Offense/Defense number (Part 2)

Last installment, we looked at infielders who were the most balanced two-way players in a season, using the idea behind Bill James’ Power/Speed Number (taking the harmonic mean of homers and steals, which weights the lesser number significantly) to make an Offense/Defense number (harmonic mean of Batting and Fielding Win Shares). It generated a fair bit of discussion about who would make the outfield lists, and so I’m proud to give the outfielders and catchers this time around.

As a general note, the corner outfield spots appear to have generated slightly more Fielding Win Shares in the 19th century than later. I do not know why this is, but each side of center field has five 18xx performances in the top 25, while center field has none. I also would not have guessed that left fielders would do better in this measurement than right fielders. Given how defense-oriented these lists are and the traditional roles of left fielders and right fielders, it’s easy to forget how valuable a defensive left fielder can be. Sure, you can stick an oaf there if first base already has one, but it’s handy to have a guy who can catch the ball in a big area, especially the area to which right handers will pull. I could be wrong or at least have heard about Jason Bay too much (for what it’s worth, he and my sister-in-law have similar faces), but the emphasis on defense in recent years seems to be largely about left field and teams thinking it a key defensive spot.

Left field


















































































































































































































Name Year BWS FWS TWS O/D
Willie Wilson 1980 24.1 7.3 31.4 11.21
Joe Vosmik 1932 16.4 8.0 24.4 10.75
Rickey Henderson 1980 27.4 6.5 33.9 10.51
Jimmy Sheckard 1903 26.2 6.4 32.6 10.29
Joe Kelley 1899 22.9 6.6 29.5 10.25
Fred Clarke 1909 24.5 6.4 30.9 10.15
Hugh Duffy 1898 17.4 7.1 24.5 10.08
Hank Sauer 1952 21.9 6.3 28.2 9.79
Kip Selbach 1899 15.9 7.0 22.9 9.72
Eric Byrnes 2007 20.2 6.3 26.5 9.60
Goose Goslin 1925 25.0 5.7 30.7 9.28
Bobby Veach 1915 24.2 5.7 29.9 9.23
Al Simmons 1929 28.1 5.5 33.6 9.20
Sam Mertes 1904 21.2 5.8 27.0 9.11
Babe Ruth 1921 47.7 5.0 52.7 9.05
Jimmy Sheckard 1911 25.0 5.5 30.5 9.02
Zack Wheat 1916 26.5 5.4 31.9 8.97
Sherry Magee 1907 32.4 5.2 37.6 8.96
Sam Mertes 1903 20.1 5.7 25.8 8.88
Tip O’Neill 1886 21.0 5.6 26.6 8.84
Elmer Smith 1893 19.8 5.6 25.4 8.73
Jim Russell 1944 26.0 5.2 31.2 8.67
Enos Slaughter 1949 24.4 5.2 29.6 8.57
Max Carey 1912 16.3 5.8 22.1 8.56
Duffy Lewis 1917 18.1 5.6 23.7 8.55

Now that’s a fairly random list of names. Wilson and Henderson in 1980 kindasorta go together; guys who played center field later on but for now were just very fast left fielders. Vosmik was inconsistent from season to season but extremely useful in his good ones; 1935 was his best year offensively, but in his second season, 1932, he apparently was quite the two-way left fielder. Sheckard, Mr. Honorable Mention himself, is in the Hall of Merit but not the Hall of Fame; it sort of surprises me every time I remember that Sheckard’s not in the Cooperstown one. He’s also on the right fielder list once, making a total of five corner outfield spots when you count the honorable mentions.

Other than that, though, you get a bunch of question marks. I was expecting Fred Clarke a lot more and maybe Sherry Magee and Duffy Lewis. Eric Byrnes? Consecutive Sam Mertes? Elmer Smith? Jim Russell, whom I hadn’t heard of before this list? And Hank Sauer on fielding prowess? Left field is easily the most confusing list of the bunch; I have no idea if these results mean anything.

Honorable mentions: Jimmy Sheckard for 1910; Ken Williams for 1922; Willie Wilson for 1982; Jimmy Sheckard for 1912; Minnie Minoso for 1954.

