Hall monitor: Time to add some new third basemen to the Hall of Fame

I hesitate even to write about the Hall of Fame, since the voters have made such a shambles of the process in recent years. What once was a fun exercise—discussing who should be in and who should be out—has been turned into a chore by the baseball writers. Certain candidates stay on the outside, with only the most specious of arguments to support their exclusion, and that’s how we end up with a year like 2013, in which no one was elected by the writers.

Well, I refuse to permit the writers’ loss of perspective to spoil my fun. With apologies to catchers everywhere, let’s talk about the most oft-ignored position in Hall of Fame voting: third base.

Eleven major league third basemen have been elected to the Hall. Think about that: only 11, in the entire history of baseball have been adjudged to be worthy of enshrinement. That, of course, doesn’t include Paul Molitor or Cal Ripken, Jr., both of whom earned their stripes at other positions (if you include designated hitter as a position, in Molitor’s case). It also doesn’t include Negro League stars like Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson, to whom comparisons are difficult.

(Further, that number doesn’t include Johnny Bench. If I may digress for a moment: as a child, I knew Johnny Bench was a big star, but for a while, I had no idea that he had been a catcher. He played third base for the Reds at that time, after all. In fact, my heart was broken at the first game I ever attended, when I arrived at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium to discover that Wayne Krenchicki was starting at third for the Redlegs that day. I may never recover from that disappointment; I know I’ll never forgive Krenchicki.)

I say we need more third basemen in the Hall of Fame. No, I’m not the first to say that, but I’m the guy that’s saying it today. Not-so-coincidentally, I just happen to have three excellent candidates for enshrinement, two of whom retired last year, and one who remains active.

Let’s mention my first proposed candidate, and then we can move on to the interesting debates. Chipper Jones will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I know, I’m teetering out here on this limb, aren’t I? That’s not exactly a bold statement.

There may be some argument on this point, but there shouldn’t be. Over a 19-year career in Atlanta, Jones hit .303/.401/.529. His 468 homers place him 32nd on the all-time list (ahead of Dave Winfield and Ripken, just behind Stan Musial, Willie Stargell, and Carlos Delgado, of all people), though he’ll be given less credit for that, given the era in which he played. Jones also compiled 85.1 wins above replacement in his career, which places him fifth among third basemen in the history of baseball.

Jones scores well on all the measures that Hall of Fame voters have traditionally cared about. Plus, when you consider that those voters appear to give a bit of extra credit to a guy who plays his entire career in one uniform, Chipper should be a lock when he becomes eligible in 2018.

Now that we have the easy one out of the way, let’s dig deeper. These next two are likely to be more controversial than Jones, but they shouldn’t be. I’ll discuss them together since, in some ways, they have similar cases for enshrinement.

Before I tell you their names, take a look at this list. These are the top ten third basemen in career WAR, according to Baseball-Reference; only players who played more than half their career games at the hot corner are included.

1. Mike Schmidt, 106.6
2. Eddie Mathews, 96.1
3. Wade Boggs, 91.0
4. George Brett, 88.4
5. Chipper Jones, 85.2
6. Brooks Robinson, 78.4
7. Adrian Beltre, 70.7
8. Ron Santo, 70.6
9. Scott Rolen, 70.0
10. Graig Nettles, 67.9

Adrian Beltre and Scott Rolen are Hall of Famers, in my opinion. (I’ll let someone else make the case for Graig Nettles.) Here’s why.

First of all, take a look at Jay Jaffe’s JAWS rankings for third base. JAWS is a quick and dirty way to evaluate a player’s Hall of Fame credentials by comparing him to players who have already been inducted at his fielding position. Basically, it averages a player’s career WAR and peak WAR; what’s important for our purposes is that we can compare Rolen and Beltre with other third basemen.

Rolen and Beltre (and Chipper, for that matter) each rate above the average Hall of Fame third baseman in both career WAR and peak WAR. Every eligible player ahead of these two (three) has already been inducted.

Of course, just because they have above-average credentials by these metrics doesn’t mean that they are actually Hall-worthy. A number of undeserving players are in the Hall, bringing those averages down (Freddie Lindstrom, anyone? Jimmy Collins?), and the last thing I want to do is dilute the Hall even further by electing marginal candidates. But, if nothing else, JAWS shows that Rolen and Beltre deserve to be in the conversation, whatever that means. Both have been very good third basemen, historically good even.

