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Tony Lazzeri: A New Case

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  • Tony Lazzeri: A New Case

    From what I've seen in BBF, there is a considerable portion who do not feel Lazzeri is a HoFer. After all, he played for the one of the biggest teams in history in an offensive era.

    I disagree. I'm of the belief that he belongs. If his regular statistics and a good, versatile glove weren't enough, then lets look at how well he fared compared to other AL second basemen. The information comes from http://www.baseballbypositions.com/ and provides each player's numbers solely at second base (I believe there is a min. amount of games needed to be be listed, but the effects of absent second-baggers is minimal). I give you these in case you want to check my work. I went up to 1937 because Lazzeri switched leagues in 1938 and primarily played 3B in 1938-1939. During this time he played very little. From 1926-1937, Lazzeri never had a season where he played more games at another position.

    Code:
    AL 2B	PA	AB	hits	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG	HBP	SF	SH
    1926	5,321	4609	1300	270	65	29	477	0.282	0.353	0.388	32	-	203
    1927	5,306	4557	1274	234	60	33	540	0.280	0.359	0.379	21	-	188
    1928	5,402	4769	1328	225	65	46	439	0.278	0.343	0.382	26	-	168
    1929	4,946	4339	1268	230	73	48	447	0.292	0.361	0.412	18	-	142
    1930	5,371	4782	1417	288	84	63	439	0.296	0.359	0.431	28	-	122
    1931	5,036	4525	1273	232	54	31	444	0.281	0.348	0.377	17	-	50
    1932	5,348	4724	1294	251	79	63	543	0.274	0.351	0.401	18	-	63
    1933	5,109	4515	1299	243	64	68	514	0.288	0.362	0.415	13	-	67
    1934	5,178	4520	1262	240	44	52	563	0.279	0.360	0.386	11	-	84
    1935	5,119	4497	1272	218	52	57	508	0.283	0.358	0.392	18	-	96
    1936	5,324	4650	1326	257	64	54	571	0.285	0.367	0.403	27	-	76
    1937	4,957	4381	1197	225	39	52	501	0.273	0.350	0.378	14	-	61
    total	62,417	54868	15510	2913	743	596	5986	0.283	0.356	0.395	243	-	1320
    Now, let's look at Lazzeri (solely at second).
    Code:
    Lazzeri	PA	AB	hits	2B	3B	HR	BB	AVG	OBP	SLG	HBP	SF	SH	lgOBP	lgSLG	OPS+	PF
    1926	639	566	156	27	13	17	52	0.276	0.339	0.459	2	-	19	0.353	0.388	117	0.99
    1927	467	403	124	20	6	13	49	0.308	0.383	0.484	0	-	15	0.359	0.379	139	0.98
    1928	463	404	134	30	11	10	43	0.332	0.397	0.535	1	-	15	0.343	0.382	161	0.98
    1929	635	545	193	37	11	18	68	0.354	0.429	0.561	4	-	18	0.361	0.412	172	0.94
    1930	340	299	91	18	8	5	31	0.304	0.373	0.468	2	-	8	0.359	0.431	122	0.96
    1931	397	338	90	19	5	6	55	0.266	0.371	0.405	1	-	3	0.348	0.377	125	0.95
    1932	580	492	147	27	15	14	79	0.299	0.398	0.500	2	-	7	0.351	0.401	151	0.95
    1933	602	523	154	22	12	18	73	0.294	0.383	0.486	2	-	4	0.362	0.415	137	0.94
    1934	388	330	88	18	5	11	54	0.267	0.370	0.452	0	-	4	0.360	0.386	134	0.94
    1935	506	443	121	17	6	12	59	0.273	0.362	0.420	3	-	1	0.358	0.392	119	0.95
    1936	630	530	152	29	6	14	96	0.287	0.397	0.443	1	-	3	0.367	0.403	125	0.97
    1937	518	446	109	21	3	14	71	0.244	0.348	0.399	0	-	1	0.350	0.378	101	1.02
    total	6,165	5319	1559	285	101	152	730	0.293	0.380	0.470	18	-	98	-	-	134	-
    Other second basemen simply weren't putting up Lazzeri's numbers. His only superior was Charlie Gehringer, by default a tough guy to surpass. If you exclude Gehringer, who was just one of many second basemen, Lazzeri looks even better. Obviously I'm up for any corrections or disagreement. What do you think? I apologize if Lazzeri's box is messy. I don't know how to give the coding box the ability to scroll horizontally. He has a 134 OPS+ as an AL 2B from 1926-1937.

