View Poll Results: Should Vern Stephens be in the Hall of Fame?

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    14 34.15%
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Thread: Vern Stephens

  1. #1

    Vern Stephens

    Vern Stephens played from 1941 to 1955, and by his number of All-Star games he was clearly, at the very least, a popular player. In his 15 year career, he was an eight time All-Star, including one string of three years in a row and another string of four years in a row.

    A .286 lifetime hitter, he swatted 247 home runs and drove 1174 runs in. This was done by a shortstop, no less. He also had a good eye at the plate, striking out less than walking overall.

    Stephens had respectable black ink of 18, but his grey ink was a good 141. In 1945, he led the league in home runs and in 1944, 1949 and 1950 he led the league in RBI. Four Hall of Famers - Gabby Hartnett, Tony Lazzeri, Bobby Doerr and Bill Dickey - are statistically similar to him.

    So, should Vern Stephens be in the Hall of Fame?

  2. #2
    Stephens is among the 10 best short stops not in the HOF. He also gets some support around here for the BBFHOF. Whether or not that's enough to consider him HOF worthy, I can't say. I support his case for the HOF.

  3. #3
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    If you just looked at career win shares and WARP3 Vern would rank in the bottom 4 amongst HoF SS's. That is not a recommendation for enshrinement.
    Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

  4. #4

    WARP data

    Quote Originally Posted by KCGHOST View Post
    If you just looked at career win shares and WARP3 Vern would rank in the bottom 4 amongst HoF SS's. That is not a recommendation for enshrinement.
    Is there a compiled list of WARP3 or WARP1, this version or a previous version, for some medium or large set of players?

  5. #5
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    Stephens had a high peak. I consider him to be the equal of Rizzuto, who IS in the HOF (albeit a questionable pick). Stephens would be a better selection on peak value.

    On the other hand, Stephens was a drinker whose career ended early, and he died rather young. He was part of the problem of cliqueshness on the Red Sox teams which came close but didn't win the pennant.

    For different reasons, I view enshrining Stephens as akin to enshrining Nomar Garciaparra based on his career to date.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  6. #6
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    I bumped this thread as a response to the Art Fletcher thread. Stephens, like Fletcher, had a rather short career, but a much, much higher peak. Stephens was, by most accounts, a very good defensive shortstop; maybe not a "Cal Ripken-Derek Jeter" Gold Glover, but good enough to move Johnny Pesky to 3B.

    Was Stephens' peak worthy of the HOF? I'm not retracting my previous post, but I've rechecked Stephen's top years, from 1942-51 (when he appears to have gotten hurt and missed time) and IMO, he was the equal of Derek Jeter in an AVERAGE Derek Jeter season those years, offensively and defensively, during those seasons. Jeter has some star quality based on his team and on awards won, but Stephens would probably have won the 1941 AL ROY award if there had been such a thing. In addition, Stephens would, in all likelihood, won the AL MVP Award in 1944 had there been a Cy Young Award; he finished behind two Tiger pitchers (Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout). Had he done those things, his HOF resume would have been a bit shinier than it was.

    I've slammed Stephens a bit for being part of the problem of the Red Sox not getting over the big Pinstriped hump into the World Series. In thinking about it, I've been unfair to Stephens a bit, as the team the Sox were beaten out by was the most dominant dynasty in the history of sports, bar none. Stephens WAS the best player on a pennant winner (the 1944 Browns) and without Stephens, the Browns wouldn't have ever won a single pennant. None.

    The flipside of this is that the competition during Stephens' early years in the majors was weakend due to many players entering military service. I'll grant you a bit of that, but Stephens' OWP levels were pretty much the same after the war as during the war. Stephens, is, in many ways, the position player equivilent of Hal Newhouser, and after much re-examination (and, perhaps, a favorable VC) Newhouser was inducted.

