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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Report: Astros legend J.R. Richard dead at 71

J.R. Richard died in a Houston hospital at the age of 71 on Wednesday night, according to Fox 26’s Mark Berman, who cited an MLB source.

Richard, who was part of the Astros’ inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2020, pitched all 10 of his big league seasons with the Astros before his career was cut short when he suffered a stroke while playing catch inside the Astrodome on July 30, 1980.

Before the stroke, Richard was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, twice leading the National League in strikeouts and once in ERA. He held the Astros’ single-season strikeout record - he struck out 313 batters in 1979 - before Gerrit Cole broke it in 2019.

Richard, who started in the 1980 All-Star Game three weeks before the stroke, ranks third on the team’s all-time strikeouts list behind Nolan Ryan and Roy Oswalt and is fifth in franchise history in wins.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 05, 2021 at 12:41 PM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, j.r. richard, obituaries

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   1. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 05, 2021 at 12:47 PM (#6032966)
I don't think I'm the only one who'd assumed that Richard had died long ago. What a sad end that was to what would have been an even greater career.
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: August 05, 2021 at 12:55 PM (#6032970)
He was something else. I didn't think he was dead but he certainly had a difficult life and making it to 71 is fairly surprising. I remember that All Star Game start so well. There was so much hype around him at the time.
   3. sanny manguillen Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:26 PM (#6032974)
First saw him against the Pirates in 1973. Complete game, two hits, nine strikeouts against a team that hit pretty good. Big hands. Great big hands.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:30 PM (#6032975)
Richard was just big all over, and super scary on the mound. Truth be told, he wasn't a great pitcher - he benefited greatly from the Astrodome, and was as wild as all get out, leading the league in walks and wild pitches three times apiece. But he was awfully impressive, and if the Astros had taken his health complaints seriously in the first part of 1980, who knows what might have happened.
   5. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6032977)
I remember somebody on the Astros, maybe one of the catchers, remarking after his 300 strikeout season that it was almost a 400 strikeout season, saying that so many guys jusssst barely fouled off pitches against J.R.
   6. Rally Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:35 PM (#6032978)
“ Truth be told, he wasn't a great pitcher - he benefited greatly from the Astrodome, and was as wild as all get out, leading the league in walks and wild pitches three times apiece.”

True early in his career. But he cut about a third of his walks in 1979, while pitching more innings and striking out more batters. I think he became a great pitcher in 1979 and got even better in 1980.
   7. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6032979)
In his last full season, J R led the NL K/BB ratio! 9.6/3.0.

He was awesome and frightening to watch
   8. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:52 PM (#6032985)
True early in his career. But he cut about a third of his walks in 1979, while pitching more innings and striking out more batters. I think he became a great pitcher in 1979 and got even better in 1980.


To me, the obvious comp has always been Randy Johnson. Huge guy who had to be just terrifying to look at from the batters' box who always had huge potential and started to put it together in his late 20s when he managed to cut down the walks.

Richard was one of my favorite players when I was a kid - maybe my favorite non-Oriole. I wrote an article about Richard a few years ago. I just updated it here. It really does seem like he's probably a Hall-of-Famer in a majority of alternate universes. Kind of a shame we got stuck in the "J.R. Richard had a stroke" universe.
   9. salvomania Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6032987)
He was also practically criminally maligned in the Houston sports press prior to his stroke; he hadn't been feeling right for a couple weeks before the All Star game, and in his first start after the All Star game, against the Braves on July 14, he was removed after 3.1 shutout innings because he wasn't feeling well and seemed lethargic. He went on the DL, and some thought he was malingering due to jealousy over newcomer Nolan Ryan's big contract. Others wrote that he was selfish and lazy.

He said his hands felt cold, his stomach nauseated. Virdon pulled him after one out. The next morning Harry Shattuck of the Chronicle snidely reported that Atlanta's winning pitcher, Phil Niekro, had courageously ignored an injury of his own and pitched the game anyway. The story began: "Phil Niekro doesn't have a dead arm. Or a tired arm. Or back stiffness. Or shoulder stiffness. Or a stomachache."


Nice summary of the situation here.
   10. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 05, 2021 at 01:59 PM (#6032988)
He was something else. I didn't think he was dead but he certainly had a difficult life and making it to 71 is fairly surprising.
I'm glad for Richard that he seemed to have found a fair measure of peace in his later years. I got into baseball just about when Richard left it, so I've only ever seen footage. My lasting memory of Richard is of how the Astros front office treated him. It still makes me angry.
   11. Ron J Posted: August 05, 2021 at 02:43 PM (#6032996)
#8 Interestingly Nolan Ryan helped Johnson a great deal. Not so much on mechanics as the importance of finding a consistent release point and trusting the results if the mechanics are in good order.
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: August 05, 2021 at 03:04 PM (#6033000)
I recall an SI cover with him on it during his comeback. Didn't make it back of course.
   13. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 05, 2021 at 03:26 PM (#6033006)
some thought he was malingering due to jealousy over newcomer Nolan Ryan's big contract. Others wrote that he was selfish and lazy.

