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Monday, January 13, 2020

2021 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion

2021 (December 2020)—elect 3

Top 10 Returning Players
Kenny Lofton, Johan Santana, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Kent, Lance Berkman, Bobby Abreu, Buddy Bell, Wally Schang, Bobby Bonds, Sal Bando

Newly eligible players

Tim Hudson
Mark Buehrle
Torii Hunter
Dan Haren
Barry Zito
Aramis Ramirez
Shane Victorino
Alex Rios
Grady Sizemore
A.J. Burnett

DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:06 PM | 370 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:28 PM (#5915178)
2021 Prelim

1) Tommy Bridges - PHoM 1958 - deserves WWII credit, strong PWAA
2) Johan Santana - PHoM 2018
3) Mark Buehrle - debuts in an elect-me spot PHoM 2021. No postseason credit yet
4) Roy Oswalt - PHoM 2019
5) Gavy Cravath - PHoM 1927, best available OF, 154 game seasons, low run scoring environment (low STDEV), several seasons minor league credit
6) Bob Johnson - PHoM 1986, PCL credit
7) Urban Shocker - PHoM 1968, WWI credit, good hitter for a pitcher
8) Tommy John - PHoM 1995
9) Phil Rizzuto - PHoM 1967, top infielder available, gets 3 years WWII credit
10) Bucky Walters - PHoM 1972, very good bat for a pitcher
11) Bert Campaneris - PHoM 1991, I like him much better than the 1970s 3B group (Bell, Cey, Bando)
12) Wally Schang - best C available, PHoM 1987
13) Ben Taylor - PHoM 1973, moves down after latest MLE adjustments. He's Eddie Murray of the deadball era and the last obvious Negro League candidate
14) Brian Giles - PHoM 2020, more wins above positional average than Sosa, Abreu, Berkman or Vlad Guerrero
15) Tim Hudson - debuts on-ballot, PHoM 2021, also no postseason credit yet

16) Dave Bancroft - PHoM 1976
17) Norm Cash - PHoM 1997
18) Kevin Appier - PHoM 2009
19) Don Newcombe - PHoM 2004
20) Bobby Abreu - PHOM 2020
21) Johnny Pesky - PHoM 2004
22) Andy Pettitte - PHoM 2021 - my 3rd pitcher elected this year
23) Jeff Kent - PHOM 2020
24) Bus Clarkson - PHoM 1967, Mexican League, Minor League and Negro League credit
25) Jorge Posada

26-30) Wilbur Cooper, Sammy Sosa, Babe Adams, Burleigh Grimes, Dave Concepcion
31-35) Kenny Lofton, Tommy Leach PHoM, Dizzy Trout, Dwight Gooden, Dolf Luque

67) Buddy Bell
79) Lance Berkman - he's not quite Chuck Klein
132) Sal Bando - much prefer Campaneris and Concepcion from that era
   2. DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5915187)
My top unelected players by position

P - Bridges, Santana, Buerhle
C - Schang, Posada, Tenace
1B - Taylor, Cash, Jack Fournier
2B - Kent, nobody worth electing
SS - Rizzuto, Campaneris, Bancroft
3B - Bus Clarkson, Tommy Leach, Pie Traynor
LF/RF - Gavy Cravath, Bob Johnson, Brian Giles, Bobby Abreu, Sammy Sosa
CF - Lofton, Dom DiMaggio
   3. Jaack Posted: January 13, 2020 at 03:39 PM (#5915254)
First the newcomers – three players make my initial consideration set (~250 players). I do not make any sort of minor credit adjustments to players who do not make the consideration set. However, I do plan to review the following three candidates, although I don't expect any major changes.

Tim Hudson will likely make my PHoM sometime in the next few years. Doesn’t do great by FIP-WAR, but does pretty well by other systems. Considtently good, occasionally great. Feels a lot like Luis Tiant to me. That all being said, he’s decently short of my ballot, but he’s in my top 30, so he gets to go through the whole ringer.

Mark Buehrle ranks just about 150th for me. His peak is pretty low – like Tommy John low. Except John has 1500 innings on Buehrle. For a career candidate, there just isn’t enough career there.

Dan Haren ranks ~190th. A pretty solid career all in all. I hope he gets a vote or two from the BBWAA.

I liked Torii Hunter and Barry Zito and wanted to mention them. This is about as positive as I can be about them as HoM candidates.

------

Two players, Derek Jeter and Todd Helton, were elected from my ballot, opening up two slots.

Barring any significant developments, I expect Lance Berkman to top my ballot again. My other two elect-me spots will likely go to Kenny Lofton and Tommy John, although I am also considering Babe Adams, Jeff Kent, Kiki Cuyler, Mickey Lolich, and Bob Johnson for those spots. All eight of those players will almost certainly make my ballot.

The other players on my ballot last year were Bert Campaneris, Roy Oswalt, Jim Sundberg, Don Newcombe, and Robin Ventura. I feel pretty confident Campaneris will make it again as he is a step above the borderline glut. He isn’t in contention for an elect-me spot at this time, but he is unlikely to move down much. Oswalt and Newcombe feel like the best of the remaining pitchers to me, although Dwight Gooden is close enough to them that he could pass either of them this year with minor adjustments. I expect both pitchers to return to the bottom of my ballot again, and there is a good chance they are joined by Gooden, who I feel is the strongest off-ballot player available to me.

Jim Sundberg was a big mover for me last year and barring a change of heart on catcher defense, I imagine he will remain on or close to my ballot this year.

I am waning somewhat on Robin Ventura. While I think he is qualified, I’m not sure if he deserves a ballot space at the current time. He will be in consideration for my ballot this year, but I don’t necessarily feel he is stronger than the other bottom end contenders.

For players moving onto my ballot, the aformentioned Dwight Gooden looks the strongest, and I could see him as high as 10th. Trevor Hoffman ranked 16th last year for me, and if I don’t make any adjustments could see my ballot. I don’t know if I’m going to bite the bullet and vote for a second tier reliever this year or not, but he will be in contention.

Bobby Bonds has also been consistently just off ballot for me for the past three years (in fact, he’s been 18th all three years I’ve voted). I feel confident in my evaluation of him, so his chances to make my ballot this year mostly depend on how I feel about the other choices.

Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers were both just off ballot last year as well. I would like more information about their gloves before voting for them, but one of them may be my best choice. I'm leaning towards Evers at the moment.

Willie Davis has made my ballot in the past and is currently just off ballot. His similarity to Kenny Lofton is forcing me to consider him more strongly for a ballot position in previous years. I also want to lock down how much Japanese credit I give him.

Currently my ballot looks like this
1. Lance Berkman
2. Kenny Lofton
3. Tommy John
4. Babe Adams
5. Jeff Kent
6. Kiki Cuyler
7. Mickey Lolich
8. Bob Johnson
9. Bert Campaneris
10. Don Newcombe
11. Roy Oswalt
12. Dwight Gooden
13. Jim Sundberg
14. Bobby Bonds
15. Johnny Evers
xxxxx
16. Willie Davis
17. Trevor Hoffman
18. Robin Ventura
19. Joe Tinker
20. Jim Kaat

Required disclosures
47. Buddy Bell
58. Sammy Sosa
65. Wally Schang
74. Bobby Abreu
89. Sal Bando

----

Every year, I like to re-evaluate ten players consideration set if I suspect I am possibly overrating or underrating them, or just haven’t given them much time. Last year, that evaluation saw Don Newcombe and Jim Sundberg rise onto my ballot and Steve Rogers rise somewhat, although not into ballot consideration. It also saw me not adjust Jerry Koosman at all and send Sal Bando to the depths, so it’s not always beneficial, but it keeps me thinking about new players.

I haven’t been good about writing up my re-evaluations for these players, but I plan to this year when I do each one.

This year, I plan to look deeper at the following players.
Dave Bancroft – Feels similar to Tinker, who is a plausible ballot choice. I’d like to get more confident that Tinker is the superior player.
Chief Bender – He’s currently just outside my top 100 eligibles. His strong reputation with contemporaries is very much at odds with the modern consensus that he is a Hall of Fame mistake. Probably not a real contender, but I could see him being significantly overrated or underrated by my system.
Dolph Camilli – I have considered him for a ballot spot in the past, but I currently rank him a little lower. But with the similar Jason Giambi getting support, I’d like to take another pass at a more defensively talented version of Giambi.
Paul Derringer – Derringer is a FIP darling, and has always ranked highly in my system. I’ve written him off as essentially a bug in my system, but I feel I should settle down and give him his due like I did with another FIP darling in Mickey Lolich.
Ron Guidry – Guidry is part of the glut of pitchers I rank just off ballot. I haven’t given him an extended look in a while, but he’s remained pretty stable through every revision I’ve made. If I’m currently underrating him my just a smidge, he is a possible ballot candidate.
Toby Harrah – Harrah is very similar to Buddy Bell for me. However, since Harrah played shortstop significantly, I feel he may be more of a contender than I have considered him in the past.
Tommy Leach – As I mentioned in the previous post, he’s probably a guy I should give a deep dive as he’s awfully close and his era is worth another pass. How real is his DRA?
Tony Phillips – One of the few second basemen available the both ranks well enough in my system to deserve a deep dive while also never having got one. Possibly worthy of extra positional credit for his versitality. Furthermore, I would like to get him straightened out before Ben Zobrist retires, as I feel Zobrist may be an even better version of him.
George Uhle – His quality bat makes him a candidate. Generally, he’s been glossed over, by both me and the electorate as a whole.
Bobby Veach – My system rates him outside the top 100, but he looks like the type of candidate I typically like and he has some support from the electorate.
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 13, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5915332)
Jaack, I wrote about the value of Phillips' multipositional versatility and its potential impact here.

I buried the lede, but at the bottom of the piece is this:
Anyway, let’s guesstimate that at a minimum half of Phillips’ games in his salad days involved his facilitating a platoon, which means four or five PAs a game times 75 or so games. Just to spitball it, let’s say that Phillips allowed his teams to put an average player into the lineup instead of a replacement player for those 100 games. The difference between replacement and average is about 20 runs over 150 games. In 75 games that’s 10 runs that Phillips facilitates. Or 1 win. Maybe we can’t give it all to him, I can’t think it through quite that far, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched that Phillips might have enabled his teams, through his versatility, to pick up an extra 5 wins over an 18 year career.

This seems worth our talking about as a group. The rest of the article kind of explains how I got to this initial SWAGuesstimate.

BTW: I am perhaps Phillips' BF here at the HOM, and he isn't making my ballot lately due to enough other higher-ranking fellows at their respective positions.
   5. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 13, 2020 at 08:40 PM (#5915414)
Thank you, DL! "Ask and ye shall receive".

Last year's inductees were #1 (Jeter), #4 (Helton), #8 (Tiant), and in my "first five out" (A. Jones).

Preliminary 2021 ballot:
1. Schang
2. Luque
3. Hilton Smith
4. Sosa
5. Posada
6. Ben Taylor - even with his hitting MLE's revised downward, we have no first basemen between Beckley and Sisler. It was a lot harder to be a long-career 1B specialist in his era than most others.
7. Hudson (new) - a real force in his Oakland years.
8. Lofton
9. Santana
10. Kent
11. Evers
12. Easter
13. Campaneris
14. Buehrle (new) - superior to John in era context.
15. Willis

Next ten: Cravath, Pettite, Munson, Duffy, Buddy Bell, Garciaparra, Abreu, Lee Smith, Leach, Berkman.
   6. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 13, 2020 at 08:43 PM (#5915415)
I am perhaps Phillips' BF here at the HOM
I rank Phillips comparable to Tommy Leach around #40 (mainly because Leach was a more consistent and valuable defensive player).

Moreover, I cut my baseball fandom teeth watching the early '90's proto-Three True Outcome Tigers of Phillips, Fielder, Tettleton, Deer, et al. alongside an aging Trammell/Whitaker combo and a never-good-enough pitching staff. I've long had it on my bucket list to write an in-depth profile of those teams.
   7. kcgard2 Posted: January 13, 2020 at 08:46 PM (#5915416)
2021 prelim:

1. Lofton
2. John
3. Bando
4. Berkman
5. Bell
6. Abreu
7. Appier
8. Santana
9. Pettitte
10. Bob Johnson
11. Buehrle
12. Oswalt
13. Tinker
14. Sosa
15. Cicotte

16. Willis
17. Bonds
18. Kent
19. Ventura
20. Garciaparra

Kent could fall further. It takes some extra credit for historical achievements, basically, to get him ahead of the two listed plus Olerud, Finley, Koosman, Lemon, Giles, Cey, and Munson (I have Kent basically a dead heat with Cey and Munson). I feel OK with that for now, given how close all these guys are once you get into this squishy range of players that are all borderline (IMO). I think possibly I could also be convinced to move him onto a ballot spot as high as one spot above Tinker at the best, if the electorate has some convincing arguments to make. That said, it looks to me like Kent will be elected in the next few years with or without my support anyway.

