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Who was better – Pete Rose or Ichiro Suzuki?

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  • Who was better – Pete Rose or Ichiro Suzuki?

    Who was better - Pete Rose or Ichiro Suzuki?

    I would say Rose - despite Rose's personal shortcomings, he was the ultimate competitor and in my view, a slightly better all-around player who got on base more, scored more runs, was a better run producer, and won more; given the disparity in MLB career length (since Rose is baseball's all time leader in games played, plate appearances, at-bats, etc.), even if you only look at their 10 best years (i.e. a decade of dominance), in which they both played ~1,590 games, while Ichiro has a slightly higher batting average and more hits, more stolen bases, and more Gold Gloves, Rose scored more runs, hit more home runs, drove in more runs, walked more, and had higher OBP, SLG, and OPS numbers:

    https://sportsh2h.com/h2h-28-pete-ro...ichiro-suzuki/
    7
    Pete Rose
    85.71%
    6
    Ichiro Suzuki
    14.29%
    1

  • #2
    Pete Rose by a landslide. Even with five waste years at the end of his career, his offensive abilities were so much greater it would have required 30 years of peak Ichiro baserunning and fielding to catch Pete.
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    • #3
      It's closer than you think.

      Both men played in the Majors from age-27 thru age-45. In that time here's their production value:

      WAR
      61.5 - Rose
      59.7 - Ichiro

      WAA
      24.2 - Ichiro
      23.0 - Rose

      Playing time?

      PA
      12,528 - Rose
      10,734 - Ichiro

      So it would appear, at first glance, that Ichiro was slightly more productive over the same period of their respective careers. Here are some points in Rose's favor, however.

      wRC+
      123 - Rose
      104 - Ichiro

      Although Ichiro was a far superior baserunner and fielder, from their prime through the end of their careers, Rose was a substantially better hitter than Ichiro.

      The interesting thing about Wins Above Average is that when you remove each players' below-average seasons and focus only on those where they were a substantive contributor to their teams' success (i.e. the "Hall of Fame seasons"), while both men's WAA total rises, Rose's goes up substantially.

      WAA (excluding negative seasons)
      37.0 - Rose
      31.1 - Ichiro

      Conclusion? Rose had more - and greater - great seasons than Ichiro.

      None of this counts the first 5 years of Pete Rose's career, which include 18.2 WAR and 6.1 WAA (or 7.2 WAA, discounting negative seasons).

      The question, then, is whether Ichiro's first seven seasons (all in the NPB) productive enough to overcome Rose's lead.

      Ichiro was age 20 thru 26 in those seasons, the same excellent runner and fielder (if not better in his twenties) and his career triple slash line in NPB was .353/.421/.522. It would be silly to claim that, had Ichiro been afforded the opportunity to play in MLB over those years, he'd have batted .353 in the Big Leagues, for example. Still, Ichiro was performing at a top level in a league very nearly the qualify of the Majors. And he did so two years younger than Pete Rose's debut.

      Summary
      Without crediting Ichiro for his play in Japan prior to 2001, it's clear that Pete Rose is ahead, and comfortably so. That said, ignoring those years ignores the obvious - that Ichiro was, in fact, a great player at the highest level of play available to him at the time. If those years don't count for Ichiro, then we shouldn't count Satchel Paige or Josh Gibson's Negro League performances in rating them with MLB greats.

      I do put some stock in Major League Equivalencies, though I don't do them myself. (A bit too math-heavy for me.) I prefer to trust a reliable source. I do take the results with a grain of salt so, ultimately, I will suggest that Pete Rose was the greater player, but it's awfully close and I rest my decision on the following.

      1. No matter how much I credit Ichiro for his Japanese play, its value (relative to MLB) is theoretical and, by definition, less certain than MLB play.
      2. Rose appears to have had more/better peak seasons and I believe high-value seasons deserve "extra credit" in a career.
      3. Rose clearly excels with the bat. Ichiro clearly excels in baserunning and fielding. Fair or not, where the overall value is close, I lean towards the player with greater batwork as that carries greater credibility than fielding and baserunning stats. Note that I'm not saying offense is more important, just that offensive stats are (on the whole) more trustworthy and given to less variance.

