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December 19, 2011

Prospectus Hit and Run

The Class of 2012: Middle Infielders

by Jay Jaffe

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The past year has been a great one for JAWS, the Hall of Fame evaluation system whose creation marked my first contribution to Baseball Prospectus back in 2004 (I didn't name it until the next go-round). In 2011, two overly qualified candidates for whom I've advocated for the better part of a decade were finally elected. In January, Bert Blyleven received 79.7 percen tof the Baseball Writers of America vote, becoming the first player ever to gain entry on his 14th ballot. In December, the late Ron Santo received 93.8 percent of the vote from the Golden Era committee, a bittersweet result given his passing just a year ago but a vindication of what we've known here for years, that he too was worthy of a bronze plaque.

Today we kick off our trip through the 2012 BBWAA ballot. For those new to this, the JAWS (the Jaffe WARP Score) system is a tool to compare Hall of Fame candidates to the players already in the Hall using Wins Above Replacement Player, our metric to measure each player's hitting, pitching, and fielding contributions relative to those of a freely available reserve or minor-league callup. Park and league contexts are built into WARP, so that a player in a low-scoring environment such as 1960s Dodger Stadium can be measured on the same scale as one in a high-scoring environment such as turn-of-the-century Coors Field. A solid, full-time player might accumulate three or four WARP in a season, an All-Star five or six; a season of eight WARP often earns a spot in an MVP or Cy Young discussion, if not the award itself.

The stated goal of JAWS is to raise the standards of the Hall of Fame by identifying and endorsing candidates as good or better than the average Hall of Famer at their position, a bar set so as to avoid further diluting the quality of the institution's membership. To prevent longevity from being the sole determinant of Hall-worthiness, JAWS compares players using their career and their peak WARP totals, the latter covering their best seven years at large. In essence, a player's best seasons are double-counted, an appropriate strategy given the research regarding pennants added and the premium value of star talent: Individual greatness can have a non-linear effect on a team's results both in the standings and on the bottom line. The career and peak WARP totals are thus averaged to compute JAWS, though there’s a new wrinkle involved in that, which I’ll explain momentarily.

For all that goes into it, JAWS can't incorporate everything that goes into a player's Hall of Fame case. It makes no attempt to account for post-season play, awards won (whether justified or not), leagues led in important categories, or historical importance, though such information is certainly germane to the discussion, and can shade an argument for or against a player whose credentials are otherwise borderline.

If you missed my Golden Era rundown, note that this marks the first year in which I've worked with the revised version of WARP that Colin Wyers has spent the past year implementing around these parts. This has created something of a seismic shift, in that higher replacement levels and different methods of measuring offensive, defensive, and pitching value have shaken up the standings of some candidates relative to the standards, which have shifted as well—after all, they're averages of individual player values. In general, the WARP values for most players are lower, and in some cases very different from what previous iterations or various competing systems have told us. Baserunning is now in the mix, as is a play-by-play defensive system.

I am implementing one significant change to the system that I discussed a couple of weeks back. Santo was just the 12th third baseman elected, and even with his addition, the hot corner remains the Hall's most underrepresented position, while right field is the most heavily represented position, with 23. To correct for this uneven distribution, and for drastically higher JAWS averages at certain positions, I have chosen to regress the standards at each position to the average Hall of Fame hitter. After careful scientific research—plonking around for as long as it took to drink one lager and one ale while studying various permutations—I settled on a sample size of 23 players, equal to the max at any position. So if a given position such as left field has 20 Hall of Famers, the standard is calculated as the average of those 20 left fielders plus three average Hall of Fame hitters. For third base, it's the 12 third baseman plus 11 average Hall of Fame hitters. For catchers, I take 80 percent of the WARP values at the other seven positions to preserve the existing ratio between catcher JAWS and the overall positional average.