I have Schang at #65, and I already feel like I'm being very generous in deference to his popularity here in ranking him that high.

Taking a page from DL, my top unelected by position, at least in top 70 available (to get 3 second basemen on the list):

P: John, Appier, Santana, Pettitte, Buehrle, Oswalt, Cicotte (listing so many because in truth these guys are all very close together for me, and all worthy HOMers)
C: Munson, Posada, Tenace
1B: Olerud...gap...McGriff, Perez
2B: Kent, Marvin Williams, Evers
3B: Bando, Bell, Ventura, Cey...then a HUGE dropoff
SS: Tinker, Garciaparra, Fletcher, Bancroft
CF: Lofton...gap...Cedeño, Davis, Pinson, Cuyler
OF: Berkman, Abreu, Johnson, Sosa, Bonds, Giles
   8. kcgard2 Posted: January 13, 2020 at 08:50 PM (#5915418)
If you count Tony Lazzeri as a 2B, he slides just ahead of Marvin Williams. Lazzeri feels impossible to pick a position for me, though.
   9. DL from MN Posted: January 13, 2020 at 09:18 PM (#5915425)
3. Hilton Smith


If you haven't been reading Dr C's updated MLEs you should. Hilton Smith took a dive in the projected quality of his career.
   10. Jaack Posted: January 13, 2020 at 09:25 PM (#5915428)
Jaack, I wrote about the value of Phillips' multipositional versatility and its potential impact here.

I buried the lede, but at the bottom of the piece is this:
Anyway, let’s guesstimate that at a minimum half of Phillips’ games in his salad days involved his facilitating a platoon, which means four or five PAs a game times 75 or so games. Just to spitball it, let’s say that Phillips allowed his teams to put an average player into the lineup instead of a replacement player for those 100 games. The difference between replacement and average is about 20 runs over 150 games. In 75 games that’s 10 runs that Phillips facilitates. Or 1 win. Maybe we can’t give it all to him, I can’t think it through quite that far, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched that Phillips might have enabled his teams, through his versatility, to pick up an extra 5 wins over an 18 year career.

This seems worth our talking about as a group. The rest of the article kind of explains how I got to this initial SWAGuesstimate.

BTW: I am perhaps Phillips' BF here at the HOM, and he isn't making my ballot lately due to enough other higher-ranking fellows at their respective positions.


Thanks Doc.

I think that guesstimate looks about right in terms of overall value created by Phillips versatility in season. In terms of assigning credit you can't give Phillips all the credit as the situation does require quality platoon players to take advantage of it. If we give that players half the credit, that's ~5 runs per year in extra value, or to make it more calcuable, that's conservatively 1 run every 275 defensive innings.

I think that including these runs in positional adjustment makes the most sense. I'm going to call this made-up pseudo-position a utility starter. To qualify as a utility starter, a team must make use of a player as a starter across multiple positions flexibily. Tony Phillips and Ben Zobrist are the only players close to HoM value that meet htis criteria, but I can think of a couple more that did this across multiple seasons like Martin Prado or Mark DeRosa. In any season that these players were used as utility starters, I can credit them with one run per 300 defensive innings.

In the case of Phillips, I don't have any hard and fast rules for how many different positions a player must play or how many different innings at a position you have to play to make it count, but a quick look shows that Phillips was used flexiblly every year 1983-1999 except 1996 when he was a full time starter in LF and maybe 1994 when he was almost exclusively in LF. If we exclude those two seasons as well as his rookie year when he only played shortstop, that's 2510 innings that Phillips did not play as a utility starter and 14362 innings he was used as one. That comes out to 47.9 runs over the course of his career.

For Phillips that moves him from ranked about 110th for me to ranked about 26th among eligibles.

Looking now at Ben Zobrist, he exclusively played shortstop the first two seasons of his career, but ever since he has been used as a Utility Starter. That is 12694 innings as a utility starter, or 42.3 runs. As an active player, I don't have him ranked with the electables, but with that credit, he would be in my top 70 if he were eligible, wheras without that bonus he would be about 180th.

My one issue with this bonus credit is that 19th century baseball players seem to have been as positionally flexible as Phillips and Zobrist. It is a skill that loses it's value the more widespread it becomes - if every team has a Zobrist or Phillips type who can be a starter at any position, it's no longer as valuable, so I'm comfortable implimenting it on a case-by-case basis. I can't think of any other plausible candidates who were utillized like Phillips and Zobrist across most of their career in the modern era.
   11. Jaack Posted: January 13, 2020 at 09:43 PM (#5915434)
14. Buehrle (new) - superior to John in era context.


How are you determining this? Buehrle's career ERA+ is 116. Tommy John through 1981 had an ERA+ of 119. That's longer than Buehrle's entire career at a (marginally) better rate.

But John then added another 1200 innings of league average pitching.

I can see liking Buehrle as a candidate, but I really can't see him above Tommy John.
   12. bachslunch Posted: January 14, 2020 at 07:30 AM (#5915506)
Disclosures: am basing thinking on Negro Leaguers on the 2020 ballot discussion thread with a bit of Seamheads info. Otherwise, strong preference for BBRef WAR with some influence of OPS+ and ERA+ for the rest. Am valuing hitting prowess at C, SS, 2B, CF a bit extra, especially the first of these (have moved up catchers a notch). Being best available candidate at your position helps also. Still trying to sort out peak vs. longevity, but often favoring the latter. Fine with giving Negro League credit, not presently giving credit or debit for war, injury, illness, postseason play, or minor league service. Not systematically adjusting for season length, but am giving minimal non-systematic extra emphasis for pre-1961 players. Am currently treating 19th century pitchers pretty much equally as post-1900, but for now tending to discount AA, NA, and UA stats as possibly suspect. Not taken with giving relievers a lot of emphasis. Will dock 1st year candidates who bet on games, threw games, impeded players of color, were caught using PEDs post-2005 (Manny, ARod), and likely used pre-2005 if it looks like they'll get an immediate free pass by BBWAA HoF voters (IRod, Ortiz, Pettitte).


1. Jim McCormick. Best WAR for starters not in by a mile, even when removing all his UA-earned credit. Short career, but played in NL except for one UA season.
2. Buddy Bell. Best WAR at 3B. Have decided to trust the metric for him.
3. Wally Schang. Among best C WAR, also hit well.
4. Jeff Kent. Best WAR at a middle infield position and hit well, can't in good conscience rank him below guys like Sosa or Johnson.
5. Kenny Lofton. Best available CF. Not as much hitting as I'd like, but lots of WAR at a premium position.
6. Bobby Abreu. Best WAR among available RFs, better than Sosa.
7. Bob Johnson. Best WAR among available LFs.
8. Ben Taylor. Still appears to be the best NGL position player. And if he's at all equivalent to Eddie Murray, that's good enough for me. Likely will be the final NGL player I support, barring new information. Am also seeing him as the best 1B available.
9. Vic Willis. Good pitcher WAR.
10. Sammy Sosa. Better WAR than I remembered. Happy to give him some benefit of the doubt given his treatment by the BBWAA.
11. Vern Stephens. I value hitting at a premium position highly, so I'm ranking him here.
12. Tommy John. Pretty much all compiling, minimal peak. But racked up plenty of WAR this way. I'm on board.
13. Ernie Lombardi. I see him and Munson as pretty similar. Slightest of edges to Lombardi because he hit better.
14. Thurman Munson. Better all around than Lombardi, shorter career.
15. Sal Bando. Second best WAR at an under-represented position.


16-40. Mickey Welch, Urban Shocker, Tommy Bridges, Willie Davis, Joe Tinker, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Bonds, John Olerud, Tim Hudson, Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Tony Lazzeri, Jose Cruz, Luis Aparicio, Bert Campaneris, Johan Santana, Gavvy Cravath, Jorge Posada, Ron Cey, Jack Quinn, Harry Hooper, Brian Downing, Lance Berkman, Tony Perez, Johnny Evers.

1B. Taylor, Olerud, Perez, McGriff, Cash, Giambi
2B. Kent, Lazzeri, Evers, Phillips, Myer, Pratt
SS. Stephens, Tinker, Fregosi, Aparicio, Campaneris, Tejada
3B. Bell, Bando, Cey, Ventura, Elliott, Harrah
LF. B. Johnson, J. Cruz, Downing, Berkman, J. Gonzalez, Veach
CF. Lofton, W. Davis, Lemon, Damon, Pinson, Cedeno
RF. Abreu, Sosa, Bonds, Cravath, Hooper, J. Clark
C. Schang, Lombardi, Munson, Posada, Tenace, Kendall
P. McCormick, Willis, John, M. Welch, Shocker, Bridges, Hudson, Pettitte, Buehrle, Santana, Quinn, Cicotte, Finley, Tanana, Powell, Hershiser.

All required disclosure players are on ballot or within top 40. None of the newcomers make my ballot, and only Hudson and Mark Buehrle (whom I see as similar to Andy Pettitte) make my top 40.
   13. Rob_Wood Posted: January 14, 2020 at 01:34 PM (#5915671)
Here is my first take at the newbies.
My current starting point in these discussions is CPASR (career pennant-added using a sliding replacement level) which is based upon BB-Ref's seasonal WAA and WAR figures.

For starting pitchers I also have my win values stats WVA, WVR, and WVSUM.
WVA is wins above average from analysis of each start in their career taking into account number of runs allowed and own-team runs scored in the game.
WVR is wins above replacement from analysis of each start in their career taking into account number of runs allowed and own-team runs scored in the game.
WVSUM = WVA+WVR is a "pennant impact" measure as wins above average are approx twice as important as wins above replacement but below average.

Since Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle appear to be the strongest newbie candidates, I include a bunch of modern pitchers below for comparison.
                 CPASR  WVA   WVR  WVSUM
Dave Stieb        .870  22.8  43.1  65.9
Kevin Appier      .839  26.8  48.3  75.1
CC Sabathia       .813  27.5  57.3  84.8
Tim Hudson        .785  30.6  56.7  87.3
Orel Hershiser    .784  21.2  46.7  67.9
Bret Saberhagen   .778  28.3  49.0  77.3
Chuck Finley      .777  23.5  49.1  72.6
Andy Pettitte     .776  25.9  53.4  79.3
Roy Oswalt        .765  28.1  46.5  74.6
Mark Buehrle      .758  19.2  46.3  65.5
Dwight Gooden     .735  18.6  41.5  60.1
Ron Guidry        .731  24.5  43.8  68.3
Mark Langston     .722  16.1  40.4  56.5
Jimmy Key         .716  25.3  46.2  71.5
Torii Hunter      .552
Dan Haren         .493  12.0  32.0  44.0
Shane Victorino   .460
Alex Rios         .446
Grady Sizemore    .429
Barry Zito        .418   8.9  30.3  39.2
Aramis Ramirez    .337
AJ Burnett        .316   7.7  30.4  38.1

My very preliminary assessment suggests that Hudson may appear on the lower half of my ballot (and no other newbies).
   14. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 14, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5915676)
Tim Hudson looks quite good in my Player won-lost records. My WORL are on a similar scale to the various WAR's and I get Hudson with 64.1 eWORL and 64.5 pWORL (so note that context isn't doing it there; my system just legitimately likes him). My system is less impressed with Mark Buehrle: 46.3 eWORL and 49.0 pWORL. The former will almost certainly make my ballot, probably in an elect-me slot. The latter will almost certainly not.

For WAR users, I also want a make a suggestion. First, you should look at converting to my Player won-lost records, which are much more robust and, I think, much more informative (here's the build-your-own 2021 HOM ballot link).

But second, be sure to compare Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. For pitchers, in particular, Fangraphs calculates WAR two ways: using FIP (which is their default) and also using actual runs allowed (RA9). On the player page, click "Value" and they'll both show up - e.g., here's Tommy John. I use Tommy John here not coincidentally.

I've mentioned repeatedly things to the effect that "my system loves Tommy John". This is true, but I think it makes it sound like my system is more of an outlier than it really is (aside: I think my system is more of an outlier on Tim Hudson, for example - although his RA9-WAR at Fangraphs is 63.0). I have Tommy John at 62.3 eWORL and 71.0 pWORL - so he does look a fair bit better in context. But while Baseball-Reference only shows John with 61.5 WAR (with, I believe, a slightly lower replacement level than I have), Fangraphs shows him with 79.4 fWAR based on FIP and 72.3 fWAR based on RA9 (with the same replacement level as BB-Ref).

Now, I understand that the shape of Tommy John's career is less appealing to a lot of people than, say, Johan Santana's career, where the latter was the best pitcher in baseball for a few years, and that's a personal opinion that I'm not inclined to argue too strongly against (largely because I share it to some extent). But bottom line: I think people should take another look at Tommy John.
   15. Carl Goetz Posted: January 14, 2020 at 02:59 PM (#5915702)
Kiko, I was revisiting my all-time catcher rankings the other day. I'm still a WAR based system which for Pitchers uses 75% RA and 25% FIP but I'm now also looking to see what WS and your Player W-L have to say about players (at least those who played in times where the data is available). Catcher was the first position on my list. In the course of my work, I noticed that Ivan Rodriguez does very poorly in both pW-L and eW-L. Could you comment on why that would be. I didn't notice any structural underrating of all catchers but I-Rod low numbers really stuck out to me. Do you have any thoughts on why that would be?
   16. Jaack Posted: January 14, 2020 at 03:18 PM (#5915710)
I think as a whole the electorate leans a little too much on BB-Ref WAR. It's basically the only major metric that doesn't think Tommy John is a very strong candidate.