Center field


















































































































































































































Name Year BWS FWS TWS O/D
Tris Speaker 1912 41.6 9.9 51.5 15.99
Tris Speaker 1914 36.5 8.9 45.4 14.31
Willie Mays 1954 31.4 8.9 40.3 13.87
Marquis Grissom 1993 19.6 10.0 29.6 13.24
Willie Mays 1965 35.0 8.1 43.1 13.16
Carlos Beltran 2006 30.0 8.3 38.3 12.97
Vada Pinson 1961 23.1 9.0 32.1 12.95
Tris Speaker 1915 28.2 8.3 36.5 12.83
Al Simmons 1925 24.9 8.6 33.5 12.78
Andruw Jones 1999 17.9 9.8 27.7 12.67
Dwayne Murphy 1980 17.2 10.0 27.2 12.65
Andruw Jones 2000 21.4 8.9 30.3 12.57
Charlie Hanford 1914 19.9 8.9 28.8 12.30
Fielder Jones 1905 19.7 8.8 28.5 12.17
Andruw Jones 2002 19.0 8.9 27.9 12.12
Devon White 1991 12.7 11.5 24.2 12.07
Pete Reiser 1941 26.7 7.7 34.4 11.95
Dom DiMaggio 1942 19.4 8.6 28.0 11.92
Wally Berger 1931 22.5 8.1 30.6 11.91
Tris Speaker 1909 26.2 7.7 33.9 11.90
Andruw Jones 1998 15.9 9.5 25.4 11.89
Tris Speaker 1917 29.8 7.4 37.2 11.86
Roy Thomas 1905 23.5 7.6 31.1 11.49
Mickey Mantle 1955 34.1 6.9 41.0 11.48
Larry Doby 1954 25.3 7.4 32.7 11.45

Center field was a spirited debate in the comments from the last article as to the many players who might be on this list, but the list, reasonable as it is, still packs plenty of surprise. Mantle only once, Dom DiMaggio without Joe, Willie Mays twice in the top five but nowhere else . . . and then there’s Speaker and the later Jones taking nine spots between them. Although Jones’ batting numbers aren’t the best on this list, he graces this list so often that perhaps baseball was slightly underrating him for several years. (That’s not so much an issue anymore, it would seem.)

But like left field, it’s the one-hit wonders who surprise. Charlie Hanford’s season is probably the only time you’ll see an all-time list involving the Federal League’s Buffalo entry (the Buffeds, as in Buf-feds, not as in getting rebuffed or the Vampired Slayered), Dwayne Murphy shows how he was good enough to keep Rickey in left, while Marquis Grissom and Devon White caught everything. Not just everything in sight. Everything. (Whenever I think of Torii Hunter, I automatically think of Devon White. Does anybody else do this? They’re not in each other’s similarity batters lists, but I’ve just always put them together.)

Right field


















































































































































































































Name Year BWS FWS TWS O/D
Babe Ruth 1923 48.5 6.2 54.7 10.99
Dave Parker 1977 26.3 6.6 32.9 10.55
Paul Waner 1929 23.5 6.3 29.8 9.94
Elmer Flick 1901 24.3 6.1 30.4 9.75
Stan Musial 1943 33.1 5.7 38.8 9.73
Jesse Barfield 1985 20.3 6.1 26.4 9.38
Hugh Duffy 1890 19.9 6.1 26.0 9.34
Stan Musial 1949 34.8 5.3 40.1 9.20
Bobby Bonds 1969 25.7 5.6 31.3 9.20
Paul Waner 1927 30.3 5.3 35.6 9.02
Jim Fogarty 1888 11.7 7.3 19.0 8.99
Frank Robinson 1961 29.2 5.3 34.5 8.97
Enos Slaughter 1942 32.0 5.1 37.1 8.80
Bobby Bonds 1971 26.9 5.2 32.1 8.72
Tony Armas 1980 16.4 5.9 22.3 8.68
Joe Jackson 1911 33.7 4.9 38.6 8.56
Tommy McCarthy 1888 12.8 6.4 19.2 8.53
Dixie Walker 1941 20.3 5.4 25.7 8.53
Tony Gwynn 1984 30.1 4.9 35.0 8.43
Jimmy Sheckard 1899 14.7 5.9 20.6 8.42
Stan Musial 1944 33.1 4.8 37.9 8.38
Tommy McCarthy 1891 16.6 5.6 22.2 8.37
Paul Waner 1926 23.3 5.1 28.4 8.37
Larry Walker 1993 18.5 5.4 23.9 8.36
Larry Walker 1992 20.9 5.2 26.1 8.33

Here we get an ancientfest, with two seasons from 1888. Fogarty and McCarthy were similar with the bat that year in terms of raw stats, the only difference being McCarthy getting more hits. Still, right field must be different now than then for Fogarty’s .236/.325/.300 line to place this high. I’ve assumed without inquiring too much that several listed seasons take place next to an immobile fielder, i.e. Devon White caught everything while Candy Maldonado and Joe Carter stood there in immobile appreciation. Fogarty’s experience would corroborate, as his 2.33 range factor per game (RF/G), which came exclusively from right field, was significantly better than his center fielder, Ed Andrews (1.88), or his left fielder, George Wood (1.81). But this matches very few of the other players, at least in right field. Slaughter played alongside Terry Moore, perhaps the Devon White of his day (yes, I can work him into anything); Walker in 1993 was playing next to Marquis Grissom in his list-making year; and Armas joined Murphy and Henderson in 1980 as an all-list outfield, which is not who I would have named as the best two-way outfield of history. Maybe that was another thing about Billy Martin‘s managing style. Maybe it wasn’t, but as Chris Jaffe was talking about him earlier, I’ve been thinking about him.