Note that in undertaking this process I have done away with the elimination of the lowest score at each position, and that for all figures below except for JAWS, I am reporting the straight average at the position, without the regression. Here are the new standards

Position

#

TAv

RAP

VORP

FRAA

Career

Peak

JAWS

1B

18

.320

353

715

9

61.1

40.8

51.6

2B

19

.294

332

657

40

64.7

43.2

54.0

3B

12

.271

339

693

59

68.6

45.3

55.5

SS

21

.279

252

610

74

60.6

40.3

50.8

LF

20

.314

364

727

3

65.1

42.0

53.6

CF

18

.315

412

735

54

72.8

46.8

58.5

RF

23

.315

383

736

-5

66.2

40.9

53.6

C

13

.292

304

560

9

51.7

33.9

42.9

Hitters

144

.300

344

684

29

64.1

41.7

53.7

SP

58

 

268

580

0

51.1

36.0

43.5

RP

5

 

172

277

-1

29.1

17.5

23.3

For the uninitiated, TAv is True Average, RAP is Runs Above Position, VORP is Value Over Replacement Player, FRAA is Fielding Runs Above Average, Career is career WARP total, Peak is WARP total for a player’s best seven seasons, and JAWS the adjusted average of those two.

With that business out of the way, we'll start this year's review with the position featuring the highest returning vote-getter from last year's ballot.

Shortstops

Player

H

HR

RBI

AVG/OBP/SLG

AS

MVP

GG

HOFS

HOFM

Bal

2011%

Barry Larkin

2340

198

960

.295/.371/.444

12

1

3

47

120

2

62.1%

Alan Trammell

2365

185

1003

.285/.352/.415

6

0

4

40

118

10

24.3%

 

Player

TAv

RAP

VORP

FRAA

Career

Peak

JAWS

Larkin

.283

389

622

26

65.5

39.9

52.7

Trammell

.277

274

537

-28

53.5

37.2

45.4

Avg HOF SS

.279

252

610

74

60.6

40.3

50.7

For those in need of help deciphering the abbreviations in the first table, AS is All-Star game appearances and GG is Gold Gloves won; HoFS and HoFM are the Bill James Hall of Fame Standards and Hall of Fame Monitor, respectively; Bal is how many years the player has appeared on the ballot, and 2011% is the player's share of the vote on the last ballot, with 75 percent needed for election.

Barry Larkin
Cincinnati native Barry Larkin graduated from Moeller High School, the same private Catholic school that produced Buddy Bell, David Bell, and Ken Griffey Jr., among other major leaguers, and spent his entire 19-season major-league career with the hometown team. The Reds drafted him in the second round in 1982, and after he detoured to the University of Michigan, made him the fourth pick overall three years later. By August 1986, he was the Reds' starting shortstop, mentored by Davey Concepcion, the defensive linchpin of the Big Red Machine. Though both shortstops would surrender their titles as the starter to lesser lights late in their careers, the two provided the Reds with a remarkable amount of continuity in the middle infield for roughly a quarter of a century (1970-2004).

Larkin's first big year came in 1988, when he hit .296/.347/.429 and stole 40 bases, good for 6.3 WARP as well as his first All-Star appearance. He jumped out to a tremendous start the following year, carrying a .340/.368/.444 line into the All-Star break, but tore his medial collateral ligament in a skills competition the day before the game and missed nearly two months, the first major injury in a career that would be dogged by them. He rebounded the following year, batting .301/.358/.396 for a Reds team that led the NL West virtually wire-to-wire under new manager Lou Piniella, and went on to sweep the A's in the 1990 World Series. Larkin hit .353/.421/.529 in the Series, but was overshadowed by a pitching staff that held Oakland to just seven runs in the four games, with Jose Rijo's two wins and the "Nasty Boys" shutdown relief crew drawing most of the attention.

Larkin hit .302/.378/.506 with 20 homers in 1991, at one point becoming the first shortstop ever to homer in five straight games. Despite playing in just 123 games due to further elbow woes as the team slumped to fifth place, his 6.8 WARP was the second-highest total of his career. He averaged just 121 games a year from 1991-1995, serving DL stints in three of those seasons and losing time to the 1994-1995 strike as well. Larkin earned NL MVP honors in 1995, batting .319/.394/.492 with 15 homers for a team that won the NL Central, then swept the Dodgers in the Divisional Series before being swept by the Braves in the NLCS. He beat out Dante Bichette, Greg Maddux, and Mike Piazza in a close four-way MVP race.

