C-WAR Hall of Fame Project: Left Field

 

Ted Williams
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

C-WAR is a Hall of Fame monitoring system using career and peak WAR. C-WAR is the career WAR(P) totals from Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospectus added up and averaged out, plus an eight year peak (five best years in a row, plus 3 best additional years) from Baseball-Reference. Click here for more information on C-WAR.

Hall of Fame standards vary by position, but a C-WAR score of 100 is usually the minimum of being Hall worthy. Ideally a player’s peak is 40+ (averaging 5 or more wins a year during their peak) and his career average is 60+. The average C-WAR line for a Hall of Fame left fielder is: 69.7 career average/44.0 peak/113.7 C-WAR.

Stan Musial played more games at first than in left, but more games in the outfield than anywhere else. The Hall officially recognizes him as a first baseman, so I included him on that list as well. Remove Musial from the left fielders list, and the average Hall of Fame C-WAR line looks like this  65.9 career average/42.6 peak/108.6 C-WAR. Musial was good enough that he alone can shift all of the averages by a few wins, whether you think of him as an outfielder or a first baseman, he is clearly an all-time great player either way.

How to read the chart below:

The player’s name is followed by their career WAR from Baseball-Reference (BR), FanGraphs (FG), and Baseball Prospectus (BP). Those three numbers (or two, BP doesn’t publish historical WAR data prior to 1950) are averaged out (AVG). The AVG is the first half of C-WAR. Next you will find the player’s five best years in a row (BR-5), followed by the player’s three best additional seasons (BR-3), both according to Baseball- Reference’s WAR. Next to that is the total peak value (PK) of the five best years, and three best additional years added together. PK is the second half of C-WAR. Adding AVG+PK=C-WAR. The seasons next to PK are the five best years in a row (5 YEARS), followed by the three best additional years (3 YEARS +). The last number is C-WAR. Players highlighted in gold are members of the Hall of Fame. Players in blue are still active. You can zoom in and out of the chart with the magnifying glass symbols on the right, and download the entire PDF.

Please note that Baseball Prospectus’ WARP system is very unstable and produces frequent changes to a player’s value. The numbers below are up to date as of 11/24/12

Below is the chart for left fielders:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Some notes on the chart:

1. Barry Bonds 164 AVG/78.6 PK/242.6 C-WAR

Oh Barry Bonds, what a mess you have made of things. Bonds has the second highest C-WAR score trailing only Babe Ruth’s 257. He is one of only ten batters with a C-WAR over 200, and his 78.6 peak is the 4th highest trailing only Ruth, Mays, and Hornsby. During his peak, Bonds broke the single season home run mark hitting 73 in 2001, averaging a homer every 6.52 at bats, another record. In 2002 he set the single season mark for on-base percentage at .581, then broke his own his own record in 2004 with an OBP of .609.  Also in 2001, Bonds broke Babe Ruth’s eighty year old mark for slugging percentage, slugging .863. There are more records, in 2002 Bonds set the single season OPS mark at 1.380, two years later, he bested himself at 1.421. Also in 2o01 Bonds set the record for most walks in a season with 177, he broke this in 2002 with 198, and again in 2004 walking 232 times, 120 of those walks were intentional nearly doubling his own record from 2002.  There are many, many, more records that Bonds broke and in some cases annihilated from 2000-2004. However, during that time Bonds later admitted to a federal grand jury that he used steroids, but claimed he thought he was using flaxseed oil, and a cream to help reduce pain caused by his arthritis. As a result of his testimony, Bonds was eventually charged with several counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was found guilty of one charge of obstruction of justice for giving evasive testimony, but was acquitted on the perjury charges related to his personal steroid use.  Bonds has never admitted publicly to intentionally using steroids, but has become the face of baseball’s “steroid era”. Whether Bonds used intentionally or not, he did use, and did see a boost in his performance, that’s rather obvious. For many, including several Hall of Famers, Bonds is a cheater, a jerk, and undeserving of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

