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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Detroit Tigers great Bill Freehan dies at age 79 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease

Former Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan, a perennial All-Star and the quiet leader of 1968 world champions, has died at age 79 the team announced on Thursday. Freehan had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, spending the last few years in under hospice care in his northern Michigan home.

Freehan is best remembered for the 1968 championship season when he caught 155 regular-season games, nearly all of Denny McLain’s 31 victories, before handling World Series MVP Mickey Lolich’s three complete-game victories. As the runner-up to McLain for the American League MVP award that year, Freehan posted career highs in home runs (25), RBIs (84) and runs scored (73).

“Longtime Tiger, arguably the best catcher in the history of the organization and deep Michigan roots,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said before Thursday’s game against the Angels at Comerica Park. “Condolences to his family and all the Tiger fans. (Pitching coach) Chris Fetter actually coached his grandson at the University of Michigan. Anybody that’s been around the organization for a long time, Al (Avila, general manager) and the group upstairs, (third base coach) Ramon Santiago, we were just talking about it inside, has a heavy heart today. A true Tiger.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 19, 2021 at 10:48 AM | 94 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill freehan, obituaries, tigers

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   1. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6035119)

Freehan may get into Hall now that Simmons has made the trek from below 5% to induction. He’s not as strong a candidate but a great player on a bunch of great teams. I think Munson needs to get in first though
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:54 AM (#6035124)
RIP
   3. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 12:51 PM (#6035131)
Another football concussion sufferer who appears to have been incapacitated for 10+ years. Terrible. I had a fellow exec at my company (ex football player ) who had Lou Gehrig’s disease and continued to let his son play football. Why anyone lets their kid play football is beyond me. It’s a recipe for an early an awful death. At least baseball has eliminated the home plate collision. I’d like to see them do more on foul balls off the mask
   4. TomH Posted: August 19, 2021 at 12:55 PM (#6035132)
He was past prime when I began following baseball. Some info I find:

- eleven times an all star, wow

In 1967-68, he was 3rd and 2nd in MVP voting. By Win Shares for those two years, the MLB leaders are
Yastrzemski, C 81
Aaron, Hank 66
Howard, Frank 66
Santo, Ron 66
Freehan, Bill 65

Given how hard it is for catchers to rank high in WS, it looks to me like Freehan was only behind Yaz as the best player in the game for those two years. WAR is not as (relative to peer rankings) kind to Freehan as WS is.


   5. salvomania Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6035136)
I was just checking out his bb-ref page and see he led the AL in HBP three times---twice with totals in the 20s, which seems normal, and one with just *eight* (1964), which seems almost impossibly low for a league leader.

EDIT: From 1917-1950 it wasn't the norm, but not unusual to have single-digit league-leading HBP totals. In the AL since 1950, though, it's only happened in two seasons (1964-65, with none since), with eight HBP (by Freehan and two others) the lowest HBP total to lead the league.

Oddly, in the NL, there were two bursts of low-HBP leaders since 1950: Four seasons in six years (1955-1960, with a low of eight), and then six seasons from 1980-1990 (including the '81 strike year), with a low of six(!) in 1980. Then, zero such seasons in the last 32 years.

   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:06 PM (#6035137)
As I & others have long noted, the Hall of Fame is way overdue for a proper positional adjustment for catchers, with Freehan possibly the most glaring example, but far from the only one. Better late than never on such recognition, but it’s unfortunate that Freehan wasn’t honored in his lifetime.
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:13 PM (#6035140)
still holds the record, with Lolich, for most times appearing as a battery (324)
   8. TomH Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:27 PM (#6035143)
more info

Lee Sinins' baseball encyclopedia has Freehan ranked #2 in MLB (to Yaz) for 67-68 in what it calls Runs Created Above Position. This is like "Offensive WAR" on bb-ref.

In Freehan's prime, 1964-72, his only competition for best MLB catcher would be Bench (who was a rookie in 68) and Torre (who was no longer catchign when he MVP in 71).

   9. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6035146)
Another football concussion sufferer who appears to have been incapacitated for 10+ years. Terrible. I had a fellow exec at my company (ex football player ) who had Lou Gehrig’s disease and continued to let his son play football. Why anyone lets their kid play football is beyond me.
100%. My oldest son played in college, was 1st team all-state and captain of his school's best team ever. There were some truly awesome moments along the way, but if I could go back to the day of his first practice and just not drop him off our whole family would be better for it.
   10. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 01:59 PM (#6035148)
I was a really good athlete and would have been a good wideout in football. My dad never told me what I could and couldn’t do but when I tried to join football he refused. He wouldn’t budge. This was long before concussion awareness. He said it was a dangerous sport riddled with terrible injuries - he was right. Hockey isn’t too far behind - they should do more in that sport - lots of hits in the back and pounding on the boards. I love old school hockey but that sport has tons of joint injuries and concussions.
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 19, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6035150)
I'm not a Tigers fan, but as a lifelong baseball fan who enjoys going to Induction Weekends in Cooperstown, I would love a weekend where both Whitaker and Freehan got in, and it would be this massive celebration of Tigers baseball. I'm not sure the way the various Veterans Committees are set up makes this possible, though - would the two of them be eligible in different eras?
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6035157)
I'm not sure the way the various Veterans Committees are set up makes this possible, though - would the two of them be eligible in different eras?


Yes, they get to be overlooked by two separate committees (Golden and Modern eras).

   13. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:02 PM (#6035161)
eleven times an all star, wow

And in case you were thinking, "yeah, but they had two ASGs a year in those days" (like, um, I was), the multiple-ASG years were 1959-62, before Freehan got started. In the twelve years (1964-75) in which Freehan was a regular catcher, he was all-star every year but 1974. (The AL actually had five catchers on the ASG roster that year: Munson, Sundberg, Porter, Fisk and...Ed Herrmann, making his only ASG appearance.)

Even giving Freehan full catcher credit (10 WAR) only gets him to 55, which is enough to be in the HOF conversation but not quite enough to get him there. Great player, tho.
   14. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:43 PM (#6035173)
If it’s supposed to be great players of an era, I think Freehan has to be the guy. The only other two pure catchers of that era who are worth looking at are Howard and McCarver and Freehan is heads and shoulders above both.

There’s joe Torre who arguably is comparable but Torres player case is as a utility player not as a full-time catcher.

Freehan is the perfect bridge from Berra, Campanella to Bench and Simmons and Fisk
   15. TJ Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:47 PM (#6035174)
I know this was before free agency, but the 1968 Tigers seemed to have a lot of guys who spent over a decade in the Olde English D. They had Al Kaline (22 years), Bill Freehan, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley and John Hiller (15 years each), Dick McAuliffe (14 years), Mickey Lolich and Gates Brown (13 years), and Jim Northrup (11 years). That strikes me as a lot of talent staying in one town for a long time regardless of era…
   16. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:47 PM (#6035175)
Even giving Freehan full catcher credit (10 WAR) only gets him to 55, which is enough to be in the HOF conversation but not quite enough to get him there. Great player, tho.
55 is a far too high a bar for getting a catcher into the Hall. Only eight catchers have ever gotten to 55 WAR. Obvious active Hall of Famer Buster Posey isn't gonna get to 55. Probably HoFer Yadi Molina won't. Salvy Perez is going to be knocking on the door someday, and he's barely halfway to 55.

