Sunday, August 14, 2005

Out from left field

When I examined outfielders and their win shares, the first thing that struck me was just how awesome the all-time greats were. When you look at the top 10, all of them have average win shares per year of at least 27. Only Lou Gehrig and Jeff Bagwell (who would be my first base selection at the start of the 90s) in the other analyses could boast that level. Of those top 10, only one had fewer than ten thirty win shares seasons. (The exception - Joe DiMaggio with eight, who also lost 3 years to WWII. On the subject of losses to war, Ted Williams lost three full years to WWII and Stan Musial lost one. Williams also lost parts of two years to service in the Korean War. Yet, Williams still had ten thirty win shares seasons. Williams win shares before WWII - 46; after WWII - 49; before the Korean War - 34; after - 29 (with 2 and 9 in between.) DiMaggio before WWII - 32; after 24. Musial had a one-year gap between 38 and 44 win share seasons respectively.) Every one also had a high season above 40, with four having seasons above 50 (Bonds, Ruth, Mantle and Speaker). Only DiMaggio had a total below 550 (389). Mantle (565) and Williams (555) were the only ones with totals below 600. Let’s just look at the averages of these top 10.

Barry Bonds - 34.63
Babe Ruth - 34.36
Mickey Mantle - 31.39
Ty Cobb - 30.08
Joe DiMaggio - 29.77
Ted Williams - 29.21 (without the 2 and 9 seasons due to Korea - the average would be 32) Tris Speaker - 28.64
Hank Aaron - 27.96
Willie Mays - 27.91
Stan Musial - 27.45

The next highest average is Frank Robinson with 24.71 - a pretty big difference. (The difference is about the same as between Ruth and Mantle and Cobb and Musial, showing that there are even tiers among the greats.)

Frank Robinson - 24.71
Jesse Burkett - 24.31
Ralph Kiner - 24.20
Billy Hamilton - 24.07
Mel Ott - 24.00
Sam Crawford - 23.47
Kirby Puckett - 23.42
Rickey Henderson - 23.04
Pete Rose - 22.79
Joe Jackson - 22.62
Elmer Flick - 22.38
Ed Delahanty - 22.19

Admittedly, Rose could be part of the 3B, 2B, 1B or OF group, but I think the OF is where he probably belongs - though the defensive bonuses from the other positions probably help slightly. I just like the harmony of seeing him and Joe Jackson right next to each other. (Never having been a big Rose fan, I was also surprised at how well he ranked with the all time greats. He had a long career with 547 win shares, but he also had a high season of 37 and six seasons over 30. Jackson, on the other hand, could have just been warming up. He had 7 seasons over 30 win shares and a high of 39. He only had 294 total, but in his last season in 1920, his win share total was 37.) Puckett and Kiner also have relatively high averages - probably due to the fact that they never declined like the other players as they hung on for a few more seasons. Kiner only played 10 seasons, Puckett 12. Kiner was more dynamic in his short time with a high of 37 and four seasons above 30, while Puckett managed just two seasons over 30 and a high of 32. Lastly, there are three other players in this group with career win shares over 500 - Rickey Henderson (530), Mel Ott (528) and Frank Robinson (519). I think with those three, we can safely conclude personality has nothing to do with success.

Richie Ashburn - 21.93
Gary Sheffield - 21.59
Bobby Bonds - 21.57
Earl Averill - 21.54
Carl Yastrzemski - 21.22
Ken Griffey, Jr. - 21.19
Robin Yount - 21.15
Paul Waner - 21.15
Reggie Jackson - 21.14

This group is interesting for many reasons - one, it has the first guy that people would generally not assume to be a HOF quality OF - Bobby Bonds. Not only does he have a comparable average to HOFs, he had 4 seasons over 30 win shares and 302 total win shares, though his high is only 32. The second interesting thing is the person with the high number of 30 win share seasons in this group - Gary Sheffield with seven. Next was Paul Waner with six, Reggie Jackson with five and Robin Yount tied with the elder Bonds at four. The last interesting thing is that we have our first player with a high average never to have a season above 30 win shares - Richie Ashburn, whose high was 29. I’m not too sure what to think of this. On one hand, he never had an MVP caliber season by win share standards. On the other hand, he was so consistent, he had a higher average than folks with many more 30 win share seasons and still accumulated 329 total without multiple huge seasons. He is so unique, that the next person on the list not to have a 30 win share season is Reggie Smith, who averaged 19.12 a season, had a high of 29 as well and 325 total.

