Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
Sunday, July 27, 2003
 
Let's Be Frank About The Big Hurt

After the Ken Griffey Jr. article last weekend, I received an email suggesting that the Hall of Fame case for Frank Thomas will be much more interesting and difficult than that for Griffey. This response, combined with Thomas and Jeff Bagwell reaching the 400 home run milestone this month and Eddie Murray's induction in the Hall of Fame today, motivated me to run a series of similar stats with an even more comprehensive analysis including not only The Big Hurt's standing among first basemen but also among all players.

Frank Thomas

A comparison of Frank vs. his peers at first base follows:

RATE STATS

ON BASE PERCENTAGE               OBP    

1 Lou Gehrig .447
2 Frank Thomas .432
3 Jimmie Foxx .428
4 Jim Thome .414
5 Jeff Bagwell .414
6 Hank Greenberg .412
7 John Olerud .404
8 Lu Blue .402
9 Johnny Mize .397
10 Mike Hargrove .396

Frank Thomas. Number two all time. Behind only Lou Gehrig. Enough said.

Lu Blue, you ask? No, that is not a typo. Blue really does rank eighth in OBP. He played most of his career with the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns and was a 1920s version of Mike Hargrove--a singles hitting first baseman with a good batting eye. Blue hit .300 in four of his first five years and had over 100 walks four times, including seasons with 126 and 127. According to Bill James in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Blue is the #1 "percentage" 1B in history and the seventh best overall (at least among those players for whom complete data is available). The four indicators are fielding percentage compared to period and position norms; stolen base percentage; strikeout to walk ratio; and walk frequency in absolute terms.


OBP                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Frank Thomas .092 .432 .340
2 Lou Gehrig .086 .447 .361
3 Jeff Bagwell .075 .414 .339
4 Jim Thome .073 .414 .342
5 Jimmie Foxx .070 .428 .358
6 Mike Hargrove .069 .396 .327
7 John Olerud .065 .404 .339
8 Mark McGwire .058 .394 .336
9 Hank Greenberg .056 .412 .356
10 Johnny Mize .055 .397 .342

Number one. Ahead of Gehrig and everyone else.


SLUGGING AVERAGE                 SLG    

1 Lou Gehrig .632
2 Jimmie Foxx .609
3 Hank Greenberg .605
4 Mark McGwire .588
5 Frank Thomas .568
6 Jim Thome .567
7 Johnny Mize .562
8 Jeff Bagwell .551
9 Dick Allen .534
10 Mo Vaughn .526

Number five behind four of the greatest first basemen of all time. Let's see, #2 in OBP and #5 SLG. Is our appreciation starting to grow yet?


SLG                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig .213 .632 .419
2 Hank Greenberg .193 .605 .412
3 Jimmie Foxx .192 .609 .417
4 Mark McGwire .174 .588 .414
5 Johnny Mize .171 .562 .391
6 Dick Allen .152 .534 .382
7 Frank Thomas .145 .568 .423
8 Jim Thome .136 .567 .431
9 Jeff Bagwell .130 .551 .421
10 Willie McCovey .125 .515 .390


ON BASE PLUS SLUGGING           OPS    

1 Lou Gehrig 1.080
2 Jimmie Foxx 1.038
3 Hank Greenberg 1.017
4 Frank Thomas 1.000
5 Mark McGwire .982
6 Jim Thome .982
7 Jeff Bagwell .965
8 Johnny Mize .959
9 Dick Allen .912
10 Mo Vaughn .910

The bottom two players will surely be replaced by the current crop of first basemen (i.e., Carlos Delgado, Todd Helton, and Jason Giambi) once they qualify.


OPS                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig .299 1.080 .780
2 Jimmie Foxx .263 1.038 .775
3 Hank Greenberg .249 1.017 .768
4 Frank Thomas .238 1.000 .762
5 Mark McGwire .232 .982 .751
6 Johnny Mize .225 .959 .734
7 Jim Thome .209 .982 .773
8 Dick Allen .205 .912 .707
9 Jeff Bagwell .205 .965 .760
10 Willie McCovey .171 .889 .718

Number four and in pretty good company. Dick Allen is the only eligible player on the list not in the HOF.


TOTAL AVERAGE                   TA     

1 Lou Gehrig 1.228
2 Jimmie Foxx 1.143
3 Hank Greenberg 1.105
4 Frank Thomas 1.100
5 Jim Thome 1.079
6 Mark McGwire 1.068
7 Jeff Bagwell 1.045
8 Johnny Mize 1.005
9 Dick Allen .930
10 Dolph Camilli .928

Interestingly, Bagwell, who has been referred to as Thomas' twin (same birthdate, virtually the same career stats, MVPs the same year, etc.) has been basically two or three places behind Thomas in every category. See Aaron Gleeman's and Ben Jacobs' outstanding articles on the Bagwell-Thomas similarities.


TOTAL AVERAGE                   DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig .486 1.228 .742
2 Jimmie Foxx .411 1.143 .733
3 Frank Thomas .387 1.100 .713
4 Hank Greenberg .382 1.105 .723
5 Mark McGwire .370 1.068 .698
6 Jim Thome .351 1.079 .728
7 Jeff Bagwell .332 1.045 .713
8 Johnny Mize .330 1.005 .675
9 Dick Allen .298 .930 .632
10 Dolph Camilli .267 .928 .661

Has anyone noticed Jim Thome's name on all eight rate lists thus far? An objective evaluation would suggest that Thome has the potential of being regarded as one of the top ten first sackers of all time.



COUNTING STATS

TOTAL BASES                     TB     

1 Eddie Murray 5397
2 Lou Gehrig 5059
3 Jimmie Foxx 4956
4 Rafael Palmeiro 4698
5 Tony Perez 4532
6 Fred McGriff 4309
7 Willie McCovey 4219
8 Harmon Killebrew 4143
9 Orlando Cepeda 3959
10 Steve Garvey 3941
22 Frank Thomas 3445

At a conservative rate of 250-300 TB per year, Big Frank should be in ninth place by the end of 2004 with the potential of reaching the top five before he is through.


TOTAL BASES                     DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig 1959 5059 3100
2 Jimmie Foxx 1770 4956 3186
3 Johnny Mize 1295 3621 2326
4 Rafael Palmeiro 1132 4698 3566
5 Hank Greenberg 1114 3142 2028
6 Willie McCovey 1112 4219 3107
7 Mark McGwire 1102 3639 2537
8 Dick Allen 1068 3379 2311
9 Frank Thomas 1030 3445 2415
10 Harmon Killebrew 1017 4143 3126

Thomas should move past Allen, McGwire, Willie McCovey, and Hank Greenberg in TB vs. the league, perhaps by the end of this year.


RUNS CREATED                    RC     

1 Lou Gehrig 2367
2 Jimmie Foxx 2225
3 Eddie Murray 1919
4 Rafael Palmeiro 1771
5 Fred McGriff 1633
6 Willie McCovey 1615
7 Harmon Killebrew 1583
8 Frank Thomas 1540
9 Jeff Bagwell 1536
10 Johnny Mize 1515

Once again, Thomas may reach the top five in RC by the end of this year.


RUNS CREATED                    DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig 1181 2367 1186
2 Jimmie Foxx 1015 2225 1210
3 Frank Thomas 709 1540 831
4 Johnny Mize 683 1515 832
5 Mark McGwire 638 1504 866
6 Jeff Bagwell 622 1536 914
7 Willie McCovey 587 1615 1028
8 Hank Greenberg 580 1346 766
9 Rafael Palmeiro 553 1771 1218
10 Harmon Killebrew 550 1583 1033

Number three all time among first basemen. What's not to like?


RUNS CREATED/GAME              RC/G    

1 Lou Gehrig 11.21
2 Jimmie Foxx 10.25
3 Hank Greenberg 9.65
4 Frank Thomas 9.32
5 Johnny Mize 8.98
6 Jim Thome 8.92
7 Jeff Bagwell 8.47
8 Mark McGwire 8.47
9 Bill Terry 7.65
10 Dolph Camilli 7.54

Number four and solidly ahead of his closest challengers.