For position players, that means we have heavy incorporation of linear weights, TZ, and BBRef's version of positional adjustment and park effects. Aside from the park effects and defense after 2003, those are also in use at fangraphs.

Linear weights is a good model - you can quibble about including context based stats, but it doesn't typically make a huge difference except for outliers like Sosa.

TZ is regarded as a pretty hazy metric - many voters incorporate other defensive metrics as well.

The positional adjustments thing is not great - the bbref model is somewhat haphazard. Third basemen from 1955-1980 may be overrated by it relative to their peers.

For pitchers, again their park effects matter. Also TZ matters - BBRef's defensive adjustment from RA9 is based on TZ until DRS becomes available.

For park effects, I'm not familiar enough with the different methodologies to try and tell you which is better. But for the defensive adjustment, I really do not trust the method BBRef uses. Starting from RA9 is fine, but then altering based on an unreliable defensive stat like TZ is haphazard at best. I don't want to call it a junk stat, because it's only a part of their model, but I certainly don't trust it to be the primary metric by which we are electing pitchers.
   17. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 14, 2020 at 04:33 PM (#5915743)
Catcher was the first position on my list. In the course of my work, I noticed that Ivan Rodriguez does very poorly in both pW-L and eW-L. Could you comment on why that would be. I didn't notice any structural underrating of all catchers but I-Rod low numbers really stuck out to me. Do you have any thoughts on why that would be?


Three things work against Ivan Rodriguez. First, he looks better in eWins than pWins (eWORL of 44.5; pWORL of 37.6). Looking at the context table (5th table down here, the issue appears to be a negative Inter-Game win adjustment. This basically means he was less good in the clutch (e.g., his OPS in high-leverage situations was .752 in his career vs. .798 overall. The extent to which one accounts for this is pure personal preference (and, to be clear: eWins ignore this - this explains the 7 WORL gap between eWORL and pWORL).

Second, he has an offensive profile that Player won-lost records don't like as much as some (most) other metrics: basically, he didn't hit enough home runs. I have him at -1.4 batting wins over non-pitcher average for his career whereas BB-Ref has him at +74 runs - a pretty significant 8 or 9 win difference. Personally, I trust my numbers here as their built up from actual wins.

Third, my catcher fielding numbers are much smaller than those used in other metrics. I make no adjustments for pitch framing or game calling or anything of that nature. And the value for stolen bases (on which Rodriguez was excellent) and wild pitches / passed balls (where Rodriguez was only kind of so-so anyway) (I call these two Components 1 and 2, respectively - see here) are shared between catchers and pitchers, which makes my numbers smaller (by quite a bit - the pitcher/catcher split is pretty close to 50/50) than those at, say BB-Ref, which I think gives catchers full credit for these things.

As for the shared credit with pitchers, I think that's the right way to do it. But as far as the other catcher-specific stuff - game-calling, pitch-framing - that's a weakness in my system (probably the biggest weakness in my system). That said, I'm not sure if I'm under-valuing catchers in general so much as under-valuing catchers who were good defensively at those things and over-valuing catchers in general who were bad defensively at those things. And I'm honestly not sure where Rodriguez falls in that regard. I vaguely recall his reputation not being great at that sort of stuff with Texas, but then he led the Marlins to a World Championship, the Tigers to an AL pennant, and I think his reputation improved. Whether that coincides with him improving (or whether his reputation in Texas was fair), I couldn't say.

Finally, as with most metrics, I think you need to give catchers some kind of boost - I've typically used 15% - 25% - to give them fair representation in any kind of Hall / ranking. Which, of course, doesn't affect Rodriguez's ranking relative to other catchers.

I'd say Ivan Rodriguez is probably in the top 3-5 players for whom I would have preferred my system to be a little more like the consensus: Richie Ashburn, Tony Gwynn, Garry Maddox, possibly Ichiro also come to mind. That said, Rodriguez is (probably) in my personal Hall - depending on how I populated it; I probably have him in the top 150-200 MLB players of the past 100 years, give or take.
   18. DanG Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:24 PM (#5915759)
#13
Here is my first take at the newbies.
Rob, could you possibly add Josh Hamilton to your list of newbies for 2021?
   19. Rob_Wood Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5915764)
I think as a whole the electorate leans a little too much on BB-Ref WAR. It's basically the only major metric that doesn't think Tommy John is a very strong candidate.

I'd like to respond to this. By way of background this project has been going on for 17 years. We have had many different voters over the years but virtually all of them have taken the project very seriously and filled out their ballots in a serious and thoughtful manner. "High level" stats (such as WAA and WAR) have become popular since the project began. One of the things that HOM founder Joe Dimino did each year was calculate/present the "Pennant Added" figure for each new candidate on that year's HOM ballot. Of course, Pennant Added reflects the cumulative "pennant impact" of a player's seasonal WAR and WAA values.

The reason I mention Pennant Added is that I know of no voter, now or in the past, who has simply followed WAR (any version) when constructing his ballot. The reason is obvious. Cumulative career WAR is wonderful but it never ever tells a complete story of a player's worth. Every voter acknowledges, either implicitly or explicitly, that a player's "Peak Value" is important as well as his "Career Value". Of course, these terms have multiple interpretations but I am comfortable saying that a player's peak value is reflected in his WAA whereas his career value is reflected in his WAR, even though this is only a shorthand interpretation.

Tommy John has one main thing going for him. Career Value. The man pitched forever. When measured relative to replacement, pitching forever is going to accumulate a ton of "career value". However Tommy John's career WAA figure is not very high (especially relative to his career WAR figure). A hypothetical pitcher who racks up 3 WAR in each of a 25-year career will total 75 career WAR. But he won't accumulate a high career WAA figure and would be unlikely to be voted into the HOM. And that makes perfect sense to me.

John retired in 1989 and came onto the HOM ballot in 1995. He was named on 5 ballots and came in 44th place. There were 54 voters that year and John was named on 5 ballots. Read that sentence again. That does not give the impression that John is a "very strong" candidate. Since I have it in front of me, here is how Tommy John has fared on each of his HOM ballots.
Year  Place OnBallots
1995    44     5
1996    44     6
1997    44     6
1998    41     6
1999    35     7
2000    41     6
2001    44     5
2002    39     6
2003    41     6
2004    37     7
2005    34     8
2006    29     9
2007    30     8
2008    35     7
2009    39     5
2010    40     5
2011    35     5
2012    32     5
2013    30     5
2014    33     4
2015    30     4
2016    25     5
2017    21     7
2018    22     6
2019    23     5
2020    19     8

I had Tommy John 15th on my 2020 ballot (and I think on one other earlier ballot as well). He bounces around between 15 and 25 for me. Since 2021 looks to be another "weak" ballot, I will likely have him near the bottom of my 2021 ballot as well. And I heartily join in encouraging other voters to give another look at Tommy John.
   20. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:52 PM (#5915767)
I looked into Tony Phillips' ability to generate value via his versatility. I looked at 1991 only, going through every game and observing games where it seemed clear that he was facilitating a platoon advantage by sliding around. When he played the OF, I didn't credit him for this because the Tigers had a slew of OF options, including switch hitters, who could also have given the team the platoon advantage without Phillips' presence. I figured that Phillips facilitated the platoon advantage in 55 games, didn't in 82, and did not start in 25 others (in some of them he pinch hit, pinch ran, or something, but I didn't want to get that far into it). I also noted for each game what hand the starter threw with.

To keep things simple, I used the AL's platoon differences and extrapolated runs to figure out how many runs per PA the platoon advantage was worth.
Going from RHH v RHP to LHH v RHP was worth 0.0048 R/PA.
Going from LHH v LHP to RHH v LHP was worth 0.0172 R/PA.

Figuring the advantage probably persisted for about 3 PA per game, that meant that Phillips' facilitation boosted the team by 0.0517 R/G vs LHP and 0.0143 R/G vs RHP.

When you total it up for the LHP games and the RHP games, the sum comes to 1.8 Runs for the year in those 55 games. Probably in some years he'd do it more often and in some years less. But at two runs a year, he'd tack on a win or three to his career. Of course, this doesn't take into account the specific platoon differences of him and the players who came and went from the lineup. That's a job for a databaser, of which I am not one.
   21. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:52 PM (#5915768)
Hey, DanG,

Would you consider returning to voting this year? The process would benefit from your ballot.
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:57 PM (#5915772)
When you total it up for the LHP games and the RHP games, the sum comes to 1.8 Runs for the year in those 55 games. Probably in some years he'd do it more often and in some years less. But at two runs a year, he'd tack on a win or three to his career. Of course, this doesn't take into account the specific platoon differences of him and the players who came and went from the lineup. That's a job for a databaser, of which I am not one.


Thanks for doing this, Dr. C. This is fascinating and a very cool approach. And it certainly seems to make a lot of sense that having a guy like Phillips can be a big advantage to a team.

My only hesitation here, though, is that baseball statistics are a closed system. This is extremely true of my Player won-lost records: a specific number of wins and losses are doled out on a game-by-game, team-by-team basis. Which leads, I think, to an obvious question. If Tony Phillips is providing an additional 2-3 runs of value per season, where are those runs (or, in my system, where is that quarter-win) coming from? Is the idea that Phillips gets these runs/wins instead of the guy who got the platoon advantage in that particular game, because Phillips presence put that player in a more favorable situation?
   23. kcgard2 Posted: January 14, 2020 at 05:57 PM (#5915773)
I want to echo what Jaack and Kiko have said about Tommy John. If you look at metrics other than bWAR, he appears to be an all-time pitcher. #21 all-time by fWAR for example. That's *seriously* up there in all time ranks. I also understand the stance of favoring peak over longevity, but John did have a peak, that depending on how you create a metric to measure it, may get diluted by the fact that John pitched *a ton of innings and seasons.* If a player is getting dinged simply for playing really long, that's not ideal. Longevity is a plus, not a minus, all else being equal.

As an aside, I've seen a number of people refer to peak/prime in consecutive seasons. I have always wondered why we do/should care if top seasons are consecutive or not. It seems very arbitrary to me and I'd like to hear views on why this is deemed important, by those who think it is. It is, incidentally, something that would affect Tommy John pretty heavily, as well.
   24. Rob_Wood Posted: January 14, 2020 at 06:02 PM (#5915775)
Rob, could you possibly add Josh Hamilton to your list of newbies for 2021?

I have included Hamilton in the table of newbies below (and have removed the non-newbie pitchers from above).
                 CPASR
Tim Hudson        .785
Mark Buehrle      .758
Torii Hunter      .552
Dan Haren         .493
Shane Victorino   .460
Alex Rios         .446
Josh Hamilton     .430
Grady Sizemore    .429
Barry Zito        .418
Aramis Ramirez    .337
AJ Burnett        .316
   25. kcgard2 Posted: January 14, 2020 at 06:25 PM (#5915778)
More on Tommy John. If you calculate WAA based on his fWAR, he has 38.9 WAA. If you calculate based on his RA9 WAR he has 31.7 WAA. Also, longer careers in general will suffer on WAA unless you zero out negative seasons. Pretty much any look at WAA apart from specifically bWAR is quite complimentary of John as a HOM candidate.

I would also quibble with the idea that WAA equals peak value while WAR equals career value as a shorthand. The reason being that career length will deteriorate WAA even while the player provides positive value at the beginning or end of a career. Imagine two players, one of them plays ages 24-32 at 60 WAR and 30 WAA. That's his whole career and then he gets injured and is done. The second player has an identical career to the first from ages 24-32. Perfectly identical. But he also came up at age 20, and played until age 38, and in those extra 10 years he had -5 WAA (and 16 WAR to make up a number to show he was still adding value as a player those years). Now this player by the shorthand metric appears to have a worse peak than the first player, which is emphatically not the case. He simply had a longer career and so the early and decline phases hurt him on career WAA. Apart from the greatest of all time players, this pattern holds almost universally. Basically, the shorthand punishes players for having long careers even if their peaks are the same as short-career players.
   26. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 14, 2020 at 06:42 PM (#5915784)
KCG2, I'm not making any comment on where the runs come from or went to. I'm only saying that my guesstimate is that his presence on a roster was likely worth 2-4 runs by itself, assuming he was used well. That over a career he's facilitating a couple wins' worth of runs.

