3303451)
So Jeter ends up 20th all-time in doubles and fifth all-time in hits by this projection. Pretty good.

If Jeter plays through 2015, I'll take the over on that.
   13. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:34 PM (#3303478)
The Earth-Two subject I'd like to see is a clear-headed Hal Trosky.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:56 PM (#3303520)
I actually did Larry Yount awhile ago - due to the uncertainty caused by a very weak 1971 season for Oklahoma City, ZiPS had Yount going 34-48, 4.80 for his career.

I'll put the others on my to-do list.
   15. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 24, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3303525)
I'll probably do Conigliaro again as I've put more work into my model for long-term projection.
   16. WillYoung Posted: August 24, 2009 at 06:09 PM (#3303545)
How about Cecil Travis?
   17. JPWF13 Posted: August 24, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3303570)
Running some searches age 27-33 through PI
5000+ PAs, average over .315, homers less than 120, steals more than 200, OBP less than .400:
Cnt Player              BA   HR  SB   OBP    PA  From  To   Ages
+----+-----------------+-----+---+----+-----+-----+----+----+-----+
    
1 George Sisler      .349  76  208  .387  5264 1920 1928 27-35 
    2 Sam Thompson       .339  99  202  .394  5027 1887 1895 27
-35 
    3 Ichiro Suzuki      .333  81  339  .378  6471 2001 2009 27
-35 
    4 George Van Haltre  .327  32  337  .392  5650 1893 1901 27
-35 
    5 Kiki Cuyler        .326  86  213  .392  5042 1926 1934 27
-35 
    6 Willie Keeler      .326  15  222  .369  5494 1899 1907 27
-35 
    7 Sam Rice           .324  21  241  .375  5388 1917 1925 27
-35 
    8 Sam Crawford       .319  54  223  .373  5929 1907 1915 27
-35 
    9 Frankie Frisch     .316  54  214  .371  5458 1926 1934 27
-35 


No one at all like Ichiro in 70 years.
Narrow it down to 1947-2009, 4000+ PAs, .300 average:
Cnt Player              BA   HR  SB   OBP    PA  From  To   Ages
+----+-----------------+-----+---+----+-----+-----+----+----+-----+
    
1 Ichiro Suzuki      .333  81  339  .378  6471 2001 2009 27-35 
    2 Paul Molitor       .311 100  223  .379  5008 1984 1992 27
-35 

OK, 4000+ PAs, .300 Average, less than 150 homers, more than 150 SB, OBP under .400:
Cnt Player              BA   HR  SB   OBP    PA  From  To   Ages
+----+-----------------+-----+---+----+-----+-----+----+----+-----+
    
1 Tony Gwynn         .341  60  186  .394  5290 1987 1995 27-35 
    2 Ichiro Suzuki      .333  81  339  .378  6471 2001 2009 27
-35 
    3 Derek Jeter        .314 144  188  .383  6082 2001 2009 27
-35 
    4 Paul Molitor       .311 100  223  .379  5008 1984 1992 27
-35 
    5 Julio Franco       .309 103  173  .377  5057 1986 1994 27
-35 
    6 Roberto Alomar     .303 142  208  .377  5723 1995 2003 27
-35 
    7 Barry Larkin       .303 130  236  .392  4860 1991 1999 27
-35 


Tony Gwynn, I don't really see anyone else as any kind of comp for Ichiro
.280+, less than 100 homers :

Cnt Player              BA   HR  SB   OBP    PA  From  To   Ages
+----+-----------------+-----+---+----+-----+-----+----+----+-----+
    
