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We have moved to HighHeatStats.com!

Posted by Andy
We have moved the blog to our new permanent home at HighHeatStats.com. Please update your bookmarks and/or RSS feed reader.

A few notes:

  • All content on this old blog will remain here in perpetuity.
  • The new blog features an open comment system, so if you had trouble posting comments here, be sure to check out the new location.
  • Similarly, the new blog is on its own domain (instead of Blogger) so if you were blocked at work, you'll be able to view it now.
Thanks for all your support on this transitional blog and come check us out at our new home!

10-year WAR leaders, by position

Posted by John Autin
Here are the overall leaders in bWAR for the past 10 years combined (2002-11), by position:

1986 Mets anagrams

Posted by Andy
C: Racy garter
1B: Harkened zenith
2B: Macaw blankly / Futile Met
3B: Yank right
SS: A fan at arsenal
LF: Forego greets
CF: Lanky nerd sty
RF: Starry dry warbler

Bench: I'm like son...woo!, I'll kvetch mine, Nod jaw..oh horns!, Penny head, I'm a Lee...I'll zz...

SP: Winged hot dog
SP: Darn girl...no!
SP: Jobbed a boy
SP: Frenzied sand
SP: I lick area rug

CL: Mr. College word / Jeers...coos...so?
RP: Skid...go us!
RP: Remand a ninny

Manager: Enjoy vans....doh!

Franchise Games Leaders - Position Players

Posted by John Autin
Here are the leaders in games played for each current franchise, as compiled by me through the B-R Play Index.

Juan Pierre sucks. Bad.

Posted by Andy
The Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a minor league deal.

Here are some random observations about his career stats.

THIS guy played for THAT team?

Posted by Andy
Following up on a recent post at Night Owl Cards, here is a look at some unusual photos of players in a uniform that we don't really associate them with. I'm drawing all of my cards from the 1988 Topps Traded set.

Best 5-Year WAR by Non-HOF Pitchers

Posted by John Autin
Since 1893, these are the non-Hall of Fame pitchers with at least 25.0 WAR in a 5-year span. Only those retired long enough to have appeared on a HOF ballot are listed. Limit one entry per pitcher. Baseball-Reference WAR formula is used.

Trivia Time # 214,000,000

Posted by John Autin
[Note: The trivia question has been answered; see comment #17.]

What statistic unites Prince Fielder and Gabby Hartnett as a unique group in the history of major league baseball?

The correct answer will be in the form of:
"Prince Fielder and Gabby Hartnett are the only players in MLB history who have ______."

P.S. The headline is not intended as a hint.

The 50 most underrated pitchers in history

Posted by Andy
Phil Niekro in 1987
Icon SMI
We've reached our final list for this exercise, and this one is the most underrated pitchers. We use the same metric (warts and all) as with the previous posts.

This photo to the left has been the basis of many baseball cards that used drawings of players. See, for example, this 2008 Upper Deck Goudey card.











Miggy & the Prince

Posted by John Autin
There will be no shortage of talk about the size of the contract Detroit gave to Prince Fielder ... not to mention the size of the player himself. But for the moment, let's look at teams that have had two hitters as good as Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.

Among all MLB hitters over the past 3 seasons, Cabrera and Fielder rank #2 and #5(t) in OPS+:

The 50 most overrated pitchers in baseball history

Posted by Andy
DON'T FREAK OUT.

This study uses the same methodology as the 50 most overrated batters post.

That means it's skewed towards career WAR over peak WAR, as well as targeting pitchers who were more popular or pitched more recently.

Thus, the list is populated mainly with great pitchers who had shorter careers and excellent recent pitchers.

Got it? The study is skewed in terms of fan voting on the B-R.com EloRater and punishes pitchers with a high peak WAR but lower career WAR.

Being popular is overrated
Two of these three make the most-overrated list
Icon SMI

The most underrated batters of the 1970s & 1980s

Posted by Andy
By request, here are the most underrated batters of the 1970s and 1980s. I have used the exact same method as before and selected out the top 40 players who appeared in those decades.

Retweet this to enter the Twitter raffle for some awesome baseball loot

Posted by Andy
As we're finally approaching 500 followers on Twitter, we're just about to give away our cool prize. I am going to add a couple more calendars and a whole mess of baseball cards to the loot. All you need to do is retweet the link to this post (and be a follower of High Heat Stats), and when we reach 500 followers I'll pick someone at random and award the prize.

Trivia Time: One Team, One Position

Posted by Raphy
In the history of Major League Baseball, only five players have played at least 1000 games, but only played one position for a single team. Can you name them?

