It’s time for HoME Improvement! In 2014, who boosted their standing in the race to the Hall of Miller and Eric? (Yes, we know none of them care about the HoME, but please humor us because we do.) Today we’ll answer that question among batters, and next time out, we’ll see about the pitchers.
Since it’s Miller’s and my Hall, and since I’m writing this article, I’m going to quote my own equivalent WAR (which incorporates DRA and adjusts for length of schedule among other things) and use CHEWS (Chalek’s Equivalent WAR System) to examine players. CHEWS is just like JAWS only more peak-centric and based on my eqWAR. At 40 CHEWS, you’re nearing contention. Around 45 you’re nearing the borderline. At 50, you’re getting a plaque at any but the toughest positions. Every player with 55 or more CHEWS has been elected. Usually on their first try. (Ratchet these guidelines down by 10–15% for catchers.)
Let’s get to it.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS ============================================ CURRENT AVERAGE HOME C 67 53.8 Joe Mauer 50 44.6 45.3 LOWEST RANKED HOME C 52 44.5 Victor Martinez 39 31.4 35.2 Russell Martin 35 27.6 32.6 Yadier Molina 33 29.4 30.7 Brian McCann 27 25.0 25.9 Buster Posey 24 18.6 24.0
- Joe Mauer: His odds increased, but he was already going to get a plaque: went from 16th to 15th best CHEWS rating for catchers.
- Victor Martinez: Great season boosts him to about as strong a case as Deacon McGuire though with a very different shape. A repeat would put him in the top 20–25 catchers ever.
- Russell Martin: I’m surprised too. DRA loves the defense, and if the pitch-framing studies are right, there’s even more value here. He’s already as good a candidate as another defensive standout, Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell.
- Yadier Molina: Injury shorted out his season, and his outlook remains roughly the same. He’s currently a similar candidate to Elston Howard.
- Brian McCann: Forgettable season, still ranks with forgettable catchers.
- Buster Posey: Another nice season, another stepping stone on the way greatness.
FIRST BASEMEN/DESIGNATED HITTERS
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS ==================================================== Albert Pujols 100 78.3 79.9 CURRENT AVERAGE HOME 1B 89 70.4 LOWEST RANKED HOME 1B 62 53.3 Miguel Cabrera 59 48.1 50.8 Jason Giambi 52 47.4 47.2 Mark Teixeira 48 41.6 42.1 David Ortiz 48 39.5 40.6 Joey Votto 37 35.3 37.0
- Albert Pujols: Still a HoMEr, still an all-time great.
- Miguel Cabrera: At any other position, Cabrera would already be a slam-dunk. At 1B, he’s the 21st best of all time by CHEWS, and this year he elbowed past John Olerud, Will Clark, Harry Stovey, Mark McGwire and eternal borderliner Jake Beckley to get there. A typical Miggy year will push him into some very serious names such as Eddie Murray and Bill Terry, the latter of which his career thus far resembles in the shape of his peak and career value.
- Jason Giambi: He’s still just about one All-Star season short.
- Mark Teixeira: Started and ended the year in McGriff/Delgado territory.
- David Ortiz: Despite all the homers and rings, Ortiz’s terrible base running, the replacement level for designated hitters, and his poor fielding when has played the field together drag down his case. It’s extraordinarily unlikely going into his age 39 season that Big Papi can come up with another ten CHEWS points before The End.
- Joey Votto: The injury killed a chance to make a big move. Grace and Mattingly are in his sights next. A huge year could also get him close to Orlando Cepeda and set up a run at the bottom tier of HoME first basemen.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS ============================================ CURRENT AVERAGE HOME 2B 89 71.1 LOWEST RANKED HOME 2B 58 50.2 Robinson Cano 53 44.8 49.2 Chase Utley 53 45.4 47.0 Ian Kinsler 42 36.3 39.0 Ben Zobrist 35 29.8 35.7 Dustin Pedroia 36 32.3 34.4
- Robinson Cano: Another 6 win season to jump over Richardson, Kent, Utley, Doerr, Phillips, and Herman en route to ranking 18th at second base. If he does it again, he’ll pass Childs, McPhee, Biggio and Randolph and land in 14th Great chance to end up among top ten keystone men.
- Chase Utley: Climbed over Bobby Doerr this year. All-Star days are over, but he’s within HoME range. If his body holds up he’ll nudge into the borderline alongside Billy Herman and Tony Phillips.
