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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bobby Abreu has a better Hall of Fame case than you think

The 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was revealed earlier today. Derek Jeter, of course, headlined the group, but also found on the list was outfielder Bobby Abreu. As Craig mentioned, Abreu spent much of his career being underrated and though baseball fans and writers have become a lot more stats-savvy since his retirement, it is hard to see him getting the groundswell of support necessary to earn induction in Cooperstown.

Abreu, now 45 years old, retired with exactly 60 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their games in the outfield, Abreu is in the same neighborhood as Andre Dawson (64.8 WAR), Dave Winfield (64.2), Vladimir Guerrero (59.4), Willie Stargell (57.5), and is substantially ahead of Kirby Puckett (51.1).

During his prime, 1998-2004, Abreu accrued 41.5 WAR, per FanGraphs. The only outfielders with more WAR in that span of time were Barry Bonds (66.8) and Andruw Jones (43.4). He should have been a perennial All-Star but, through no fault of his own, he wouldn’t get his first All-Star nod until 2004. He would repeat in 2005. Similarly, Abreu won just one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, again through no fault of his own.

A few words on a player who deserves BBWAA consideration- whether or not he gets it, on the other hand…..

 

QLE Posted: November 20, 2019 at 01:14 PM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bobby abreu, hall of fame

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   1. Rally Posted: November 20, 2019 at 01:35 PM (#5902654)
I doubt he'll come close, and I know from looking at the ballot, he would not be in my top 10. I get why he did not have the same presence on the field as Vladimir Guerrero. But I think the numbers are right, he was just as valuable as Vladdy.

In any case, the greatest inning I have seen since 2002 could not have happened without the contributions of both Abreu and Guerrero. When I think about Abreu that inning immediately springs to mind. I get there eventually with Guerrero, but my first thought is probably the latest 118 MPH exit velocity his kid produced.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5902663)
Similarly, Abreu won just one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, again through no fault of his own.


I think Abreu shares some of the responsibility for his failure to win more than one Gold Glove, given that he wasn't actually worthy of a Gold Glove more than once.

   3. JJ1986 Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:03 PM (#5902669)
Abreu doesn't really feel like a HoF to me, but he does feel really similar to Vlad Guerrero who sailed into the Hall.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5902670)
I get why he did not have the same presence on the field as Vladimir Guerrero. But I think the numbers are right, he was just as valuable as Vladdy.

Well, he took 1000 more PAs to get the same WAR, so even if you totally believe WAR, he wasn't as valuable. Vlad put up 4.3 WAR, and 2.1 WAA per 650 PA, Abreu 3.9, and 1.8.
   5. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5902672)
When he was active I thought that Abreu was a hall of famer. In retrospect... eh, I guess that I could go either way.

The guy that he reminds me of happens to be a hall of famer, and that's Billy Williams. Williams leads in WAR 63-60 and in OPS+ 133-128. He has about 450 more PA than does Abreu. Abreu leads in Rfield -8 to -38 and in Rpos -95 to -133 (Abreu played right and Williams played left). Basically, to think that Billy Williams is a hall of famer but Bobby Abreu isn't, you either have to weight offense more heavily than defense (and we're not talking extreme "doubts about Andruw Jones" kind of defense here), or you need to think that Williams' extra ~2/3 season makes the difference.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:10 PM (#5902673)
I've mentioned this before, but one of the biggest things helping Abreu is that he was quietly one of the most durable players of all time. In his 14 years as a regular, he averaged 155 games played each year, which is a good way to rack up impressive counting numbers and career WAR.

I think Abreu shares some of the responsibility for his failure to win more than one Gold Glove, given that he wasn't actually worthy of a Gold Glove more than once.


I'm pretty sure there was never a year where Abreu finished in the top three among outfielder in OPS+, so it's hard to say he deserved more Silver Sluggers, either. In the year he won, 2004, he was behind not just Bonds and Edmonds (the other two Silver Slugger outfielders) but Berkman, Drew and Dunn as well.
   7. JJ1986 Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5902674)
Well, he took 1000 more PAs to get the same WAR, so even if you totally believe WAR, he wasn't as valuable. Vlad put up 4.3 WAR, and 2.1 WAA per 650 PA, Abreu 3.9, and 1.8.
Vlad was done after his age-36 season. After his own age-36 season, Abreu had 997 PAs and put up .5 WAR.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:18 PM (#5902675)
Vlad was done after his age-36 season. After his own age-36 season, Abreu had 997 PAs and put up .5 WAR.

You want to ignore the end of the career? OK. Ten year peak: Vlad 5.3 WAR, 3.2 WAA per season. Abreu 4.9, 3.0.