Larkin followed that up with a monster campaign in which he avoided the DL and hit .298/.410/.567, set career bests in OBP, slugging percentage, WARP (6.9), homers (33), and walks (96) while becoming the first shortstop ever to reach the 30 homer-30 stolen-base plateau. For the remainder of his career, the returns diminished; he hit well when available, but missed more than half of the 1997, 2001, and 2003 seasons, and averaged just 106 games over that eight-year stretch. His last big year came in 1999, a 3.5-WARP season in which he batted .293/.390/.420 for a team that lost a Game 163 wild-card play-in.

Even as injuries sapped his availability, Larkin remained in high regard. No less an authority than Bill James ranked him as the sixth-best shortstop in his New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001, writing that Larkin "is one of the ten most complete players in baseball history. He's a .300 hitter, has power, has speed, excellent defense, and is a good percentage player. He ranks with DiMaggio, Mays, and a few others as the most well-rounded stars in baseball history."

Indeed, on a certain level, Larkin is a nearly flawless candidate for the Hall of Fame. Though the new system has cost him ground on both offense and defense, he clears the career standard by a comfortable margin, comes within a whisker of the peak standard, and winds up solidly above on JAWS. He covers all the bases as far as his traditional credentials go as well: a dozen All-Star appearances, a few Gold Gloves, an MVP award, a ring... the only area in which he fell short is in never leading the league in a key statistical category. He's worthy of Cooperstown, an opinion that a majority of the voters (51.6 percent) quickly came around to when he debuted on the ballot. He gained over 10 percentage points last year, and—spoiler alert—with no outstanding newcomer to this year’s ballot, rates as the favorite to surpass 75 percent.

Alan Trammell
Where Larkin appears poised to reach Cooperstown, the news is bleak for Trammell, an outstanding two-way shortstop who after 10 years still hasn't reached 25 percent on the ballot. Like Larkin, Trammell is inextricably linked with a single team, having spent 20 seasons as a Tiger, 15 of them as their regular shortstop. He arrived in late 1977 along with Lance Parrish and Jack Morris, and debuted in the same game as Lou Whitaker, his regular middle-infield partner through 1994.

Excelling both at the plate and in the field, Trammell ranked second on the world champion 1984 Tigers in WARP (5.4; the old system had him first) and won the World Series MVP by hitting .450/.500/.800. He should have been the AL MVP in 1987, when he hit .343/.402/.551 with 28 HR and 105 RBI for the AL East-winning Tigers. He lost a very close vote to 47-homer outfielder George Bell; in our old system, his WARP nearly doubled that of Bell (10.0 to 5.4) but in our new one, they're much closer (7.3 to 5.6), and both have been overtaken by Wade Boggs (7.7, off of a .363/.461/.588 year with 24 HR and 108 RBI).

Trammell was considered an outstanding fielder in his day, but the new play-by-play system isn't nearly so kind; where he was 108 runs above average before, he's now 28 below. This is a rather unfortunate development given that it bumps him below the career, peak, and JAWS standards at his position. Where only seven Hall of Fame shortstops outranked him in JAWS last time around, 14 now do; he falls between Pee Wee Reese (56.2/35.7/45.9) and Ozzie Smith (57.2/31.2/44.2). He's not the only one of his contemporaries to take a hit defensively; here he is compared to Larkin and three enshrined contemporaries:

Player

TAv

RAP

VORP

FRAA

Career

Peak

JAWS

Robin Yount

.283

407

756

-44

76.0

47.0

61.5

Cal Ripken Jr.

.279

373

725

-26

72.9

47.7

60.3

Larkin

.283

389

622

26

65.5

39.9

52.7

Trammell

.277

274

537

-28

53.5

37.2

45.4

Ozzie Smith

.250

109

394

173

57.2

31.2

44.2

The old system had Smith at 255 FRAA, Ripken at 173, Larkin at 60, Yount at −89. The spread is now about two-thirds of what it was between those players, with Ripken taking the biggest hit. He's still comfortably above the standards and still in the Hall, but Trammell not so much, and for the first time since I started doing this, he doesn't get the thumbs-up from JAWS.