That'll teach him to be black!
   14. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 05, 2021 at 03:29 PM (#6033008)
Someone should ask Tal Smith if he thinks J.R. is dead, or just being lazy.
   15. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 05, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6033014)
To me, the obvious comp has always been Randy Johnson. Huge guy who had to be just terrifying to look at from the batters' box
If the back injury that felled Johnson for most of the 1996 season had been career-ending, their statistics would've been eerily similar:

J.R. Richard, career: 221 starts, 107-71, 3.15 ERA, 1606 IP, 6.9 H/9, 4.3 BB/9, 8.4 K/9, led league 3X in walks and wild pitches, 2X in K's, one ERA title

Randy Johnson, through 1996: 224 starts, 104-64, 3.53 ERA, 1521 IP, 6.9 H/9, 4.6 BB/9, 10.1 K/9, led league 3X in walks, 2X in wild pitches, 4X in K's, one ERA title
   16. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 05, 2021 at 04:15 PM (#6033022)
That's really interesting. Note that despite Richard's lead in ERA, it's all era and then some; Johnson had a career ERA+ of 122 at that point, while Richard's was 108.

Nolan Ryan through 221 starts wasn't much different from those guys: 105-98, 3.06 ERA, 111 ERA+, 9.6 K/9, led in Ks and walks three times apiece.
   17. Mike A Posted: August 05, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6033028)
Phil Niekro doesn't have a dead arm. Or a tired arm.
I love Phil, but he threw 65 MPH. That's a bit different than Richard.

I didn't realize how awful Houston treated Richard at the time, that's sad. Though I was just a kid, I remember Richard's stroke well. That and Thurmon Munson's death were a stark reminder that even these larger-than-life players are just human. RIP.
   18. dejarouehg Posted: August 05, 2021 at 04:27 PM (#6033029)
That'll teach him to be black!


Normally, I'd roll my eyes at this, but in this case, it is so blatantly true. I wonder if he ever received apologies from the A-Holes who targeted him with their poison pen. If not, I hope those SOB's wallowed (or continue to) in shame for their reprehensible behavior.


   19. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6033042)
#9-10, etc. Yeah it was awful, infuriating and just ####### dumb. How anybody who ever watched Richard pitch could believe for a second that he was malingering is beyond me. And yes it was a classic example of how much many in the press loves to tear down the heroes, especially black ones. I wasn't in Houston reading it in real time in the build up but it must have been mentioned in the Chicago press or Cub broadcasts because I remember being annoyed before he had the stroke.

In fact it looks like the problems may have first surfaced in a start at Wrigley. Six days before in Houston, he had a CG shutout against the Cubs. Then in Wrigley, he made it only 5 innings (1 R, 8 Ks) then skipped a start then had his worst start of the year against Cincy. Still, dead-armed about to have a stroke JR Richard struck out 21 in his last 17.2 IP of work, giving up just 10 hits.

RIP JR ... we shoulda treated you better.
   20. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 05, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#6033046)
I wonder if he ever received apologies from the A-Holes who targeted him with their poison pen.

Doubtful. (It's funny that reporters accused a star athlete of being jealous, when they were obviously jealous of him.)

Granted, you don't have to be black to have the press against you. The things that Boston writers routinely wrote about Ted Williams, for example, were utterly bonkers; it was as if they thought Ted was intentionally throwing games, Hal Chase-style. (His 200/333/200 in the '46 WS probably didn't help.)
   21. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 05, 2021 at 05:27 PM (#6033048)
I wonder if he ever received apologies from the A-Holes who targeted him with their poison pen. If not, I hope those SOB's wallowed (or continue to) in shame for their reprehensible behavior.
Nope! Nothing like that ever happened. The Astros quickly absolved themselves of any responsibility. Two days after what would be the last start of his career, the Astros put him on the DL and he got check out at Methodist Hospital in Houston. They found the clot in his arm, but it wasn't considered serious even though Richards was still suffering dizzy spells and felt sick all the time.

One thing Richard did do that drew a ton of criticism was that he had said Dr. Frank Jobe, the arm & elbow specialist, had recommended 30 days rest when he got checked out the week before he went onto the DL. Jobe hadn't made any such recommendation. After Richard admitted he'd lied because he was feeling sick and needed time off, the comments started coming down very hard. Team doctors said that Richards' issues were "emotional," not physical.

Afterwards, no one was willing to own up to what had been said beforehand. The team pointed to the hospital, the hospital pointed to the tests, and the sportswriters basically wrote what amounted to, welp, I guess he really was sick. Houston was neck-and-neck with the Dodgers for the division that year, and the team wanted Richard's arm on the mound. Nobody got fired, nobody got fined, nobody got roasted. In the years afterwards, Richards would say that the Astros would check in on his arm, but not on him. Once it became clear his arm was shot, they cut him loose completely. He was brilliant for them, and they did their best to forget he ever happened.
   22. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 05, 2021 at 05:29 PM (#6033049)
“Guilt has seized a lot of people in this town who believed in the weeks before his problem was diagnosed,…that Richard was playing his own kind of game.” wrote columnist Mickey Herskowitz of The Houston Post on August 3rd.

“Some wrote or said as much, and if anyone expressed any sympathy, or offered him the benefit of the doubt, no real notice was paid…. Our concern and shock were mixed with embarrassment and we ought to admit it.”
As close to an apology as I could find.
   23. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: August 05, 2021 at 06:50 PM (#6033064)
He said his hands felt cold, his stomach nauseated. Virdon pulled him after one out. The next morning Harry Shattuck of the Chronicle snidely reported that Atlanta's winning pitcher, Phil Niekro, had courageously ignored an injury of his own and pitched the game anyway. The story began: "Phil Niekro doesn't have a dead arm. Or a tired arm. Or back stiffness. Or shoulder stiffness. Or a stomachache."