Guerrero wasn't a lot better, but he was better.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:22 PM (#5902676)
The guy that he reminds me of happens to be a hall of famer, and that's Billy Williams. Williams leads in WAR 63-60 and in OPS+ 133-128. He has about 450 more PA than does Abreu. Abreu leads in Rfield -8 to -38 and in Rpos -95 to -133 (Abreu played right and Williams played left). Basically, to think that Billy Williams is a hall of famer but Bobby Abreu isn't, you either have to weight offense more heavily than defense (and we're not talking extreme "doubts about Andruw Jones" kind of defense here), or you need to think that Williams' extra ~2/3 season makes the difference.

Yeah, but they weren't looking at WAR when they elected Billy Williams. He hit 426 HRs in an era where that meant something. When he retired he was 15th in career HR, and when elected he was still 20th.
   10. JJ1986 Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5902678)
You want to ignore the end of the career? OK. Ten year peak: Vlad 5.3 WAR, 3.2 WAA per season. Abreu 4.9, 3.0.
I don't even particularly want to advocate for Abreu, but 1998-2007 he is at 5.2, 3.1.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:28 PM (#5902681)
Williams also had the more impressive peak, finishing second in the MVP balloting twice, while Abreu never reached the Top Ten.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:32 PM (#5902684)
Abreu seems a little like Raffy Palmeiro, only without the milestones or PEDS (presumably).

   13. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5902687)
When he was active I thought that Abreu was a vet committee type of hall of famer. That still feels right to me.
   14. Karl from NY Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5902688)
Well, he took 1000 more PAs to get the same WAR, so even if you totally believe WAR, he wasn't as valuable.

Isn't the definition of WAR that that constitutes the same value? The extra 1000 PAs would be filled by someone at replacement level of 0 WAR by definition. Vlad plus someone else's replacement 1000 PA equals Abreu.

I get that WAR/PA as a metric feels hall-of-famey, but I'm not sure there's a valid analytical basis for that. WAR already accounts for players with different amounts of playing time by way of the concept of replacement level. WAR/PA is a metric of peakiness, which can be a valid HOF criterion, but it doesn't say anything about career value.
   15. The Mighty Quintana Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5902690)
My subjective feeling is that he belongs in a category with Reggie Smith and Dwight Evans, juuuust short of HOF level. I think we need to put Grich and Whitaker in before we even consider this subset of multi-skilled, underappreciated outfielders.
   16. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5902691)
Abreu has a classic underrated profile. His power was more doubles/triples than HRs. Lots of walks. He never led the league in steals but stole a bunch at a high rate. Good defense (in his prime) at a corner position. Rarely grounded into a DP (+17 runs for his career). Vlad was kind of the opposite - a baseball maximalist's favorite with his huge cuts and cannon arm.

Vlad was also a significantly better hitter. 931 OPS/140 OPS+, against Abreu's 870/128. Abreu chips away at that if you whittle off his last few seasons (equalizing their PAs), but Vlad still retains a 140/131 OPS+ edge.

It also doesn't help Abreu's candidacy that the Phillies started going to the playoffs after he was traded and that the Yankees won the WS after he left.
   17. Rally Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5902692)
Abreu doesn't really feel like a HoF to me, but he does feel really similar to Vlad Guerrero who sailed into the Hall.


Part of it is they were exact contemporaries. Both had their first full season in 1998, playing in the NL East. Vlad went to the AL in 2004 and Abreu followed 2 years later. Both ended up on that wonderful 2009 Angels team, and both had their last good year in 2010.

That last good season illustrates the similarities and differences. Vlad hit .300-29-115 for the Rangers. Bobby hit .255-20-78 for the Angels. So obviously Vlad was better in 2010, right? Actually, Vlad only wins OPS+ by the slim margin of 119-118. Part of it was park, also Bobby took 87 walks to Vlad's 35. Not in OPS+ but Bobby also stole 24 bases. I don't know how he did it, he was 36 years old and not particularly fast, but he could still steal bases.

WAR: 1.9 Bobby, 1.8 Vlad. Vlad was a DH and so got the big negative position adjustment while Bobby played in the outfield. But he played it in a way that his WAR would have been better as a pure DH.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5902694)
Let's not confuse "value" and "quality." During their concurrent peaks of 98-07, Vlad produced at a slightly higher rate suggesing he was the slightly better player. However, Abreu was slightly more durable making the value difference virtually nil. I'm fine with focusing more on quality than value for the HoF but let's just be clear that WAR is a value stat, quantity times quality.