What’s being lost here is how great Bonds was before he allegedly starting using in 1999. From 1990-1998 Bonds was the best player in baseball. His WAR (Baseball-Reference) over that time was 74.3, nearly fifteen wins greater than the 2nd best player, Ken Griffey Jr. Bonds’ OPS of 1.038 was best in baseball as was his OPS+ of 181. Bonds hit the 3rd most home runs during that stretch with 327,  trailing only Mark McGwire’s 340, and Griffey’s 334. Bonds also scored the most runs (1,000), had the most RBI (993), walks (1,073), and intentional walks (248). From 1990-1998 Bonds led the majors in wOBA .435, and wRC+ 173, and was also the best defensive player in the game (Using FanGraphs). Bonds was the best combination of power, speed, and defense that baseball had seen since Willie Mays. Bonds’ career numbers at the end of the 1998 season looked like this .290/.411/.556 with an OPS of .966 and an OPS+ of 164. He had 1,917 hits, 411 of them were home runs. He had stolen 445 bases and walked 1, 357 times. He had 1,364 runs, and 1,216 RBI. His WAR on Baseball-Reference was 96.9, a number that would rank him 20th all-time, ahead of players like Jimmie Foxx, Cal Ripken, Carl Yastrzemski, and Roberto Clemente. Bonds was 34 years old at the end of the 1998 season, to think he wouldn’t have accumulated significantly more or even had a few peak years left in him, is just blatantly wrong. Bonds was well on his way to becoming one of the best baseball players the sport has even seen, a “normal” career trajectory would have comfortably placed his career WAR in the top 10 all-time. 2000-2004 was the best five year stretch of Bonds’ career, his WAR was 50.0, averaging 10 wins a year over that time. What would Bonds’ eight year peak look like without that stretch included? Using Baseball-Reference’s WAR, Bonds’ five best years in a row would have been 89-93, when he was worth 43.5 wins. His three best additional years were, 96 (9.4), 97 (8.0), and 98 (7.9). That would give Bonds a peak WAR of 68.8, 3rd all-time among left fielders, slightly behind only Williams (71.5), and Musial at (69.6), and Musial played a few peak years at first base. Keep in mind, Williams and Musial both played  before the sport was fully integrated. This is a very long way of saying that Bonds’ inevitable exclusion from the Hall of Fame will be an egregious error. Yes he used steroids, and yes they boosted his performance, but he was just one of many players using steroids in the early 2000′s when use of performance enhancing drugs was often encouraged and widely overlooked. The system failed, punishing players, and players alone retroactively is a gross misrepresentation of history. Steroid use is part of Bonds’ legacy, but not all of his legacy. A Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds is simply not legitimate or credible. I hope the voters and Hall of Fame brass realize this before a generation of fans lose interest in the museum, turning it into what boxing and horse racing have both become.

The rest of the player profiles will be shorter, I promise.

2. Ted Williams 129.8 AVG/71.5 PK/201.3 C-WAR

Ted Williams averaged 8.9 wins a year during his eight year peak. Williams missed all of his age 24-26 seasons (43-45), and significant parts of his age 33 & 34  seasons (52-53) due to his military service in both World War Two, and Korea. All of Williams’ numbers both traditional and advanced would be significantly higher had he never served. Williams finished his career with a slash line of .344/.481/.633 ranking him 9th, 1st, 2nd all-time in each those categories. Williams is 2nd all-time in OPS (1.111), OPS+ (190), wOBA (.493), and wRC+ (188) trailing only Babe Ruth in each category. Many will say that Ted Williams is the best hitter, and best player they have ever seen, looking at the numbers it’s tough to argue with that.

3. Stan Musial 131.4 AVG/69.6 PK/201 C-WAR

Stan Musial averaged 8.7 wins a year during his peak. Musial missed his age 24 season (1945) due to his military service in World War Two. Musial led the National league in hitting seven times, on-base percentage six times, slugging percentage six times, and OPS seven times. He finished with a slash line of .331/.417/.559 splitting his time between the outfield and first base.

4. Rickey Henderson 115.4 AVG/60.2 PK/175.6 C-WAR

Rickey Henderson averaged 7.5 wins a year during his eight year peak. Henderson led the American League in stolen bases 12 times, and walks 4 times. He finished as the all-time leader in runs (2,295), and stolen bases (1,406), and is 2nd in career walks with (2,190). From 1980-1989 Henderson’s WAR (Baseball-Reference) was 69.6, best in baseball, topping the 2nd place finisher, Wade Boggs (59.1) by just over ten wins.