Shattuck died in 2020 at age 75, Google tells me. Here's hoping his last days -- no, years -- were as horribly painful as possible.
   24. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: August 05, 2021 at 06:54 PM (#6033065)
I strongly recommend this podcast episode dedicated to Richard's story:

https://thisweekinbaseballhistory.libsyn.com/episode-60-no-one-believes-jr-richard
   25. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 05, 2021 at 07:39 PM (#6033068)
Great pod. They pulled a lot from a great Bill Nack essay (all Bill Nack essays are great) for S.I. Link: Now Everyone Believes Him.
The feeling also exists that if Richard had been a white superstar—a Sandy Koufax, say—he would have been treated differently if he complained of a tired arm. "We always knew we had to be better," says Enos Cabell, the Astros' third baseman and Richard's closest friend. "There is a difference."

"Black and big, a big star," says Carolyn Richard. "Other guys had problems on the Astros. Ken Forsch [a white pitcher] had problems. He was out a whole half of a season. Ryan hasn't been pitching to his ability. I've never seen a player dragged through the mud like this. I don't know why, in 1980, they chose to do it to Rodney. But they did. It's something we'll never forget. Never. It was like a wildfire. It took death, or nearly death, to get an apology. They should have believed him."
   26. Sweatpants Posted: August 05, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6033072)
Shattuck died in 2020 at age 75, Google tells me. Here's hoping his last days -- no, years -- were as horribly painful as possible.
Which is nastier - falsely accusing someone of malingering, or wishing horrible pain on another human being?

Plenty of people here, me included, have impugned the ethics of various players. It's unfair, but I think it's part of the seedy side of being a sports fan rather than something that merits physical anguish.
   27. AndrewJ Posted: August 05, 2021 at 08:03 PM (#6033073)
if the Astros had taken his health complaints seriously in the first part of 1980, who knows what might have happened.

Had that happened, they'd have probably won the NL West going away instead of winning a one-game playoff versus the Dodgers, and with a healthy (and presumably rested) Richard in the rotation, they might well have swept the Phillies in the NLCS. Imagine a J.R. vs. George Brett 1980 World Series...
   28. Astroenteritis Posted: August 05, 2021 at 08:50 PM (#6033074)
I have fond memories of sitting in the centerfield stands when I was quite young and watching Richard dominate hitters. At his best he was as good as anyone, and it's a shame his career ended the way it did. It's also completely shameful the way the press and the organization treated him when he was complaining of not feeling well prior to his stroke. Absolutely horrible.

Oddly one memory of Richard that sticks out to me is a long home run he hit in the Dome. I can't remember when it was, but he could hit a baseball a long way, as you might expect of a man his size. A really fun player to watch, condolences to all those close to him.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2021 at 09:21 PM (#6033077)
#27 ... the key thing is they might have been able to prevent the stroke giving Richard much better health for the rest of his life. But strokes (probably especially in someone so young) are usually the result of some other pretty serious problems. Even today I'm not sure you can go to the doctor and leave with them saying "now you won't have a stroke." If they had fulfilled their duty of care, he might still have been out for the rest of the season or even his career ended.

Wiki says he was in the hospital on July 25. They found two blockages in his arm but decided there were no blockages in his neck so surgery wasn't needed. Five days later he had a stroke due to a "massive blockage" in a carotid artery that required emergency surgery. And it seemed he had 3 strokes from different arteries. He still had the blockages in his arm and reportedly was later diagnosed with throacic outlet syndrome (which has ended some careers in recent years). He was not a healthy man and even if they could/should have treated the blockages, it sounds like he would have needed some form of shoulder surgery for the TOS (which not many have returned from successfully).
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 05, 2021 at 09:24 PM (#6033078)
Granted, you don't have to be black to have the press against you. The things that Boston writers routinely wrote about Ted Williams, for example, were utterly bonkers; it was as if they thought Ted was intentionally throwing games, Hal Chase-style.)

Williams' problem with the press** stemmed from a combination of his thin-skinned personality, the desire of the press to stir up controversy, and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a bias for all-around players like Dimaggio and Musial over players considered "one dimensional" like Williams.

Players shared that sort of bias. In one poll from the late 40's, opposing players said they'd rather face Williams than Musial or Dimaggio with the game on the line. It was a ridiculously shortsighted view, but it reflected the baseball consensus of the time.

(His 200/333/200 in the '46 WS probably didn't help.)

Nor did his performance in the 1948 playoff game (a garbage time single in 4 AB), or in the final two games of the 1949 season (1 single in 8 AB) where the Red Sox blew the pennant to the Yankees. Nor did his attitude towards adult fans, nor did his early habit of practicing his batting swing while standing around in left field with the other team at bat.

** Which was instigated by Dave Egan during Williams' sophomore season after he'd talked about quitting baseball and becoming a fireman.
   31. tonywagner Posted: August 05, 2021 at 09:39 PM (#6033085)
B-Ref and other sites say Richard attended Arizona State but wasn’t he drafted out of high school?
   32. base ball chick Posted: August 05, 2021 at 10:42 PM (#6033094)
he's starting the *)^*^*&$%ing ALL STAR GAME but he's "malingering"???!!! pls. pure racist bull poopoo

best i know, harry shattuck never apologised. then again, in 1980, it was believed that Real Men pitched thru stuff like broken legs and strokes

the astros asked him back to do community relations i got to meet him at fan fest. He's the biggest man i ever saw in my life including football players and he had hands the size of a shovel i swear, bigger than both of my hands put together. i told him i was real sorry he'd gotten treated like shttt and was so happy that the team asked him to come back and that i wished i could have seen him pitch beccause my mama had told me what i had missed. he was real nice. i wish i could have chatted more but the guards shooed me off for the runs of non existent other fans

btw, he died of covid
   33. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 05, 2021 at 11:24 PM (#6033102)
...and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a bias for all-around players like Dimaggio and Musial over players considered "one dimensional" like Williams.