Still, even Snapper's quality argument is thin stuff from a WAR perspective. As noted above, Vlad had 9059 career PA. Shave off Abreu's extra 1000 PA (1996-2010) and he had 9084 PA. That's 59.4 WAR for Vlad vs 59.6 for Abreu in equal PAs. (Abreu has a small WAA edge but that's due to Vlad to that point playing more in the superior AL so he makes up the ground in Rrep.) Plus b-r conveniently gives us WAR7 which was 41.2 for Vlad and 41.6 for Abreu (who had 76 more PA over those 7 years). Vlad's quality argument really boils down to have another 3 seasons (99, 03, 06) of being a roughly 4 WAR player whereas Abreu was about a 3-WAR player. That tiny difference is made up by Abreu having about 10 WAR left in him while Vlad had only 7.

Really from a WAR perspective, you'd struggle to find two more equal players.
   19. Rally Posted: November 20, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5902696)
My subjective feeling is that he belongs in a category with Reggie Smith and Dwight Evans, juuuust short of HOF level.


I'd put Evans just ahead, because unlike Abreu he could really play defense. Checking the numbers Evans had 67 WAR, with a +66 career defense rating. Average defense Dwight then is an exact match with Abreu in WAR (~60), OPS+ (127 or 128) and career length (Evans with about 500 more PA, both over 10,000).

So yeah, definitely Evans.
   20. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5902697)
When he was active I thought that Abreu was a vet committee type of hall of famer. That still feels right to me.


Probably -

But here's an interesting question... Does it help him get there to stick around the ballot for a few years? Or go one and done?

I think Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell would agree that it helps to stick around.
   21. Rally Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5902698)
Really from a WAR perspective, you'd struggle to find two more equal players.


Yeah, they are probably closer than even the two shortstops in the Bartman game.
   22. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:09 PM (#5902704)
Similarly, Abreu won just one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, again through no fault of his own.

To say nothing of the fact that the man hit .300 FIVE TIMES before he finally played in an All-Star Game!
   23. The Duke Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:09 PM (#5902705)
I’m not being snarky. I follow baseball pretty closely and I simply don’t remember him. I went and looked up his stats thinking that since I’m a national league guy, maybe it’s just because he played in the AL. Nope.

It’s on me but if I can’t even remember him I’m having a hard time voting for him
   24. JJ1986 Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:13 PM (#5902708)
I follow baseball pretty closely and I simply don’t remember him.
For me he is most memorable for two things - Being traded for Kevin Stocker after being picked in the expansion draft and being afraid of the outfield wall.
   25. PreservedFish Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5902713)
I was a lurker on the Fanhome website where MGL developed what was (to my knowledge) the first version of WAR, which I think he called Super Linear Weights. This would have been around 2001 or 2002. I remember after publishing the results for the first time his first comment was something like "how the heck are the Phillies so mediocre?" because both Abreu and Rolen ranked so high.
   26. Karl from NY Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5902714)
Let's not confuse "value" and "quality." ... I'm fine with focusing more on quality than value for the HoF but let's just be clear that WAR is a value stat, quantity times quality.

What metric do you want to use for quality? WAA? Best-N-seasons WAR? MVP/Cy/All-Star votes/shares?

Basing a HOF argument on those is valid if you favor peakiness, but just as valid as favoring career value as in WAR.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5902720)
Was Billy Williams profoundly boring? I know nothing about him at all. I feel like he has totally been forgotten in the game's mythology.
   28. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5902722)
16: If you use wRC+, which correctly weights OBP, as opposed to OPS+ which weights it equally with SLG, the margin is even less. And if you cut Abreus PAs down comparable to Guerrero, it would be less still. Slight edge to Guerrero, but really close, albeit different shapes, to their contributions at the plate
   29. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5902723)
Was Billy Williams profoundly boring?

yes
   30. Karl from NY Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5902725)
Also the Cubs were pretty bereft of notoriety throughout basically his entire career.
   31. DL from MN Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5902728)
Abreu and Sammy Sosa have totally different ways of accumulating value but ended up pretty similar
   32. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 20, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5902733)
20 - yes, to stick around
24 - same. And the walks.
I tended to overrate him because he flashed lots of types of skills such that I could dream on them all coming together at some point. Which they sort of did! Dude was 30/30 twice and drew 100+ walks for 8 straight years and was a .300 hitter until the decline phase of his career and was durable.
Fine player.
   33. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 20, 2019 at 04:08 PM (#5902744)
Was Billy Williams profoundly boring? I know nothing about him at all. I feel like he has totally been forgotten in the game's mythology.


When he was in the on-deck circle, he used to spit out his gum and hit it with his bat.
   34. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 20, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5902745)
"how the heck are the Phillies so mediocre?" because both Abreu and Rolen ranked so high.


