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All-Time HoME Leaders, Sidebars

All-Time HoME Leaders, Right Field – 1-20

Mr. October. It’s one of baseball’s most recognizable nicknames. Thinking ahead to this post, I was considering Reggie Jackson as one of the players MAPES+ might underrate because it doesn’t take post-season performance into account. So then I looked at Reggie’s playoff statistics. He slashed .278/.358/.527 in October compared to .262/.356/.490 in the regular season. Better? Sure. Against stiffer competition? Almost certainly. But there’s not a marked difference, at least not one that’s suggested by the nickname. If you want to call someone Mr. October, someone like Lou Brock, Paul Molitor, Curt Schilling or Bob Gibson (to name four off the top of my head), go for it. But Reggie? I don’t know.

Yes, he won two World Series MVP Awards, and I think he deserved it in 1978 too. And not we’re on to something. In 116 trips to the plate over five World Series, he slashed .357/.457/.755. In my mind “October” is equal to the playoffs. However, if we view “October” as the World Series, which is justifiable, I suppose, Reggie earned that nickname. Now about MAPES+…

Actually, you can read about MAPES, CHEWS, and all posts in this series with the links below.

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

Right Field – 1-20

RF, 1-20

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

Ichiro Suzuki

Part of the fun of Ichiro is that he’s kind of like a thought experiment made real: What if we took a star player from roughly 1901–1930 and plopped him into the majors? Now we know! It’s Ichiro! But that’s precisely what’s happened. His game is predicated on a few things:

  • Putting the ball in play
  • Speed from home to first
  • Excellent baserunning
  • Excellent fielding
  • Cutting down baserunners who take foolish chances.

In the deadball era, grounds keeping wasn’t quite as meticulous as today. Comiskey Park was famously built atop a landfill and old trash popped up through the grass sometimes. The amazing drainage technology that today’s fields have didn’t exist. Freddie Lindstrom became a World Series goat when a ball hit a pebble and bounced over his head. That combined with primitive glove technology increased the reward for simply putting the ball on the ground between the lines and dashing like mad to first base.

Ichiro is something like Harry Hooper combined with George Sisler. Which is basically what Sam Rice was. I wonder whether that kind of player would have been more or less effective in the 1970s and 1980s. Why? Astroturf. Infielders could play back to pick up grounders that might get through at normal depth, but even well-placed grounders would reach fielders faster, reducing Ichiro’s speed advantage. Turf did give speed merchants an advantage on the bases, but the players who took best advantage of turf did so by hitting balls into the gaps and running like crazy. Ichiro’s game is different than that of George Brett, Tim Raines, or Vince Coleman. Turf might also reduce the advantage accrued with Ichiro’s arm because the ball would get to him quicker on singles, reducing the likelihood of his being tested, and extra-base hits would get by him more quickly. Hard tellin’ not knowin’ as they say up here in Maine.—Eric

I projected Ichiro to retire after the 2014 season. Seriously. Over the seven years before this one, he was worth a total of 5.2 WAR. That’s not a guy who you want on your club unless you want to sell tickets or jerseys. Oh, wait, I’ve figured it out. I’m sure there’s more. I bet Ichiro is a good guy, and I suspect his English is better around teammates than reporters, which is just fine by me. As far as where he ends up, that depends on whether or not he decides to play again. He’s just done for the year, not retired. Given an infinite number of chances, he’d play his way out of the HoME. Since I think he’s seen his last game, we will only have to factor in the-0.5 WAR he accrued in 15 games this year. That drops him behind Bobby Bonds for me, and into a virtual tie with Gary Sheffield. We’ll have to see how BBREF rounding works out.—Miller

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

I think I have Winfield and Vlad lower than mainstream folks would. They’re not even on this list. The real divergence may be ranking Clemente third rather than fifth, not that the difference between him, Ott, and Robinson is meaningful at all. The reason for my ranking is pretty clear; it’s Clemente’s consecutive peak. If I removed that factor, Eric and I would have the same top-6. This seems as good a place as any to reiterate why I like the consecutive peak factor in my formula. First, it’s how JAWS began. Though Jaffe did come up with a better conclusion, I don’t think he was completely wrong to start. There is something, not nothing to be said for consecutive greatness. A team really knows what it has. Also, it’s only 11% of my formula, which is to say Clemente, Ott, and Robinson are very close anyway. Sure, I have Clemente third. If you have him fifth, I certainly won’t argue.—Miller

Larry Walker and Harry Hooper. We’ve got Walker among the top dozen right fielders, and he’s having trouble drumming up enough Hall support to make it before his eligibility expires. Lots of people think the Hall made a mistake by electing Harry Hooper. We strongly disagree.—Eric

Where do we disagree with one another the most?