1 Tony Gwynn         .341  60  186  .394  5290 1987 1995 27-35 
    2 Ichiro Suzuki      .333  81  339  .378  6471 2001 2009 27
-35 
    3 Paul Molitor       .311 100  223  .379  5008 1984 1992 27
-35 
    4 Lou Brock          .299  87  607  .351  6376 1966 1974 27
-35 
    5 Kenny Lofton       .298  97  370  .374  5437 1994 2002 27
-35 
    6 Lance Johnson      .295  33  261  .338  4789 1991 1999 27
-35 
    7 Jose Cruz          .294  96  243  .363  5232 1975 1983 27
-35 
    8 Brett Butler       .293  39  368  .383  6165 1984 1992 27
-35 
    9 Willie McGee       .292  41  158  .335  4415 1986 1994 27
-35 
   10 Eric Young         .291  54  360  .365  5022 1994 2002 27
-35 

Basically, Ichiro's signature skill is his batting average. Not many guys up there:
1947-09, ages 27-33, 4000+ PAs, average over .325:
Cnt Player              BA    PA  From  To   Ages
+----+-----------------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+
    
1 Rod Carew          .345  5522 1973 1981 27-35 
    2 Tony Gwynn         .341  5290 1987 1995 27
-35 
    3 Larry Walker       .339  4545 1994 2002 27
-35 
    4 Stan Musial        .339  6155 1948 1956 27
-35 
    5 Ichiro Suzuki      .333  6471 2001 2009 27
-35 
    6 Wade Boggs         .332  6175 1985 1993 27
-35 
    7 Roberto Clemente   .329  5452 1962 1970 27
-35 
    8 Todd Helton        .326  5563 2001 2009 27
-35 
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: August 24, 2009 at 06:28 PM (#3303581)
Dan, I was wondering if you could do more work for my amusement and no thanks.
   19. PepTech Posted: August 24, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3303632)
Dan, I was wondering if you could do more work for my amusement and no thanks.


Why, yes, yes he can.

And Mike Crudale.
   20. Neal Traven Posted: August 24, 2009 at 07:00 PM (#3303633)
Dan, have you done Ken Hubbs? Harry Agganis? Pete Reiser?

If you do pitchers, how 'bout Herb Score and Addie Joss?
   21. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: August 24, 2009 at 07:02 PM (#3303635)
Very cool--my favorite kind of speculative fiction. What's with the short seasons for Ichiro in 1999 and 2000, though?

[checking]

OK, I knew he'd missed a few games in Japan, but I didn't realize how many. His reputation for durability fooled me a little there.

My half-assed prediction for him has his debut in 1994, but less of a tail off in games played the last years of his career, giving him something like twelve straight 200-hit seasons, and breaking the hits record in season 21 or 22.
   22. baric Posted: August 24, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3303641)
I actually did Larry Yount awhile ago


haha, that is rich.
   23. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: August 24, 2009 at 07:47 PM (#3303689)
Wonder what the projection for Andruw Jones looks like after his age 23 season, when he hit .303/.366/.541 in 161 games. That year at the plate, with the best OF defense I have ever seen...Harvey said in the thread about Jones' signing that 'he was supposed to be Willie Mays, damn it.' After that season, he looked like he could've been.
   24. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 24, 2009 at 08:08 PM (#3303723)
Dan, I was wondering if you could do more work for my amusement and no thanks.

Hey, nothing's preventing the distribution of thanks!

One of my thoughts of fancy has been to do a whole book of what-ifs, interview some of these players and do mini-bios of the time periods in question and end each chapter with the possible projection.
   25. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: August 24, 2009 at 08:34 PM (#3303768)
That sounds like a great book!
   26. Posada Posse Posted: August 24, 2009 at 08:39 PM (#3303774)
Man, that Dickie Thon projection is disappointing, not quite the potential Hall of Famer I was envisioning. 1983 would still have been his peak, at least power-wise, which makes sense based on his numbers in previous seasons and in the minors. Thanks, Dan.
   27. Bitter Mouse Posted: August 24, 2009 at 11:10 PM (#3303957)
Thank You Dan!
   28. CraigK Posted: August 24, 2009 at 11:17 PM (#3303963)
Any chance of putting McGwire with a post-1992 career if he had been healthier on the list?
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 24, 2009 at 11:22 PM (#3303969)
How about:

Boggs had he started his MLB career at age 18;
Hideki Matsui had he started at age 19;
Edgar had he started at age 20; and
Bonds had he not been colluded against?
   30. Cabbage Posted: August 25, 2009 at 02:53 AM (#3304144)
Can we get one of these for Adolph Hitler while Molotov-Ribbentrop was still in play? He really screwed the pooch after opening the Eastern Front.