If you just look at the traditional numbers that Hall of Fame voters have preferred, neither Rolen or Beltre are going to bowl anyone over. For his career, Rolen hit .281/.364/.490 with 316 homers (tied with Ron Cey for 117th all-time) and 1287 RBI (115th). In addition, Rolen only managed 2077 hits in his career, thanks largely to a penchant for getting injured often.

Beltre, of course, is still building his Hall of Fame resume and, at age 34, he’s coming off yet another outstanding season in Texas .315/.371/.509, 30 homers). In his career, he has compiled a slash line of .282/.334/.478 with 2426 hits, 376 homers (tied with Carlton Fisk for 70th all-time), and 1307 RBI (105th). When it comes time to weigh his Hall of Fame credentials, Beltre will face a problem with perception, I’m afraid. Until the last four seasons, Beltre had only had one really special season with his bat (2004), though that season was very special indeed.

If the voters based their decision strictly on those traditional numbers, I doubt either player would be elected. Rolen’s rate stats were a little better than Beltre’s (thanks primarily to some very uneven performances early in Beltre’s career), but Beltre has the edge in the counting stats (due to Rolen’s injury history; in 16 years, Beltre has actually played 238 more games than Rolen, who played 17 seasons).

What puts these guys over the top in this discussion is that they each had an elite skill: defense. If it weren’t for the sheer brilliance of Brooks Robinson, there is a very good argument that Beltre and Rolen would be the two best fielders ever to man the hot corner. That has to count for something, right?

Let’s look at a very imperfect measure before we delve into the advanced metrics. Rolen won eight Gold Gloves in his career. Beltre has won four (so far), but for the first seven years of his career, there was a good reason he didn’t win the award: he was playing in the National League, with Scott Rolen.

I know, Gold Gloves are a flawed way to tell who was the best fielder in a given year. Very flawed. For the purposes of this discussion, however, it does tell us that these guys were considered to be the best by their contemporaries, and that has some predictive value in analyzing how Rolen and Beltre will be viewed by the Hall of Fame voters.

I feel dirty now that I’ve used the Gold Glove award to bolster my argument. Please don’t hold it against me.

Let’s talk about Defensive Runs Saved, a measure of how many runs a player saved over and above what an average player would have saved. Beltre is second all-time among third basemen, with 182. Scott Rolen is 11th, with 175. The best, of course, is the aforementioned Brooks Robinson, who saved an astounding 292 runs beyond an average player (which doesn’t even include the 1970 World Series. Johnny Bench still has nightmares about that Series.)

It gets better. When we expand, and look at runs saved by players from every position on the field, Beltre and Rolen look even more impressive. Beltre is eighth all-time in baseball history, behind such luminaries as Mark Belanger (the only eligible non-Hall of Famer ahead of either Beltre or Rolen), Ozzie Smith, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays. Rolen is 11th, tied with Barry Bonds, and just behind Cal Ripken.

Consider that for a moment. These two players have saved more runs than almost every player that ever put on a glove, except for a few legends. Does the Hall of Fame case look a little stronger now?

I submit that it does. There’s a great case to be made that Adrian Beltre and Scott Rolen are among the top ten third basemen who have ever played, and among the top three defensive third basemen. If that isn’t a Hall of Famer, please explain the qualifications to me.

Prediction time. If you’ve read this far, you know that I think Chipper Jones, Adrian Beltre, and Scott Rolen are all Hall of Famers. If we are going to be realistic, and concede that Hall voters often get it wrong, what are we to make of these three guys? Here’s what I think will happen:

Chipper Jones should be a lock. I’ll say he’s going to make it, in the first year of eligibility.

Beltre, who just surpassed Rolen in career WAR this year, is a Hall of Famer right now, in my opinion. With a chance at 3000 hits, Beltre will likely be a shoo-in by the time he retires. Unless he gets injured tomorrow, he’ll be enshrined in Cooperstown eventually (though it almost definitely will not be a first-ballot slam dunk).

Rolen is a trickier case. The injuries that robbed him of much of his career, and hampered his ability to accumulate the raw numbers that Hall of Fame voters want, will negatively impact his chances at election. If it weren’t for those injuries, Rolen would have been easily elected. As it stands now, however, I think he’s going to fall just short.

And that is a shame. All three of these guys are deserving.