YOu say this like modern day saber metrics would devalue defense and over inflate offense. which is bonkers. Just from looking at the stats it seems DiMaggio was playing at least very good CF all the way up to age 35. Williams was known to be a rather indifferent LFer and from what we see from TZ, he seems at least a bit below average.

At his peak say 8 seasons, DiMaggio is averaging 7.5 WAR and hit a peak over 9 WAR once. Williams over similar 8 seasons is about a 9 WAR. But hell, TZ is giving DiMaggio at most 11 runs in CF and usually 4 or 6. That's got to be an underestimate. ITs hard to say by how much as I dont really have a feel for if DiMaggio was just very good or outstanding. Its might not enuf to equal Williams but its got to be closer than the 1.5 WAR gap that we are left with.

If DiMaggio was excellent (but not quite Mays or Ashburn or Betts) in CF he could be losing 5-10 runs on def; and if WIlliams def value is being attentuated by TZ, the comparison between these two might be extremely close.
   34. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 05, 2021 at 11:46 PM (#6033105)
There's also such things as ROE, which as far as I know is not counted in bWAR. DiMaggio is career 2% and WIlliams is 1.1% so there's about 3 runs year difference right there.* Not a lot of course, but you several categories like that together and it starts to be significant.

There's also alertness on the base paths, which if you look at primate Kiko Sakata's site he seems to find a few players such as Rose with as much as +5 runs on the season just on this. Have no idea on where these two guys would come out on that.

The pt. is the comparison between DiMaggio and Williams is not as obvious as you seem to think it is.

*its actually probably a bit more because infield errors happen at much higher rate with men on base, so weighted value of such is more than the usual .45 runs/single.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2021 at 12:21 AM (#6033108)
from what we see from TZ, he seems at least a bit below average.

Not really. TZ has him as -32 for his career but that's because he's at -44 for ages 39 to 41 (ages DiMaggio didn't play of course). Whether TZ knows what it's talking about with either guy who knows but it considers Williams at least average (in LF) until he got ancient. Obviously in terms of dWAR the gap is huge -- 16 wins, about half due to position and about 1/4 due to Williams' last 3 seasons.

If we take Ted through age 36, we get 7500 PA vs Joe's 7672 so close enough. There's still a 20-WAR gap in Ted's favor. That's about 1.5 wins per year of under/over-counted value to balance out -- obviously possible but I'd be willing to bet on Ted.

But yes, Andy's comment is weird. It's fair enough that an oaf like Kingman was disdained but nobody had a problem with McCovey or Frank Howard and not a lot of problems with Killebrew. Meanwhile all-around players like Roy White (2 AS games) or Jose Cruz (2 AS games) were largely overlooked. I'm not sure you could find a pattern then or now. There was certainly a period around 2000 when, other than defensive position, it was a common belief in saber circles that there was just no way that defense and baserunning could make up the gap between a good and average hitter nor provide anything close to enough reason to keep a Billy Hamilton or Adam Everett on the field -- that may have lasted too long (and even ensnared me at times!!) but it ended a long time ago. (Now we are all about the one big number.)
   36. Sweatpants Posted: August 06, 2021 at 12:34 AM (#6033110)
There's also such things as ROE, which as far as I know is not counted in bWAR.
It is, although I don't know if the site has updated Williams' and DiMaggio's WAR as it has filled in gamelogs for their careers. For the record, Retrosheet has about 20 more ROE for each guy than B-R does, largely because it has many more complete gamelogs.
   37. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 06, 2021 at 12:52 AM (#6033112)
For years I thought Richard's name was pronounced Ree-SHARD (like hockey great Rocket Richard), particularly since he hailed from Louisiana.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: August 06, 2021 at 01:35 AM (#6033114)
yes, JR RICHARD was JR RICHARD
   39. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:45 AM (#6033120)

Not really. TZ has him as -32 for his career but that's because he's at -44 for ages 39 to 41 (ages DiMaggio didn't play of course).


That's a pretty misleading quote there Walt.

Ted has either negative or zero TZ defensive runs from age 28 to 34, also two negative seasons prior to WW II. That would seem to be the best part of his fielding career. Its really hard to extrapolate a lot from that. There's a known bias in TZ that is going to attenuate the fielding runs on both extremes of very good and very bad.

From age 20 to age 34, he comes out at a total of minus 2 runs. Presumably he didnt get any better at age 35 since nobody really does, although TZ seems to think from age 35 to 38 he is plus 14 runs in LF which seems incredibly suspicious and more like some methodology change or something.

SO for his career he's -32 run; for over a decade in his prime he's -2; and for 4 seasons late in his career when every single player would be worse defensively, he's suddenly +14. YOu seem to suddenly have a lot of faith in 4 seasons of a flawed TZ metric that's kind of cherry picked from the decline portion of his career. Although you've been careful to not go all in on TZ up to now.

My take is that Ted is slightly negative for his career, and he's ever so slightly below average in his prime. So I think he's probably slightly below average. The question then is that accurate or is TZ attenuating his numbers to push him toward the average? Well whatever it is, its only gonna be a few runs.

