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Top 100 Commentary
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
October 30, 2006

OOPS

 

I have a confession to make, guys. When I first made my top 100 back in May and June, I didnít use a spreadsheet! Yes, I know, itís a tragedy. Also, the fact that I was very new to the SABRmetric world didnít help either. Around sometime last night, I realized that I made some major mistakes. I underrated a lot of people, and overrated a lot as well. ~Cough: Joe DiMaggio: Cough, cough~ Now that Iím very familiar with SABRmetrics, and actually had a spreadsheet program on my computer all along, my next top 100 will be much more accurate and justifiable, but I canít make an entire new one just yet. However, what I will do is talk about certain players and hint where theyíll be on my next list.

 

Before I start, I want to talk about: how seriously I take Win Shares and League Quality Adjustments.

 

I have two problems with Jamesí work. One is his lack of ďLoss SharesĒ and the other is the Subjective Element. I canít understand why he didnít factor loss shares in his work. Players obviously contribute to their teamís wins, but they also contribute to their losses as well; this is the reason why I like Palmerís Batting and Fielding Runs more, you can actually have a negative amount.

I really donít care for certain parts of Jamesí Subjective Element. World Series Performance should definitely not count. If Babe Ruth was terrible in the World Series throughout his career, should we really care? I donít really believe in clutch performances all too much. Special contributions by Jackie Robinson and Hal Chase do not make them better players. Better people? Yes. Players? No. I think the ďLeadershipĒ part of Jamesí analysis is a big reason why Morgan rates better than Hornsby, and I donít think thatís fair. Leadership plays part in the kind of person you are, not the skills you have.

 

LQ Adjustments- Iím still uncertain how to approach this topic. If you asked me if I thought that the quality of play is better now than it was in the 20ís, Iíd say yes. However, the question is, how much better is it? I donít know, and neither do you.I donít know if Ruth could have put up Ruthian numbers today, and neither do you. Iíve seen people rank Morgan ahead of Hornsby, and Schmidt ahead of Gehrig and I think thatís wrong, LQ adjustments like that are just too harsh... in my opinion, anyway. There is one thing that cancels the disparity of league quality, and thatís the new schedule. Players for the past 40+ years have had the chance to play 5% more games than the players before them. If the National League of 1997 was better than the American League of 1931 by 5% (Iím not saying it was), then it should off-set because of the 162 game schedule.

 

Now letís go to the list.

 

9. Mantle- I think Iím underrating him just a bit here. Mantle at his peak was simply a monster. He led the league in Batting Runs 8 years in a row, and 10 times all together, which is the same amount of times Ruth did it, and more than Ted Williams did. In 1957, Mantle had the best year by a CF ever. He lead the league in walks with 146, batting runs with 94, runs scored with 132, hit 34 HR, grounded into a league low 5 DPís, and totaled more bases (315) than outs made (312), a feat he accomplished twice. Mantle has 89.4 batting wins, which is good for 8th all time. One thing that hurts him is his fielding. Fielding Runs do not see Mantle as a good fielder as he is tagged with -86, but FWS sees him to be a very adequate fielder with 57 FWS, equaling 19 total fielding wins.

 

 

11. Bonds- As much as I hate to say it, Bonds belongs higher than this. Bondsí career minus 2001-2004 is very similar to Mantleís. Before Bonds exploded, he led the league in ABR (Adjusted Batting Runs) 5 times. Thatís only half as many times as Mantle did, but Bonds played in a much more offensive league and anyway, leading your league in ABR 5 times is nothing to sneeze at. Bonds lead the league in OBP 3 times and SLG 3 times before he turned 36. Mantle led the league in OBP 3 times and SLG 4 times before turning 36. Mantle retired at age 37 and had 894 ABR. Before Bonds exploded he had 687.Before Bonds used steroids I think Mantle was by far a better a hitter, but I am going to give Bonds some credit from 2000-2003. Iím not giving him anything from 2004, because I personally think the enhancements allowed Bonds to play longer, so I donít think he would still be playing today. Under normal circumstances, I would take a shot at predicting what he would have done from 00-03, but it isnít that easy. It isnít that easy because at the age of 35 he ripped up his elbow. Players at the age of 35 who go through a major surgery like that bounce usually wonít bounce back the next year. From 00í-03í I know for a fact that he wouldnít have had a .460+ OBP, a SLG higher than .700, and have no more than 90 ABR in one season. I know this because he never did this in his earlier year, so thereís no reason to believe that he would have after elbow surgery. Iím going to assume that he walks 100-110 times in 00-01, than probably drop off to the high 80ís and low 90ís in his last two. He probably averages 60 ABR over the 4 year span, and hits in the low .280ís while average about 25-30 HR a year. When his career was all set and done I see a line of .288/.415/.580 (very similar to Mantleís) with 578 HR and 927 ABR. All of these great numbers along with good play in LF puts him at 6th, one ahead(it hurts me to do this) of Mantle.