5. Carl Yastrzemski 98.3 AVG/58.0 PK/156.3 C-WAR

Carl Yastrzemski averaged 7.2 wins a year during his peak. In 1967 the year he won the triple crown, he posted a WAR (Baseball-Reference) of 12.0. That’s the highest single season WAR an integration era (1947-present) player has posted at any position. No member of the Hall of Fame played more games (3,308), or has more plate appearances (13,992) than Yastrzemski. He led the American League in batting three times, on-base percentage five times, slugging percentage three times, and OPS+ four times.

6. Ed Delahanty 69.1 AVG/52.4 PK/121.5 C-WAR

Ed Delahanty averaged 6.5 wins a year during his eight year peak. Delahanty hit .400 or higher three times, and led the majors in OPS+ four times. However, Delahanty played in a segregated league when the game was still developing, so taking his numbers at face value would be a mistake.

7. Al Simmons 71.4 AVG/47.5 PK/118.9 C-WAR

Al Simmons averaged 5.9 wins a year during his peak, and led the American League in batting average two consecutive years from 1930-1931. He played his entire career in the segregated era.

8. Joe Jackson 63.3 AVG/50.7 PK/114 C-WAR

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson averaged 6.3 wins a year during his eight year peak. He finished with a slash line of .356/.423/.517. Jackson was banned from the sport after the 1920 season for his involvement in the infamous 1919 “Black Sox” gambling scandal. Jackson  and seven other teammates were accused of conspiring to fix the World Series. The case eventually went to court, he and is teammates were found not guilty.

9. Tim Raines 69.1 AVG/44.6 PK/113.7 C-WAR

Tim Raines’ exclusion from the Hall of Fame is a mistake. During his peak, Raines averaged 5.5 wins a year matching the hall of fame standard. In 1986 he led the National League in batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.413). Raines also led the N.L in stolen bases four times, and among post-integration era players with at least 400 steals, Raines’ stolen base percentage of 84.6% is the best all time. From 1982-1992 Raines posted a WAR (Baseball-Reference) of 52.9, 7th in the majors behind only Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, and Alan Trammell. Raines had the misfortune of playing left field, hitting leadoff, and being known for his speed at the same time Rickey Henderson was playing and was doing all of those things better than him. Raines was not as good Henderson but that doesn’t mean he is not a deserving Hall of Famer. What happens when you average out Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock? You get a player whose numbers look a lot like those put up by Raines.

10. Manny Ramirez 69.8 AVG/42.3 PK/112.1 C-WAR

Manny Ramirez averaged 5.2 wins a year during his peak, and led the American League in OPS three times. Ramirez finished with a career slash line of .312/.411/.585 with an OPS of .996. Ramirez also hit 555 career home runs, however once MLB actually started testing for performance enhancing drugs, he failed two tests, receiving two suspensions. Ramirez also failed the survey test in 2003. So, Ramirez has three failed drug tests on his Hall of Fame resume. Manny has no chance of being enshrined, he will likely fall off the ballot his first year on it. He put himself in a position to allow people to fairly question whether he might have been using his entire career. Steroids gave Manny a boost, they made him better, they enhanced his numbers, to what degree we will never know. We do know he was a great hitter, played in a time when steroid use was common and widely overlooked, and most players (including those who used), never came close to putting up numbers like Manny did. I don’t think Hall of Fame voters should be punishing players, (the Hall disagrees). I would rather see Manny in, with a mention of his PED use on his plaque, the Hall’s website, and any literature they distribute about their members. Ramirez was foolish enough to use PEDs and get caught after testing finally went into place. Unlike Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, or A-Rod, Manny actually violated the rules and did so repeatedly. Several admitted “cheaters” are already enshrined in the Hall, however Manny’s omission will not be the egregious error that leaving Bonds or Clemens out will be.

Among batters with 5,000 plate appearances or more, Ramirez and Jackson are two of the twenty one members of the .300/.400/.500 club.

