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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ruben Sierra

eligible 2012

JoeD has the Imperial March Stuck in His Head Posted: February 05, 2011 at 12:32 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. OCF Posted: February 07, 2011 at 07:35 AM (#3745034)
I remember Bill James getting all excited his first year, mostly because he was 20 years old. 20 year old position players who can play in the majors have a lot of upside. (And I'm not suspicious of the age: I assume the quality of documentation in Puerto Rico is pretty good, and he stuck around in the majors until he was 40.)

His top ten age 21 comps in bb-ref: Justin Upton, Andrew Jones, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Gonzalez, Dick Kokos (who?), Boog Powell, Jose Canseco, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sam Crawford - a pretty distinguished list.

He had a breakout year at age 23: .162 games of 306/.347/.543 in the low-offense year of 1989, 146 OPS+, 5.7 WAR. Led the league in triples, RBI, total bases, and SLG, 2nd in the MVP vote to Yount.

His top 10 age 23 comps in bb-ref: Andruw Jones, Jose Canseco, Tony Conigliaro, Jack Clark, Juan Gonzalez, Cesar Cedeno, Boog Powell, Adrian Beltre, Del Ennis, Al Kaline. That's a list of players who (1) in general had very good careers, and (2) in most cases were considered disappointments in how their careers turned out after the start they had. Even Kaline fits into that.

But that 5.7 WAR for Sierra for that year was nearly half of his career total. He had one more good year at age 25 and then had negative WAR for the rest of his career. 1992-2006, 14 years in the majors, nearly 5000 PA - and a total WAR of -3.0. Amazing in its own way. (He missed one year out of the majors in all that, 1999 - it looks like he was in indy ball, playing for Atlantic City.)
   2. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: February 07, 2011 at 09:25 AM (#3745042)
I have a vague memory of Sierra's decline coinciding with his decision to bulk up and add power to his game. I remember him being pretty slim and athletic when he first came up. Then he got big one offseason and he seemed to slow down.
   3. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: February 08, 2011 at 12:09 AM (#3745553)
I had great hopes for him in Oakland when he showed up, but goodness he was terrible.
   4. Josh1 Posted: February 08, 2011 at 12:31 AM (#3745562)
I have a vague memory of Sierra's decline coinciding with his decision to bulk up and add power to his game.


I also remember the complaints about Sierra's strength training ruining his game.

Here are a couple of quotations from Verducci's April 1994 season preview of the A's (SI Vault): "RF Ruben Sierra -- Too many muscles, not enough hits last year" and "Rightfielder Ruben Sierra batted a career-worst .233 after adding too much upper-body bulk."

It's funny to think almost all traditionalists now assume muscles (and the steroids that help build them) obviously must help hitters, but 17 years ago these people often believed the opposite. I wonder what the reaction would have been if Canseco had published "Juiced" in 1994. Would readers have thought Canseco was limiting his potential with all of his weight training?
   5. BDC Posted: February 09, 2011 at 02:00 PM (#3746631)
I moved to Texas shortly after Sierra's career began, so I saw him a lot in his early years, and I was just as impressed as Bill James or anybody else. Sierra was not only an impressive athlete, but he really, really hustled ‐ he's still the guy I think of as busting it down the 1B line harder than anyone else, and he was very fast in the bargain. He had a good arm and great outfield range. Despite his later reputation as a sulky malcontent, he was in the lineup every day as a kid and played really hard.

I guess there were illusions at work, though, looking back. Sierra was always a better hitter RH than LH, so he was usually hitting at a platoon disadvantage. He hit .239 LH in 1988, and in his big 1989 season he hit .289 LH – not that .289 was bad, but it was a great season because he destroyed LHP batting right (.341/.378/.600). He really did have the Clemente hitting philosophy – he didn't walk very much, but he didn't strike out much either for his era. But when you hit .258 lifetime left-handed, you need to have outstanding power to be a really great player, and Sierra didn't have that, either. His career high in HR was 30, in the fluky year of 1987, when he was 21 years old.

Some guys don't extrapolate their early promise, and Sierra is one of them, the Garry Templeton crowd. They can get reputations for dogging it, but Sierra played hard in his later years too. He just wasn't as good a ballplayer as he initially seemed.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 09, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3746653)
I was a big Sierra fan when he first came up. I still remember the big Sierra/Canseco trade. I miss blockbusters like that.
   7. DanG Posted: May 04, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3817951)
He's about the closest thing you'll find to a Joe Carter clone, his "most similar" player at BB-Ref.

Here are a few corner-OF and 1B comps.