If you've got time, maybe post-Cannae Hannibal, adjusting for his brother not losing an army?
   31. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: August 25, 2009 at 04:53 AM (#3304195)
How about:

Boggs had he started his MLB career at age 18;
Hideki Matsui had he started at age 19;
Edgar had he started at age 20; and
Bonds had he not been colluded against?


Sure, why not? They still won't wind up with over 4000 hits, though.
   32. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 25, 2009 at 05:15 AM (#3304212)
Bo Jackson.
   33. bjhanke Posted: August 25, 2009 at 07:37 AM (#3304257)
You know, there is only one conceivable response to post #24:

THANK YOU, DAN!!!!!

Thanks for your hard work and for the effort you make to share it. I'm STILL working through your methods thread, because your stuff is so complex, but in my mind, that's a compliment to you. You work through the details.

Great work!

Don't stop!!

Thank You!!!

- Brock Hanke
   34. bjhanke Posted: August 25, 2009 at 07:41 AM (#3304259)
Ack! there is one more response: Getting the two Dan's straight. This one is Dan S., the ZIPS Dan. The other one is Dan R., the WARP Dan. Sorry about that. The comment still stands, because ZIPS is probably as much work as WARP is. - Brock
   35. AndrewJ Posted: August 25, 2009 at 11:20 AM (#3304288)
Babe Ruth, had he stayed a starting pitcher.

Aloysius Travers.

Eddie Gaedel.
   36. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 25, 2009 at 11:48 AM (#3304295)
Hey, nothing's preventing the distribution of thanks!

My TOTS* projection shows thank yous peaking at post 27 (as expected) with a false peak at 33.

* Thanks Offered To Szymborski
   37. John DiFool2 Posted: August 25, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3304337)
What, no Albert Belle?
   38. villageidiom Posted: August 25, 2009 at 01:37 PM (#3304341)
Moonlight Graham. KTHXBY
   39. jwb Posted: August 25, 2009 at 02:12 PM (#3304376)
Moonlight Graham.
Ya got park factors for the 1903 Haverhill Hustlers?
   40. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 25, 2009 at 02:46 PM (#3304409)
Nice work Dan. I appreciate your time.

How about:

Boggs had he started his MLB career at age 18;
Hideki Matsui had he started at age 19;
Edgar had he started at age 20; and
Bonds had he not been colluded against?


Boggs was sucking in low A ball at 18.
Matsui DID start his major league career at 19 according to those who see NPB as a major league.
Edgar was hitting .173 in low A ball at 20.
His projection would look something like this: -.215/-.306/-.225 and would cost him half of his career value. (Please don't take that literally).

Dan didn't count Ichiro's minor league statistics, but let's compare them:

Ichiro 18, 19
1992 Ori Jap West 18 - Intl 3b 58 238 42 87 6 4 3 16 10 0 23 16 0 0 0 0 0 .366 .421 .462 883
1993 Ori Jap West 19 - Intl 3b 48 186 38 69 14 6 8 23 11 0 25 14 0 0 0 0 0 .371 .445 .640 1085
Wade Boggs 18,19
1976 Elm NYPL 18 Bos A- 57 179 29 47 6 0 0 15 2 29 15 .263 *.369 .296 *665
1977 Win Caro 19 Bos A+ 117 422 67 140 13 1 2 55 8 65 22 .332 *.424 .382 *806
Edgar Martinez 20,21
1983 BEL Nwst 20 Sea A- 3b 32 104 14 18 1 1 0 5 1 3 18 24 2 0 1 1 .173 .304 .202 506
1984 WAU Midw 21 Sea A 3b 126 433 72 131 32 2 15 66 11 9 84 57 3 2 7 6 .303 .414 .490 904

By 20, Ichiro was OPSing 986 in NPB. Boggs had a .400 OBP in AA.