 

18. Joe DiMaggio-The Associated Press overrated him when they called him the greatest living player in 1969, and Tony Aubry overrated him when he called him the 18th greatest player of all time. Joe D wasnít even the best player of his time; that honor goes to Mr. Williams, Musial comes next, and then itís DiMaggio. One of the main reasonís why DiMaggio is so overrated is because of hearsay. Some many people who saw him play thought he was perfect. It seemed like he never made an errant throw or misjudged a ball in the outfield. It seemed like he was the perfect base runner, too, but he wasnít. And these people who saw him play would tell their kids, and their grandkids (my Grandfather included) that he was the best ball player theyíve ever seen. DiMaggio may have had more talent than a lot people, but he certainly didnít have a better career.

 

35. Joe Jackson Ė Jackson, like DiMaggio played only 13 years. In result, he never declined and this allowed his rate stats to stay so high. Had he declined, he might have lost his .500+ SLG, which means he would no longer be a member of the .300/.400/.500 club. Decline phase or not, Jackson was still a great hitter. 45 Batting Wins in 13 years is great, but itís good for only 49th all time. Donít expect him to crack the top 50 on my next list.

 

Catchers- I severely underrated Gabby Hartnett. Pete Palmer has him as the best catcher of all time, and I have him 6th. Hartnett should probably be in the top 5, but itís the overall ranking, not the positional ranking that I screwed up on. Hereís my take on the whole catcher argument that Keith and I always get into: Iíve examined the whole Hartnett, Cochrane, Dickey, Berra, etc. debate. I don't think Dickey, Hartnett, or Cochrane should be considered the best because them, along with Lombardi, who was a hell of a hitting catcher, Rick Ferell, who is a very underrated catcher (his OPS+ is only 99, but his GPA is pretty good. He also has 7th highest OBP amongst catchers), and Wally Schang played from 1925-1940.To me, this decreases their value. It doesn't take anything away from their skill, but it makes them less valuable. You have 3 great catchers and 3 good - very good catchers that played in one era, and that makes them less valuable. Berra, on the other hand, pretty much dominated his era. Campy did play with him, but only for 8 years. Other than Campy, Berra was really the only true great catcher during his time. You could also go the other route, and say that during Gabby, Mickey, and Dickeyís time the average catcher was worse than the Charlie Silveras of the 40ís and 50ís, but this probably has to do with integrated leagues.

 

60. Warren Spahn - Iím going to break away from the Baseball Evolution pack and say that Span belongs in the top 50. He is 9th in overall pitcher wins, 13 in adjusted pitching wins, and 33rd in player overall wins. Spahn led the league in PW 4 times, CG 9 times,

SHO 4 times, pitching wins 3 times and wins 9 times. I donít think Spahn belongs in the top 30, which is where most people rank him, but high 40ís is where he should be. If you do in fact give him full war credit, he would rank even higher, but be careful. Spahn went off to war before he was an established pitcher, and wasnít established until the year after he came back. So donít be so quick to give him an extra 60+ wins.

 

These are only a few of the adjustments that Iíll be making on my next list. I promise you that my next list will be much more justifiable and organized.

 

 




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in New York, NY, and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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