Probably Willie Keeler. Throughout this process, Miller has had Keeler ranked ahead of me. I don’t exactly know why, but over the several iterations of each of our sifting tools, Wee Willie has always managed to look worse in my eyes.—Eric

Is it Clemente? No, I wouldn’t really make an argument that he’s exactly the third best right fielder ever. I’m nearly certain he’s between third and fifth, or maybe sixth. Not exactly third. It’s not like with Aaron. I’m almost certain Aaron is exactly the second best right fielder ever. There aren’t really any major discrepancies here. Even with Keeler. We both see him as 2% above the in/out line for the position.—Miller

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

So let’s answer that question from the top of the post. Might MAPES+ underrate Reggie? I don’t think so. I call him the eighth best ever at the position. If you want to take him over Waner, I won’t put up a stink.—Miller

Well, neither of our systems take into account the verifiable, proven fact that Paul Waner shares my birthday. That’s a thing, man! But let me now posit a weird idea. Is it possible that Babe Ruth, the player, can be seen as overrated? No statistical system can capture the immensity of Babe Ruth’s contribution to baseball, of course, and we don’t talk about off-the-field stuff here very often. Still, we both had him among our top-three most influential persons in baseball history. But the thing about Babe Ruth is that he was so much better than everyone else. If you run standard deviations on any kind of runs-creation stats in his time, especially the early 1920s, he pulls everything out of whack. You have to seriously consider removing him from the test because by himself he raises the bar so high. But that begets the interesting question of whether Ruth was that good or did the league fail to catch on to his innovation? Some of both, surely, but that latter idea always makes me wonder whether Ruth is actually overrated from a certain, very narrow, point of view. The innovation is the source of his value, so in the most literal sense, it’s a non-question. And yet, it digs at me a little because it’s not entirely a question of talent and performance. There’s this little bit of friction for me about the long window of time before which the rest of MLB got its power together, and the massive advantage Ruth accrued from it. But whatever, he’s the Babe after all!—Eric

***

We round out the offense next week with the second half of right field.

Discussion

13 thoughts on “All-Time HoME Leaders, Right Field – 1-20

  1. Okay – a lot to catch up on.

    Just touching on some catcher points before I get to outfielders.

    Mike Piazza – He was the best hitting MLB ever. And sure, he was not good at throwing runners out. But that was about the only thing on defense that he was bad at. He was in the top 3 in passed balls in 4 of his first 5 full years, but a lot of that is due to the fact he was catching Tom Candiotti, not due to a general lack of skill – in fact, he actually had a good reputation for blocking balls in the dirt. More importantly, he was one of the best pitch-framers in history, going by Max Marchi’s numbers, Sean Smith’s or the new BP ones. And w/r/t/ the SB allowed, a couple of points – 1. He played in the era of baseball history where a stolen base provided the least amount of value; and 2. while he didn’t have a great arm, he wasn’t helped by the slow delivery motions of some of the pitcher’s he caught (e.g. Candiotti, Nomo).

    Carlton Fisk – Why I have him 2nd: Obviously he was an outstanding catcher who played forever. But also, like Piazza, he was also an outstanding pitch-framer. Another aspect of my system is that I value rate significantly, not just seasonal/career totals (e.g. he has 3 seasons where he accumulated more than 3 mWAR in less than 44% of a season, which provides about the same value in my system as a full-season 5 WAR season). All these little things add up.