RUNS CREATED/GAME               DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig 5.59 11.21 5.62
2 Jimmie Foxx 4.66 10.25 5.58
3 Frank Thomas 4.29 9.32 5.03
4 Hank Greenberg 4.15 9.65 5.50
5 Johnny Mize 4.05 8.98 4.93
6 Jim Thome 3.72 8.92 5.20
7 Mark McGwire 3.57 8.47 4.90
8 Jeff Bagwell 3.42 8.47 5.05
9 Dick Allen 2.93 7.20 4.27
10 Dolph Camilli 2.68 7.54 4.86

Whether measured in absolute or relative terms, Thomas is near the top in most categories. Gehrig and Foxx seem to be the only two 1B generally ahead of The Big Hurt in the important rate and counting stats.



ADDITIONAL STATS

HOMERUNS                        HR     

1 Mark McGwire 583
2 Harmon Killebrew 573
3 Jimmie Foxx 534
4 Willie McCovey 521
5 Eddie Murray 504
6 Lou Gehrig 493
7 Rafael Palmeiro 490
8 Fred McGriff 478
9 Andres Galarraga 386
10 Jeff Bagwell 380
14 Frank Thomas 376

Bagwell and Thomas have already both moved ahead of Andres Galarraga this year. Both have the potential of hitting 500 HR, passing the Iron Horse in the process.


HOMERUNS                        DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Mark McGwire 405 583 178
2 Jimmie Foxx 403 534 131
3 Lou Gehrig 377 493 116
4 Harmon Killebrew 362 573 211
5 Willie McCovey 334 521 187
6 Johnny Mize 252 359 107
7 Fred McGriff 248 478 230
8 Rafael Palmeiro 242 490 248
9 Hank Greenberg 240 331 91
10 Eddie Murray 217 504 287
14 Frank Thomas 203 376 173

RUNS                             R     

1 Lou Gehrig 1888
2 Jimmie Foxx 1751
3 Eddie Murray 1627
4 Rafael Palmeiro 1456
5 Fred McGriff 1310
6 Jeff Bagwell 1293
7 George Sisler 1284
8 Harmon Killebrew 1283
9 Tony Perez 1272
10 Joe Kuhel 1236
16 Frank Thomas 1168

Thomas may never catch Bagwell or Rafael Palmeiro, but he should end up no worse than sixth in career runs scored.


RUNS                            DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig 754 1888 1134
2 Jimmie Foxx 594 1751 1157
3 Jeff Bagwell 423 1293 870
4 Dick Allen 366 1099 733
5 Frank Thomas 352 1168 816
6 Johnny Mize 327 1118 791
7 Hank Greenberg 326 1051 725
8 Mark McGwire 321 1167 846
9 Harmon Killebrew 276 1283 1007
10 Will Clark 274 1186 912

Thomas will pass Allen this year, putting him fourth.


RBI                             RBI    

1 Lou Gehrig 1995
2 Jimmie Foxx 1921
3 Eddie Murray 1917
4 Tony Perez 1652
5 Harmon Killebrew 1584
6 Rafael Palmeiro 1575
7 Willie McCovey 1555
8 Fred McGriff 1503
9 Jim Bottomley 1422
10 Mark McGwire 1414
17 Frank Thomas 1285

Despite ranking 17th before the start of the 2003 season, Thomas should easily move into the top ten in RBI sometime during 2004 and approach McCovey's seventh place standing by the end of 2005.


RBI                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Lou Gehrig 950 1995 1045
2 Jimmie Foxx 849 1921 1072
3 Harmon Killebrew 642 1584 942
4 Willie McCovey 633 1555 922
5 Mark McGwire 615 1414 799
6 Johnny Mize 604 1337 733
7 Hank Greenberg 603 1276 673
8 Tony Perez 558 1652 1094
9 Eddie Murray 555 1917 1362
10 Frank Thomas 512 1285 773

* All statistics are through 2002. The career rate stats are based on a minimum of 5000 PA. Player positions are determined by career totals rather than by individual seasons.

Frank Thomas' Career Stats (through 2003):

YEAR	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

CAREER 1795 6403 1221 1995 417 11 400 1341 1354 1036 32 .312 .430 .568 .998

Thomas' Seasonal Averages (per 162 games played):

Years	G	AB	R	H	2B        3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS

11.08 162 578 110 180 38 1 36 121 122 93 3 .312 .430 .568 .998

Black Ink: Batting - 21 (Average HOFer ~ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting - 180 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 48.5 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 160.0 (Likely HOFer > 100)

Sources: sabermetric baseball encyclopedia, baseball-reference.com, and espn.com

Notes

I excluded Ernie Banks, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, and Pete Rose from these rankings. Banks actually played more games at first base than shortstop, but the irony is that he was a below-average hitter as a 1B and one of the greatest hitting SS ever. Carew played approximately half of his games at first base and half at second base. Relative to his position, Carew was more valuable as a 2B. Musial played more games at first base than left field or right field, but he played nearly twice as many games in the OF (when viewed as a single position) than 1B. Like Musial, Rose played more played games at first base than any other single position but substantially more games in the outfield on a combined basis. Plus, Rose enjoyed some of his best years as an OF (including arguably his two greatest in 1968 and 1969) and spent his declining years as a 1B.

Including or excluding these four players has very little, if any, bearing on Frank Thomas' ranking. Thomas has a higher career OBP, SLG, and OPS than all of them as well as a higher TA. In other words, his rate stats exceed those of these other players across the board. Thomas falls short in some of the counting stats, including times on base, total bases, and runs created, primarily due to a lower number of games played. However, Thomas stands a good chance of passing Carew in RC this year and TB next year, and he is already ahead of Banks in RC and may pass him in TB before he finishes his career. Relative to his league, Thomas surpasses all four in counting stats except Musial. As a result, it would be difficult to argue on behalf of Banks, Carew, or Rose ranking above Thomas even if you included them in the rankings.

Seven-Year Niche

Thomas has been mostly a DH since 1998, perhaps weakening his argument as a 1B. But he enjoyed seven of his eight greatest seasons as a 1B, all in consecutive years from 1991-1997. During that period, Thomas finished in the top four in OBP in the A.L. every year, leading the league four times; top six in SLG every year (including leading the league in 1994); top three in OPS and OPS+ every year (leading the league 4x and 3x, respectively); top four in TOB every year (leading 3x); top eight in TB every year; top seven in RBI every year; and top five in BB every year (including finishing on top four times). For those interested in run producing raw stats, Thomas also had 100 or more runs and RBI every year during this span. Furthermore, Big Frank won back-to-back MVPs in 1993 and 1994, an achievement that not even Barry Bonds has exceeded (at least not as yet).

If anyone thinks Thomas' period of dominance was too brief, consider this:

* Thomas ranks 6th among all players in career OBP
* Thomas ranks 13th among all players in career SLG
* Thomas ranks 9th among all players in career OPS and OPS+

OBP                             OBP    

1 Ted Williams .482
2 Babe Ruth .474
3 Lou Gehrig .447
4 Rogers Hornsby .434
5 Ty Cobb .433
6 Frank Thomas .432
7 Jimmie Foxx .428
8 Barry Bonds .428
9 Tris Speaker .428
10 Eddie Collins .424

Is that a who's who of baseball or what?


SLG                             SLG    

1 Babe Ruth .690
2 Ted Williams .634
3 Lou Gehrig .632
4 Jimmie Foxx .609
5 Hank Greenberg .605
6 Manny Ramirez .599
7 Barry Bonds .595
8 Mark McGwire .588
9 Joe DiMaggio .579
10 Rogers Hornsby .577
11 Mike Piazza .576
12 Larry Walker .574
13 Frank Thomas .568

The above list serves as an introduction to Manny Ramirez' place in baseball history more than anything else. Larry Walker's 12th place ranking in OPS doesn't earn him a spot in the top 50 in OPS+ due to playing the majority of his home games at Coors Field, the most hitter friendly ballpark in major league history. With 5,000 plate appearances, Alex Rodriguez will most likely slide into the 10th position at the conclusion of this year and replace Rogers Hornsby as the only non-OF/1B in the top ten.


OPS                             OPS    

1 Babe Ruth 1.164
2 Ted Williams 1.116
3 Lou Gehrig 1.080
4 Jimmie Foxx 1.038
5 Barry Bonds 1.023
6 Hank Greenberg 1.017
7 Rogers Hornsby 1.010
8 Manny Ramirez 1.010
9 Frank Thomas 1.000
10 Mark McGwire .982

Enjoy the moment, folks. Active players Bonds, Ramirez, and Thomas are three of the most prodigious sluggers in history. Period.