Sadly, the odds on his election via the BBWAA have grown long. Nobody who's been this low this late in the game has gotten in via any vote; Veterans Committee honorees Bill Mazeroski (30.3 percent), Phil Rizzuto (32.3 percent), and Red Schoendienst (34.3 percent) are the lowest of the modern voting era. The spread is now about two-thirds of what it was between those players, with Ripken taking the biggest hit. He's still comfortably above the standards and still in the Hall, but Trammell not so much, and for the first time since I started doing this, he doesn't get the thumbs-up from JAWS.

Second Base
Here we come to the less sensible portion of the ballot. Not only do the two candidates have no real chance of Cooperstown, they aren't even the best eligible second basemen to have last played in the majors in 2006. That honor belongs to Edgardo Alfonzo (24.5/27.0/25.8). Then again, Alfonzo has continued to play, spending time in the Mexican League, the Japanese Pacific League, and the independent Atlantic League. He's currently playing winter ball in Venezuela, and according to MiLB.com, signed with the White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights in mid-October. His listed age—always a source of speculation given how rapidly he turned from star to stiff—is still just 38 years old, so perhaps the BBWAA screening committee is afraid he'll pull a Jose Rijo and make a big-league appearance after debuting on the ballot.

Player

H

HR

RBI

AVG/OBP/SLG

AS

MVP

GG

HOFS

HOFM

Bal

2011%

Tony Womack

1353

36

368

.273/.317/.356

1

0

0

17

26

0

NA

Eric Young

1731

79

543

.283/.359/.390

1

0

0

25

19

0

NA

 

Player

TAv

RAP

VORP

FRAA

Career

Peak

JAWS

Womack

.235

-61

82

3

8.5

10.6

9.6

Young

.257

18

204

25

22.0

17.8

19.9

Avg HOF 2B

.294

332

657

40

64.7

43.2

54.0

Eric Young
Young was a versatile speedster who overcame long odds to carve out a 15-season major league career. A football and baseball star at Rutgers University, he was drafted in the 43rd round by the Dodgers in 1989, and didn't make his professional debut until he was 22 years old. He rose quickly through the system, showing outstanding on-base skills and great speed; he stole 76 bases in 1990 at Vero Beach, and 70 the next year at San Antonio. He debuted with the Dodgers in 1992, but hit just .258/.300/.288 in 49 games, and couldn't supplant incumbent second baseman Lenny Harris, which explains why the Dodgers went 63-99 that year, their worst showing since 1908.

Young caught a break when the Rockies selected him in that winter's expansion draft, and he became their starting second baseman. He hit .295/.378/.412 in four-and-a-half seasons in Colorado, helping the team earn a wild-card berth in 1995, and nabbing a league-leading 53 steals in 1996 3, the year he made his only All-Star appearance. He was worth a combined 5.2 WARP in those seasons despite batting averages of .317 and .324 and OBPs around .400, such was the inflationary effect of offense at high altitude. He was traded back to the Dodgers for Pedro Astacio in August 1997, and took over second base from Wilton Guerrero down the stretch. Alas, his .248 True Average wasn't enough to push the Dodgers into the postseason, as the team fell two games short of a division title.

Young would stay with the Dodgers through 1999, when he was traded to the Cubs. He put up a career-best 3.4 WARP in 2000, on .297/.367/.399 hitting and a career-high 54 steals in 61 attempts. After one more season in Chicago, he would begin a roundabout tour of the majors, passing through Milwaukee, San Francisco, Texas, San Diego, and back to Texas over the next five seasons, lasting until age 39. He's got no Hall of Fame case, but he ranks 44th on the all-time stolen base list with 465, and he fathered a son, Eric Young Jr., who currently plays for the Rockies, albeit less successfully (.246/.324/.295 career). Funny enough, EY's last appearance in a BP annual was in 2007, the same year EY Jr. debuted in its pages.

