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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Buddy Bell

Eligible in 1995.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2007 at 08:17 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2007 at 08:21 PM (#2295650)
Very similar production-wise to Graig Nettles, which is not too shabby when you think about it.
   2. Chris Cobb Posted: February 13, 2007 at 01:47 AM (#2296483)
I'm posting to this thread partly just to get Bell back onto the radar and into the discussion.

Graig Nettles just placed among the outer reaches of candidates who could have a future at #24. Bell has some strong similarities to Nettles. If he is a bit better, he could be a serious candidate, though he seems very unlikely to earn immediate election. If he is a bit worse, he'll be pretty much out of the picture. My system, as a whole, sees him as an almost insignificant amount ahead of Nettles, so let me break that out into component parts to look at what their strengths and weaknesses are:

Career, by WARP1 and WS, with adjustments for season length and DH

Nettles 106.6, 339
Bell 107.8, 325

WS prefers Nettles career by a matter of about 5 wins. WARP prefers Bell by 1.

Value above average (WARP1 and WS above an average position player, with amounts above average in all above-average seasons summed) + # of seasons above average.

Nettles 28.6, 38 in 11 or 9 seasons above average
Bell 27.4, 36 in 12 or 8 seasons above average

Both systems agree that Nettles is very slightly stronger here. WARP sees both as having considerably more value above average, because it gives more credit for good fielding, and both of these guys have a lot of that.

Peak rate (rate of adj. WARP1 & WS during best 5 consecutive seasons, or longer if rate is higher for a longer period.

Nettles 8.50, 1971-78; 26.11, 1974-78
Bell 9.72, 1980-84; 26.89, 1980-84

Both systems agree that Bell was better on a per game basis at his peak than Nettles was. WARP1 sees Bell significantly ahead; WS sees the difference as much less.

Nettles' career is almost 300 games longer than Bell's, and his edge on Bell overall is in bulk win shares, which, given the very low replacement level for batting value in win shares, weakens Nettles' case slightly in my eyes.

As hitters, they were about the same by rate for their careers. Nettles leads slightly in WARP1 EQA, .273 to .270, but in WARP2 they are even, .275 each. By OPS+, Nettles also has a slight lead, 110 to 108, but adjustment for Bell's longer time in the DH league would likely smooth that out.

As fielders, they were also similar. Win shares sees Nettles as slightly superior, with a 4.40 ws/1000 rate for his career (good for an A- rating), while Bell earns 4.35 (also an A-). As of 2002, they were 2 and 4 all time in defensive innings at third base, with 1 & 3 being Brooks Robinson and Gary Gaetti. WARP sees Bell as a bit better, awarding him 177 FRAA and 483 FRAR for his career, while Nettles accrues 125 FRAA and 437 FRAR.

Overall, the most significant differences between them seem to be Nettles' extra playing time and, as WARP1 sees it, Bell's fielding advantage.

What do other ways of looking at the pair show?

Does eye-witness testimony and reputation bear out the comprehensive metrics view of Bell's fielding as nearly equal to or better than Nettles (at least in a career perspective)?
   3. Paul Wendt Posted: February 15, 2007 at 12:07 AM (#2298028)
In the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, 2d ed (1988), the 6th to 11th alltime 3Bmen are Ron Santo, Buddy Bell, Ken Boyer, Stan Hack, and "Craig Nettles or Darrell Evans". The text makes clear that Ron Cey is close to the top ten. Santo, Bell, and Boyer rank #71, 85, 99 on the 20th century greatest players by career value; the others, like Tony Perez, are outside the top hundred.

I think of Santo, Boyer, and Evans as three of the players whose standing sabermetrics (or Bill James in particular?) boosted most. I don't know why I don't think of Bell. Dick Allen, Santo, and Boyer are the three players among one hundred who are eligible for the Hall of Fame but not honored.

Bill James 1988
name OWP gross Comparable Recent Players 
<b><u>Baker</u></b>   676 132 Brett
Bell    544 168
<b>Boyer</b>   619 155
Cey     637 140
Clift   612 125 Evans
Evans   644 168
Gardner 579 125 Bell
<b>Groh</b>    613 119 Rose
<b>Hack</b>    674 141 Henderson or Raines without the speed
Nettles 583 168
<b>Santo</b>   642 176
Traynor 570 161 Lansford
Yost    605 128 Harrah 
"would be the closest" 

not rated: Kell (comp Lansford), Lindstrom (comp Madlock)
too young: Boggs
rated much higher by OWP, gross value, or both: Brett, Mathews, Robinson, Rosen (comp Horner), Schmidt

On Bell:
. . . Though slow afoot and not a particularly good baserunner, Bell can count among his positives hitting for average, hitting for power, making contact, strikezone judgment and all of the elements of defense --range, arm, consistency. His year-to-year consistency as a hitter is the equal of any third baseman in history.

