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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bernie Williams Deserves More Credit For Making The Yankees A Dynasty

Throughout that entire [World Series] run, the Core Four clearly played massive roles in New York’s dominance. But Williams outshone almost all of them. According to WAR, only Jeter (25.9) provided the Yankees with more regular-season value than Williams (24.5) during the span of those World Series-winning seasons. Likewise, only Jeter (48.9) generated more weighted runs created (wRC) in the postseason for the Yankees over that span than Williams (38.6) did.4 By any measure, Williams was (at worst) the second-best position player on a team that ranks among the greatest dynasties in baseball history. ...

ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 16, 2020 at 09:06 AM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of very good, yankees

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5963397)
I thought Bernie had a chance at the Hall of Fame if he could hit .300 every season for a decade, while averaging .400 OBP & .500 SLG. He did it for 8 years (.321/.406/.531 from 1995-2002), and got off to a strong start in 2003 (.346/.452/.596 through April), before banging his knee on the outfield wall in Anaheim. Never the same after that, but he had an excellent career.
   2. Booey Posted: July 16, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5963404)
I think Bernie has a possible shot with the VC. His career doesn't really warrant the HOF, IMO, but he's not SO far off that he'd be an embarrassment, either. He's better than Baines, Jack Morris, future BBWAA HOFer Omar Vizquel, etc.

Williams was a somewhat similar player to Puckett, only Kirby had a shinier BA, and more All Star and MVP love.
   3. Booey Posted: July 16, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5963405)
He's also pretty high on my "I couldn't quite bring myself to vote for this guy, but it won't bother me if he gets in" list.

Some others from the last 30 years: Nomar, Giambi, Belle, Johan, Felix, Pedroia, Delgado, Posada
   4. Rally Posted: July 16, 2020 at 04:02 PM (#5963435)
He's -139 as a fielder. Despite the gold gloves, I don't think he was that bad on defense. Part of that is -36 throwing. Now that is believable. There was a moment when I just could not believe that a MLB center fielder could have such a weak arm. Bernie probably had many such moments, but for me it was in the 2002 ALDS.

Looks like the play happened in the 2nd game. Shawn Wooten was on first, Bengie Molina singled to center and Wooten went to third. It was not a play where a normal runner against a normal CF would try for the extra base. Wooten was not fleet of foot, he was a fat catcher/first baseman who that year was a mostly a platoon DH. He did not hesitate, and Bernie looked surprised and exasperated that he took the base. Someone that slow should not take chances like that. But there was not a damn thing Bernie could do about it, because he could not throw.

That said, it would not surprise me to find that his defensive stats are not right, and he should be in the 55-60 WAR range instead of 50. Still in the gray area on that, but he has a tremendous postseason record and 4 rings. I would have no problem with Bernie going in.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5963439)
That said, it would not surprise me to find that his defensive stats are not right, and he should be in the 55-60 WAR range instead of 50.
Bernie doesn’t do that badly by Defensive War until after his knee injury, which cost him some of the speed that made up for his occasional bad read. His arm also seemed to get worse in his last few seasons, just going by the eye test.
   6. Booey Posted: July 16, 2020 at 04:49 PM (#5963444)
To me Bernie has always felt more like he's on the low end of borderline rather than solidly HOVG. As far as contemporary CF's go, I like his case better than Johnny Damon's (56 WAR), for example. So yeah, I guess a 55-ish WAR player is basically where I place Williams mentally. That would put him right on par with Jeff Kent, which sounds about right.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: July 16, 2020 at 05:06 PM (#5963450)
I like his case better than Johnny Damon's (56 WAR), for example.


He also should help Rally imagine a centerfielder having an arm as weak as Bernie's.

   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: July 16, 2020 at 06:39 PM (#5963478)

That said, it would not surprise me to find that his defensive stats are not right


Other than you cant stomach the idea that defensive value is more than some nominal value, do you having reasoning for this?
   9. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 16, 2020 at 08:31 PM (#5963486)
I think Bernie was a good center fielder early in his career but he lost it quickly but stayed in center for many years when he should have been in left. The numbers for him were not bad into his late 20s but he cratered and probably played four or five full seasons in center field that he had no business playing.
   10. A triple short of the cycle Posted: July 16, 2020 at 09:20 PM (#5963498)
Bernie Williams was my favorite player. Wore glasses, abused by Steinbrenner, almost traded for Darren Lewis, underappreciated from the get go.
   11. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 16, 2020 at 10:35 PM (#5963505)
I liked Williams as a player, but if we're putting CF on the bubble in the hall, then Edmonds must be in front of the queue.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: July 16, 2020 at 10:46 PM (#5963509)
Edmonds breezed into the HOM, fwiw, and Lofton is the leading holdover entering 2021.