- Ian Kinsler: Yeah, seriously, Kinsler. He’s still productive and is positioned to make a run. Went from a Knoblauchian case to something between Lonny Frey and Del Pratt. After Pratt his next targets are Hall of Famers Johnny Evers and Tony Lazzeri.
- Ben Zobrist: Quietly in the midst of four straight All-Star level campaigns and five in six years. How did he leap over Pedroia? CHEWS’s peak term is based on a player’s seven best seasons (just like JAWS’). His 5.4 WAR campaign replaced his -0.7 freshman outing. At 34, however, he’s going to run out of time fast.
- Dustin Pedroia: The injury kept his CHEWS down in the Robby Thompson range. There’s some wear and tear here, and a return to health and productivity is needed to get back on the path to greatness. He’ll be 31 in 2015 so there’s time because his game isn’t built around speed.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS ============================================= CURRENT AVERAGE HOME 3B 75 59.7 Adrian Beltre 67 49.4 52.5 LOWEST RANKED HOME 3B 62 52.3 David Wright 51 44.3 45.3 Evan Longoria 39 34.5 39.4 Ryan Zimmerman 33 31.2 31.4 Aramis Ramirez 31 28.7 29.0
- Adrian Beltre: Congratulations to Beltre whose fine season pushed him over the minimums at his position. Already the sixteenth best third baseman, and he’s not slowing down. Could end up near Brooks Robinson or beyond.
- David Wright: Tough season but still in fantastic position, roughly tied with Ron Cey and nearing Heinie Groh and Sal Bando. Could pass both next year. Already ranks twenty-third at third base.
- Evan Longoria: Disappointed at the plate in 2014, but good defensively. Rose from Troy Glaus’ level to Tim Wallach’ A typical Longo year will push him over Robin Ventura and into the top 25 third basemen ever.
- Ryan Zimmerman: All the shoulder problems have derailed a dark-horse candidacy. Travis Fryman is the next stop for him, and that’s starting to feel like an interesting comp.
- Aramis Ramirez: Today’s Gary Gaetti.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS ============================================== CURRENT AVERAGE HOME SS 74 62.2 Derek Jeter 66 52.2 51.9 LOWEST RANKED HOME SS 58 48.4 Hanley Ramirez 36 32.8 34.9 Troy Tulowitzki 35 30.4 34.5 Jose Reyes 34 27.6 31.0 Jimmy Rollins 36 28.7 30.5
- Derek Jeter: Let’s not rehash the arguments. He’s in and we all know it.
- Hanley Ramirez: If Ramirez could field…. If he could stay healthy…. If he could repeat his All-Star form consistently…. There’s still time, but he’s tied with Garry Templeton at age 30.
- Troy Tulowitzki: He can field and does play like an All-Star. But he can’t stay healthy. Trying to assemble a HoME career 100 games at a time must be tough. Near Johnny Pesky right now.
- Jose Reyes: Another guy who can’t stay on the field. He’s got as good a case as Cecil Travis and is now on the downside at age 31 as his speed ebbs.
- Jimmy Rollins: Was always overrated and at this late date has no chance for the HoME.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS =============================================== CURRENT AVERAGE HOME LF 76 60.4 LOWEST RANKED HOME LF 62 49.6 Matt Holiday 44 37.9 39.1 Carl Crawford 44 37.9 39.0 Ryan Braun 37 35.6 36.4 Alex Gordon 28 22.1 28.3
- Matt Holliday: Appears to be winding down toward merely average and didn’t gain much ground.
- Carl Crawford: Ditto.
- Ryan Braun: Injury and poor performance. And perhaps a lot of booing. Still near Heinie Manush and Augie Galan. Still very far away from a plaque but there’s time enough for a guy with old-player skills.
- Alex Gordon: Did you know he and Braun are the same age? Fantastic year, vaulting him from the neighborhood of Hideki Matsui to that of Rico Carty. Already 30 but three excellent three years in the last four. If he’s a late bloomer, there’s the slimmest of chances, and he took a big step this year. Now he’s got to do it again. And again. And again….
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS =============================================== CURRENT AVERAGE HOME CF 95 72.6 Carlos Beltran 67 55.2 55.2 LOWEST RANKED HOME CF 58 49.2 Torii Hunter 50 38.9 39.1 Curtis Granderson 37 33.9 34.6 Andrew McCutchen 33 25.9 32.6 Mike Trout 27 19.4 27.1 Adam Jones 27 22.8 26.5
- Carlos Beltran: A stealth HoMEr sandwiched between two others, Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds. Looked bad and was hurt a lot this year. Ceiling is probably Paul Hines and number nine or ten among centerfielders. Currently eleventh.