11. Goose Goslin 66.5 AVG/43.9 PK/110.4 C-WAR

Goose Goslin averaged 5.4 wins a year during his peak, and led the the American league in batting average in 1928 hitting .379. Goslin finished his career with a slash line of .316/.387/.500. From 1922-1931 Goslin’s WAR (Baseball-Reference) of 47.8 ranked 6th in all of baseball trailing only fellow Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, and Harry Heilmann.

12. Fred Clarke 72.9 AVG/37.2 PK/110.1 C-WAR

Fred Clarke was worth 37.2 wins during his eight year peak, a number below the 44.0 peak average for left fielders enshrined in the Hall. From 1895-1909 Clarke’s WAR (Baseball-Reference) of 59.0 was 5th in baseball trailing only Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, George Davis, and Bobby Wallace.

Skipping around a bit:

Zach Wheat averaged 4.4 wins a year during his eight year peak. I did a piece on your average Hall of Famer, Wheat perhaps comes closest to representing the average. His career wOBA of .384 , wRC+ 129, OPS+ 129, and FanGraphs WAR of 70,  all almost exactly represent your Hall of Fame average(s).

Minnie Minoso averaged 5.1 wins a year during his eight year peak, a number greater than twelve left fielders enshrined in the Hall. From 1950-1959 Minoso’s WAR of 45.2 (Baseball-Reference) ranked 8th in baseball trailing only Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews, Richie Ashburn, and Ted Williams. The five players after Minoso are also Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Larry Doby, and Nellie Fox. Minoso falls short of C-WAR standards, however considering how many corner outfielders enshrined in the Hall that he is better than or equal to, one can easily make a case for his enshrinement.

Ralph Kiner averaged 5.4 wins a year during his peak. Kiner only played for ten seasons, during that time he led the National League in home runs his first six years in the league. He also led the N.L. in OPS and OPS+ three times finishing with a career OPS .946, and an OPS+ of 149. Among Hall of Famers who did not previously play in the Negro Leagues, Kiner’s ten year career is the tied with Ross Youngs as the shortest. He retired at age 32.

As for active players, it’s too early to tell but Ryan Braun is certainly off to a Hall of Fame start, and Matt Holiday has a long-shot chance of meeting standards as well.

As mentioned earlier the average C-WAR line for a Hall of Fame Left Fielder looks like this 69.2 career average/44.0 peak/113.2 C-WAR. If Barry Bonds were to get elected the standards would change significantly looking like this 73.7 career average/45.6 peak/119.4 C-WAR.

Since Baseball Prospectus does not publish WAR data for players before 1950, this does create a bit of unfair advantage for those players. This is because of the three sites, Baseball Prospectus tends to have the lowest WAR values for a player (especially with pitchers), so it puts modern players (1950-present) at an unfair disadvantage. So to adjust for this, below is the left fielders chart excluding Baseball Prospectus’ WAR altogether.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

This list produced only a few modest changes although surprisingly Manny Ramirez took a bit of a tumble.

Since I calculated peak using only rWAR, below is the chart using just Baseball Reference’s WAR. Another words this is a player’s career WAR plus his eight year peak using on Baseball-Reference. FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus are not factored in to the chart below at all.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Again, only modest changes from list-to-list here, but all three are valuable to look at.

Because C-WAR focuses only on WAR, it makes it impossible for me to include Negro League players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Nothing distorted stats and the integrity of the game like the exclusion of black players for over fifty years. While I can’t include them in C-WAR, I do want to mention Monte Irvin (who played eight seasons in the majors) Pete Hill, and Willard Brown, all three were elected to the Hall of Fame as outfielders for their time in the Negro Leagues. Who knows how great they could have been, or how different the record book would look if they were all simply allowed to have played their entire careers in the majors.

Many thanks to the incredibly smart people who work at Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Prospectus. Without their tireless efforts to improve and maintain their sites and information none of this research would be possible.

Any questions or comments about the Hall, or a player listed or not listed above, send them to contact@replacementlevelpodcast.com or find me on Twitter @Rosscarey

Originally posted 7/30/12

Updated 11/24/12

Trackbacks

  1. Ross Carey says:

    Check out some Hall of Fame stats using career and peak WAR for Left Fielders http://t.co/cMDONhbV #HOF

Leave a Reply