I think Freehan's not just a HoFer, but an obvious one.
   17. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6035178)
Freehan's at 45, and my informal in/out line is 62. I grant up to 10 WAR for full-time catchers, so Freehan's at 55.

My gut sez he belongs, but the numbers don't, quite.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 19, 2021 at 03:59 PM (#6035181)
The eleven All-Star games is a tremendous credential, but it's also a little misleading, since there were very few top-flight catchers in the AL in that era. Freehan was an All-Star in three separate seasons when he hit exactly .234.
   19. sanny manguillen Posted: August 19, 2021 at 04:07 PM (#6035182)
I think that Freehan would be in the Golden Era group with Dick Allen, Maury Wills an Tony Oliva, and he wasn't even balloted last time? That would have been in 2014 for 2015 induction.
   20. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 19, 2021 at 06:48 PM (#6035214)
there were very few top-flight catchers in the AL in that era

True. Among players who logged at least 75% of their innings behind the dish in the AL from 1964-75, Freehan (43 WAR) laps the field, well ahead of Munson (30) and Fisk (18), both of whom didn't make the majors until 1969. Ellie Rodriguez (who?), Darrell Porter and Ray Fosse are the only others in double figures. (Johnny Bench, with 50 WAR, was the big winner in the NL, followed by Sanguillen [27], Tom Haller [23] and McCarver and Simmons [both 22].)
   21. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 19, 2021 at 09:19 PM (#6035229)
The eleven All-Star games is a tremendous credential, but it's also a little misleading, since there were very few top-flight catchers in the AL in that era.


Isnt Freehan's value to his team directly related to the other catchers in the league? I mean if he's the best one in AL then he's the best one and he's obviously adding a large value as a catcher. I dunno how you'd even begin to compare catchers over time and say this era catchers were pretty good; and this era catchers were great, and this era catchers were lousy?

Dont you have to start with the assumption the best catchers in any given time period are pretty much on a par with the best catcher of another period. Unless there are external circumstances like a war or perhaps someone paying guys who catch to play another sport or something. Right? I dont get the argument.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: August 19, 2021 at 09:28 PM (#6035230)
I think that Freehan would be in the Golden Era group with Dick Allen,


He would have to be. He debuted and retired before Allen.
   23. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 09:57 PM (#6035241)
I don’t even think Freehan is making the ballot much less getting voted in. Maybe dying will give him a boost
   24. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 10:12 PM (#6035245)
From Pos earlier this year: But Freehan came on the ballot with Henry Aaron and Frank Robinson. Billy Williams and Tony Oliva also came on the ballot that year. That was yet another bad break for Freehan because there were already a bunch of players on the ballot — Juan Marichal, Harmon Killebrew, Hoyt Wilhelm, Luis Aparicio, Don Drysdale — who the BBWAA would eventually vote in. Freehan fell through the cracks. He has a good Hall of Fame case.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: August 19, 2021 at 10:31 PM (#6035248)
Dont you have to start with the assumption the best catchers in any given time period are pretty much on a par with the best catcher of another period. Unless there are external circumstances like a war or perhaps someone paying guys who catch to play another sport or something. Right? I dont get the argument.


Not really. Or more accurately being the best in an era doesn't necessarily make you hof worthy. If the era had a congested grouping of value for a position, in which the difference between the best and average in a year is not as big as it is in other eras, then it's maybe arguable that being the best in that time isn't really that noteworthy. There really are no hof worth shortstops in the 60's-70's as the era focused on defense first, and Concepcion just wasn't good enough to separate himself from the pack. (Note I'm not saying that Freehan qualifies for that argument... that is a different discussion)

Add in that hof is is a combination of both in season greatness and longevity (again Freehan isn't really losing in this type of argument) and just being the best over a sustained time doesn't mean you get in, it just puts your name in the discussion.

There is no reason to think that the best player over a ten year or 15 year stretch at every position is hof worthy. Just like there is no reason to think that the average player at every position is equally as valuable.

   26. cardsfanboy Posted: August 19, 2021 at 10:32 PM (#6035249)
Mind you, I would put Freehan in long before I put Munson or Posada in. (And it wouldn't take much effort to convince me that Munson should be in)
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 19, 2021 at 10:57 PM (#6035258)
W.A.R. per 162 games:

Bill Freehan 4.1
Thurman Munson 5.2
Jorge Posada 3.8
Yadier Molina 3.2
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:08 PM (#6035261)
W.A.R. per 162 games:

Bill Freehan 4.1
Thurman Munson 5.2
Jorge Posada 3.8
Yadier Molina 3.2


And that is a different discussion, as many people feels war under represents catchers defense (and of course if you use Fangraphs war you end up with massively different numbers... the arguments for any player is not entirely based upon one system of war...and of course Munson had no decline phase etc.)

I feel that among the three names I mentioned above that Freehan is the best candidate, that Munson is also good to be in the discussion and that Posada is probably outside looking in.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:16 PM (#6035262)
Isnt Freehan's value to his team directly related to the other catchers in the league?

Dave Concepcion, is that you?

meanwhile, Freehan debuted on the Hall of Merit ballot in 1982.
he finished 5th.
Aaron got all 56 first-place ballots and FRobinson got all 56 No. 2s.
BWilliams was 3rd by a metric shitt-ton.

then the ballot splintered, as a dozen players got 8 to 30 votes on the 15-man ballots out of 56.
that group in order of votes points was Mendez, FREEHAN, Sewell, Kiner, Pierce, Minoso, Waddell, Childs, Duffy, DMoore, Beckley, Redding, Boyer, NFox, Van Haltren.

in 1983, "rookie" Dick Allen nosed out BWilliams, and newbies BRobinson and Torre were a strong 3rd and 4th.

Mendez, Freehan, and Sewell then led the backlog parade again.

in 1984, BRobinson and Torre lapped the field and yada yada yada.

in 1985, the top newcomer was Lou Brock who debuted in 30th place - and Mendez, Freehan, and Sewell again locked arms but this time all 3 pranced into the HOM in a classic backlog ballot year.
   30. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:20 PM (#6035264)
Freehan got into the Hall of Merit without much trouble. He'd be a worthy addition to Cooperstown.
   31. The Duke Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:26 PM (#6035265)
Pure catchers who do it every day always are higher on my list. Guys like Torre, Mauer and Tenace are great players but catching 140-150 games a year, every year and playing at a high level is what’s important to me. Freehan is really the best at his era at this.

I do think being best in your era is important. These are the names that everyone from that generation recognize as the best. Maybe Freehan doesn’t quite line up with Berra and Bench but he was by far the best catcher of his time.

I’m no Steve Garvey fan and I have some issues with Dave Parker but these guys were recognized as the best of their time. They should be in.

It’s the Hall of Fame after all, not the Hall of WAR
   32. dejarouehg Posted: August 19, 2021 at 11:58 PM (#6035269)
About a year ago, I started collecting his cards because I thought he might have a chance at the HoF. Always thought he never got the recognition he deserved watching him as a kid. I thought he was just as good, if not better than, Munson and Fisk. (Also started collecting Tiant.)