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Comments

  1. Carl said...

    Chad,

    You are a talented writer and make a very convincing case for all 3.  I agree that Chipper Jones (assuming nothing comes out about steroids) will be a first ballot HoFer.
    Beltre will get in, despite Tommy LaSorda’s influence and Dodger writer’s voting, but not a first ballot guy unless he lasts long enough to reach 3,000.  Also needs to avoid getting dragged into PED allegations.
    Rolen though is a “Rater”.  That’s a guy who has great rate stats ala Edgar Martinez, but due to injuries, late starts, early retirements, etc doesn’t quite make the Hall. A “Rater” is sort of the opposite of an accumulator.
    Nice career, can platoon w Nettles on the “Very, Very Good But Not Great” team.  Their defense will be needed playing behind pitchers like Tommy John and Jim Kaat.

  2. Jim G. said...

    I’d say it’s safe money that Miguel Cabrera will be a hall of famer and will have enough seasons in at 3b to help add to the list. Just as long as he stays off the juice and the sauce.

  3. bucdaddy said...

    Somewhat OT, but: Why does the BBWAA continue to vote to confer three major honors )HoF, MVP and Cy)? Isn’t that a clear conflict of interest for working journalists? Is the city hall reporter allowed a vote on which companies get lucrative contracts with the city? Of course not. But the BBWAA members vote on players who have incentive clauses in their contracts for MVP and Cy Young, and whose autograph price likely quintuples if he makes the HoF.

    I question the ethics of the BBWAA members being involved in this process, and therefore have little regard for their actual selections for different reasons than you do, though your reasons are certainly valid.

  4. Ken said...

    I think Beltre gets in one of his first few chances.  He’s got at least two more years on his current contract and has been consistently great the last four years. He finishes 2015 with more than 2,700 hits and 400 HRs. That with his multiple gold gloves gets him in with little difficulty.

  5. Paul G. said...

    Jimmy Collins was credited with revolutionizing how to play defense at third base and, like your two candidates here, was considered a superb defensive third baseman.  He also played at a time of shorter schedules than modern times, which deflates his numbers, which are still impressive.  He was the best third baseman in baseball history when he retired.  And he was the manager of the first ever World Series champions.  And this is the guy who does not deserve the honor?  Really?!?

    As to Rolen, being healthy is an important part of being a baseball player and it (no pun intended) hurts him.  If I go with bWAR’s assertion that 5 WAR is the All-Star threshold, Rolen was an All-Star equivalent, let’s see, 5 times.  That’s good but hardly “vote me into the Hall of Fame or die of shame” territory.  His .220 batting average in the playoffs does not exactly help his case either.  Yeah, he was awesome in the 2006 World Series and the 2004 NLCS, but he also has four series where he batted below 100 including two Oh-fers.  You might want to omit that from the Powerpoint presentation.  He comes across as a sort of accumulator without sufficient accumulation, a poor rich kid if you will.  If his career had the same overall value but over fewer seasons he would have a better case.  Not getting excited here.

    Beltre’s case relies entirely on what he does in the next few seasons.  He was an good, not great player until that ridiculous 2004 season, then gets his big contract which was a bit of a disappointment as Seattle was expecting more than “good, not great.”  If he had had a standard decline at the end of that contract, he has no case.  The last 4 seasons have been unusual, to say the least.  By the bWAR standard he’s had 7 All-Star type seasons, 4 of which are the last 4 years.  If he has a couple more All-Star type seasons, or gets to 3,000 hits, or does something special like have a Joe Carter type moment, and he keeps his nose clean, then he gets in.  If he retired suddenly I wouldn’t vote for him.

  6. Chad Dotson said...

    Paul: All of this is fair, even if I don’t necessarily agree.

    Regarding Jimmy Collins, it was probably unfair to label him with “undeserving,” when the point I was trying to make was that he was bringing the WAR average down for 3Bs. Then again, would you dispute that he’s among the least qualified candidates among those who have been elected? Looks like it to me.

    As to Rolen, you say he’s an accumulator, but the fact that he was able to accumulate these totals in the number of games he was able to play is actually a point in his favor. Now, whether he did enough “accumulating,” for lack of a better term, is a very real question. No doubt, he’s a borderline candidate, but I’d vote for him.

    Seems to me that whether someone feels like either of these guys is a good candidate depends on how much he values defense. Both Rolen and Beltre were, I submit, elite defenders at their position. That counts for something to me.

  7. Chad Dotson said...

    Ken: I agree completely. I think Beltre will be a lock after a couple more years.