Now, both Boggs and Edgar turned into more productive hitters in their peaks, but at 18-21, Ichiro's on a better path.

(Incidentally, Japan has only two minor leagues. I would imagine that their level is about AA, but if someone has data, I'd love to learn from it.)
   41. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: August 25, 2009 at 04:58 PM (#3304534)
If you do pitchers, how 'bout Herb Score and Addie Joss?


Charlie Ferguson would be a great one.
   42. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: August 25, 2009 at 11:29 PM (#3305017)
Man, that Dickie Thon projection is disappointing


Agreed! I'm just going to pretend I never saw it and keep dreaming about his coulda/shoulda HOF career.

Babe Ruth, had he stayed a starting pitcher.


Very interesting. If he'd stayed a pitcher, then the HR wouldn't have been in vogue for who knows how long, and MLB wouldn't have catapulted to the undisputed forefront of Americana as early as it did. We might have had a very interesting chase for the career HR record in the 60's/70's with Aaron/Mays/Mantle. Roger Maris would be in the HOF for sure, and wouldn't have been so grumpy all the time. The Yankees would have moved out west to, perhaps to Oakland or Yuma, sometime in the late 50's/early 60's along with the Dodgers and Giants. People would think the candy bar was named after a president's daughter.
   43. bjhanke Posted: August 26, 2009 at 12:21 AM (#3305075)
You know, the Thon projection seemed weak to me, too, until I realized that it has 8 seasons with OPS+ under 100. Jeter's has only 3. Why? Dickie Thon was a very good defensive shortstop, while Jeter is a poor one. Jeter can't play if his bat falls below OPS+ 100. Thon could have. That drops Thon's career OPS+ down, but the projections aren't taking defense into account. With the defense factored in, Thon will look a whole lot better.

BTW, Post #36 is hilarious. I knew as soon as I got on this site that I would eventually get the two Dans mixed up. I'm 61, and my memory, while still good both long and short term, has troubles with names. I read up on this, and it turns out that brains have a finite capacity for names. As you get older, it fills up, and you get to the point where any new name that you retain forces an old one out. The result of this, for me, is that I have trouble remembering new names. Two Dans in one venue is more than my brain can now handle consistently. Just a FYI for those of you who aren't that old yet.

- Brock
   44. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:03 AM (#3305112)
Now, that's Dickie's projection AT The Astrodome, correct?
   45. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:11 AM (#3305131)
I'm the Dan with the unpronounceable name.

Dan R. is the one who was known as Dan Rosenhell until the vagaries of the journalism world required him turn it down a notch.
   46. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:22 AM (#3305144)
Yes, that's Dickie's projection at the Astrodome for the actual years involved.

That's not all that disappointing projection unless you think Thon was a sure-fire HoFer. The 80s Astrodome (or anything Astrodome) is obviously not the best environment for gaudy stats. The games played are disappointing, but when you're projecting out 15 years, there's a lot of uncertainty. A 104 OPS+ is a darn good career, especially for a competent shortstop with some speed.

The uncertainty is even more prominent with long-term pitching projections. The attrition rate is such that despite Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez being much better pitchers than Jeff Suppan, the reality is that Suppan is probably more likely to throw 150 innings at age 38 than either of the other two are.
   47. OCF Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:35 AM (#3305163)
Babe Ruth, had he stayed a starting pitcher.

I have a problem with this one. The evidence isn't real solid, but still ...

