So the ink is barely dry on the 2017 Hall of Fame vote, and I’m already angry about something I expect to hear a lot of going into 2018.
Omar Vizquel. And his brilliant defense.
Perhaps you’ve read the same things I have, that next year’s ballot will include first-timers Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel.
I’m getting angry just writing this.
See, there are a number of good candidates on next year’s ballot. But Omar Vizquel isn’t one of them. You know who is? Andruw Jones, that’s who. He was better than Vizquel at all of the things Vizquel will be embraced for.
Let me first make the case very simply, using traditional stats.
Omar Andruw ==================== H 2877 1933 R 1445 1204 HR 80 434 RBI 951 1289 SB 404 152 BA .272 .254 OBP .336 .337 SLG .352 .486 OPS .688 .823
So unless you think that hits are particularly important to a player’s case, or unless you believe batting average is a better measure of talent than slugging percentage, you can see here that Jones was a better player.
Whoa there! No, no, no. Jones wasn’t the better player, you say. He was only the better hitter.
Why yes, Jones was the better hitter, but before we get to defense, let me throw a few more numbers at you.
Omar Andruw ========================================== BBREF batting value -244 119 Fangraphs batting value -249 122 BBREF baserunning value -1 9 Fangraphs baserunning value 14 -5 BBREF double play value 9 -1 BBREF positional value 152 11 Fangraphs positional value 137 3
I don’t want to go into so much depth regarding what’s above. But let’s be clear. There isn’t a lot of baserunning value or double play value for either of them. Vizquel derives a good deal of value because he played shortstop, while Jones gets little for playing center field since the offensive expectation of a center fielder is well above that of a shortstop. But the elephant in the room, or the chart, is the batting value. BBREF and Fangraphs agree that Jones was a good hitter and that Vizquel was a pretty bad one.
Yes, I know. Vizeuel’s case is in his defense, not his offense. Why do you keep talking about offense???
Okay then, let’s go to defense. This is where I suspect I’m going to get very angry reading about these two next year. Again I’ll report the numbers of BBREF and Fangraphs. And I’ll also include their Defensive Regression Analysis numbers. Simply put, I prefer these numbers for a lot of reasons, perhaps the most meaningful of which is that they tend to follow a more predictable aging curve than those from BBREF or Fangraphs. I’ve also thrown in Ultimate Zone Rating, which basically compares hits, outs, and errors actually made with Vizquel and Jones fielding to data on similarly batted balls across the game to see how much better they are than what constitutes the average defender.
Omar Andruw ============================================ BBREF fielding value 128 236 Fangraphs fielding value 131 279 Defensive Regression Analysis -31 215 Ultimate Zone Rating 51 129 Gold Glove Awards 11 10
So there you have it. No matter the defensive measure you like, unless it’s Gold Gloves, Andruw was better than Omar. By a lot. The only Hall leg Omar Vizquel has to stand on shows that he’s far, far behind Andruw Jones.
Just as an aside, some people like to compare Omar to Ozzie on defense. Well, they’re just ridiculous.
Omar Ozzie =========================================== BBREF fielding value 128 239 Fangraphs fielding value 131 375 Defensive Regression Analysis -31 151 Ultimate Zone Rating 51 133 (covering only half of Ozzie's career) Gold Glove Awards 11 13
It’s ridiculous, right?
Anyway, back to our program. If you want the better hitter, it’s Jones. If you want the better fielder, it’s Jones. If you want the better player, it’s Jones by a mile.
But it’s possible they’re both worthy, right? Um, no. I rank Andruw Jones #11 right now among all center fielders in history, looking quite a bit like Duke Snider season for season. Omar Vizquel is #62 on my list among shortstops, right behind Chris Speier.
So now do you see why I predict I’ll be so angry?
I hope I’m wrong.