Three words, Randy Wolf, Ace.

Nothing against Randy Wolf (and his wonderful Wolf Pack rooting section) but their pitching was so mediocre -- Robert Person (Person's People), Brandon Duckworth (the Duck Pond), Eric Milton, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla (Padilla's Flotilla). I'm sure I'm missing some "contributors".
   35. Zach Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5902782)
He'll have a case, but will he have a constituency? Is there anybody out there who's going to keep putting him on their ballot and let him build some momentum?

60 WAR is a pretty respectable argument for consideration. Weighing against that, he never finished higher than 12th in the MVP race and was only an All Star twice.

What do Phillies fans think?
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:05 PM (#5902785)
Billy Williams was seen as a quiet, reliable player. He set the NL record for consecutive games played with 1,117 from 1963-70 (a mark later broken by BBTF fave Steve Garvey).

He sat out one early-September game in 1970, then played in 157, 150 (out of 155 by the Cubs), and 156 games.

he was traded to Oakland in late October 1974 - just a couple of weeks after the A's three-peated in the WS - for bullpen mainstays Darold Knowles and Bob Locker as well as a youngster named Manny Trillo.

Williams DH'd almost exclusively for two seasons at age 37-38, getting his only taste of the postseason in 1975 when the Red Sox swept the A's in three games. Williams went a forgettable 0 for 7 with a walk.

he married a woman named Shirley Williams - so she got to keep her maiden name. no fuss. again.

seemed always to bat third, sweet swing honed by coach Rogers Hornsby, had a "natural cycle" once - single, double, triple, homer in that order.

he's 81 now, presumably back in Alabama - not needing attention.
   37. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5902788)
I doubt he'll come close, and I know from looking at the ballot, he would not be in my top 10. I get why he did not have the same presence on the field as Vladimir Guerrero. But I think the numbers are right, he was just as valuable as Vladdy.


Abreu and Vlad kind of typify the HOF versus Hall of Merit divider for me. Similar value, but Vlad was way, way more fun, and more of a "did I tell you when I saw so and so play" type of guy. When you are on the borderline, that's the kind of stuff that defines yes/no for the hall.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:16 PM (#5902789)
Abreu's performance in the election is largely dependent on whether the full-ballot (or close to it) voting patterns of the past six elections continue now that that ballot isn't overstuffed. I think he'll at least make it to Year 2.

   39. SoSH U at work Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:18 PM (#5902790)
Similar value, but Vlad was way, way more fun, and more of a "did I tell you when I saw so and so play" type of guy. When you are on the borderline, that's the kind of stuff that defines yes/no for the hall.


The big difference between the two was Guerrero was far Vladdier than Abreu.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:34 PM (#5902794)
Was Billy Williams profoundly boring?

Well, he was pretty quiet, neither funny nor controversial. He was however well known for his "sweet swing" which was a pretty classic LH power line-drive swing. I think his "place in the mythology" would depend on whether you are talking to black players, coaches, fans or not. I recall players like Aaron, Morgan, Stargell, etc. talking with great respect about Williams ... possibly mentioning him more often than Ernie. It would be interesting to talk with the young black players who came up to the Cubs from, say, 66-73 -- Cubs didn't keep most of them around for long but I'd be curious what they thought of Williams. Obviously I see him through a Cub fan perspective (and one who saw him play and owned 2 Billy Williams gloves!) but I get the impression he was sort of viewed as a Frank Robinson type -- obviously not as good a player as Robinson nor as important in social terms but strong and quiet. Maybe McCovey is the better combined hitting and personality comp.

In terms of HoF (and "place in the history") he also had the issue that he peaked late -- 2nd-place MVP seasons in 70 and 72, 3 of his 5 300 seasons came from 32-34. Probably a lot of his quality play in the 60s (seasons of 7.7 and 6.5 WAR) got overlooked due to the deadball era. So he ends up with "just" 3 100-RBI seasons, one 40-HR season, falls short of 3000 hits, 500 HRs, 1500 RBI. Again viewed from a Cub fan reading Chicago papers but there was a pretty big outcry when he debuted with just 23% of the HoF vote. He immediately jumped to over 40% and had a fairly easy ride from there (on some pretty weak ballots). Coincidentally, he was just 0.9% short of being inducted in the same year as McCovey.