The answer is here.

The 50 most underrated batters in baseball history

Posted by Andy
Following is the list of the most underrated batters in baseball history. Just as with our list of the 50 most overrated batters, the method utilizes Baseball-Reference.com's EloRater as well as its career WAR data for each player. You can read the detailed method here.

Very briefly, we've used the player's ranking on the EloRater to determine an expected career WAR (eWAR) and then subtracted that from his actual career WAR (bWAR) to find the difference. The players with the 50 largest such differences are listed below.

Robin Yount - a Hall of Famer but still underrated
Icon SMI
You will see that this list is dominated by two types of player:
  • Players from the early 1900s or late 1800s: these guys are comparatively forgotten and lose more than their fair share of EloRater matchups.
  • Players who had great careers but are disliked.
I'm not giving away a huge secret by mentioning that Barry Bonds is #1, thanks to his EloRanking of 25 at the time we worked up this data, despite the fact that he is #2 in career WAR, just a smidgen behind Babe Ruth.

OK--here's the list.

Defining moment: "Pitchers' duel"

Posted by John Autin
Bill James has a column on Grantland naming his "100 Best Pitchers' Duels of 2011." What caught my attention was not so much the list, but the premise -- his working definition of "pitchers' duel":

The 50 most overrated batters in baseball history

Posted by Andy
(This is a re-imagining of Raphy's excellent concept of using Baseball-Reference.com's EloRater as a fairly objective measure of which players are overrated and underrated. He deserves much of the credit for this post, plus Sky Kalkman gets a nod for helpful suggestions.)

Joe DiMaggio giving his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1955, while
Marilyn Monroe looks on from a window above / Icon SMI
Having just completed two series of posts on under-appreciated players, it's become clear to me that it's very tough to define "overrated" and "underrated" not only because each individual has a unique perspective, but also because we can't really know what everyone else thinks.

How can we judge a player's perceived value in comparison to his real value? It's not easy, but this study attempts to find a way of doing that.

I'm not going to bore you with a long explanation of the methods used. You can read that here if you wish. The basic idea is this:
  • Start with a player's actual career WAR, taken from Baseball-Reference.com (so we call it bWAR).
  • Look up the player's rank on B-R's EloRater, which uses a pretty neat algorithm for allowing thousands of site users to rank players.
  • Calculate an expected career WAR (or eWAR) based on that player's EloRater ranking (which, in brief, is done by averaging the career WARs of the players surrounding that guy on the EloRater.)
  • Find players for whom the difference, bWAR - eWAR, is the largest. A big positive value means the player is underrated while a big negative means the player is overrated.
Now, before we move onto the actual list, let's talk for a moment about what it means to be overrated in this study. It does not mean that the player was not very good. The vast majority of the players on the overrated list were really good. It simply means that there is a discrepancy between their EloRater ranking and bWAR. As near as I can tell, there are numerous reasons why this happens:
  • The player is given "extra credit" in the EloRater rankings due to missed time. Example: Ted Williams missing time for war service
  • The player is given "extra credit" in the EloRater rankings for post-season performance, which of course is not factored into bWAR. Example: Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series
  • The player is not appropriately judged for negative defensive contributions that hurt his bWAR. Example: Jermaine Dye
  • The player is a fan favorite who is given more credit than he deserves in the EloRater rankings. Example: Don Mattingly
  • The player is given "extra credit" for efforts as a manager or other non-playing role. Example: Lou Piniella
  • The player is given extra credit to make up for unfair blame he received for something else. Example: Bill Buckner
  • The player has gotten a higher EloRater ranking on the strength of 1 or 2 really strong seasons that are not representative of his career. Example: George Bell
  • The player played in a particularly favorable home ballpark: Example: Vinny Castilla
So as you read the list below, keep in mind that it's generated from these two data sets--the EloRater and bWAR--and that as with any stats, they have their limitations.

Also, another way to think about this is a player's popularity and reputation vs. his actual performance. Many of the guys are on the overrated list because they are beloved, even more than their stats suggest they should be.

90+ walks one year, no other years of 60+

Posted by John Autin
After hearing that Marco Scutaro was traded to Colorado, I took a look at his stats page and one thing popped out: Scutaro drew 90 walks in 2009, but no more than 57 in his other 7 seasons as a regular. Naturally, I had to see how rare that was.

Since 1901, there are 140 players with exactly 1 season of 90+ walks. Counting Scutaro, 14 of them have never drawn even 60 walks in any other year. Two of these, Carlos Santana and Jason Heyward, have played just 2 seasons. Here's a quick rundown of the others:

Which batting order spots yield the most GIDPs?