(For what its worth, the text on Cey makes it seem to me that he belongs in the BJ top ten by career value
   4. Paul Wendt Posted: February 15, 2007 at 12:12 AM (#2298030)
<pre>name : OWP gross : Comparable Recent Players
Baker 676 132 : Brett
Bell 544 168
Boyer 619 155
Cey 637 140
Clift 612 125 : Evans
Evans 644 168
Gardner 579 125 : Bell
Groh 613 119 : Rose
Hack 674 141 : evidently, Henderson or Raines without the speed
Nettles 583 168
Santo 642 176
Traynor 570 161 : Lansford
Yost 605 128 : Harrah "would be the closest"<pre>
   5. Paul Wendt Posted: February 15, 2007 at 12:56 PM (#2298161)
remind me how to do the Brent/jimd tables that aren't displayed in agate type

Bill James 1988
# OWP gross : player (Comparable Recent Players)
6 642 176 Santo
? 644 168 Evans
? 583 168 Nettles
7 544 168 Bell
_ 570 161 Traynor (Lansford)
8 619 155 Boyer
9 674 141 Hack (Henderson or Raines without the speed)
_ 637 140 Cey
_ 676 132 <u>Baker</u> (Brett)
_ 605 128 Yost (Harrah "would be the closest")
5 548 128 Collins (Pendleton)
_ 612 125 Clift (Evans)
_ 579 125 Gardner (Bell)
_ 613 119 Groh (Rose)

There is no rating for Kell or Lindstrom, no entry or rating for Bando.

The first column is rank among 3Bmen by career value. The second column is Offensive Winning Percentage, a rate. The third is Gross Value, a count. It appears that James relied heavily on the gross value rating in order to rank the careers. High rank for Collins and low for Traynor is not a mistake as it fits the prose entries.

On Bell
. . . Though slow afoot and not a particularly good baserunner, Bell can count among his positives hitting for average, hitting for power, making contact, strikezone judgment and all of the elements of defense --range, arm, consistency. His year-to-year consistency as a hitter is the equal of any third baseman in history.

On Evans
. . . a tremendous third basemen for many years
The prose provides no explanation for his relatively high OWP.

For peak value, Santo ranks 8 while Bell, Boyer, Hack, and Nettles/Evans lose their "top eleven" rankings to Boggs, Baker, Rosen and Clift.
   6. Paul Wendt Posted: February 16, 2007 at 05:06 AM (#2298817)
Chris Cobb #2:
I'm posting to this thread partly just to get Bell back onto the radar and into the discussion.

   7. Al Peterson Posted: February 23, 2007 at 09:22 PM (#2302517)
Rebump of a player that I'm going to place higher than most. Buddy Bell is above Nettles in my system and will probably hit ballot. He is said to lack peak and that is true to an extent. He suffers from a situation similar to Bob Johnson: his peak/prime occurred on less than average teams and those teams consistently underperformed in terms of Actual Wins vs Pythag.

For the years 1977-84 here are the Actual Win vs Pythag for Bell's teams:

-3, -5, -3, -5, -3, 0, -8, -5

So for that time frame we're talking 32 games underperformance. Should Bell be held responsible? Maybe to an extent. In any case, should some of those "missing" Win Shares be dealt to Buddy? I would and thus his peak moves up.

On a more observational note, Buddy Bell sure looked like a good fielding third basemen. Not fast but had good quickness needed for the hot corner. Good arm, consistent player. Underappreciated since he never got to the playoffs.
   8. OCF Posted: February 25, 2007 at 02:46 PM (#2303055)
I ran Bell through my offensive system, and he came out in a tight cluster with Collins, Traynor, Kell, and Clift. Nettles is a little ahead of that group. We elected Collins but that was a long time ago and different.

Bell does have 300 WS and 100 WARP - in my mind that says something about the replacement level in both systems. Bell was a very good player for a long time - well over 2000 games at 3B, several Gold Gloves, a hitter consistently a little above average. Nettles was that, with 200 more games at 3B and some Gold Gloves of his own. I didn't have Nettles on my ballot last time, and I'll be placing Bell somewhere behind Netles.
   9. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: February 25, 2007 at 02:51 PM (#2303057)
-3, -5, -3, -5, -3, 0, -8, -5

So for that time frame we're talking 32 games underperformance. Should Bell be held responsible?

