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  • Steve Garvey's Defense

    I am perplexed. Garvey won four GG (when they still had an honor attached to them), but his sabermetric stats (yeah, yeah, they're flawed) have him as near worthless. Still, guys with GG usually have at least a decent rating.

    How was Garvey as a fielder? I never saw him.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
    I am perplexed. Garvey won four GG (when they still had an honor attached to them), but his sabermetric stats (yeah, yeah, they're flawed) have him as near worthless. Still, guys with GG usually have at least a decent rating.

    How was Garvey as a fielder? I never saw him.
    He had good hands.The two best fielding first basemen that I have ever seen were Keith Hernandez and Wes Parker.In giving his assessment of Garvey`s defense(in a general conversation about the Gold Glove Awards),Parker stated that "Garvey was vastly overrated...he had no range,no arm,and no aggressiveness.He would hold the ball and allow opposing runners to take extra bases to avoid throwing errors.That`s how he compiled his high fielding averages at first base.Remember,he was (originally)a terrible third baseman,worst I ever saw."Sounds like the exact opposite of Parker and,especially,Hernandez to me.
    Last edited by Nimrod; 09-12-2012, 04:26 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
      I am perplexed. Garvey won four GG (when they still had an honor attached to them), but his sabermetric stats (yeah, yeah, they're flawed) have him as near worthless. Still, guys with GG usually have at least a decent rating.

      How was Garvey as a fielder? I never saw him.
      I'm not sure what this means: "when they still had an honor attached to them"

      Regardless, first base is extremely difficult to evaluate unless you know what to look for and many people today still have a marginal understanding of how to judge play at that position. Most writers don't care that much.
      Last edited by drstrangelove; 09-12-2012, 04:33 PM.
      "It's better to look good, than be good."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nimrod View Post
        He had good hands.The two best fielding first basemen that I have ever seen were Keith Hernandez and Wes Parker.In giving his assessment of Garvey`s defense(in a general conversation about the Gold Glove Awards),Parker stated that "Garvey was vastly overrated...he had no range,no arm,and no aggressiveness.He would hold the ball and allow opposing runners to take extra bases to avoid throwing errors.That`s how he compiled his high fielding averages at first base.Remember,he was (originally)a terrible third baseman,worst I ever saw."Sounds like the exact opposite of Parker and,especially,Hernandez to me.
        Bill James actually had a write up on first base fielding evaluations. Whether people agree with it or not, I think he showed that some first basemen were ridiculously over rated, some vastly under rated.
        "It's better to look good, than be good."

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        • #5
          I remember Garvey having very good hands and being reasonably mobile for 1B, but he had NO arm at all...just absolutely hated to throw the ball, wouldn't do it if he didn't absolutely have to. I don't remember how he reached base, but Bob Dernier went first to third on a ball hit to Garvey in the '84 NLCS (1st game?). It was a bit late in Steve's career, but it was just a pitiful play...he sure wouldn't have thrown to second for the force even if the ball had been a bullet one hopper right to him, but then he just rainbowed an awful throw to third when Dernier challenged him. I don't think a guy can be considered a really good 1Bman if he can't make a throw to another base at all. Compare this to a confident 1Bman like Pujols coming off the bag and gunning Utley down at third last postseason.
          Of course, Garvey had his revenge later in that horrible series...man, Cubs-Tigers would have been a great WS.
          "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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          • #6
            Here's how Garvey measures up defensively by my metric. The Ratings, which resemble fielding percentage, are in that format because it is a familiar one and lends itself to ease of interpretation in converting Ratings into Defense Runs.

            The metric is set up so that each position is considered as a unique entity. Weighted input values are position-unique, incorporating in the weightings any values that are shared with other positions. The model GENERALLY calls for ratings to fall in a .900 - 1.000 range, with 1.000 being a model [template] of excellence of play at a given position. Ranges below .900 and above 1.000 are possible. However, if there is a sudden rash of 1.000+ ratings, it is a sign that something in the game itself has changed. In response, the template is flexible to movement, up or down.

