Friday, November 5, 2004
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
ALL-TIME TOP 100s: Catchers
Today, I will be starting a new series of postings. Frequently, I have asked readers to give me ideas for topics and also that if they want to do some research and write something up, that I would be happy to consider posting it for them. Well, in recent weeks, Justin Ahern has done a lot of research on a topic that he was curious about, and that I found very interesting. So basically, he did the research, plugged in the numbers and came up with lists for the Top 100 players at each position in major league history.
So, thank you very much to Justin Ahern. The topic is very interesting and for him to do so much work and number crunching really helps me out a LOT! So, thank you!
If you have any questions for me, or if you have any questions for Justin, please e-mail me and I will be sure to forward your thoughts to him.
BACKGROUND AND PROCESS
Now, Justin noted that Bill James completed a project to rank the players by positions using Win Shares and other numbers. Here are the six categories that Bill James used to determine his ranking:
1.) Win Shares - Career Totals
2.) Win Shares - Top 3 seasons
3.) Win Shares - Top 5 consecutive seasons
4.) Win Shares - per 162 games played
5.) A Time Line Adjustment (points based on player's year of birth)
6.) Subjective Rating
When Justin did his research, he used each of the above criteria, except for the Subjective Rating because "if I wanted to do a subjective rating, I wouldn't have spent all of this time crunching numbers. People can do their own subjective rating. I just wanted to see what the numbers said." Justin pointed out to me that he thought that defensive players like Ozzie Smith and Bill Mazeroski were players hurt most by not including the subjective rating. This does make sense, and yet, I feel it important to point out the defense is included in Win Shares, so that does factor into this still.
I really like the way this is done. I think that career totals are important because it shows productivity over the entire career, longevity. We are also able to judge by their best years, how good they were at their best. The Top 5 consecutive seasons shows an extended period of peak performance. The "per 162 game" category adjusts for things like time missed for injury, etc. And finally, the Time Line question is one that I asked Justin about as well. He said, and I completely agree, that hitting is much tougher now than it was at any prior time in history. Win Shares does factor in the player's era. Now, this is not a big category, so it's effect on the overall score is minimal in comparison to the other categories.
Another thing that I like about Justin's research is that he chose to "normalize" each category. He explains:
I "normalized" all of the categories to a max score of 50. The way that James did the rating is that whatever they guy got in that category, that was his score. He did no normalizing. Babe Ruth accumulated 756 win shares in his career. That is the highest total ever. For this he received 37 points in James's system. In Will Clark's 3 best seasons he accumulated 44, 37, and 34 win shares so in James's ratings he got 38 points for that. Why should Clark get more credit for 3 great seasons that Ruth gets for having the greatest win share total ever? I don't think he should and that's why I normalized them. Ruth now gets 50 points for his 756 career win shares and Clark now gets 36 points for his 3 season run. I think that is a fairer way to evaluate them. Ruth had the most career win shares, the best score for top 3, and the top win shares per 162 games played. He gets a 50 in all 3 categories and every other player gets rated against Ruth's scores in those categories. Honus Wagner had the best 5 year stretch so he gets the 50 point score in that category and everybody else is evaluated against Wagner. I used the same time line adjustment that James used. I saw no need to change it.
So, there you have it, the criteria of this analysis. Again, I find it very interesting to see how Justin's analysis rates the players. I was very interested in seeing how current players rated in comparison to the old-timers. My plan with this series of postings is to post a position a day at least four days a week for the next couple of weeks. At the end of this analysis, we will list out the Top 200 players of all-time, regardless of position. I will post the Top 100 in order and only give their total points combining Justin's five categories (With four categories where the top score is 50, and the age category, where the highest "score" was 17.9, the highest possible score a player can get is 217.9.) You will notice in some cases that we have actually ranked a few more than 100. Justin wanted to plug in the numbers of players like Joe Mauer, Shannon Stewart, David Ortiz, and Doug Mientkiewicz and others to see how far they are from hitting the Top 100.
For each position, I have asked Justin to give me some thoughts on what he found interesting about the rankings. Maybe there was a player that surprised him with how high or low he ranked. Maybe there was a name that he didn't know well. I will do a quick summary of my thoughts on the same types of things, and maybe do a little research on a couple of the players that I know very little about. Might as well make this a learning experience too, right?