In the case of DiMaggio, there's a lot more room for argument because he's strongly on the plus side in a system that depresses numbers that are on the extreme ends. I just don't have a feel for how good he was and thus how many runs he's losing.

I do agree though, with the methods we have at present, he's about 15 runs/year down to Ted. How much of that he can make up with unaccounted defense is interesting.
   40. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:55 AM (#6033121)
Meanwhile all-around players like Roy White (2 AS games) or Jose Cruz (2 AS games) were largely overlooked. I'm not sure you could find a pattern then or now


Well yeah. I guess the pt. is that even in the era we live in, defense is either being undercounted or under appreciated.

There was certainly a period around 2000 when, other than defensive position, it was a common belief in saber circles that there was just no way that defense and baserunning could make up the gap between a good and average hitter nor provide anything close to enough reason to keep a Billy Hamilton or Adam Everett on the field -- that may have lasted too long (and even ensnared me at times!!) but it ended a long time ago


Really? I think we still live in that era. Snapper I think is willing to concede 20 runs saved by CF and SS, but seems to draw the line there. Probably CFB as well. Im not sure the majority of primates would not agree with them.

Personally I think its more like 30 runs max for SS, CF and probably 3b as well. Catcher has got to be up there since every coach and front office is willing to punt some offense for a good defensive C in the same way they do SS and CF, so it must be in the neighborhood.

WHere do you guesstimate those numbers, Walt? You seem to be keeping your cards close to your vest of late.
   41. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 03:19 AM (#6033123)
It is, although I don't know if the site has updated Williams' and DiMaggio's WAR as it has filled in gamelogs for their careers. For the record, Retrosheet has about 20 more ROE for each guy than B-R does, largely because it has many more complete gamelogs.


Hello Sweat: Can we get a clarification on this point?

Are you saying that the current bWAR for DiMaggio and Williams does reflect the approx 1% advantage that DiMaggio had over Williams in ROE?
I.e. that it has incorporated much of the ROE data, only missing about 20 ROE so far as we know.

OR:

bWAR does purport to take ROE into account, but we don't know how much of the ROE data is currently reflected in Williams/DiMaggio's bWAR?

You understand my question? Its unclear whether most of the ROE data has already been incorporated, or whether its intended to be incorporated but we dont know how much has been.

Hope that's clear. Thanks
   42. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2021 at 05:39 AM (#6033124)
That's a pretty misleading quote there Walt.

No it's not. This was the misleading quote: from what we see from TZ, he seems at least a bit below average.

Criticize TZ all you want but "from what we see from TZ"...

1939-42: +2
1946-51: -1

At this point he's off to war again and comes back at the age of 35. There are not many players that maintain the defense at age 35.

1954-57: +14

Now, at ages 39-41, TZ puts him at -44.

So in what way is TZ showing us a below-average fielder?

Ted has either negative or zero TZ defensive runs from age 28 to 34,

Convenienly omitting his +4 at age 27, his first back from the war and counting his age 33-34 when he was in the military most of the time.

So if we look at Ted from age 28 to 36, he's +3. If we look at him from ages 28 to 37, he's +4. If we look at him from ages 27-37, he's +8. If we look at him from 27-32, he's -1 (as above). But yes, in the 37 games in 1953 after returning to the game in Aug, it gives him a -3.

Really, this isn't even debatable. Per TZ, he was -32 for his career and -44 for 39-41 which means he was +32 through age 38 which is obviously an average or slightly better fielder.

There's a known bias in TZ that is going to attenuate the fielding runs on both extremes of very good and very bad.

Link or cite please. Are you sure it's a bias or is it an understimate of the variance? Which players are biased? How the #### would we know given there's no actual measurement of defense?

   43. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2021 at 06:17 AM (#6033125)
SO for his career he's -32 run; for over a decade in his prime he's -2; and for 4 seasons late in his career when every single player would be worse defensively, he's suddenly +14. YOu seem to suddenly have a lot of faith in 4 seasons of a flawed TZ metric that's kind of cherry picked from the decline portion of his career. Although you've been careful to not go all in on TZ up to now.

This is a criticism of TZ. Your quote was "from what we see in TZ." TZ might be full of ####, in which case it tells us nothing useful about Williams or DiMaggio. And whether you believe TZ's age 35-38 numbers for Williams is immaterial, up until then it rated him average. Your strained cherry-picking doesn't change the numbers. And you don't get to choose to believe DiMaggio's numbers but not Williams'.

Personally I think its more like 30 runs max for SS, CF and probably 3b as well.

Statcast disagrees with you. Nobody's that good, nobody's that consistently good. C of course you might have a point since nobody thinks they measure C defense well. SS certainly has a high standard of defensive skill to take the field although it's probably in decline. CFs though ... perfectly average hitters, not really being selected that strongly for defense. Playing OF is easy anyway.

So where do I guesstimate the very top of SS or CF defense? Maybe 15-20 runs a year, maybe 2 guys a year get there, maybe one guy can sustain that. And then there's Ozzie Smith. But sure, just like Brady Anderson once hit 50 HR, no doubt some defender pulls out an actual +30-40 season every once in a great while.

As to the stats, I don't know what we'd want for OF beyond statcast (plus some arm rating). Whether statcast's technology works, etc. I have no idea. For IF, I'm not quite clear on how they're measuring it but they're trying to account for shifts and such. If their IF numbers are correct then either our entire understanding of IF defense has been wrong forever (your SS aren't very special) or something has really changed (see below for some wild speculation).