In the public eye he was probably best known for setting the NL record for consecutive games played (broken not too many years later by the AntiChrist who still holds it as far as I know). He finally missed game 59 of the 1971 season (thanks b-r) -- I don't know why but Santo got the start in LF and Hickman in RF and (good god why?) Popovich at 3B so either it was an emergency or Durocher decided his cleverness was more important than the streak and wanted a RH-heavy lineup against Gullett. But LHBs Pepitone and Brock Davis both started and he could have used Williams to PH against Wayne Granger in the 7th or 8th but didn't PH for Popovich or Canizzaro and then used Ernie for the pitcher ... so probably not available for whatever reason. But he was back out there for the complete game #61 and didn't get another full game off until #105 (he PH'd in the first game of a DH in June).
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:37 PM (#5902796)
e's 81 now, presumably back in Alabama - not needing attention.
Williams is certainly not forgotten here in Chicago, at least. He's a big part of the scoreboard montages that celebrate Cubs tradition, etc. He comes back to Wrigley for various occasions, it seems like pretty frequently for someone his age. Always gets a warm reception from the crowd.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:46 PM (#5902799)
Of course his SABR bio:

"Billy is the best left-handed hitter I ever saw," said Willie Stargell late in Williams’ career. “But for all you hear about him you'd think he was playing in the dark. Can he hit the ball hard? I remember one time I was playing first base and he stung one through my legs before I could even move my glove. Bam. It was gone. I always keep my eyes open when Billy is batting. He could hurt you, know what I mean?" Ernie Banks, Williams’ long-time teammate and friend, needed fewer words. “Billy Williams can hit,” said Mr. Cub.

...

In the middle of his year in San Antonio, he jumped the club and went back home. “I was not accustomed to being treated like an animal away from the baseball diamond,” he later recounted. ‘”I couldn’t take the bigotry discrimination, and overt racism.”vi Although he had grown up in a segregated town, trying to live as an adult in a white world, trying to eat in restaurants or stay in hotels was a new experience. He finally snapped. After Williams was home a week, Buck O’Neil, a Cubs scout, headed to Whistler to talk him into returning. It took him a couple of days to do so.vii After a few weeks back in San Antonio Williams was promoted to Ft. Worth (Triple-A Texas League) where he hit 10-for-21 (.476) in his first week before he was called to the major leagues.

...

Williams was long admired for his picture-perfect swing. He was not a big man, just 6’1” and 175 pounds, but his graceful stroke earned him the enduring nickname of “Sweet Swingin’ Billy.” Ron Santo called it “probably one of the shortest swings in baseball, and one of the prettiest.” Willie Stargell, who played against Williams for 15 years, agreed. “His swing is poetry in motion, really.” Though he had the same stroke his whole life, Williams credited Rogers Hornsby, the Cubs batting coach at the start of his career who worked with Williams in the minor leagues, for teaching him to think and focus at the plate.

... (and yes he was boring)

"He's a well-disciplined man," said Ernie Banks. "Billy Williams' life is a system. He gets up at the same time. He eats at the same time, leaves for the park at the same time, gets home at the same time. Nothing distracts him from his system." Billy’s favorite off-field endeavor was fishing, which he loved from his days in Whistler. When Ferguson Jenkins joined the club in 1966, he and Williams became great friends and often fished together. They bought a boat and after day games at Wrigley Field would often head out to Lake Michigan to get in some fishing.

...

The Cubs honored Billy Williams with a “day” on June 29, 1969. [That's got to be a rarity, he was only 2/3 of the way through his career, hadn't had his greatest years yet. Maybe it was the day he broke the consecutive games streak or something.]

...

Suddenly, after more than a decade of stardom, people were talking about Williams. "It's kind of funny," said teammate Bob Locker, a veteran pitcher. "Here's a guy who does it the way it's supposed to be done, day in and day out, according to the book. And people don't notice him because he's not flashy—only good. It makes you wonder." Dave Cash, Pirates second baseman, echoed the thought. "When I got to the Pirates I found out there were guys who weren't half as good as I had heard they were. But when I saw Billy Williams I said, ‘This man is a ballplayer, and nobody writes about him.’"

...

In his induction speech, he took the opportunity to make the case for further advancement for African-Americans. “The road is rocky and long, but the time has come for true equality. The next courageous step rests with the owners of the 26 major-league clubs. They can make the difference by not looking at the color of a man`s skin but by examining his talent, knowledge and leadership. If this is the land of opportunity, then let it be truly a land of opportunity for all.”

...

Billy was always a notch below his illustrious fellow 1960s outfielders Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Roberto Clemente—a tough standard to meet. He was overshadowed by his friend and teammate, Ernie Banks, forever “Mr. Cub.” He rarely made news during his career; there are no zany quotes or anecdotes about this quiet, dignified man. And he is the victim of his own incredible consistency, as one excellent season followed another.