Posted by Andy
Here's a quick look at the breakdown of Grounding into Double Plays by batting order spot and by league.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #1 Kevin Appier

Posted by Andy

Kevin Appier was a stud and he gets very little credit for it.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #2 Kenny Lofton

Posted by Andy
Kenny Lofton is #2 on our countdown.

So most of us think Lofton is pretty good. He played 17 seasons and had a 107 OPS+ over a ton of plate appearances.

But those number sell short just how good Lofton was.











Fausto Carmona's comparison group pretty much sucks regardless of his age

Posted by Andy
Fausto Carmona, allegedly
Icon SMI
Apparently, Fausto Carmona, the 28-year-old pitcher for the Indians is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia and is 31 years old.

His older age may explain why Carmona peaked during his Age 23 season, when Heredia was actually already 26.

Let's look at comps for Carmona at his listed age vs. his alleged real age.

They walked Rob Picciolo

Posted by John Autin
You probably know that no other hitter ever walked as rarely as Rob Picciolo (min. 1,000 PAs and excluding pitchers). Picciolo drew 25 walks in 1,720 PAs, a rate of 1.5%; the next-lowest rate is Whitey Alperman's 1.7%.

Picciolo owns the two longest known streaks by a position player who started and did not walk. This list of the longest such streaks for 1970-90 is kind of fun:

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #3 Tony Phillips

Posted by Andy
Here's the guy we all knew was coming...Tony Phillips.

Phillips is a poster boy for on-base percentage. His career BA is .266 but his career OBP is .374, a very wide margin thanks to lots of walks. And he did it with a SLG of just .389!

Throw in Phillips' versatility as a defender, and he was a truly great player.









The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #4 Steve Reed

Posted by Andy
The #4 spot on our 1990s countdown is occupied by Steve Reed. Not Jeff Reed. Not Rick Reed. Not Steve Shields. Not Steve Sparks. Not the other Steve Sparks.

And therein lies a big part of the problem. Steve Reed was a middle reliever who had a similar name to a lot of other players, including some middle relievers.

But our man Reed was a cut above most of his namesakes, and most other pitchers for that matter.







Ty Wigginton and negating good offense with terrible defense

Posted by Andy
An all-too-common sight: the ball gets by Ty Wigginton
Icon SMI

Ty Wigginton has had an astonishing career. As recently mentioned be a reader on another thread, he's had a nice bat in his career, maintaining a 100 OPS+ despite getting bounced around on the field and from team to team. He's got an oWAR of 11.8 thanks to 8 different seasons with at least 0.8 oWAR.

However, on the defensive side of the ball, he's been awful. He has never posted a positive dWAR and his cumulative career value is -11.2.

That means his overall WAR is 0.6, with virtually all positive contributions with the bat and virtually all negative contributions with the glove (or feet, or arm, etc.)

I searched for other similar players. I started by generating a list of all active players with at least -50 fielding runs. Many of them, such as Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Giambi, have more than made up for it with their bats, amassing large career WARs.

But then there are these guys:
  • Jorge Cantu. He's got 6.3 oWAR, -5.7 dWAR, and 0.6 WAR overall. Similar splits to Wigginton.
  • Delmon Young has 5.2 oWAR, -5.4 dWAR, and 0.2 WAR overall.
  • Mark Teahen has 7.6 oWAR, -8.9 dWAR, and -1.3 WAR overall.
  • Brad Hawpe has 10.6 oWAR, -8.0 dWAR, and 2.6 WAR overall.
So then I looked back at retired players. Here are the 32 players with at least -83 fielding runs in their careers. (Another reason not to like Joe Carter.)

There are some other players like Wigginton:
One wonders what GMs think of guys like this...is the balance and zero-sum-game obvious?

(Thanks to Dalton Mack, @dmack1291 for tweeting this idea to me.)

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #5 Eric Plunk

Posted by Andy
Have you been paying attention? Then you should already know that Eric Plunk is one of the most under-appreciated players of the 1990s.

He showed up on a table in Mike Jackson's post, and in fact was the top middle reliever in baseball from 1992-1997, minimum 300 IP, ranked by ERA+.









The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #6 Shane Mack

Posted by Andy

Shane Mack checks in at #6 on our countdown.

Let me talk about the card first...I've already featured a Stadium Club card on this countdown, but this card was too interesting to pass up. In no particular order, here are some comments about this card:

Party like it's 1992

Posted by Andy
The way league-wide numbers have been trending, it looks like 2012 is going to be a lot like 1992, also known as The Year Before Steroids.