With no further ado, let's get to the analysis:
Here are the Top 100 Catchers of All-Time.
Rank Player Year Born Total 1 Mike Piazza 1968 146.65 2 Johnny Bench 1947 144.18 3 Yogi Berra 1925 142.20 4 Gary Carter 1954 134.44 5 Mickey Cochrane 1903 130.64 6 Joe Torre 1940 129.18 7 Bill Dickey 1907 129.07 8 Carlton Fisk 1947 128.08 9 Roy Campanella 1921 124.77 10 Ted Simmons 1949 124.15 11 Bill Freehan 1941 123.98 12 Ivan Rodriguez 1971 123.88 13 Gabby Hartnett 1900 121.00 14 Gene Tenace 1946 120.63 15 Roger Bresnahan 1897 115.26 16 Jorge Posada 1971 114.95 17 Elston Howard 1929 113.23 18 Thurman Munson 1947 112.22 19 Lance Parrish 1956 110.22 20 Darren Daulton 1962 108.59 21 Buck Ewing 1859 108.54 22 Mickey Tettleton 1960 108.16 23 Darrell Porter 1952 107.30 24 Jason Kendall 1974 105.92 25 Tom Haller 1937 105.18 26 Javy Lopez 1970 104.87 27 John Romano 1934 100.79 28 Tim McCarver 1941 100.23 29 Sherm Lollar 1924 99.86 30 Jim Sundberg 1951 98.51 31 Manny Sanguillen 1944 97.57 32 Earl Battey 1935 96.95 33 Mike Scioscia 1958 96.13 34 Del Crandall 1930 96.09 35 Ernie Lombardi 1908 95.14 36 Joe Ferguson 1946 94.24 37 Terry Kennedy 1956 93.82 38 John Roseboro 1933 93.39 39 Terry Steinbach 1962 92.90 40 Bob O'Farrell 1896 92.22 41 Todd Hundley 1969 91.23 42 Charles Johnson 1971 91.22 43 Walker Cooper 1915 90.76 44 Tony Pena 1957 90.38 45 Bob Boone 1947 90.27 46 Ray Schalk 1892 89.97 47 Rick Ferrell 1905 89.44 48 Muddy Ruel 1896 88.61 49 Ed Bailey 1931 88.60 50 Harry Danning 1911 88.49 51 Chief Meyers 1880 88.03 52 Johnny Kling 1875 87.30 53 Benito Santiago 1965 86.97 54 Johnny Edwards 1938 86.79 55 Butch Wynegar 1956 86.59 56 Duke Farrell 1866 85.77 57 Charlie Bennett 1854 84.79 58 Smoky Burgess 1927 84.42 59 Andy Seminick 1920 84.14 60 Steve O'Neill 1891 83.69 61 Stan Lopata 1925 83.43 62 AJ Pierzynski 1976 82.23 63 Bubble Hargrave 1892 82.16 64 Gus Triandos 1930 81.88 65 Spud Davis 1904 81.54 66 Jack Clements 1864 80.98 67 Ernie Whitt 1952 80.88 68 Jody Davis 1956 80.51 69 Rick Dempsey 1949 80.30 70 Johnny Bassler 1895 79.92 71 Shanty Hogan 1906 78.47 72 Deacon Bcguire 1863 78.09 73 Mike LaValliere 1960 77.43 74 Chief Zimmer 1860 77.25 75 Jason Varitek 1972 77.14 76 Frank Snyder 1893 76.68 77 Frankie Hayes 1914 76.42 78 Gus Mancuso 1905 76.34 79 Hank Severeid 1891 76.12 80 Cliff Carroll 1859 76.03 81 Jim Hegan 1920 75.84 82 Al Lopez 1908 75.73 83 Jerry Grote 1942 75.70 84 Don Slaught 1958 75.70 85 Ron Hassey 1953 75.45 86 Mike Macfarlane 1964 74.99 87 Doggie Miller 1864 74.53 88 Bo Diaz 1953 74.27 89 Sandy Alomar Jr. 1966 73.01 90 Brian Harper 1959 72.86 91 George Gibson 1880 72.10 92 Steve Yeager 1948 72.06 93 Hank Gowdy 1889 71.72 94 Babe Phelps 1908 71.69 95 Phil Masi 1916 71.53 96 Jimmie Wilson 1900 70.15 97 Rollie Hemsley 1928 69.56 98 Del Rice 1922 69.18 99 Alan Ashby 1951 68.21 100 Earl Smith 1897 67.94 101 Luke Sewell 1901 67.92 102 Charlie Moore 1953 67.36 103 Heinie Peitz 1870 66.97 104 Jack O'Connor 1869 66.68 105 Birdie Tebbetts 1912 65.53 106 Ivy Wingo 1890 65.22 107 Mickey Owen 1916 60.39 108 Wilbert Robinson 1863 59.25 109 Victor Martinez 1978 54.59 110 Joe Mauer 1983 51.01
I think that Posada and Kendall point out the lack of great catchers that there have been in baseball history. Part of it could be attributed to catcher's careers being so short that they don't get a chance to accumulate great numbers. I think that Joe Torre is overrated in this system, too. He put up monster numbers when he was no longer a catcher.