Bernie's tires got kicked, but the electorate ultimately yawned.

OF 2020 HOM rankings (top 4 players were elected)

3 AJones

5 Lofton
7 Sosa
10 Abreu
13 BOBBY Bonds
16 BJohnson
27 HDuffy
30 TLeach

(no one else got 5 top 15 slot selections. Bernie snagged one 11th place vote)
   13. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 16, 2020 at 10:51 PM (#5963510)
Lofton as much as Edmonds in my insignificant opinion.
   14. Booey Posted: July 17, 2020 at 12:28 AM (#5963519)
This is where WAR/WAA comes into play for me. Using the age-old BBWAA favorite "go with my gut" test, Bernie FEELS like he should be about on par with Lofton, Edmonds, and Andruw (and again, clearly ahead of Damon) on the 1990's-2000's CF list. WAR disagrees pretty strongly, of course.
   15. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 17, 2020 at 02:31 AM (#5963528)
Booey -- the proxy for "gut" my be Hall of Fame Monitor/Standards
Williams  134/48
Jones     109
/34
Lofton     91
/42
Edmonds    88
/39 


   16. Ron J Posted: July 17, 2020 at 03:02 AM (#5963532)
#15 Yeah. Which puts him in the "not a mistake" category. Not much evidence that he was perceived as a terrible defensive player. Nor that it's ever been a huge factor to the BBWAA.

To be clear though I think we'll likely have to revisit the Monitor/Standards.
   17. Rally Posted: July 17, 2020 at 08:50 AM (#5963559)
Other than you cant stomach the idea that defensive value is more than some nominal value, do you having reasoning for this?


Statcast outs above average is a lot more accurate than anything we can estimate pre-statcast. The spread of defensive performance in Statcast is not as big as in TZ/DRS/UZR, so that makes me skeptical about any of the outliers from the earlier data.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 17, 2020 at 10:16 AM (#5963588)
Growing up, center field for the Yankees was one of the most glamour positions in all of sports. Somehow Bernie won 4 rings playing CF yet ended up underrated.

   19. sunday silence (again) Posted: July 17, 2020 at 04:38 PM (#5963738)
The spread of defensive performance in Statcast is not as big as in TZ/DRS/UZR, so that makes me skeptical about any of the outliers from the earlier data.


But they're measuring different things, correct? Statcast is simply measuring OAAs, which is catching fly balls and that's all. TZ etc. are also trying to factor in assists for one thing, and I guess holding runners on just normal hits to the OF.

Is that not your understanding?
   20. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 17, 2020 at 07:15 PM (#5963777)
To be clear though I think we'll likely have to revisit the Monitor/Standards.


My sense of it was it's more like predicting the BBWAA vote. Bernie wins lots of Centerfield-on-Pennant/Champion-Team points on monitor and standards has no defensive performance component.
   21. Ron J Posted: July 18, 2020 at 02:46 AM (#5963828)
#20 Right. I suspect we'll find progressively more attention being placed to WAR which of course does have a defensive component.

My point is that if voting patterns change, at some point the tools will stop working at all.
   22. Bleed the Freak Posted: July 18, 2020 at 08:15 AM (#5963835)
5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5963439)
That said, it would not surprise me to find that his defensive stats are not right, and he should be in the 55-60 WAR range instead of 50.
Bernie doesn’t do that badly by Defensive War until after his knee injury, which cost him some of the speed that made up for his occasional bad read. His arm also seemed to get worse in his last few seasons, just going by the eye test.


Kiko's stat largely confirms what you guys are remembering or feeling: https://baseball.tomthress.com/StatTables/Field_8.php?id=willb002&ex=1

Component 8 is baserunner outs, arm related, where Bernie fares very poorly.
Component 5 is hits vs outs on balls in play or range, which was above average until the 2003 injury.
   23. Bleed the Freak Posted: July 18, 2020 at 08:22 AM (#5963836)
Statcast outs above average is a lot more accurate than anything we can estimate pre-statcast. The spread of defensive performance in Statcast is not as big as in TZ/DRS/UZR, so that makes me skeptical about any of the outliers from the earlier data.


