As the Baseball Prospectus author with the longest track record of blogging, I’m pleased to see BP take the step of providing this new feature. Particularly so during JAWS season, since the Hall of Fame generates a fair bit of discussion and “How does he stack up?” questions that lend themselves well to the kind of short responses suitable for the Unfiltered format.
Today Jeff Bagwell made his long-anticipated retirement official. Last spring, I tackled Bagwell’s case at length, so I won’t do so here. But I will reiterate that despite the early end to his career (just 100 at-bats after his Age 36 season), Bagwell is a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, at least from the JAWS perspective. As I said before, he beats the standard like a rented reliever:
NAME POS HOF? CAR PEAK JAWS
LOU GEHRIG 3 1 147.1 84.7 115.9
CAP ANSON 3 1 159.3 64.0 111.7
JEFF BAGWELL 3 0 135.9 78.7 107.3
EDDIE MURRAY 3 1 140.3 69.2 104.8
RAFAEL PALMEIRO 3 0 138.1 68.6 103.4
JIMMIE FOXX 3 1 129.9 73.9 101.9
FRANK THOMAS 3 0 124.8 77.3 101.1
ROGER CONNOR 3 1 133.0 68.7 100.9
DAN BROUTHERS 3 1 116.1 70.1 93.1
JOHN OLERUD 3 0 115.2 68.6 91.9
AVG HOF 1B 106.1 62.8 84.5
That’s right, Bagwell ranks #3 all time among first basemen, in no small part because of his .408 career OBP (his pre-retirement limbo apparently cost him a spot in Jim Baker’s article today). His defensive excellence plays a part as well. At +124 runs, he’s 133 above the average HOF first baseman in the field, which adds somewhere between 6.5 and 13.0 JAWS points (wins that contribute both to his career WARP and his seven peak seasons) to his score, relative to his less nimble competition.
Speaking of guys who rank near the top of their positions on the JAWS scale, a reader questioned me about Cal Ripken Jr., whose candidacy I discussed the other day:
I’ve always liked Ripken but always felt he was a bit over rated as I remember a bunch of .250-.260 batting averages, mediocre walk rates, and good but not great power numbers. Turns out I was wrong about some of that. How much of his greatness comes from his durability? If he put up the same rate stats but played 10% fewer games on his career, like a mere human would have, how would he rate?
There’s no doubt that the first thing people will remember about Ripken is The Streak, his astounding 2,632 consecutive games. But what places him in the #2 ranking among shortstops is the 10th-best peak score of all time. All of those seasons were achieved in the first decade of his career (1982-1991), so it is fair to say that the latter-day mediocrity that our reader remembers pads his counting stats. But even if we apply, say, a 10 percent penalty to the post-1991 portion of his career (55.9 WARP), that would cost him just 5.6 WARP, or 2.8 JAWS point. He’d still rank second among shortstops by a wide margin; #3, as I noted in the article, is Alex Rodriguez at 112.5 JAWS.