Tony Womack
If I can muster some affectionate enthusiasm for Young's Cooperstown case despite its futility, I can do much less for Womack, whose JAWS score is the lowest for any player besides the aforementioned Harris that has ever come up for review. Where Young represented a well-matched combination of speed and on-base skills in an otherwise league-average hitter, Womack's speed was his only virtue, wasted on a hitter whose production veered from below average to replacement level. Like so many before him, he couldn’t steal first base.

A seventh-round 1991 pick out of Guilford College, Womack stole an average of 40 bases a year in the minors while getting cups of coffee with a Pirates team that was only beginning its long, dark post-Bonds/Bonilla/Leyland spell. He led the NL in steals in each of his first three full seasons (1997-1999), swiping a combined 190 while getting caught just 28 times (an 87.2 percent success rate). His career-high 72 steals came after he had been traded to the Diamondbacks in February 1999; in Arizona, he was part of three playoff teams in four-and-a-half seasons, most notably hitting a game-tying double off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the 2001 World Series.

After a career-high 2.5-WARP season in St. Louis in 2004, Womack would drag his sack of woe to the Bronx, returning to torment Yankees fans via a two-year, $4 million deal signed against the wishes of Brian Cashman as part of the power struggle between the general manager and Boss Steinbrenner's Tampa cabal. He wasn't long for the starting second-base job, hitting a wretched .249/.276/.280 and hastening the recall of young Robinson Cano by early May. Amazingly enough, the Yankees actually moved Womack to left field and shifted Hideki Matsui to center, with Bernie Williams (who also debuts on the 2012 ballot) squeezed into part-time duty. It was an idiotic plan, but one whose failure helped Cashman gain the upper hand when he renewed his contract that fall. Cashman traded Womack to the Reds over the winter, and by June 30 of the following summer, he had been released twice, still unable to master the stealing of first base. So it goes.

 So having reviewed the middle infielders on the ballot, we come away with just one given the green light by JAWS, Barry Larkin. In the next installment, I’ll move onto the more controversial corner of the ballot, the first basemen, later this week.  

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

randolph3030

Perhaps this is a question for Colin, but color me unenthused by the changes to WARP, specifically the recalibration of the defensive numbers. I'm sure the math works out because Colin appears to be much much smarter than me (me::math as S.Marte::walks).

Trammell just lost 140 FRAA, thus completely changing his candidacy. It is as if we are discussing a different player than last year. I think you addressed this previously in response to a RichardBergstrom comment, but I must confess that I've lost some trust in the system due this seismic-ish shift.

Have you considered weighting the defensive numbers as less impactfull as the batting and baserunning due to the volatility/unreliability of fielding stats?

Dec 19, 2011 05:29 AM
rating: 5
 
randolph3030

To answer my own question a bit, below is a response that Jay gave to a similar concern in the article linked in the text.

http://www.baseballprospectus.co/article.php?articleid=15598

"I highly suggest you dig back into Colin's archive and read http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11476 and
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11589 where he hits some of the big stumbling blocks that one encounters when trying to measure defense. Long story short: a single year isn't enough to reliably measure defense, so take any yearly number with a grain of salt

But remember that over time, the larger sample size should build confidence in what's being measured, at least if the methodology is sound. When it comes to measuring the Hall of Fame candidates' defense, we generally have 10-20 years worth of data, and while multiple sources may disagree as to the value of those years, they're hopefully pointing in the same direction."


I'm still not convinced (though who cares if I'm convinced), as if one year's result (FRAA) isn't reliable, isn't a career's result (FRAA) just a bunch of unreliable yearly results added together? And in this system doesn't it multiply an unreliable yearly defensive # for peak. For instance, Trammell's '87 FRAA is -2.9, yet the three surrounding seasons he's a combined +31 FRAA.

Dec 19, 2011 05:39 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Again, I highly suggest you read what Colin had to say. In the PBP system he's built - which is constructed to avoid the biases that other PBP systems fall victim to - there's a margin for error in every estimate of whether a play should be made. It decreases the larger the sample size gets.

It's true that the unreliability of defensive values in a single season can have an multiplied impact on peak, but again, I'm using seven seasons, not one or two, so the larger sample should increase the accuracy of the estimate.
And remember, this isn't just something that's screwing one guy. Our defensive measurements for EVERY SINGLE PLAYER go through the same wringer.

