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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man


In my previous blog I decided to focus on Derek Jeter’s hitting and base-running statistics. I created Table 1 below which I called the Sum of Ranks Table. This table compared Derek Jeter to the 22 Hall of Fame shortstops who played at least 1500 games. The statistics I chose are the regular season career statistics of batting average (AVG), on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), on-base plus slugging (OPS), number of hits (Hits), number of home-runs (HR), number of runs-batted-in (RBI), number of runs scored (Runs), and number of stolen bases (SB). Each player received a rank of 1 to 23 (1 being the highest and 23 being the lowest) for each statistic. The ranks of the 9 statistics were then summed for each player (the best possible sum would be 9*1 = 9 and the worst possible sum would be 9*23 = 207. Table 1 below has two columns; the column called SR is the sum of the ranks for the player and the column called FR is the player’s final rank.

A reader of this blog sent me an email asking the question: How would Bill James rank Derek Jeter against all Hall of Fame shortstops? For those of you unfamiliar with the name Bill James, his baseball formulas form the underpinnings for the book “Moneyball”. One method of answering this question is to apply Bill James’s Hall of Fame Standard Test to Jeter and the 22 Hall of Fame shortstops.Table 2 below ranks these 23 players using Bill James’s Hall of Fame Standard (HOF STD) Test. James’s HOF STD Test awards points based on certain batting and base-running statistics. Some examples of how points are awarded are: a player is awarded one point for each 150 hits above 1500, a player is awarded one point for each 100 stolen bases, and a player is awarded one point for each 200 home runs. You can read the complete list of how points are awarded in my book “Sandlot Stats” on pages 261-262. For the HOF STD Test the higher a player scores the higher his ranking. In Table 2 the column called HOF STD gives a player’s total points and the column called FR gives his final rank.

Some of my observations in comparing these two tables are:

  • Both tables rank Wagner one and Jeter two.
  • The same 8 players fill ranks 3-10 in both tables but not in the same order.
  • In Table 1 the difference between Rank 3 and Rank 10 is only 13 points; in Table 2 the difference between Rank 3 and Rank 10 is only 12 points.
  • In Table 1 the difference between Jeter’s Rank and Rank 3 is 29 points; In Table 2 the difference between Jeter’s Rank and Rank 3 is 9 points.

Side by Side Comparision of Two Evalualtions of Derek Jeter

 

Both tables show that Honus Wagner is clearly number 1 and Derek Jeter is clearly number 2. This is evidence that when people discuss the greatness of Jeter they need not preface it by emphasizing his intangibles. Derek Jeter’s statistics alone say that he probably is the second greatest offensive shortstop of all-time. One may argue that my study is too limited since I only included Hall of Fame shortstops. I would welcome anybody to compare Jeter to all shortstops that played in at least 1500 games. To be considered a shortstop that player should have played a majority of his games at shortstop. Of course this would disqualify such players as Alex Rodriguez, who after returning from his suspension will eventually play more games at DH and third base than at shortstop.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man


We all know when it comes to Derek Jeter, sports people always talk about his intangibles. I decided to focus on his actually hitting and base-running statistics. I decided to compare Jeter’s statistics to the 22 Hall of Fame shortstops who played at least 1000 games. The statistics I chose are the regular season career statistics of batting average (AVG), on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), on-base plus slugging (OPS), number of hits (Hits), number of home-runs (HR), number of runs-batted-in (RBI), number of runs scored (Runs), and number of stolen bases (SB). Yes, I could have chosen many other statistics like WAR and runs created but I decided to stick to the standard statistics. For each player, Table 1 below gives side-by-side each statistic with the player’s rank (R). The last column called the sum of ranks (SR) sums the ranks for each player. The lower SR is the higher the final rank of the player.

 

Greatest Shortstops of All Time

 

For each player,Table 2 gives his sum of ranks (SR) and his final rank (FR).Table 2 shows Honus Wagner is the greatest all-time shortstop. But Derek fans don’ feel bad. Hey, number two is not so bad. Derek Jeter is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. Remember, Derek still has one more season to improve his statistics.

 

Honus Wagner Shortstop Stats

It should be noted that my evaluation does not include defensive rankings and adjustments for the player’s era.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The month of February, with the pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training, signals the beginning of the 2014 baseball season. Sadly on February 6, 2014 baseball lost the legendary Ralph Kiner, who died at the age of 91. Ralph Kiner was loved by the people of Pittsburgh for his greatness as a baseball player. He was also beloved by the people of New York even though he never played a game in a New York uniform.

