Sunday, April 17, 2005

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 (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.


Post a Comment

<< Home