Thursday, December 27, 2007

Alltime Outfielder Wins

What started as a simple concept has become more complex. As before, start with batter wins from baseball-reference.com. Add replacement level - 2 wins per 650 career plate appearances.

Then add position adjustments, depending on career games played at a position:
+.5 per 162 in center
-.5 per 162 as a corner
-1.0 for 1B, -1.5 for DH

Then there's stolen bases, .19 runs for SB, -.44 for CS, divide by 10 to convert to wins.

And then defense. For 1956 to 1986, I use a new measure I came up with based on retrosheet data. I will explain this more in the future. For 1987 on, I'm using zone rating runs.

And finally, outfield arms ratings. For this, I'm using the data John Walsh provided in the 2007 Hardball Times Annual. I don't have data for everyone, but if a player didn't make his best or worse list, he's probably no better or worse than 1 win from average.

And the results:

Top Hall of Famers:
Mays 146
Aaron 133
Ted Williams 132
Musial 121
Mantle 115
Robinson 107
Yastrzemski 106

Yaz picks up a ton for defense, 170 for fielding and another 67 for his arm. The fielding is park adjusted, though I'm not ready to finalize this, I may have park adjusted too much. The arm rating is not park adjusted and probably should be, the short left field wall helped him hold runners. Yaz is of course a sure hall of famer even if his defense had been below average. His left field rating is +122, and he was also +45 as a first baseman. In case anyone wonders where Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are, I'm focusing on players who played who played post WWII and integration, and in the retrosheet era (1956+).

Next rung of HOFers:
Kaline 91
Gwynn 82
Clemente 80
Jackson 76
Winfield 67
Snider 65
Billy Williams 65
Stargell 60

Gwynn picks up quite a bit on defense, my totalzone stat likes him in the pre-zone era, and zone rating likes him too. I don't have anything on his arm, he wasn't among Walsh's leaders. Kaline rates well both in range and arm, and Clemente is just awesome, +124 range and +67 arm. Its a case of the stats matching up to the legend. Winfield rates poorly in range and very good on arm, the stats show him as a statue playing right field with the Angels late in his career. Snider rates poorly defensively but I only have the tail end of his career, he may have been a good CF in the early 50's. Stargell was a poor defender at both outfield and first but had a great arm.

Coulda been Hall of Famers
Reggie Smith 69
Dwight Evans 65

Neither one is eligible, dropped from the ballot for not getting 5% of the vote. Reggie Smith is a surprise. Reggie had just over 8000 plate appearances, most of the sure HOF guys had over 10000. Still, his 36.6 batting wins is about even with Clemente, better than Raines, and not far off from Gwynn, Billy Williams, Duke Snider, and Dave Winfield, and well above the guy getting the attention this year, Jim Rice. Reggie rates at +87 for defense, and +13 for his arm, but even if those are inaccurate (and fielding stats are rough estimations) he would still be a viable candidate if he was an average defender. Its too late for the HOF, but maybe he can get into Baseball-reference's Hall of Merit.

Evans was a fine well rounded hitter, a +50 career defender, and a +31 arm. I've often considered him the best outfielder on the outside of the hall, despite what the numbers say about Reggie.

Marginal HOFers:
Ashburn 53
Doby 50
Puckett 46
Brock 39

I only have defensive ratings for Ashburn at the end of his career, and can only give him +4 for defense. He had the greatest run of high putout totals ever, partly thanks to a big ballpark, partly to Robin Roberts, and partly because he could fly. In 1956 and 1957 he was a +15 defender each year. In his last few seasons, his defense really dropped off though. In addition, he could not throw (-19 runs). If I had the data for 1950 to 1955, its likely Ashburn would have added 15-20 runs per year on defense, and would not be considered marginal. With Doby, there's more than the stats, he is being honored for his role in the game. I have no problem with that.

Puckett was a very good player who was a bit overrated. He had shown no decline, if he had not been injured he might have hit .320 with 20 homers for 3-4 more years, and he'd be fully worthy. I didn't think the HOF was supposed to give credit for what might have happened but for injury (Tony Oliva is probably wondering about this too). Kirby got some sympathy votes for the way his career ended and a character bonus for being (seemingly) such a nice guy. Had his vote been delayed a few years, he probably would have been rejected for beating his wife. But now with his untimely demise, they might give the sympathy vote back. Whatever, R.I.P Kirby.

Brock, well its all about hitting the counting stat of 3000 hits and breaking the steals record. There are many players outside the hall who helped their team win more games. Well, at least in the regular season. Lou was absolutely incredible in 3 world series. If he got in for that I won't complain.

Eligible now:
Tim Raines 70
Andre Dawson 65
Rice 50
Parker 47
Murphy 45
Baines 44

If Raines fails to get in he'll be the best outfielder on the outside. His defense is only a small boost, +18 range and +6 arm. While Tim did not have a strong arm, what really matters is the complete package: getting to the ball quickly and getting rid of it. His non-SB baserunning is not even considered, at least not yet. There are a lot of sluggers just barely on the outside of the Hall. While Raines was not a slugger, he was a more valuable player than all of them.

I support both Expos for this year's ballot. Dawson was not as great a hitter as Rice, but for 1000 games, he played great defense in center. As a right fielder with bad knees, he was about average. Overall, he's +70 in range and another +36 for his arm. I'm not rating Rice as a bad fielder, on the contrary he's +13 in range and +16 in arm. Dawson played longer, about 1700 PA worth, and has more positional value as a center/ right fielder vs a left fielder /DH. I do not support Rice for the Hall because I count about 20 non-HOFers between him and Dawson, who I won't bother to name. Murphy's defense rates as poor, -60 in range (-43 TZ, -17 Zone rating), gets 11 back for a strong arm, and another -18 for his failure to be an adequate catcher (though he gets a positional bonus for trying). Perhaps my system is off on his defense, but he'd have to have been Willie Mays to overcome the poor end to his career and having put up his numbers in a hitter's park.

And those not yet eligible:

Bonds 160
Henderson 109
Griffey 82
Sheffield 69
M Ramirez 65
Edmonds 64
L Walker 61
Guerrero 60
Sosa 58

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