OPS+                             OPS+    

1 Babe Ruth 207
2 Ted Williams 190
3 Lou Gehrig 179
4 Barry Bonds 177
5 Rogers Hornsby 175
6 Mickey Mantle 172
7 Joe Jackson 170
8 Ty Cobb 167
9 Jimmie Foxx 163
Frank Thomas 163
Mark McGwire 163

This list says it all. OPS+ adjusts for era, league, and ballpark. Thomas has been 63% more productive than the average hitter, tying for ninth all time with fellow first basemen Jimmie Foxx and Mark McGwire. Only Gehrig ranks higher among 1B.


Any Further Questions?

If anyone is skeptical of the foregoing because they think Thomas' career is in major decline, check this:

* Thomas ranks in the top ten in the A.L. this year in OBP, SLG, OPS, TA, RC, HR, and BB.

The main reason why the casual fan believes Thomas is no longer one of the best hitters in baseball is because his batting average has fallen from a range of .308-.353 from 1991-1997 to .265-.328 from 1998-2003, including .277 this year. Of importance though is the fact that Thomas' power and ability to get on base via walks is about on par with his career level. To wit, The Big Hurt ranks second in the league this year in isolated power and secondary average. Accordingly, the only real change in his game is the greater number of singles that Thomas had earlier in his career versus the past few years.

Conclusion: It is highly probable that Thomas' rate stats will decline over time. As a result, his career ranking in those categories could slip a few notches between now and his retirement. However, Thomas will offset any slippage in his rate standings with improved counting stats over the course of his career. In any event, I think it could easily be argued that Thomas is one of the top 20 hitters in baseball history. Despite Thomas' shortcomings as a fielder and as a baserunner, if being one of the five best first basemen and 20 greatest hitters ever isn't worthy of Hall of Fame status, then they may as well shut down Cooperstown.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 26, 2003
 
BEATen and Tired

I'm very frustrated right now. Re my Frank Thomas article, I had about 95% of my stats completed and most of the story written when Blogger asked me if I wanted to save or cancel the post. I clicked on the "save" button and then the post vanished in thin air as they say. It wasn't saved at all. Unfortunately, I didn't save it in Word. A story that had taken me literally hours to create disappeared in about a second.

It's late Saturday night. I am going to call it an evening and see if I am up to the task tomorrow.

Good night, Blogger.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

 
The BEAT Marches On...

I am going to feature Frank Thomas this weekend with an analysis similar to the one written last weekend on Ken Griffey Jr. I think many readers will find his place in history surprising.

In the meantime, I recommend you check out Eisenberg Sports and Dave's preliminary findings of a new stat he is developing called Bases Advanced Percentage (BAP).

Dave's definition of BAP = # of bases advanced / # of plate appearances (where bases advanced equals total bases + walks + extra bases gained - base runners lost).

The value of BAP is its ability to include bases not captured in either OBP or SLG (and, therefore, OPS). I am intrigued by it because I have always thought that not all OBP and SLG were created equally. Re OBP, it seems inherently obvious to me that an Ichiro Suzuki walk is worth more than an Edgar Martinez walk because the former can subsequently do more with that base than the latter by stealing a base, taking an extra base on a hit, or simply preventing force outs and double plays. Similarly, an Ichiro infield single is not worth as much as a Martinez single because the former is less likely to advance a runner more than one base whereas the latter's singles are more apt to advance runners from first to third or from second to home.

In other words, BAP may allow us to judge players and teams on a much more comprehensive basis than OBP or SLG alone or even together (i.e., OPS). The beauty of BAP is that it includes all the stats that comprise OBP and SLG as well as those bases unaccounted for in OBP and SLG.

Off the top of my head, it would seem to me that the 2002 version of the Anaheim Angels could be a good example of the merits of BAP. I suspect that the Angels had more than their share of these so-called extra bases advanced than their opponents, which may explain the team's success more than anything else. A study of the Angels season and post-season may prove enlightening.

Please feel free to email Dave or me if you have any questions, comments, or further suggestions re BAP. And be sure to check back later this weekend for a full story on The Big Hurt and his place in baseball history (using OBP, SLG, OPS, and more--all of which are still incredibly useful--rather than BAP).

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2003
 
It's Time to Air a Few Commercials

When I created Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT a few weeks ago, I had no idea if there was even an audience for my articles. To be honest, I wasn't sure how much time I would be able to devote to the research, analysis, and writing. I had no clue about Blogger or blogging. Nonetheless, like Ray Kinsella before me, I decided if I would "write it, they would come". Three weeks later and I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun. I have met and corresponded with a number of great bloggers and readers out there. It has been a very rewarding experience thus far.

Reaching 1,000 visitors the first month wasn't even something I dreamed of doing. However, with the assistance of so many of my newfound blogger friends, I am pleased to report that my blog reached that milestone this past weekend. A special thanks goes to Aaron Gleeman, proprietor of the highly popular and widely read Aaron's Baseball Blog. Aaron gave this blog a great plug last week, and it resulted in a record 174 visitors in a single day. On July 16, Aaron wrote the following:

"And, if my entry today doesn't quench your thirst for baseball writing, I have two new blogs to recommend to you...

The first is "Rich's Weekend Baseball Beat," which was recently started by Rich Lederer, a frequent visitor (and emailer) of Aaron's Baseball Blog. While guys like Yours Truly write blog entries during the week and generally take weekends off, Rich does the opposite on his blog, publishing great, new stuff on weekends. Go check it out, he has a very interesting multi-part series up right now that is definitely worth a read."

Earlier this evening, David Pinto, formerly the lead researcher for ESPN's Baseball Tonight and host of Baseball Tonight Online on ESPN.com, of Baseball Musings, posted a headline Griffey and the Hall of Fame with a link to Ken Griffey: Senior or Junior Status? Within a few hours, David's mention introduced a number of new readers to my blog.

Paul Sporer, whose "on the money" For Rich or Sporer blog was also touted by Aaron Gleeman on the same day, wrote about my article on Todd Helton following the All-Star game last week. Paul has a good feel for the game and what hardcore fans want to read.

Jeremy Heit with a new blog by the same name gave Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT top billing on Tuesday. Like me, Jeremy's blog has been around for about a month. Unlike me, he likes the New York Mets.

Peter White of Mariners Musings yesterday mentioned Baseball BEAT in his Pythagorean Rankings: Week 16 column. If you're interested in a game-by-game accounting of the Seattle Mariners, this is the place to go.

Tim Daloisio, author of Musings From Red Sox Nation (RSN), recommended that his readers check out the Griffey story. This is a top drawer weblog and a must read for Red Sox fans but also worthy of your time even if you're not part of RSN.

Last Wednesday, Bryan Smith of Bryball - Where Opinion Rounds the Bases, paid an extraordinarily nice compliment in his introductory piece. Be sure to check out Bryan's Take on Major League Baseball.

Wil Everts of the highly attractive Baseballtopia, gave me kudos for helping him find a website with win-loss records for the past 20 games for his Team Index Ranking Update. Wil is a web designer, writer, outfielder, and Diamondbacks fan.

John Perricone, well-known in the baseball blogging world and creator of the Only Baseball Matters Triple Crown (earned by leading the league in batting, on base, and slugging averages), has been one of this blog's most faithful supporters with repeated references to my articles, including plugs to The Quad three-part series. John writes extensively on the San Francisco Giants and Barry Bonds. Oh, and did I mention Barry Bonds?

Mike from none other than Mike's Baseball Rants has been a mentor in terms of advice and was nice enough to call attention to my new blog and The Quad articles. Mike does a great job staying abreast of the Joe Morgan chats. Check it out, especially if you would like to get in on the make fun of Joe Morgan bandwagon (which is growing and for good reason).

**No Pepper** was an early supporter of my blog. If you're looking for information on the Atlanta Braves and its farm teams, then No Pepper is the place. Brad, how can I get a "box seat" or a "luxury suite"?

John Bonnes of Twins Geek.com has also been behind me since the outset. Twins fans are fortunate to have two great blogs--Twins Geek and Aaron's Baseball Blog--to read everyday. Both blogs cover baseball in general as well and make for good daily reads for all of us.