    Also, this is my 3000th BBF post. 3000 hits, 3000 strikeouts, I got 3000 posts. Am I in the Baseball Fever Hall of Fame?
    Last edited by Tyrus4189Cobb; 09-10-2012, 06:28 AM.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post

    Also, this is my 3000th BBF post. 3000 hits, 3000 strikeouts, I got 3000 posts. Am I in the Baseball Fever Hall of Fame?
    Congrats but with a screen-name like yours, no way this is remotely a milestone....

    Comment


    • #3
      I always liked Lazzeri and as of now I have him as the best Yankee secondbaseman. I think he's deserving but is he a better hofer than say a guy like Bobby Grich or Lou Whitaker? I would think Lazzeri is better but with all the saber stats i'm sure Grich and Whitaker are better.
      "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

      "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chicagowhitesox1173 View Post
        I always liked Lazzeri and as of now I have him as the best Yankee secondbaseman. I think he's deserving but is he a better hofer than say a guy like Bobby Grich or Lou Whitaker? I would think Lazzeri is better but with all the saber stats i'm sure Grich and Whitaker are better.
        Grich has an higher OPS+ than Lazzeri, and that is before you even factor in the higher level integrated league. Obviously I never saw Lazzeri play but Grich was one of best defensive 2Bman in his day.

        Comment


        • #5
          On Lazzeri, for a guy who makes none of my four benchmarks for a HOFer, he's remarkably close to making it. He didn't have 50 career WAR, 30 career WAA, 14 WAA in his top 3 seasons, nor 17.5 WAA in his top five consecutive seasons. The first two are career measures, and the last two are peak measures. The fact he can't make it for any of those benchmarks is too much for me to overcome.

          The main flaws in the 1st post's analyses are: 1) no player makes it based on his or her performance at one position but rather by an evaluation of the whole of his career, though some are more favorable to peak performance. Sometimes, a guy can get in on a high peak and less impressive career mark (George Sisler comes to mind) or a long valuable career with a less impressive peak (whether or not you like the selection of Don Sutton, that's how he gets in). The second issue is that while being something like the second best 2b of his day is usually indicative of a HOFer, it isn't a guarantee of HOF worthiness. There are times, like the AL of Gehrig-Foxx-Greenberg, there's a glut of greats at a given position. There are other times when there aren't two (sometimes not only one) HOFers in the game at one position at a time.
          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

          Comment


          • #6
            It seems dangerous, Mr. Albright, to deny a player enshrinement because he doesn't make four personal sabermetric benchmarks. Maybe those are better for comparing Lazzeri to Bobby Grich or Eddie Collins or Chase Utley. After all, being the second best must be worth something, especially when other guys were weaker hitters in all aspects. In my original post, I didn't mean to imply that he should be in because he was 2nd best second baseman in the league during his tenure. At the same time, I believe how others of his era compare is even more important than individual measures peak or sustained performance if we are considering someone for the Hall. Maybe Lazzeri isn't as good as Nap Lajoie, but is he not Hall-worthy for being a very good player on top of being behind only one other man at his position?
            "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

            Comment


            • #7
              Lazzeri starts from a point of strength in that he has 7314 PA and a 121 OPS+ as a second baseman (if you are OPS+ phobic then he was a solidly above average hitter for a decade or so). Sort of Jeff Kent lite or Larry Doyle. Further he has 1189 RBI to go with 7 100 RBI seasons, a .292 average and 178 HR. Give him some points for playing for a dynasty and not being packfill in the lineup. Minuses are what thru the priasm of time seems like an average at best glove, evidenced by comparing his numbers with his contemporaries (memory of when I did such things) and several prime seasons spent playing about 1/5-1/3 of the time at 3B. When I am persnickety I see him as marginal. His career is shorter than plenty of 2B and with a non-plus glove you can argue if Doyle or whomever isn't in then why Lazzeri. Tyrus as I see your argument you are saying Lazzeri was the best non-Gehringer 2B in the AL for a decade and that is HOF material. Perhaps. I would put him certainly not top 15 all time at 2B and if I recall my list (which used to be saved here until it was sent to the ether) he was aroiuund or in the 20s, not bad but not automatic.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
                It seems dangerous, Mr. Albright, to deny a player enshrinement because he doesn't make four personal sabermetric benchmarks. Maybe those are better for comparing Lazzeri to Bobby Grich or Eddie Collins or Chase Utley. After all, being the second best must be worth something, especially when other guys were weaker hitters in all aspects. In my original post, I didn't mean to imply that he should be in because he was 2nd best second baseman in the league during his tenure. At the same time, I believe how others of his era compare is even more important than individual measures peak or sustained performance if we are considering someone for the Hall. Maybe Lazzeri isn't as good as Nap Lajoie, but is he not Hall-worthy for being a very good player on top of being behind only one other man at his position?
                If they were only personal benchmarks, I see your point. However, these benchmarks were selected as being in the to 240 or a little below in baseball history--i.e., approximately the size of the Hall. If the guy can't make any one of these four benchmarks of HOF quality, I don't have much problem rejecting him. Had he made one or two by enough of a margin to cover for the deficits in any of the other benchmarks, he could certainly get over the top. But he didn't make one of them. If he was really that much better than his peers, it should show up in the peak measures--but it doesn't. Bottom line for me is Lazzeri isn't embarrassing, but I cannot support his induction for the reasons stated.
                Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, Jimmie Foxx was the 2d best at his position in his league, so ....

