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All-Time HoME Leaders

All-Time HoME Leaders, Shortstop – 21-40

Remember when it seemed like every shortstop in baseball was from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic? If you do, you actually misremember just like I do. As I type this, there have been 97 players in history from a city of fewer than 400,000 people, which is incredibly impressive. Somewhat to my surprise, only 29 of them ever played shortstop. Only eleven of those guys came to the plate 1000 times in the majors. And only four played more than 50% of their games at short: Pepe Frias, Manny Lee, Rafael Ramirez, and Tony Fernandez, a player we both rank among the 50 best shortstops ever.

Interested in other lists in this series or how our systems work? Check out these posts.

[MAPES+], [CHEWS+], [1B, 1-20], [1B, 21-40], [2B, 1-20], [2B, 21-40], [3B, 1-20], [3B, 21-40], [SS, 1-20]

Shortstop – 21-40

SS, 21-40

Where do we project the active player(s) to finish in our rankings?

Troy Tulowitzki

I got out my meat thermometer, and it’s indicating that Tulo is almost fully cooked. His hitting has slid below average, he can’t stay healthy, and the switch to normal altitude has not stemmed his injury-proneness one bit. I’d be shocked, though delighted, if he reached #30 in my rankings. —Eric

For the last six years, Tulo has averaged fewer than 100 games per. Surprise, surprise, he’s on the DL again. At just age 32, it would seem that the productive part of his career is over, which is extremely sad. Like David Wright, he’s a cautionary tale about how a surefire Hall of Fame career could be curtailed. Fans of guys like Yadier Molina and Evan Longoria might take note. Almost there doesn’t mean you’re there. Tulowitzki may jump a spot or two before he’s done. Then again, he may fall too.—Miller

Hanley Ramirez

We only talk about Hanley here because he tops Maury Wills by 0.35 in my system. As you may note, he’s not in Eric’s top-40. When the Sox spent over $180 million on him and Pablo Sandoval in the winter of 2014, I was horrified. Why would the team need two third basemen, I asked. It turns out they actually signed zero. And if I’m being fair, I liked the Ramirez signing and only objected to Panda. I was quite wrong. He’s averaging less than half a win per year in Beantown, can’t play the field, can’t run the bases, and kind of can’t hit anymore either. With 497 trips to the plate this year, he’ll pretty much trigger a $22 million deal in 2019. I’m hoping he struggles enough early on that they can justify sitting their Opening Day #3 hitter. He’s about as likely to finish outside my top-40 than in it.—Miller

Speaking of guys at the end of the line. Headlines told us that Hanley was in the best shape of his life this Spring. When they start writing that, the gig is almost up. With Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez, and three amazing young outfielders, and in the days of 13-man bullpens, the Sox have little use for a lousy-fielding, below-average hitting first baseman/DH. Ramirez could be done much more quickly than you’d think.—Eric

Where do our rankings diverge the most from the conventional wisdom?

Pretty much no one has talked about that top-flight shortstop, Donie Bush. And even few would rate him higher than Davey Concepcion. I know for sure that Joe Morgan would take personal umbrage upon hearing about it.—Eric

There’s this guy some of you may have heard of, a guy who received a pretty disgusting amount of Hall of Fame support in January, a guy who is sometimes considered the defensive equal of Ozzie Smith (insanely), a guy who is frequently called the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie (blasphemous in a world where Andrelton Simmons exists), a guy who….I could go on, and I have in a ton of posts. Just put his name into the search bar. You’ll see. If we offered a third group of 20 in the shortstop series, he wouldn’t even appear there.—Miller

Where do we disagree with one another the most?

Probably Hughie Jennings. We are within just a few ranks of one another, granted, but Miller has him 7 points over the in/out line, while I have him smack-dab on it. And I’m not even sure how much I agree with me. Jennings has a compelling case as a combo manager-player, but it’s a weird one. Hughie wasn’t a great manager, but he was above average and for a very long time—which, of course, is the exact opposite of his playing days when he ruled the roost for four or five years and otherwise earned next to no value.—Eric

It’s a peak thing. Hughie is seventh best at the position, and that shoots him up the charts. It’s also a consecutive thing. He’s second only to Honus Wagner. Jennings is the player who most makes me question my system. That’s okay. It’s not like I’m really working on a HoME argument for him.—Miller

Are there any players who MAPES+/CHEWS+ might overrate or underrate? 