- Torii Hunter: No longer even an average player thanks to his glove. Very similar case to Devon White and Ellis Burks.
- Curtis Granderson: Similar in many ways to Ray Lankford, who is right now his closest HoME analog after a disappointing season.
- Andrew McCutchen: This guy is really something. Made a huge move. Ranked with Rick Monday after 2013, now within a CHEWS point of Hack Wilson. That doesn’t sound like much, but McCutchen’s only got six seasons compared to their much longer careers. He’s going to be 28 next year, had his best year at the plate in 2014, is durable, and has averaged about 7 wins a year for the last four seasons. If he keeps that up, then after 2016, he’d already be on par with Dale Murphy in about half of Murph’s seasons.
- Adam Jones: Churns out four-win seasons like clockwork. His next one will put him at Willie McGee’s level at age 30. But four-win seasons aren’t near enough.
- Mike Trout: His last three years give him nearly as good a shot as Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner’s entire career. The Hall of Fame requires ten seasons of play, so let’s play if-then with Trout’s next six seasons.
IF in the next six seasons he…
…is league-average THEN his case will exceed Eric Davis.
…loses a win a year THEN his case will exceed George Gore (18th ranked center fielder).
…gets five wins a year (All-Star) THEN his case will exceed Duke Snider (14th).
…loses half a win a year THEN his case will exceed Jim Edmonds (10th).
…averages 6.5 wins a year THEN his case will exceed Rich Ashburn (8th).
…maintains his 2014 rate THEN his case will exceed Billy Hamilton (7th).
Keep in mind, that’s only ten total years.
Kid’s pretty good.
2013 2014 NAME eqWAR CHEWS CHEWS =============================================== CURRENT AVERAGE HOME RF 89 67.4 Ichiro Suzuki 60 51.7 52.1 LOWEST RANKED HOME RF 61 48.9 Jose Bautista 32 26.0 32.4 Giancarlo Stanton 21 15.0 21.1 Jason Heyward 21 15.6 21.1 Justin Upton 19 15.7 19.4
- Ichiro Suzuki: Safely among the third-tier of HoME right fielders. Here’s hoping he picks up another 156 hits.
- Jose Bautista: Big jump for Joey Bats from nowheresville to even with Juan Gonzalez, a somewhat comparable player. Most of Bautista’s BBREF comps were not productive for long after 33, but most of them weren’t late bloomers like Bautista. If if if…he can stay on the field and continue his assault on AL pitching, could he get on the Edgar Martinez path to glory? He would need to at least double his current 32 career eqWAR. Per BBREF’s Play Index, only three players since expansion have earned 30 or more Wins from 34 onward: Barry Bonds (63), Hank Aaron (38), and Edgar Martinez (33). Bautista is an outstanding hitter, yet he’s not near as good a hitter as any of those guys. These past five wonderful years have led to an OPS+ of 158. Aaron’s career OPS+ was 155. I’d put his odds at less than 1% despite making a big move this year.
- Giancarlo Stanton: Another big jumper. Also more injury trouble for Stanton. But the guy is only twenty-four. He’s got a solid foundation for a peak that may still be two or three seasons away. Scary, huh?
- Jason Heyward: An All-Star year thanks to his glove. He’s tracking even with Stanton who is the same baseball age. But Stanton’s power excites more than Heyward’s rounded game. Could be an interesting battle for years, especially if Heyward’s bat matures and returns to his rookie level. Then again, his speed and glove have probably already peaked, while Stanton’s bat has not.
- Justin Upton: Just wanted to be sure not to forget him. He’s entering his peak now and the talent that led to a big year in 2011 is still there, somewhere. Right?
Lots to watch for in 2015, especially as Cabrera, Cano, Utley, and Wright look to surge past the bottom line at their positions and into the territory that essentially guarantees them my vote for the HoME. Can Victor Martinez keep Father Time at bay for another year? Will Tulo and Longo climb the rankings? Will Mike Trout play all nine positions at once for 162 games and earn 90-something WAR all by himself? It’ll be fun to see.
Watch for our next post when we turn our gaze to the mound and see if anyone there made a big move this year.