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  • Most Overrated by Bill James?

    A comment by Paul Wendt got me thinking - which players do you feel that Bill James considerably overrated in his most recent Historical Abstract? There are definitely some players where you get the feeling that James has a particular interest in promoting.

    For the sake of this discussion, consider only the following criteria:

    1) The player must be ranked by James in the top 25 at his position (rankings get a lot more subjective as you get higher); and

    2) To be "considerably" overrated, James must rank the player at least 5 spots better than your rankings.


    Here are some I've come up with:

    Catcher
    - Tim McCarver: James has him at 24. I have him in the 30-35 range.
    - Darren Daulton: James has him at 25. He may be outside my top 40, as his career as a regular catcher was very short - caught over 100 games just 4 times, and just 6 times over 80.

    First Base
    - Don Mattingly: James has him at 12. I have him closer to 20, high teens perhaps, so this might be quibbling a bit.
    - Mickey Vernon: James has him at 23. I have him around 30. This might also seem like quibbling, but I feel much stronger about Vernon being around 30 (and perhaps slightly north of 30) than I do with Mattingly being around 20.

    Second Base
    - Chuck Knoblauch: James has him at 21. I have him around 30.

    Shortstop
    - Jim Fregosi: James has him at 15, then 16 in the postscript. I have him in the 25-30 range.
    - Phil Rizzuto: James has him at 16, then 17 in the postscript. I have him in the mid 20s.
    - Johnny Pesky: James has him at 20. I have him around 30.

    Third Base
    - Sal Bando: James has him at 11. I have him in the high teens. This might seem like quibbling, but 11 is decidedly too high for me.
    - Al Rosen: James has him at 14. I have him in the low 20s. Nice peak, but too short of a career for me to place him higher.
    - Eddie Yost: James has him at 24. I have him in the mid 30s.
    - Ken Caminiti: James has him at 25. He's probably somewhere around 35-40 for me. I still haven't decided how to factor in steroids usage.

    Left Field
    - Lou Brock: James has him at 15, then 16 in the postscript. I have him in the low 20s, so this is probably quibbling.
    - Charlie Keller: James has him at 17 then 18 in the postscript. I have him in the 25-30 range. Great though short peak, lost some years to war, but even so, not quite enough there to be higher, IMO.

    Center Field
    Nothing really struck me.

    Right Field
    - Enos Slaughter: James has him at 12. I have him around 20, but this might be quibbling.
    - Pedro Guerrero: James has him at 25. I wouldn't even rank him in RF, but likely 1B. If I forced him in RF, he'd probably be outside my top 30.

    Pitcher
    - Warren Spahn: James has him at 5. I'm in the camp that sees Spahn as overrated, but I tend to still rank him around 10-12. 5 though, seems decidedly too high for me.
    - Sandy Koufax: James had him at 10 then 14 in the postscript. I have him in the mid 10s, so 14 is ok, but 10 was definitely too high for me.
    - Robin Roberts: James has him at 16 then 17 in the postscript. He's in the mid 20s for me.
    - Dizzy Dean: James has him at 25. I think I'm one of those people that just isn't fascinated with Dean. His peak was nice, though nothing really historic, and pretty short. There's really just not enough there for me to put him inside my top 40.
    Last edited by DoubleX; 03-24-2008, 03:03 PM.

  • #2
    Well, I don't have any formal lists of any sort. But James calling Craig Biggio the 35th greatest player seems like a big reach to me. And I've come to realize that Rogers Hornsby is the greatest second basemen in major league history (thanks to some great BBF arguments) even I thought detest Hornsby's personality.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-24-2008, 02:45 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm not sure Biggio should count, because James did correct himself in a later version of the book, saying he had overprojected what Biggio would in the coming years (after the NHBA was first released). Bill James does not consider Biggio the 35th best player in MLB history.
      "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

      - Alvin Dark

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AstrosFan View Post
        I'm not sure Biggio should count, because James did correct himself in a later version of the book, saying he had overprojected what Biggio would in the coming years (after the NHBA was first released). Bill James does not consider Biggio the 35th best player in MLB history.
        I must have missed that part. Thanks for the heads up. One thing that James always points out is that when ranking active players he tries to rank them as low as possible so if things change in the future and he's likely to have to lower the player's ranking and have to explain why. He did revamp his first basemen list quite a bit. He dropped McGwire and Frank Thomas quite a bit.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
          A comment by Paul Wendt got me thinking - which players do you feel that Bill James considerably overrated in his most recent Historical Abstract? There are definitely some players where you get the feeling that James has a particular interest in promoting.

          For the sake of this discussion, consider only the following criteria:

          1) The player must be ranked by James in the top 25 at his position (rankings get a lot more subjective as you get higher); and

          2) To be "considerably" overrated, James must rank the player at least 5 spots better than your rankings.