We could talk about Jennings for a long time because his case pushes the envelope in nearly every way. Do either of our systems over-reward peak performance? If so, Jennings becomes a no-go pretty quickly. Then there’s Johnny Ward. He pitched for about as long as Jennings peaked, then Monte turned into Maury Wills for about a dozen years. Nineteenth Century pitching twists pitching systems into knots on the best of days, and when we then combine it with a long and productive career in the field, things can get weird. And just as soon as BBREF releases updated Rbaser for seasons with PBP during Joe Sewell’s career, we expect him to jump a couple ranks.—Eric

In one week, it’s catchers. And perhaps some surprises.

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Discussion

8 thoughts on “All-Time HoME Leaders, Shortstop – 21-40

  1. Glad you guys elected George Wright despite his low marks here, lots of value in pre-NA.

    Agreed that Monte Ward is confounding for any system to figure out, seems worthy as a player, certainly a slam dunk when you consider his other contributions to the game.

    Want to give a shout to Bert Campaneris, he’s a worthy HoMer if you used just Tom Thress or Dan Rosenheck figures, gray area with Baseball Gauge, well short by Baseball-Reference. Campy was “clutch” with -130 neutral batting runs, positive 1 with RE24, posted a 6.1 clutch wins at B-R, an OPS in the post-season about equivalent to regular season performance.

    If you guys end up awarding for war credit at peak/prime levels, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Pesky become very intriguing candidates too 🙂

    Thanks for the great work fellas!!

    Posted by Ryan | April 16, 2018, 12:14 pm
  2. 1. Herman Long is listed twice- not that I mind as he’s one of my favorite 19th century players 😉

    2. “And just as soon as BBREF releases updated Rbaser for seasons with PBP during Joe Sewell’s career, we expect him to jump a couple ranks”
    Any clue on when that update will happen? Holding out hope it occurs before the next decade. 😉

    Posted by layson27 | April 17, 2018, 11:24 am
  3. To be more precise- Long is listed three times, twice in one column.

    Posted by layson27 | April 17, 2018, 11:27 am
  4. Shortstop certainly is an interesting position. Great analysis as usual.

    1. Honus Wagner 280
    2. Alex Rodriguez 236
    3. Cal Ripken 181
    4. George Wright 173
    5. Arky Vaughan 164
    6. George Davis 153
    7. Luke Appling 152
    8. Alan Trammell 142
    9. Robin Yount 140
    10. Bill Dahlen 140
    11. Barry Larkin 136
    12. Ernie Banks 136
    13. Lou Boudreau 135
    14. Joe Cronin 135
    15. Pee Wee Reese 129
    16. Jack Glasscock 128
    17. Bobby Wallace 126
    18. Ozzie Smith 123
    19. Dickey Pearce 123
    20. Hughie Jennings 120
    21. Derek Jeter 119
    (Monte Ward 111)
    22. Art Fletcher 108
    23. Dave Bancroft 106
    24. Bert Campaneris 104
    25. Nomar Garciaparra 102
    26. Joe Tinker 102
    27. Joe Sewell 99

    Okay, a lot to address here. For starters, yes, I have a lot more Hall-worthy SS than the fine folks here at the HoME. There are a couple of reasons for this – first, while I believe that in exercises such as this, we should be fair to all positions, but for me that doesn’t necessarily mean that there should be exact positional balance. I tend to believe the studies of Dan Rosenheck that SS has been a far more difficult position throughout most of history than even most positional adjustments give it credit for. It has been a “feast or famine” position, both offensively and defensively, where names like the above rise to the top but most of the ML SS pool is filled with the likes of the Neifi Perezs of the world.

    Alex Rodriguez – I mention him not because of his ranking, which isn’t controversial, nor the fact that I agree with Miller and Eric that he would be the #1 3b if he appeared on that list. I find it interesting that we consider him a SS, but when he enters the Hall of Merit (and if he ever makes the HoF, steroid discussions aside), he would have a NYY cap, despite the fact that he never played a single game at SS for the Yankees. I don’t think there are any other players for which this type of anomaly occurs.