    Carl: You’re likely right about Rolen. I think he’s a Hall of Famer, but I don’t think he’ll be elected.

  8. Paul G. said...

    @bucdaddy: The press, at least at the time the voting was established, had the advantages of more familiarity with the players, given they watched many more games than the average person; possessed above average intelligence; and were (presumably) less biased than the managers, players, and executives, who would have been the other logical choices.  Who else was there?  The fans?  When the average one might see a game a year and never outside of his home city? 

    Maybe it would be a good idea for a change in voting, but I cannot think of a particularly better alternative at the moment.  If you got a brilliant idea I’m all ears.  Just don’t get stuck in the mindset of “perfecting” anything.  Any institution of any importance to anyone will get corrupted to some extent eventually.  Do not compare the imperfect status quo with some imagined ideal.

  9. Tom said...

    The first four made it in the Hall with offensive numbers, Robinson was the first 3rd basemen to make with his glove. Graig Nettles was the best fielding 3rd basemen of the mid 1970’s he made the diving stop look routine and did to both sides. Ask Tommy Lasorda about Nettles, I believe if Graig had not been injured in during the 1981 series the Dodgers would not have comeback to win.

  10. Todd said...

    Surely Rolen isn’t both the 11th best defensive 3B and also the 11th best overall defender?

    Anyway, there’s no question in my mind that Rolen is a HoF 3B. It’s too bad he’ll never get elected =(

  11. bucdaddy said...

    Paul G.,

    That’s a good point, considering the voting started in the pre-TV days, when print guys and very few other people saw the players play a lot. It was probably also a badge of honor for people in a profession that historically paid peanuts. (And still, largely, does.) “Hey, I might not make any money, but I get to decide who’s a Hall of Famer.” Plus players didn’t (I’m guessing) have huge MVP and Cy Young bonus clauses, and the memorabilia market wasn’t what it would one day become.

    So back in the day, there wasn’t really a lot of conflict of interest financially speaking. You might still run into problems if Player A (on the team you cover) had a great season but found out you voted for Player B for MVP. That possible conflict still stands, of course, and it’s bad enough.

    But to me, the larger conflict now is the huge pile of money at stake, with players getting five- and six-figure bonuses for winning major awards, and memorabilia income expanding exponentially. The BBWAA vote, and therefore the vote of each BBWAA member, facilitates the transfer of large amounts of money from one entity to another. I can’t think of any other area of journalism where working writers have such a direct influence on the wallets of the people they cover. (Unless you’re exposing criminals or corruption or whatnot, which of course is way more in line with what journalists are supposed to do; where in the definition of “working Journalist” does it say, “Helps Miguel Cabrera cash in his incentive clause”?)

    Anyway, I wouldn’t particularly care who decided the MVPs and Cy Youngs and HoFs if the BBWAA didn’t, because those things are extraneous to the actual playing and winning of baseball games and championships. If the awards and the Hall went away tomorrow, it would have zero impact on the baseball season. Otherwise, I wouldn’t particularly care who did the voting, as long as it wasn’t people in my profession who clearly (to me) ignore their ethical responsibilities. Let the people who vote for the Gold Gloves do it. Sure, they often make dumb decisions (Derek Jeter), but it’s not like the BBWAA votes are always inarguable.

    Anyway, since you ask … here’s bucdaddy’s plan to reform the HoF voting syatem, at least.

    Sensing that the BBWAA would throw a hissy fit if you tried to take their toys away from them, they would still be allowed a vote. But they would form one precinct, because the days are long gone when they’re the only people on the planet who have seen hundreds of baseball games. There would also be a precinct for broadcasters. I mean, Vin Scully doesn’t get a vote? Are you kidding me? And a precinct for a panel of respected bloggers, and one for retired managers and coaches. And a precinct for a panel of retired players. And, somehow, a precinct for the fans.

    If that seems too far-reaching (“My God, we can’t trust the FANS with something as vital to national security as even as a sliver of a Hall of Fame vote!”), then maybe, at least, those precinct voters could determine the list of nominees. You’ve probably seen the yearly lists of eligible candidates, and usually a bunch of them are absurd. Last year’s ballot had Jeromy Burnitz and Terry Mulholland and Phil Nevin on it.

    I propose that the ex-manager/coach/player/blogger/fan contingent at least be allowed to winnow this list down to the 12 best candidates. Sure, there’s always going to be some fuss about who got in at No. 12 and who missed out at No. 13, but life ain’t fair.