Most of Ruth's innings as a starter happened in 1915 through 1918, when he was 20 through 23 years old. He carried 300+ IP loads in the middle two of those years, at age 21-22. His strikeout rates per nine innings: 4.63, 4.73, 3.53, 2.16. OK, that's not fair - league strikeout rates were dropping dramatically in the same years. So do that as a percentage of league strikeout rate: 118, 126, 106, 74.

There are a couple of ways you can look at that. One is to discount the evidence of 1918, when he was already down to being a half-time pitcher and half-time outfielder, and point out that over the three previous years, his strikeout rate was better than league average in each of them. Maybe that's the right point of view. Or perhaps 1918 is a signal, and part of a three-year decreasing trend. And if a young pitcher stops striking people out? There's a distinct possibility that we're looking at a career path somewhere between Gary Nolan and Doc Gooden - in particular, perhaps you've already seen the best of him, and the rest is downhill.

(In 1919, in which he was even less of a pitcher so it's even less reliable, his strikeouts were down to 63% of league average and his hits per inning shot up. But by then, the Yankees knew they weren't buying a pitcher.)
   48. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:43 AM (#3305174)
That's not all that disappointing projection unless you think Thon was a sure-fire HoFer.


Not really, it's just that he's one of the first autographs I ever got, so naturally he's like one of my favoritest players, so I kind of think of him as larger-than-life.
   49. OCF Posted: August 26, 2009 at 01:47 AM (#3305179)
...so I kind of think of him as larger-than-life.

So, looking back on it: in the 1983-84 offseason, what would your relative ranking of Thon, Garry Templeton, and Ozzie Smith have been? In fact, what was your relative ranking at the time?
   50. Posada Posse Posted: August 26, 2009 at 02:24 AM (#3305216)
Ah, yes, the Astrodome. I was hoping that Thon's 1983 age-25 season would have been a platform for bigger and better things, but it would have been tough to improve on that at that ballpark.

So, looking back on it: in the 1983-84 offseason, what would your relative ranking of Thon, Garry Templeton, and Ozzie Smith have been? In fact, what was your relative ranking at the time?


Wow, I would guess most people would have placed Ozzie last in that ranking in '83-'84, assuming that Templeton could bounce back from his poor 1982 and '83 (which of course he never really did).
   51. OCF Posted: August 26, 2009 at 02:53 AM (#3305232)
Ozzie is the oldest of the three, and Thon the youngest. Thon was 25 in 1983, Templeton 27, and Ozzie 28. I'll line up their OPS+ by age through 1983, with two extra notes. The first is that Thon was only a part-time player in his first three seasons; he didn't become a full regular until his age 24 year in 1982. The second is that OPS+ sells Ozzie short in ways that it doesn't misrepresent the others, since Ozzie was an extreme OBP ahead of SLG player with the best baserunning value of the three, and, of course, Ozzie was the best defender of the three. But then, of course, there was Ozzie's second season, marking him in everyone's mind as a glove man who hit .211 - in other words, a Mendoza.

Age  Thon Temp Ozzie
20         91
21   118  110
22    66   91
23    96  112   82
24   110  108   48
25   127   98   71
26         79   62
27         77   84
28              82 


Of course, if you project Templeton forward from his age 25 season, what do you get? Does he make it to 3000 hits?
   52. The Wilpons Must Go (Tom D) Posted: August 26, 2009 at 10:26 AM (#3305361)
No matter how much Jeter's defense deteriorates, the Yankees are not going to retire him if he puts up an OPS+ of 92,

I thhink that Thon would have played a lot more games per year if healthy.
   53. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: August 26, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3305579)
Jeter still looks like a valuable spot-starting infielder/fourth outfielder there at the end. But what are the chances the Yankees ask (to say nothing of Jeter acquiescing) to becoming a substitute, even one who plays in 120 games a year?
   54. John M. Perkins Posted: August 26, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3305618)
Thanks, and more thanks.

Maddux and Mussina if they hadn't retired.
Ray Fosse.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2009 at 06:21 AM (#3307420)
Rico Carty post-66 and/or post-70. I doubt he'd have been an HoFer anyway but man could he hit both before and after the injuries.