            Garvey came up as an IF, with play at 3B, 2B and few games at 1B. In 1973, he appeared in about 73 games, so we begin with that season. Players, including Garvey, are marked with an asterisk if they won a Gold Glove award in any season mentioned. All +/- DR are compared to 1B MLB average, which is .963 over the seasons covered [part of the model structure].

            Season

            1973....Garvey [.928]; M. Jorgensen* [.977]; Chambliss [.987]; Mayberry [.985]; G. Scott* [.985]
            1974....Garvey* [.920]; J. Torre [.996]; G. Scott* [.982]; Powell [.992]
            1975....Garvey* [.913]; M. Jorgensen [.995]; L. May [.996]; G. Scott* [.971]
            1976....Garvey* [.942]; Hernandez [1.002]; Spencer [.984]; Carew [.981]; G. Scott*[.965]
            1977....Garvey* [938]; Hernandez [.982]; Carew [1.014]; Cooper [.988]; Hargrove [.977]; Spencer [.980]
            1978....Garvey [.936]; Hernandez*[.967]; Buckner [.997]; Murray [.979]; Ja. Thompson [.979]; Carew [.980]; Chambliss*[.962]
            1979....Garvey [.965]; Hernandez*[1.002]; Buckner [.993]; Bochte [.997]; Ron Jackson [1.029]; Chambliss [.997]; Cooper*[.964]
            1980....Garvey [.955]; Hernandez*[.994]; Chambliss [.980]; Cooper*[1.013]; T. Perez [.995]; Bochte [1.018]
            1981....Garvey [.947]; Hernandez*[1.024]; Chambliss [.988]; Cooper [1.008]; Putnam [.983]; Carew [.994]; Squires* [.982]; Murray [1.013]
            1982....Garvey [.957]; Hernandez*[1.004]; Cooper [.983]; Stapleton [.982]; Chambliss [1.019]; Murray*[.953]; Hrbek [.963]
            1983....Garvey [.927]; Hernandez*[1.027]; Buckner [1.040]; Hargrove [1.014]; ; Chambliss [.987]; O'Brien [1.003]; Murray*[.975]
            1984....Garvey [.944]; Hernandez*[.984]; Murray*[1.004]; Mattingly [1.005]
            1985....Garvey [.957]; Hernandez*[.971]; Durham [.981]; Evans [.984]; Buckner [1.005]; Murray [1.005]; Carew [.984]; Mattingly [.955]
            1986....Garvey [.911]; Hernandez*[.989]; Bream [1.005]; Horner [1.007]; Buckner [.997]; Mattingly*[.955]; Joyner [.984]; Evans [1.013]

            Tallying Garvey's +/- DR compared to MLB average, season-by-season: -3.5; -9.4; -11.4; -4.8; -5.5; -5.9; +0.4; -1.8; -2.4; -1.3; -4.9; -3.9;
            -1.3; -9.6 .... for a career total of -65.6 Defense Runs.

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            • #7
              It seems like Buckner rates quite well for many seasons in the post above...I suspect this is another distortion, because Billy Buck could barely move and forced the pitcher to cover the bag at first on almost any ball that he fielded. He was getting a ton of assists on plays where other 1Bmen would just go step on the bag. I remember Buckner throwing a lot better than Garvey, but the famous '86 play was due to a mobility problem that Billy Buck had for most of his career and made his defense less than stellar.
              "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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              • #8
                I appreciate the feedback. If anyone has anything on Ron Cey's defense, that would also be great. I'm working on the all-time Dodgers for a program.
                "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                  It seems like Buckner rates quite well for many seasons in the post above...I suspect this is another distortion, because Billy Buck could barely move and forced the pitcher to cover the bag at first on almost any ball that he fielded. He was getting a ton of assists on plays where other 1Bmen would just go step on the bag. I remember Buckner throwing a lot better than Garvey, but the famous '86 play was due to a mobility problem that Billy Buck had for most of his career and made his defense less than stellar.
                  Bill Buckner was an excellent fielding first baseman, who was eventually crippled by an infection, an unfortunate condition that was put into an indelible spotlight in a crucial World Series game. A similar indelible image was imparted to Mickey Owen, a pretty solid defensive catcher, when a third strike got away from him ... also in a World Series.