If trends from the last 3 seasons continue, HR per game will dip below 0.9 and SLG will drop even lower than 2011's .399. Runs per game will drop below 4.2, compared to 5.1 in 2001.

All of these levels will be the lowest since 1992.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #7 Mike Jackson

Posted by Andy
Mike Jackson was a full-time closer for two seasons--1998 and 1999. He was amazing in 1998 and pretty good in 1999.

But you know what? He was pretty awesome for the rest of his career.












The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #8 John Valentin

Posted by Andy
As numerous folks have guessed, John Valentin makes our countdown of the most under-appreciated players of the 1990s.

Valentin filled a position, shortstop, that the Red Sox had a difficult time keeping occupied with a quality player. But the guy who followed Valentin, Nomar Garciaparra, was even better and made a lot of fans forget Valentin.

As we'll see, though, John Valentin is worth remembering.








Best pitchers in debut matchups

Posted by John Autin
Since 1919, there have been 14 games in which each starting pitcher was making his MLB debut. Here are some of the most notable ones.

Richard fans 15, tying Karl Spooner's debut record.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #9 Dave Clark

Posted by Andy
Can a rookie prospect be under-appreciated?

Dave Clark is shown here on his 1988 Score card, #633. This was Score's inaugural set and it was great (as were their 1989 and 1990 sets.) This set was one of the first, if not the first, to include two full color photos, one on each side. If you'd like to smile right now, scroll down to look at the photo on the back of the card.

Score did a great job by including the head shot on the back, as it let them use action shots on the front even if the player's face wasn't all that visible. They also didn't need to crop closely to make the player's head larger and easier to see. I noted these advantages with this set when I posted Bill Doran's 1988 Score card last week.

Anyway, back to Clark. He had a reasonably high profile as a player thanks to coming in as a prospect. Many felt he disappointed, but I say he was under-appreciated.

Systematically Finding Overrated Players

Posted by Raphy

Andy's recent series on under-appreciated players left me wondering if there was a systematic way to find under and overrated players. In theory if we would could compare every player's perceived value to his actual value, we would have the information we need to do a complete evaluation of the players whose value and reputation we worlds apart. Fortunately Baseball-Reference.com has both objective and subjective rankings.

WAR is the Baseball-Reference.com attempt to use a single value to rate each player. All aspects of  the game are taken into account and there is no room for opinion or popularity in creating these rankings. It is completely objective.

Conversely, the EloRater from that site is subjective.  Readers are asked to compare two players and determine who was better. The  results of all votes are then combined to create a list of greatest players. While player stats are used in this process clearly the results of these comparisons are based on perceptions and reflect the regard in which players are held.

Comparing these two numbers, would then provide us with the information we are looking for. Players who do much better in the EloRater then their WAR would suggest are overrated, while those who do much worse would be underrated.

For example, as of this writing Joe Carter has earned 1873 points in the EloRater,  which is the 279th best among retired position players. Meanwhile his career WAR  is 16.5 which is the 822nd best. This tells us that he is ranked 279-822= 543 places above where he should be, which is quite an overrating of his value.
In fact, Carter is the 6th most overrated retired position player in baseball history.


Using this method, here are the most overrated position players of all-time.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #10 Jose Rijo

Posted by Andy
Just like with the 1980s countdown, here we feature a strikeout pitcher for the Reds whose career was shortened due to injury. Last time it was Mario Soto; this time it's Jose Rijo.

Rijo hasn't suffered nearly as much under-appreciation as some other players on this list. He's remembered by many as the anchor of the pitching staff of the champion 1990 Reds. He had two top-5 finishes for the NL Cy Young and made an All-Star team. He's also remembered for twice being involved in a trade for a star player--first going to Oakland when the Yankees acquired Rickey Henderson and later going to the Reds when the A's picked up Dave Parker.

But, I don't think many folks really understood just how good Rijo was during his prime, which wasn't actually all that short.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s

Posted by Andy
Starting tomorrow, we'll be posting a series of the 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s. This will be very similar to our series from last week, just 10 years later.

Once again I got a lot of help from JA and Raphy in putting this together, even though the posts are all written by me.

Notes on a few players I thought about but didn't put on the list:
  • Rick Wilkins sticks out thanks to an insane 1993, when he posted a 6.5 WAR, close to half of his career total. Since that was his only stellar year, I didn't include him in the countdown.
  • Ron Karkovice is an under-appreciated player as well, but as his career pretty well straddled the 80s and 90s, he ended up not making either list.
  • Scott Fletcher was another near-miss for both lists. After he posted 3 different seasons with at least 3 WAR in the 80s, he put up two more in the 90s. I bet you'd never have guessed he finished with 27.2 career WAR.
  • Chris Hoiles was another fellow who I looked at. He's not remembered much outside of Baltimore but put up 7.2 WAR in 1993 and 23.4 in his career.

Boston professional sports dominance, 2001-present

Posted by Andy
Since 2001, not counting current seasons:

Red Sox

2003: 2 playoff series
2004: 3 playoff series, 1 championship
2005: 1 playoff series
2007: 3 playoff series, 1 championship
2008: 2 playoff series
2009: 1 playoff series

Patriots

2001: 3 playoff games, 1 bye, 1 championship
2003: 3 playoff games, 1 bye, 1 championship
2004: 3 playoff games, 1 bye, 1 championship
2005: 2 playoff games
2006: 3 playoff games
2007: 3 playoff games, 1 bye
2009: 1 playoff game
2010: 1 playoff game, 1 bye

Celtics

2001: 3 playoff series
2002: 2 playoff series
2003: 1 playoff series
2004: 1 playoff series
2007: 4 playoff series, 1 championship
2008: 2 playoff series
2009: 4 playoff series
2010: 2 playoff series

Bruins

2001: 1 playoff series
2002: 1 playoff series
2003: 1 playoff series
2007: 1 playoff series
2008: 2 playoff series
2009: 2 playoff series
2010: 4 playoff series, 1 championship

In total, that's 67 playoff rounds (including byes) and 7 championships.

I can't imagine that any other city is even close over the same time period.

The Oldest Pair of Starting ________ in a Game

Posted by Raphy
Years ago when I was a child, I remember it being a  big deal that the American League featured two 42 year old catchers, which was remarkable durability for a position that is extremely rough on the bodies of its players. Recently,  a discussion  in the comments section about chronologically challenged opposing  pitchers piqued my interest and I though it might be interesting to identify the games featuring the oldest tandem of starting players at each position. It took me 20 years to realize, but Boone-Fisk was more than just a big deal for catchers, it was a big deal for any position. In fact, since 1919, catcher is the only position other than pitcher for which two players, both 42 or older have started in the same game.

Using the PI game finder, which limits us to games since 1919 we can find the oldest pair of starters at each position for a given game. For our purposes, "oldest" will be defined as the highest age which was reached by both players in the game (as opposed to the sum of their ages).

Jesus was a carpenter; now he's a Mariner

Posted by Andy
Jesus Montero has been traded by the Yankees to the Mariners for Michael Pineda, with Hector Noesi and Jose Campos also switching teams.

Montero was thought to be the guy around whom the Yankees' offense would be built over the next several years, but apparently they feel that a 22-year-old stud pitcher is more valuable than a 22-year-old stud hitter.

I tend to agree.

Striking out lots of batters at age 22 (Yankees acquire Michael Pineda)

Posted by Andy
As the Yankees have just acquired Michael Pineda from the Mariners for Jesus Montero (sources say additional players are involved in the trade), here's a look at the 17 pitchers since 1901 to strike out at least 8 batters per 9 innings in their Age 22 season, minimum 162 innings pitched:

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #1 Dwayne Murphy

Posted by Andy
Oakland Athletics outfielder Dwayne Murphy tops our countdown of the most under-appreciated players of the 1980s. If you're disappointed, that just proves I'm right :)

Here are five fantastic facts and five fantastic baseball cards to commemorate Murphy's career in the 1980s.
1983 Donruss #161

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #2 Dave Stieb

Posted by Andy
Dave Stieb was the best pitcher of the 1980s. Don't believe me? Well, that's why he's rated #2 on our countdown.

Let's start by remembering that Stieb was the top pitcher (by WAR) in baseball for a few 3-year periods in the early 1980s.

From 1980 to 1985, Stieb totaled 36.5 WAR. By comparison, Jack Morris' highest 5-year period was 1983-1987 with just 20.1.

The news for Jack Morris just gets worse after that.






WAAS Experiment #1: Adjusted WAAS

Posted by John Autin
In a long exchange on the original WAAS post, reader Robert proposed adjusting the WAAS method to account for partial seasons.
  • Basic WAAS:  Season WAAS = WAR minus 2.5, negative results revert to 0.
  • Adjusted WAAS:  Instead of subtracting a standard 2.5 from every season, subtract a fraction of the 2.5 equal to the fraction of the season the player missed.
I decided to run some numbers and let the community chew it over.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #3 Bill Doran

Posted by Andy
Our string of Astros that started with Danny Darwin ends here with Bill Doran. You may have noticed Doran in the background of Darwin's card.

Doran is shown here on his 1988 Score card, #52. There are many photos like this in that set, with the player's face largely invisible. My first reaction is always "Gah! What a terrible photo!" but then I remember that 88 Score features a nice headshot on the back of each card, reserving the front for an action shot. So we get the best of both worlds on one card.

Bill Doran was never all All-Star. He didn't get a single Hall of Fame vote. He had very few top 10 appearances in major statistical categories.

But Doran was terribly under-appreciated.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #4 Danny Darwin

Posted by Andy
Danny Darwin is best-remembered by many fans for 1 of 2 things: winning the 1990 ERA title despite making only 17 game starts or being the centerpiece of the White Sox's 1997 "surrender" trade, when they traded a package centered around Darwin at the deadline despite being only 3 games out of the division lead.

Although that trade netted Chicago Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and a few other players, fans of the team were pretty angry that day.

Anyway, before Darwin's nice performance with the Astros, he put together a very solid decade in the 1980s that went pretty much unnoticed.





WAAS for Pitchers

Posted by John Autin
(For an explanation of the Wins Above All-Star Level method, as well as position-player values, see previous post.)

The following lists show WAAS values for (a) all HOF pitchers and (b) all retired non-HOF pitchers who have been on a HOF ballot (or will be eligible next year) and who have at least 30 WAR.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #5 Von Hayes

Posted by Andy
Von Hayes got a raw deal.

He came up with so-so Indians teams that basically did very little.

Then he got traded in an infamous deal that earned him the derogatory nickname "Five for One", as he was the one player the Phillies received from the Indians in exchange for Julio Franco, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller, and Jerry Willard.

The Phillies went to the World Series in Hayes' first year with the team but he barely played that post-season. In the following years, the Phillies were a .500-ish team before finally going in the tank in 1988.

During those mid-to-late 80s Phillies teams, most folks gave a little attention to Mike Schmidt and not any to anybody else on the team.

But Von Hayes was actually a pretty damn good player who never got his due.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #6 Mario Soto

Posted by Andy
Before I talk about Mario Soto specifically, I want to talk about the card featured in this post, 1983 Topps #351 Reds Team Leaders.

I could not pass up this Soto card because it includes Cesar Cedeno, himself one of the most underrated players of the last several decades.

Cedeno joined the Reds in 1982 and had a team-best batting average. That's not saying all that much as his team lost 101 games. Cedeno played all of 1983 and 1984 with the Reds, who were again well sub-.500 each season. This is part of the reason why both Cedeno and Soto are underrated, playing for a lousy team that had fallen far from its recent success (see upcoming #5 on this countdown for another good example of this.)

Anyway, on to Mario Soto specifically:

WAAS: Wins Above All-Star Level

Posted by John Autin
(Errors in the HOF list in an earlier version of this post have been corrected.)

In two recent columns (insider), ESPN's Peter Keating proposes evaluating HOF candidates with a WAR-based stat he calls Wins Above All-Star level, or WAAS. In a nutshell:
  • Season WAAS = WAR minus 2.5, except that...
  • Season WAAS cannot be less than 0.
  • Career WAAS = sum of season WAAS.
  • Threshold for HOF consideration is about 20 WAAS.

High Heat News

Posted by Andy
A few newsy items:

  1. The winner of the book about the Mets was @2r2d. Congrats! I will DM you on Twitter to arrange delivery.
  2. This blog is going to pass a quarter-million page views sometime tomorrow. That's pretty damn good for a blog that's less than 3 months old.
  3. At last, I have begun the process of officially migrating to HighHeatStats.com. It will be a few weeks yet, but once we're over there, the comment system will be much more open and flexible, and we'll have much better ability to customize all aspects of the blog.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #7 Mark Eichhorn

Posted by Andy
I love Mark Eichhorn so much that last year, I wrote a post at B-R.com entitled "I love Mark Eichhorn."

It turns out that this top-10 list is a little Blue Jays-heavy, since this is already our second guy from Toronto just 4 players in.

Anyway, if you go read that post I wrote, you'll see that the crux of my argument about Eichhorn is that he was an amazing middle reliever, probably one of the top 5 from the last 30 years. Since he was never a full-time closer, he simply wasn't on the radar of a lot of people.

But since this post is specifically about the 1980s, let's take a quick look at what he did in that decade.