    Now, perhaps my biggest issue with the HoF vote, besides who is doing the voting, is the absurdity of throwing all the players into one pile and forcing them to duke it out for a finite number of votes. What does Mike Piazza’s candidacy have to do with Roger Clemens’, or Tim Raines’ or Jeff Bagwell’s? Why, if I vote for one, is that a vote I can’t cast for another?

    As it is now, the selections get released (anonymously) on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of January. With no TV. I mean, Jeebus, the NFL managed to turn something as inherently boring as the annual draft into a three-day TV extravaganza. And this is the best the BBWAA can do in conferring its greatest honor?

    (snip)

  12. bucdaddy said...

    Let’s take those 12 candidates I mentioned before. Let’s have 12 separate votes and judge each player based on his own merits, let him stand on his own record, not dependent on who’s in the candidate class with him. I picked 12 for a reason: Let’s have one vote a month. First up, January 2014: Barry Bonds. Let’s have a monthlong national debate on the pros and cons of Barry’s candidacy. On the last Sunday of the month, let’s have a two-hour prime-time special (ESPN, I suppose). The first hour is a retrospective of the player’s career. The next half hour is a panel discussion among (if they really must make the final decision or they’ll cry) a handful of BBWAA members, for and against. And the crowning moment, the last half hour, is the player himself, in the studio, watching as the vote (in or out)* is conducted live, with the names of the voters next to their votes scrolling by, and the player free to comment about the people doing the voting. (“That guy? I’m not surprised that asshole doesn’t like me.”) Show some balls, BBWAA. If you’re not worried about any ethical issues, then why do you vote anonymously? Show your faces, or give someone else the job.

    Next month, it’s Mike Piazza’s turn. Then Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio and so on.

    Think you’d watch those?

    I would. And I barely give a crap who makes the Hall.

    With the availability of Twitter and other media making voting easy and instantaneous, this all could easily be done, and it would give the HoF a huge PR boost. Every month, all month, fans would be talking about the Hall, not just for a couple days in the middle of the NFL playoffs.

    Make it so.

    *—If a player doesn’t accumulate the 75% for induction, he’s ineligible for another five years. At the end of that five years, the nomination panel may, if it chooses, place him among the 12 finalists again. If he makes it, he gets voted on again. If he’s still out, he’s out permanently. If he doesn’t make the final 12, he’s out permanently. No more of this kicking the can down the road for 15 years nonsense.

  13. Paul G. said...

    CORRECTION: By the bWAR standard Rolen had 6 All-Star type seasons.  I missed a split season.

    No, I wouldn’t agree that Jimmy Collins is one of the least deserving Hall of Famers.  He retired in 1908.  Major league baseball started in 1876.  That’s 30+ years.  Give me one third baseman during that period who was better than Jimmy Collins.  For that matter compare him to any third baseman before WWII.  There are guys who are arguably better (Home Run Baker, for instance), but it is not as clear cut as you might think.  Kinda hard to say that the elite third sacker of the first three decades (and perhaps the first seven or eight decades) of major league history, who by the way essentially defined how the position would be played, is among the least qualified.  Was George Kell unavailable?

    Just for fun, I pro-rated out Jimmy’s bWAR to adjust for the shorter schedules.  For 162 game seasons he ends up with 59.5 bWAR.  If he gets a chance to play in the NL before he’s 25-years-old – an advantage both Rolen (21) and Beltre (19) have – that probably adds 3-5 more WAR, maybe ending up with approximately 65 WAR.  Looks a lot different now, doesn’t it?

    As to Rolen, yes, he was generally really good when he was healthy.  But when he wasn’t healthy his team had to find someone to take his place and that is a significant negative.  Overall value being equal, I’d much rather have a guy with a shorter career but was always healthy than Rolen’s career path.  His teams had to run out guys like Ricky Jordan (career bWAR -1.8), Abraham Nunez (+0.9), and what was left of Scott Spezio (-0.2 in 2007) to fill in while he cashed pay checks on the DL.  Nunez proved to be pretty good his year, but even so these roster disruptions are not a good thing and must be counted against his candidacy.

    That said, if Rolen is elected I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.  Then again I won’t lose sleep if he doesn’t make it either.

  14. Paul G. said...

    bucdaddy: Sounds like a variation on Bill James’s plan from 20 years ago.  I dunno.  To me his proposal had too many moving parts to actually work smoothly.