      But damn, their overall value (once you factor in Ichiro's early career) is so very close.

      "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
      "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
      "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
      "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Chadwick View Post
        It's closer than you think.

        Both men played in the Majors from age-27 thru age-45. In that time here's their production value:

        WAR
        61.5 - Rose
        59.7 - Ichiro

        WAA
        24.2 - Ichiro
        23.0 - Rose

        Playing time?

        PA
        12,528 - Rose
        10,734 - Ichiro

        So it would appear, at first glance, that Ichiro was slightly more productive over the same period of their respective careers. Here are some points in Rose's favor, however.

        wRC+
        123 - Rose
        104 - Ichiro

        Although Ichiro was a far superior baserunner and fielder, from their prime through the end of their careers, Rose was a substantially better hitter than Ichiro.

        The interesting thing about Wins Above Average is that when you remove each players' below-average seasons and focus only on those where they were a substantive contributor to their teams' success (i.e. the "Hall of Fame seasons"), while both men's WAA total rises, Rose's goes up substantially.

        WAA (excluding negative seasons)
        37.0 - Rose
        31.1 - Ichiro

        Conclusion? Rose had more - and greater - great seasons than Ichiro.

        None of this counts the first 5 years of Pete Rose's career, which include 18.2 WAR and 6.1 WAA (or 7.2 WAA, discounting negative seasons).

        The question, then, is whether Ichiro's first seven seasons (all in the NPB) productive enough to overcome Rose's lead.

        Ichiro was age 20 thru 26 in those seasons, the same excellent runner and fielder (if not better in his twenties) and his career triple slash line in NPB was .353/.421/.522. It would be silly to claim that, had Ichiro been afforded the opportunity to play in MLB over those years, he'd have batted .353 in the Big Leagues, for example. Still, Ichiro was performing at a top level in a league very nearly the qualify of the Majors. And he did so two years younger than Pete Rose's debut.

        Summary
        Without crediting Ichiro for his play in Japan prior to 2001, it's clear that Pete Rose is ahead, and comfortably so. That said, ignoring those years ignores the obvious - that Ichiro was, in fact, a great player at the highest level of play available to him at the time. If those years don't count for Ichiro, then we shouldn't count Satchel Paige or Josh Gibson's Negro League performances in rating them with MLB greats.

        I do put some stock in Major League Equivalencies, though I don't do them myself. (A bit too math-heavy for me.) I prefer to trust a reliable source. I do take the results with a grain of salt so, ultimately, I will suggest that Pete Rose was the greater player, but it's awfully close and I rest my decision on the following.

        1. No matter how much I credit Ichiro for his Japanese play, its value (relative to MLB) is theoretical and, by definition, less certain than MLB play.
        2. Rose appears to have had more/better peak seasons and I believe high-value seasons deserve "extra credit" in a career.
        3. Rose clearly excels with the bat. Ichiro clearly excels in baserunning and fielding. Fair or not, where the overall value is close, I lean towards the player with greater batwork as that carries greater credibility than fielding and baserunning stats. Note that I'm not saying offense is more important, just that offensive stats are (on the whole) more trustworthy and given to less variance.

        But damn, their overall value (once you factor in Ichiro's early career) is so very close.
        I agree with all of this. Rose wins due to the certainty of his stats. However, I am not 100% sure that would be the case of Ichiro played his whole career in the MLB.
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        • #5
          Do we give Ichiro any credit for his time in the Nippon league, and if so how much?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by pedrosrotatorcuff View Post
            Do we give Ichiro any credit for his time in the Nippon league, and if so how much?
            Yes. Full credit. The proper question isn't should be, but rather how.
            "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
            "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
            "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
            "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by pedrosrotatorcuff View Post
              Do we give Ichiro any credit for his time in the Nippon league, and if so how much?
              9 years worth of credit, but as Chadwick says, how we figure out what that should be and how we we weight it is the question.

              Perhaps some day, a long way off, I will go back and look at his (and other Japanese League players) years in Japan and try to come up with what his Black and Gray Ink numbers would be for those seasons. I would probably try to figure out things like HOF Monitor and HOF Standards as well. As a way to get a sense of where he stood in Japan. Now that it's easy to sort the yearly Japan league stats in BB-Ref, it's shouldn't be too hard; it would just take a little bit of time. I've been working my way through the Negro Leagues in a similar fashion using the Seamheads Negro League Database, which is pretty damn time consuming, but I think worth it. I of course regress all my work, not letting the Ink numbers stand at face value; but I think I've come up with some very reasonable results that are roughly in the ballpark and at least based on hard, objective side by side comparisons within the leagues.

              Comment


              • #8
                Rose wins here, for me. Just looking at MLB time, Rose is clearly ahead, both in career and in sustained peak. Now if we include ALL of Ichiro's career, which I feel we should anyway and without question (Japan & US), it brings him much closer to Rose, but I think Rose is still noticeably ahead, mostly aided by his better sustained peak.
                Ichiro is to Rose as Steve Carlton is to Tom Seaver.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                  Rose wins here, for me. Just looking at MLB time, Rose is clearly ahead, both in career and in sustained peak. Now if we include ALL of Ichiro's career, which I feel we should anyway and without question (Japan & US), it brings him much closer to Rose, but I think Rose is still noticeably ahead, mostly aided by his better sustained peak.
                  Ichiro is to Rose as Steve Carlton is to Tom Seaver.
                  I don't know if that's really fair to Ichiro, who just might have had a better 'sustained peak' than Rose if he were in the Majors from the beginning. He literally came to America already at an MVP level of play.

                  A better comparison would be Ichiro is to Rose as Willie Mays is to Babe Ruth.
                  Last edited by willshad; 03-26-2020, 06:13 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by willshad View Post

                    I don't know if that's really fair to Ichiro, who just might have had a better 'sustained peak' than Rose if he were in the Majors from the beginning. He literally came to America already at an MVP level of play.
                    Fair point.

                    A better comparison would be Ichiro is to Rose as Willie Mays is to Babe Ruth.
                    I was choosing players who I had ranked similarly to Ichiro and Rose, at the same "level" as I see them. Mays and Ruth are both light years ahead of both Rose and Ichiro. That comparison was not what I was going for. Besides, the gap I have btween Mays and Ruth is SO much bigger than the gap I have between Ichiro and Rose.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dgarza View Post
                      Fair point.


                      I was choosing players who I had ranked similarly to Ichiro and Rose, at the same "level" as I see them. Mays and Ruth are both light years ahead of both Rose and Ichiro. That comparison was not what I was going for. Besides, the gap I have btween Mays and Ruth is SO much bigger than the gap I have between Ichiro and Rose.
                      I think that Ruth is a better hitter than Mays, as Rose is a better hitter than Ichiro. However, both Mays and Ichiro get s ton of value from fielding and base running that puts them at least pretty close to Ruth/Rose respectively.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by willshad View Post

                        I think that Ruth is a better hitter than Mays, as Rose is a better hitter than Ichiro. However, both Mays and Ichiro get s ton of value from fielding and base running that puts them at least pretty close to Ruth/Rose respectively.
                        I can see that.
                        Although the comparison I was making had to do with levels of greatness and not types of players, which is one reason I used pitchers to make the analogy.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Comparison of old rightfielders in the expansion era:
                          Code:
                          Player         WAR/ WAA/ OPS+ oWAR  dWAR    PA   Age
                          Hank Aaron     96.3 63.1  156 89.0  -4.3  9411 27-42
                          Pete Rose      61.5 23.0  120 63.0 -12.3 12528 27-45
                          Ichiro Suzuki  59.7 24.2  107 47.8   5.1 10734 27-45
                          Reggie Jackson 45.8 18.2  136 51.3 -15.6  8262 27-41
                          Dave Winfield  44.4 14.3  131 55.3 -20.3  9175 27-43
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                          Comprehensive Reform for the Veterans Committee -- Fixing the Hall continued.

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