NL First Base
Ok, let's see how the first basemen in the NL fare - though I have to say that when I was compiling the numbers, I wasn't too impressed - then again to be thorough, I looked at the high first baseman win share total for every team - so I had some looks at Archi Cianfrocco and Orestes Destrade that made me think the NL wouldn't come close to comparing. Then again, we are only looking at the top three, so you won't see those names again.
1990: Eddie Murray 31, Dave Magadan 25, Will Clark 25
I'll tell you this is a fun exercise just to hear the name of Dave Magadan again.
1991: Will Clark 34, John Kruk 25, Fred McGriff 25
So begins the Crime Dog's San Diego career - and explaining why he dropped off of the AL lists. By the way, for my money, there was no cooler player at this time than John Kruk. I give Kent Hrbek the 80s. Maybe I have something for K's.
1992: Jeff Bagwell 29, Will Clark 28, McGriff 27
Mark it down, here comes Bags' run. All this for 22 IP of Larry Andersen?
1993: Gregg Jefferies 28, Kruk 25, McGriff/Mark Grace/Andre Galarraga 23
At least for a year, the Cardinals found someone that could take the place of Jack Clark. Surprisingly, for all of those hits, this is only one of two times that Grace appears in the top three.
1994: Bagwell 30, McGriff 22, Jefferies 17
As impressive as the Big Hurt is, Bagwell puts up an even more amazing total of win shares in the strike year.
1995: Eric Karros 25, Grace 23, Bagwell/McGriff 20
1996: Bagwell 41, Galarraga 25, Jeff King 22
1997: Bagwell 32, JT Snow 28, John Olerud 27
Three more years for Bagwell - and another crossover with Olerud. McGriff got his name in for the last time in the top 3 in the NL.
1998: Mark McGwire 41, Olerud 34, Bagwell 29
1999: Bagwell 37, McGwire 30, Olerud 26
That is basically three years of Bagwell, McGwire and Olerud. (McGwire had 25 win shares total in 1997 combined between the two leagues.) But, do you smell that? I think it is a cycle screeching to a halt.
2000: Todd Helton 29, Bagwell 25, Ryan Klesko 23
2001: Bagwell 30, Klesko 29, Helton 26
2002: Klesko 31, Helton 27, Derrick Lee 23
For the first two of the three years, Klesko played an overwhelming majority of games at 1B. Before and after it was a good bit of the outfield. This also marks the last hurrah for Bags in the top 3 and the first of many appearances for Helton.
2003: Helton 35, Jim Thome 30, Richie Sexson 26
2004: Albert Pujols 38, Helton 30, Sean Casey 28
Using the same assignations as Jon, here is the NL side:
Obviously the NL was more top heavy with Bagwell at this time, where as the AL has a greater cluster around the top. One last group of totals - a combined amount for the players in both leagues.
As consistent as McGriff was for a long period of time, I think this is another mark against him for not being great and just being good.
AL First Base
OK, I'm going to type as I research and see what comes of it. Season by season, the top first baseman by Win Shares:
1990: Cecil Fielder 29, Mark McGwire 27, Fred McGriff and George Brett 26
Right away a trio of overlooked first basemen. I forget that Brett moved to first when Seitzer came up. McGriff and Fielder were top first basemen.
1991: Fielder and Rafael Palmeiro 26, Wally Joyner 25
1992: Frank Thomas 33, McGwire 29, Palmeiro 24
1993: John Olerud 37, Thomas 32, Palmeiro 31.
Wow. Three 1B over 30 including Olerud's fantastic season.
1994: Thomas 25, Will Clark 19, Palmeiro and Mo Vaughn 17
Strike season and Thomas still posted 25.
1995: Thomas 28, Vaughn 24, McGwire 23
1996: Palmeiro 30, Vaughn and McGwire 29
1997: Thomas 39, Tino Martinez 27, Jim Thome 26
Thomas' total tied with Rickey Henderson (1991) for highest AL Win Shares of the 1990's.