David Bloom of the D-Rays Blog has gone to the well on my behalf on more than one occasion, dating back to my first article on Rocco Baldelli and as recently as Monday regarding the Griffey piece. Bloom's blog provides baseball articles, scores, and links to well-known columnists, as well as his own commentary on the sport.

Lastly, Baseball News Blog and Baseball Blogs are two important sources of information for those of us who wish to scan as many articles as possible. Thank you for acting as the depository for all of us bloggers.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Monday, July 21, 2003
 
You've Got Questions, I've Got Answers...

I received the following questions in response to the Ken Griffey Jr. article posted over the weekend.

Q: You ranked Griffey as the sixth best center fielder of all time. How would you rank the top ten?

A: The top ten CF of all time, in my opinion, are as follows:

 1.   Ty Cobb

2. Mickey Mantle
3. Willie Mays
4. Tris Speaker
5. Joe DiMaggio
6. Ken Griffey Jr.
7. Duke Snider
8. Larry Doby
9. Earl Averill
10. Hack Wilson



The top five are in a league of their own. Five of the greatest players ever. Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle were the best offensively. Tris Speaker and Willie Mays were the best defensively. Griffey and Duke Snider are comparable players, falling short of The Big Five but well ahead of the rest of the pack. Like Speaker before them, Larry Doby and Earl Averill played the majority of their careers in Cleveland, giving the Indians three of the top nine CF of all time.

Most Likely to Crash the Party: Bernie Williams and/or Jim Edmonds
Least Appreciated: Jimmy Wynn
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Pete Reiser


Q: What do you think will happen to Griffey's ranking if he returns to play next season as currently expected?

A: Griffey has already established his level of greatness. Retiring now or down the road is not apt to affect his overall ranking one way or the other. By continuing to play, Griffey would obviously pad his counting stats, but his rate stats would almost surely deteriorate. The gains from the quantitative side of the ledger would be offset by losses on the qualitative side. In my judgment, Griffey is much closer to the player immediately beneath him (Duke Snider) than the one above him (Joe DiMaggio). As a result, it is more likely than not that any change in his ranking would be downward rather than upward.


Q: You focused on career numbers. How does Griffey show up based on "peak" value?

A: At most, Griffey might slip one or two notches based on peak value. Hack Wilson, who had a much shorter career than Griffey, had a fantastic five-year stretch from 1926-1930 in which he led the N.L. in HR four times and set the all-time single-season RBI record of 191. Griffey had a similar run, leading the A.L. in HR four out of six years. However, Wilson would get the nod over Griffey based on superior OPS+ numbers (five consecutive years over 150 with a high of 178 vs. two for Junior and a high of 172). Wilson's overall ranking is diminished by his poor defensive performance as well as playing only eight seasons with 100 or more games in the field. Duke Snider is at least on par with Griffey in terms of peak value--if not slightly ahead--having four straight seasons with an OPS+ of 150 or greater with his high being 172 as well. Like Griffey, Snider's career went into steady decline at the age of 30, most likely due to not adjusting to the Los Angeles Coliseum's unusual dimensions after having excelled at cozy Ebbets Field his entire career.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 19, 2003
 
Ken Griffey: Senior or Junior Status?

News Item: Ken Griffey Jr. ruptured a tendon in his right ankle Thursday and had surgery to replace the tendon on Friday. Griffey will miss the rest of the season and is also expected to have surgery on his right shoulder in a few weeks.

Question: Does Griffey possess Hall of Fame credentials in the event that he were to retire and never play another game?



To answer that question, I have compiled the following lists to determine Griffey's career rankings among modern-day (1900-on) center fielders.

RATE STATS

ON BASE PERCENTAGE               OBP    

1 Ty Cobb .433
2 Tris Speaker .428
3 Mickey Mantle .421
4 Roy Thomas .408
5 Joe DiMaggio .398
6 Earle Combs .397
7 Richie Ashburn .396
8 Hack Wilson .395
9 Earl Averill .395
10 Bernie Williams .392
16 Ken Griffey Jr. .379

OBP                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb .093 .433 .340
2 Mickey Mantle .087 .421 .333
3 Tris Speaker .084 .428 .344
4 Roy Thomas .082 .408 .326
5 Richie Ashburn .058 .396 .339
6 Willie Mays .054 .384 .330
7 Bernie Williams .051 .392 .341
8 Brett Butler .047 .377 .330
9 Hack Wilson .044 .395 .351
10 Lenny Dykstra .044 .375 .331
14 Ken Griffey Jr. .040 .379 .339

SLUGGING AVERAGE                SLG    

1 Joe DiMaggio .579
2 Ken Griffey Jr. .562
3 Willie Mays .557
4 Mickey Mantle .557
5 Hack Wilson .545
6 Duke Snider .540
7 Earl Averill .533
8 Wally Berger .522
9 Ellis Burks .514
10 Ty Cobb .512

SLG                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Joe DiMaggio .171 .579 .407
2 Mickey Mantle .165 .557 .392
3 Willie Mays .156 .557 .401
4 Ty Cobb .148 .512 .364
5 Ken Griffey Jr. .143 .562 .419
6 Tris Speaker .131 .500 .370
7 Hack Wilson .129 .545 .415
8 Duke Snider .129 .540 .411
9 Wally Berger .114 .522 .407
10 Earl Averill .111 .533 .422

ON BASE PLUS SLUGGING            OPS    

1 Mickey Mantle .977
2 Joe DiMaggio .977
3 Ty Cobb .945
4 Willie Mays .941
5 Ken Griffey Jr. .940
6 Hack Wilson .940
7 Tris Speaker .928
8 Earl Averill .928
9 Duke Snider .919
10 Bernie Williams .890

OPS                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Mickey Mantle .252 .977 .725
2 Ty Cobb .242 .945 .704
3 Tris Speaker .215 .928 .714
4 Joe DiMaggio .213 .977 .764
5 Willie Mays .210 .941 .731
6 Ken Griffey Jr. .182 .940 .758
7 Hack Wilson .174 .940 .766
8 Duke Snider .171 .919 .749
9 Earl Averill .145 .928 .782
10 Larry Doby .132 .876 .744

ADJUSTED OPS                    OPS+

1 Mickey Mantle 172
2 Ty Cobb 167
3 Tris Speaker 158
4 Willie Mays 156
5 Joe DiMaggio 155
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 144
7 Hack Wilson 144
8 Duke Snider 140
9 Wally Berger 138
10 Larry Doby 136

TOTAL AVERAGE                   TA     

1 Mickey Mantle 1.091
2 Ty Cobb 1.057
3 Joe DiMaggio 1.012
4 Tris Speaker 1.012
5 Hack Wilson 1.005
6 Willie Mays .982
7 Ken Griffey Jr. .980
8 Earl Averill .956
9 Duke Snider .931
10 Larry Doby .893

TOTAL AVERAGE                   DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Mickey Mantle .431 1.091 .661
2 Ty Cobb .393 1.057 .664
3 Tris Speaker .338 1.012 .673
4 Willie Mays .319 .982 .663
5 Joe DiMaggio .299 1.012 .713
6 Hack Wilson .278 1.005 .727
7 Ken Griffey Jr. .273 .980 .708
8 Duke Snider .243 .931 .688
9 Earl Averill .211 .956 .746
10 Larry Doby .209 .893 .684

COUNTING STATS

TIMES ON BASE                   TOB     

1 Ty Cobb 5532
2 Tris Speaker 4998
3 Willie Mays 4790
4 Mickey Mantle 4161
5 Richie Ashburn 3815
6 Max Carey 3782
7 Brett Butler 3542
8 Vada Pinson 3385
9 Al Oliver 3360
10 Doc Cramer 3317
15 Ken Griffey Jr. 3015

TOB                             DIFF    PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb 1777 5532 3755
2 Tris Speaker 1493 4998 3505
3 Mickey Mantle 1366 4161 2795
4 Willie Mays 1022 4790 3768
5 Richie Ashburn 850 3815 2965
6 Roy Thomas 695 2535 1840
7 Brett Butler 585 3542 2957
8 Joe DiMaggio 547 3050 2503
9 Bernie Williams 527 2691 2164
10 Duke Snider 519 3108 2589
11 Ken Griffey Jr. 512 3015 2503