    In "The Politics of Glory", Bill James seemed to back off from what he believed was the obvious conclusion; Stephens was superior to Rizzuto. Perhaps he was doing so because he didn't want to start a "If Scooter, why not Junior?" bandwagon. His 2000 "Historical Baseball Abstract" seemed to upgrade his assessment of Rizzuto and downgrade his assessment of Stephens. James has, over time, greatly increased his assessment of Rizzuto as a defensive player. I am not convinced that such a reassessment was called for. Rizzuto, IMO, was no better than the third best shortstop in the AL in his career, behind Stephens and Lou Boudreau, who is also in the HOF.

    And Boudreau brings up another issue; why Boudreau and not Stephens? Boudreau was the superior defensive shortstop, but it wasn't like Boudreau was Ozzie Smith and Stephens was like Bill Russell. Stephens was a very good defensive shortstop, and he was a significantly better offensive player. Both Boudreau and Stephens are almost exact contemporaries; both played in the war years, and both declined at the same time. (Indeed, Boudreau's decline was far more pronounced.) Yet Boudreau has chrome and leather; he was the AL MVP in 1948, and he was the player-manager of a World Champion, which is a highly unique accomplishment. Still, I am hard pressed to come up with reasons why Boudreau (let alone Rizzuto) should be a HOFer while Stephens didn't get ANY HOF love.

    So I'm suggesting Stephens be reconsidered. That one exact contemporary who, IMO, was inferior, is in the HOF is one issue; that two (2) might be is another issue. (As to the guys who are in, I support Boudreau's induction, but not Rizzuto's.)
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  7. #7
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    I clearly say no to Stephens, though he was a very good player. He had a short career and wasn't a great fielding shortstop, arguably his best seasons (when you get past the RBI with Boston) were during WWII. While he was a good hitter, he wasn't THAT great, his RBI totals aren't an accurate reflection of how good a hitter he really was. He was playing in a stacked lineup with Ted Williams putting up some of the best OBPs of all time in front of him, a perfect position for a solid power hitter to get RBI, and he did, but he wasn't close to an all time type hitter even from SS. I might say a maybe but the thing that really pushes him back for me is what I already mentioned, his supposed high peak to me is very questionable because many of his best years were during WWII.

    I think Stephens/Rizzuto is a close comparison, I dont know that Stephens clearly was better. Stephens played about 100 more games but that's very misleading because Rizzuto missed three years to WWII, with those years he would have had a longer career. Rizzuto is a 93 OPS+ player and according to most defensive metrics one of the best defensive SSs. Stephens at a 119 OPS+ even as an only okay SS I'd say is better but he did have three of his best years in the war, without those his hitting rates would be lower and with the war given back Rizzuto would have a longer career as well. On the surface with his RBI it looks like Stephens has a much better peak but I don't really think that he does, Rizzuto's 1950 MVP season was really a great year, he had a 122 OPS+ and a tremendous fielding SS, good baserunner, it's close if not better than Stephens' 1949. Overall I think they're close, I can see Stephens ahead but I don't think it's clear he's better and I see Rizzuto as a mistake so Stephens is clearly not a HOFer to me. There are many more modern SSs who I think are much better candidates. Jim Fregosi was a similar player to Stephens, a little better when you take into account the run context he played in and the time, he gets no support. Tony Fernandez was an above average hitter and a very good fielder/baserunner, in a longer career than Stephens. They get no support. I think Stephens is good but the only reason anyone cares about him is his RBI totals.
    Last edited by 538280; 08-28-2009 at 09:25 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
    Stephens was, by most accounts, a very good defensive shortstop; maybe not a "Cal Ripken-Derek Jeter" Gold Glover, but good enough to move Johnny Pesky to 3B.
    Stephens was about an average defensive shortstop (between Ripken and Jeter because Ripken and Jeter are clearly on different sides of the line).

    Stephens was pretty bad for his first 2 full seasons, and those first two seasons can make his whole career look bad, but he really straightened up after that and did OK/average defensively afterwards.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 538280 View Post
    I clearly say no to Stephens, though he was a very good player. He had a short career and wasn't a great fielding shortstop, arguably his best seasons (when you get past the RBI with Boston) were during WWII. While he was a good hitter, he wasn't THAT great, his RBI totals aren't an accurate reflection of how good a hitter he really was. He was playing in a stacked lineup with Ted Williams putting up some of the best OBPs of all time in front of him, a perfect position for a solid power hitter to get RBI, and he did, but he wasn't close to an all time type hitter even from SS. I might say a maybe but the thing that really pushes him back for me is what I already mentioned, his supposed high peak to me is very questionable because many of his best years were during WWII.

    I think Stephens/Rizzuto is a close comparison, I dont know that Stephens clearly was better. Stephens played about 100 more games but that's very misleading because Rizzuto missed three years to WWII, with those years he would have had a longer career. Rizzuto is a 93 OPS+ player and according to most defensive metrics one of the best defensive SSs. Stephens at a 119 OPS+ even as an only okay SS I'd say is better but he did have three of his best years in the war, without those his hitting rates would be lower and with the war given back Rizzuto would have a longer career as well. On the surface with his RBI it looks like Stephens has a much better peak but I don't really think that he does, Rizzuto's 1950 MVP season was really a great year, he had a 122 OPS+ and a tremendous fielding SS, good baserunner, it's close if not better than Stephens' 1949. Overall I think they're close, I can see Stephens ahead but I don't think it's clear he's better and I see Rizzuto as a mistake so Stephens is clearly not a HOFer to me. There are many more modern SSs who I think are much better candidates. Jim Fregosi was a similar player to Stephens, a little better when you take into account the run context he played in and the time, he gets no support. Tony Fernandez was an above average hitter and a very good fielder/baserunner, in a longer career than Stephens. They get no support. I think Stephens is good but the only reason anyone cares about him is his RBI totals.
    Stephens War Years OWP:

    1942 - .612
    1943 - .715
    1944 - .686
    1945 - .692
    Avg - .676

    Stephens' Postwar OWP through 1952 (1st real decline season):

    1946 - .658
    1947 - .602
    1948 - .591
    1949 - .712
    1950 - .630
    1951 - .651
    1952 - .529
    Avg - .625

    That's with his first decline season; if you factor out 1952, Stephens' postwar OWP is .640.

    If Stephens was a defensive liability, I'd understand dismissing him out of hand, perhaps, but his postwar performance is six (6) years of stardom for a shortstop. As a shortstop, Stephens put up ten (10) star quality seasons, and while Stephens didn't play much past his prime, his best 10 years are clearly (IMO). I fail to see Stephens' career otherwise. Ten (10) star seasons is what I'd expect from any prospective HOFer, but Stephens met that standard.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  10. #10
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    I think it is clear that Stephens did benefit from time played during WWII, and that his rate stats would not quite be the same if he didn't play in that time. Even if he hadn't played better in that time it's obvious that quality of play was lower in those years and he still should be adjusted downward. The fact that those were three of his four best years (the other one being 1949) just shows that he really wasn't quite that good-and I think cuts greatly into his peak argument. Without a great peak I don't see Stephens making the HOF cut because his career is very short. Yes he was a very good hitter for a SS when he was playing, but he's not even close to the level where it guarantees his induction, they're probably inflated by the fact he played during WWII, and he's probably about an average defensive SS over his career (that's where the metrics seem to have him). Not a liability, but not great either. A good hitter but in too short of a career for him to be HOF, IMO.

    What would be the position here regarding Jim Fregosi for the HOF? Well I know because I once started a thread a long time ago: almost no one said he was HOF caliber. I wouldn't call him HOF either though he was very good. He was a similar player to Stephens. He had more like 8 great seasons rather than 10 but overall his career is a little longer than Stephens'. Relative to his time Stephens may have been a little better hitter, but not that much , 119 to 113 OPS+, I would argue that given strength of competition they played against they're almost the same. They both were okay SSs, not great ones. They're very similar players and I just think the reason why some see Stephens as a HOFer and Fregosi as not even in the discussion just boils down to the offensive levels of the eras they played in.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 538280 View Post
    I think it is clear that Stephens did benefit from time played during WWII, and that his rate stats would not quite be the same if he didn't play in that time. Even if he hadn't played better in that time it's obvious that quality of play was lower in those years and he still should be adjusted downward. The fact that those were three of his four best years (the other one being 1949) just shows that he really wasn't quite that good-and I think cuts greatly into his peak argument. Without a great peak I don't see Stephens making the HOF cut because his career is very short. Yes he was a very good hitter for a SS when he was playing, but he's not even close to the level where it guarantees his induction, they're probably inflated by the fact he played during WWII, and he's probably about an average defensive SS over his career (that's where the metrics seem to have him). Not a liability, but not great either. A good hitter but in too short of a career for him to be HOF, IMO.