I'm not necessarily sure that every factor we take into consideration as voters must always be directly tied to the runs on the field in the most literal, accounting sort of sense. If someone took the time to work through Phillips' career the way I have for 1991 (or in some even better way!) and found that Phillips' presence would be theoretically worth 3 wins to his teams because of the platoon advantage he allowed them, I don't think it's out of bounds to make that a piece of evidence in his favor, even though he didn't literally create those runs with his bat. Those runs don't happen without him on the roster (particularly because a player of his flexibility afield who is a switch hitter with his hitting ability is generational at most often), so there's something there, even though the runs don't come from here or go to there.
   27. Rob_Wood Posted: January 14, 2020 at 07:47 PM (#5915800)
Well, I guess this is now the Tommy John thread. Here is my career Win Values Pennant Added figures for the top pitchers of the Retrosheet era not currently in the HOM.
                 WVPA
Tim Hudson       1.20
Johan Santana    1.19
Roy Oswalt       1.15
Kevin Appier     1.13
Tommy Bridges    1.12  (w/o WWII credit)
Ron Guidry       1.02
Bucky Walters    1.01
Jimmy Key        0.99
Andy Pettitte    0.95
Tommy John       0.92
Chuck Finley     0.90
Dwight Gooden    0.86
Vida Blue        0.85
Orel Hershiser   0.85 

The WVPA stat has nothing to do with BB-Ref's WAA or WAR figures.

When a "Pennant Added" metric is applied to Tommy John's career, his HOM case seems to be greatly diminished which, of course, is perfectly understandable since he had a very long low-peak career.
   28. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 14, 2020 at 07:53 PM (#5915803)
My only hesitation here, though, is that baseball statistics are a closed system. This is extremely true of my Player won-lost records: a specific number of wins and losses are doled out on a game-by-game, team-by-team basis. Which leads, I think, to an obvious question. If Tony Phillips is providing an additional 2-3 runs of value per season, where are those runs (or, in my system, where is that quarter-win) coming from? Is the idea that Phillips gets these runs/wins instead of the guy who got the platoon advantage in that particular game, because Phillips presence put that player in a more favorable situation?

I think you could reasonably apply a deduction of this type to players who are platooned in general (since the platoon takes up an extra roster spot that could otherwise be used for other purposes); Phillips's (or Zobrist's) versatility gives you back that roster spot.

It may not be the biggest deal in an HoM context, though, because if you're being platooned in a significant way in your prime, you might not be an HoM candidate anyway. (Exceptions are possible, of course.)
   29. Chris Cobb Posted: January 14, 2020 at 08:10 PM (#5915808)
Good discussion here, as always!

Re the reasons to value "consecutive peak":

kcgard2 wrote: As an aside, I've seen a number of people refer to peak/prime in consecutive seasons. I have always wondered why we do/should care if top seasons are consecutive or not. It seems very arbitrary to me and I'd like to hear views on why this is deemed important, by those who think it is. It is, incidentally, something that would affect Tommy John pretty heavily, as well.

I use two measures of peak value--one that doesn't measure peak consecutively, and one that does. Consecutive peak isn't everything. But there are two reasons that I find it important to include a consecutive peak measure. One is that the ability to repeat a skill is both highly important and hugely difficult in baseball. Consecutive peak is a meaningful indicator of repeatability, so I am more confident that a player's achievements aren't heavily influenced by fluke circumstances if he has performed at a similar high level for several years running. (To put it in statistical terms, it establishes a higher mean performance for the player.) The other is that a player being able to reliably perform at a very high level has value for successful team building.

In a less value-based way, I think it's one of the characteristics that makes a great player a great player from the standpoint of watching the game: baseball fans develop high expectations for a player, and he goes out and meets or exceeds those expectations, several years running.

Overall, I weight peak, with a consecutive component, more highly than a pure "pennants added" approach would do, because I think it adds both value and merit beyond the wins we can account for directly from the player's actions.

Tommy John is not helped in my system by his best seasons being scattered around his career.

   30. Chris Cobb Posted: January 14, 2020 at 08:13 PM (#5915812)
Rob Wood,

How do your WVA, WVR, and WVSUM measures take account of pitchers' contributions as hitters?
   31. kcgard2 Posted: January 14, 2020 at 09:12 PM (#5915821)
Dr Chaleeko - I assume your response is to Kiko and not me.

Rob Wood - how much is WVPA influenced by team quality?
   32. cookiedabookie Posted: January 14, 2020 at 10:00 PM (#5915829)
So I use a combination of rWAR, fWAR, and gWAR, along with WAR per PA/IP, and how players rank in each to develop my rankings. I've already made some changes to my system based on discussion in these threads. So, as of right now, here is my top 25 for next year's ballot. I'm sure it's going to change multiple times :)

1. Andy Pettitte, SP, PHOM 2020
He's by far the best pitcher available in my system, ranking 43rd overall among pitchers. I'm not quite sure why others are so down on him to be honest.

2. Thurman Munson, C, PHOM 1985
He's my 14th ranked catcher, at a position where I believe we are light. Again, I'm not sure why he hasn't done better, but I'll do a more in-depth breakdown on him at some point.

3. Buddy Bell, 3B, PHOM 1995
I've been trying to reconcile the 1970s third base problem, and I will be putting more work into it this year. But as of right now, he's my 15th-ranked third baseman.

4. Joe Tinker, SS, PHOM 1925
Really confused why he hasn't been elected, so if any long-time HoM voters want to try to dissuade me on him, I'll listen. But my system loves him, my 16th ranked shortstop.

5. Kenny Lofton, CF, PHOM 2019
He seems to be a no-doubter next year, as a top returnee who barely missed an elect me spot this year. My 16th ranked center fielder, did everything well or better.

6. Bobby Bonds, RF, PHOM 1987
My top ranked right fielder, comes from an under-represented era, albeit an over-represented position.

7. Wally Schang, C, PHOM 1937
My second catcher, I've come around on him quite a bit. If he gets elected, he will help boost the number of catchers in the HoM. I still think Munson is significantly better.

8. Bob Johnson, LF, PHOM 1955
A long-time favorite, maybe he'll get there someday.

9. Tim Hudson, SP, PHOM 2021
My top ranked new candidate, second among eligible pitchers for me, 66th ranked pitcher all time for me. He broke the 3000 IP mark, which is significant for modern pitchers, and did it at a high-quality on a per inning basis. He makes it into my PHoM on the first ballot.

10. Willie Davis, CF, PHOM 1985
He's taken a big jump with my system tinkering. He's always been just outside my top 25, it seems.

11. Eddie Cicotte, SP, PHOM 1929
My next-highest ranked pitcher. Maybe it's time for him to be forgiven?

12. Jeff Kent, 2B, PHOM 2021
So, I've been softening on Kent. He's a decently strong candidate for second base, and is my 18th-ranked second baseman all-time.

13. Mark Buehrle, SP, PHOM 2021
My second newbie makes it on my ballot, and is a first-year inductee in my PHoM. He has an extra season worth of innings on Hudson, but at a lower quality per inning.

14. Dwight Gooden, SP, PHOM 2006
He's been hovering for a while, and I'm happy to give him a spot on my ballot, as I think we are missing out on too many 1980s/1990s arms right now.

15. Jorge Posada, C
And here's a third catcher on my ballot. He does quite well in my system, and is my 19th ranked catcher all-time. He will make my PHoM in the next few years.

16. Chuck Finley, SP, PHOM 2008
I really think he's underrated by most here. I was the only one who gave him a ballot spot in the past election. He seems to always be in a virtual tie with Appier in my system.

17. Kevin Appier, SP, PHOM 2012
Always liked him as a kid, and like Finley I think he's underrated. It's an issue with the 1980s/1990s pitchers.

18. Lance Berkman, LF
How can you not like Fat Elvis? Very good player, like a poor man's Larry Walker (average, power, defense, couldn't stay healthy). Will likely make my PHoM in the next 5 years.

19. Sal Bando, 3B, PHOM 1987
Given the 1970s third base issue, his spot in my top 25 may be the most tenuous in the next year. I also have Ron Cey, Robin Ventura, and Tommy Leach among third basemen in my top fifty for this election.

20. Sammy Sosa, RF, PHOM 2020
I could see an argument for him as high as tenth on my ballot. But he doesn't stand out among the most-elected position in the HoM in the way that those above him do among their positional cohorts.

21. Urban Shocker, SP, 1942
Like Bob Johnson, another long-time favorite of mine. Curious from long-time voters why his case never took off?

22. Vic Willis, SP, PHOM 1930
Same question as Shocker. I assume it was backlash after electing too many early pitchers, many of whom are not as good as Willis?

23. Norm Cash, 1B, PHOM 1980
In my most recent changes, he takes over as the top eligible first baseman for me. John Olerud is not far behind.

24. Art Fletcher, SS, PHOM 1928
Does well among eligible candidates, but he's only my 24th ranked shortstop of all time.

25. Gavvy Cravath, RF, 2025
Thanks to Dr. Chaleeko, I've made some adjustments to his stats that have pushed him up to my top 25. I've gone way more conservative than the doc, but if I went all the way with him, he'd be number one on my ballot. I will think about this for the next year before I make a final decision.

Required disclosures:

Johan Santana: 26th, just off my top 25. Great peak, and when I had more of a peak focus he was a ballot guy. But I'm not sure his peak is enough to make my HoM ballot, given the lack of total career and the guys I have ahead of him. But that could change. He looks like he will make my PHoM in the next few years.

Bobby Abreu: 45th on my ballot right now. 25th all time among right fielders doesn't help him stick out. But he will probably make my PHoM in the next 5 years.

My top unelected players by position

C - Munson, Schang, Posada
1B - Cash, Olerud, Tony Perez
2B - Kent, Johnny Evers, Tony Lazzeri
SS - Tinker, Fletcher, Dave Bancroft
3B - Bell, Bando, Cey
LF - Johnson, Berkman, Jose Cruz
CF - Lofton, Davis, Chet Lemon
RF - Bonds, Sosa, Harry Hooper
SP - Pettitte, Hudson, Cicotte, Buehrle, Gooden, Finley, Appier, Shocker, Willis, Santana, David Wells, Jack Quinn, Frank Tanana, Roy Oswalt, Tommy Bridges, Orel Hershiser, Jim Kaat
   33. DL from MN Posted: January 14, 2020 at 10:17 PM (#5915835)
3B - Bell, Bando, Cey


This sets off an alarm for me. The next 3 best third basemen in history all come from the same era and we've already elected Schmidt, Brett, Boggs, Molitor, Darrell Evans, Nettles from that era. I just find it really hard to believe the 9th best 3B from the 1970s and 80s is a better pick than Pie Traynor. It's this weird Lake Wobegon effect in the data from that timeframe.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: January 14, 2020 at 10:24 PM (#5915839)
1. Andy Pettitte, SP, PHOM 2020
He's by far the best pitcher available in my system, ranking 43rd overall among pitchers. I'm not quite sure why others are so down on him to be honest.

if being honest was a factor in HOM voting (it's not), that would eliminate Pettitte.
:)

he had 2 great seasons, but his 3rd-best ERA+ is 129 in a year where he didn't even make the AL top 10 in IP.

and he doesn't get fuzzy points here for a career 3.86 postseason ERA (which was more like 4.00 until AFTER he claimed his last ring. he was 'clutchier' when they lost in 2010 and 2012).
   35. Rob_Wood Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:12 AM (#5915854)
My Win Value stats attempt to estimate the additional win probability that a starting pitcher provided his team given the number of runs his team scored relative to a league average pitcher on a game-by-game basis. If a pitcher's team wins a game 2-1, say, the starting pitcher receives a significant amount of "credit" for holding the opponents to 1 run since his team would likely lose a game if they scored only 2 runs with average pitching.

It is more complicated than that since I utilize a probabilistic approach to how many runs his own team would score (based upon the number of runs it actually scores). I take into account park effects. And the method works no matter how many innings the starting pitcher pitches. For example, if he leaves a game with a 4-2 lead after 7 innings, I calculate the additional win probability of his performance relative to what an average pitcher would have done in 7 innings.

Accordingly, a pitcher's own hitting is implicitly baked into his win probability. Take the 2-1 game. If he himself hit a 2-run home run, that would be reflected in the two runs being scored. But there is no separate or explicit capturing of a pitcher's offensive contributions.

I am not sure how to answer the question about the quality of a pitcher's team. Generally speaking the win value methodology is silent on a team's defense. It only cares about the score at the end of the starting pitcher's outing. Jim Palmer, for example, has high Win Value stats due to his own great pitching but also to the great defenses behind him. The Win Value methodology does not attempt to disentangle those effects.

On the offensive side of the ledger, the quality of a team's offense is reflected in the number of runs it scores in the pitcher's games. The win probability metric takes as a "given" his offensive support and then calculates the difference in win probability from his own performance versus the performance of a league average pitcher given the offensive support received in that game. So I think this is handled properly. I guess it's possible there is some second-order effect of always pitching with great (or poor) offensive support that could skew the win probabilities one way or the other, but I would think this effect would be small.
   36. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:26 AM (#5915856)
Finally, as with most metrics, I think you need to give catchers some kind of boost - I've typically used 15% - 25% - to give them fair representation in any kind of Hall / ranking. Which, of course, doesn't affect Rodriguez's ranking relative to other catchers.


