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  #21  
Old 05-28-2018, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
Grich's lifetime WAR is nearly double that of Steve Garvey's. Sorry, I know all the rap on Garvey, but that just does not square with reality IMO.
Agree totally.
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  #22  
Old 05-28-2018, 04:06 PM
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Grich had a bunch of little things going for him. None of them really dramatic, so they don't catch your attention, but add them all up and he ends up being really valuable. Some of them have already been mentioned. He was a good defensive player, especially when he was young. Another is that he drew a lot of walks. That will help make up for his low batting average. By comparison, he had about the same ability to reach base as Pete Rose. (Although obviously Rose played longer and so reached base more times.) He had good power for a second baseman; not "set HR records" kind of power, but a lot more than your ordinary skinny middle infielder of the 1970s. Indeed, he led the league in HRs once. Also, being compared against other second basemen helps. Sure, he's being compared to Rod Carew, but he's also being compared to Bucky Dent.

Players who are good at everything but not outstanding at any particular thing are easily overlooked. The hall of fame, for example, has had a terrible time recognizing them. They finally got one right with Alan Trammel, whose case sabermetic types have been championing for a long time. Actually, a comparison between Trammell and Grich may be instructive. Trammell was the better fielder and Grich was the better hitter, but in both cases they were the sum of a bunch of little parts. Contrast this with guys like Jim Rice or Tony Gwynn, who will catch your attention because there's one particular skill that they excel at.

And yes, there's also a margin of error around WAR. Grich had 71.1, Trammel had 70.7. That's a tie. Seeing thing in tiers instead of a ranking is a good idea.

Since WAR is just a number that Grich and Trammel weren't flashy players doesn't matter to it, all it knows is that a bunch of relatively little numbers (which reflect their fielding, their ability to reach base, their power, and so on) can add up to one big number.
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  #23  
Old 05-28-2018, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by nat View Post
Grich had a bunch of little things going for him. None of them really dramatic, so they don't catch your attention, but add them all up and he ends up being really valuable. Some of them have already been mentioned. He was a good defensive player, especially when he was young. Another is that he drew a lot of walks. That will help make up for his low batting average. By comparison, he had about the same ability to reach base as Pete Rose. (Although obviously Rose played longer and so reached base more times.) He had good power for a second baseman; not "set HR records" kind of power, but a lot more than your ordinary skinny middle infielder of the 1970s. Indeed, he led the league in HRs once. Also, being compared against other second basemen helps. Sure, he's being compared to Rod Carew, but he's also being compared to Bucky Dent.

Players who are good at everything but not outstanding at any particular thing are easily overlooked. The hall of fame, for example, has had a terrible time recognizing them. They finally got one right with Alan Trammel, whose case sabermetic types have been championing for a long time. Actually, a comparison between Trammell and Grich may be instructive. Trammell was the better fielder and Grich was the better hitter, but in both cases they were the sum of a bunch of little parts. Contrast this with guys like Jim Rice or Tony Gwynn, who will catch your attention because there's one particular skill that they excel at.

And yes, there's also a margin of error around WAR. Grich had 71.1, Trammel had 70.7. That's a tie. Seeing thing in tiers instead of a ranking is a good idea.

Since WAR is just a number that Grich and Trammel weren't flashy players doesn't matter to it, all it knows is that a bunch of relatively little numbers (which reflect their fielding, their ability to reach base, their power, and so on) can add up to one big number.
Is that why Trammell and Steve Garvey received over 40% on HOF balloting and Grich received less than 3% his one year on the ballot? Or why Trammell and Garvey were on the last VC ballot and Grich wasn't? WAR is just one person's opinion of what is valuable. Baseball Reference and Fangraphs disagree on what makes a player "valuable."
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  #24  
Old 05-28-2018, 05:11 PM
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Trammell hit .300 7 times. How do you figure Grich is the better hitter?
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  #25  
Old 05-28-2018, 05:24 PM
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It's not an account of value (although some people certainly use it as a proxy for that). What it measures is how many additional games an arbitrary team would expect to win if the player in question were to join that team. This is a very difficult thing to measure. You need to know, among other things, how many runs a single/double/triple/HR can be expected to produce on average, how a player's park affects his ability to hit singles/doubles/etc, how many runs prevented/saved it takes to win an additional ball game (on average), how a team's defense shapes a pitcher's ability to record outs, how many runs are prevented by each out recorded (on average), and on and on.