There are a lot of Yankees in the Top 20! I think that Yogi Berra is very underrated as a player because of his funny quotes, but this shows just how good he really was! And to think that he and Elston Howard were frequently on the same roster. Bill Dickey is a Hall of Famer. How far up this list could Thurmon Munson have been if not for his unfortunate death. How far up the list could Jorge Posada go?
I'm not surprised that Mike Piazza is #1 on the list. I am surprised that Ivan Rodriguez is way down at #12! Other names that surprised me were:
Higher than I thought: Gene Tenace, Darren Daulton, Mickey Tettleton, Tim McCarver.
No one really ranks any lower than I would have thought. I guess that I just think that catcher is really a pretty weak position. The top 10-12 are pretty good, but after that, there is a huge drop off.
#32 - Earl Battey (Twins 1961-1967)
#38 - John Roseboro (Twins 1968-1969)
#39 - Terry Steinbach (Twins 1997-1999)
#55 - Butch Wynegar (Twins 1976-1982)
#62 - AJ Pierzynski (Twins 1998-2003)
#90 - Brian Harper (Twins 1988-1993)
Brian Harper had five very decent, high average, low power seasons with the Twins, but that was really the extent of his big league success. He was very good, but that he would fit onto this list tells you how weak the position is. AJ has been a very good offensive player for a few years now, but his #62 ranking of all-time also shows that. He is still very young, so think of how far up this list he could go. I would guess above any of the others on this Twins list.
Overall as you can see, the catcher position has been a weak offensive position. As I mentioned, I think the top 10-12 on this list are great hitters and worthy of their rankings. But throughout baseball history, catcher has not been an offensive position. It has been a position where defense is what gets noticed. An ability to receive the ball well, call a good, smart game, lead a pitching staff and throw out base stealers are the things that make a good catcher.
A report like this probably is not fair to the catcher position, and yet, the players still deserve mention. It will be more interesting to see how the rankings go at other positions, which we will start next week.
Do you have any thoughts on these catcher ratings? Do you have any questions for myself or for Justin Ahern on this ranking or how this was comprised? If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me, and be sure to check back in the coming weeks for the rest of the positions.
Late last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets battled each other in a great early season game. Unfortunately for the Wolves and their fans, they were unable to get their second victory when Earl Boykins knocked down a 18 foot jumper with 6.8 seconds left in overtime.
You had to know that the Nuggets would be ready for this game. They have a lot to prove. Many are thinking that they will contend in the Western Conference. I don't doubt that they will. I think they're still a year away with contending for home field advantage, but they are very good. The addition of Kenyon Martin is huge. But their point guard situation with Andre Miller and Earl Boykins is electrifying.
Because the game was a nationally televised game, it did not even start until about 10:00 central time. I can totally understand the teams' frustration with being in the Northwest Division and playing most of their games really late in the central time zone! It will be hard for fans to stay up late and watch their games! With overtime, it finished at 12:44 a.m. in Minnesota!