... and I was wrong about the streak. Apparently it ended on Sept 3, 1970 and Williams is quoted as saying he had wanted a day off and was relieved when Durocher suggested it.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:56 PM (#5902801)
Here's the full bio or just follow the link at b-r. Very well done by Mark Armour.
   44. alilisd Posted: November 20, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5902802)
38: Very nice, succinct summary!

41: That’s good to hear!
   45. Rob_Wood Posted: November 20, 2019 at 08:45 PM (#5902830)
I remember seeing a montage of fan predictions for the Cubs before opening day on WGN (I think it was the day before the 1969 season started). There were a mix of predictions with only a few fans predicting that the Cubs would contend for the division title/pennant. The last person they showed gave a full-throated prediction that the Cubs would win not only the division, but the pennant, and the World Series. "Tell me sir, what makes you think the Cubs are going to have such a great 1969 season?" "Because I play left field for the Cubs and I have unbounded confidence in myself and my teammates." Of course, it was Billy Williams (who I and undoubtedly 99% of the viewing audience did not recognize since he was wearing regular clothes).

It's funny the things that stick in your mind for a lifetime.
   46. bobm Posted: November 20, 2019 at 09:26 PM (#5902840)
Abreu and Vlad kind of typify the HOF versus Hall of Merit divider for me. Similar value, but Vlad was way, way more fun, and more of a "did I tell you when I saw so and so play" type of guy. When you are on the borderline, that's the kind of stuff that defines yes/no for the hall.

And the contemporary awards reflect that IMO.

Abreu:
                
Age       Awards
22              
23              
24              
25        MVP-23
26              
27        MVP-16
28              
29        MVP-27
30     AS MVP-23 SS
31     AS MVP-14 GG
32              
32              
32              
33        MVP-17
34              
35        MVP-12
36              
37              
38                         
40              


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2019.

Guerrero
                 
Age        Awards
21               
22          RoY-6
23         MVP-13
24      AS MVP-11 SS
25      AS  MVP-6 SS
26      AS MVP-24
27      AS  MVP-4 SS
28         MVP-17
29      AS  MVP-1 SS
30      AS  MVP-3 SS
31      AS  MVP-9 SS
32      AS  MVP-3 SS
33         MVP-14
34               
35      AS MVP-11 SS
36               


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2019.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: November 20, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5902846)
Abreu and Vlad kind of typify the HOF versus Hall of Merit divider for me.

That's a reasonable point. (Note that's not really what the HoM set out to do, they more set out to replace crappy VC inductees with worthy players ... but they have some "fame" and "felt like an HoFer" biases too ... and the convenience of not having to achieve a 75% consensus.)

I wouldn't really argue that Abreu deserves the HoF as much or more than Vlad ... but I have high HoF standards and consider Vlad a pretty borderline inductee and things always get fuzzy on the border. Like everybody else, I was happy to see him go in because he was memorable, fun and helped me win a comeback fantasy title (must have been 97 or 98). If he'd played for the Cubs, he'd be in the Dawson/Sosa category for sure.
   48. Howie Menckel Posted: November 21, 2019 at 12:05 AM (#5902861)
he'd be in the Dawson/Sosa category for sure.

I have such fond memories of flying in for Cubs-Mets weekend series annually at Wrigley Field and sitting in the right field bleachers - first for the Andre Dawson Experience (stoic) and then for the Sammy Sosa Experience (exuberant). both were a delight.

nobody ever got to their deathbed and said, "Geesh, I wish I hadn't made all those trips when I was young."

:)
   49. Moeball Posted: November 21, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5902917)
When I was first becoming a rabid fan in the late 1960s, a pattern was emerging that I only really noticed in later years. Looking at several positions on the field, my favorite players were: 1B) AL Killebrew NL McCovey SS) AL Fregosi NL Wills LF) AL Yaz NL B. Williams CF) AL Mantle NL Mays RF) AL Kaline NL Aaron P) AL Kaat NL Marichal

I had no idea at the time that this was the Jackie Robinson effect in full force. Because Jackie was in the NL and not the AL, NL teams were much quicker to jump on the bandwagon and it swung the momentum of All Star games for years as a result. But yes, I have fond memories of watching Sweet Swinging Billy Williams.
   50. Jack Sommers Posted: November 23, 2019 at 07:55 PM (#5903493)
Walt

Just something I remember as a kid in 1971, a quote from Williams about the streak being a "Monkey on his back" he was glad to relieve himself of. The way I remember it, he took himself out of lineup. But I could have it wrong. I was 12.