TOTAL BASES                     TB     

1 Willie Mays 6066
2 Ty Cobb 5857
3 Tris Speaker 5101
4 Mickey Mantle 4511
5 Vada Pinson 4264
6 Al Oliver 4083
7 Joe DiMaggio 3948
8 Ken Griffey Jr. 3883
9 Duke Snider 3865
10 Willie Davis 3778

TOTAL BASES                     DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb 2201 5857 3656
2 Willie Mays 1939 6066 4127
3 Tris Speaker 1692 5101 3409
4 Mickey Mantle 1576 4511 2935
5 Joe DiMaggio 1399 3948 2549
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 1122 3883 2761
7 Duke Snider 1030 3865 2835
8 Earl Averill 848 3391 2543
9 Ellis Burks 798 3599 2801
10 Al Oliver 755 4083 3328

RUNS CREATED                    RC     

1 Ty Cobb 2757
2 Willie Mays 2355
3 Tris Speaker 2353
4 Mickey Mantle 2042
5 Joe DiMaggio 1622
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 1487
7 Duke Snider 1476
8 Max Carey 1435
9 Earl Averill 1393
10 Vada Pinson 1388

RUNS CREATED                    DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb 1381 2757 1376
2 Tris Speaker 1069 2353 1284
3 Mickey Mantle 1046 2042 996
4 Willie Mays 982 2355 1373
5 Joe DiMaggio 661 1622 961
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 538 1487 949
7 Duke Snider 500 1476 976
8 Earl Averill 418 1393 975
9 Hack Wilson 355 1050 695
10 Ellis Burks 352 1305 953

RUNS CREATED/GAME              RC/G    

1 Mickey Mantle 9.35
2 Ty Cobb 9.25
3 Joe DiMaggio 9.11
4 Tris Speaker 8.59
5 Earl Averill 8.15
6 Hack Wilson 8.02
7 Willie Mays 7.89
8 Ken Griffey Jr. 7.80
9 Duke Snider 7.45
10 Bernie Williams 7.15

RUNS CREATED/GAME               DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Mickey Mantle 4.78 9.35 4.57
2 Ty Cobb 4.65 9.25 4.60
3 Tris Speaker 3.90 8.59 4.69
4 Joe DiMaggio 3.72 9.11 5.39
5 Willie Mays 3.29 7.89 4.60
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 2.82 7.80 4.98
7 Hack Wilson 2.70 8.02 5.32
8 Duke Snider 2.52 7.45 4.93
9 Earl Averill 2.44 8.15 5.71
10 Larry Doby 2.21 7.14 4.93

ADDITIONAL STATS

HOMERUNS                        HR     

1 Willie Mays 660
2 Mickey Mantle 536
3 Ken Griffey Jr. 468
4 Duke Snider 407
5 Dale Murphy 398
6 Joe DiMaggio 361
7 Ellis Burks 345
8 Fred Lynn 306
9 Jimmy Wynn 291
10 Eric Davis 282

HOMERUNS                        DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Willie Mays 390 660 270
2 Mickey Mantle 346 536 190
3 Ken Griffey Jr. 272 468 196
4 Joe DiMaggio 240 361 121
5 Dale Murphy 223 398 175
6 Duke Snider 218 407 189
7 Cy Williams 187 251 64
8 Hack Wilson 175 244 69
9 Wally Berger 164 242 78
10 Ellis Burks 150 345 195

RUNS                             R     

1 Ty Cobb 2245
2 Willie Mays 2062
3 Tris Speaker 1882
4 Mickey Mantle 1677
5 Max Carey 1545
6 Joe DiMaggio 1390
7 Vada Pinson 1366
8 Brett Butler 1359
9 Doc Cramer 1357
10 Richie Ashburn 1322
13 Ken Griffey Jr. 1237

RUNS                            DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb 928 2245 1317
2 Willie Mays 743 2062 1319
3 Mickey Mantle 712 1677 965
4 Tris Speaker 651 1882 1231
5 Joe DiMaggio 477 1390 913
6 Earle Combs 373 1186 813
7 Tommy Leach 343 1280 937
8 Duke Snider 333 1259 926
9 Kenny Lofton 318 1148 830
10 Max Carey 315 1545 1230
T11 Ken Griffey Jr. 310 1237 927
T11 Brett Butler 310 1359 1049

RUNS BATTED IN                  RBI    

1 Ty Cobb 1933
2 Willie Mays 1903
T3 Tris Speaker 1537
T3 Joe DiMaggio 1537
5 Mickey Mantle 1509
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 1358
7 Duke Snider 1333
8 Al Oliver 1326
9 Dale Murphy 1266
10 Ellis Burks 1177

RBI                             DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE   

1 Ty Cobb 810 1933 1123
2 Joe DiMaggio 686 1537 851
3 Willie Mays 671 1903 1232
4 Mickey Mantle 604 1509 905
5 Tris Speaker 484 1537 1053
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 481 1358 877
7 Duke Snider 465 1333 868
8 Hack Wilson 453 1063 610
9 Dale Murphy 348 1266 918
10 Al Oliver 317 1326 1009

* All statistics are through 2002. The career rate stats are based on a minimum of 5000 PA. Player positions are determined by career totals rather than by individual seasons.

Ken Griffey's Career Stats (through 2003):

YEAR	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	AVG	OBP	SLG	OPS

CAREER 1914 7079 1271 2080 382 36 481 1384 940 1256 177 .294 .379 .562 .941

Griffey's Seasonal Averages (per 162 games played):

Years	 G	 AB	 R	 H	 2B	 3B	 HR	 RBI	 BB	 SO	 SB	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	OPS

11.81 162 599 108 176 32 3 41 117 80 106 15 .294 .379 .562 .941

Honors
MVP 1997
Gold Glove (10x): 1990-1999
All-Star (11x): 1990-2000
1992 All-Star Game MVP
1990s Player of the Decade
All Century Team

Post-Season
1995 ALDS, 1995 ALCS, 1997 ALDS
Griffey tied a post-season series record with five HR in the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees. Also hit .391 with nine runs and seven RBI.

Black Ink: Batting 26 (Average HOFer ~ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting 153 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting 49.3 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting 192.0 (Likely HOFer > 100)

Sources: sabermetric baseball encyclopedia, baseball-reference.com, and espn.com

An evaluation of Griffey (or any player) would not be complete without reviewing fielding and baserunning. By most measures, Griffey was at least an average--if not a plus--fielder and baserunner. Like most ballplayers, Griffey's defensive and baserunning performance improved through his early years before deteriorating slightly with age. Junior's defense and baserunning were generally stronger during his Seattle years and were weaker during his Cincinnati years. As noted above, Griffey won 10 Gold Gloves, perhaps due to his penchant for making spectacular catches as well as the possibility that his reputation may have preceded his actual performance. His fielding percentage as a center fielder was .985 vs. the league average for CF of .987. His range factor was 2.55 vs. the league average of 2.43. Baseball Prospectus rates Griffey's career defensive value at 99, meaning he was one run below average per 100 games. Griffey's highest defensive rating was 108 in 1995 and his lowest was 91 in 2002. Griffey had excellent speed, particularly early in his career before injuries took their toll. He stole 177 bases and was caught 66 times for a success rate of 73%, which is five percentage points above the league average and one percentage point above his position average.

Miscellaneous Information

Born on the same day (November 21) and in the same town (Donora, PA) as Stan Musial. The most similar player appears to be Duke Snider. Griffey was the first pick in the June 1987 draft. Junior collected 398 HR before the age of 30 and was the youngest player to reach 400. Ninth unanimous MVP in A.L. history. Belted 40 or more HR in seven out of eight seasons from 1993-2000 (with the only miss in 1995, a year he hit 17 homers in only 72 games). Four-year run of 209 HR and 567 RBI (equal to 52 HR and 142 RBI per year), including back-to-back seasons of 56 in 1997 and 1998. Hit A.L.-high 40 roundtrippers in just 111 games during the strike-shortened 1994 season, on pace for a 162-game total of 58.

Conclusion: Based on statistical comparisons, I believe Ken Griffey, Jr. is the sixth best center fielder of all time and is clearly worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame even if he were to retire now and never play another game. There is a huge gap between Griffey and The Big Five (in alphabetical order, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Tris Speaker), but he ranks higher than Snider (who I would rate #7) by almost every statistical measure and is unmistakably superior to the rest of the center fielders in baseball history.


Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
 
Todd Helton: Why Don't We Do It (on) the Road?

"Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us.
Why don't we do it in the road?"


--John Lennon/Paul McCartney
The Beatles (The White Album)


Watching the All-Star game on Tuesday night, I heard Fox play-by-play announcer Joe Buck make the following comment about Todd Helton during his first at bat:

"He does it at home. He does it on the road."



For the record, a check of Helton's home/road splits this year suggests otherwise:
Overall	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG	OPS

Home 195 57 77 19 3 16 52 31 .395 .478 .769 1.247
Road 163 30 48 13 1 5 26 30 .294 .399 .479 .878

Lest someone thinks 2003 is too small of a sample, here are Helton's home/road splits for 2000-2003:
Overall	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG	OPS

Home 962 269 372 91 9 77 253 167 .387 .477 .740 1.218
Road 894 144 257 66 5 44 158 152 .287 .391 .520 .911

Sorry Joe, but Helton is a substantially superior hitter at home than on the road. In fact, Todd Helton is better than Babe Ruth when he plays at home and is Mo Vaughn when he plays on the road.


Helton's home stats:
	AVG	OBP	SLG	OPS

Helton .387 .477 .740 1.218
Ruth .342 .474 .690 1.164

Helton's road stats:
	AVG	OBP	SLG	OPS

Helton .287 .391 .520 .911
Vaughn .294 .384 .526 .910

The bottom line: If Helton were allowed to play all of his games at Coors Field, he would be the best hitter of all time. Conversely, if Helton had to play all of his games on the road, he would be reduced to being an All-Star type caliber player at best rather than Babe Ruth on steriods.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 13, 2003
 
The Quad, Part III

As promised, I have compiled the single season, career leaders, and number of times leading the league in the four Quad categories. In addition, I created an overall ranking in terms of the total number of times having led the league in all four categories.



Babe Ruth shows his might by being the only player making each of the top ten single season and career lists. Not surprisingly, Ruth also ranks number one overall with 36 career top ten finishes in these four categories. Ted Williams is right behind Ruth with 35. Barry Bonds is the only active player among the overall leaders, ranking eighth. However, his place needs to be put in perspective because, as mentioned in an earlier article, the number of teams and players has essentially doubled in the post-expansion. As a result, leading the league today is a more difficult accomplishment than in the pre-expansion years. Nonetheless, Bonds has the potential of moving into sixth place overall by the end of next year (behind only Ruth, Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb).

By the time Bonds retires, he is likely to end up in each of the top ten lists other than single season total bases. Bonds' all-time high is 411 TB (reached in 2001), good enough for 16th on the single season list (eight TB from placing in the top ten). In fact, Bonds, with continued good health and production over the next few years, may rank among the top four in career totals in each of the Quad categories (behind only Ruth, Williams, and Lou Gehrig in SLG and OBP; Pete Rose and Cobb in TOB; and Hank Aaron, Musial, and Willie Mays in TB).

As I see it, Bonds could wind up his career ranked fourth in OBP, fourth in SLG, second in TOB, and second in TB. If so, Bonds would rank behind only Ruth, Williams, and Gehrig in career rate stats but ahead of all three in career counting stats. It is the combination of qualitative and quantitative performance which separates the greatest from the great, the great from the very good, and the very good from the good. There are many players who rank among the best in one or the other (Hank Greenberg comes to mind with rate stats, Rose and Eddie Murray with counting stats), but only a very select number who have produced extraordinary qualitative and quantitative stats in the on base and slugging areas. Greenberg's career counting stats come up short of the all time greats, almost entirely due to missing more than four seasons near the peak of his career while serving in the military before and during World War II. Not to take anything away from Rose and Murray--both of whom were outstanding players--but they accumulated massive counting stats based on two of the longest playing careers ever (with each ranking among only eight players having played in more than 3,000 games).

The only other active players in major league baseball today on these top ten lists in addition to Bonds are Jeff Bagwell (single season SLG), Sammy Sosa (single season TB), Luis Gonzalez (single season TB), Frank Thomas (career OBP), and Manny Ramirez (career SLG). [Editor's note: With the Dodgers having signed Rickey Henderson (career TOB) on Monday, July 14, the 44-year-old outfielder now qualifies as an active player as well.]

SINGLE SEASON LEADERS

ON BASE PERCENTAGE
                              YEAR     OBP    

1 Barry Bonds 2002 .582
2 Ted Williams 1941 .553
3 Babe Ruth 1923 .545
4 Babe Ruth 1920 .532
5 Ted Williams 1957 .526
6 Babe Ruth 1926 .516
7 Barry Bonds 2001 .515
8 Ted Williams 1954 .513
9 Babe Ruth 1924 .513
10 Babe Ruth 1921 .512

Bonds, Williams, and Ruth hold all ten spots in single season on base percentage--an indication of their complete superiority in this all important stat. Bonds' 2002 season ranks number one with an almost unbelievable mark of .582--a level .029 (or more than 5%) ahead of Williams' previous all-time high.


SLUGGING AVERAGE
                              YEAR      SLG    

1 Barry Bonds 2001 .863
2 Babe Ruth 1920 .847
3 Babe Ruth 1921 .846
4 Barry Bonds 2002 .799
5 Babe Ruth 1927 .772
6 Lou Gehrig 1927 .765
7 Babe Ruth 1923 .764
8 Rogers Hornsby 1925 .756
9 Mark McGwire 1998 .752
10 Jeff Bagwell 1994 .750

Bonds is also number one in single season slugging average (.863 in 2001). It is interesting to highlight that Bonds and Ruth hold the top five places in SLG. Bonds and Ruth are also the only players with top ten seasons in both OBP and SLG.


TIMES ON BASE
                              YEAR      TOB

1 Babe Ruth 1923 379
2 Ted Williams 1949 358
3 Barry Bonds 2002 356
4 Babe Ruth 1921 353
5 Babe Ruth 1924 346
6 Ted Williams 1947 345
7 Wade Boggs 1988 342
Barry Bonds 2001 342
Lou Gehrig 1936 342
10 Wade Boggs 1985 340

Notice a pattern here? Ruth, Williams, and Bonds hold the top six spots in single season TOB and seven of the top ten. Common thread among the top ten players in both OBP and TOB? All of them bat lefthanded--a trait that runs throughout the all-time leaders in The Quad, whether it be single season, career, or number of times leading the league.


TOTAL BASES
                              YEAR       TB     

1 Babe Ruth 1921 457
2 Rogers Hornsby 1922 450
3 Lou Gehrig 1927 447
4 Chuck Klein 1930 445
5 Jimmie Foxx 1932 438
6 Stan Musial 1948 429
7 Sammy Sosa 2001 425
8 Hack Wilson 1930 423
9 Chuck Klein 1932 420
T10 Lou Gehrig 1930 419
T10 Luis Gonzalez 2001 419

Hornsby and Jimmie Foxx, perhaps the two greatest righthanded hitters ever, rank second and fifth, respectively, in single season TB. Bonds falls out of the top ten for the first time, leaving Ruth as the lone survivor in each of the single season top ten lists.


CAREER LEADERS

ON BASE PERCENTAGE
                                 OBP    

1 Ted Williams .482
2 Babe Ruth .474
3 Lou Gehrig .447
4 Rogers Hornsby .434
5 Ty Cobb .433
6 Frank Thomas .432
7 Jimmie Foxx .428
8 Barry Bonds .428
9 Tris Speaker .428
10 Eddie Collins .424

Williams, Ruth, and Bonds are the only players among the top ten in single season and career OBP.


SLUGGING AVERAGE
                                 SLG    

1 Babe Ruth .690
2 Ted Williams .634
3 Lou Gehrig .632
4 Jimmie Foxx .609
5 Hank Greenberg .605
6 Manny Ramirez .599
7 Barry Bonds .595
8 Mark McGwire .588
9 Joe DiMaggio .579
10 Rogers Hornsby .577

Ruth, Gehrig, Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Hornsby are the only repeats in single season and career SLG.


TIMES ON BASE
                                TOB

1 Pete Rose 5929
2 Ty Cobb 5532
3 Rickey Henderson 5316
4 Carl Yastrzemski 5304
5 Stan Musial 5282
6 Hank Aaron 5205
7 Tris Speaker 4998
8 Babe Ruth 4978
9 Eddie Collins 4891
10 Willie Mays 4791

Ruth is the only player ranking in the top ten in single season and career TOB. Also noteworthy is the fact that only Ruth, Cobb, and Eddie Collins rank among the top ten in career OBP and TOB--a tribute to their ability to get on base measured by rate and counting stats.