   33. Howie Menckel Posted: August 20, 2021 at 12:19 AM (#6035271)
fwiw (debatable), the HOM quickly elected Fisk, saw Freehan as a place-filler for a bad HOF selection, has not elected Mubson (though he still garners a few votes), and finally just elected Tiant as basically the backlogger's backlogger.
   34. sanny manguillen Posted: August 20, 2021 at 12:29 AM (#6035272)
Catching was the weakness among the stars who died last year, but this year's team has both Freehan and Del Crandall. Freehan played about a season's worth of games at first scattered through his career, while Crandall seldom played anywhere at catcher, so Crandall catches, Freehan takes first, and Joe Cunningham gets bumped to an outfield spot opposite Aaron.
   35. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 02:14 AM (#6035274)

I’m no Steve Garvey fan and I have some issues with Dave Parker but these guys were recognized as the best of their time. They should be in.


While I agree with your overall pt. about being the best, clearly we are of the same mind on that. This part seems to be going too far. Parker was great for 5 seasons centered on age 26. He about a 7 WAR player then with one "off" year. His remaining 12 seasons he was 2 WAR or better ONCE. Like he was below average and even below replacement for the rest of his career! I'd have to look closer at the numbers but this some Andrew McCutheon level cratering.

For those 5 years, I think yes he was the best RF, as far as I can remember. But the rest of it was just nothing (well he had nearly 5 WAR season at age 34, which is good but at that pt. he's not in the running for best RF). It just doesnt seem long enuf to be what I or many people "feels" is HOF.

I dont think Parker kills your pt or my pt. but rather it simply underscores the difficulty when we try to talk about both "peak" and "prime" in the same argument. If Parker was peak Parker for 10 seasons, hell he'd be at 65+ WAR and probably a shoo in. But he had rather short peak/prime.

Garvey probably supports your pt even less. His peak is just as short as Parker; 5 seasons, but he's nowhere near Parker's level: he's about 4.5 WAR guy here. I dont think he's the best 1b in baseball or if he is its not by much. He had about 4 more seasons of avg-good value so his prime is longer than Parker's but again he's not the best at that pt. so it doesnt help your pt.
   36. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 02:34 AM (#6035275)
...being the best in an era doesn't necessarily make you hof worthy. If the era had a congested grouping of value for a position, in which the difference between the best and average in a year is not as big as it is in other eras, then it's maybe arguable that being the best in that time isn't really that noteworthy.


I mean technically you're right. Im going too far and saying if Freehan is the best C for X period of time then he's a HOF by def'n. Clearly that's going too far because as you say maybe he doesnt tower over the rest of them. OK technically you got me there.

BUt in the case of Freehan in particular, do you really think that's true? Or let me put it this way. The best athletes on your baseball team where do you play them: SS, CF and C. Yes? Those are premium positions. It stands to reason that talent is less likely to drop off at that level than say at LF or 2b.

To elaborate on this pt: I was thinking about the defensive spectrum the other day in that other thread. And if RF is so much harder to play than LF then why do RFer's hit a tad bit better than LFers? Same thing with DH; since DH dont need any defensive ability hell they should hit better than everybody. RIght?

But that doesnt really happen that way does it? Rico Carty in LF doesnt hit better than Clemente or Aaron. Edgar at DH doesnt really outhit ARod. etc.

ANd the reason seems obvious to me that the amount of talent simply drop offs by the time you get down to filling the DH slot. There are no 300 lb behemoths that cant field but can hit 80 HRs. There's no talent like that. These guys have already been sent to the OF or 1b and whats left is just gimpy guys who can maybe hit a little. Same with LF if you can run you play CF, if you can throw you play RF and whoever's left plays LF. Sure there's a few guys like TedWilliams or Stargell who hit great and dont field much, but mostly the top talent has already been sent to other spots and you've got guys who can passably field adn maybe hit pretty good.

SO what Im saying in a nutshell is: as we line up the defensive spectrum the hitting levels really dont increase as move to the right side (the easier def positions). So LFers really dont hit better than RFers and DH's dont really hit better than 1b. In theory they should, but reality is that talent just drops off.

OK but now look at the left side of the spectrum (the premium def spots) those hitting levels do correlate quite well with what we expect: C, SS and CF certainly dont hit as well as the other positions, because managers, GMs, all baseball people are willing to punt some off. for good defense, it its a prime defensive spot.

So geting back to the original question. Freehan is lets say, for sake of argument, the BEST CATCHER for X years. Is it really possible that he wouldn't be at a very high level? Because C is a prime position. YOu put your best guys at C, SS and CF if they can play there at all.

So like its one thing if say George Bell is the best LF, or Dave Winfield. Or say Steve Sax is best 2b. Because its quite possible that the best 2b, or the best LF or the best DH isnt really all that great. Talent level starts to run out, and those spots arent really as competitive.

But SS, C, and CF. Those spots are highly prized. THe best athletes are always gonna be tried there. Is it really possible that if Freehan is the best C, that he isnt playing at an elite level?

Your turn.
   37. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 02:49 AM (#6035276)
There really are no hof worth shortstops in the 60's-70's as the era focused on defense first...


Come on. That's not a reason. That's just being ridiculous. OF what the hell difference does it make if the era focused on defense or offense or both? Right now there's more emphasis on hitting because there's less balls in play. Hence SS and CF are going to hit better because we dont need there glove as much. Ok fine.

But if we lived in the 1960s, or the 1910s, we'd put more emphasis on defense, and obviously the Belangers, the Aparicios, the Maranvilles of the world, they are going to provide more value with their defense. There's no reason to think that value would be minimal. Why would it? BY def'n we just said its a defensive era. So presumably they provide a lot of defense, they provide some modest hitting, and presumably they tower over the average SS by maybe 3 or 4 WAR a year.

Why would that differential change just because we live in a lower run scoring environment. I dont get it.


There really are no hof worth shortstops in the 60's-70's as the era focused on defense first, and Concepcion just wasn't good enough to separate himself from the pack.


Ok then. That is a bold statement but this your best argument: If Concepcion really is the best SS of this era, which I dont concede yet, but if he really is the best SS AND if doesnt tower over the corresponding SS (say by only 2WAR) then you do win the argument.

Because my position is: If you're playing a premium position, like SS, the best talent will migrate there, so the best players there realy are elite.