Roberto Clemente - 20.94
Harry Heilmann - 20.94
Billy Williams - 20.78
Larry Doby - 20.62
Ross Youngs - 20.60
Jimmy Wynn - 20.33
Albert Belle - 20.25
Al Kaline - 20.14
Zack Wheat - 20.00

I think I like this part of the list as some defensive guys are ruling the roost. (Notable exceptions, Albert Belle and Harry Heilmann.) Larry Doby had 17% of his win shares from fielding in the 50s. Jimmy Wynn had 15% of his from fielding in the 60s and 70s. Clemente had 16% of his win shares from fielding in the 60s. (By comparison, Mantle had 10% from fielding in the 50s, Musial 11%, Williams 8%, Duke Snider 16% and Ashburn 22% - WOW. )

Tony Gwynn - 19.90
George Davis - 19.90
Goose Goslin - 19.72
Duke Snider - 19.56
Sammy Sosa - 19.19
Reggie Smith - 19.12
Fred Clarke - 19.05
Earle Combs - 18.92
Harry Hooper - 18.88
Dave Winfield - 18.86
Hack Wilson - 18.67
Joe Medwick - 18.35
Lou Brock - 18.32

I think on this list we see the Dave Kingman of the 500 HR club - Sammy Sosa. I thought he would have a good year this year in Baltimore. I was wrong. I just see his win share average keep moving down. Besides the total of the HRs, he doesn’t really have any other accolades. He doesn’t have the hits of a Winfield or the steals of a Brock. He doesn’t have the championships of a Medwick (even though I don’t think that should be how you determine a HOFer - I have to admit that it is done.) Yes there are HOFers all around Sosa, but in his case, instead of seeing the high win shares and number of 30 win share seasons (42 and three respectively) as arguments for Sammy's future induction, I just see them as blips. (To be fair, Kingman only had 195 total win shares and a high of 24 - so Sosa is a lot better player.) It may just be the negative press surrounding Sosa right now - but as I am not much of the career mark folks getting in the hall (though I understand), I am not going to put up a big argument for or against Sammy - just state that his average win shares are not going to get any sunnier - even as his HR total grows. (I say this is a big group of season guys - the highest number of 30 win share seasons in this group is four by Duke Snider. Hack Wilson and Earle Combs only played 12 seasons. The rest had at least 17 seasons - with Winfield leading the way with 22.)

Al Simmons - 17.86
Tim Raines - 17.73
Jim Rice - 17.63
Willie Stargell - 17.62
Max Carey - 17.55
Willie Keeler - 17.53
Edd Roush - 17.44
King Kelly - 17.38
Brett Butler - 17.35
Dwight Evans - 17.35
Dave Parker - 17.21
Enos Slaughter - 17.00

First off, Enos Slaughter also missed three years during WWII. His win share season before he left was 37 - when he returned, 29.

Ok - which of the guys on this list deserves to make the HOF (if any)? Interestingly enough - I would argue for Tim Raines and Dave Parker- and here is why. Raines ties with Al Simmons in this group with four 30 win share seasons. Parker has three along with Edd Roush. Stargell is the only one with two, and Butler and Carey don’t have any. Raines is tied for third with Simmons, Stargell and Rice for the high season of 36 - Dave Parker and Enos Slaughter lead the way with 37. Parker had a career total of 327. Raines had a total of 390. Rice was only at 282. Evans, while at 347, only had one season over 30 win shares and it was 31. With that all said, these are very low average seasons - and very tough to argue for the hall at all.

Joe Kelley - 16.94
Jim O’Rourke - 16.94
Harmon Killebrew - 16.86
Sam Thompson - 16.86
Heinie Manush - 16.76
Fred Lynn - 16.47
Hugh Duffy - 16.39
Sam Rice - 16.35
Dale Murphy - 16.33
Kiki Cuyler - 16.22
Andre Dawson - 16.19
Jose Canseco - 16.00

I would say that it doesn’t help Dawson’s or Murphy’s chances much considering how close their averages are to Canseco’s average. The other interesting thing - Dawson never had a season above 30 win shares. Murphy and Killebrew both had four seasons over 30.

Last and least.

John Kruk - 15.60 (156 total)
Rusty Staub - 15.57 (358 total)
Chili Davis - 15.00 (285 total)
Joe Carter - 15.00 (240 total)
Brian Downing - 14.90 (298 total)
Freddie Lindstrom - 14.85 (193 total)
George Bell - 14.25 (171 total)
Chuck Klein - 14.00 (238 total)
Harold Baines - 13.95 (307 total)
Jesse Barfield - 13.83 (166 total)
Ken Griffey Sr. - 13.63 (259 total)
Lloyd Waner - 13.61 (245 total)
Chick Hafey - 13.29 (186 total)

This last list is the great way to close out the outfielders. It tells me that the HOF makes mistakes - and plenty of them - which is part of the magic. Sometimes our favorites get into the hall, when they don’t deserve it. (Go John Tudor!!) Also when we look at our favorites from our youth closer, as good as they were, and as much as we liked them, they just were very good, not great, though they will always be our heroes. (If you call me Ms. Midler, I'll kill you. Settle down Jeff Francis.)

You know, I’m already realizing I left off Willie McGee, Von Hayes, Tom Brunansky…….


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