TOTAL BASES
                                 TB     

1 Hank Aaron 6856
2 Stan Musial 6134
3 Willie Mays 6066
4 Ty Cobb 5854
5 Babe Ruth 5793
6 Pete Rose 5752
7 Carl Yastrzemski 5539
8 Eddie Murray 5397
9 Frank Robinson 5373
10 Dave Winfield 5221

Ruth and Musial are the only two ranking in the top ten single season and career TB. Ruth is the only player in career SLG and TB--a tribute to his slugging in terms of rate and counting stats.

* All statistics are through 2002. The single season and career leaders are from 1900-on. The single season rate stats are based on a minimum of 3.1 PA/G and the career rate stats are based on a minimum of 5000 PA.


TIMES LEADING LEAGUE

ON BASE PERCENTAGE
                               OBP

1 Ted Williams 12
2 Babe Ruth 10
3 Rogers Hornsby 8
4 Wade Boggs 6
Barry Bonds 6
Ty Cobb 6
Stan Musial 6
8 Lou Gehrig 5
Carl Yastrzemski 5
10 Richie Ashburn 4
Rod Carew 4
Joe Morgan 4
Mel Ott 4
Frank Thomas 4
Honus Wagner 4


SLUGGING AVERAGE
                                  SLG

1 Babe Ruth 12
2 Rogers Hornsby 10
3 Ty Cobb 9
Ted Williams 9
5 Stan Musial 6
Honus Wagner 6
7 Barry Bonds 5
Jimmie Foxx 5
Willie Mays 5
Mike Schmidt 5


TIMES ON BASE
                                 TOB

1 Pete Rose 9
2 Wade Boggs 8
Stan Musial 8
Babe Ruth 8
Ted Williams 8
6 Lou Gehrig 6
7 Richie Ashburn 5
Roy Thomas 5
9 Barry Bonds 4
Rod Carew 4
Ty Cobb 4
Rogers Hornsby 4
Paul Waner 4
Carl Yastrzemski 4


TOTAL BASES
                                  TB

1 Hank Aaron 8
2 Rogers Hornsby 7
3 Ty Cobb 6
Stan Musial 6
Babe Ruth 6
Honus Wagner 6
Ted Williams 6
8 Lou Gehrig 4
Chuck Klein 4
Jim Rice 4


OVERALL
 		OBP	SLG	TOB	TB     TOTAL

Babe Ruth 10 12 8 6 36
Ted Williams 12 9 8 6 35
Rogers Hornsby 8 10 4 7 29
Stan Musial 6 6 8 6 26
Ty Cobb 6 9 4 6 25
Honus Wagner 4 6 2 6 18
Lou Gehrig 5 2 6 4 17
Barry Bonds 6 5 4 1 16
Hank Aaron 0 4 2 8 14
Wade Boggs 6 0 8 0 14
Jimmie Foxx 3 5 3 3 14
Carl Yastrzemski 5 3 4 2 14


The distinguishing feature of the top eight players is the fact that they have led the league in each of the four Quad categories, reflecting their greatness qualitatively and quantitatively in their ability to get on base and drive baserunners home--the two most important components of run production. In fact, the top five players all led in each of the four categories at least four times, a true sign of dominace. Aaron, #1 all time in career TB, never led the league in OBP (although he led twice in TOB). Wade Boggs, tied for second all time in number of times leading the league in TOB, never led in SLG or TB. Boggs was more of a specialist at getting on base rather than a slugger but one of the greatest ever nonetheless at what he did best.

Note: These lists would be nearly impossible to compile without the assistance of the sabermetric baseball encyclopedia and baseball-reference.com. Thanks to Lee Sinins and Sean Forman for their great work.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com


Friday, July 11, 2003
 
The Quad, Part II

Last week, I introduced "The Quad". To recap, The Quad is awarded to a player who leads the league in on base percentage, slugging average, times on base, and total bases.

The Quad measures the two most important components of run production--the ability to get on base and the ability to drive base runners home. The former is covered via on base percentage (OBP) and times on base (TOB). The latter is covered via slugging average (SLG) and total bases (TB). None of these stats are team dependent. Therefore, The Quad is a pure statistical measure of an individual's offensive performance.



In the introductory article on The Quad, I listed the 17 different players in modern baseball history who have earned The Quad Award by leading their respective league in all four Quad categories. This exclusive fraternity has earned The Quad Award over the course of 31 different seasons with six of the players achieving this honor on more than one occasion--led by Babe Ruth and Ted Williams with five each.

I have consolidated the American and National League Quad Award honorees, along with their relevant statistics, into one table as follows:

			  RATE STATS      COUNTING STATS	

YEAR PLAYER TEAM OBP SLG TOB TB

1901 Lajoie PHA .463 .643 269 350
1906 Stone SLB .417 .501 267 291
1908 Wagner PIT .415 .542 260 308
1909 Cobb DET .431 .517 270 296
1910 Magee PHI .445 .507 278 263
1915 Cravath PHI .393 .510 241 266
1917 Cobb DET .444 .570 290 335
1919 Ruth BOS .456 .657 246 284
1920 Hornsby STL .431 .559 281 329
1921 Hornsby STL .458 .639 302 378
1921 Ruth NY .512 .846 353 457
1922 Hornsby STL .459 .722 316 450
1923 Ruth NY .545 .764 379 399
1924 Hornsby STL .507 .696 318 373
1924 Ruth NY .513 .739 346 391
1926 Ruth NY .516 .737 331 365
1933 Klein PHI .422 .602 280 365
1934 Gehrig NY .465 .706 321 409
1938 Foxx BOS .462 .704 316 398
1942 Williams BOS .499 .648 335 338
1943 Musial STL .425 .562 294 347
1946 Williams BOS .497 .667 334 343
1947 Williams BOS .499 .634 345 335
1948 Musial STL .450 .702 312 429
1949 Williams BOS .490 .650 358 368
1951 Williams BOS .464 .556 313 295
1966 Robinson BAL .410 .637 279 367
1967 Yaz BOS .418 .622 284 360
1970 Yaz BOS .452 .592 315 335
1981 Schmidt PHI .435 .644 189 228
2000 Helton COL .463 .698 323 405

* Bold indicates player earned The Major League Quad Award by leading the American and National Leagues in all four components of The Quad.

Three-Legged Version

As a follow-up to The Quad, I thought it would be interesting to determine how many players have led their respective league in three of the four categories. Three is an important cutoff because it ensures superiority in at least one rate stat and one counting stat plus at least one on-base stat and one slugging stat. In other words, by virtue of their leadership status in three of the four legs, all of these players created runs by getting on base and driving home base runners.

There have been 31 different players covering 46 separate seasons, including 14 and 19, respectively, in the American League and 17 and 27, respectively, in the National League who have led in three of the four legs:

American League
			 RATE STATS     COUNTING STATS				

YEAR PLAYER TEAM OBP TOB SLG TB PLACE LEADER TEAM

1904 Lajoie CLE x x x 2nd Barrett DET
1911 Cobb DET x x x 2nd Jackson CLE
1915 Cobb DET x x x 2nd Fournier CHW
1916 Speaker CLE x x x 2nd Jackson CHW
1920 Ruth NYY x x x 2nd Sisler SLB
1928 Ruth NYY x x x 2nd Gehrig NYY
1931 Ruth NYY x x x 2nd Gehrig NYY
1932 Foxx PHA x x x 2nd Ruth NYY
1933 Foxx PHA x x x 2nd Cochrane PHA
1936 Gehrig NYY x x x 2nd Trosky CLE
1941 Williams BOS x x x 3rd DiMaggio NYY
1945 Stirnw'ss NYY x x x 6th Lake BOS
1948 Williams BOS x x x 3rd DiMaggio NYY
1953 Rosen CLE x x x 2nd Woodling NYY
1956 Mantle NYY x x x 2nd Williams BOS
1972 Allen CHW x x x 2nd Murcer NYY
1978 Rice BOS x x x 12th Carew MIN
1994 Thomas CHW x x x 3rd Belle CLE
2001 Giambi OAK x x x 3rd ARod TEX