1998: Vaughn 25, Palmeiro and Carlos Delgado 24
1999: Jason Giambi 30, Thome 26, McGriff 24
McGriff appears nine years later.
2000: Giambi 38, Delgado 36, Mark Sweeney 26
2001: Giambi 38, Thome 31, Palmeiro 25
2002: Thome and Giambi 34, Olerud 27
2003: Delgado 32, Giambi 28, Doug Mientkiewicz 20
2004: David Ortiz and Mark Texeira 25, Travis Hafner 22
A new regime in 2004.
Simply assigning three points for being top, two for second and one for third, with ties being shared:
W. Clark 2
T. Martinez 2
That run by Giambi was something else. But Thomas still ends up on top. Factor in his seasons where he played more games as a DH (1993 when he led the league in Win Shares, 1998 where his 25 Win Shares would have tied him with Vaughn and 2000 where his 34 ranked him third among 1B) and Thomas' domination is pretty clear.
Comments for Jason
Been liking the Win Share analyses as they relate to eligibility for the Hall of Fame. I want to take issue with a couple things in your last post and thought I would post because 1. That's sort of the idea of this, 2. I haven't been moved to write anything related to baseball and 3. I'm still recovering from the tiger bite and need something to do.
First, what is Andre Dawson doing in that last post? 171 career games at DH as opposed to 2323 in the outfield qualifies him? The man never saw an inning at first base. I demand a retraction!
Second, you have fallen victim to that most cursed of baseball analysis fallibility, the fallacy of recency. Frank Thomas has never been a "consistently great" player. From 1991 to 1997 he put up seasons that were unparalleled. His combination of walks, average and power had only been seen in Ruth and Williams. He could have retired at age 29 and had a legitimate shot at the Hall with 257 career homers plus his astounding average.
In those seven years he won two MVP's, finished third twice in the voting and eighth the outher four seasons. Led the league in OBP four times and was never lower than fourth in the league. Was top ten in batting average in six of those seasons. Was top ten in homers in six of those seasons. 100+ runs and RBI in all seven seasons, even the strike-shortened one. For those seven years he was the best hitter in the American League and maybe the major leagues.
In the seven years hence he has developed into a more lackluster player. He strikes out more now. Doesn't hit for average and has health problems. I really think that if he had pulled a Barry Sanders and quit in 1997 his odds of being in the Hall would be greater than they are now.
As for Bagwell, I don't know that you can call two seasons consistently good. Oh wait, that's Bill Bagwell I'm looking at. Silly me. Although Bill hit .294 in his career and jeff is a .297 career hitter. Almost spooky. Jeff is consistently great. I'd be interested in seeing where he stands among first basemen in career steals. Did you know he's been a 30-30 guy twice?
Project for you and I. I'll take AL, you take NL. From 1990 to 2004, who had the best win share season for a first baseman in each season. I think that's one of the things that hurts a lot of these guys: Clark, Palmeiro, Mattingly, Grace. They were consistently the third or fourth best first baseman in their leagues. In another era, they'd be the tops but the 1990's were a great era for first basemen. Report back what you find, dude.
Cart before the Barrel
I have to admit that I leapt ahead in my exploration of third basemen, since I still had some things to say about first basemen, win shares and the Hall of Fame - and more current players. I also have to say that this is an evaluation of players' stats through 2004 - not how their stats should be viewed through pharmaceutical glasses.
So - once again I used the same methodology as the past couple of weeks - I looked at total win shares, average win shares, high win shares and the number of years with win shares above 30. This time, I took the top tiers of HOF first basemen/DH (Gehrig, Foxx, McCovey, Mize, Murray, Connor, Killebrew, Greenberg, Molitor, Brouthers), added McGwire, Andre Dawson, Mark Grace, Edgar Martinez, Will Clark, Fred McGriff, Keith Hernandez and Darrell Evans - retired players who have had nice careers - and finally added Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas, current players who have already had nice careers as well. Then I threw them all into a tumbler, mixed well and here is what came out of the blender.