    Johnny Bench/Yogi Berra – It’s time for me to blaspheme the conventional wisdom. Most traditional lists have these 2 1/2 in some combination of the all-time MLB C lists, while I have them outside the inner-circle, although they are the top 2 outside the I-C, and they are both relatively close. What hurts them – neither one of them was as good as the catchers above them at pitch framing (Yogi was slightly above average, Bench was essentially average). Also, as I mentioned with Fisk, I value rate, and both of them are brought down slightly by the fact that they often played other positions on the days they didn’t catch. Health/Durability is a skill, but the ability to play baseball is more important to me. A player who accumulates 6 WAR in 500 PA is the better player than the one who takes 700 PA to get 5 WAR (I’ll be revisiting this point when I get to my LF rankings).

    Bill Freehan – I have him nowhere near to my PHoF/M. He has a PEACE+ of 81. Yes, he was an 11-time All-Star, but he didn’t exactly have a ton of competition in the AL during that period. He also was a below-average pitch-framer (approx. .3 wins/yr) and he also played in a high-sdv era due to expansion, which hurts his numbers. He only has 6 seasons above 2.5 mWAR and only 2 above 5.0, with a peak of 6.2.

    Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 12:32 pm
    • Hey Michael!

      Let’s start with Freehan: I like him more than you do, but not as much more as it may seem. Seemingly short on catchers, we elected Freehan before incorporating Marchi numbers. If you desire relative positional balance, and we do, Freehan seemed like a better choice than Limbardi (if we ever knew real baserunning numbers…) or Tenace (not really a catcher). I suppose someone from the Posada/Sundberg/Porter group could have risen, but that might have meant bumping someone like Cruz or Kent. I don’t hate that idea. but I don’t love it. While Freehan is not one of my least favorite HoMErs, I feel okay about electing him. (Also, catcher is by far the hardest position to evaluate. Reasonable people can disagree by a lot. And if I used a higher Marchi rate, my numbers would be a lot different).

      Bench/Berra: I like Bench more than you, but we’re in a similar neighborhood on Berra. Eric includes a rate component; I don’t because, as you say, health is a skill. I’m simplifying here, but that’s basically it.

      Fisk: I can only get him to #5. I think it’s a rate issue. It’s also a bit of a consecutive issue for me. Fisk’s best seasons were strewn about his career, which hurts him a bit in my book.

      Piazza: In a strange way, I think he’s only of baseball’s most underrated players ever. The first thing people seems to say about Piazza is that he wasn’t a good defender, not that he was the best hitting catcher ever. That’s crazy! Especially because he was an EXCELLENT defender overall. To me, there is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with having him first.

      Posted by Miller | June 4, 2018, 12:57 pm
      • Oh, I believe we’ve had the positional balance discussions before. I just think that some positions are more feast-or-famine (like SS), which is why I have more from that position in my Hall than any other (and I think I’ve made this analogy before, it’s a lot like Center in the NBA). And I do have Tenace closer my Hall than Freehan, as well as Posada, although he is barely ahead of Freehan for me since he has absolutely horrendous framing numbers.

        Certainly with regard to Fisk, I understand the consecutive years issue. I just chose to go with non-consecutive peak for my system.

        One thing I keep debating about, and maybe it’s something that you guys could do a future article about, is my all-time 25 man roster – not just the best 25 players all time, but best roster given backups, versatility, etc. Most of my roster is set, but I keep debating upon my back-up catcher (Josh Gibson is my starter and I know my emergency 3rd catcher as well), but I keep vacillating between Piazza (2nd best overall catcher all time and best remaining hitter) and one of two all-around (hitting, CS, and framing) catchers, Carter (the better overall player) and Campanella (with NeL credit, I have him just behind Bench/Berra, but he has a higher peak than Carter in my system).

        Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 1:44 pm
        • And I mean do an article about your all-time 25 man rosters, not mine – I’m not trying to take over your blog. As with this series, I’d just add mine in the comments.

          Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 1:47 pm
        • Right, we have talked about positions. For us, catchers are behind, but we don’t want them behind more than they are.

          Just for clarification, I use non-consecutive peak 3x as much as consecutive peak, and consecutive is shorter. But I use both.

          I love the 25-man roster idea. Would you use a utility man? Middle relievers?