Hey, just like in his managing career!
   10. sunnyday2 Posted: February 25, 2007 at 03:19 PM (#2303069)
Wow, Buddy Bell does not make my top 100.
   11. Howie Menckel Posted: February 25, 2007 at 04:14 PM (#2303111)
Bell and Nettles come out as near-twins for me - longevity, weak peak, very good fielders.
Both very borderline. Cey and Bando get to be part of that discussion, too.
Evans is problematic because of so many games as a 1B and DH, many of them not dazzling for the position.
   12. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 09, 2022 at 02:32 PM (#6060320)
Bump with potential 2023 enshrinement!
   13. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 09, 2022 at 03:03 PM (#6060324)
Digging up some old discussion on cautioning more 70s 3B:

358. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 17, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5798369)
Can you guys elaborate on the issue? Is it on the dWAR side or Positional Adjustment side?

It's the positional adjustment. If you add up the WAA of all third basemen in the 1970s, it's positive - i.e., the average third baseman is above average. If you add up the WAA of all shortstops in the 1970s, it's negative - i.e., the average shortstop is below average. Which, in my opinion, is non-sensical.

Here's BB-Ref's table of WAA by position for 1977, which is a fairly typical year for this time period. Bottom line gives MLB totals. Third base is +0.7; shortstop is -0.9. For the entire 1970s, 3B is +6.2 and SS is -6.6. This continues into the 1980s as well. Buddy Bell was a regular from 1972 - 1987. Over those years, third basemen are +8.8 WAA - about +0.6 per season.

Edit to add: I looked at 1970 - 1987. The total WAA for third basemen was positive in every one of those 16 years. The total WAA for shortstop was negative in 15 of the 16 years; the exception being 1983, when shortstop WAA was exactly zero.

363. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 17, 2018 at 01:08 PM (#5798409)
Incidentally, it's a little harder for me to figure out exactly what they're doing, but Fangraphs looks to be doing a better job with positional adjustments, at least for third base for Buddy Bell's career. Basically, since World War II / integration, third basemen have tended to hit at right about league-average (excluding pitching). For example, from 1947 - 2018, in my stat, I get third basemen with an aggregate winning percentage (adjusted for pitcher hitting) of 0.503. So, basically, the positional adjustment for third base should be right around zero.

For his career, Buddy Bell's positional adjustment is +44. He played the OF his first year and mostly DH his last year, and the positional adjustments for those two years are -5, which is probably reasonable. So, Bell's positional adjustment for his time at third base is +49, which is giving him about 5 wins too many if you think, as I do, that his positional adjustment should be more like zero. Baseball-Reference gives Bell 66.3 bWAR on the strength of batting, baserunning, and fielding numbers (in runs) of +102 (including Rdp), -17, and +174, respectively. Subtract 5 from that and you'd have 61.3.

Fangraphs gives Buddy Bell 61.7 fWAR with components of +93.0, -19.6, and +176.0 for batting, baserunning, and fielding respectively. In other words, Fangraphs sees Bell the same way BB-Ref does - above-average hitter (they're within 9 runs there), lousy baserunner (they're within 3 runs there - in the opposite direction as the batting), elite fielder (they're within two runs there, which is remarkably close) - the only difference, as far as I can tell, is the positional adjustment (Fangraphs and BB-Ref use the same replacement level).

In the specific case of Bell, BB-Ref and Fangraphs both over-weight fielding, by a similar amount, which is why I would argue that even 61 WAR is too many, but that has nothing to do with the direct topic at hand.

369. Michael J. Binkley's anxiety closet Posted: December 17, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5798437)
I am in the process of finalizing my ballot, but I just wanted to weigh in on this positional value debate.

A quick summary of my version of WAR for position players - I start with an average of bWAR and gWAR. I then adjust this number my a 9-year rolling average of not positional WAA, but Wins Above Positional Median, as to not be skewed by star gluts and droughts.

Thus I agree with a lot of Dan Rosenheck's (and Kiko's) findings when developing his WAR, that shortstops have been generally undervalued throughout most of baseball history, but especially from the late 1960's to the late 1980's, and conversely 3B was overvalued for much of the 1970's and early 1980's. Consequently, Campaneris is mid-ballot for me, and while the positional adjustments do hurt Bell, and as a result he is off-ballot, both TZ and DRA like him enough so he is still in my PHoM.