    As to the Gold Glove voters, those would be the managers and coaches.  Give them the vote for a few years and I sense we will be wistful for the good ole days of the BBWAA….

  15. cooldrive said...

    Jimmie Collins brings down the WAR for third basemen as we see it NOW.  He was elected in 1945.  Of those third basemen who were eligible at that time, which ones were better than Collins THEN?  According to JAWS, just one, Home Run Baker.

  16. John C said...

    Beltre, to me, is a no-questions-asked Hall of Famer. He’s so good defensively that he probably could have played shortstop in the major leagues. He wouldn’t have been any worse than Derek Jeter there.

    His problem, as you said, is one of perception. Almost all of his career has been in awful parks for a hitter—Dodger Stadium and then Safeco Field, and they held down his numbers for years. It looks for all the world like he just got better in his 30s, but all he’s done is escape to Fenway and then to Arlington, where the park helps him instead of hurting him. When he played in the big media market, in L.A., he wasn’t perceived as a star, and he only spent a year with the Red Sox.

    Beltre is the new Craig Biggio. Biggio was a fantastic player all along, but the writers never noticed until he got 3,000 hits in his last season, and it was like “how in the world did he get 3,000 hits?” and they looked at his numbers and realized he’d been great all along, but they were too busy paying attention to Derek Jeter and A-Rod to notice. And so Biggio went from being ignored to almost making the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

  17. bucdaddy said...

    Paul G.,

    It probably is. I read “The Politics of Glory” a long time ago, and I’m sure I absorbed much of that plan from it.

    The “too many moving parts” thing, though, I think with today’s communications technology, a lot of those parts are easier to manage. Nobody has to wait a week or two now for all the various ballots (under the Bucdaddy Plan) to arrive in the mail, for instance. And all the players’ career numbers are available online. Everything involved in holding such an election has gotten easier to do.

    The fan vote part might seem a little unwieldy, but I also had the idea (a great promotion, IMHO) of having each team hold a Most Knowledgable Fan competition, with the fan voting panel being made up of the 30 winners. There are plenty of commenters on blogs like this one who seem vastly smarter about the game and its history than some of the people who actually cover baseball for a living. They would make up an excellent voting precinct. And I think pride in making the panel and the desire to represent well would overcome any possible hometown-favoritism objections.

  18. Paul G. said...

    John C: At least by bWAR, Beltre has gotten better since he left Seattle.  In Seattle he was averaging 4.24 bWAR, which is good.  Since then: 6.53.  That’s a very big difference and that’s park adjusted.  Now it is possible that Beltre was especially ill-suited for Seattle and he would have been putting up 6 bWAR every year if he was in Boston or Texas, but by pure statistical measures he has gotten significantly better recently.  Without this spike he would not be a HOF candidate.

    bucdaddy: Anything with that many voting precincts will be confusing no matter what technology you use, and that assumes the tech is done right.  Done wrong… whoa, that would be miserable and probably end the experiment after one try.  And with all due respect, I will reiterate that anything that is important to anyone will be corrupted to some extent eventually.  The idea that there would not be any hometown-favoritism is very optimistic to say the least.  Those impartial guys that know their stuff will be competing with people with less scruples and people with less scruples tend to find their way into power….

  19. John C said...

    Paul G.: It’s easy to determine, and yes, Beltre was absolutely killed by Dodger Stadium and Safeco Field. His career OPS in Dodger Stadium is .738, and in Safeco, it’s .720. He’s at .812 for his career, even counting his Dodger/Safeco performance. Baseball-Reference.com is my friend.

    Even after several years of being in much better hitters’ parks, he still has a career OPS 46 points higher on the road. Most players, even ones who play in pitcher’s parks, have a slight home-park advantage or are at least basically neutral.

    In Boston, he’s been typical Beltre (career OPS of .822), but a lot of that was as a Mariner, when he was also facing Red Sox pitching. He was at .881 in 2010 when he played his home games there. In Arlington, he’s been deadly (.327 average, .952 OPS).

    In conclusion, I would say it’s extremely likely that Beltre would have been a 6 WAR player every season if he had played his entire career in either Boston or Texas. He was extremely unsuited for both Dodger Stadium and Safeco Field.

  20. Paul G. said...

    John C.: Okay, I’ll buy that.  He wouldn’t be the first player ill-suited for his ballpark where his disadvantage is greater than the park factor would indicate.  It is kinda difficult to objectively rate a player on what could have been though.

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