          Posted by Miller | June 4, 2018, 2:12 pm
          • I guess you could go anywhere with this. You can construct the roster anyway you want. I don’t know if you ever played the WhatIfSports baseball simulations at all – I was addicted to them 15-16 years ago – but it’s kind of like that but with an unlimited budget and without having to pick specific seasons. If you just wanted to go 1880’s and have a 2-man rotation of Clarkson/Radbourn to start all 162 games you could.

            But I was thinking more along the lines of closer to modern, or at least close to it, roster construction. Most versions of my team include DH option, 15-16 hitters and therefore, 9-10 pitchers. And I try to model somewhat to what the players could actually do – I don’t have the Mike Stantons of the world as my middle relievers, but I have Satchel in my bullpen because he did pitch there when he was in the majors, and when he was in the Negro Leagues he would often start but only pitch 3 innings or so, so that he could make as many starts as possible to increase the gate at all the parks.

            I tend to use my all-time best at each position as the starters, and then fill the bench with more peak/versaltility (e.g. Jackie Robinson is definitely on there as a utitlity man).

            Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 2:44 pm
            • Loved WhatIf!

              Yeah, I think I’ll put this on the list of things to tackle. Great idea!

              Posted by Miller | June 4, 2018, 3:18 pm
  2. Onto LF:

    1. Ted Williams 335 PEACE+
    2. Barry Bonds 331
    3. RICKEY! 215
    4. Yaz 166
    5. Ed Delahanty 155
    6. Manny Ramirez 126
    7. Tim Raines 123
    8. Al SImmons 123
    9. Fred Clarke 120
    10. Charley Jones 119
    11. Sherry Magee 112
    12. Harry Stovey 107
    13. Charlie Keller 107
    14. Jesse Burkett 106
    15. Willie Stargell 106
    16. Goose Goslin 105
    17. Minnie Minoso 104
    18. Zack Wheat 103
    19. Ralph Kiner 103
    20. Jimmy Sheckard 101

    Others of note: Joe Medwick (101), Joe Kelley (99), Bob Johnson (99), Albert Belle (96), Billy Williams (95).

    Ted/Barry – I have Ted ahead due to war (WWII and Korea, not Wins Above Replacement) credit. Without it, Barry would obviously be ahead.

    Joe Jackson – I have him in RF.

    Manny – The AL of the 200’s was a low std dev era – which helps him a lot (this of course, also benefitted Ortiz, if I hadn’t mentioned it before.

    Willie Stargell – As I mentioned with the catchers, I value rate. He didn’t have a bunch of full seasons, but his rates were outstanding. Since I also incorporate DRA less than you two, he doesn’t get punished as much in my system. (Hey, lots of recurring themes!)

    Kiner/Keller – Peak emphasis with some war credit.

    Billy Williams – Again, it comes down to rate. He was incredibly durable, but he had no real peak. He didn’t make any of my hypothetical MVP ballots, he only once was the best player at his position in baseball (1972). His best seasonal mWAR rate/750 PA (7.28) is below the general borderline (7.50) for 3-year peak, while his 3-yr peak rate is 6.98.

    Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 1:21 pm
    • Everything here makes sense. For what it’s worth, I’m beginning to think about incorporating war credit at a reduced rate.

      Can you talk some about Charley Jones? This is a stunner to me given that he’s at 77 MAPES+. What are you seeing that I’m not? I’m guessing you lengthen his seasons a bit more than I do, and perhaps you give more credit to AA seasons than I do?

      Posted by Miller | June 4, 2018, 2:09 pm
      • There are four reasons I can think of why Jones does better in my system than yours:

        1. As you mention, for all position player seasons, I extrapolate to 162 games, while you don’t do full extrapolation.
        2. He gets a slight bonus in my system for being the best position player in the NL in 1879, as well as the best LF in baseball in 1877-79 and 1884-85.
        3. I don’t give an additional discount for his AA years, like I believe you do. From my understanding, BBRef already includes a league strength adjustment when it converts from WAA to WAR.
        4. And probably most importantly, similar to war credit, I give Jones blacklist credit for 1881-82 (this factor alone counts for about 12 pts of PEACE+ – so he would be much closer to my borderline without it).

        Posted by Michael Mengel | June 4, 2018, 2:26 pm

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