Why do you need to do that. This is analogous to the thinking that puts back-up pitchers as serious contenders for Hall of Fame and Hall of Merit consideration.

If catchers play less than players at other positions, then there should pretty clearly be fewer catchers represented than players at other positions. After all, WAR gives a very good indication of a players value in terms of winning games. We should not be artificially adjusting the values to make it seem more "fair". Having fewer catchers in the HOF is perfectly reasonable and would be the expectation, given that they need to be replaced on a much more frequent basis than players at other positions. To make an adjustment that make 120 games from a catcher equivalent to 150 games from a shortstop seems ludicrous to me. It's pretty clear that on average a catcher contributes about 20% less to a teams success than a starter at all other positions.

The same argument applies to back-up pitchers where most analysts ignore WAR or Win Shares and simply compare back-up pitchers to each other, and not to starting pitchers. Even Mariano Rivera was a borderline candidate when evaluated on an equal basis to other pitchers, although he does deserve a lot of credit for his post season performance.

This issue will soon be impacting our evaluation of starting pitchers also, as they continue to play a smaller and smaller role in their teams' success. The role of relief pitching is continually becoming more and more important, but the the role of individual relievers is nor really changing. At one time five starters and four relievers made up a teams' pitching staff, and now it has evolved to something like six starters and eight relievers. This has definitely reduced the value and importance of starting pitching and starting pitchers.
   37. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:47 AM (#5915859)
I want to echo what Jaack and Kiko have said about Tommy John. If you look at metrics other than bWAR, he appears to be an all-time pitcher. #21 all-time by fWAR for example. That's *seriously* up there in all time ranks. I also understand the stance of favoring peak over longevity, but John did have a peak, that depending on how you create a metric to measure it, may get diluted by the fact that John pitched *a ton of innings and seasons.* If a player is getting dinged simply for playing really long, that's not ideal. Longevity is a plus, not a minus, all else being equal.


Some telling comparisons:

ERA +

Santana 139
Tim Hudson 120
Mark Buehrle 117
Tommy John 111

WAR7

Vic Willis 49.8
Santana 45.0
Roy Oswalt 40.3
Tommy John 34.6
Jack Morris 32.5


   38. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:56 AM (#5915860)
1. Andy Pettitte, SP, PHOM 2020
He's by far the best pitcher available in my system, ranking 43rd overall among pitchers. I'm not quite sure why others are so down on him to be honest.

Pettite is ranked 91st by WAR and his peak is worse than Tommy John's.

WAR7

Vic Willis 49.8
Santana 45.0
Roy Oswalt 40.3
Tommy John 34.6
Pettitte 34.1
Jack Morris 32.5

Career ERA is 3.85, and ERA+ is 117. This is not HOF performance.
   39. Rob_Wood Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:21 AM (#5915862)
The catcher "boost" is largely a philosophical phenomenon. Many people/voters give catchers a boost since they play fewer games in a season and over the course of a career relative to other positions.

I have never nor will ever give a catcher "boost". I simply do not believe it is justified. If playing catcher is really tough on the human body, well so be it. That doesn't in and of itself make catcher more "valuable". Being hit by innumerable foul balls and getting down into a squat thousands of times over the course of a season is part and parcel of being a catcher. That those things, among other things, cause a catcher to be less "durable" (and degrades their offense) compared to other position players is patently obvious. But I cannot fathom how that makes being a catcher for 120 games a year for 10 years comparable to an outfielder, say, who plays 150 games a year for 15 years.

I think that the positional adjustment associated with the WAR framework is sufficient. Anything over and above that seems "phantom" to me.

   40. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:26 AM (#5915863)
Some telling comparisons:

ERA +

Santana 139
Tim Hudson 120
Mark Buehrle 117
Tommy John 111

WAR7

Vic Willis 49.8
Santana 45.0
Roy Oswalt 40.3
Tommy John 34.6
Jack Morris 32.5


ERA+ over the course of a career is inherantly biased agains John for pitching longer than everyone else on the list. Tommy John had an ERA+ of 119 through 1981, at which point he had pitched more than Buehrle or Hudson. Should we penalize him for pitching eight more years at an average rate? That's absurd.

The WAR7 you are using is, I assume BBRef WAR, which is the metric John does the worst in. Here are those five by FIP-WAR7

Oswalt - 38.4
Santana - 37.2
John - 33.8
Willis - 31.9
Morris - 31.1

Oswalt and Santana still lead, but not substantially. Of course, WAR7 is a blunt and arbitray tool to define peak. Dwight Gooden had one of the highest peaks in baseball history, and his bbref-WAR7 is 36.0. That's only 0.2 per season better than Tommy John! Who supposedly didn't have a peak!
   41. bbmck Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:38 AM (#5915898)
For comparison:

FIP-WAR8 for Johan Santana: 1670.2 IP, 40.7 WAR, 208.2 IP and 5.1 WAR per season
FIP-WAR7 for Tommy John: 1695.2 IP, 33.8 WAR, 242.1 IP and 4.8 WAR per season
FIP-WAR5 for Wilbur Wood: 1681.2 IP, 29.9 WAR, 336.1 IP and 6 WAR per season
   42. Carl Goetz Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:55 AM (#5915906)
"If catchers play less than players at other positions, then there should pretty clearly be fewer catchers represented than players at other positions. After all, WAR gives a very good indication of a players value in terms of winning games."
Except that WAR (And all the others really) do a far worse job at capturing catcher defense than all of the other positions. It is extremely likely in my view that Pitchers are getting at least some credit for things Catchers are doing (Framing, Game Calling, Blocking balls in the dirt, etc.). Some adjustment needs to be made for that.

Also, Catcher is a required position on the field; back-up Pitcher is not. Keep in mind that we are not looking at average players here; we're looking at the cream of the crop. Having a great catcher catcher playing 120 games (and for the great ones in their prime, its more like 130-140) instead of a replacement catcher may well be as valuable as your SS playing 150.

As for your starting pitcher example, I agree completely. But this doesn't make the Hall of Merit caliber pitcher less valuable. If you've got a guy like Scherzer, Verlander, Greinke, Cole, etc. who still are studs deep into a game, they are even more valuable than ever due to saving their bullpens for another day. This doesn't show up in WAR or any other uber stat of which I'm aware. WAR is great (The stat; actual war is still hell) but it doesn't cover everything.
   43. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:03 AM (#5915914)
I guess I am a relative EoTJ.

I have Tommy John around 40th of current eligible, not-PHoM players. bWAR is not the only metric that doesn't like him. gWAR likes him even less, only giving him a total of 55.7 WAR. Now I incorporate both of those, as well as some FIP and Kiko's pWins to arrive at my mWAR numbers. The latter two metrics help him in my system. And he is also boosted by the fact that other than his last 3 years, all but 5 seasons in his career, he played in lower than average standard deviation leagues for pitchers.

Despite all this, he only ends up with a career salary estimation of $93,582,235 where $100M (a 100 PEACE+ score, counting postseason bonuses, if applicable) is what I would consider as the bottom of my ideal PHoM. His peak, especially when considered versus other HoM candidates is non-existent. He has ten seasons above 3 mWAR, only seven above 4 mWAR, and most-damning in my system, only two above 5 mWAR (5.4 in 1970 and 6.0 in 1979).

Longevity is admirable, but it doesn't make you a great player - it makes you a durable player. For me, Tommy John just wasn't great enough for long enough to be a HoMer in my eyes.
   44. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5915920)
If catchers play less than players at other positions


This is absurd. Catchers are obviously MORE involved in what happens during a game than any other position besides the pitcher. Left fielders mostly just stand around watching. If you think 150 games of standing around watching is more valuable than 120 games being involved with each and every pitch, well then I think you've never actually tried to play catcher.
   45. bbmck Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:43 AM (#5915944)
8th inning for the most effective Starters since 1998 to get Halladay's entire career:

Roy Halladay: 139 IP, 147 Starts, 8 relief app, 3.24 ERA, 1.079 WHIP, .672 OPS, 6.8 K9, 5.25 SO/W
CC Sabathia: 118 IP, 139 Starts, 0 relief app, 2.82 ERA, 1.144 WHIP, .634 OPS, 6.9 K9, 2.6 SO/W
Mark Buehrle: 113.1 IP, 133 Starts, 6 relief app, 2.54 ERA, 1.032 WHIP, .609 OPS, 4.7 K9, 3.28 SO/W
Tim Hudson: 111 IP, 135 Starts, 2 relief app, 3.00 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, .644 OPS, 5.9 K9, 2.7 SO/W

Chris Sale: 100.1 IP, 77 Starts, 52 relief app, 2.06 ERA, 0.967 WHIP, .576 OPS, 10.5 K9, 5.57 SO/W
Cole Hamels: 83.2 IP, 99 Starts, 0 relief app, 2.58 ERA, 1.028 WHIP, .674 OPS, 6.9 K9, 3.76 SO/W
Clayton Kershaw: 83.2 IP, 96 Starts, 1 relief app, 2.37 ERA, 0.789 WHIP, .479 OPS, 9.8 K9, 7 SO/W
John Lackey: 74.2 IP, 87 Starts, 0 relief app, 1.81 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, .634 OPS, 5.3 K9, 4.4 SO/W

Livan Hernandez 5.09 ERA, Andy Pettitte 4.93, Justin Verlander 4.66, Bartolo Colon 4.53, Curt Schilling 4.49, Felix Hernandez 3.76, Javier Vazquez 3.74, Cliff Lee 3.72, Chris Carpenter 3.71 for their entire career in the 8th inning.

Going back to 1977, Jack Morris does lead in volume in the 8th inning among starters (Charlie Hough 21 more IP and 109 more relief app) but with a 4.47 ERA. Nolan Ryan 343.1 IP and 2.67 ERA and Bert Blyleven 340 and 3.63 are the most recent retirements with 300+ IP in the 8th as a starter.
   46. bachslunch Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:32 AM (#5915972)
Agreed with DL in post 44. Catcher is indeed a position (as opposed to, say, relief pitcher).
   47. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:35 PM (#5916007)
Re: 31

Yes, I meant Kiko. Thanks for the redirect.
   48. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:44 PM (#5916014)
Yes, I meant Kiko. Thanks for the redirect.


I knew you were talking to me. And thanks for the response.
   49. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:51 PM (#5916020)
Kiko, if you haven't turned 40 yet, don't do it. Stay at 39. This is what middle age does to brains.
   50. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5916048)
Kiko, if you haven't turned 40 yet, don't do it. Stay at 39. This is what middle age does to brains.


That advice is more than a decade too late. I'm 51.
   51. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:40 PM (#5916068)
But you post like a man half your age. ;)
   52. Mike Webber Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5916126)
@8
If you count Tony Lazzeri as a 2B, he slides just ahead of Marvin Williams. Lazzeri feels impossible to pick a position for me, though.


I think I'm missing something here,

In MLB Lazzeri played 1456 games at 2b, 166 at 3b, 87 at SS, 2 in LF, 1 at 1b. He played about 300 games in the minors at short, and another 100 at 2b.

Did KC mean Phillips and typed Lazzeri?
   53. Al Peterson Posted: January 15, 2020 at 03:08 PM (#5916167)
We're 6 days out from the 2020 HOF announcements and the 2021 HOM discussion is hot and heavy. Well done gents!

As I saw from 2020 balloting I'm Phil Rizzuto's best friend. When I look at how I got there it appears I'm working with WWII credit for 3 years which is done by others. My added piece appears to be his 1940 minor league season when he was Minor League Player of Year. Was his 2nd excellent season playing in the American Association so wanted to add that to his career picture. Not sure if I should back off that, he did perform at a high level - compared to the year Frank Crosetti put up with the Yanks Phil likely should have gotten the call.

Late 1930s is about when the minors transitioned from independent to MLB farm teams so I grapple with minor league credit after that more than before the switch. Anyways Rizzuto will get a fresh look from me, especially in a likely backlog year.

   54. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:33 PM (#5916256)
Catchers are obviously MORE involved in what happens during a game than any other position besides the pitcher. Left fielders mostly just stand around watching. If you think 150 games of standing around watching is more valuable than 120 games being involved with each and every pitch, well then I think you've never actually tried to play catcher.

Seems to me that we are trying to measure a player's value, not his effort/energy expended. Catching is hard and thankless, but does not contribute more to a team's success of a per game basis than any other position. Therefore catchers have less value because they play less games. I'm not really sure that there can be any reasonable debate on this issue. To arbitrarily increase his WAR, Win Shares, Runs Created, or whatever (as an adjustment) is simply creating a distortion of the value of players who play various positions.

It's pretty clear that starting catchers don't contribute as much value to their team as starters at other positions. This is due to reduced playing time by catchers. Our job is to objectively measure the value of the players we are evaluating.....and making arbitrary adjustments because we feel the need to increase the relative contributions of catcher defeats the whole point of having these tools in the first place. They were designed so that can accurately compare the various contributions of players at various positions, not so that we can modify the results to something that makes us feel a little better about the results.