(On a side note, this is also why DH's do better in my system than by traditional bWAR. For some reason, teams have underutilized the DH. According to my rolling-average research, since the inception of the DH, not once in the entire history of the DH has the median DH had a positive WAA - Ortiz is sliding easily into my PHoM when he becomes eligible).

I then adjust my WAR numbers by a standard deviation adjustment, but that's another issue.

383. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 18, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5798619)
I think that one needs to be very careful that one doesn't beg the question.

One of the earliest and most universally accepted tenets of sabermetrics is that in order to compare hitters from different eras, one has to place a hitter's performance within the context in which it was made - controlling for the park and league in which the player played. We do these adjustments on a year-by-year basis and nobody would consider doing otherwise. Another generally accepted tenet of sabermetrics (and, really, of baseball analysis generally) is that one has to balance the offensive and defensive requirements of a position.

We can't simply compare the hitting value of first baseman and a shortstop and call it a day - Paul Konerko and Derek Jeter were of similar value as hitters and both were lousy defenders at their position. Nobody thinks that the only difference in value between the two players is Jeter's baserunning and longer career. He was also more valuable because the level of offense these two players provided is simply more valuable coming from a shortstop than coming from a first baseman.

Everybody understands the need to include positional adjustments. The question is what positional adjustments to use. And my contention is that if you have a set of positional adjustments which conclude that the position of third base was above average, in the aggregate, for 31 consecutive years. Again, I need to emphasize: not above-average over a 31-year period; above average each and every one of those 31 years. If you have a set of positional adjustments which conclude that the position of third base was above average for 31 consecutive years, I think there's probably an error in your positional adjustment calculation.

Ernie Banks's last season as a shortstop was 1961. Robin Yount's first season that really adds to his Hall-of-Merit case was 1978. From 1962 - 1977, there are no Hall-of-Merit players having Hall-of-Merit caliber seasons while playing shortstop. That's 16 seasons, 0 shortstops.

Meanwhile, within those 16 seasons, we have the following Hall-of-Merit players having Hall-of-Merit caliber seasons at third base: Ken Boyer, Brooks Robinson, Ron Santo, Dick Allen, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Darrell Evans, Graig Nettles. That's 8 players of this era that I think most people would classify as third basemen. In addition, Joe Torre won an MVP award playing third base. Harmon Killebrew played 105 games at third base in his MVP season. Pete Rose had several seasons that add to his Hall-of-Merit case where he played third base. That brings us up to 11 Hall-of-Merit players who had Hall-of-Merit caliber seasons playing third base. Eleven third basemen, zero shortstops.

Personally, I'd vote for Sal Bando and Ron Cey before Buddy Bell, but that's irrelevant to this discussion. By voting for Buddy Bell over Dave Concepcion or Bert Campaneris, you're saying that you think that, at worst, the 9th-best third baseman of this era (ignoring Torre, Killebrew, and Rose) is better than ANY shortstop from this time period. I think that's unlikely.

Setting positional adjustments that change over time doesn't mean that the best shortstop will always be equal in value to the best third baseman of an era. He won't be. Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Ron Santo, and (depending on how you value peak vs. career) Dick Allen and/or Brooks Robinson are clearly more valuable than any shortstop between Banks and Yount. I just think that if you can't find ANYBODY at a position over a 15-20 year period who's worthy of the Hall of Merit, there's probably something wrong with your positional adjustments.

   14. Carl Goetz Posted: January 10, 2022 at 10:09 AM (#6060403)
"Ernie Banks's last season as a shortstop was 1961. Robin Yount's first season that really adds to his Hall-of-Merit case was 1978. From 1962 - 1977, there are no Hall-of-Merit players having Hall-of-Merit caliber seasons while playing shortstop. That's 16 seasons, 0 shortstops."

This is a bit too selective though. There's a lot of Hall of Merit caliber seasons in this period by Non-Hall-of-Merit caliber SSs. Isn't it at least possible that the conventional wisdom on SSs was just wrong by a half win per season during this period. Its not a huge number given the lack of analytics at the time. Managers in the 70s could have gained more than that by employing a handful of fireballers in their bullpen for an inning each but they didn't know to do it. It seems at least plausible to me that managers gave up too much offense at SS for the defense they gained. How much of this issue goes away if Mike Schmidt stays at SS after 1971 in the minors?

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