Could some of this be quality play now also?
With no expansion in over 20 years, I would expect the spread to be reduced at least some since Bernie's day.

But I agree to your larger point, Kiko's studies indicate fielding spread isn't as wide as TZ/UZR/DRS.
   24. cookiedabookie Posted: July 18, 2020 at 10:15 AM (#5963844)
I don't know how much we should penalize him for Torre refusing to move him out of center field, when it was clear he wasn't cutting it defensively anymore. I don't necessarily think he's a HoFer, but he had 9 consecutive years where he averaged 5 rWAR/year, in spite of below average defense. That's pretty awesome. He just didn't have enough 6+ rWAR seasons to solidify his case.
   25. Rally Posted: July 18, 2020 at 01:56 PM (#5963867)
#21, yes, TZ includes his poor throwing. Bbref does show the split of range vs arm on the advanced fielding tab.

I am not saying it’s wrong. Just that there is some uncertainty.
   26. sunday silence (again) Posted: July 18, 2020 at 06:02 PM (#5963925)
Yeah, looking at the stats on Baseball ref. He clearly does not have a good arm, he's probably losing 4 runs a year based on baserunner kills. WIth the avg OFer at about 8 or 9 assists per year. He's actually pretty good at keeping runners from advancing, losing just a few percentage pts so maybe a 1 run a year loss; say 4 bases advanced.

That leaves fielding range and I hesitate to guess on that. His raw range seems to be below average but hard to say how many FBs that is without statcast to help us. If he's losing 12 flyballs a year to the average CF that would sort of equate with a -15 runs (ie. overall) below average on def. That would be pretty bad but not like Greg Luzinski level. For people saw him everyday: Did he appear to be like a LF playing out of position there in CF? That might be what a -10 OAA guy would look like.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: July 19, 2020 at 04:55 AM (#5964003)
With Bernie, we can take some comfort that the decline seems to line up with the "raw" data. His big defensive year was 1995 and that's also a year when his RF/9 was over 3 (career high for fullish season). In 93-94 it was about 2.7. In 95, it's down to 2.5; in 97 down to 2.2; he does see 2.7 again in one full season which was a solid -3 year. (Note, RF/9 is putouts + assists per 9; it would be convenient here if it was just put-outs but assists probably aren't adding much to any OF's RF/9.)

Now there's potentially a lot that affects how many POs an OF gets that are beyond his control which are the sorts of things we hope TZ (and later DRS then statcast) help us adjust for but most of those things should even out over a career the length of Bernie's and/or, if it's an era effect, will show up in lgRF/9. But lgRF/9 seems fairly stable in this period around 2.7 to 2.75. He's just a couple decmials off average in 93-94, well above in 95 and then .2 or more behind for the rest of his career. At 33, his worst season, he's .37 plays behind. Based on that, he was making about 25 fewer "plays" than the average CF in his late 20s up to 40 or so in a fullseason by his mid-30s, figure 5 or so of those were assists he didn't get and we're talking 20 flyballs in his late 20s and maybe 30 in his mid-30s.

It's hardly a precise measure but from 27-34 he had -6.5 dWAR which is still only about 0.8 runs below the mythical position-free average defender per year. Griffey's decline began a year older and from 28-35 he was -4 and in just 911 games (Bernie had 200 more). Dawson moved off of CF at 29 and from 29-36 he was at -3.5 dWAR. Dale Murphy was fine through age 27 then put up -4.5 dWAR for 28-35 even though he was generally a good RF. Granted Charlie Blackmon was the only guy I could think of to look at who has (apparently) fallen farther than Bernie but Bernie's defensive performance at similar ages (or once CF was probably not a good idea) is not out of line with those other examples. Of course that doesn't make TZ/DRS correct, just consistent but it suggests that it probably can't make more than maybe 3-4 wins difference. Bernie at 52-53 WAR really isn't a better HoF candidate than at 49-50 WAR.

CF happens to be a position where the in/out HoF line is very hard to draw. There's a 4-5 WAR drop from Dawson to Edmonds/Davis. There's than another 5 WAR drop to Jim Wynn at #17 on the JAWS list. Bernie is at #28 just 6 WAR behind Wynn. Bernie is 10+ WAR off the border and would need to jump 13 guys (or have a number of those 13 guys be inducted) to "deserve" it. But yeah, he ticks a lot of VC boxes (to the extent we can claim such things exist).
   28. Ithaca2323 Posted: July 19, 2020 at 09:11 AM (#5964010)
Williams seems to get plenty of credit. Five seconds after any mention of the "Core 4", plenty of people seem to shout "You're forgetting about Williams!"