                  Another element worth considering, in the exact context of the quoted observation: "he was getting a ton of assists on plays where other aBmen would just go step on the bag. Over 112 years of baseball history informs us that 1B do not get "tons" of assists unless they exhibit a certain element of range. Assists are not uniformly routine.

                  Buckner was an excellent glove man with an unfortunate [and greatly exaggerated] negative legacy.

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                  • #10
                    he was brought up as a 3B but was then moved to first because of a very poor arm
                    1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
                    2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
                    3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
                      Bill Buckner was an excellent fielding first baseman, who was eventually crippled by an infection, an unfortunate condition that was put into an indelible spotlight in a crucial World Series game. A similar indelible image was imparted to Mickey Owen, a pretty solid defensive catcher, when a third strike got away from him ... also in a World Series.

                      Another element worth considering, in the exact context of the quoted observation: "he was getting a ton of assists on plays where other aBmen would just go step on the bag. Over 112 years of baseball history informs us that 1B do not get "tons" of assists unless they exhibit a certain element of range. Assists are not uniformly routine.

                      Buckner was an excellent glove man with an unfortunate [and greatly exaggerated] negative legacy.
                      I have to disagree on this one, I saw plenty of Billy Buck with the Cubs and he had the same poor mobility then. He would make the pitcher cover on plays that were 5 feet from the bag. His glove wasn't really the problem, the poor guy was just in such constant pain that his first step was awful. He fit in a little better in the OF because his speed wasn't so bad once he got going, but then the constant running would just make his pain worse over time.
                      I liked Buckner as a kid, thought his high tops were cool and I wore some to copy him...didn't realize then that he wore them because of his physical problems.
                      "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 9RoyHobbsRF View Post
                        he was brought up as a 3B but was then moved to first because of a very poor arm
                        I think Garvey must have torn something right after being called up, I can't imagine him playing 3B even in the minors with the arm I remember.
                        Of course, McGwire came up at 3B, so...maybe I'm wrong.
                        "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                          I have to disagree on this one, I saw plenty of Billy Buck with the Cubs and he had the same poor mobility then. He would make the pitcher cover on plays that were 5 feet from the bag. His glove wasn't really the problem, the poor guy was just in such constant pain that his first step was awful. He fit in a little better in the OF because his speed wasn't so bad once he got going, but then the constant running would just make his pain worse over time.
                          I saw lots of Buckner, too; but my views were much more on television-broadcast games than in person. What I saw is a bit contrary with your observations, one of which I would challenge as an example of exaggeration to make a point. The point I would challenge is this: "He would make the pitcher cover on plays that were five feet from the bag." The very image of that situation recalls Keystone Kops scenarios with collisions and mishaps galore, wrought be eager folks with good intentions and terrible execution.

                          Moreover, I readily concede that a staff infection of the ankle joint, compounded by Achilles problems at one point, would have been excruciating challenges for any athlete, at any position. However, a solid metric gets beyond "what could have gone wrong?" OR "what made him so desperately awful?" to the real bottom line: How did he execute defensively at his position?

                          1. You observe that Buckner's first step was "awful;" but that once he got going, he was up to speed. I would suggest that a first baseman, in MLB, is rather limited in "range" challenges by the very nature of his position. Like the "hot corner" across the diamond, the nature of batted balls and their scatter-plots is quicker to get into any real range of play the defender has. It has also, historically, been a challenge of extremes: bunts and or liners or grounders into a "hole" that a first baseman must often surrender because of the many instances where he is expected to hold a runner on base against the running game. That first step may be excruciating; but I would argue - very well executed.

