Thursday, April 23, 2009

Off-day offering

Yes, I double-checked, it is an off-day for the orange-and-black.

One of the many great sites on the web for baseball junkies is The Baseball Analysts. Today's "Designated Hitter" post by John Walsh is called WAR and Remembrance. He is referring to WAR, or Wins Above Replacement (player), one of the sabermetric crowd's favorite new stats. I know that long-time fans and traditionalists don't care for the clunky geekiness of the new stats. After all, do you really want to talk about VORP when you're arguing about your favorite players over a few beers? Actually, I do, because I see these things as adding new levels of richness and sophistication to something I love to cogitate about, namely, the Greatest Game on Earth. I don't consider them "argument-settlers" by any means. Just because you have a saber-stat that says player X was better than player Y doesn't mean you are done. It does mean, however, that the argument has a new landscape. It also means we can strip away SOME of the bias and emotion that accompany our arguments. It means we can improve the signal-to-noise ratio whenever we look for answers in a debate.

Today's post by Mr. Walsh references a freely-available database created by Sean Smith, who is known for his CHONE player projection system. This database attempts to classify all players and also the TOP 300 position players of all-time (1955 forward) by WAR. The 1955 cut-off is due to the availability of good data, apparently, but it suits most of us because it is post-integration and closer to our "modern" game. This list attempts to rank everything from hitting to fielding to baserunning.

The winner? Barry Lamar Bonds, of course, who finishes well ahead of the neck-and-neck 2nd and 3rd place guys, Mays and Aaron. YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT. Giants fans of our era will particularly appreciate positions 68 through 88.

Give it a gander and report back!


Bob said...

It looks like catchers get the short end of the stick in this rating system, I guess because they don't steal many bases? Bench at #33 is the best catcher, naturally. I think catchers have an intrinsic value and maybe should be rated by some other standard.
Yogi Berra shows up way down the list but maybe that's because of the '55 cutoff. His best years were before that.

M.C. O'Connor said...

It may be that catching is so demanding that you don't get many great all-around players--like shortstop. But I agree that catchers are hugely important. I know that both WAR and VORP (if including fielding) give high postional adjustments for C and SS.

Just shows you how great a player Bench really was.

JC Parsons said...

No doubt about a racial factor...5 of the top 6 are Black!!

Is Mike Schmidt the greatest white player ever? Could be...
Clemente the greatest Hispanic? Possible...
What is ARod anyway?

JC Parsons said...

Actually 6 of the top 7!

I would say that is rather convincing arguement that comparing pre-integration players with modern folk is pretty weak. The old timers are GROSSLY over rated, that includes RUTH, FOXX, etc.

M.C. O'Connor said...

It goes further than that when you consider the international pool of talent now available. The modern game has two crucial points after integration: division play, which completely altered the "champioship" dynamic (1969), and true free agency (1976) which changed the team-building landscape. Comparing guys from the 50s and 60s to 90s and 00s players may be just a foolish. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron didn't face relief specialists like Bonds and Pujols and ARod had to.