B-R and Fangraphs have different WARs because they disagree about the best ways to measure some of these things. This is common in an on-going scientific investigation. Measuring things can be hard. And this is especially hard because we can't move players around from team to team to see how their records change - the best we can do is see how the various things that players do (hit singles, catch pop flies, strike batters out, etc) have correlated (historically) with run production/prevention. It's not that the dispute between B-R and Fangraphs is "just a matter of opinion", they have different hypotheses about how best to measure a player's effect on a team's record.


The hall of fame did a good job with Trammell. Historically they have overlooked players like him, either completely (as in the case of Grich) or it has taken them a long time to recognize their greatness (as in the case of Ron Santo). If you want to be a deserving player who doesn't get recognized by the hall of fame, a good way to do it is to be good at everything and great at nothing. We'll see Chase Utley does in a few years.
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  #26  
Old 05-28-2018, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
Trammell hit .300 7 times. How do you figure Grich is the better hitter?
Trammell had a career on-base percentage of .352 against a league average of .330.

Grich had a career on-base percentage of .371 against a league average of .324.

So Grich was both better at getting on base than Trammell, and had to do it in an environment in which getting on base was harder to do.

A walk isn't as good as a hit, because hits can move runners along. So let's look at their respective abilities to do that.

Trammell had a career slugging percentage of .415 against a league average of .401.

Grich had a career slugging percentage of .424 against a league average of .384.

So Grich picked up more bases each time he came to bat than did Trammell, and he did it in an environment in which hitting for power was harder. Trammell was better at hitting singles than Grich was (that accounts for the difference in batting average), but that's more than made-up for by Grich's superior ability draw walks, together with the fact that he hit for more power.
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  #27  
Old 05-28-2018, 05:48 PM
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So what's your theory on why Trammell is in the Hall and Grich never even registered with the voters or the VC?
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  #28  
Old 05-28-2018, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat View Post
It's not an account of value (although some people certainly use it as a proxy for that). What it measures is how many additional games an arbitrary team would expect to win if the player in question were to join that team. This is a very difficult thing to measure.
WAR is completely unrelated to wins. That is why Bill James doesn't like WAR. It is just a theoretical number that has very little value on its own. The example of Trout vs. Betts is the perfect example. Trout is one of the worst centerfielders in MLB, while Betts is one of the best rightfielders. However, since someone decided that a CF is more "valuable" than a RF, Trout has a higher WAR.
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  #29  
Old 05-28-2018, 06:36 PM
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WAR is completely unrelated to wins. That is why Bill James doesn't like WAR. It is just a theoretical number that has very little value on its own. The example of Trout vs. Betts is the perfect example. Trout is one of the worst centerfielders in MLB, while Betts is one of the best rightfielders. However, since someone decided that a CF is more "valuable" than a RF, Trout has a higher WAR.

WOW! Now, that's a statement!
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  #30  
Old 05-28-2018, 06:36 PM
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WAR would be completely unrelated to wins if its components didn't correlate with wins, but they do. You can take its components and run a regression analysis to see how closely they correlate (and the people who developed WAR did just this).

The positional adjustment is in there because some positions are harder to play than others. Trout may be a poor CF, but center fielders need to cover more ground than do right fielders. If he was a right fielder he'd catch a higher percentage of the balls that are his responsibility than he does now. (Likewise Betts would catch a lower percentage of balls if he played CF.)

Defensive stats are subject to enough noise, though, that you should really use a range of years of performance when evaluating a player, and you should certainly be doing that this early in the season. So far this season Trout has a 5-run advantage over Betts on defense (that includes the positional adjustment). That's not much, and it will probably be gone by the end of the year. Trout is a roughly average CF and Betts is a really good RF, by the end of the season Betts will almost certainly catch enough extra balls to he'll come out ahead in the defensive component of WAR. (In fact, WAR says that for his career Betts has save far more runs than Trout has, even though Trout has been in the league longer.)
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