When was the last time that a catcher was the highest paid player in the game ? When was the last time one was even close, top 10 ? It's because the top catchers simply don't have the value of the top players at other positions. This is not a knock against the people who play the position, just a recognition of what the people who make decisions in baseball already know.
   55. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:39 PM (#5916258)
Catchers are obviously MORE involved in what happens during a game than any other position besides the pitcher. Left fielders mostly just stand around watching. If you think 150 games of standing around watching is more valuable than 120 games being involved with each and every pitch, well then I think you've never actually tried to play catcher.

If this were true then some version of WAR would make an attempt to measure and reflect this "imaginary" value. This hasn't happened because there is no such value, only more effort expended, which has never been questioned.

In addition you would think that some catchers would be among the top paid three or four players in baseball, but they never are.
   56. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:42 PM (#5916259)
The catcher "boost" is largely a philosophical phenomenon. Many people/voters give catchers a boost since they play fewer games in a season and over the course of a career relative to other positions.

I have never nor will ever give a catcher "boost". I simply do not believe it is justified. If playing catcher is really tough on the human body, well so be it. That doesn't in and of itself make catcher more "valuable". Being hit by innumerable foul balls and getting down into a squat thousands of times over the course of a season is part and parcel of being a catcher. That those things, among other things, cause a catcher to be less "durable" (and degrades their offense) compared to other position players is patently obvious. But I cannot fathom how that makes being a catcher for 120 games a year for 10 years comparable to an outfielder, say, who plays 150 games a year for 15 years.

I think that the positional adjustment associated with the WAR framework is sufficient. Anything over and above that seems "phantom" to me.


Well said Rob. This reality seems to be lost on a lot of people who think catchers are under represented, and is analogous to the fallacy the back-up pitchers have tremendous value over and above their measured value. The WAR & JAWS standards for catchers already in the HOM are already lower than all other positions, so there is a good argument that catchers are currently over represented in the HOM compared to their true value.
   57. RJ in TO Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:44 PM (#5916261)
kwarren, how many catchers would you say belong in the Hall of Merit, and how does that compare to other positions?
   58. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:51 PM (#5916263)
When was the last time that a catcher was the highest paid player in the game ? When was the last time one was even close, top 10 ?

Per B-R, Joe Mauer tied for the fourth-highest salary in baseball in 2013, second-highest among position players. (He was also top 10 in 2014 but was no longer a catcher.) Within my baseball fan lifetime, Piazza has also spent time in the top 10.

Also, if you're using salary as a proxy for value, it's worth pointing out that two of the three players ahead of Mauer in 2013 were A-Rod (44 games played) and Johan Santana (0 games played).

Extra question: Has anyone ever actually looked at the performance of genuinely replacement-level catchers? It's such a specialized position that it seems like it would be possible for it to have a different baseline than the standard-issue one used for all other positions.
   59. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:56 PM (#5916265)
2014 data

This season (2014), the ten highest-paid starting pitchers have an average salary of $22.2 million, led by Zack Greinke of the Dodgers who will be paid $26.0 million this season (including $2 million of his original signing bonus). First base is the only other position where the top ten players average more than $15.0 million.

Meanwhile, relief pitchers (non-closers) are the cheapest position with an average of just $6.9 million among the top ten. Here are the minimum, maximum, and average salary for the ten highest-paid at each position.

MLB Highest Paid
BusinessInsider.com
More: MLB Sports Chart of the Day Chart Of The Day $ Millions

Starting pitchers - 22.2

1st Base - 20.5

Right Field - 15.0

Centre Field - 13.5

Left Field - 12.7

2nd Base - 12.5

Shortstop - 12.5

3rd Base - 11.7

Catchers - 9.4

Closer - 8.3

DH - 7.8

Relief pitchers - 6.9

   60. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 06:57 PM (#5916266)
If this were true then some version of WAR would make an attempt to measure and reflect this "imaginary" value. This hasn't happened because there is no such value, only more effort expended, which has never been questioned.

In addition you would think that some catchers would be among the top paid three or four players in baseball, but they never are.


This is factually incorrect. Both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus include catcher framing in their versons of WAR for the years we have it. For example, Buster Posey, for whom we have framing data for his entire career, is worth 52.7 WAR by fangraphs. BBRef, which doesn't include framing data, has him at 42.1. Yadier Molina gains 14 WAR from it. And this doesn't incorporate game calling, which no one has developed a method to quantify, but almost certainly has some value.

Catchers don't get paid as much as other position players because the highest paid players are ones who reach free agency. Since catchers don't have as long careers, teams are going to be more hesitant to give them long term contracts after they've played six seasons. But Mauer and Posey have both been give very large contracts as extensions.
   61. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:02 PM (#5916268)
If this were true then some version of WAR would make an attempt to measure and reflect this "imaginary" value.

Huh? The people who actually develop and work on WAR will be the first to tell you that it is not infallible and does not necessarily capture everything. bWAR has gone through 5 different versions since it was released.

Does any version of WAR include, say, first basemen catching errant throws from the other infielders? (If so, great, but I can come up with another example easily enough.) If they don't, does that mean that there is definitely no value provided by doing this? Or is it just something that we haven't figured out how to measure yet?
   62. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:16 PM (#5916274)
kwarren, how many catchers would you say belong in the Hall of Merit, and how does that compare to other positions?

The top eight catchers in terms of JAWS would be in my personal Hall of Merit - Bench, Carter, Rodriguez, Fisk, Piazza, Berra, Dickey, & Mauer. I would also include Campanella who had much shorter career but had a WAR per game rate between Bench & Carter. Additionally Campanella has a OPS of 123 which is better than all of Carter, Rodriguez, & Fisk.

This is the lowest number of players of any position, as would be expected. The next lowest would likely be 3rd base where there are 12 players who I think belong in the HOM.
   63. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:20 PM (#5916276)
Since catchers don't have as long careers, teams are going to be more hesitant to give them long term contracts after they've played six seasons.

This is precisely my point. Their careers are not as long, therefore their total value is less, therefore they make less money, therefore they should not get an upward adjustment to make their Hall of Merit case look better.
   64. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:28 PM (#5916279)
This is precisely my point. Their careers are not as long, therefore their total value is less, therefore they make less money, therefor they should not get an upward adjustment to make their Hall of Merit case look better.


You completely ignored the main point, which is that catchers are producing a ton of value in their short careers. It's just that that value is more heavily focused in the years prior to free agency, so they don't get the opportunity to get paid those same salaries.
   65. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5916281)
The top eight catchers in terms of JAWS would be in my personal Hall of Merit - Bench, Carter, Rodriguez, Fisk, Piazza, Berra, Dickey, & Mauer. I would also include Campanella who had much shorter career but had a WAR per game rate between Bench & Carter. Additionally Campanella has a OPS of 123 which is better than all of Carter, Rodriguez, & Fisk.

No Josh Gibson?
   66. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:36 PM (#5916282)
Both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus include catcher framing in their versons of WAR for the years we have it. For example, Buster Posey, for whom we have framing data for his entire career, is worth 52.7 WAR by fangraphs. BBRef, which doesn't include framing data, has him at 42.1. Yadier Molina gains 14 WAR from it.


What is the reason the BBRef does not include "pitch framing" ? Maybe RALLY can/will address this issue. I did not know that this was the case. I can agree this it's worth adjusting the WAR & JAWS values because pitch framing is excluded, but not because catchers play fewer games, which was the original premise for adjusting catchers' value that I was responding too.
   67. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:46 PM (#5916286)
But Mauer and Posey have both been give very large contracts as extensions.

Even these "large contracts" look small when compared to contracts given out to other positions - Bryce Harper, Cole, Kershaw, Stanton, Arenado, Machado, Trout, Scherzer, Cabrera, Cespedes, Pujols, Verlander, Greinke, Price, Lindor, Cano, Votto, Betts, Sale, Strasburg, etc
   68. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:47 PM (#5916287)
No Josh Gibson?

Yes, definitely !!
   69. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:50 PM (#5916288)
You completely ignored the main point, which is that catchers are producing a ton of value in their short careers

I don't think catchers produce any more value than players at other positions in their early years. In fact it is the opposite; they produce less value because they play fewer games.
   70. Chris Cobb Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:50 PM (#5916289)
Seems to me that we are trying to measure a player's value, not his effort/energy expended.

Looking at the name of our site, I would venture to say that we are trying to measure a player's merit, which is not the same thing as a player's value, although we tend to treat value as the chief component of merit. It's a defensible position to say that merit should equal value, but that's not the only position allowed for by the mission of the institution, and the electorate holds a range of views on the matter.

For myself, it seems to me that no single measure of value is satisfactory for assessing merit when we set out to account for all the variation in conditions and opportunities that the history of American professional baseball encompasses. Catchers' reduced opportunities to accrue value in comparison to other fielding positions because of physical wear and tear is one of the many variations we have to consider. Inflexible approaches to merit would create a Hall of Merit that is much less responsive to the game's variety and the many paths to achievement that players have taken across the game's history.

   71. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:55 PM (#5916292)
Just looking at the range of defensive contribution for catchers compared to left fielders, I would estimate that WAR is only accounting for at most half of the defensive contribution of catchers. The variance of catcher defense should be much higher than it is for left fielders simply because the number of chances for a catcher to make a defensive mistake are an order of magnitude higher than for left fielders. Instead the variance for catchers is much smaller than it is for left fielders which doesn't make any sense at all.
   72. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 07:59 PM (#5916293)
Response to #70

I agree with your thoughts, and I am not arguing against people using their personal values to make evaluations of merit. But I have hard time accepting the methodology of adjusting WAR, JAWS, etc by some arbitrary percentage as an appropriate way of determining "merit". If one wants to add a personal subjective narrative for their thinking I would be interested in reading that.

Even the argument that pitch framing is not included in BBRef WAR is valid and interesting.

Finally, as with most metrics, I think you need to give catchers some kind of boost - I've typically used 15% - 25% - to give them fair representation in any kind of Hall / ranking. Which, of course, doesn't affect Rodriguez's ranking relative to other catchers.

This is the post from #17 that I was attempting to get an understanding of. It was based on catchers having less playing time than other positions, which means that they should be expected to have less value, if not "merit".

A lot of teams will move good hitters out of catching simply to avoid this loss of playing time and a degradation of their hitting skills which often goes along with the catching position.
   73. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 08:13 PM (#5916295)
Just looking at the range of defensive contribution for catchers compared to left fielders, I would estimate that WAR is only accounting for at most half of the defensive contribution of catchers. The variance of catcher defense should be much higher than it is for left fielders simply because the number of chances for a catcher to make a defensive mistake are an order of magnitude higher than for left fielders. Instead the variance for catchers is much smaller than it is for left fielders which doesn't make any sense at all.


For the top 20 players at each position this is not true.

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +1.0 to -21.7 a range of 22.7

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +29.6 to +0.7 a range of 28.9

The variance for catcher def WAR is 27.3% greater than it is for left fielders.

However, the assertion that the def WAR is not properly crediting catchers' defense is probably true. In fact it was pointed out in #60 that pitch framing is not factored into BBRef WAR but is included in Fangraphs & BP.
   74. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 08:47 PM (#5916302)
I don't think catchers produce any more value than players at other positions in their early years. In fact it is the opposite; they produce less value because they play fewer games.


But they are playing more time in those games. Starting pitchers play much fewer games than catchers, but since they play more in those games, we give them more credit. A catcher has significantly more defensive opportunities than all other positions, perhaps all other positions combined.

This is why I give a significant boost to catcher who played before that data (which is basically every eligible catcher so far). We will almost certainly never get the data for older catchers, but the evidence shows that the best catchers tend to be the best framers. The top five catchers of the framing era without framing are Mauer, Posey, Molina, McCann, and Martin. Mauer was the only one of those who wasn't an brilliant pitch framer, and he was fine. I'm not going to ignore that very real value for past players, so my solution is three part - I give a boost to catchers' defensive number, to their replacement level numbers, and to their positional numbers. The first is based on the assumption that good defensive catchers are more likely to be good at the things we don't have data about. The second is because framing seems to have a learning curve, so the more a catcher catches, the better they are likely to get at it. The third is because i think the positional numbers are generally a bit low.

----

Here is fangraphs catcher fielding data from before the inclusion of framing.

There are only 5 catchers above 100 fielding runs over the course of their career. In fact, if you exclude Surfhoff, who produced most of his defense (not positional) value in the outfield, there are only 5 over 75 runs.

For the same period for shortstops, there are 25 players above 100 runs. This isn't just playing time.