The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #8 Gary Redus

Posted by Andy
Gary Redus was a speedster who batted primarily leadoff during his career. Despite appearing in 13 different seasons, he topped 100 games played only 5 times. He was an average defender but was able to play all 3 outfield positions. In the 1980s, he stole 279 bases at a 81% success rate.

So, what was the deal? Why did a player with such good skills not get more playing time?








Congratulations to Barry Larkin!

Posted by Andy
Congratulations to Barry Larkin for making the Hall of Fame. It's also looking good within 2 years for Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell. Lee Smith, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell all went up as well. The most intriguing newcomer, Bernie Williams, got just 9.6% of the vote, and all other newcomers didn't receive enough votes to appear on the ballot a second time.

The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #9 Jim Clancy

Posted by Andy
Jim Clancy doesn't get a lot of positive press. On the old Baseball-Reference blog, he was mentioned for things like having the most losses of the 1980s or a terrible start where he allowed allowed 7 runs without retiring a batter.

But remember that a pitcher who started enough games to garner the most losses in a decade must have been pretty good.

And, in fact, he was.






The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s: #10 Dwight Evans

Posted by Andy
Dwight Evans is the biggest star on our countdown. On the one hand, it seems like he couldn't be under-appreciated--he was a 3-time All-Star, got MVP votes in 5 different seasons, and topped 10% of the vote for the Hall of Fame in one of his years of eligibility.

But here's the deal about Evans--he had megastar talent and performance and never got credit for it.









The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s

Posted by Andy
This week we will be featuring our take on the 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1980s. Some were well-known stars and others were more obscure, but in our opinion they were never regarded as highly as they should have been.

We'll have 2 posts per day counting down these 10 players. First up is #10 in a few minutes.

The posts are all under my name but I got help from JA and Raphy in generating this list.

Big Winners That Were Outscored

Posted by Raphy
This past season,  the San Francisco Giants won 86 games despite being outscored 578-570 by their opponents. In doing so, the Giants became the 17th team since 1901 to post a winning percentage of at least .530 despite being outscored. Here are the leading teams courtesy of the Baseball-Reference.com Situational Reports Tool:


RkTmYearGWLW-L%RSRApythW-L%
1BAL198110559460.5624294370.492
2PIT193215486680.5587017110.494
3NYM198416290720.5566526760.483
4ARI200716290720.5567127320.487
5SFG199716290720.5567847930.495
6PHA194815484700.5457297350.496
7SEA200716288740.5437948130.489
8STL191715482700.5395315670.47
9SFG198216287750.5376736870.491
10SLB192515482710.5369009060.497
11HOU200816186750.5347127430.481
12CLE192915281710.5337177360.488
13NYM197215683730.5325285780.459
14CHW194315582720.5325735940.484
15HOU198916286760.5316476690.485
16SFG201116286760.5315705780.494
17BOS200616286760.5318208250.497

(And yes, this post was inspired by a couple of football teams.)

Jorge Posada: One Team Catcher

Posted by Raphy
The reports of Jorge Posada's impending retirement, indicate that he will finish his career as a one team player. Among catchers, Posada finishes with the second most games played (total, not just at catcher) among single-franchise players. The leader, of course, is Johnny Bench.

Here are the top twenty players, with the understanding that active players can still drop off:

Highest and lowest rates of swinging strikes

Posted by Andy
I've been digging in to Fangraph's site, having never looked at it in detail before. Boy, they have a lot of great stuff there. Here's a really simple one I pulled up.

Retweet this for a chance to win "The Worst Team Money Could Buy"

Posted by Andy
Win my copy of the 2005 paperback printing of "The Worst Team Money Could Buy" by Bob Klapisch and John Harper. Originally published in 1993, the book is in inside account of all the crazy stuff that went on with the 1992 Mets, including Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, Willie Randolph, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, John Franco, and many others.

It's a great book but I need to make a little room on my shelf!

Anybody who retweets the link to this post by noon eastern on Monday 1/9 will be entered in a random drawing and on lucky person will win the book.

Issuing more IBBs than regular walks

Posted by John Autin
Andy gave you the batter-seasons with more intentional walks than unintentional ones. Here's the pitchers' side of the coin (min. 60 IP).

It's a happy accident that one of my favorites -- the greatest control pitcher of all time, in my opinion -- bookends the list, which is in order of IP. But don't miss Gene Garber's entry: 24 IBBs in 76 IP? Yowza!

Random Game: Six Wild Pitches

Posted by John Autin
On April 10, 1979, J.R. Richard set a record for the live-ball era with 6 wild pitches, but went the distance and won, 2-1. Richard struck out 13 Dodgers, 9 of them with a runner in scoring position, and held them to 2 for 16 with RISP.