    Cal Ripken, Alan Trammell, Robin Yount, Bert Campaneris – Dan Rosenheck’s replacement level studies show, and my median-level adjustment agree with, that SS during the 1970’s and 1980’s had the worst depth in history, with some years SS meriting a whole win boost in positional adjustment due to the weakness of the position. These adjustments make Ripken an inner-circle guy in my system, Trammell and Yount even mor eof no-brainers than they already were, and Campaneris becomes Hall-worthy.

    George Wright, Dickey Pearce – If I didn’t include pre-NA credit, Wright would still be over the line, but just barely. With it, and he was generally regarded as the best player in base ball (words intentionally separated) from 1867-70. With such credit, he sneaks into my inner-circle as well. Pearce was well past his peak when the NA came into existence, let alone the NL, but he had a long, distinguished career pre-NA dating back to 1856.

    Jack Glasscock – I have him much lower than Miller or Eric, although he is still ridiculously qualified. The reason for this is despite the fact that SS positional adjustment has been to low according to my system, during the 1880’s, SS was the deepest it ever was – so strong that this is the one of two extended periods of time (the other being a short stretch in the 1900’s) where I actually reduce the BBRef positional adjustment for SS, up to a third of a win per year.

    Hughie Jennings – My system is significantly more peak-heavy than Miller’s or Eric’s. Jennings was easily the best position player in baseball for 4 straight years, including the best player overall for 2 years, in a league that was so concentrated in talent due to contraction. The only other position players I have being the best in baseball every year for 4 straight years are Jackie Robinson (1949-52), Willie Mays (1962-65), Joe Morgan (1973-76), and Barry Bonds (2001-04) – (note: I haven’t done MMPs for 1901-1948 – I’m waiting for all of Eric’s Negro League MLEs to come out to finish them).

    NOMAH! – Okay, between David Ortiz and now Nomar, it may appear I am letting my Red Sox fandom affect my system. I swear I am not. In fact, when starting to run my initial numbers for my PHoM, I didn’t even run Garciaparra’s because I had just figured he would end up short. And using the unadjusted numbers, he would. But once MMP and All-Star bonus points are included (and since my MMP points are based upon a rate-based salary estimator – and Nomar’s WAR rates were very good in his essentially 6-year peak/prime due to missed games every year), Nomar gets over the line for me.

    Posted by Michael Mengel | April 17, 2018, 1:20 pm
    • Love your A-Rod analysis here!

      I don’t adjust Pearce enough to get him close since I don’t think we need another player from that era beyond Wright, but I certainly see your point.

      How is someone more peak-heavy than I am??? (Actually, I only think that because I’ve become more and more peak heavy over the years).

      FYI, we don’t have perfect positional balance, and I count only players as 100% at a position if they played exactly 100% of their games there. Bill Dickey, Ozzie Smith, Scott Rolen, and most pitchers are examples of 100% guys. Right now the HoME has only 19.20 shortstops, which is a function of at least a couple of things. One is out reluctance to induct Hughie Jennings given his era and lack of value outside a peak that you correctly described. The other is that if we add Banks, Yount, G.Davis, Sewell, Honus, and Cal, we have just 3.65 shortstops. If you count differently, your number will be different.

      (Also, a third reason is that I don’t make the adjustments for strength/weakness of position that you do).

      Thanks for the comments! Great stuff!!

      Posted by Miller | April 17, 2018, 2:11 pm
  5. I forgot – I put Monte Ward in parentheses because although he played much more SS than he pitched, I have him earning much more of his value as a pitcher, so that’s where I place him.

    Also of note for Ward – so far I have him as the only player to be both the best pitcher in a league (1880 NL) and the best position player in a league (1887 NL). But as I mentioned above, I still haven’t run Ruth’s year to see if he accomplishes this. And of course Ohtani will end up both the best pitcher and position player in the AL this year :).

    Posted by Michael Mengel | April 17, 2018, 1:25 pm

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