Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Roundin Third and Headed for Home

Third base is by far the most overlooked position in baseball history.  Name a great 3B before Eddie Mathews.  I dare you.  If you said Pie Traynor, you’re going to hate me in a few minutes.  If a player isn’t good enough to play SS, he gets shifted to third.  If someone’s bat isn’t good enough for first, he gets put at third.  So, it doesn’t get much flash.  It seems like there are only a few third basemen every generation that rise to the top, much lower than the number of catchers or first basemen.  It is, so far, the smallest list of players in the HoF that I have had to work with.  I mean, look at this thing.  There have only been a dozen or so third basemen inducted, and that list probably won’t grow until Chipper gets on a ballot.

Well, on to the data.  The average HoF 3B played about 15.5 years (smallest total so far), and put up an average of 74.5 wins in their careers, with an average of 4.73 WAR/yr for our baseline.


The purists are gonna hate me on this one.  First off, while I don’t agree that Molitor is a third baseman (rather than a DH), he is listed as one.  I compensated for this by cutting his DH years in half for counting purposes and rounded down.  He probably could have adequately played first, and I don’t see a need to malign people for being a DH in terms of the Hall (Oh Edgar, where are you?).  Second of all, Traynor is in the F tier.  This may seem harsh for a guy that hit 320 in his career, but think about it for a moment.  Does his production and value really compare to guys like Mathews and Schmidt and Boggs?  If you said yes, I would need someone to explain it to me.  He hit 320 yeah, but had a 107 OPS+, which is a crude but quick way to state that he was mostly a league average hitter.  It took until 1978 with Mathews induction that we had a truly tremendous 3B.  Baker was pretty good, and remarkably so compared to his league, but after Mathews we had a swarm of 3B talent in Schmidt, Boggs, Brett, Robinson, etc.  I honestly don’t think Traynor belongs in that group.  For the rest of them, kinda where I would expect them to be.  Brett’s a little lower than I would guess, but he probably was hurt a bit by a quick decline phase.  It’s also nice to see Santo so high on the list, just to rub it in the writers faces about how dumb they were not to vote him in when he was still alive.  Eat it!

So far, we have a total of:
6 S Ranks
6 A Ranks
13 B Ranks
17 C Ranks
4 D Ranks
18 F Ranks

Of the 18 F Ranks, 16 were voted in by the old Vets Committee, and the one here that wasn’t, obviously, was Pie Traynor.  I actually don’t have a problem with him being in the HoF, more as a testament of how 3B has evolved over time.  It really hurts him when you look back and see all these great powerful guys and then see Traynor and think “what is going on with this guy?”.

Upcoming Ballots:
Pre-Pre 2013:
I just wanted to address this one W/R/T Santo.  A lot of people comp him to Ken Boyer.  Same league, same time period, same position, Cards/Cubs rivalry so it is to be expected.  Well, how would Boyer rank in that group?  WAR+ of 96.  So yeah, he probably should be a HoF inductee.

And, for my grandfather the die-hard Tigers fan...Lou Whitaker.  WAR+ of 87.  Closer to no than yes, but much more of a discussion than people realize.

2013-2016: Literally no one worth calculating is coming up.  This is amazing to me.

Well, I’ve talked about him enough, let's actually calculate some stuff for Larry Wayne Jones Jr.  His WAR+ (which could still change since he is active) is 106.  He’d be a B tier HoF player, and if you don’t agree with that I would point you to his defensive score of -37.9 which brings down his offensive value some.  If you don’t think that Chipper belongs in the HoF, may I suggest you go get your head examined and stop watching baseball, as you are ruining it for us all.

Next up will be SS and LF.  I have a feeling like those may take some time.  I’ll do them as quick as possible, and we may be seeing some additions to the D rank depending on how many are inducted.


  1. I liked it a lot. I found it very interesting

  2. Edit needed: I can't believe it's taken me this long to notice. Whitaker was a 2B, not a 3B. That's my bad.

    His actual WAR+ is 91, and therefore I think he should be in.