EDIT: Oops ... thanks Dan!
   56. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: August 28, 2009 at 09:10 AM (#3307432)
I'm going to go ahead and throw out a request for Rick Ankiel's career projection as a pitcher after 2000.
   57. Raphy Posted: August 28, 2009 at 05:48 PM (#3307793)
How about using the MLE for John Elway's minor league season to create a theoretical career projection for him?
   58. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 28, 2009 at 09:25 PM (#3308063)
How about using the MLE for John Elway's minor league season to create a theoretical career projection for him?


How about the same for Michael Jordan, if he were 21 instead of 31?
   59. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 29, 2009 at 04:05 AM (#3308407)
Dan, I'm guessing this idea won't interest you, but this is something that I think would be very cool: project the careers of the known steroid users if they had never taken steroids. Do a career projection for Bonds after 1998 or 1999 (whatever the conventional wisdom is for when he started juicing). Do similar projections for Palmeiro, Caminiti, and other known/accused users. Throw in Alex Sanchez for the hell of it.

To do so, you'd probably have to throw out the steroid era from your historical data set (in terms of projecting how players perform going forward).

That raises an interesting question--are player projections less accurate now due to potential chemical enhancement than they were before steroids? For each player, in addition to the regular statistical possibilities, there's the variance added by not knowing whether the guy will start taking steroids or not. If you don't think steroids are performance-enhancing, then obviously this is an irrelevant question.
   60. bjhanke Posted: August 31, 2009 at 04:37 AM (#3309499)
Dave, you might not like what you see if Dan does this. In 1997, after Mark McGwire came to the Cardinals and hit a boatload of homers in 2 months, I did the following: Took his rookie season of 1987, when he hit 49 taters and was specifically EXEMPTED from steroid accusations on page 7 of Canseco's book. Ran that through the old simplistic Bill James BROCK2 career projector to 1998. Adjusted for the league homer level change from AL 1987 to NL 1997. Adjusted for the Oakland (lousy) and St. Louis (neutral) effects on homers. I got Mac projected to hit 72. He actually hit 70. My conclusion? There is not only no need to attribute the homer record to steroids, there is no ROOM for them. If McGwire was taking steroids in 1998, he wasn't getting anything out of them. If he had been getting something out of the roids, he would have hit 80, not 70.

Also, doing that for Bonds is irrelevant. In 2001, baseball, loudly announced in advance, told the umpires to start calling higher balls strikes, to return to the rulebook strike zone. It turned out that Barry Bonds had a sweet spot high and inside that no one knew about because that pitch had always been a ball and no matter what else you think, you have to give Barry his strike zone judgment. The fad term "McCovey Cove" is where homers right down the right field line go. You can check this visually. ESPN, for some reason, pieced together a video clip of all 73 Bonds homers, back to back. You can see the high inside pitches going out and out and out into the Cove and also down the line in away parks. Also, if you check out some full broadcasts of Bonds games, even as late as September, announcers were still intoning that Bonds' weakness was high and inside - just as another high inside pitch went to the Cove. So baseball did not catch on about Bonds until 2002. That's the reason he hit all those homers, not roids.

- Brock Hanke
   61. Gerry Posted: August 31, 2009 at 05:50 AM (#3309512)
A few other ballplayers who got late starts in the majors and might be worth "retrojecting" are Ralph Kiner, Minnie Minoso, Hank Sauer, Sam Rice, Jackie Robinson. What would Joe Jackson's final numbers have been, if he hadn't gotten caught (or if he had had a good lawyer)?
   62. Dan Szymborski Posted: August 31, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3309672)
I can translate back in time but I simply cannot project back in time.
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2009 at 03:03 PM (#3309680)
There is not only no need to attribute the homer record to steroids, there is no ROOM for them. If McGwire was taking steroids in 1998, he wasn't getting anything out of them. If he had been getting something out of the roids, he would have hit 80, not 70.


