Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to the Backstops

Our first stop on this tour is going to be catchers.  The catcher position is one that is usually considered a defensive one, and any offense should be a gift.  However, with guys like Bench and Fisk and Piazza coming into the fold recently, the offense has taken on a bit more of a premium.  It’s difficult to say what’s more important now, but I think defense will still be a priority with most catchers, although the days of the Mike Matheny type catchers where they were all field and no hit may be gone.  With that in mind, here are the catchers currently in the HoF.  You may notice something about that list.  One is that I didn’t include the Negro Leaguers, even though a guy like Josh Gibson should be included in the HoF (and I’m OK with him being in, you can stop writing those emails and comments right now), the other is that it really runs the gamut from great to sucky.  So let's get down to business.

Among those catchers, the average WAR was about 55.4, and the average career was about 16 years, making the average WAR/yr for a catcher in the HoF 3.49.  I have no problem saying that a catcher worth more than 3 wins a year for 17 years is a Hall of Fame catcher, just given the difficulty of that position to play and play well for that long of a career.  So, with the averages set, here are the HoFers with their WAR+ values given:


Edited 7/30:

After some extra reflection and research, I decided to look at careers only after they got steady playtime. So, for seasons of 154 games or less, I counted the years after the player reached at least 30 games or 200 PA. For 162 game seasons (1961 and after), I picked 60 games. I figured this way, with the diluted talent and longer schedule it reflects the extra schedule to make an impact at the big league level. I was also nice and did it for the end of players' careers too. Like, Berra who in 1964 had 4 games and yet was being counted for a full season. I have no problem counting injury plagued years in the middle of a career because that paints the whole picture, but at the very end of a career I feel safe ignoring it.

I was honestly surprised by some of these.  I thought Carter would be lower and Berra and Fisk higher.  I think part of it with Berra is that since him, there have been some more powerful hitters behind the plate, most notably being Bench and Fisk, so in a looking back perspective he gets hurt a bit.  Fisk I think gets hurt by a long career of 23 years, but was productive for a lot of them.  Same thing with the other two in the C tier, which is why I included it.  I always forget just how good defensively Gary Carter was, and I think most people do.  I also initially thought that Bench would be an S rank, but now I think that I kinda agree with where he is.  I think the only reason he would get picked for an all time team would be his position, where he is the best of all time no doubt, but other than that he wouldn’t be a guy I’d want up in a key spot more than someone like Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, etc.  I’m also OK saying that the 4 in the F tier don’t belong in the HoF.  And you should be OK with them too.

Upcoming ballots:
2013: Mike Piazza first becomes eligible for inductions in 2013, along with Damian Miller, Mike Lieberthal and Sandy Alomar.  Among that group, and believe me I don’t feel the need to finish this sentence but I’m doing it anyway, the only one that wouldn’t rank in the F tier would be Piazza, who would be right at the border between an A tier and a B tier (124.8 WAR+, would be a 130 if he got in), which is actually kinda where I expected him given his defensive abilities.  If he doesn’t get caught up in the steroid winds, then he should get in.  The others have WAR+’s right now of 23 (Alomar), 42 (Miller), and 47 (Lieby).

2014: Paul LoDuca is added.  And since I don’t add points for being a “heart-soul” type player, I doubt he should get in. WAR+ of 60 if you wanted to know.

2015: No new catchers added.

2016: Jason Kendall, Brad Ausmus and Bengie Molina are on the ballot.  No, no and no.  Kendall is vastly underrated, but had a solid career.  I’m not really interested in adding to the C tier to be honest, and he would rank at the bottom of it.  If you include Piazza though, his WAR+ goes to 86 (from an 88 right now), and to be honest, when you’re that close to the bottom do you really belong in?  No, not really.  The other two have WAR+ values (right now) of 36 (Ausmus) and 32 (Bengie) respectively.

So far, not too bad.  Had to get a little subjective with Kendall, but I think that’s to be expected when you look at inductions.  I’ve already kicked out 4 people.  Next stop is going to be first base, and that one will take some time because, as you could guess, there are a lot of them.

Peace out.

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