At the age of 23 in 1946, Ralph Kiner made his first appearance in the Major Leagues as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a hitter he can be described by the same word usedto describe “The Babe”, Jimmy Foxx and his protégé at Pittsburgh Hank Greenberg. That word is SLUGGER. Let’s look at his power statistics. In his rookie year he led the NL in home runs with 23. He holds the all-time record for most home runs hit in first five seasons with 215. He either tied for or led the NL in home runs from 1946-1952. In 1947, 1951, and 1952 he led the NL in slugging and on-base plus slugging. Even though his career lasted only 10 years he accumulated 369 home runs. When he retired in 1955 he ranked sixth on the career home run list. He was an All-Star for six years and homered in three straight games. He still ranks sixth all-time with a home run every 14.1 at-bats. He was often quoted saying “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs; singles hitters drive Fords.” He was inducted into the Hall of Fame with just one vote to spare in his 15th and final year of eligibility. The Pittsburgh Pirates retired his number 4 in 1987. He played for the Pirates from 1946 to 1953. When Branch Rickey became GM of Pittsburgh in 1950, a combative relationship with Kiner began. What upset Rickey were his demands each year for more money. In two of his years with the Pirates, although he led the league in HRs, the Pirates finished in last place. Kiner tells the story that after leading the league in home runs his contract for the following year was for less money. When he objected to the new contract, Rickey said, “We finished last with you, we can just as easily finish last without you.” Having no choice, Kiner signed the new contract. Boy, are things different for today’s baseball players. Kiner’s poor relationship with Rickey led to him being traded to the Cubs in 1953. His career was cut short because of back problems and ended at the age of 32 with Cleveland in 1955. During his playing days he was linked with such Hollywood starlets as Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh. It helped that Bing Crosby was a part-owner of the Pirates.

However, it is not the slugger Kiner that I remember; I remember the Kiner that was the voice of the New York Mets for over 50 years. He along with Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson were the announcers for the inaugural season for the expansion New York Mets in 1962. Kiner was in the TV booth when the Mets won the 1969 WS. Later, he shared the TV booth with Tim McCarver, when the Mets won the 1986 WS. Kiner hosted a postgame show of player interviews, “Kiner’s Korner.” Like the “Yogisms” of Yogi Berra, Kiner will always be remembered for his “Kinerisms.” These are characterized by his misuse owords. Here are some of these Kinerisms. He called Mets catcher Gary Carter “Gary Cooper.” On Father’s Day, he said, “We wish you all a happy birthday.” I recall him saying, “If Casey Stengel was alive today he’d be spinning in his grave.” In praising centerfielder Garry Maddox, he said, “Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water; the other third is covered by Garry Maddox.In the last ten years of his life, even though stricken with Bell”s palsy, he still made guest appearances in the TV booth. Ralph Kiner had two great lives; one as a baseball player for the Pirates and the other as a TV announcer for the Mets. The people of Pittsburgh and New York will miss Ralph Kiner.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Three blocks away from the Babe Ruth Museum is the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, which is the state's sports history headquarters. It features exhibits on the Baltimore Orioles, Colts, Ravens and Blast; Orioles Hall of Fame; Negro League teams; the Preakness; the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame; regional college athletics; a Kids' Discovery Room; and much more! This museum occupies the basement and first floor of the old Camden Railroad Station. Opened in 1856, the Camden Station served as a passenger terminal for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the country's first commercial railroad. Camden Station itself is an historic site, as the first blood of the Civil War was shed outside the station on Pratt Street.. Abraham Lincoln also passed through the building on several occasions, once on his way to Gettysburg. Unused since the 1980s, the Camden Station was restored to become the home of the Sports Legend Museum which opened in May of 2005.Above the main desk of the museum is a large sign listing the favorite Baltimore sports legends, ranked from 1 to 10 on the basis of the total votes they received from visitors to the museum. The names that appear are Ray Lewis, Michael Phelps, Cal Ripken Jr, Juan Dixon, Roger Staubach, Babe Ruth, Johnny Unitas, Frank Robinson, Pam Shriver, and Brooks Robinson. I challenge you to rank them from 1 to 10. The next blog will list them from 1 to 10 along with their total votes. Jerry A., who was at the front desk , told me that six years ago all the votes were lost from a computer failure and the vote counts I see are what they were six years ago.Jerry A. also told me some interesting stories about Babe Ruth. One of these stories was about a special hymnal book which was discovered under floor boards at the St Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore. At the age of seven, George Ruth Sr. delivered his mischievous son George Herman Ruth to St. Mary’s (the story that Babe Ruth was an orphan is false). Many years later under these floor boards Ruth’s hymnal book was found. Ruth wrote on the inside cover "World's Worse (sic) Singer, World's Best Pitcher.” Inside the Sports Legend Museum I came across a display featuring a man I never heard of. His name was Sam Lacy. Sam Lacy was a newspaper man who wrote for the Afro-American in Baltimore. He was a major driving force that led to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. It was Lacy who began a dialogue with Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers that ultimately led to Jackie Robinson signing with the Dodgers. Lacy spent the next three years traveling with Jackie dining at the same segregated restaurants with Jackie, and staying at the same "blacks only" boarding houses as Robinson. Like Robinson and the other black athletes he had covered, Lacy encountered racist indignities and hardships. Lacy became the first black admitted to The Baseball Writers Association of America. Lacy died in 2003 at the age of 99. What upsets black historians is the failure to mention Sam Lacy in the movie 42. If your family loves sports, like I do, a weekend spent at the scenic Inner Harbor of Baltimore is a five-star vacation. Within easy walking distance of each other are Camden Yards, the Babe Ruth Museum, and the Sports Legends Museum. On one day you can first have a meal in the Orioles Restaurant located in the warehouse behind the right field stands and then attend a baseball game at Camden Yards. On the next day you can visit both the Babe Ruth Museum and the Sports Legend Museum. I promise you this weekend will provide your family with lasting memories.


 

 

 
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