SO I dunno. I havent studied Concepcion and wont get to that tonite. But yeah that's a good argument if Concepcion is really the best SS.
   38. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 02:58 AM (#6035277)

Dave Concepcion, is that you?


yeah, I get your pt. You're on CFB's team for this argument.
   39. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:44 AM (#6035278)
Why can't it be possible for a guy to be the best one at his position but not playing at an elite level?
Back in the day there were 8 or 10 teams in a league. I don't want to get too deep into counterfactual scenarios but it seems perfectly possible that one or two players who would have have been elite players at that position switch to other positions or don't even play baseball or whatever else takes them out of the picture. I'm not arguing that Freehan wasn't a terrific player, certainly at his peak and in that context. I'm skeptical of the notion that if a guy is the best player at his position then he must be playing at an elite level. Why can't there be natural, random fluctuations where there just aren't any 2nd basemen or catchers or whatever position, even the best of the bunch, playing at an elite level at some point in time? I guess the answer is partly dependent upon how you define playing at an elite level.
   40. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 20, 2021 at 10:06 AM (#6035296)
In the specific case of Bill Freehan, in 1973, he hit .234/.323/.313 in 110 games, a 76 OPS+. Does that kind of season advance his Hall of Fame case, or is he just playing out the string? Well, he made the All-Star team, so if you're citing his 11 All-Star games, you're using that season to bolster his case.

A few of his other All-Star seasons were similar to that one. I'm agnostic as to whether Freehan belongs in the Hall of Fame or not, but I think you have to be careful with using All-Star seasons as a metric without looking a little more deeply at them.
   41. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 20, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6035300)
in 1973, he hit .234/.323/.313 in 110 games, a 76 OPS+

One mediocre season hardly makes the guy a bad player. (Even with those numbers, Freehan was one of the few Tigers that actually had a decent season that year: in Wins Above Average, Tiger catchers were +0.7, better than any other position in Detroit except 2B [McAuliffe] at 0.8. The pitching was nothing special, either [104 ERA+] and their defense was -19 Rtot. But led by Billy Martin, Detroit finished 85-77, eight full games above their Pyth projection.)

I mentioned that Freehan was an All-Star catcher in 11 years out of 12 from 1964-75; the lone exception was '74...because he played more than half the season at first base!
   42. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 11:07 AM (#6035301)
I'm agnostic as to whether Freehan belongs in the Hall of Fame or not, but I think you have to be careful with using All-Star seasons as a metric without looking a little more deeply at them.


Well sure. I dont want to use all star appearances or whatever either. Im trying to take the players effective peak seasons, maybe 5 maybe 10, not everybody has the same prime, and then try to quantify that and then compare them to his contemporaries playing that position and see how much more value he adds.

At the moment Im trying to study the Concepcion situation because CFB makes a good argument, and of course it is well known that for a long time, something 1965-85 SS contributed very little to offense. We keep coming back to that issue and its very interesting to me.

The Freehan situation is similar cause he's also playing an important defensive position at the same time period. I have a better feel for evaluating SS then C so Im going to work on the SS situation first.
   43. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 11:36 AM (#6035305)
Why can't there be natural, random fluctuations where there just aren't any 2nd basemen or catchers or whatever position, even the best of the bunch, playing at an elite level at some point in time?


There's definitely random fluctuations. You can look at WAR by position year by year and see various ups and downs. Certainly.

It seems to me that baseball is a well rewarded sport. Very few of them are going to give up baseball to go into investment banking or law, although Gail Hopkins went into medicine although at that pt. he was playing in Japan. So did Geo. Medich but I think after baseball. But for the most part we have to assume we're seeing the most talented guys out there. In the 60s they didnt make nearly as much as today, but still, the Henry Aarons and Matty Alous of the world didnt have many other oppurtunities.

It seems reasonable that at the very top you've got the best baseball guys out there. But there's 9 positions and 24 teams in Concepcion's time. You can't fill up all those positions with equal talent, talent does drop off. But where does it drop off? It seems to me that you're trying to fill P, C, SS positions first. Those seem to require so many skills that you're going to be behind the rest of the league if you cant fill those adequately.

You figure you'd rather have a crummy LF or 2b, then a crummy CF or SS. They do less damage to you.

OK so if we're talking about the 70s, you would definitely expect a top team like PIT or CIN or OAK to have pretty good guys at those slots on the left side of the spectrum. Maybe Al Oliver isnt the very best guy in CF but he's obviously pretty talented.

And at the other end, with say last place SD or MON, they probably cant fill 2b or LF with similar talent because at that pt your talking the top 300 or 400 players, given some teams have two guys fighting for one spot and youre gonna need a lot of pitchers, so by the time you get to the 400th best talented guy its likely he's not quite at that elite level.

But the best guy at a premium position? I have to assume he's quite near the top.
   44. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6035306)
The eleven All-Star games is a tremendous credential, but it's also a little misleading, since there were very few top-flight catchers in the AL in that era.


BUt is that a bad thing or a good thing? If there's few top flight catchers as you suggest. Then obviously the C position is very hard to fill. And then its even more likely that Freehan would tower over his contemporaries supplying his team with more WAR at a position that teams get very few WAR out of.

I mean if what your saying there is correct, that may or may not hurt Freehan. It certainly doesnt detract from Freehan's case just on the face of it.
   45. GregD Posted: August 20, 2021 at 12:01 PM (#6035311)
To my extremely amateur eye, the best at position has to be modified to include the extent of the lead.

If there are a bunch of 4 WAR guys playing first, one of them will be best by a hair. That isn’t the standard

If there’s a time when the demands on catchers change and some bad injury luck mean there’s never anybody putting up more than 2 war a season but the best guy doesn’t tell us much

But if somebody is notably ahead of contemporaries for a longish period…then I’d assume our systems for evaluating thag position relative to others may be off

I’d vote freehan in

Separately if he played in the fifties stat adjustments suggest he’d have hit 300 four times and between 287 and 296 four more times…and with his defensive rep he’d have won an mvp or two and gotten inducted
   46. Ron J Posted: August 20, 2021 at 12:25 PM (#6035316)
#45 He'd have won some MVPs if he'd replaced Yogi Berra. Probably. Catcher on a pennant winner mattered a lot.

He's clearly a weak fully qualified player to my mind. You can sensibly compare him to the top tier HOFers and those guys are clearly better. But it's not disqualifying to be not as good as (say) Gary Carter.

He can sensibly be compared to the second tier of HOF catchers and he's not obviously inferior.

And there's only one guy that I see as better who's both eligible and not in. Munson. Tenace is a tough call. Much better hitter but only caught 892 games and there was a reason for that.
   47. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6035319)

To my extremely amateur eye, the best at position has to be modified to include the extent of the lead.


Modified for what reason? THe best guy is the best guy right? If you agree on a standard measure, say WAR then whoever has the most WAR is the best. To what end do you want to modify? And what are you modifying? His WAR? His batting avg?

I dont get.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 20, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6035333)
And there's only one guy that I see as better who's both eligible and not in. Munson.

I'm curious why you think Munson is better qualified than Freehan. They seem about as similar as can be to me - almost identical as hitters (116 OPS+ for Munson vs. 112 for Freehan, although of course Munson had no decline phase), very similar in MVP voting, Freehan maybe a little ahead defensively. The biggest difference would seem to be that Freehan played 350 more games.