Here they are in terms of total win shares for their careers.
Gehrig - 489
Murray - 437
Foxx - 435
Molitor - 414
McCovey - 408
Bagwell - 384
Palmeiro - 384
Killebrew - 371
Connor - 363
Evans - 363
Thomas - 359
Brouthers - 355
McGwire - 342
Dawson - 340
Mize - 338
McGriff - 334
Clark - 331
Hernandez - 311
Martinez - 304
Grace - 277
Greenberg - 267
(Before I go any further - Dawson should probably be compared with outfielders and right fielders in particular - but since this is more about current players - I felt he fit in nicely. Plus, down the road it will be interesting to see if the same results found in comparing to first basemen apply to the right fielders as well.)
I like a few things about this total list - in particular how high Bagwell, Palmeiro and Thomas are already up the list - and the way Clark, McGriff, Dawson and McGwire flank Johnny Mize. If we were to just look at total Win Shares - it would be hard to argue against Clark and all those above him. But, the quality of those seasons is how the chaff is separated from the thousands of websites using this cliche. Maybe I should try starting how the monkey is separated from the banana. Onto the average per season!
Gehrig - 28.76
Bagwell - 27.43
Thomas - 23.93
Mize - 22.53
Clark - 22.07
Foxx - 21.75
McGwire - 21.38
Murray - 20.81
Greenberg - 20.54
Palmeiro - 20.21
Connor - 20.17
Molitor - 19.71
Brouthers - 18.68
McCovey - 18.55
Grace - 18.47
Hernandez - 18.29
McGriff - 17.58
Evans - 17.29
Martinez - 16.89
Killebrew - 16.86
Dawson - 16.19
WOW. I remember when I first made this spreadsheet and looked at the top five I was astounded. I still am. But, as I remember Matthew Lillard saying in Scream - here's the best part. You add those in the top five - Gehrig no longer holds all of the top marks by his lonesome. The top win shares year - Gehrig and Clark are tied with 44, Bagwell, Foxx and McGwire all have a season of 41 and Thomas and McCovey have a season of 39. As for the number of thirty win share seasons, Gehrig still leads, followed by Foxx, Mize and Greenberg, but Bagwell and Thomas now join McCovey and Killebrew with four 30 win share seasons and Clark and Palmeiro join McGwire, Connor and Murray with three.
So - with the addition of all of these players - how did the final rankings turn out?
Gehrig - 4.5
Foxx - 15
Same as before. Just a bigger gap between the two due to the excellence introduced.
Jeff Bagwell - 19
Frank Thomas - 27
This still floors me. I think I have to believe Andy "Oil Can" when he says I have a St. Louis bias. I always thought that McGwire was a HOFer and the best first basemen of his time - I'm not sure the stats bear that out. Of course, both of these guys have a couple more years to put up sub par numbers, but still, I didn't think of these two as hall material because they didn't set any major milestones yet. They've just been consistently great for a number of years.
McCovey - 32
Mize - 33.5
Clark - 34.5
Murray - 34.5
McGwire - 35
Interesting how McGwire moves down the list with the introduction of his peers. It also is interesting that Clark is on par with McGwire - the bay area sluggers appeared on the 4/4/88 cover of SI, played on the same 2000 St. Louis team, and are almost the same when looking at the hall from the view of win shares.
Connor - 40.5
Killebrew - 42.5
Greenberg - 44.5
Palmeiro - 45
Molitor - 46
Brouthers - 50.5
Palmeiro also looks to belong. Maybe not as strong of a candidate as the others in terms of win shares and win share quality, but he certainly has the career stats like Killebrew and Molitor who join him on this list.
Evans - 62.5
Hernandez - 65
McGriff - 69.5
Martinez - 71
Dawson - 75.5
Grace - 76.5
Unfortunately, as cool as these guys are, none look to be Hall material. They had good long careers with the operative word being good. The interesting thing is that the HOF analysis on baseballreference.com (see the links above for the players) give a lot more credit to the long careers and McGriff, Dawson and Martinez all appear to be Hall material by the standards listed at the bottoms of their individual pages. Clark is not listed as one according to those standards and his similarity scores. Gracie and Keith are listed as the most similar - so they got that going for them. Hey - they're Mark Grace and Keith Hernandez and they don't have to worry about slump-busting anymore.