          Here are some I've come up with:
          I don't have the book so I'll comment on your choices

          <Catcher
          - Tim McCarver: James has him at 24. I have him in the 30-35 range.>

          I think you're being generous with McCarver

          <- Darren Daulton: James has him at 25. He may be outside my top 40, as his career as a regular catcher was very short - caught over 100 games just 4 times, and just 6 times over 80.>

          I've got Daulton even farther behind McCarver so I totally agree with you

          <First Base
          - Don Mattingly: James has him at 12. I have him closer to 20, high teens perhaps, so this might be quibbling a bit.>

          You're both stretching to have him that high

          <- Mickey Vernon: James has him at 23. I have him around 30. This might also seem like quibbling, but I feel much stronger about Vernon being around 30 (and perhaps slightly north of 30) than I do with Mattingly being around 20.>

          Took the words out of my keyboard

          <Second Base
          - Chuck Knoblauch: James has him at 21. I have him around 30.>

          This is starting to sound like my rankings

          <Shortstop
          - Jim Fregosi: James has him at 15, then 16 in the postscript. I have him in the 25-30 range.>

          I've got him even slightly lower than you

          <- Phil Rizzuto: James has him at 16, then 17 in the postscript. I have him in the mid 20s.>

          He wouldn't even make this without war credit

          <- Johnny Pesky: James has him at 20. I have him around 30.>

          I'm the anti Bill James in these rankings.

          <Third Base
          - Sal Bando: James has him at 11. I have him in the high teens. This might seem like quibbling, but 11 is decidedly too high for me.>

          The high teens is even a little high for me

          <- Al Rosen: James has him at 14. I have him in the low 20s. Nice peak, but too short of a career for me to place him higher.>

          Obviously based on peak

          <- Eddie Yost: James has him at 24. I have him in the mid 30s.>

          This is the first one where I have someone ranked higher than you

          <- Ken Caminiti: James has him at 25. He's probably somewhere around 35-40 for me. I still haven't decided how to factor in steroids usage.>

          I'm in between you guys

          <Left Field
          - Lou Brock: James has him at 15, then 16 in the postscript. I have him in the low 20s, so this is probably quibbling.>

          Why do things change in the postscript?

          <- Charlie Keller: James has him at 17 then 18 in the postscript. I have him in the 25-30 range. Great though short peak, lost some years to war, but even so, not quite enough there to be higher, IMO.>

          Another peak thing that we will never agree on

          <Right Field
          - Enos Slaughter: James has him at 12. I have him around 20, but this might be quibbling.>

          Ruth, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Ott, Reggie Jackson, Crawford, Winfield, Kaline, Gwynn, Clemente, Paul Waner, Rose, Sheffield, Heilmann, Dwight Evans, Manny Ramirez. James is saying that Slaughter is better than at least FIVE of these?

          <- Pedro Guerrero: James has him at 25. I wouldn't even rank him in RF, but likely 1B. If I forced him in RF, he'd probably be outside my top 30.>

          Definitely, with that short career

          <Pitcher
          - Warren Spahn: James has him at 5. I'm in the camp that sees Spahn as overrated, but I tend to still rank him around 10-12. 5 though, seems decidedly too high for me.>

          Again,
          Young, Walter Johnson, Clemens (this is probably before James knew about the alleged scandal), Alexander, Maddux, Grove, Mathewson, Paige. James is saying Spahn was better than AT LEAST four of these?

          <- Sandy Koufax: James had him at 10 then 14 in the postscript. I have him in the mid 10s, so 14 is ok, but 10 was definitely too high for me.
          - Dizzy Dean: James has him at 25. I think I'm one of those people that just isn't fascinated with Dean. His peak was nice, though nothing really historic, and pretty short. There's really just not enough there for me to put him inside my top 40.>

          If he's gonna hype on peak, at least he's being consistent
          Last edited by RuthMayBond; 03-24-2008, 04:50 PM.
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't have the book, so I'll comment on your choices.

            Catcher

            Tim McCarver--Maybe top 40. Not top 25.
            Daren Daulton--around 30

            1B

            Mattingly--James 12 me 14
            Mickey Vernon--James 23 me 24

            2B

            Chuck Knoblauch--James 21 me 32

            SS

            I pretty much have those three ranked the same as James.

            3B

            Sal Bando--James 11 me 32
            Al Rosen--James 14 me 16
            Eddie Yost--James 24 me 31
            Ken Caminiti--James 25 me not even on my radar. Probably in the 50s.

            OF

            Pedro Guererro is not an outfielder, IMO so I agree with you there. The rest I'm pretty much in agreement with James.

            P

            Robin Roberts is in my top 40 as is Dean but not in my top 25.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RuthMayBond View Post
              Why do things change in the postscript?
              The book was published at the beginning of the decade and he added in a revised top 20 at each position in 2003. There aren't many changes, and most have to do with active players moving up.

              - Enos Slaughter: James has him at 12. I have him around 20, but this might be quibbling.>

              Ruth, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Ott, Reggie Jackson, Crawford, Winfield, Kaline, Gwynn, Clemente, Paul Waner, Rose, Sheffield, Heilmann, Dwight Evans, Manny Ramirez. James is saying that Slaughter is better than at least FIVE of these?
              Of those you mentioned, he has Slaughter ahead of: Winfield (13th), Sheffield (54th, then 30th in postscript), Heilmann (16th) Evans (22nd, then 23rd in postscript), and it was probably too soon in Ramirez's career to rank him, though in the 2003 postscript James says that Ramirez is "somewhere probably among the top 50" and also alludes to likely eventually ranking him in LF

              <- Pedro Guerrero: James has him at 25. I wouldn't even rank him in RF, but likely 1B. If I forced him in RF, he'd probably be outside my top 30.>

              Definitely, with that short career
              But you're ok with the high peaks yet shorter careers of Keller and Rosen, or were you saying that you disagreed with James' emphasis on that?