I'd probably vote for Freehan over Munson, but it's awfully hard to draw a bright line between the two.
   49. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 20, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6035341)
Freehan: 44.8 career WAR | 33.7 7yr-peak WAR | 39.2 JAWS | 4.1 WAR/162
Munson: 46.0 career WAR | 37.0 7yr-peak WAR | 41.5 JAWS | 5.2 WAR/162
Average HoF C: 53.8 career WAR | 34.8 7yr-peak WAR | 44.3 JAWS | 4.7 WAR/162

Munson also leads Freehan in Gray Ink and both the HoF Monitor & Standards. Freehan does better on some other categories, but they are awfully close by most measures. If you give Munson the benefit of even a few declining seasons that were precluded by his untimely death, the gap would be more noticeable.
   50. Howie Menckel Posted: August 20, 2021 at 03:01 PM (#6035351)
If you give Munson the benefit of even a few declining seasons that were precluded by the fact that his knees had given out so badly that just before his death, there was some question whether he could ever catch again


ftfy (he was a DH or 1B in his final 4 games)
   51. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: August 20, 2021 at 03:29 PM (#6035357)
Freehan: 44.8 career WAR | 33.7 7yr-peak WAR | 39.2 JAWS | 4.1 WAR/162
Munson: 46.0 career WAR | 37.0 7yr-peak WAR | 41.5 JAWS | 5.2 WAR/162
Average HoF C: 53.8 career WAR | 34.8 7yr-peak WAR | 44.3 JAWS | 4.7 WAR/162
Damn. I was in the mood for some pie, but all the cherries have been picked. (When quoting WAR, at least check both.)
   52. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 04:33 PM (#6035361)

There is no reason to think that the best player over a ten year or 15 year stretch at every position is hof worthy



This is also a weird statement. Is there any player you can think of who was best at his position for ten years and IS NOT hof worthy? Im going from memory but that's not possible is it?

Drop the bar to 5 years, and I still think we'd be hard pressed to find a guy who doesnt have at least 50 WAR for an extended period/prime. Maybe...
   53. Ron J Posted: August 20, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6035372)
#48 Not seeing how you get Freehan as better defensively. Put it this way, the error bars on catcher defense in this period are huge. Freehan did win more gold gloves but ... well his first was kind of an accident of timing. Elston Howard got old and Buck Rodgers (who was the guy likely to have inherited the gold glove) hit .209 and it's surprising how much things like that matter. And after winning the first there was no obvious candidate to replace him.

Neither was excellent against the running game for an extended period (though both had some very good years). Nothing else really leaps out.

I remember Munson as being better against the running game than he was.

And yeah I agree, Munson's death has basically nothing to do with his HOF case. He was done as an elite player. Freehan did nothing that advances his HOF case after 32 either (that is to say I see his HOF case as being precisely the same whether one includes or ignores his 1975 and 1976)
   54. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 05:48 PM (#6035379)
BUt in the case of Freehan in particular, do you really think that's true? Or let me put it this way. The best athletes on your baseball team where do you play them: SS, CF and C. Yes? Those are premium positions. It stands to reason that talent is less likely to drop off at that level than say at LF or 2b.


No I don't think that is true, I would probably put Freehan in, 9 out of 10 times in my mock "line is drawn here." Freehan is over the line for me. He's not a guy I 100% support (like say Blyleven in the past) but he's a guy who I support most of the time when I think about it. As to the other part, generally I agree with the SS and CF part, with the exception of the 70's for SS where for some reason it wasn't the best players/athletes there, it was the best glove. Nobody has ever thought that Catchers were the best athletes on a team. Smartest player sure, but really they only required the tools of intelligence, arm, durability and some basic defense.
   55. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 20, 2021 at 05:50 PM (#6035381)
Munson's death has basically nothing to do with his HOF case. He was done as an elite player.
At the time of his death, Munson had garnered 2.4 WAR in his final season (1979), playing in 97 of the Yankees 102 games, including 88 at catcher. Over a full season that would be ~ 3.8 WAR, not elite but still quite respectable. If Munson had played until age 35, 3 more seasons, with a 10% decline per year, that would have given him about 10 more career WAR, putting him above the average career WAR of HoF catchers, which reinforces that Munson was on a HoF pace when he died. If one believes that the Hall has yet to do a proper positional adjustment for catchers, that seems somewhat relevant.
I was in the mood for some pie, but all the cherries have been picked.
You’d have to blame BB-Ref on that, although I don’t see how statistics that attempt to measure a player’s entire career, peak, and Hall-worthiness compared to those already enshrined would be ‘cherry picking’.
   56. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6035384)
Not seeing how you get Freehan as better defensively..... Freehan did win more gold gloves


I think that's enough to say Freehan was "maybe a little ahead defensively."

And after winning the first there was no obvious candidate to replace him.


The problem for Munson is that after winning his first, there was an obvious candidate to replace him - Jim Sundberg. But since Sundberg was a bad hitter playing on a backwater team in Texas, it took him a while to get the recognition.

Anyway, I was genuinely interested in why you placed Munson ahead of Freehan.
   57. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:04 PM (#6035385)
This is also a weird statement. Is there any player you can think of who was best at his position for ten years and IS NOT hof worthy? Im going from memory but that's not possible is it?


More than likely it's going to be unusual, but I don't think it makes it impossible. Selective endpoints is always that. A guy who managed to come into the league at a position as a few of the old guard greats is in their prime, but will be retired in 10 years, and an injury or two to the best of the best at his position among a few up and comers, and another few years before anyone really comes into their prime and a guy might be able to make the argument that over a selective 15 year stretch this guy who was a 3 war player every year was the best in the game at his position, even if other guys had stretches of 4-6 years better than his "war" total during that 15 years, but then nothing outside of that.

Being the best in any long stretch is going to have both objective and subjective components, unless everyone played the same years(or enough of those years).

For the record I don't think it's likely that a guy who is the best at his position for a 10 or 15 year stretch is not hof worthy, but I do imagine that there are ways to look at it and situations that happen, that it might be the case. Names like Gil Hodges, Concepcion do enter the discussion on this particular matter.
   58. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:24 PM (#6035389)
I'm working on the Concepcion thing. As you mention its very interesting issue why we see this offensive drought at the position and wot does that mean.

Fun discussion
   59. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:26 PM (#6035390)
Incidentally, in the second Historical Abstract, Bill James ranked Freehan 12th and Munson 14th among catchers - but he had Pudge Rodriguez between the two of them based on his career through 2000, so he has presumably moved ahead and left Freehan and Munson cheek by jowl. That's about how I'd have them, I think.
   60. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:35 PM (#6035392)
if defense at catcher is undervalued how do we correct for that? I've not really looked at this for catcher so I don't have a strong opinion on Freehan. Do we rethink Cs/sb? Catcher framing? Some sort of team based thing?
   61. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:35 PM (#6035393)
dupe
   62. Ron J Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:42 PM (#6035394)
#56 Right on Munson and Gold Glove. He might have deserved one earlier (a 61% CS percentage always puts you in the conversation) but probably not his later ones.

As to Munson over Freehan I'm a straight extended prime voter and while their rate stats in their prime are similar in value Munson has enough little advantages (and these show in WAR totals). Munson has a small edge in baserunning (which is surprising given that he was a lousy base stealer. He was seemingly an aggressive baserunner and made it work), gives back a little in DP and the shape of his counter stats comes out a little better for Munson when evaluated by linear weights.

A bunch of small edges that add up.

Freehan has more really good years with the bat but also has 3 bad years.

