Monday, July 30, 2012

High Octane Offense, and Low Grade Fielding, it's the Firstbasemen!

Ah first base.  The ultimate offensive position and the easiest defensive position on the diamond.  And more people at the position than I realized, seeing as how a lot that are typically associated at a certain position change to first late in their career and end up playing more there than people remember.  Ernie Banks, Rod Carew and Stan Musial were each listed by the Hall of Fame Register as being first basemen.  I’m not one to step on the HoF’s toes, so I will just nod my head and agree.  Again, with this list, you notice that a lot of players that you’d say “Yep, 500 HR and/or 3000 hits.  Hall of Fame” or something similar.  And you’re probably saying “Who the hell is this guy?”  Remember, that’s my reason for this tier system.  I want to try to separate the best from the rest.  I also am not taking special consideration to milestone numbers, so while 3000 hits and 500 HR may look shiny on a resume, I tend to think that they are more about just being able to play forever.  If a player was productive and valuable to his team, he’ll make it in.  Now, there are a lot of first basemen on that list, and in baseball history I think they are one of the more likely groups to get inductees because players tend to have longer careers there and have larger career totals, I decided to add a “D” tier for players that did accumulate a lot of time and wins at that position.  So, for this position, I used this ranking:

F 0-79 WAR+
D 80-89 WAR+
C 90-104 WAR+
B 105-129 WAR+
A 130-149 WAR+
S 150+

I figure for first base, this increases the average slightly, but makes it harder to be on an elite level.  I’d say that’s fair enough.  To be a hall of fame first baseman, you would have to play an average of 17.5 years, and have a WAR of about 76 to give a WAR/yr baseline of 4.41.  Without further adieu, here’s your tier rankings for first base:


Well, I’m kinda surprised.  Murray and McCovey are a lot lower than I expected.  So I dug into the numbers a bit.  Willie Mac was way WAY overrated defensively.  Yeah it’s first base, but fangraphs has him at a -78 fielding score which is pretty bad.  He put up tremendous offensive seasons, but the defense still cost him and the last 7 or so years of his career were fairly decent busts, at least compared to his earlier career.  Murray just stayed on a lot longer than he should have and brought down his career value.  It’s also hard for me to say he was anything more than a consistant hitter.  He would usually have between 25 and 30 HR, which is pretty good.  But that’s not much from a first base standpoint in a relatively liveball era.  Banks, Carew and Sisler similar.  Banks probably gets hurt because once he moved to first his offense wasn’t as valuable as it was from SS.  Similar to Carew, but change SS to 2B.  No problems with the top of the list for me.  Gehrig and Musial are definitely elites of elite, and I think that everyone else fills in quite nicely to their respective spots.  I don’t think many people would be upset if the Hall got rid of Cepeda, Perez and the like.

Counting from the catcher’s post, we have a total of
2 S ranks
3 A ranks
9 B ranks
6 C ranks
4 D ranks
10 F ranks

I’m not as surprised as I should be with the number in the F rank category.  A lot of the players getting booted are ones that were inducted by the cuddly teddy bear called the Veteran’s Committee before its overhaul post-2001.  Plus, you probably should have more B's and C's than A's.

Upcoming ballots:
McGwire- WAR+ of 107.  If you don’t regard steroids, he’s in.  If you do, which is your right and not what this is about, he’s out.

Raffy- WAR+ pf 89.  He’s close, probably in based on who else is in that tier group.  Again, if you don’t think about roids and such.  As an aside, I think Roids n Such would be a good name for the online store of steroids that Canseco could be in charge of.

McGriff- WAR+ of 77.  Close, but not quite.

Mattingly- WAR+ of 80.  Again, close but not quite.  I love Donnie Baseball, but his back just sapped his greatness.  Sucks, but it happens.

Bagwell- WAR+ of 127.  Why hasn’t he been inducted yet?  Is it steroids?  Or are the writers just dumb?

2013: No one worth thinking about.

2014: Still no one worth talking about.  Thomas shows up on the ballot if you want to call him a 1B instead of a DH.  If you do, his WAR+ is a 91 due to his years as a DH and usually poor defensive abilities.  But, again, I think he should be in and considered as a DH so what do I know?

2015: Darin Erstad.  I really want to see his WAR+ so I’m including him.  And, it is.....48.  Ohh so sorry.  Try again next life!  Carlos Delgado also comes up this year, and he has a WAR+ of 66.  Still not good enough.

2016: None again.  

So, there you have it.  There are some first basemen out there (Albert for one) who I think will eventually get in for the position.  Todd Helton may have an outside shot (WAR+ of 87 so far), but I think the Coors factor is going to affect him and he’ll probably be looked over.  All in all, not much going on in the future for first base.  But, that doesn’t mean that every position will be like that.  Tomorrow, we look at the other two bases and rank them.  I know Biggio is coming up soon, so it’ll be interesting to see if he does in fact rank somewhere on my tier listing.  Chipper will be up in about 5 or 6 years from now for third, and no one else is really popping in my mind about the position from recent memory, so it’ll be fun to look at it with fresh eyes I guess.

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