    What would be the position here regarding Jim Fregosi for the HOF? Well I know because I once started a thread a long time ago: almost no one said he was HOF caliber. I wouldn't call him HOF either though he was very good. He was a similar player to Stephens. He had more like 8 great seasons rather than 10 but overall his career is a little longer than Stephens'. Relative to his time Stephens may have been a little better hitter, but not that much , 119 to 113 OPS+, I would argue that given strength of competition they played against they're almost the same. They both were okay SSs, not great ones. They're very similar players and I just think the reason why some see Stephens as a HOFer and Fregosi as not even in the discussion just boils down to the offensive levels of the eras they played in.
    OWP shows Stephens as SIGNIFICANTLY better than Fregosi on offense (629 to .573). Furthermore, Stephens had two seasons over .700 OWP, while Fregosi never topped .700, even in his best offensive season.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
    OWP shows Stephens as SIGNIFICANTLY better than Fregosi on offense (629 to .573). Furthermore, Stephens had two seasons over .700 OWP, while Fregosi never topped .700, even in his best offensive season.
    You are correct about OWP and I'm surprised it would reach that conclusion, as other offensive metrics do not. I checked EqA Fregosi and Stephens are the same (.277). Many offensive metrics such as OPS+ and Linear Weight runs (the best one) do show Stephens being slightly better but have them very close. .636 vs. .573 is about 32% above average vs. 16% above average in the pythagorean formula, that's out of line for Stephens but not for Fregosi. But I guess if you do choose to use OWP they are separated, but to me they're still very close, because I do think Fregosi has a league quality advantage, especially when you consider that 3 of Stephens' top 4 offensive seasons (by OWP, OPS+, pretty much everything) came in a very depleted league. Here's EqA for them, which adjusts for the quality of leagues they played in, bringing down Stephens' war years:

    Stephens: .302, .297, .292, .286, .281
    Fregosi: .305, .290, .289, .281, .278

    I realize that OWP reaches different conclusions but I see them as very similar players. Stephens is a little better on hitting rates, but I see the LQ as closing a lot of that gap. Either way, I don't see either of these players as HOFers.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy Bear View Post
    Boudreau brings up another issue; why Boudreau and not Stephens? Boudreau was the superior defensive shortstop, but it wasn't like Boudreau was Ozzie Smith and Stephens was like Bill Russell. Stephens was a very good defensive shortstop, and he was a significantly better offensive player.
    At least by the time they came up for Hall of Fame voting, I suspect that Stephens was considered a better offensive player than Boudreau (which OPS+ does not support). His game was based more on slugging, Boudreau's more on reaching base. I feel sure that Boudreau was considered at least a very good shortstop and Stephens at best an average one. I suppose that Boudreau was considered better than very good, Stephens worse than average, because that is what I have generally read in English without benefit of sabrmetrics.

    The Hall of Merit elected Boudreau quickly and last year ranked him 16 among 24 member shortstops. It has not elected Stephens (nor Rizzuto, nor Fletcher or Bancroft).
    Last edited by Paul Wendt; 08-29-2009 at 12:07 PM. Reason: split in two

  14. #14

    career batting by shortstops

    Bold marks some players featured in current threads named for Art Fletcher, Vern Stephens, and Nomar Garciaparra.

    Quote Originally Posted by 538280 View Post
    While [Stephens] was a good hitter, he wasn't THAT great, his RBI totals aren't an accurate reflection of how good a hitter he really was. He was playing in a stacked lineup with Ted Williams putting up some of the best OBPs of all time in front of him, a perfect position for a solid power hitter to get RBI, and he did, but he wasn't close to an all time type hitter even from SS.
    What is "an all time type hitter" at shortstop?