In the end I see Freehan's case as basically 1964, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1974 and Munson's as 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977 and I see the latter as more compelling.
   63. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 06:57 PM (#6035395)
if defense at catcher is undervalued how do we correct for that? I've not really looked at this for catcher so I don't have a strong opinion on Freehan. Do we rethink Cs/sb? Catcher framing? Some sort of team based thing?


Just my personal opinion, not sure we ever can. But yes it's undervalued. There are two positions that play defense that are involved in every pitch of the game, catcher and pitcher, we give pitchers roughly 45% of the credit for their pitches, catchers receive zero credit. Pitch framing is an aspect that people are working to fix, but even that isn't enough(mind you most systems trying to do that, over rate the value massively) pitch calling, the ability to instill confidence into your pitcher, holding runners are all aspects of catching that can probably never be quantified, but it has value.

The only correction I can imagine now, is to do a subjective correction, but try to be reasonable. How many runs is each of these things probably worth over the course of a season or per 100 innings caught or something like that, and tier it (say a five tier system based upon a subjective evaluation... the elite is worth 2 runs per 100 inning above average 1, average 0, below average -1, poor -2 or something like that etc and of course modify it based upon more knowledge as you learn more, maybe it should be per 200 innings or 300 innings; maybe the run gap should be bigger etc)

This is the thing, I've got an entire magazine in which 30 different pitchers talk about how pitching to someone like Molina was different and better than pitching to other catchers. (as an example) They can give the why, how it affected their attitude, and how it changed their game plan etc... And I get we are not talking about Molina here, but we are talking about catchers, and their defense. Discussions like this might prove that Sundberg is more underrated than we know, simply by extrapolating the data we can create with a Molina profile or other data that we can come up with, same with Freehan, same with Munson, etc.

It will never be possible to retroactively accurately rate the quality of defense of a catcher in the past, but we can use data we learn, and improve our understanding of their value. Factor in their durability, include seasonal reliability for durability by accurately reflecting the real world value of the backup catcher instead of a theoretical value based upon replacement and again etc.

Edit: earlier in the year there was a post on multiple websites that pointed out how Molina/Cardinals have pretty much stopped other teams from running on them, to a degree that has never been matched. (Since Molina joined the Cardinals, the number of attempts on the Cardinals is 400 fewer than the second fewest attempts, and the difference between the second fewest and the 25th fewest is less than that difference, and others have found that no team in history has had a discrepancy remotely close to that level-- how much is that the catcher, era or team is tough to tell, but we are pretty confident that Molina's reputation does factor into that... how many runs is that worth? Who knows, but's an addition to the equation and a point that most systems don't account for, opposite can be said about poor armed catchers like Piazza and Ted Simmons (both of which are among my favorite players of all time) )
   64. Howie Menckel Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:16 PM (#6035396)
I'm working on the Concepcion thing. As you mention its very interesting issue why we see this offensive drought at the position and wot does that mean.

I lived through this.

management generally recognized that the arrival of Astroturf as mainstream in the NL in particular meant it made sense to emphasize more defense and speed at SS.

but then they killed a mouse with an elephant gun, going with 160-pound weaklings no matter how bad their offense was (and often it was, to quote poet laureate Charles Barkley, "turrible."

take the Astros as one of many examples.
in 1968, they gave Hector Torres 496 PA with a 56 OPS+ at age 22.
then they tried Denis Menke there - who played all over the infield overall - in 1969 and 1970.
but he hits too well - 115 and 127 OPS+ - so they move him to 1B in 1971 for a grim 87 OPS+.

before the 1971 season, the Astros dump 25th man Torres on the Cubs for a prospect named Roger Metzger in a deal that hurt both teams.I
Metzger then offered a 71 OPS+ in 617 PA. thank you sir and may have another, the Astros say!
challenge accepted!
1972 - 715 PA, 58 OPS+ and those are not typos.
1973 - 617 PA and 74
1974 - 633 PA and 77
1975 - 510 PA and 69
1976 - 543 PA and 66
1977 - 307 PA and 51 maybe the Astros are catching on? Julio Gonzalez got 55 starts and raked to a 69 OPS+
1978 HOU - 138 PA and 62 before the 'Stros sell Metzger to the Giants, somehow
1978 SF - 255 PA and 68
1979 - 288 PA and 84 (dead cat bounce?)
those Giants were getting comfy, though with the sequel called The Johnnie LeMaster Experience - a fellow who had a 60 OPS+ in a preposterous 3515 PA

in the valley of the blind, the 1960s/1970s AL C and 1970s NL SS who can fog a mirror are kings
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:20 PM (#6035397)
I had written two replies that mentioned astro turf, and then deleted them before I sent them, as I kinda thought that historically there was always a reliance on defense first shortstops, and the exceptions are in the hof, but I do agree with you, that the advent of astroturf really pushed the league to focus on defense first players, but that still doesn't explain why it also happened in the Al where astro turf was less common.
   66. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:25 PM (#6035398)

For the record I don't think it's likely that a guy who is the best at his position for a 10 or 15 year stretch is not hof worthy


What about Mazeroski? I think he's the best 2b in that 1960-70 stretch since Morgan is quite yet up there. And some have argued he shouldn't be in.

Personally I think this is again a product of the 1960s offensive drought and failure of defensive metrics to accurately account for his value. But as long as we're doing hypotheticals maybe he's one...
   67. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:31 PM (#6035399)
What about Mazeroski? I think he's the best 2b in that 1960-70 stretch since Morgan is quite yet up there. And some have argued he shouldn't be in.


I'm pro-Mazeroski, but I fully acknowledge that he's one of the weakest 2b in the hof. He definitely falls in the realm of "if he was the best for a length of time, it's possible that his position shouldn't be represented in the hof".
   68. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:34 PM (#6035402)
The drought at SS as I recall is 1965-85. Does astro turf roughly coincide with that? That might be one thing to take a look at.

Here's a really good illustration of the drought about 1/3 of the way down:

https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2019/7/11/20690121/shortstop-offense-home-runs-fernando-tatis-jorge-polanco-tim-anderson

that just paints a wonderful picture doesnt it?

Unfortunately none of the other lines are marked as to position. Catcher is no doubt one of the other lines along the bottom for most of the years, but after 1980 or so it gets so jumbled its hard to make it out. 2b I guess is the other one down there. I think the other ones can be figured it out.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 07:38 PM (#6035403)
   70. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 08:41 PM (#6035409)
thanks
   71. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 20, 2021 at 08:43 PM (#6035411)
I guess Dave Parker is the answer to: Who was the best at his position for 5 years and is not considered HoF? Maybe McCutheon too?
   72. Ron J Posted: August 20, 2021 at 08:54 PM (#6035414)
#71 Jim Fregosi comes to mind too.
   73. cardsfanboy Posted: August 20, 2021 at 08:57 PM (#6035415)
I guess Dave Parker is the answer to: Who was the best at his position for 5 years and is not considered HoF? Maybe McCutheon too?