The top five defensive catchers (1871-2007) by PA:
Ivan Rodriguez - 8835 (10270 for his whole career)
Charlie Bennett - 4310
Jim Sundberg - 6898
Gary Carter - 9019
Bob Boone - 8148

And the top 5 shortstops
Mark Belanger - 6602
Ozzie Smith - 10778
Cal Ripken - 12883
Joe Tinker - 7145
Germany Smith - 6995

Smith and Ripken played a ton, but the other three shortstops all had catcher-length careers. It's not just a playing time thing. It's a systematic failing of pre-2008 catcher defense.
   75. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2020 at 08:47 PM (#5916303)
Thanks for the great conversation on catcher merit. I feel like I should say something since it was my comment (#17) that started it. I really like the way Chris Cobb put it in #70 - merit v. value. I also think we’re missing much of what catchers do - even beyond pitch framing - and/or mis-crediting it to pitchers.

I think kwarren has raised a fair point in #72 that simply multiplying WAR (or whatever) by a number greater than one isn’t the right way to account for this. I’ve struggled with this. My top two catchers highlight the issue to me.

Jorge Posada was, by all accounts, a bad defensive catcher, including a bad pitch-framer. Does he then deserve a negative adjustment or was there still value in him catching, just not as much value as, say, Yadier Molina?

My other top catcher is Wally Schang, whose prime was 100 years ago. How could we possibly judge how good he was at aspects of catching that we’re still having trouble judging in real time today? Should we just assume all catchers prior to 1988 or so were average framers and pitch-callers? Does that mean they all get the same positive bump or that they all get no bump?

All good food for thought.
   76. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:05 PM (#5916306)
The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +1.0 to -21.7 a range of 22.7

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +29.6 to +0.7 a range of 28.9

The variance for catcher def WAR is 27.3% greater than it is for left fielders.


Variance isn't just (largest value minus smallest value); that's range. This is variance. (Short version: It is standard deviation squared.)
   77. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:30 PM (#5916308)
The fact remains that catching is the lowest paid position, other than relief pitcher, and by a fairly large margin. See Post #59. This issue needs to be addressed before we start giving extra credit for things that we can't or don't measure.

Do the baseball executives not know what they are doing, and the primates here know more. It's possible I guess. But if baseball under values catchers in general, then there is a big opportunity for the knowledgeable executives to capitalize by snapping up the best catchers at the going rates.

Billy Bean hasn't done this. Andrew Friedman didn't do this. Pat Gillick didn't do this for any of the teams that he built. Branch Rickey signed Roy Campanella, so maybe he knew. I remain unconvinced that catchers have a value to their teams success commensurate with the other positions, simply because they play less, and tend to have their hitting degrade because of the of the physical demands of the position. Unfortunate as it is, this diminishes their actual contribution to winning, if not their "merit".

If Posey and Mauer were as good as the best players at other positions then Minnesota and San Francisco got great deals for the contracts they signed them too. Unfortunately I don't think that either of these things are true. They were not as valuable as the best players at other positions, and the deals they were signed to were not bargains at all. Clearly they were the best catchers, but were nowhere near the level of the best players at other positions.

I agree that there is ample evidence that catcher defense contributions are under valued by our current measuring sticks and again we have to be able to discern what the extra value is for each individual catcher. If all catchers have these skills, then it is not worth anything in terms of defeating the opposing. It's like giving a 1st baseman credit for being good at catching throws from the SS and 3rd baseman. Or giving a 3rd baseman credit for catching foul pop-ups. Everybody else is good at is too, so it has no real value.

Pitch framing seems to a big one now, but it's going to be going the way of the dodo bird soon, just like pitchers' hitting skills in the AL.
   78. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:38 PM (#5916311)
Variance isn't just (largest value minus smallest value); that's range. This is variance. (Short version: It is standard deviation squared.)

If you look at the actual values you can see quite clearly that the standard deviation is higher for catchers. If you don't see that, you could do the calculation or plug the values into a regression analysis.

The contention that the variance is much less for catchers than left fielders is not correct. That is all I was trying to point out. Guess I shouldn't of used any numbers.
   79. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:48 PM (#5916318)
I agree with Chris Cobb’s post #70. I do adjust catchers, and the reason I do is really simple: Fairness to all positions. That’s baked into our constitution, and FOR ME, I have a lot of trouble being fair in my cross-positional analysis without some kind of catcher bonus.

That said, I did background work to determine each season’s adjustment rate for Catchers, so it’s not just a guess or intuition. I use a rolling multiyear average of a comparison between catcher playing time and all other positions to determine the amount of the bonus. It is typically 15% in modern times and ranges upward the further back you go. This boost still doesn’t bring catchers up to even with other positions, and I have designed my sifting/initial ranking tool to be position-sensitive as well.

So for me it’s really about being able to see, literally see as I look at my figures, a more helpful comparison of what catchers look like in the context of all other players.

As for what we don’t know about catchers, framing is available to us and do is handling/game calling for a few decades via Max Marchi at BP. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/16199/the-stats-go-marching-in-the-hidden-helpers-of-the-pitching-staff/

I don’t take Marchi’s numbers or framing numbers at full strength. But including them has changed my view of a number of players. Especially Tony Pena.
   80. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:53 PM (#5916320)
The fact remains that catching is the lowest paid position, other than relief pitcher, and by a fairly large margin. See Post #59. This issue needs to be addressed before we start giving extra credit for things that we can't or don't measure.


Mauer and Posey both had huge deals for their circumstances. Posey got $160 million guaranteed starting in his first arbitration year in 2013. That was huge at the time. Mauer got 8/184 in 2011. Albert Pujols got 10/240 the next year, which is $1 million more AAV than Mauer's deal and he was the consensus best player in baseball at that point.

These were top 10 contracts in baseball when they were signed. Mauer's was top 5. Teams do give elite catchers big deals. There just hasn't been an elite catcher hitting free agency in his prime since... Carlton Fisk? The data just doesn't support your assertions.
   81. Rob_Wood Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:00 PM (#5916321)
Let's not read too much into any perceived difference between "Merit" and "Value".

When the project first started, Robert Dudek coined the term Hall of Merit and it stuck. But Robert and Joe Dimino (essentially our co-founders) both used the word "value" in describing what they were attempting to capture. I helped Joe and Robert draft the HOM Constitution and I believe we used "value" there too.

We are trying to honor/identify the best players of each era where on-field contributions towards helping your team win games (and championships) is the focus.
   82. Rob_Wood Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5916325)
I agree with Chris Cobb’s post #70. I do adjust catchers, and the reason I do is really simple: Fairness to all positions. That’s baked into our constitution, and FOR ME, I have a lot of trouble being fair in my cross-positional analysis without some kind of catcher bonus.


This is simply untrue. I wrote the HOM Constitution and I promise you there is nothing in there about "fairness to all positions".

First, to be perfectly blunt, I don't believe that precept and would never have written that into the Constitution. We discussed this idea in the preliminary discussions of the project but it was not adopted. Some of us did not agree with the idea and others thought that it would essentially boil down to selecting the top N at each position which was not an attractive idea. Second, I would not have spent more than 17 years on this project if I thought that was a requirement.

Fairness to all eras is a HOM precept and requirement. Fairness to all positions is not.
   83. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5916326)
I agree with Chris Cobb’s post #70. I do adjust catchers, and the reason I do is really simple: Fairness to all positions. That’s baked into our constitution, and FOR ME, I have a lot of trouble being fair in my cross-positional analysis without some kind of catcher bonus.


Seems to me that this in unfair to the players at other positions. You are rewarding catchers for PA that they never had, and innings they never caught, basically by saying that if they weren't a catcher they would have been able to play more often or for more years or both. And then you top it off by giving them the defensive WAR for their defensive contributions but evaluating their offense as though they weren't really a catcher. Classic case of having your cake and eating it too.
   84. kcgard2 Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:45 PM (#5916329)
The contention that the variance is much less for catchers than left fielders is not correct. That is all I was trying to point out. Guess I shouldn't of used any numbers.


The problem is this: if catchers and LF have about the same distribution of defensive values according to WAR, then DL is arguing that something is broken here, because catchers have an order of magnitude more defensive chances than LF do. Therefore the sprea dof defensive values should reflect that as well. In the current iteration of bWAR it does not, thus the claim that their variance is too small, and the implicit argument that there is a good deal of defensive value (or un-value in the case of a Posada maybe) that is not being captured appropriately. Adjusted for chances, the variation IS much less for catchers. If left fielders had 1800 defensive chances in a season, do you think the range of their defensive values would still be +1 to -22?
   85. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:49 PM (#5916331)
Teams do give elite catchers big deals. There just hasn't been an elite catcher hitting free agency in his prime since... Carlton Fisk? The data just doesn't support your assertions.


Here's the data. It supports my assertions just fine. Thank-you.

MLB Highest Paid - Top 10 by Position
BusinessInsider.com
More: MLB Sports Chart of the Day Chart Of The Day - $ Millions

Starting pitchers - 22.2

1st Base - 20.5

Right Field - 15.0

Centre Field - 13.5

Left Field - 12.7

2nd Base - 12.5

Shortstop - 12.5

3rd Base - 11.7

Catchers - 9.4

Closer - 8.3

DH - 7.8

Relief pitchers - 6.9


Catchers are the lowest paid position, other then DH & relief pitchers.
   86. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:58 PM (#5916334)
Adjusted for chances, the variation IS much less for catchers. If left fielders had 1800 defensive chances in a season, do you think the range of their defensive values would still be +1 to -22?
Why is everybody so determined to "adjust" every stat and every calculation, when it comes to catchers and relief pitchers. It seems to be the modern trend, if you don't like what the data is telling you, then by all means change the data.

We need to give them extra playing time, extra seasons, and extra defensive credit to make them credible candidates. Yet they are lowest paid players in baseball, next to relief pitchers. Why don't we just accept the fact that the people who are signing their pay cheques might just have a clue of their value, and maybe their true value is what the numbers say it is. There is consistency between what they are paid and what statistical analysis says that their value is. I could see that if they were getting paid like other positions maybe the numbers may be missing something, but there is no indication of that.

Of course it makes it more fun to do a ballot, when we can consider relief pitchers and catchers who have no business being anywhere near the HOM, and come up with our subjective narratives and adjustments to prove our case.
   87. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:59 PM (#5916335)
Dude. I don't know if you are purposely being condecending and dismissive, but remember - this is a collaborative project. We're trying to better our knowledge of baseball history through discussion. Everyone is here because we share an interest in baseball history.

---

That being said, you said
If Posey and Mauer were as good as the best players at other positions then Minnesota and San Francisco got great deals for the contracts they signed them too. Unfortunately I don't think that either of these things are true. They were not as valuable as the best players at other positions, and the deals they were signed to were not bargains at all. Clearly they were the best catchers, but were nowhere near the level of the best players at other positions.


Mauer and Posey were paid like top 5 players in baseball. Elite catchers get paid just like elite players at other positions.
   88. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:06 PM (#5916337)
Catchers are the lowest paid position, other then DH & relief pitchers.


I looked at salary vs. my Player won-lost records in an article here. The salary data are from the Lahman database - which only has salary data from 1985 - 2014 last I looked. And my Player won-lost records may be a year or two out of date in this article, too. But if you only look at 7+ year vets and compare wins over replacement vs. salary over minimum, I found that veteran catchers earned 4.8% of pWORL and 4.8% of salary above minimum - both of which were actually lower than the numbers for DH's, despite there only being half as many DH's and DH's having no defensive value (I assume this is because DH's skew old/veteran and catchers skew younger/less-likely-to-have-reached-free-agency - but, of course, that's part of the point). Second basemen, on the other hand, appear to have been badly underpaid over this time period.

Anyway, in terms of salary, I think that kwarren is largely correct - catchers are underpaid relative to other positions to an extent consistent with their playing fewer games.
   89. Jaack Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:15 PM (#5916340)
Oh, I don't disagree that catchers as a whole are underpaid. But the HoM type catchers don't seem to be. Mauer's contract was one of the biggest in baseball at the time, and Posey's was quite large for a player entering their first year of arbitration.

Front offices do seem to value HoM level catchers similarly to HoM level players at other positions. I don't think the lack of a mega contract for a catcher in 7 years is because front offices don't value catchers, it's because there haven't been any highly valuable catchers hitting the market.
   90. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:21 PM (#5916344)
The problem is this: if catchers and LF have about the same distribution of defensive values according to WAR, then DL is arguing that something is broken here, because catchers have an order of magnitude more defensive chances than LF do. Therefore the spread of defensive values should reflect that as well. In the current iteration of bWAR it does not, thus the claim that their variance is too small, and the implicit argument that there is a good deal of defensive value (or un-value in the case of a Posada maybe) that is not being captured appropriately. Adjusted for chances, the variation IS much less for catchers. If left fielders had 1800 defensive chances in a season, do you think the range of their defensive values would still be +1 to -22?

To start with the two positions don't have the same distribution of defensive values so the base assumption is false. But DL's original assertion was that "the variance for catchers is much smaller than it is for left fielders which doesn't make any sense at all". It's actually the other way around.

For the top 20 players at each position:

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +1.0 to -21.7 a range of 22.7

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +29.6 to +0.7 a range of 28.9

The variance for catcher def WAR is 27.3% greater than it is for left fielders.