Rk            Player WAR/pos OPS+    PA From   To    G
1       B
.JSurhoff    34.4   98  9106 1987 2005 2313
2     Stuffy McInnis    29.8  105  8623 1909 1927 2128
3        Wally Moses    28.8  109  8253 1935 1951 2012
4    Garret Anderson    27.2  102  9177 1994 2010 2228
5      Tino Martinez    25.7  112  8044 1990 2005 2023
6    Chris Chambliss    24.4  109  8305 1971 1988 2175
7          Joe Kuhel    23.8  104  9095 1930 1947 2104
8          Hal Chase    22.6  112  7939 1905 1919 1919
9         Joe Carter    16.5  105  9154 1983 1998 2189
10     Patsy Donovan    16.1   97  8172 1890 1907 1824
11      Ruben Sierra    13.6  105  8782 1986 2006 2186
12         Tom Brown    13.3  100  8206 1882 1898 1788
13      Bill Buckner    12.1   99 10033 1969 1990 2517 
   8. OCF Posted: May 04, 2011 at 09:22 PM (#3818148)
A listing of the best single seasons by WAR from among the motley group in Dan's post:

Anderson 6.1
Carter 5.8
McInnis 5.8
Sierra 5.7
Anderson 5.3
McInnis 5.2
Tino 5.2
Sierra 5.0
Moses 4.8
Tino 4.6
McInnis 4.5
Surhoff 4.4
Carter 4.1
Moses 4.0

The problem is that after that - after the top two years - Sierra's dropoff is worse than everyone else on the list. (OK, I mostly didn't look at the really old-time guys.)

If we're taking applications for the HoVG, or at least the HoG, then:

Surhoff is a career candidate for that, not a peak candidate.
Anderson is a peak candidate - he had a nice two years there.
And a number of the other guys also look better on peak than on prime or career, including Sierra and Carter.

Oh, and how in the name of baseball did Bill Buckner get 10K plate appearances? Don't answer that ...
   9. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 19, 2020 at 11:28 PM (#5970787)
Today's thread on Ruben Sierra had me revisiting his career. Couple of notes:

He was crushed when he lost the 1989 MVP vote to Robin Yount; he thought he deserved the award, attributed the result to racial prejudice, and began to "bulk up" because he thought he needed to hit more home runs to be considered a superstar.

He wore 11 distinct uniform numbers during his career: 3, 14, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 38, 44, and 47. I don't know if that's the record, but it has to be darn close.

He's about the closest thing you'll find to a Joe Carter clone, his "most similar" player at BB-Ref.

Since then he's acquired a new top comp, Raul Ibanez. It's nuts how two players with such wildly different career paths could end up with such similar batting statistics.
   10. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 19, 2020 at 11:32 PM (#5970789)
Back to that 1989 AL MVP vote:

It was a very close three-way race between Yount, Sierra, and Cal Ripken. Ripken got the credit for Baltimore's jump from 54 wins to a pennant race, though it was his fifth- or sixth-best season. All three were of roughly equivalent value, and none of them were the best position player in the AL.

Wade Boggs and Rickey Henderson were way ahead of everybody. Of course, neither Boggs nor Henderson got a first-place vote. Henderson at least got down-ballot support. (This was his split season when the A's re-acquired him.) Boggs finished T-21, behind, among others - Joe Carter!
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 20, 2020 at 09:46 AM (#5970815)
Fun fact: Sierra and José Cruz Sr are the only two players to bat more than 8000 times and be hit by a pitch 7 times or fewer (both at 7).
   12. Rally Posted: August 20, 2020 at 11:07 AM (#5970844)
Would have guessed Garret Anderson did it too, but he was hit 8 times. He had a 5 year stretch, his peak years in fact, with well over 600 PA per season and zero HBP.
   13. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 20, 2020 at 03:03 PM (#5970911)
So here are Sierra's top 10 comps, according to bb-ref:

1. Raul Ibanez
2. Joe Carter
3. Paul O'Neill
4. Carlos Lee
5. Bobby Bonilla
6. Del Ennis
7. Don Baylor
8. Garret Anderson
9. Chili Davis
10. Dale Murphy

A few questions for you:

1) Two of these 11 players tied for the most seasons receiving at least one MVP vote, with eight different seasons. Who were those two players?

2) Rank the top three players from this group of 11, in terms of who you would most want to have on your team for the entirity of their careers.

3) Who was the most overrated of the 11?
4) Who was the most underrated of the 11?

I won't answer #1.
2) Probably Murphy, then Baylor, then maybe Bonilla (though that contract is ugly).
3) Garret Anderson, but there are a number of "RBI guys" on this list, the kind of players that tend to get overrated, IMO....
4) Chili Davis. The guy could just get out of bed and hit, all the way through his career.
   14. Rally Posted: August 20, 2020 at 06:32 PM (#5970986)
2. Murphy
3. Anderson
4. Anderson

Garret Anderson was the most underrated overrated player of all time.

For 1, I guess Murphy and Carter

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