Among the many problems with measuring defense (and everything else) is that it's measured relatively. SS offense is well up on where it's been historically ... you think these larger bulkier hitters have the same defensive ability as the SS of the astroturf era?

2010 693
2011 697
2012 688
2013 681
2014 678
2015 688
2016 725 -- league up 18 points
2017 735
2018 733 -- outhit the league although I suppose that includes pitchers
2019 772 -- league up 30 points, out hit the league by 14 points
2020 748 -- outhit the league
2021 728 -- outhitting the league

From 1975 to 1984, SS OPS was never higher than 665 and as low as 612. The league was over 700 in 8 of those years.

So do you think teams are stressing SS defense as much as they used to? Do we think Javy Baez's true DRS or true TZ or statcast range or whatever is the same as a SS with similar defensive numbers of earlier eras? Could be of course, how in the world would we know? But a simpler explanation would seem to be that some guys who used to be shifted to 3B/2B/CF are sticking at SS longer.
   44. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 06, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6033145)
But yes, Andy's comment is weird. It's fair enough that an oaf like Kingman was disdained but nobody had a problem with McCovey or Frank Howard and not a lot of problems with Killebrew.

Dimaggio and Williams came from an earlier era than McCovey / Howard / Killebrew, and as the former pair were the showcase players of their time they were constantly being compared and contrasted by writers and fans all over the country. Such debates highlighted the philosophical differences between those who valued all-around skills vs. those who thought that Williams' unique batting talents made up for his other deficiencies. I can't think of any other two players in subsequent eras who've served as Exhibit A and B for this continuing argument.

That said, I should've written "the 40's and early 50's" rather than the overly broad "pre-sabermetric era". My bad on that. As to which player I'd rather have had on my team, that would depend on when and in what context. Obviously Williams had the longer and more valuable career.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: August 06, 2021 at 09:45 AM (#6033154)
But yes, Andy's comment is weird. It's fair enough that an oaf like Kingman was disdained but nobody had a problem with McCovey or Frank Howard and not a lot of problems with Killebrew.


There's a difference between disdain/acceptance/worship. You can be accepting of McCovey and Howard and Harmon and still undervalue their contributions (Killebrew took four ballots to make the Hall).

Moreover, look at the context of the comment. He wasn't criticizing the idea people thought Dimaggio or Musial were better all-around players then Williams. He said a poll of players said they'd rather face those with the game on the line. And that is, in fact, nuts.
   46. Tony S Posted: August 06, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6033158)
James Rodney Richard was my favorite pitcher to watch growing up. Especially the way he would beat up on the Dodgers, which is an objective good.

J.R. had the first half of Randy Johnson's career, and was making the same breakthroughs in 1979-80 that Johnson made as he transitioned to monster status. If the Astros had been able to enjoy the full careers of Richard and Dickie Thon, they probably would have won a couple more division titles in the 1980's.

The Houston organization and press corps' treatment of him -- well, "disgraceful" just seems too inadequate a word. He was a franchise cornerstone, who almost never missed a start for years, giving his all for a mediocre team -- and then suddenly, when the team improves and he's finally pitching for something, he's a malingerer? It doesn't even make *logical* sense, but the org and the media defaulted to the worst possible characterization. Richard himself handled the episode -- and the subsequent decades -- with vastly more class and dignity than the organization did. To this day, the Astros haven't retired Richard's number, and post-McMullen ownership groups never tried to mend fences with him. He should have thrown out the first pitch in the 2017 World Series.

R.I.P., J.R. If Harry Shattuck comes up to the plate against you in the afterlife, you know what to do.

   47. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#6033159)
Enos Cabell says JR was unvaccinated and died of COVID.
   48. TomH Posted: August 06, 2021 at 09:58 AM (#6033161)
"Williams' problem with the press** stemmed from a combination of his thin-skinned personality, the desire of the press to stir up controversy, and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a bias for all-around players like Dimaggio and Musial over players considered "one dimensional" like Williams."--

change that to "and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a pro-bias for some stats (AVG HR RBI), greatly ignored walks, and loved up-the-middle (C 2B SS CF) defenders" and it would be more accurate.

   49. Sweatpants Posted: August 06, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#6033169)
Hello Sweat: Can we get a clarification on this point?

Are you saying that the current bWAR for DiMaggio and Williams does reflect the approx 1% advantage that DiMaggio had over Williams in ROE?
I.e. that it has incorporated much of the ROE data, only missing about 20 ROE so far as we know.

OR:

bWAR does purport to take ROE into account, but we don't know how much of the ROE data is currently reflected in Williams/DiMaggio's bWAR?
The latter, although I'd change "we" to "I."
   50. sanny manguillen Posted: August 06, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#6033170)
Enos Cabell says JR was unvaccinated and died of COVID.


Richard is the first death of a former major leaguer recorded by BB-Ref in August. There were 41 deaths (all causes) in the first quarter of this year, 19 in Q2, and so far five in Q3.
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 06, 2021 at 12:00 PM (#6033197)
"Williams' problem with the press** stemmed from a combination of his thin-skinned personality, the desire of the press to stir up controversy, and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a bias for all-around players like Dimaggio and Musial over players considered "one dimensional" like Williams."--

change that to "and a pre-sabermetric view of player value that had a pro-bias for some stats (AVG HR RBI), greatly ignored walks, and loved up-the-middle (C 2B SS CF) defenders" and it would be more accurate


TomH,

Yes, that's a reasonable and accurate modification of what I'd originally written, and in the case of Joe v. Ted the defense and the walks loomed particularly large. Williams' high walk total was often seen as "selfish" when the walks came with runners in scoring position.