    This table using modern compression techniques covers both all eight of the 14-full-seasons shortstops (100%) and the top twelve of thirty 12-full-season shortstops (top 40%), ranked by career OPS+. By the way, half of the thirty debuted after 1961/62 expansion.

    Career OPS+, at least 14 Full Seasons at shortstop (all 8)
    Career OPS+, at least 12 Full Seasons at shortstop (top 12 among 30)
    150 Honus Wagner
    121 Derek Jeter
    116 Barry Larkin

    112 Luke Appling
    112 Jack Glasscock
    112 Cal Ripken
    110 Alan Trammell
    109 Bill Dahlen
    105 Bobby Wallace
    99 Pee Wee Reese
    98 Dave Bancroft
    94 Herman Long --rank 12 of 30 with 12 full seasons SS, about 60 percentile

    ...
    87 Ozzie Smith
    83 Omar Vizquel
    82 Luis Aparicio
    74 Tommy Corcoran
    71 Larry Bowa
    (68 Belanger & Guillen, last of 30 with 12 full seasons SS)


    The next table gives the top twenty 10-full-seasons shortstops (about 40%) and all of the 8-season shortstops down to OPS+ 100 (just over one-quarter of them).

    Career OPS+, at least 10 Full Seasons at shortstop (top 17 among 49)
    Career OPS+, at least 8 Full Seasons at shortstop (top 22 among 83)
    150 Honus Wagner
    136 Arky Vaughan
    121 George Davis

    121 Derek Jeter
    120 Lou Boudreau
    119 Joe Cronin
    119 Vern Stephens
    116 Barry Larkin
    115 Robin Yount
    114 Ed McKean
    113 Jim Fregosi
    112 Miguel Tejada
    112 Jack Glasscock
    112 Luke Appling
    112 Cal Ripken
    110 Alan Trammell
    109 Bill Dahlen
    105 Bobby Wallace
    102 Travis Jackson
    101 Tony Fernandez
    101 Jay Bell
    100 Art Fletcher --rank 22 of 83 with 8 full seasons SS, about 73 percentile

    ...
    99 Pee Wee Reese
    98 Dave Bancroft
    96 Dick Bartell
    96 Edgar Renteria
    95 Joe Tinker
    94 Herman Long
    93 Phil Rizzuto
    91 Donie Bush --rank 20 of 49 with 10 full seasons SS, about 60 percentile
    ...
    (65 Brinkman, McBride & Scott, last of 49 with 10 full seasons SS)
    64 Foli, last of 83 with 8 full seasons SS)


    The final table gives the top 10% of 6-full-seasons shortstops (13 of 135). Here at six rather than eight full seasons, there is a flood of newcomers (blue) but Vern Stephens and Lou Boudreau remain in the top 10%.

    Career OPS+, at least 6 Full Seasons at shortstop (top 13 among 135)
    150 Honus Wagner
    148 Alex Rodriguez
    136 Arky Vaughan
    125 Nomar Garciaparra
    125 George Wright
    122 Ernie Banks (OPS+ 138 during 8+ calendar years at SS)
    121 George Davis
    121 Derek Jeter
    120 Lou Boudreau
    119 Joe Cronin
    119 Vern Stephens
    118 Frank Fennelly
    117 Hughie Jennings

    Notes

    All three tables give full-career OPS+ with coverage defined by time fielding shortstop.

    "Full Seasons" are Full Seasons Equivalent fielding games. For example 81 fielding games is now one-half Full Season.

    During the 2009 season, Jeter has surpassed 12.0 full seasons at shortstop; Tejada and Renteria have surpassed 10.0 full seasons. I haven't checked any of the "younger" active shortstops.