National League
			 RATE STATS     COUNTING STATS				

YEAR PLAYER TEAM OBP TOB SLG TB PLACE LEADER TEAM

1901 Burkett STL x x x 4th Sheckard BRO
1904 Wagner PIT x x x 2nd Thomas PHI
1907 Wagner PIT x x x 3rd Shannon NYG
1909 Wagner PIT x x x 2nd Clarke PIT
1913 Cravath PHI x x x 2nd Huggins STL
1925 Hornsby STL x x x 2nd Cuyler PIT
1932 Klein PHI x x x 4th Ott NYG
1935 Vaughn PIT x x x 7th Medwick STL
1939 Mize STL x x x 2nd Ott NYG
1940 Mize STL x x x 3rd Fletcher PIT
1944 Musial STL x x x 2nd Nicholson CHC
1945 Holmes BSN x x x 3rd Cavaretta CHC
1946 Musial STL x x x 2nd Stanky BRO
1947 Kiner PIT x x x 3rd Walker PHI
1949 Musial STL x x x 2nd Kiner PIT
1952 Musial STL x x x 2nd Robinson BRO
1959 Aaron MIL x x x 2nd Cunn'ghm STL
1962 Robinson CIN x x x 2nd Mays SF
1963 Aaron MIL x x x 2nd Mathews MIL
1965 Mays SF x x x 8th Rose CIN
1992 Bonds PIT x x x 5th Sheffield SD
1993 Bonds SF x x x 2nd Dykstra PHI
1994 Bagwell HOU x x x 2nd Gwynn SD
1997 Walker COL x x x 4th Biggio HOU
1998 McGwire STL x x x 2nd Sosa CHC
2001 Bonds SF x x x 3rd Sosa CHC
2002 Bonds SF x x x 7th Guerrero MON

Barry Bonds and Stan Musial have performed this "trifecta" four times each. Other multiple winners are Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth (3x each); Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Johnny Mize, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron (2x each). The only non-1B/OF to accomplish this feat are Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Rogers Hornsby, Arky Vaughn, Snuffy Stirnweiss, and Al Rosen.

More Legs Than You Can Count

There are 11 batters who have captured all four legs of The Quad and three legs one or more times.

Nap Lajoie.

The Quad: 1901.

Three of the Four Legs: 1904.


Honus Wagner.

The Quad: 1908.

Three Legs: 1904, 1907, 1909.


Ty Cobb.

The Quad: 1909, 1917.

Three Legs: 1911, 1915.


Gavvy Cravath.

The Quad: 1915.

Three Legs: 1913.


Babe Ruth.

The Quad: 1919, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926.

Three Legs: 1920, 1928, 1931.


Rogers Hornsby.

The Quad: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924.

Three Legs: 1925.


Chuck Klein.

The Quad: 1933.

Three Legs: 1932.


Jimmie Foxx.

The Quad: 1938.

Three Legs: 1932, 1933.


Lou Gehrig.

The Quad: 1934.

Three Legs: 1936.


Ted Williams.

The Quad: 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1951.

Three Legs: 1941.


Stan Musial.

The Quad: 1943, 1948.

Three Legs: 1944, 1946, 1949, 1952.


On 28 separate occasions, a player who captured three legs of The Quad has finished in second place in the fourth category. Another way of looking at that is to say that more often than not, a player leading the league in three Quad categories also finished second in the fourth.

Interestingly, 42 of the 46 players who have led in three legs of The Quad also led their league in OPS and OPS+. The only exceptions were Jesse Burkett in 1901 when he finished second to Ed Delahanty in OPS, Chuck Klein in 1932 when he ended up second behind Mel Ott in OPS+, Stan Musial in 1949 when he wound up second to Ralph Kiner in both, and Larry Walker in 1997 when he came in second behind Mike Piazza in OPS+. Moreover, it is noteworthy that all 46 batters finished no worse than second in OPS and OPS+ the year they captured three of the four legs of The Quad.

1945: A Baseball Oddity

The least heralded players to secure the three-legged Quad were Snuffy Stirnweiss and Tommy Holmes, both in 1945 when many of the game's stars, including Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Stan Musial, were serving in World War II. Nonetheless, Stirnweiss and Holmes were the best offensive players in their respective leagues that year. Stirnweiss played second base for the Yankees and led the A.L. in runs, hits, triples, extra base hits, stolen bases, batting average, slugging average, OPS, runs created, and total bases. Snuffy had two great seasons during the War in 1944 and 1945 but was no better than an average player the rest of his career. He was retired but only 39 years old at the time of his death when a train he was on plunged off an open drawbridge into a river in New Jersey.

Holmes played right field for the Boston Braves and led the N.L. in hits, doubles, home runs, extra base hits, slugging average, OPS, runs created, total bases, and total average. Tommy had a 37-game hitting streak in 1945, a then modern-day record that stood for 33 years before Pete Rose broke it on his way to a 44-game streak. Remarkably, Holmes struck out only nine times in 636 at bats that year. Holmes retired with the fourth best SO/AB ratio of all time, having fanned fewer times in his career in 4,992 AB than 29 mlb players in 2002 alone!

I will conclude my series on The Quad over the weekend with follow-up articles on the all-time top ten single-season, most times leading the league, and career leaders plus rankings based on active players and current year results through the All-Star break.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 06, 2003
 
It's That Time of the Year Again

The All-Star teams were announced earlier today. As usual, there are some good and bad choices in both the American and National Leagues. I have listed Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT picks next to the actual selections below along with my comments.

LEAGUE	ACTUAL	BEAT	COMMENTS

C
A.L. Posada Posada Counting stats put Posada on top
N.L. Lopez Lopez Career year deserves starting nod

1B
A.L. Delgado Delgado No brainer; MVP season
N.L. Helton Pujols Helton's road stats tell real story

2B
A.L. Soriano Boone Tough choice but Boone more deserving
N.L. Giles Vidro Vidro better across the board

SS
A.L. ARod ARod Flip a coin between ARod or Nomar
N.L. Renteria Renteria Nothing to argue with here

3B
A.L. Glaus Koskie Hard to separate Koskie and Blalock
N.L. Rolen Lowell Lowell's #s slightly better

OF
A.L. Suzuki Mora Mora 2nd best rate stats in the league
A.L. Matsui Bradley Not the Japanese All-Star game
A.L. Ramirez Ramirez Typical Manny year thus far
N.L. Bonds Bonds All-time great nearly as great as ever
N.L. Pujols Edmonds Who is going to play CF?
N.L. Sheff Sheff MVP candidate

DH
A.L. Martinez Thomas Frank puttin' The Big Hurt on again


I took the liberty of voting as if I were the manager and not constrained by the positions listed on the ballot. As such, I made Albert Pujols the first baseman on the N.L. squad. Todd Helton's stats look good upon first glance but are artificially inflated by Coors Field. He is hitting .279/.382/.422 on the road this year, hardly of All-Star caliber--especially for a first sacker. Besides, by sliding Pujols over to 1B, it allows the N.L. team to start Barry Bonds in left, Jim Edmonds in center, and Gary Sheffield in right. Pujols, Bonds, Edmonds, and Sheffield are all having MVP-type seasons, and it would be unfair to leave one of them out of the starting lineup.

Worst Choice? Hideki Matsui in a landslide. Godzilla may be popular, but he doesn't even belong on the team as a reserve--much less as a starter.

Most Glaring Omission From the Starting Lineup? Jose Vidro, who is one of the most underrated players in the game among casual fans. Vidro plays in near obscurity in Montreal but is once again putting up All-Star numbers (.327/.416/.510).

Lock of the Year? Dontrelle Willis will replace Shawn Chacon, who is currently on the disabled list and unlikely to be ready to pitch next week. Brandon Webb's stats are similar, but he will have to buy a ticket to go to the game.

Biggest P.R. Blunder? Leaving Roger Clemens off the team. If Cal Ripken and Michael Jordan can start in their final season All-Star games, then certainly The Rocket should be given the same opportunity. Not only would it be the right thing to do, but Clemens is arguably deserving purely based on his stats this year. To wit, Clemens ranks 1st in the A.L. in Ks (122), 6th in WHIP (1.16), and 8th in BAA (.232). Maybe Clemens would have had a better chance to make the team if he were a reliever given the fact that six were chosen, including the legendary Lance Carter and his 4.17 ERA.

See you next weekend.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com



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