This Nuggets/Wolves series is going to be intense! It all stems back to last year's playoff series and what happened between Kevin Garnett and Francisco Elson. Well, last night, they got in each other's face in teh third quarter and each got a technical. It was Elson's second, so he was ejected. With about three minutes left in the game, Sam Cassell fouled Earl Boykins and then knocked him in the head after the whistle. Kenyon Martin took exception and pushed Cassell. The ball came to Sam and he threw it at Martin. Cassell got two technicals and tossed from the game. Martin got a technical too. This is going to be fun to watch! And did everyone see the fan that came after Flip Saunders right at the end of the game?
It was interesting looking at the Wolves statistics at halftime. They held a five point lead over the Nuggets, but no player had double-figures in points. Latrell Sprewell led the way with 9 points. But 9 different Wolves had already scored. The only Wolves player that did not score, that played, was Mark Madsen.
But down the stretch, it was Kevin Garnett's show. He took over after the halfway point in the fourth quarter. He scored the team's last 14 points in regulation, including a game-tying shot with 10 seconds left. Garnett ended the game with 25 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks.
The problem was that Sam Cassell was 3-14 from the field. Troy Hudson was 4-10. Latrell Sprewell was just 4-12. Michael Olowokandi was also 4-12. Maybe that was the big problem? On this roster, the Kandi Man should not get 12 shots.
The positive? Well, Trenton Hassell was 8-8 from the field and had 17 points. No, he isn't a good shooter, but his shots were all from within about 6 feet. If he can make those, that will be great!
I know it's just two games in, but so far, the Wolves have really struggled at the start of the games and then at the start of the second half. Sure, they get things going after a few minutes, but they need to find a way to get off to better starts at the beginning of halves. Maybe part of it is just letting the game come to them. With so many scoring options, maybe they need to take a few minutes to find a hot hand, and get everyone involved. That is understandable, and I know that soon this will work itself out.
I am already remembering why it is so tough to win on the road in the NBA though. Call it what it is, the hometown team does get a lot of calls! They are allowed to get away with a little more contact than the road team. I don't think I really have a problem with that. A team should have to earn road wins. As long as it is not completely blatant, I understand it.
The Wolves next game is Saturday night when they will host the New Orleans Hornets.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Week 9. After this week is complete, we will be officially more than halfway through the season. The Vikings don't play until Monday night in what should be an entertaining matchup with the high-powered Indianapolis Colts. (I will preview and make my prediction for that game on Monday). Here our our expert's picks this week:
Seth Stohs Melissa Olson Ben Jacobs Aaron Gleeman John Bonnes Ryan Maus SethSpeaks.net SethSpeaks.net Hardball Times Aaron's BB Blog Twins Geek Twins Chatter Arizona @ Miami Cardinals Cardinals Dolphins Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh Eagles Steelers Eagles Eagles Eagles Steelers Kansas City @ Tampa Bay Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Oakland @ Carolina Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers NY Jets @ Buffalo Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Dallas @ Cincinnati Bengals Cowboys Bengals Bengals Cowboys Cowboys Washington @ Detroit Redskins Lions Lions Lions Lions Lions New Orleans @ San Diego Saints Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Seattle @ San Francisco Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Chicago @ NY Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Houston @ Denver Texans Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos New England @ St. Louis Rams Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Cleveland @ Baltimore Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Minnesota @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Vikings Colts Michael Labuda David Bergner David Bloom Vic Quick Mike Brasel Jeremy Kovash ChiSox Daily Baseball Savant Ya Gotta Believe KDUH-Sports FFB Guru Wolf Lake Mgr Arizona @ Miami Cardinals Dolphins Dolphins Cardinals Cardinals Dophins Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers Eagles Steelers Steelers Kansas City @ Tampa Bay Chiefs Chiefs Buccs Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs Oakland @ Carolina Panthers Panthers Panthers Panthers Raiders Panthers NY Jets @ Buffalo Jets Bills Jets Jets Jets Bills Dallas @ Cincinnati Bengals Bengals Cowboys Bengals Bengals Bengals Washington @ Detroit Lions Lions Lions Lions Lions Lions New Orleans @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Chargers Seattle @ San Francisco Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Chicago @ NY Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Giants Houston @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos New England @ St. Louis Patriots Rams Patriots Patriots Patriots Rams Cleveland @ Baltimore Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Minnesota @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Vikings Colts Colts Colts
That's it for today. I hope the half-hour format was ok. Please feel free to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me.
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