Of course the defense part was more than reasonable, considering that Dimaggio covered the largest ground in all of MLB, while Williams covered the smallest.
   52. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 01:43 PM (#6033220)

Statcast disagrees with you. Nobody's that good, nobody's that consistently good.


Well first of all I didnt say "consistently". That's you putting a spin on it. I said at maximum or words to that effect.

Statcast is only counting catches for OF, from what I can tell. Guys like Kiermaier or Robles seem to be getting 20 catches more a year. statcast, as far as I know, is not counting assists, holding base runners or turning singles into doubles. My suggestion of 30 runs includes that stuff. If a Clemente or Sierra could have 8 or 9 kills above avg, I would count that as one run/kill on def. CLemente held runners 7% better than avg for his career, if you can reach 8% thats probably about 4 runs/year, figuring .25/base and 200 chances to advance. Not sure about cutting off singles but again a small handful.

If you perform well in several of those categories you could add ten or more runs to a base of 18 runs on catches and get to 30.

DRS has Mookie Betts in RF reaching 30 def runs twice. So I guess they agree if nobody else.

On infielders I believe you do have a good pt. THey seem to be counting catches as well as assists. Not sure about relay throws but how much can that really be? a handful? 4 runs?

TZ has Belanger reaching 35 at SS, and reaching 24 or more 6x. They have Aparicio reaching 27 once, also 18 and 15. I think 30 is a reasonable guess if an OFer can do that much.

At 3b statcast has 2019 Chapman at 10 runs, whereas DRS as him at +28 runs. Clearly this system is seeing something that OAA/statcast is not. Statcast has Arenado at 16 runs saved, DRS has him at 23. So there's some room for disagreement its not as cut and dried as you are making it.


CFs though ... perfectly average hitters, not really being selected that strongly for defense.


Not sure what your pt. is here, although it can just as easily be turned against you. Since SS and 2b hit less well than CF then it stands to reason that they are more valued defensively. No? Does it mean they can save more runs? or that its just overall harder to play that position? I would think if the league on the whole are willing to play mid infielders who hit worse than CFers they must be making up for it with by saving more runs. that would seem logical

   53. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 01:53 PM (#6033223)
There's a known bias in TZ that is going to attenuate the fielding runs on both extremes of very good and very bad.

Link or cite please. Are you sure it's a bias or is it an understimate of the variance? Which players are biased? How the #### would we know given there's no actual measurement of defense?



I have posted the link before, but you always seem to drop out of these discussions just when they get good. Here:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/best_worst_wowy_since_1993_through_age_34/

Look at comment 16, halfway down, where the pertinent part begins:

"What I think is happening is that TZ artificially pushes all fielders too close to the mean, by reducing the imputed opportunities to bad fielders and increasing opportunities for good fielders. This would explain why the TZ variance is lower than WOWY or UZR...

No one has countered this that I have seen. Isnt Rally the guy for TZ? Even he acknowledged this.

Are you sure it's a bias or is it an understimate of the variance?


you much better mathematically than I. I dont think the problem is with estimating, its creating an error in methodology that exists to dampen both extremes, both excellent fielding and terrible fielding are undercounted due to the inherent error.

TO me that's a bias; but you may have better understand of this.

How the #### would we know given there's no actual measurement of defense?


well TZ is counting some stats, and applying some estimations about how likely those balls are to get to. It's measuring something I guess, again you can probably inform us more.

The understanding I get is that if Ted Williams doesnt get to a ball in LF, TZ says "Ok that ball was probably pretty hard to get to, so we dock him 0.3 of a chance" And if Willie Mays catches a ball in CF TZ says "Ok he made that catch, but since he caught it, it couldnt have been that hard, so we credit him 0.3" When the method has no way of understanding inherently if/probably WIlliams is poor and Mays is great. It just assumes they are average fielders and the balls hit are average to catch.


   54. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:05 PM (#6033226)
The latter, although I'd change "we" to "I."


Hi Sweat. OK so you dont think its counting ROE for DiMaggio and guys of that era?

What about Clemente playing more recently? He's getting about 2-3 runs a year for the prime part of his career. But I would l have thought he should get that much just from taking an extra base and moving up on WP/PB. (he was about break even at SB/CS so probably no benefit to that). He was thought to be quite good on the basepaths. But his reach on error numbers suggest he's getting on base probably 6x a year more than the average player, that's at least 3 runs/year right there. Is that being counted?
   55. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:16 PM (#6033229)
you think these larger bulkier hitters have the same defensive ability as the SS of the astroturf era?


Its hard question to answer cause there are several moving parts we have to measure at the same time. Guys seem to be getting better "athletically" whatever that means. But aside from semantics, its hard to imagine an ARod type guy alive in 1920. I guess Honus Wagner was just as much a freak.

In the last 20 years we've gone from about 28 BIP/team to 24 BIP/team. That's a decrease of 14%. So central defense has got to be worth less than those halcyon days of our past when SS hit .190. If its worth less, why wouldnt you put bulkier types at SS 2b CF and get more out of them offensively? It makes logical sense.

But then everyone is getting bigger and stronger and faster so its hard to measure it.
   56. Ron J Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:21 PM (#6033230)
#54 For any year that RoE is available for all games, yeah.