Kind of the epitome of the kind of guys the Yankees had on those teams. Not great, but very good.
   29. dejarouehg Posted: July 19, 2020 at 12:57 PM (#5964025)
My guess is that sentiment for Bernie and Posada, and maybe even Pettitte (I'm still waiting to hear a good argument against HGH) will start to grow for induction. None would bother me, other than I don't like the Yankees.

Moving Bernie from CF to LF would probably have exposed his defensive liabilities even more. LF at YS2 (and YS1) was a ##### to play. For whatever reason, the Stadium's set-up made LF a brutal sun field and Bernie's tracking abilities aren't exactly NORAD-like.

I too fall into the "Bernie is underrated" class and is a better player than Baines, who I probably also don't give enough credit to. If Baines weren't the low-hanging fruit standard bearer, then I think Bernie's deservedly on the outside looking in, but just barely.

Based on memory alone, Posada and Simmons are similar to me, and I was in favor of Simmons getting in. (Did anyone else think it was bush league of Girardi, who obviously didn't like Posada, to not let Posada catch Rivera's record breaking save instead of Russell Martin?)


   30. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 19, 2020 at 01:57 PM (#5964035)
I recall at one point hearing that after LASIK Bernie had trouble, at least for a while, with picking up balls the stadium lights, which contributed to bad routes..
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: July 19, 2020 at 02:09 PM (#5964036)
Based on memory alone, Posada and Simmons are similar to me, and I was in favor of Simmons getting in.


The main difference is Simmons had a poor defensive reputation that wasn't quite deserved. Posada's mostly was.
   32. dejarouehg Posted: July 19, 2020 at 05:14 PM (#5964060)
I recall at one point hearing that after LASIK Bernie had trouble, at least for a while, with picking up balls the stadium lights, which contributed to bad routes..


Years ago I was asked to look at a project for an eye surgery center in Long Island. The owner told me that Scott Boras' office had contacted them and offered to let them work on Bernie Williams' eyes, and in return they would pay Bernie around $100K and he would promote their business. To the best of my knowledge they respectfully declined.
   33. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 19, 2020 at 05:54 PM (#5964074)
To the best of my knowledge they respectfully declined.


"Thanks, Scott. Could you get us someone more like a Jim Edmonds?"
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: July 19, 2020 at 08:32 PM (#5964118)
Based on memory alone, Posada and Simmons are similar to me, and I was in favor of Simmons getting in.

I wrote numerous times in this space over the years that Simmons was Posada's kryptonite as long as Simmons wasn't a HOFer. in no universe does Posada get in first.

to my pleasant surprise, Simmons is now in.

still some warts for Posada, but his kryptonite has been quarantined (or whatever they do with it). so I'm saying there's a chance.
   35. sunday silence (again) Posted: July 19, 2020 at 09:17 PM (#5964142)
It's hardly a precise measure but from 27-34 he had -6.5 dWAR which is still only about 0.8 runs below the mythical position-free average defender per year


I think you meant 8 runs/year here. Otherwise im confused.
   36. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 19, 2020 at 09:44 PM (#5964151)
Isn’t the issue for Posada more of playing time than anything else? Even for a catcher that 7100 PA is a low number.
   37. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: July 20, 2020 at 08:44 AM (#5964189)
Isn’t the issue for Posada more of playing time than anything else? Even for a catcher that 7100 PA is a low number.


FWIW, his 7150 plate appearances ranks 17th all-time among catchers. Of course, only 6200 of them were actually as a catcher (119 as 1B, 675 as DH, 170 as PH). Not sure where he ranks when you adjust for that though.
   38. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 20, 2020 at 09:41 AM (#5964197)
still some warts for Posada, but his kryptonite has been quarantined (or whatever they do with it).

All sorts of things.
   39. Bleed the Freak Posted: July 20, 2020 at 08:52 PM (#5964393)
At 36, Posada's framing is woefully bad, and he was below average in clutch and awful in the postseason by WPA.
   40. Bleed the Freak Posted: July 20, 2020 at 08:53 PM (#5964394)
@24, the Yankees had some old OF late in Williams CF years, would Matsui, Sheffield, or Sierra been a better fit in CF? Yikes.

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