Five years probably has a few answers. First name I thought of was Benito Santiago (since this is a catchers discussion) without pi I can't verify the data easily... but just going off of players I know who had reputations, Pedro Guerrero might be considered from 82-87 on that list(again without pi I have to go by memory and not have comparisons, but he put up 27.6 war in that time frame..) and I'm sure you can find someone like Dwight Gooden also. 5 year peaks is definitely not something that is going to get you into the hof.
   74. JJ1986 Posted: August 20, 2021 at 10:07 PM (#6035433)
There must be a ton of guys who were awesome for 5 years but didn't have enough of a career. Dale Murphy at CF from 82-87. Hanley Ramirez at SS from 2006-10. Don Mattingly at 1B from 84-89. Maybe Cesar Cedeno at his peak.
   75. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 20, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6035437)
There must be a ton of guys who were awesome for 5 years but didn't have enough of a career.


One of the best examples of this was Al Rosen. For five years (1950 to 1954) he was one of the best third basemen to ever play the game, but outside of those years there's virtually nothing.
   76. sanny manguillen Posted: August 20, 2021 at 10:54 PM (#6035440)
then they killed a mouse with an elephant gun, going with 160-pound weaklings


The Pirates moved into Three Rivers in 1970, finished first six times, second three times, and third once in the decade. Their regular shortstops (BB-Ref criteria) each year OPS+'d between 40 and 85.
   77. Howie Menckel Posted: August 20, 2021 at 11:31 PM (#6035445)
and the Yankees kept winning and winning with Bobby Richardson racking up 500 to 700 PA as a leadoff batter even though he had a career OPS+ of 77.

was that a good idea, because he got MVP votes in six seasons?
   78. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 21, 2021 at 12:37 AM (#6035452)
Who was the best at his position for 5 years and is not considered HoF?

There must be a ton of guys who were awesome for 5 years but didn't have enough of a career. Dale Murphy at CF from 82-87. Hanley Ramirez at SS from 2006-10. Don Mattingly at 1B from 84-89. Maybe Cesar Cedeno at his peak.

Yeah, I think there are a lot of these guys. Jason Giambi at 1B from 1999-2003 (Pujols debuted in 2001). Fred Lynn in CF from 1975-1979. Darryl Strawberry (or Jose Canseco) in RF from 1987-1991.

At 2B, Jeff Kent from 1998-2002 and Chase Utley from 2005-2009 are still "in play" in terms of the HOF, but Kent hasn't been doing that well in the voting and Utley seems likely to face a slow climb (I expect him to get less support than Scott Rolen, and Rolen's not in yet).

Some other guys who were at least in the running for "best at their position" for five years (sometimes blocked by elite talents like A-Rod or Barry Bonds) but didn't do much outside of those years include Nomar Garciaparra, Dustin Pedroia, Brian McCann, Lance Parrish, Albert Belle, Grady Sizemore, and Jose Bautista.
   79. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: August 21, 2021 at 05:56 AM (#6035454)
Going back to the first comment and through the thread, Thurm before Bill. Always liked Freehan but as much as I loved grumpy Thurman, and as gritty, great and clutch he was, HOF is still a stretch.
   80. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2021 at 12:58 PM (#6035467)
CFB I believe you're right about Benito Santiago. I checked as many contemporaries as I could and he seems to be best C for that period. I guess we should name the award the CFB award or something.
   81. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 21, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6035474)
in 1973, he hit .234/.323/.313 in 110 games, a 76 OPS+
I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the 1973 season does much for Freeman’s HoF case, but Hall-worthiness isn’t measured by a single season. It’s worth remembering that much of Freehan’s career was in a low run scoring & hitting environment. His 112 Career OPS+ holds up pretty well for a catcher, although there are some better also worthy of HoF consideration.
   82. The Duke Posted: August 21, 2021 at 04:05 PM (#6035482)
A good discussion. I always had Munson ahead of Freehan in my head and some of that is that I grew up in the Munson era not the Freehan era, but I have them both in, in my internal rankings. It is surprising to see how close they are

As has been noted this year with the slow, steady March of Wainwright- Molina up the charts, Freehan (lolich) hold the record for most starts by a battery (324). God-willing Waino and Molina will land around 305 by the end of the year and make a final run at it next year. But the 324 record is extra-ordinary and I believe was done much quicker (in time ) than wainwright and Molina are doing it.

I think wainwright and Molina might break it but if they don’t m, this record may live forever. I can’t see anyone getting close to it again. And it signifies just how important Freehan was to those tiger teams
   83. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 21, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6035488)
In the alternate universe, Mazeroski strikes out in Game 7 of the '60 WS, and doesn't make the HoF. (Luckily for Pirates fans, this guy bats next and hits a home run, making him a hero forever.)
   84. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2021 at 06:11 PM (#6035492)
Im a PIT fan and I never heard of that guy. Hal Smith basically fulfilled the C/hero role in that game.
   85. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 21, 2021 at 07:17 PM (#6035497)
Fred Lynn in CF from 1975-1979.


Looking at the situation and I've actually got him in a dead heat with Chet Lemon, I think Lemon 5 yrs is the very same 5 years as Lynn. Strictly by WAR its: 26.5 to 25 in favor of Lynn. But I've devised a crude way of giving more credit to defense that TZ doesnt.

Ive mentioned it before but TZ has a flaw in it, that minimizes both extremely good and extremely bad fielding. With Lemon at +9 runs/season I'm crediting him w/ +3 more runs/season for basically a dead heat. I'll elaborate tomorrow on that got too much to do tonite.

Looking at Lemon over his extended prime. I've got him as clearly over the HoF line. I've got a new metric for that as well. Basically Im just going to go with a guy's extended prime, and just omit any stray season's that dont fit within that. By "extended prime" Im defining it as: an extended number of seasons, where a guy is expected to perform above average.

The reasoning is that realistically an extended period of above avg is the only way to help a team win a pennant. You need several seasons to build a team and you need to be able to count on above avg players to be there. So a 2 WAR season does help a team, but a whole team of 2WAR players doesnt get you a pennant or a division. And if you are a 2WAR player on a pennant winner you're like the 7th or 8th best player anyhow so how does that help with your "fame?"

so you can have a one year off year or bad year. or even 2, maybe 3. As long as you're still overall above average. Your team is going to keep you. You are still likely to produce another a good season.

And also like Dave Parker had a 5 WAR season in the middle of a 12 year horrid period. How can you build a team based on one outlier season? you can't. So no credit. I mean sure Parker helped his team that year. And sure if you want to count "Career value" I guess its value. But realistically that's really not how I would perceive a great or famous player. They had that one great run of 8 or 10 or 12 years and that's where all the glory is. So that's what Im counting.

By that standard the following players basically define the HoF borderline at about 50 WAR for an extended Prime:

Ron Cey, Jeff Kent, HoFer Joe Sewell and Fred Lynn. Its pretty interesting.

Lemon is close to the border line at 56WAR but definitely above so should be in.
   86. cardsfanboy Posted: August 21, 2021 at 07:34 PM (#6035498)
That is the thing, reliability has real value. It affects how teams construct their roster, an out of left field performance is great for the individual, but if you look back at it, the guy who is going to more than likely give you 3-5 war is more valuable than the guy who might give you 7 war from the off season perspective... This has always been my issue with the Larry Walkers or Barry Larkins in that the team knows if they are healthy they are getting tremendous value from them, but there is a high chance in any given season that they will be lost, and you are now stuck with a lost of an elite player that was predictable, but nearly impossible to compensate for.