   51. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 25, 2019 at 03:07 PM (#5903808)
This site, and statheads in general, are putting way too much weight and faith into WAR. You're all now more or less deciding HOF admission on raw WAR and walking it backwards from there.

fWAR has Bobby leading 60 to 55.

I am starting to refuse to use decimal places with WAR, because there is absolutely no way that it is that precise.

WAR needs to die.



   52. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 25, 2019 at 05:29 PM (#5903856)

#51 do you think Abreu should be in the HOF? Why or why not?
   53. DL from MN Posted: November 25, 2019 at 05:37 PM (#5903860)
This site, and statheads in general, are putting way too much weight and faith into WAR. You're all now more or less deciding HOF admission on raw WAR and walking it backwards from there.


Beats the hell out of "I think he felt like a Hall of Famer when I watched him play but I can't really remember anymore". Objective measurements are a better place to start from than subjective feelings based on stories told by sportswriters.
   54. Srul Itza Posted: November 25, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5903873)
You're all now more or less deciding HOF admission on raw WAR and walking it backwards from there.


Not all of us.

Beats the hell out of "I think he felt like a Hall of Famer when I watched him play but I can't really remember anymore". Objective measurements are a better place to start from than subjective feelings based on stories told by sportswriters.


Not stories, but there are narratives that some of us are well old enough to remember. David Ortiz does not make the "WAR" cut off for some, but he is a no-doubter for me. 90% of the SDCNs on this site would kick Lou Brock out of the HOF; those of us who remember the 60s and 70s and those World Series performances feel differently.

90% of the SDCNs would kick almost every relief pitcher out of the Hall. I am lukewarm, but I have no problem with Goose, Mo or Hoyt having plaques.
   55. Bleed the Freak Posted: November 25, 2019 at 10:06 PM (#5903911)
At 54, check out Kikos Win Loss records, David Ortiz is an easy pick for HOF status on his site, he may be getting hosed by the positional adjustment in other systems.
   56. Jay Z Posted: November 26, 2019 at 12:57 AM (#5903932)
Isn't the definition of WAR that that constitutes the same value? The extra 1000 PAs would be filled by someone at replacement level of 0 WAR by definition. Vlad plus someone else's replacement 1000 PA equals Abreu.


WAR is not an all purpose superstat. You still need to make playing time adjustments.

A zero WAR player over 1000 PA has negative win value. The "market value" of the player is zero, there is no reason to spend anything on the resource. There is also a negative opportunity cost because you are spending finite playing time resources for a player with no value in the pennant race. So the overall value is negative.

Players at a "pennant winning" level or higher (maybe around 2.1 WAR per year) have no opportunity cost. You can collect as many as you want and you will make the playoffs. I am quite skeptical of peak WAR being valuable in more than a linear sense. But due to opportunity cost, low or no WAR playing time does need to be discounted or subtracted for.
   57. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 26, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5904001)
WAR is not an all purpose superstat. You still need to make playing time adjustments.

A zero WAR player over 1000 PA has negative win value. The "market value" of the player is zero, there is no reason to spend anything on the resource. There is also a negative opportunity cost because you are spending finite playing time resources for a player with no value in the pennant race. So the overall value is negative.

Players at a "pennant winning" level or higher (maybe around 2.1 WAR per year) have no opportunity cost. You can collect as many as you want and you will make the playoffs. I am quite skeptical of peak WAR being valuable in more than a linear sense. But due to opportunity cost, low or no WAR playing time does need to be discounted or subtracted for.


Yeah, I haven't quite figured out how to make the math work. But in-season replacement level is clearly lower than cross-season replacement level. That is, if, say, Larry Walker has his usual couple of minor injuries and has to miss 35 games, the Rockies are forced to play their 4th or 5th outfielder in those games, and that guy's probably not very good (or he'd be starting). That's a real advantage of Abreu over Walker that I think is probably fairly accurately captured by the current variations of WAR.

But if you know going into a season that Larry Walker has retired, you can go out and find a starter-level right fielder to replace him. I'm not sure that "average" is the right replacement - because of the skew of player talent, I would expect the median starter is below the mean of all starters (Are there any starting CF as much below average as Mike Trout is above average? I would guess not.). And, for that matter, even a median starter may not be available at every position every season, so the long-run replacement level is probably closer to .500 than the shorter-term replacement level, even at the season level.

So, in-season replacement level is pretty low - probably about where most folks set replacement level (0.300 team, give or take). But cross-season replacement level is higher - maybe a .450 team? But I'm not entirely sure how to combine those two things within a single metric.