(Another aside: In my one year on a town baseball team—I went 0-4, with my one hit ball a foul off a left hander, sealing my fate as an eternal platoon player—our coach looked very much like the mustached version of Billy Martin. He kinda acted like him too. Not only was he generally a crab, but the longest outing from any of our starting pitchers came on the hottest day of the season. I’m guessing I was the only 12-year-old in 1998 who compared my coach to Billy Martin. I’m also guessing that he still coaches a team, making him and me the only two people from that team still involved in baseball. If he was Billy, I was the crazy straw that sat in the package.)

Honorable mentions: Owen Wilson for 1914; David Justice for 1993; Paul Waner for 1928; Jeff Francoeur for 2007 (I can’t make this up); Roberto Clemente for 1968.

Catcher


















































































































































































































Name Year BWS FWS TWS O/D
Gary Carter 1985 22.1 11.1 33.2 14.78
Bill Freehan 1968 24.6 10.4 35.0 14.62
Elston Howard 1964 21.3 10.5 31.8 14.07
Gary Carter 1982 20.7 10.6 31.3 14.02
Mickey Cochrane 1932 18.7 11.2 29.9 14.01
Johnny Bench 1970 23.9 9.9 33.8 14.00
Gary Carter 1980 18.9 11.1 30.0 13.99
Bill Dickey 1937 23.6 9.8 33.4 13.85
Ivan Rodriguez 1999 15.7 12.0 27.7 13.60
Joe Mauer 2006 21.4 9.5 30.8 13.14
Gary Carter 1979 16.5 10.9 27.4 13.13
Mickey Cochrane 1930 21.1 9.5 30.6 13.10
Gabby Hartnett 1930 19.5 9.8 29.3 13.04
Carlton Fisk 1978 21.1 9.4 30.5 13.01
Joe Mauer 2008 22.0 9.2 31.2 12.97
Ivan Rodriguez 1997 15.0 11.4 26.4 12.95
Tim McCarver 1967 19.9 9.6 29.5 12.95
Ivan Rodriguez 1998 15.6 11.0 26.6 12.90
Yogi Berra 1951 21.4 9.2 30.6 12.87
Rick Wilkins 1993 17.3 10.2 27.5 12.83
Johnny Bench 1974 25.7 8.4 34.1 12.66
Victor Martinez 2007 21.9 8.9 30.8 12.66
Roy Campanella 1953 24.6 8.5 33.1 12.63
Yogi Berra 1954 26.1 8.3 34.4 12.59
Mike Piazza 1993 21.6 8.8 30.4 12.51

Without knowing, my guess is that Mauer’s 2009 of preposterous offense gets on here somewhere, but it’s a tough list to crack. Almost entirely a function of playing time, the list starts at 1930, easily the latest start at any position. As noted in a column of mine awhile back, Connie Mack loved him some durable young catchers, and Cochrane followed Cy Perkins in that role, filling both halves of the inning with quality ball in a way not seen before . . . but it was seen in the NL that year, as Hartnett makes this list for his 37-homer season.

This list makes much more sense than the corner outfield ones, and Mauer’s excellence makes this an exciting position to watch, but I would not have guessed Piazza fielded enough his rookie year to make the list, nor would I have guessed that Rick Wilkins’ season of glory was as glorious as it was. And for all McCarver’s foibles, he led a fairly fast-era league in triples as a catcher, while getting second place in MVP voting for the 1967 above. (Teammate Orlando Cepeda unanimously won.) He may not have droning rights—no one has those—but he has a small measure of bragging rights, for what it’s worth.

Conclusion

Keeping in mind that fractions of Win Shares aren’t much of a difference, these lists look sufficiently reasonable to be useful generally. Only a few of these players looked out of place on the list, even as I expected others to show up more often, and most of the trouble was in the corner outfield slots. If the “fielding revolution” is as pervasive as the talk makes it out to be, maybe we’ll see more players make these lists in the near future. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to watch.

References & Resources
Baseball Reference, Bill James and Amos Otis. Otis not only kept Willie Wilson in left field, but guess who has him as his most similar batter?

Devon White.

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Acey-deucey
Next: My Morning in Exile »

Comments

  1. dave said...

    FYI – I printed this article out, and it went 26 pages. Don’t know if anything can be done about the formatting or not.

  2. Brandon Isleib said...

    I just looked at the article in our program and it had numerous blank spaces I did not put there – I’ve never seen that happen with any of my articles.  I’ll inquire into that.  Very sorry about your extra pages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *