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  • Jimmy Collins

    Jimmy Collins is a player who I really don't see much talk about on here, but I think is a truly special player, probably top 10 3B and top 100 all time.

    The main premise behind this, of course, is the spectrum jump. Collins was a very good hitter, but his raw hitting numbers don't match up to lots of other 3B like Darrell Evans and Graig Nettles, but he was playing a defensive position, much like 2B today. This also positively affects his fielding, of course. I think Collins was probably the best fielding 3B of all time. He may have been not quite as great over his peers as Brooks Robinson, but 3B in his time was more important defensively and he has more defensive value than Robinson.

    Collins was an innovator of how to play the position of third base as well. He revolutionived how to charge bunts from the position. He changed the game for years to come.

    He played another important contributor rule as one of the true stars of the fledling Boston Americans, the upstart AL champions. The league obviously needed a legit star on their championship team. With Collins and Cy Young that had that. Both of those players were already established NL stars before they moved to the new league.

    You also have to remeber he played in a shorter schedule during his peak years, in the new American League.

    Overall, I'm very impressed with Jimmy Collins. A very underrated player IMO. I'm interested to see what others think.

  • #2
    He was also a manager...which is a reason his offensive production was not as high as it could be...take a look at any player/manager in the early years...their baseball skills go down because they were typically MGR/GM rolled into one

    Collins was the best defensive 3rd baseman until HR Baker, Baker until Pie Traynor, Traynor until Brooks Robinson..and so far Robinson hasn't been surpassed

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Imapotato
      Collins was the best defensive 3rd baseman until HR Baker, Baker until Pie Traynor, Traynor until Brooks Robinson..and so far Robinson hasn't been surpassed
      Strongly disagree about Baker being better defensively than Collins. Collins has both the statistical and opinion edge over Frank. I'd put Collins over Traynor defensively as well.

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      • #4
        --Baker was a pretty good defensive 3B. He wasn't an all timer though. Now if we are talking about the best all around 3B, then Baker would have easily surpassed Collins and held the top spot until Eddie Mathews had most of his career in the books.

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        • #5
          Collins was the best defensive 3rd baseman until HR Baker, Baker until Pie Traynor, Traynor until Brooks Robinson..and so far Robinson hasn't been surpassed[/QUOTE]

          I don't agree with this. Defensively, you could make an argument that Baker, Traynor, or even Brooks ever surpassed Collins in the field.

          I have Collins as a top ten 3B. I'd guess that for most people, whether he is in or out of their top ten depends on how much emphasis they place on defense. I probably give him a bigger edge here than some others because of how critical 3B was defensively during the bunt-happy era he played in.

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          • #6
            I have Collins behind only Brooks Robinson defensively...and Collins scores wins at a higher rate than Robinson does...he just didn't last as long.

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            • #7
              One player who I've often heard Collins compared to is Pie Traynor. I think that comparison sells Jimmy way short.

              I understand Traynor's leagues were stronger, but Collins was still the much better hitter. Collins played fully before the spectrum jump when 3B was certainly a defense first position. Traynor played part of his career when the spectrum was starting to jump. So, Collins' offensive numbers deserve a bigger boost. Still, though, even with no boost Collins was better. Relative numbers look like this:

              .............BA......OBP....SLG
              Collins....105.....101.....111
              Traynor..108.....103.....105

              Pretty close. But, Collins had two factors really hurting him. First, he was a player manager in his prime years. When he was supposed to be at his hitting peak his numbers were being suppressed. I sometimes think this is way overblown, but I don't doubt it is a real factor.

              Second, Collins played in a really tough hitting park, especially for home runs, but it still did hurt contact hitting as well. Collins' once league lead in home runs and seven top 10 finishes is VERY impressive really given the park he played in. Traynor's home park, Forbes Field, hurt his power but really helped his BA.

              Plus, Collins had better peak hitting seasons. Look at their top 5 OPS+ years:

              Collins-142*, 140, 126, 126, 123
              Traynor-125, 124, 118, 114, 113

              The asterisked season in Collins' 1901 campaign, when the American league was an expansion league. But, I think it is pretty legitimate, because Collins was a great player before and after that season, and it was his first year of being a player manager, so it may have had a bigger influence on his offense.

              Looking at Collins' 1898 year, it was very impressive. From a defense first position he hit .328 (7th in the league), was 5th in hits, 2nd in slugging percentage, led the league in total bases and home runs, and was 2nd in RBI. Altogether, he created more runs than any other hitter in the league, from a defensive position (not to mention he fielded it better than anyone in history according to Win Shares). How many other players have done that? Joe Morgan did, I don't know of anyone else.

              In the field, Traynor did have the great rep, but Collins' was just as good. Collins also had the innovation of charging bunts. Statistical measures have shown Traynor to be more solid than great, while stats have shown Collins to be one of the true greats from his position. He rates highest I believe (him or Lave Cross) in Defensive Win Shares per 1000 innings among 3B.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CTaka
                I don't agree with this. Defensively, you could make an argument that Baker, Traynor, or even Brooks ever surpassed Collins in the field.
                They'd be pretty poor arguments for Baker & Traynor
                Baker 103 adjusted production rate, 240 adjusted fielding runs above replacement, 42 adjusteed fielding runs above average

                Traynor 106 APR, 343 AFRAR, 102 AFRAA

                Collins 110 APR, 390 AFRAR, 172 AFRAA
                Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

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                • #9
                  I am going off Al Spaulding's guide and the career records for defense (TC, PO, A)

                  You can look up some of the Al Spaulding guides at the Library of COngress, they do have Baker surpassing Collins as the defensive 3rd baseman of all time, these are men that watched these individuals play

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Imapotato
                    I am going off Al Spaulding's guide and the career records for defense (TC, PO, A)

                    You can look up some of the Al Spaulding guides at the Library of COngress, they do have Baker surpassing Collins as the defensive 3rd baseman of all time, these are men that watched these individuals play
                    Actually in Baker's biography, written by Sparks, states flat out that he was not as good as Jimmy Collins by the men who saw then both play.

                    Collins was smooth, outstanding on fielding bunts, and pretty much laid the foundation for how 3B was to be played. Baker was described as "clumsy" although he was very competant in playing the position. Baker was also described as 'spike shy' at 3B ever since Cobb had badly spiked him early in his career.

                    Yankees Fan Since 1957

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Imapotato
                      I am going off Al Spaulding's guide and the career records for defense (TC, PO, A)

                      You can look up some of the Al Spaulding guides at the Library of COngress, they do have Baker surpassing Collins as the defensive 3rd baseman of all time, these are men that watched these individuals play
                      Really? From what I understand Baker wasn't really thought of as that great a third baseman, and that is why people always used to pick Traynor over him on their all time teams. Bill Burgess ranks Baker something like 15th among 3B, because he says he is a "clumsy fielder".

                      Using traditional or sabermetric stats, Baker is quite clearly the better hitter than Traynor. You'd think if they believed Baker to be the superior fielder as well they'd put him on their all time teams.

                      Collins is really better than Traynor, of course. If just feel the numerous historians who always put him ahead 1.Had never seen Collins play, while they had seen Traynor, and 2.Weren't putting their offensive performance in the correct context. Traynor's raw hitting stats look better but he was playing in and era where home run hitting did exist and the league BA was around .300.

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                      • #12
                        Well in Traynor's time, the ball was also wound tighter and never mushy...so that could be a point in his favor

                        As for Baker's biography, it is the opposite of what the Spaulding Guide says

                        Plus Collins career defensive records were surpassed by Baker

                        They called it the 100,000 IF because of offense and defense, his Range Factor was well above the norm

                        and a sidenote, Baker was the nemisis of Walter Johnson, who called Baker, the most dangerous man I ever faced, Baker was the sole recepient of the only Beanball that Big Train ever threw. Baker also hit the 1st over the wall HR Johnson ever gave up

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Imapotato
                          Well in Traynor's time, the ball was also wound tighter and never mushy...so that could be a point in his favor
                          I wouldn't necessarily call that in Traynor's favor. The ball was more lopsided in Collins' time, plus gloves were a little more crudely constructed.

                          Plus Collins career defensive records were surpassed by Baker
                          Not sure why you say that. Collins has more career PO and A, and has a higher RF. Baker does have a higher FP, but Collins has a higher FP and RF relative to his league than Baker.

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                          • #14
                            I have Collins in at #7 among thirdbasemen, right behind Baker. Baker had more power, while both had bad ends to their careers. If you use RCAP however, Baker just kills Collins. Admittedly it isn't the best stat, but the difference there is staggering, 364 to 148!

                            Also an interesting note....Baker took over for Collins, and actually rode the bench behind him for Jimmy's last year in 1908!

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                            • #15
                              Plus Collins career defensive records were surpassed by Baker

                              [/QUOTE]

                              This doesn't make any sense to me. Collins had more career putouts and assists than Baker. Collins' career fielding percentage is 22 points above league average compared to 6 points for Baker.

                              Which of Collins' career defensive records are you claiming were surpassed by Baker?

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