As an aside, Abreu and Walker played basically the same number of seasons, so this isn't really a big issue in terms of comparing them. Abreu's playing time advantage over Walker (2,419 games to 1,984 games) was almost entirely due to differences in in-season durability.
   58. Rally Posted: November 26, 2019 at 11:47 AM (#5904007)
But if you know going into a season that Larry Walker has retired, you can go out and find a starter-level right fielder to replace him.


True, but you'd be spending resources to do that. Either straight money on the free agent market or trading assets.
   59. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 26, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5904008)
True, but you'd be spending resources to do that. Either straight money on the free agent market or trading assets.


But you're not spending resources on Larry Walker any more (assuming he retired (or left for free agency) at the end of a contract - not a Jacoby Ellsbury situation). In-season, Walker's still getting paychecks when he's on the injured list.
   60. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: November 26, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5904012)

A zero WAR player over 1000 PA has negative win value. The "market value" of the player is zero, there is no reason to spend anything on the resource. There is also a negative opportunity cost because you are spending finite playing time resources for a player with no value in the pennant race. So the overall value is negative.


This is a kind of odd way to put it. Maybe replacement value is too low. But it is a benchmark. Arguing that the benchmark you specifically set to be zero is 'actually' negative makes no sense to me.
   61. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5904028)
I was in Philly during the rise and fall of Bobby's career there. He and Magglio Ordonez are part of my dark horse unheralded star fantasy player hall of fame. Both helped me win the 1999 fantasy baseball flag as in season free agent pick ups. Both kind of kind the same job done to them in that when they were thought of, if they were even thought of at all, they were viewed as second tier stars.

Bobby had the misfortune of being a quiet Spanish speaking very good to great player that played his home games in Philly. Because he wasn't comfortable doing interviews or endorsements in English you rarely saw or heard him in the Philadelphia area. You'd occasionally see an interview with him with a translator but his media presence was practically nil. Bobby Abreu was viewed in Philly as one of their stars during the Rockin Rolen era of the Phillies until two things happened. Bowa came to town and Abreu signed what was at the time the largest contract in Phillies history. Bowa and the media pretty much blamed the stars of the team for the failings of the Phillies overall. Rolen was chased out of town and Bobby was labeled as a non Bowa-do-whatever-it-takes type player. It wasn't that Bowa wasn't a very good manager or that Wade would trade away the entire farm for crappy relievers or that they couldn't develop pitchers or really that the farm went dry. No it was Bobby Abreu's fault because occasionally a ball would get hit near the wall and he wouldn't dive head first into the wall to get it like Shane Victorino would eventually come along and do.
   62. Rally Posted: November 26, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5904029)
Walker gives you wins above the baseline, and is therefore worth a good deal of money. If he leaves your team you can spend that money on someone else that gives you wins above the baseline. I don't think that changes the idea that there is a baseline.

It's true that if Walker predictably misses 40 games a year you still have to pay him while he's on the DL. But that should be built into the salary - you'd pay a higher salary to get a guy that had Walker's talent and Cal Ripken's durability.
   63. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 26, 2019 at 02:30 PM (#5904057)
So, in-season replacement level is pretty low - probably about where most folks set replacement level (0.300 team, give or take). But cross-season replacement level is higher - maybe a .450 team?

As Rally says, the idea of Replacement Level is that's who you can get for the minimum salary. You can't put together a .450 team paying the minimum at every position.
   64. Rally Posted: November 26, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5904063)
When you're talking about HOF candidates, I can understand wanting to use a different baseline than replacement level. I don't think that desire has an implications for replacement level. A good alternative is wins above average, with all seasons less than zero counted at zero.
   65. bbmck Posted: November 26, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5904113)
No doubt Hall of Fame career that led to a witch hunt for the people that didn't vote for him vs Bobby Abreu:

First ~5000 PA using closest full season:
59.2 WAR, 5262 PA, 150 OPS+, 22 Rbaser/DP, 89.1 Rfield
42 WAR, 4962 PA, 140 OPS+, 17.9 Rbaser/DP, 61.7 Rfield

Next ~5000 PA
24.5 WAR, 4905 PA, 130 OPS+, 9.2 Rbaser/DP, -82.7 Rfield
18.1 WAR, 5119 PA, 117 OPS+, 14.8 Rbaser/DP, -70 Rfield

Rest of Career:
0.2 WAR, 1137 PA, 93 OPS+, -6.2 Rbaser/DP, -3 Rfield
"only" had ~10000 PA

Is 70% of Ken Griffey Jr (top line) a Hall of Famer? ~5% better hitter, played a more difficult position and better relative to his position when young, hung on past 4884 Total Bases and 1162 Walks in 10167 PA to further distance himself from Abreu's future career totals of 4026 Total Bases and 1476 Walks in 10081 PA.

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