No offense Brock, but this strikes me as ludicrous a remark as saying McGwire would definitely have hit less than 60 that year barring a steroid diet. There are simply too many factors involved to conclusively determine what steroid's impact on an individual player's performance in any direction was.
   64. The Original SJ Posted: September 01, 2009 at 04:28 PM (#3310905)
I would be really curious to see what an all major league career would look like for Matsui.

Guy can rake.
   65. Gerry Posted: September 02, 2009 at 12:36 AM (#3311476)
It's a poor sort of projection that only works forwards (to paraphrase the White Queen's remark to Alice). I overlooked the part about how you were not projecting Suzuki's stats backwards but translating his Japanese stats into American. Still, you could do Shoeless Joe. Can you do Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio and Buddy Lewis, absent World War II?
   66. The Original SJ Posted: September 02, 2009 at 12:46 AM (#3311480)
I think Retrojection is an awesome word.

RETROJECTION!
   67. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: September 02, 2009 at 02:15 AM (#3311583)
@SJ: I'm at work, but a real quick-and-dirty translation of Matsui's career shows him able to make a fringe Hall case. People forget to normalize Japanese player-seasons from 130-140 games to 162, and it makes a difference for someone as durable as Godzilla. Normalized to 162 games, his consecutive-games streak gets to the 2,000 range. This makes a difference in his counting stats, as you will see below.

As argued in this Ichiro thread, Japanese stats translate nearly one-to-one with the exception of home runs and walks (to a lesser extent). Doubles get a small boost because, IIRC, they are cut down in NPB due to the shape and dimensions of Japanese outfield walls. (A one-to-one translation of doubles would cut 34 2B off the line below, which would give him a .473 SLG. However, the doubles total used below matches his 2B/AB ratio in MLB.) Also in the translation, home runs are cut in half after adjusting for season length.

Here's a rough translation of his Japan career:

1529 G, ~6578 PA (AB+BB+HBP), 5513 AB, 1676 H, 331 2B, 19 3B, 200 HR, 1065 BB(+HBP), .304/~.417/.480

You can make the case for taking 10-20 points off the OBP (TEH FEAR will not be as great) and AVG, but using this as a ballpark estimate, you get the following career line:

2419 G, ~10294 PA (AB+BB+HBP), 8775 AB, 2626 H, 527 2B, 30 3B, 335 HR, 1486 BB(+HB), .299/~.399/.481

Again, this is only meant as a quick-and-dirty estimate, but with that caveat, you can say that Matsui's career is a testament to exceptional durability and consistency. He's always hit like he has in MLB (his rookie season excepted), and played in every game for 12 years in a row. He probably hangs around long enough to clear 3000 hits, 1500-1700 RBI and runs, 600 2B and possibly 400 HR.

Dan, I would love to see a ZIPS translation. Maybe the Matsui-for-HOF train can get rolling at BTF (much to Ray DiPerna's delight). . .
   68. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2009 at 02:27 PM (#3311947)
Dan, I would love to see a ZIPS translation. Maybe the Matsui-for-HOF train can get rolling at BTF (much to Ray DiPerna's delight). . .


:-) Well, I don't support him because I bizarrely only consider MLB performance, but I do find it curious that we hear only crickets from the pro-Ichiro crowd (including MSM types) about Matsui. They will say that his MLB career hasn't been good enough, but once one decides to incorporate Japan careers it seems rather whimsyish to gloss over such a fantastic Japan career in the face of a merely successful MLB career. Wasn't Matsui "prevented" from playing MLB sooner, like they argue with Ichiro? Well, had Matsui started his MLB career sooner his MLB career would be more worthy. He played all of his age 26-28 peak seasons in Japan. Even Ichiro got to play his age 27 and 28 seasons in MLB.

You've loosely translated him to an .880 OPS over 2400 games. That's a serious HOF candidate.

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