Friday, August 3, 2012

I Know I'm Going To Catch Fire in This One...

...But here we go anyways. Left field is another position like first base.  It’s usually used for poor defenders but dangerous offensive players.  For proof of this, I submit Manny Ramirez for your judgement, who I think is the definition of a player you put in left field.  If you look back in history, baseball is littered with great players in left field, like Ralph Kiner and Ted Williams and Jim Rice, but also some lighter hitting guys like Lou Brock.  Do they all deserve enshrinement?  A lot of people would say “Yes” to at least 3/4 of those guys.  But, I’m not most people.  And, I’m trying to do this as objectively as I can.  Remember, I’m a Cardinals fan, so I do my best to not let my bias show in these articles.  But, being objective, does Lou Brock really compare well with the rest of these guys?  I don’t know.  If I’m trying to ignore the milestones like I said earlier, it’s tough to say.  Only one way to find out.

The average left fielder in the Hall of Fame had a career of 17 years and 71.8 WAR, giving me a baseline of 4.19 WAR/yr.  Remember, guys that get “C”s belong in the hall of fame because they are average hall of famers, not average players.  Guys that get “D”s are borderline that got in either due to the veteran’s committee or due to getting one of those round milestones, or just because of a weak hall of fame class (which is why I think guys like Dawson and Rice got in).  Here are the tiers for them:

Williams, T175S
Williams, B104C

I cheated a little bit with Brock.  If you take out his last couple of years, he made the cut.  Otherwise, he was an F rank.  But now, thinking back, maybe he does deserve the F rank.  Let's look quickly at his career.  First, his defense was poor at a poor defensive position, which makes it really bad.  Even the staunchest of Brock supporters will agree with me.  For his career, he had a score of -50.0 runs for fielding.  Offensively he had an OPS+ of 109, which is bad for a left fielder.  He also had a weighted OBA of 346 (which is OK) and a weighted RC+ of 115.  Guys, these numbers aren’t that great.  Especially for a left fielder.  For kicks, let's look at Jim Rice.  Rice had a weighted OBA of 375 (pretty good) and a weighted RC+ of 128 (which is decent, but for a power guy you’d think it would be higher).  OK, that’s only part of offense, what about his baserunning, because that’s what Brock was famous for right?  Well he did steal a lot of bases (which by the way, steals and caught stealings are worked into wOBA and wRC+), but was also caught a large number of times.  He stole 938 and was caught 307 times, giving him 631 net steals made.  Rickey, who holds the record for both caught stealing and stolen bases, stole 1406 bases, and was caught 335 times, giving him a net of 1071 steals made.  As another example, Rock Raines had a net gain of 662 bases.  So, while Brock’s base running was good, it wasn’t great.  Brock was good in the post season, but it’s 21 more games.  That’s barely a blip on the radar of a guy who played more than 2600 games.  So no, those shouldn’t count for anything in this discussion.  He had 2 very good seasons of 6+ WAR, but outside of those he was mostly a 3 or so WAR player, and that really isn’t Hall of Fame material.  So I guess Brock is the definition of a borderline candidate, but I don’t think he’d get my vote if we were to vote objectively.  Sentimentally I think I’d vote for him, probably due to the 3000 hits and him being a Cardinals icon.  But objectively, I can’t say I think he has a strong case as a Hall of Fame player.  I’m sorry Cardinal Nation, but it’s true.

Beyond Brock, can’t say there are many more to talk about.  Ted Williams has the 3rd highest WAR+ value of players in the modern era, and 4th overall.  I still think he’s the greatest hitter, hell greatest player since Babe Ruth.  Rickey would have been higher if he had retired sooner, but he’s another guy that just stuck around forever, but only played more than 140 games twice after 1990, so it gets hard to accumulate value at that point.

Upcoming Ballots:
Tim Raines has a WAR+ value of 81.  He probably played way too long, and does suffer a bit from being under the same shadow as Rickey.  But his offensive numbers are all better than Brock’s so what do I know?

He comes up.  You know who I’m talking about, and you know what caveat I’m going to put here, so I’ll just say his WAR+ value is 182, and you knew it would be some ridiculous number.  So I’m going to stop talking about him right now.

No one worthy enough.  And really, after you calculate Bonds’ WAR+, you really feel like none of them are worthy.

And, just as a callback to a previous post where I compared the two, Matt Holliday’s WAR+ right now is 118.  Now, he hasn’t had 10 full seasons yet (this is year number 9), nor has he had a decline period, so I’m not passing judgement on him yet (nor should anyone).  But it does show how great Holliday has been over his career, and the Coors excuse flies out the window because he will be spending a significant time with the Cardinals, and anyone that doesn’t like him can eat it!

Like I said before, I’m sure that I just royally pissed some people off.  But, it’s ok.  Let’s be able to discuss civilly what you think in terms of my list.  Unless you just want to bash on Matt Holliday, in which case I must restate my statement before “Eat it!”

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