Saturday, April 09, 2005

Third Basemen

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.


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