And even it were true, we could make the exact same argument that 1st baseman should have a much wider defensive variation than shortstops because they have so many more defensive chances to handle.

There are lots of reasons to think that catcher defense may not be captured properly in BBRef WAR, but this is not one of them.
   91. RJ in TO Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:27 PM (#5916345)
For the top 20 players at each position this is not true.

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +1.0 to -21.7 a range of 22.7

The Def WAR variation among the top 20 LF is +29.6 to +0.7 a range of 28.9

The variance for catcher def WAR is 27.3% greater than it is for left fielders.

The next time you post this, could you update it so one of the lines on the Def WAR variation actually mentions catchers? Right now, they're both mentioning LF.
   92. kwarren Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:42 PM (#5916347)
Anyway, in terms of salary, I think that kwarren is largely correct - catchers are underpaid relative to other positions to an extent consistent with their playing fewer games.

I'm not saying that they are underpaid. I'm saying that they are being paid commensurate with their value.


Front offices do seem to value HoM level catchers similarly to HoM level players at other positions. I don't think the lack of a mega contract for a catcher in 7 years is because front offices don't value catchers, it's because there haven't been any highly valuable catchers hitting the market.


Yes, but it's been true throughout baseball history that there are very few "highly valuable catchers", because they don't play enough to be "highly valuable".

HOM Worthy Catcher Timeline:

Gabby Hartnett 1922-1941

Bill Dickey 1928-1946

Josh Gibson 1932-1946

Yogi Berra 1946-1965

Roy Campanella 1948-1957

Johnny Bench 1967-1983

Carlton Fisk 1969-1993

Gary Carter 1974-1992

Pudge Rodriguez 1991-2011

Joe Mauer 2004-2018

I'm pretty sure that there has never been a time when a catcher was the highest paid player in baseball, or even the highest paid position player. It does seem that Mauer was in the Top 5, but that contract turned out to be a mistake on the part of the Twins. 184 Million for eight years and 20.3 WAR. Prior to that he was worth 34.7 WAR in seven seasons for 32 Million.

Mauer's BBRef WAR is 55.0, but his Fangraphs WAR is only 52.5. I guess his pitch framing value was negative. Too bad.

   93. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 16, 2020 at 12:06 AM (#5916354)
I'm not saying that they are underpaid. I'm saying that they are being paid commensurate with their value.


Yeah, inelegant word choice on my part. Catchers appear to be paid consistent with their measured value.
   94. Jaack Posted: January 16, 2020 at 01:59 AM (#5916356)
I think we're getting sidetracked.

Fundamentally, the question is how to evaluate catchers relative to other positions.

Most HoM voters incorporate some sort of bonus for catching. Without said bonus, catchers tend to be appear less valuable than players at other positions by counting models such as WAR, because the burdens of playing catcher tend to require more rest and shorten careers.

Voters have expressed essential two reasons for giving this bonus.

1. It is important to keep a balance between the positions and generally try to induct the same amount of players from all positions.
2. There is limited data on catcher's defense historically, and some sort of bonus is necessary to account for this gap in knowledge.

The first reason is a philosophical one, similar to era balance is a philosophical stance and not necessarily objective. Now era balance is required by the consitution and positional balance is not expressly required. Personally, I do not enslave myself to it - I'm fine if we elect 26 CF and only 20 2B or whatever, but I do think it's a concept worth thinking about.

The second reason has objective facts behind it. Catchers are involved with more defensive plays than any other position so you would expect them to produce more defensive value. On the contrary they are generally given less credit than other defensive positions in metrics that do not incorporate catcher framing. This is not a just a result of playing time - there are numerous elite defensive shortstops with playing time similar to the top defensive catchers, but the shortstops consistently are credited with significantly more defensive value. Some examples would be Mark Belanger, Germany Smith, and Rey Sanchez, all of whom have higher defensive value by fangraphs WAR than any catcher prior to the incorporation of pitch framing despite having similar playing time to the elite defensive catchers such as Jim Sundberg and Bob Boone.

With the current framing data, there is ample evidence that catchers, despite their relatively limited playing time, have similar value to the elite players at other positions. With only eleven seasons of framing data, Fangraphs has three catchers over 180 runs of defensive value and seven catchers over 120. In the 140 previous seasons, there are only two catchers that they credit with over 120 runs of defensive value.

With framing data, catchers appear to be the most valuable defensive position, which as we established earlier, is what you would expect based on their defensive touches. We have further confirmation from teams that they value framing - Jose Molina, perhaps the greatest framer of all time, had a 15 year career despite a 64 wRC+. He played for intellegent teams like the Rays and Yankees deep into his career. Absolutely moribund hitters like Chris Stewart and Jeff Mathis have had lengthy careers based on their framing ability. Yadier Molina received a $20 AAV at age 35 despite having been average to below average with the bat three of the previous four years. Buster Posey received the second largest extension ever given to a player with fewer than 3 years of service time. There is very little doubt that framing has significant value, and I think that it more than makes up for any playing time deficiencies.

The question then is how to evaluate catchers for whom we don't have this more complete defensive data.

Evaluating them at the face value offered by WAR without framing is likely to underrate catchers as a whole. I use playing time at catcher and the defensive value we do have for them as proxies to estimate framing value. It's not great, but I do think it is going to get closer to actual value.
   95. bbmck Posted: January 16, 2020 at 02:33 AM (#5916357)
Debut since 1951, 1348 position players have at least 10 seasons, PA per position player WAR, only using first listed position so Ernie Banks at 1B because that's where he played the most games but very few players are strongly associated with a position they didn't play the most games at:

5: Under 100: 1 3B, 2 CF (3 after Mike Trout plays one more game), 2 LF/RF
26: 100-124.9: 3 C, 5 1B, 3 2B, 4 3B, 2 SS, 2 CF, 7 LF/RF
56: 125-149.9: 7 C, 7 1B, 7 2B, 9 3B, 6 SS, 7 CF, 11 LF/RF, 2 DH
93: 150-174.9: 11 C, 11 1B, 7 2B, 11 3B, 5 SS, 21 CF, 26 LF/RF, 1 DH
100: 175-199.9: 14 C, 12 1B, 11 2B, 7 3B, 12 SS, 16 CF, 24 LF/RF, 4 DH

87: 200-224.9: 15 C, 10 1B, 3 2B, 13 3B, 12 SS, 11 CF, 22 LF/RF, 1 DH
114: 225-249.9: 10 C, 13 1B, 14 2B, 16 3B, 13 SS, 17 CF, 26 LF/RF, 4 DH, 1 PH
74: 250-274.9: 13 C, 5 1B, 11 2B, 5 3B, 13 SS, 10 CF, 12 LF/RF, 3 DH, 2 PH
70: 275-299.9: 10 C, 5 1B, 9 2B, 9 3B, 8 SS, 10 CF, 15 LF/RF, 3 DH, 1 PH

625: Under 300: 83 C, 68 1B, 65 2B, 75 3B, 71 SS, 96 CF, 145 LF/RF, 18 DH, 4 PH
415: 300-599.9: 67 C, 51 1B, 59 2B, 38 3B, 47 SS, 44 CF, 90 LF/RF, 4 DH, 15 PH
212: 600 and higher: 48 C, 17 1B, 20 2B, 14 3B, 32 SS, 11 CF, 39 LF/RF, 1 DH, 30 PH
96: 0 and lower career WAR: 30 C, 8 1B, 9 2B, 7 3B, 22 SS, 4 CF, 3 LF/RF, 13 PH
1348: Total: 228 C, 144 1B, 153 2B, 134 3B, 172 SS, 155 CF, 277 LF/RF, 23 DH, 62 PH

Many oddities like Cito Gaston and his 5.1 WAR at 26 being grouped with Danny Bautista and Carmelo Castillo neither of who has a season higher than 1.0 WAR as negative career WAR corner OF. The top Catchers are the expected and an oddity: Johnny Bench, Gene Tenace, Buster Posey, Thurman Munson, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Chris Hoiles, Carlton Fisk, Joe Mauer, Ivan Rodriguez, Joe Torre, Bill Freehan. Craig Gentry is 74th overall with 9.7 WAR and 1402 PA with 2.34 defensive innings per PA, Mike Trout with a largely overlapping career has 1.87 defensive innings per PA.

Overall Catchers have pretty similar distribution to other positions at 2+ WAR per full-ish season but then have a bunch of extra backup Catchers with among the lowest rates of production among players who get a full pension from MLB.
   96. DL from MN Posted: January 16, 2020 at 08:13 AM (#5916366)
that contract turned out to be a mistake on the part of the Twins. 184 Million for eight years and 20.3 WAR. Prior to that he was worth 34.7 WAR in seven seasons for 32 Million.


20.3 WAR for $184M was pretty much the going rate for free agent $/WAR. I'd say the Twins broke even. The only reason they paid less prior to that was because he wasn't eligible for free agency.
   97. Carl Goetz Posted: January 16, 2020 at 09:55 AM (#5916405)
"You are rewarding catchers for PA that they never had, and innings they never caught, basically by saying that if they weren't a catcher they would have been able to play more often or for more years or both."

No, we are rewarding them for defensive value they did have that is undervalued by WAR.

"The fact remains that catching is the lowest paid position, other than relief pitcher, and by a fairly large margin."
The current economic system is terrible and its especially terrible for Catchers. If you have a Hall of Merit level catcher, you get him at a drastically underpaid level during his best years. Then, other teams worry about his wear and tear by the time he is a free agent. Teams aren't, in fact, dumb, but the economics of the game do weigh heavily against catchers vs. other positions. Salary isn't value. Its set in the early years and its expected future value once a guy hits free agency. Except by luck and the occasional 1 year deal, players are rarely paid at their exact current value.
   98. Carl Goetz Posted: January 16, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5916412)
As an example, if every player was a free agent every year, that would drastically change the salaries of catchers. What do you think Joe Mauer would have gotten for 1 year in say 2009? Buster Posey in 2013? Yadier in 2012? Or theoretically, (in today's dollars) Yogi Berra in 1953?

You are correct, teams aren't stupid. They will take a catcher's prime years on the cheap and they won't give him a long-term deal at 30 or 31. Duh. If you could pay a 25 or 26 year old star catcher for only 1 year and didn't have to worry about what he'll do in his age 33 season, that catcher would make a lot of money; probably among the top players in baseball. But players generally aren't free agents at age 25 or 26, especially catchers since they take longer to develop (another clue that they do a lot more than is easily visible). That doesn't mean catchers aren't valuable.

So I will say that yes, the best catchers are underpaid based on the value they provide their teams.
   99. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 16, 2020 at 10:15 AM (#5916423)
Debut since 1951, 1348 position players have at least 10 seasons, PA per position player WAR ...

Overall Catchers have pretty similar distribution to other positions at 2+ WAR per full-ish season but then have a bunch of extra backup Catchers with among the lowest rates of production among players who get a full pension from MLB.


By normalizing this for playing time - i.e., by looking at PA per WAR instead of just WAR - you're glossing over the largest issue with catchers, but also highlighting an important point. Catchers look weaker, relative to other positions, the lower the baseline against which you're comparing them. Which means if your baseline is some variation of WAA (or something more extreme, like what I call WO* - wins over "star" level), catchers need less adjusting.

The big thing hurting catchers vs. other HOF/HOM-level players is playing time. Even pitch framing, as implemented by Fangraphs, is zero sum. So, yeah, it helps Yadier Molina by 15 wins or so (+146.3 framing runs if I'm reading his Fangraphs page correctly). But it hurts Jorge Posada by (at least?) a similar amount (*). So, incorporating framing won't necessarily increase the number of HOM-worthy catchers so much as change the list - e.g., Molina replaces Posada.

(*) It looks like Fangraphs is only using framing numbers since 2008. They show Posada at -43.9 framing runs in the last 1,703.2 innings of his career. He played 11,172.1 innings at catcher before that, though. If he was equally bad throughout his career (and, if anything, framing seems like something you'd get better at as you aged / gained experience), that'd cost him an additional 288 runs and drop his WAR from 40.4 (current Fangraphs - BB-Ref has him at 42.8 w/ 0 framing adjustment) to something like 12.5 - which, by the way, seems completely absurd to me.
   100. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 16, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5916469)
(*) It looks like Fangraphs is only using framing numbers since 2008. They show Posada at -43.9 framing runs in the last 1,703.2 innings of his career. He played 11,172.1 innings at catcher before that, though. If he was equally bad throughout his career (and, if anything, framing seems like something you'd get better at as you aged / gained experience), that'd cost him an additional 288 runs and drop his WAR from 40.4 (current Fangraphs - BB-Ref has him at 42.8 w/ 0 framing adjustment) to something like 12.5 - which, by the way, seems completely absurd to me.


Per Baseball Prospectus, his framing aged very poorly, slightly below average his first 7 seasons, to below average or woeful there after, click on the catching tab.
https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/card/1602/jorge-posada
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