Basically the team with an elite superstar who misses a lot of playing time is forced to spend money to compensate for the expected loss playing time or cross their fingers in hope of a healthy season.
   87. GregD Posted: August 21, 2021 at 10:38 PM (#6035524)

To my extremely amateur eye, the best at position has to be modified to include the extent of the lead.


Modified for what reason? THe best guy is the best guy right? If you agree on a standard measure, say WAR then whoever has the most WAR is the best. To what end do you want to modify? And what are you modifying? His WAR? His batting avg?

I dont get.


All I meant--and this may not have been clear and may not make sense anyway--is that for players whose HOF case turns on best at position over a decade or so, then the extent of their lead might be something to take into account.

Here's what I mean:

1) If the HOF case can be made another way, make it. No one cares that Duke Snider wasn't the best center fielder in the 1950s NL or Randy Johnson the best pitcher of his era.

2) If not, if there's a player who looks marginal or edge case but is the best at his position over an extended time, then you might well ask how much he stands out.

If he's marginally better than 2-3 other guys, then there's a sign that this is not a strong argument for him. You wouldn't want to be so rigid as to feel you had to take anybody who was 0.5 WAR better over 10 years than 2-3 other guys, if there was no other good case.

But if he's way better than the field, then you might ask if there's something the overall WAR numbers are missing about the difficulty of the position or the defensive value or something. Maybe not.

If that era produced 5 guys like Freehan and he was marginally the best, that to me would make his case less compelling than if that era produced nobody really like Freehan in value at catcher.

Same with the Astroturf shortstops and Concepcion. If he stands out by a lot, it's a sign that something was going on, maybe just crazy luck, maybe front office insanity, or maybe a particular moment of SS defensive value we should at least rethink.
   88. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 22, 2021 at 01:27 AM (#6035532)
reliability has real value. It affects how teams construct their roster, an out of left field performance is great for the individual, but if you look back at it, the guy who is going to more than likely give you 3-5 war is more valuable than the guy who might give you 7 war from the off season perspective...


YOU've been beating the drum on this for a long time and I think it had something to do with the method that I formulated there. At least its always been in the back of my mind.

This has always been my issue with the Larry Walkers or Barry Larkins


You make a good pt. about being on the field, but its too fine a point in the case of Walker. Cause he's giving you 4+ WAR seasons for an extremely long time. OK lets use my tool on walker:

Prime Years..... WAR..... TZ def/yr... Adj WAR
14 ! ......... 67.8 ........... +7 ...........71

He's easily in HoF if the border is 50 WAR which at this stage so far I think it is.

NOtes: Adjustment based on TZ def. He's at very good endd of the scale and Im adding 2.5 runs/yr. I also looked at the Rbaser numbers which seem weird for certain players. Im using a standard of break even is 2:1 ratio SB/CS and every base over that counts 1/3 of a run, it comes out pretty close to most of the values you see in Rbaser but not always. Based on that they're giving him about 5 bases too many from age 30-32 but I also think they docked him a couple before that. SO I'll call it even.

I'll get back to the Rbaser stuff when I deal with the Concepcion Situation. For now just take a look at Rick Miller 1978, he's 3/13. He's down 23 bases. That's at least 6 runs, you could easily argue for more but at least 6. Rbaser has him at 0. If you use the 1/3 run for every base > break even (where break even 2:1). Most of his other Rbaser values seem to fit this formula.

That's an absurd result for 1978, what did he like advance on a passed ball 25 times?

   89. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 22, 2021 at 01:38 AM (#6035533)
If you use weighted runs for the break even rate in SB, it's more like you need 2.5:1 to break even. Or something like 72%. Im gonna leave that it at 2:1 for now since they're supposed to be counting PB and other stuff in there so maybe there's a little more value to a SB than weighted runs would tell you. Like he's also advancing on PB and taking the extra base.
   90. rr: cosmopolitan elite Posted: August 22, 2021 at 02:01 AM (#6035534)
RIP to Freehan. Classic Baseball on the Radio, an awesome youtube channel, has some cool games up from October 1972 that Freehan was in--BOS/DET, and the '72 ALCS.
   91. The Duke Posted: August 22, 2021 at 11:23 AM (#6035551)
Does this matter ?

Freehan held the major league record for highest career fielding percentage (.9933) until 2002, and also the records for career putouts (9,941) and total chances (10,734) from 1975 until the late 1980s;[3] he ranked ninth in major league history in games caught (1,581) at the end of his career. His career totals of 200 home runs and 2,502 total bases placed him behind only Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey among AL catchers when he retired.


You’d think a guy like this would get more consideration after he retired but because he didn’t , we are sitting here 40 years later and many catchers have since passed him up. If he were to have retired 5 years ago with this career positioning wouldn’t be likely get in today ?
   92. Ron J Posted: August 22, 2021 at 01:32 PM (#6035566)
#91 Nothing surprising about Freehan not getting consideration. The BBWAA is not what you'd call generous in their support of catchers. I mean Yogi Berra didn't make it his first time, nor did Fisk. Gary Carter took 5 tries and he's clearly a class above Freehan.

Basically the writers have never adjusted for the demands of the position. Few catchers are going to put up a prime batting that compares favorably to most other positions (oddly, they've always accepted this for SS). And none are going to hit career markers that most older HOF voters associated with a HoFer. The catchers of the 1920s and 1930s were helped enormously by the offensive contexts they played in.
   93. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 22, 2021 at 02:18 PM (#6035579)

All I meant--and this may not have been clear and may not make sense anyway--is that for players whose HOF case turns on best at position over a decade or so, then the extent of their lead might be something to take into account.


well yeah. THats pretty much what Im saying in 36 when I had to walk back what I was saying. So sure.


If that era produced 5 guys like Freehan and he was marginally the best, that to me would make his case less compelling than if that era produced nobody really like Freehan in value at catcher.


you're basically saying the same thing here, right?

I think we are left with two choices in the case of catching. Either we have to lower the WAR standard (or whatever measure you use to measure career value) or find some way to add on additional defensive value that is not being measured by WAR.

Like Shohei said in no. 16, there's only 8 catchers at 55 WAR, that's too high standard. But I dont think you can just arbitrarily add 10 WAR to everyone like Bradley wants to do. Thats just to arbitrary, you may be rewarding poor defenders as much as good defenders, good defenders as much as great defenders. I dont think you do it that way, but I guess that's effectively the same thing as lowering the line, sort of.
   94. AndrewJ Posted: August 22, 2021 at 08:35 PM (#6035626)
The BBWAA is not what you'd call generous in their support of catchers. I mean Yogi Berra didn't make it his first time, nor did Fisk.

No kidding -- Bench was the first catcher to get into the Hall on the first ballot, in 1989. Pudge Rodriguez followed him a scant 28 years later, sneaking in with 76% of the BBWAA vote.

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