I am surprised that Trammell takes such a hit, but I think there's a danger in clinging to our previously held assumptions too strongly, particularly when they're partially founded on a system that had no shortage of questions about it when it was in the spotlight. I'll argue on Trammell's behalf if the evidence supports it, but after 10 years of him getting absolutely nowhere on the Hall of Fame ballot, I can accept that he's less of a slam dunk candidate than we previously thought, so I'm going to save my breath for the moment.

Dec 19, 2011 11:26 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Supposedly, each previous system, whether it was FRAA or WARP or park factors or whatnot, was specifically designed not to have a bias.

Eventually, someone finds one.

Dec 19, 2011 19:11 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I'm not sure how you're equating the observation biases that the new PBP system is trying to combat - i.e., the inclusion of subjective data in various PBP systems via the use of stringer data, such as to distinguish line drives from grounders and flyballs - with the shortcomings of previous iterations of WARP, etc. Whatever their flaws, observation bias was not one of them.

Dec 19, 2011 20:43 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I was speaking in terms of general bias, not observation bias.

Any system that evaluates something has some form of bias based on the criteria it uses to calculate value. The criteria and definitions themselves are what creates the bias. In terms of WARP, someone decided "this is what the value of a replacement player is", weighting this stat over that stat or this position over that position. They find "a walk is as good as a hit" or "a hit is as good as 1.2 walks" via whatever method, usually a calculation, that they choose to use.

It doesn't make an evaluation system useless, but it is important to keep the criteria and definitions of a stat in mind so that using the system can be done in a proper context.

Sometimes its hard to find that proper context since a stat like WARP or FRAA can have a lot of process and calculation "beneath the hood" that we just don't know about but might skew the results one way or another.

I have no idea exactly what Colin has done but whatever it was had an impact on WARP, FRAA and by extension JAWS. I have no idea whether those changes makes things more accurate or more informative or more "right". Frankly, I don't know the specifics of what changes to the definitions and criteria he chose to make.

I do know that I can look at 2011 WARP in terms of itself and 2011 FRAA in terms of itself. Until I understand what really has changed in terms of FRAA, for example, I can't intelligently say why (for example) Ron Santo went from a surefire Hall of Famer to a borderline Hall of Famer or why an Alan Trammell lost around 100 runs of FRAA while Yount gained around 40 or even, what that loss or gain really means in terms of runs saved/lost and wins gained/lost.

Dec 20, 2011 00:51 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

The hope is that the criteria and definitions are at least arrived at via some amount of empirical data. Linear weights, for example, isn't an arbitrary set of values attached to each event. The decision to use linear weights, however, is one based on an interpretation of what the best tool for the job is (see http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10917).

I'd like to point out that the current versions of FRAA and WARP are far more transparent than the versions that came before them, as Colin has detailed the process by which he derived most of his conclusions. The decision to set a replacement level that has varied (and generally risen) over time based upon empirical data is one of them, and I think it's both a major point of departure from other systems and a source of the angst created by the shifting of some of the values of our treasured heroes.

Dec 20, 2011 07:41 AM
 
danteswitness

Forgive me if I am misreading something, but don't the JAWS scores shown here also state that Ozzie Smith is now no longer deserving of enshrinement?

Dec 19, 2011 07:26 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

It states that he's below the current average for shortstops. To say that he's not deserving of enshrinement, however, is to misunderstand the entire JAWS project.

JAWS is a tool best used to identify above-average Hall of Fame candidates. It is not a complete prescription to tear apart the Hall of Fame and rebuild it with a different membership.

I am not advocating the mass expulsion of below-average Hall of Famers - if we were to bump off the ~50% who fall below the current positional averages, those averages would skyrocket, and then, theoretically, we'd have to do it again to the point of absurdity. Our Hall would shrink to include only Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson. Nor am I advocating a start-from-scratch Hall-building process - I'll leave that to the Hall of Merit gang, whose work I generally enjoy.