              <Pitcher
              - Warren Spahn: James has him at 5. I'm in the camp that sees Spahn as overrated, but I tend to still rank him around 10-12. 5 though, seems decidedly too high for me.>

              Again,
              Young, Walter Johnson, Clemens (this is probably before James knew about the alleged scandal), Alexander, Maddux, Grove, Mathewson, Paige. James is saying Spahn was better than AT LEAST four of these?
              Of those you mentioned, he has Spahn ahead of Clemens (11th, then 7th in postscript), Maddux (14th, then 9th in postscript), Mathewson (7th, then 8th in postscript), and he doesn't include Negro Leaguers in his rankings, so no Paige.

              At some point I'll add in a list of his top 25 at each position so you all can see and weigh in. Sorry I didn't think of that originally.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DoubleX View Post
                But you're ok with the high peaks yet shorter careers of Keller and Rosen, or were you saying that you disagreed with James' emphasis on that?
                I was saying definitely to being OUTSIDE the top 30
                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Doesn't Bill James rate Joe Morgan as the greatest second baseman of all time? While I'm glad that Bill James brings light to how much better Morgan was than his traditional stats would suggest, Morgan is not even in the same galaxy as Rogers Hornsby. No second baseman is. Anyone who ranks Morgan higher than Hornsby is either overrating Morgan considerably or underrating Hornsby considerably. I'd say it's probably the latter, which isn't exactly relevant to this thread, but I feel strongly about it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Otis Nixon's Bodyguard View Post
                    Doesn't Bill James rate Joe Morgan as the greatest second baseman of all time? While I'm glad that Bill James brings light to how much better Morgan was than his traditional stats would suggest, Morgan is not even in the same galaxy as Rogers Hornsby. No second baseman is. Anyone who ranks Morgan higher than Hornsby is either overrating Morgan considerably or underrating Hornsby considerably. I'd say it's probably the latter, which isn't exactly relevant to this thread, but I feel strongly about it.
                    I can see either one being rated #1, but to say he's not even in the same galaxy as Hornsby seems very unreasonable. Only if you use traditional numbers with no league and park adjustment does Hornsby seem a league ahead. But we've had a billion of these debates, Morgan versus Hornsby, so there's no point re-hashing it again and disrupting this thread. I just disagree that you have to massively overrate Morgan or underrate Hornsby to have a rational debate.
                    "In the end it all comes down to talent. You can talk all you want about intangibles, I just don't know what that means. Talent makes winners, not intangibles. Can nice guys win? Sure, nice guys can win - if they're nice guys with a lot of talent. Nice guys with a little talent finish fourth and nice guys with no talent finish last." --Sandy Koufax

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Otis Nixon's Bodyguard View Post
                      Doesn't Bill James rate Joe Morgan as the greatest second baseman of all time? While I'm glad that Bill James brings light to how much better Morgan was than his traditional stats would suggest, Morgan is not even in the same galaxy as Rogers Hornsby. No second baseman is. Anyone who ranks Morgan higher than Hornsby is either overrating Morgan considerably or underrating Hornsby considerably. I'd say it's probably the latter, which isn't exactly relevant to this thread, but I feel strongly about it.
                      You do realize you are casually dismissing the opinion of many individuals who take baseball research very seriously, many of whom derive their living from such an endeavor, right?

                      I'd vote Hornsby, but the Morgan argument is understandable. "Not in the same galaxy" is a hyperbole used for effect, but it's such a reach that its use backfires and hurts the credibility of the post in general. I mean, I agree with Hornsby, but I'm tempted to argue against it just because of how casually you dismiss the argument.
                      THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                      In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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                      • #12
                        You are correct in assuming I used the "not in the same galaxy" phrase for effect. I don't think it's an absurd premise to call Morgan the best ever, I just don't agree with it. I consider Hornsby the best second baseman of all-time and Morgan number two, but it isn't particularly close. It's a bigger gap than the one between my number one Gehrig and my number two Foxx at first base. I understand that Hornsby played in an offensively oriented era and Morgan did not. However, as you know, OPS+ is adjusted according to league and park conditions, and Morgan only achieved Hornsby's career mark in a single season one time. Hornsby's career mark is fifth all-time. Hornsby won two triple crowns and hit .400 three times. His career batting average is second only to Ty Cobb. To do all that while filling one of the weakest hitting positions is nothing short of amazing. Even if he had iron hands and feet and no arm, he'd have no trouble finding a multi-million dollar job as a DH today. Granted, Morgan was better in the field and on the basepaths, but it's not enough to me to make up for Hornsby's massive edge at the plate. I do apologize if I initially overstated my case though.

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