Not that I care. I'm well aware of the general range of the standard error of WAR at career and single season levels. Basically including RoE cuts the standard error for full time players form somewhere around 12 runs a year to ... somewhere around 12 runs a year (but slightly smaller)
   57. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6033231)
Such debates highlighted the philosophical differences between those who valued all-around skills vs. those who thought that Williams' unique batting talents made up for his other deficiencies. I can't think of any other two players in subsequent eras who've served as Exhibit A and B for this continuing argument.


ANdy can you add anything about what contemporary writers said about Williams's defense? My understanding is that "indifferent" was probably the most objective description I have seen. But was there any consensus on his range? his arm? his instincts.
   58. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 03:52 PM (#6033265)
Do we think Javy Baez's true DRS or true TZ or statcast range or whatever is the same as a SS with similar defensive numbers of earlier eras?


OH I finally get what you are saying here. Leaving out SS OPS+ for the sake of simplicity:

BIP is down 14% in the last 20 years or so. So if a Belanger or Aparicio was worth 25 runs/year (just say) then the modern equivalent star defensive SS might only be making 21.5 runs/year.

Ok then, yes to that. It seems to be where the logic is taking us.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 06, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6033269)
Andy can you add anything about what contemporary writers said about Williams's defense? My understanding is that "indifferent" was probably the most objective description I have seen. But was there any consensus on his range? his arm? his instincts.

Very few writers during his career went beyond the anecdotal in describing Williams' defense. Early in his career, they'd note his obsession with taking practice swings while in left field, and there was a key play in the final game of the 1949 season, with the pennant on the line, where he misplayed a ball hit by Phil Rizzuto into a triple, a play that led to the game's only run until the last of the 8th. Without that misplay, the game would've remained scoreless and it's unlikely that McCarthy would've removed Ellis Kinder for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 8th, a decision which led to the Yankees' 4 vital insurance runs.

But beyond that, there wasn't much. The only defensive statistics for outfielders were the usual putouts, assists, errors, double plays and fielding percentage, none of which meant all that much without knowing the surrounding context. The Monster reduced his opportunities for putouts, and the outstanding defensive CF Dom Dimaggio generally covered the overlapping territory between them, further reducing his defensive role. It was said that he played the wall well, but I can't think of a single Red Sox LF who lasted more than a year in that position to which that same compliment wasn't paid. (The exception being Manny.) 99% of the coverage of Williams dwelt on his historically great hitting, his general lack of all-around skills, and his personality traits both good (the Jimmy Fund; his war record, especially in Korea) and bad (his feuds with the press; his initial complaining about not getting a WW2 draft deferment; the spitting incidents; the refusal to tip his cap, etc.). There were plenty of first rate writers back then, but they were more known for their writing style than their analytical skills, and none of them were stationed in Boston.
   60. Ron J Posted: August 06, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6033285)
#57 He did get attacked by a teammate (manager had to intervene) in the minors for dogging it on defense.
   61. Sweatpants Posted: August 06, 2021 at 05:56 PM (#6033295)
Hi Sweat. OK so you dont think its counting ROE for DiMaggio and guys of that era?

What about Clemente playing more recently? He's getting about 2-3 runs a year for the prime part of his career. But I would l have thought he should get that much just from taking an extra base and moving up on WP/PB. (he was about break even at SB/CS so probably no benefit to that). He was thought to be quite good on the basepaths. But his reach on error numbers suggest he's getting on base probably 6x a year more than the average player, that's at least 3 runs/year right there. Is that being counted?
ROE totals are explicitly stated as being part of WAR here, here, and here. Clemente should be fine. The issue with Williams/DiMaggio is that they've added ROE info for both men since 2012, and I don't know (I am not dubious; I genuinely don't know) if they have updated each man's WAR total accordingly.
   62. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 05:58 PM (#6033296)
I can't think of a single Red Sox LF who lasted more than a year in that position to which that same compliment wasn't paid.


Mike Easler says "Hello."
   63. Rally Posted: August 06, 2021 at 07:25 PM (#6033304)
Andy’s point stands. Mike Easler played there two years, but was mostly a DH. In 84 he didn’t play LF at all, in 85 he played only 18 games there.
   64. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 10:33 PM (#6033325)
Yes that's true, I looked that up after posting. Apologies to Andy and to Mike Easler who's still with us at 71 yrs old I believe.

I was mostly a joke because I remember the one Red Sox game I saw him and he dropped a ball in LF. Like it literally fell out of his glove. TZ seems to think he was OK in BOS, not so in PIT. In fairness to Easler, he really didnt earn a full time job until he was 29 or 30 and spent most of his earlier years just sitting on the bench, so he may not have been able to develop a defensive game or at least be exposed to live fire.

*****

Poking around on the web I found this interesting 2009 review (by "Clack") of a Tango article, who was using a WOWY method to find how good the greatest defenders are. The article is entitled "HOw Many runs does a Great Defensive Player Save?"

CLack says:

"So his conclusion is that a great infielder like Adam Everett will be worth 37 runs, on average, defensively, per year.

He then performs the same analysis for outfielders and first basemen. The averages come out to 19 runs and 15 runs, for great outfielders and great first basemen, respectively.

Tango obtains a weighted average for the positions on the field, and concludes that a truly great defensive player on a team is worth on average 25 runs in a season."

article found here, includes more a bit more analysis:

https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2009/3/6/784324/how-many-runs-does-a-great


   65. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 06, 2021 at 10:42 PM (#6033328)
Sweat: thanks for the link. A fun and interesting discussion.

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