One of the reasons I advocate using a standard based upon the average is that once you pick a bar lower than that, at every position you wind up with an increasing number of players with equivalent or better values. If, for example, we set the bar at Ozzie Smith's current ranking, then the players just above him who are not in include Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Derek Jeter, Trammell, Vern Stephens, and Bill Dahlen, with Jack Glasscock and Bert Campaneris very close as well. As discussed in the Resetting the Standards article, even using the median score has a similar effect.


Dec 19, 2011 08:09 AM
 
danteswitness

Thanks, Jay. I didn't mean to imply that everyone in the hall had to be above the average line, of course. I was just curious as to the new distinction between Trammell and Smith, as you said that Trammell no longer gets the thumbs-up from JAWS despite having a JAWS score that is higher than Smith's. Obviously we know that Smith is in the hall and is more than deserving of it, but if Trammell's score is not high enough for inclusion, than would Smith's be high enough if he were on the ballot today?

Dec 19, 2011 12:58 PM
rating: 0
 
Adam Hobson

Since the JAWS average for SS is comprised of Ozzie Smith's numbers, I don't think you can use JAWS that way. If you remove all existing HOFers who fall under their positional averages, that only serves to raise the positional averages removing even more players in a fun little positive reinforcement loop until all you are left with is the single best player at each position...

Dec 19, 2011 08:14 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Exactly. This can't be Lake Wobegon, where all of the Hall of Famers are above average.

Dec 19, 2011 08:45 AM
 
Hoff

Jay, what do you, as the creator of Jaws say about the impact of active sure fire (well, from a statistical vantage) HOFers on the current candidates legitimacy. Larkin for instance would suffer if arod were included in your totals. Its one thing to not want to remove people; but when someone isn't in, how can you not compare them to contemporaries.

Dec 19, 2011 12:06 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I'm not a fan of putting too much weight on comparing candidates to active players. In this instance, by the time A-Rod is up for induction, he will have played far more games at third base than at shortstop, so to hold his early career performance against Larkin is unfair.

To some extent, I think that's what happened with Trammell, though - voters measured him against the A-Rod/Jeter/Nomar trinity when he first reached the ballot, and they've never compensated for that mistake by recognizing how hard it is to remain a productive starting SS for so long.

Dec 19, 2011 12:51 PM
 
Jamey
(208)

Is there a clear explanation somewhere of the changes over time for EQA/TAV, WARP, and FRAA?

I found this old player card for Ozzie linked from an earlier JAWS article:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/smithoz01.shtml

In it, Ozzie was an average hitter (.260 EQA) with 229 FRAA. Now, he's a below average hitter (.250 TAV) with 173 FRAA. Those are some pretty big changes, and it isn't clear why they have occurred.

Dec 19, 2011 13:00 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

I've tried to provide short, concise summaries in the context of my articles because there isn't room to go on at great length, but Colin Wyers detailed most of those changes over the past year - it's not like this stuff has been hidden from view. His explanations are not particularly concise; there's a lot to digest in his articles, but the good news is that you can delve in to your heart's content. Here's a quick and dirty list:

* The EqA/TAv formula changed

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11686
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11717

* The defensive system changed to a play-by-play based one

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11476
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11589
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11662

* Our method of valuing pitching changed

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11779
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15098

* Our method of park-adjusting changed

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12047

* The replacement level rose, and in fact has risen over time.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12377

Hope that helps!

Dec 19, 2011 14:23 PM
 
Jamey
(208)

Thanks, Jay. That's exactly the sort of list I was hoping for. I remember seeing those over time, but it's been a while.

Dec 20, 2011 11:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BrewersTT

@randolph3030: "if one year's result (FRAA) isn't reliable, isn't a career's result (FRAA) just a bunch of unreliable yearly results added together?" If by unreliable we mean that it will err upward one year and downward the next, but none of the variations are too terrible, then building up a larger sample will make the overall estimate better. But if the variations are biased in some way, so that they always make the same error in the same direction for some set of cases but not others, then adding to the sample will not help. It all depends on what the source of the errors is in the first place.

Dec 19, 2011 17:05 PM
rating: 4
 
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