    Among all retired players with 4-6 full seasons fielding shortstop, the leading career batter may be Jack Rowe at 115, primarily a catcher who moved to short where he was a poor fielder. Among modern players, Toby Harrah at 114, first a shortstop where he was a poor fielder, who moved to his primary position thirdbase. On the other hand, I may have missed leaders. I have full-career OPS+ complete only down to 8 full seasons fielding all positions.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wendt View Post
    What is "an all time type hitter" at shortstop?
    What I meant in not referring to Stephens as an all time hitter was saying that at his best he was not such a great hitter from SS that it can make up for him having a short career. I think it is very possible for a player to be a slam dunk HOFer with a very short career, Dick Allen is an example. Stephens to me was not that kind of player at all. I don't consider Vern Stephens' 119 OPS+ to be nearly as impressive as that of players like Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken, Alan Trammell, Luke Appling, Derek Jeter, and others who had much, much longer careers. not to mention that they didn't play through WWII.

  16. #16
    Continuing with the inadequate full-career OPS+ as a measure, I would happily call everyone down to Larkin at 116 and Yount at 115 an "all-time type hitter at shortstop". They are the only 6-full-seasons shortstops at those career rates, so that covers the top fifteen among 135.

    Using OPS+ as a measure, it is probably better to compare batting in similar timespans, such as the best run of 8 calendar years fielding shortstop, if available. I think I'm willing and able to look that up for the top 20%, down to Bobby Wallace at career 105.

    done. Here it is, with OPS+ in the best run of 8 calendar years fielding shortstop in column two.

    Code:
    OPS+	OPS+	career	shortstop
    Career	Best8ss	Debut	FullSeas
    150	177	1897	12.30	Honus	Wagner
    148	148*	1994	 7.94	Alex	Rodriguez (*OPS+ 155, 2000-07, including 3b seasons)
    136	144	1932	 9.66	Arky	Vaughan
    122	138	1953	 7.25	Ernie	Banks (OPS+ 145, 1955-61)
    116	134	1986	13.24	Barry	Larkin (missing about one full season's games)
    125	132	1996	 6.32	Nomar	Garciaparra
    120	131	1938	 9.95	Lou	Boudreau
    112	128	1981	14.68	Cal	Ripken (nine years, 1983-91)
    125	128*	1871	 7.92	George	Wright (*OPS+ 154, 1871-76, peak years begin in 1860s)
    121	127	1995	13+	Derek	Jeter
    112	126	1879	13.72	Jack	Glasscock (OPS+ 128 including 1884)
    119	125	1941	 8.64	Vern	Stephens
    110	124	1977	13.73	Alan	Trammell
    121	124*	1890	 9.24	George	Davis (*OPS+ 132, 1893-1900, including 3b seasons)
    117	123*	1891	 6.48	Hughie	Jennings (*OPS+ 140, 1894-98)
    115	123*	1974	 9.42	Robin	Yount (*OPS+ 139, 1980-84 at ss; 137, 1982-89 Best8career)
    114	121	1887	11.37	Ed	McKean
    112	120	1997	10+	Miguel	Tejada
    119	119*	1926	11.99	Joe	Cronin (*OPS+ 129, 1930-33 and 38-41)
    113	119	1961	 8.62	Jim	Fregosi
    112	119	1930	14.45	Luke	Appling (from age 33!)
    118	118	1884	 6.43	Frank	Fennelly
    109	115*	1891	14.72	Bill	Dahlen (*OPS+ 124, 1892-99, including ss/3b seasons)
    109	115	1920	 7.90	Joe	Sewell
    105	115	1894	12.13	Bobby	Wallace
    111	111	1912	 6.42	Ray	Chapman
    105	109	1898	 6.45	Kid	Elberfeld (1901-07, only seasons as regular ss)
    underline marks recent players

    * parenthetical notes concern how "OPS+ in the best run of 8 calendar years fielding shortstop" (column two) may differ from peak batting. Joe Cronin is the only one with two clearly distinct prime times as a batter, separated by four seasons. Wagner, Davis, Dahlen, and Wallace moved to shortstop from lesser fielding positions. Among them Davis and Dahlen were at their best as batters during early years (as usual) that include time as a regular 3b (Davis) or split between 3b and ss (Dahlen). Since then "everyone" is a shortstop essentially from the beginning of his major league career and moves to another regular position later, typically past his prime both in the field and at bat. Sewell, Stephens, and Banks are examples and Yount is the exception, with five of his best batting seasons after the move to centerfield.
    Last edited by Paul Wendt; 08-31-2009 at 10:49 AM.