                  But there's so much more you can say about Foxx, whereas that's pretty much the entire case for Lazzeri. And there were years when Bucky Harris or Lew Fonseca were as good or better.

                  Lazzeri's not a bum, just a worthy member of the Hall of Very Good.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Talent is not evenly distributed er position per era. It is very possible for a player to be the best at their position for a decade or so and still not be a HOFer. Not that we shouldn't look at that sort of thing, but we need to be careful expecting a certain number of HOFers at each position in each era. It doesn't necessarily work that way.

                    That being said, Lazzeri is one of those guys that I wouldn't shed a tear either way if he made it or not.
                    Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 09-10-2012, 01:28 PM.
                    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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                    The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                    The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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                    • #11
                      Even the premise that Lazzeri was the second best 2B of his time is questionable at best. Gehringer spans his entire career, but Frisch and Hornsby not only started at least seven years before Lazzeri, but finished only two years before he did. Billy Herman played 9 years of Lazzeri's career. I'd take any of those four before I took Lazzeri. The fact he's probably the second best AL 2B means he's 4th or 5th best overall, and that's a lot of guys for any one position at a time unless you want to at least come close to doubling the size of the Hall. If Lazzeri met some of the benchmarks, I still might make room for him--but he didn't. I see no reason to shoe horn him in.
                      Last edited by jalbright; 09-10-2012, 06:57 PM.
                      Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                      Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                      A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Secondbasemen with +40 WAR, 1920-43:
                        Code:
                        Rk              Player WAR/pos OPS+ Rfield    PA From   To   Age    G    R    H  HR  RBI   BA  OBP  SLG
                        1       Rogers Hornsby    99.1  182     27  7238 1920 1937 24-41 1704 1306 2310 274 1318 .374 .453 .621
                        2    Charlie Gehringer    76.6  124     34 10244 1924 1942 21-39 2323 1774 2839 184 1427 .320 .404 .480
                        3       Frankie Frisch    67.9  111    138  9902 1920 1937 21-38 2257 1511 2837 103 1220 .318 .371 .435
                        4         Billy Herman    49.1  112     58  8078 1931 1943 21-33 1785 1104 2205  44  783 .305 .366 .407
                        5         Tony Lazzeri    46.2  121     -4  7314 1926 1939 22-35 1740  986 1840 178 1191 .292 .380 .467
                        6           Buddy Myer    43.7  108     -1  8190 1925 1941 21-37 1923 1174 2131  38  850 .303 .389 .406
                        Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

                        Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                          Even the premise that Lazzeri was the second best 2B of his time is questionable at best. Gehringer spans his entire career, but Frisch and Hornsby Billy Herman

                          The premise was second best 2b in the AL at the time - see original post para 2 line 1.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            He's in and he's by no means the worst, but if he were out, I'd ask him please to get in line behind Whitaker, Grich, and Randolph, yes, Randolph. Granted, defensive stats aren't all we'd like them to be, but those guys range from 75 to 114 in WAR defensive runs while Tony is at -4. I think Larry Doyle is a good comp, a fine player at second base as a hitter's position, but not really a modern second baseman.
                            Last edited by Jackaroo Dave; 09-11-2012, 05:38 AM.
                            Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jackaroo Dave View Post
                              He's in and he's by no means the worst, but if he were out, I'd ask him please to get in line behind Whitaker, Grich, and Randolph, yes, Randolph. Granted, defensive stats aren't all we'd like them to be, but those guys range from 75 to 114 in WAR defensive runs while Tony is at -4. I think Larry Doyle is a good comp, a fine player at second base as a hitter's position, but not really a modern second baseman.
                              Second base has a HUGE gray area, and a LOT of guys outside the HOF are between Lazzeri and the guys outside the HOF. The problem with Lazzeri is that he's really near the bottom of the HOF, and even Willie Randolph has a better case for the HOF. Buddy Myer has a better case. What many people resent is that Lazzeri is in the HOF largely because he was part of a storied Yankee team that many believe is already over-honored by the HOF (Combs, Pennock, Hoyt, Ruffing). I'm not for ripping any plaques out, but if Lazzeri wasn't a Yankee, unless he were a favored teammate of Frankie Frisch, he wouldn't be in the HOF today.
                              "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

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