So, a friend asked me the question - "Should I really listen to all of these Chicago hack writers and believe that Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame?" So, I pondered. When that didn't get me very far, I grabbed my copy of Win Shares and said, "Let's take a look at the numbers!" And I did. Here they are.
First, I looked at Hall of Fame Third Basemen (minus Negro Leaguers Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson since I don't have Win Shares numbers for this analysis.) Then I added Ron Santo to the comparison. For good measure, I wanted to look at Dick Allen (since he is also on my Gott team) and Ken Boyer as well - two third basemen that were contemporaries of said Santo. So, the first thing in my mind to examine is the total number of Win Shares that each of these third basemen accumulated. Here is that in a nice column form.
Mike Schmidt - 467
Eddie Mathews - 450
George Brett - 432
Wade Boggs - 394
Brooks Robinson - 356
Dick Allen - 342
Ron Santo - 324
Frank Baker - 301
Ken Boyer - 279
Jimmy Collins - 274
Pie Traynor - 274
George Kell - 229
Fred Lindstrom - 193
I think the total number of Win Shares always sets the stage. Kind of like a big curtain - that slowly separates to reveal more of the story. In this case - as in the first base analysis - it is the Win Shares per season. Here is that group of numbers.
Eddie Mathews - 26.47
Mike Schmidt - 25.94
Frank Baker - 23.15
Dick Allen - 22.80
Wade Boggs - 21.89
Ron Santo - 21.60
George Brett - 20.57
Jimmy Collins - 19.57
Ken Boyer - 18.60
Pie Traynor - 16.12
Brooks Robinson - 15.48
George Kell - 15.27
Fred Lindstrom - 14.85
For the final parts of my analysis, I looked at the number of 30 Win Share seasons (Schmidt led the way with nine, followed by Mathews at eight, Allen and Boggs with five each and Baker, Brett and Santo with four each. All the rest had one or zero) and the high season win share (Allen had a 41 Win Share season, Schmidt, Mathews and Baker were all next with 39.) Then ranking each of these categories one to thirteen and summing them up per player, I got the following list.
Schmidt - 7
Mathews - 8
Obviously just by looking at the lists, this was obvious. Plus, students of the game usually start and end conversations about the all time best third basemen with these two players. However, the next group would also have some votes for best all time, especially if you were a deadball era fan.
Allen - 14.5
Boggs - 19
Baker - 20
Brett - 22.5
Santo - 24
I could also see Boggs and Brett on the top of some people's list as well. Obviously both Santo and Allen represent themselves well in the company of the other third basemen. Here is the last group (although I could see it being broke into two groups - I'll keep it one for brevity's sake.)
Robinson - 34.5
Collins - 35.5
Boyer - 38.5
Traynor - 45.5
Lindstrom - 45.5
Kell - 49.5
I think it would be safe to say that looking at how Santo and Allen compare to Hall of Famers that both belong there. I would ay that Allen being left out might be a bigger crime than Santo - but since he was that generation's Barry Bonds (or as this website describes him as Dennis Rodman) and he played a good part of his career at first base and DH - I would doubt he ever makes it - deserving or not. Santo has more popularity - and has just as good of stats - makes him more of a possibility - but the fact that his similarity scores (see explanation - a formulation also created by Bill James) don't put him with any HOFers - it may take a bit before Win Shares hits the mainstream and the Hall invites him into its corridors. (Here is Dick Allen's page - same problem.)
Alas, Ken Boyer, I can't say the same for you. Yes, he compares favorably with other third basemen in the Hall of Fame and exceeds most major leaguers, but just because good players are in the hall doesn't mean there should be another - it should just be reserved for the great ones.