More intentional walks than unintentional walks

Posted by Andy
Tony Pena & Joe Girardi: two guys who had seasons with more IBB than non-IBB
Icon SMI
It's not uncommon for the 8th-place batter in a National League lineup to get more than few intentional walks, thanks to batting ahead of the pitcher. Tony Pena and Joe Girardi each had a season like this. But there's more than one way to rack up more IBB than regular walks, as we'll see.

Dave Duncan resigns from Cardinals

Posted by Andy
Dave Duncan has resigned from his position as pitching coach with the Cardinals. That link mentions that he is the longest-tenured such coach in major-league history, having held that position with a team since 1982.

I can't even imagine how many pitchers he has helped improve over the years. Who do you think he helped the most? Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley spring to mind.

Cubs deal Zambrano to the Marlins

Posted by John Autin
ESPN is reporting that Carlos Zambrano has been traded to Miami for Chris Volstad. The Cubs will also pay $15 million of the $18 million owed to Zambrano for 2012.

Hit or sit: guys who rarely do anything other than get a hit or make an out

Posted by Andy
"What?? Why should I bother walkin'
if sooner or later, the ball's gonna go right
through the first baseman's legs?"
- totally
fabricated quote from Mookie Wilson
Icon SMI
Most baseball fans have learned by now that a player's batting average is only part of the story. A good player needs to get on base by hit fairly often, but also needs to get on base by other methods. He can also help his team in other ways that don't show up as at bats.

The most common plate appearances that don't count as at bats are walks, hits-by-pitch, sacrifice bunts, and sacrifice flies.

In 2011, there were 7 players to qualify for the batting title with at least 20% more plate appearances than at bats (Joey Votto, Jose Bautista, Lance Berkman, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, and Nick Swisher.) All of these guys had a lot of walks as well as a bunch of HBP and SF.

But occasionally we see a player who does very little of any of these things. Here are the players since 1901 who qualified for the batting title while accumulating no more than 4% more plate appearances than at bats:

Does the Coco Crisp contract make sense?

Posted by Andy
Oakland's fascinating off-season continued with a reported two-year, $14 million contract for Coco Crisp. My gut reaction is that this was a terrible signing, but let's look at it a bit.

Coco Crisp / Icon SMI

Baseball Shenanagrams #1: Pitchers with the lowest ERA+ in the last 30 years

Posted by Andy
In 2008, Nate Robertson made no batter snore
Icon SMI
Here are the worst ERA+ values garnered in the last 30 years by pitchers good enough to qualify for the ERA title. As a little twist, I have substituted in anagrams for each guy's name:

The worst .300 hitter in history

Posted by Andy
Bobby Abreu posted a fantastic
"exactly .300" season in 2003
Icon SMI
Since 1901, there have been 179 times that a player qualified for the batting title while hitting exactly .300 on the season. Some of these were fantastic seasons--for example, in 2002, Alex Rodriguez batted .300 while leading the league with 57 homers and 142 RBI.

Other seasons, though, were not so special...

Don Mueller, 1927-2011

Posted by John Autin

Don Mueller, a 12-year MLB veteran who led the majors with 212 hits in 1954, passed away on December 28.

Mueller, a right fielder, was a two-time All-Star and the runner-up to Willie Mays in the 1954 NL batting race. But he is most often remembered for his role in the final game of the 1951 NL playoff. With the Giants down 4-1 in the 9th, Mueller's single off Don Newcombe brought the tying run to the plate. He reached 3rd on Whitey Lockman's double, but broke his ankle sliding into the bag and was carried off the field. Bobby Thomson then followed with his famous shot off Ralph Branca to win the pennant for the Giants.

Of the 24 players who appeared in that game, only six are still living: Monte Irvin (age 92), Andy Pafko (90), Alvin Dark (89), Don Newcombe (85), Ralph Branca (85) and Willie Mays (80). The number has been halved in the past three years by the passing of Mueller and Duke Snider in 2011, Bobby Thomson and Clint Hartung in 2010, and Whitey Lockman and Larry Jansen in '09.

Memories of 1998 & Roger Maris

Posted by Andy
Roger Maris / Icon SMI
Two star players broke a 3-decade old record that many thought was unbreakable, but I'm not talking about Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, who broke Roger Maris' 1961 record for home runs in a season.

20-12 Pitchers

Posted by Raphy
Its happened only twice since 1981, but 39 pitchers have posted a 20-12 record in a season. Here they are sorted by WAR:

2012

Posted by Andy
Welcome 2012!

Here are some career totals equaling 2012.