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    A plus glove, a great bat, key role on multiple pennant winners, 3 RBI titles as a SS...that's a HOF resume. He's not quite at the front of the line due to a short career, but he belongs in the Coop.

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    No argument with Stephens being a big impact player in the forties, not so sure he's better than Al Dark or Harvey Keunn, say, so his being left out doesn't hurt my feelings. He's Better than Mr Money Store though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomBodet View Post
    No argument with Stephens being a big impact player in the forties, not so sure he's better than Al Dark or Harvey Keunn, say, so his being left out doesn't hurt my feelings. He's Better than Mr Money Store though.
    He's better than Alvin Dark. Harvey Kuenn was shifted to the OF, so I give the nod to Stephens here as well. The question, really, is how good were Alvin Dark and Harvey Kuenn compared to Rizzuto.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  20. #20
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    At times I thought he belonged albeit just on the fringe. But, and maybe this is wrong considering some players get "war credit", but for a huge season or two with Boston, his best seasons were during WWII (43-45). Also, defensively I thought maybe he was Ripken, pre-Ripken, in that he was a big SS who made a ton of plays. But his defense was more or less average based on RF v. league, which were sometimes a tick above others a tick below.

  21. #21
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    I might have been premature sticking him in my top ten SS, but I think he's worthy. A solid fielder- metrics and observation both put him there- and Fenway Park advantage or no, he put up some big seasons, and not just during the war. He was basically Nomar Garciaparra with a longer career. Had Garciaparra been able to stay healthy, I don't think anyone would question his credentials. He falls into the usual double-bind- put him in the middle of a lineup with Williams and say he took advantage. But didn't Williams benefit some from having him in the lineup?
    Found in a fortune cookie On Thursday, August 18th, 2005: "Hard words break no bones, Kind words butter no parsnips."

    1955 1959 1963 1965 1981 1988

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by toomanyhatz View Post
    I might have been premature sticking him in my top ten SS, but I think he's worthy. A solid fielder- metrics and observation both put him there- and Fenway Park advantage or no, he put up some big seasons, and not just during the war. He was basically Nomar Garciaparra with a longer career. Had Garciaparra been able to stay healthy, I don't think anyone would question his credentials. He falls into the usual double-bind- put him in the middle of a lineup with Williams and say he took advantage. But didn't Williams benefit some from having him in the lineup?
    Having Stephens at SS caused the Red Sox to move Johnny Pesky to 3B. Think about that when you marginalize Stephens' defense. Slugging shortstops often have their defense devalued because slugging and middle infield defensive play seem to be mutually exclusive. It's an image thing that doesn't always stand up to scrutiny.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by toomanyhatz View Post
    I might have been premature sticking him in my top ten SS, but I think he's worthy. A solid fielder- metrics and observation both put him there- and Fenway Park advantage or no, he put up some big seasons, and not just during the war. He was basically Nomar Garciaparra with a longer career. Had Garciaparra been able to stay healthy, I don't think anyone would question his credentials. He falls into the usual double-bind- put him in the middle of a lineup with Williams and say he took advantage. But didn't Williams benefit some from having him in the lineup?
    Stephens Figures to Aid Ted Williams in Hitting

    ...even the most lukewarm [Red Sox] fans agreed the acquisition of the long hitting Stephens would do much to boost Ted Williams back into the .400 hitting stratosphere. "...they'll have to pitch to Williams with Stephens coming up next" was the consensus.


    The Milwaukee Journal, Nov.18 1947

  24. #24
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    We've had 2 great SS candidates who are not going into the HOF for PEDs (A-Rod and Miguel Tejada) and a 3rd great SS candidate hobbled by injuries (Nomar Garciaparra). I think Stephens definitely deserves another look.
    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

  25. #25
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    I like him, honestly. War-years or not.
    “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” – Walter Lippmann

    The Power of Kings.

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