                          2. A basic fact: It is a pitcher's job to cover first on batted balls hit to the right side. Stressing the number of 1B assists as magnified by pitching staff POs is an empty argument that begs the question. From 1982 through 1986, pitcher PO leaders [in League where Buckner played] were:

                          ATL 131 [Chambliss]; CHI 135 [Buckner]; STL 104 [Hernandez]; LAD [Garvey]. The lowest pitcher PO: NYM 72 [Kingman]; CIN 70 [Driessen]. I I ever attempted to use a pitcher PO argument forth to claim that a lower rate directly related to better play at 1B, I'd be skinned alive.

                          1983: MON 120 [Oliver]; STL 113 [Hendrick]; NYM 121 [Hernandez]; SFG 103 [Evans]. Lowest: SDP 68 [Garvey]; HOU 74 [Knight].

                          1984: DET 150 [Evans]; BSX 121 [Buckner]; BAL 114 [Murray]; KCR 107 [Balboni]; TOR 104 [Upshaw]. Low: CSX 71 [G. Walker].

                          In 1985 and 1986, Buckner's pitchers recorded 159 PO and 144 PO, a high number. However, he had company with Upshaw [119]; Evans [140], and Murray [128].

                          My point is this: One can easily argue 1B assists as a liability, IF one has a mind to do that going in; but there is a legitimate counter-argument that solid glove work in a constrained range can be an excellent strategy for execution while conserving on a valuable asset.

                          Other extraneous elements to consider before exaggerating Buckner's incapacity:

                          In the period 1982-1986, Buckner stole 53 bases, getting caught only 19 times. That's a 73.61% success rate, suggesting, at a minimum, that Buckner was:

                          a. A base running opporunist;
                          b. A hustler;
                          c. A heads-up player who knew how to maximize his performance in the face of challenge.

                          Just to stay on thread: It IS about Steve Garvey and his defense. Rather than just toss out numbers and + and - signs, I figured adding seasonal rankings of contemporaries would put the observation is context. Sorry Buckner wrought such a tangent.
                          Last edited by leewileyfan; 09-13-2012, 12:07 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                            I remember Garvey having very good hands and being reasonably mobile for 1B, but he had NO arm at all...
                            Which is rather ironic because he was known for his big arms.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                              I have to disagree on this one, I saw plenty of Billy Buck with the Cubs and he had the same poor mobility then. He would make the pitcher cover on plays that were 5 feet from the bag. His glove wasn't really the problem, the poor guy was just in such constant pain that his first step was awful. He fit in a little better in the OF because his speed wasn't so bad once he got going, but then the constant running would just make his pain worse over time.
                              I liked Buckner as a kid, thought his high tops were cool and I wore some to copy him...didn't realize then that he wore them because of his physical problems.
                              I tend to side with Dude on this. Focusing first on Garvey- the point of the thread: Garvey was an athletic guy with good quickness and decent speed. Good quickness is a major attribute for corner IF play. His quickness and respectable speed created good range at first. He had good hands. He wasn't a real tall guy so he didn't provide a huge target at first, but his combination of good hands and ability to scoop well- as I remember it- made for an excellent receiver of throws. As is well documented, Garvey couldn't throw. I assume- but don't know- that he had some kind of arm injury fairly early in his professional career, hastening his move to first. This lack of throwing ability led to some problems for Garvey at first-he was bad at making the first- second first play, or relaying throws to third or home. That's a negative. But other than that, he was good- probably more than good. Overall, I'd rate him as a solid + defender, even factoring in his real throwing liabilities- a grade score of close to B+.

                              A few comments on Buckner. A nice player who would have been better with good legs. I remember him having leg problems- knees, and I think ankles- early in his career. He and Garvey competed for 1B and Garvey won out, so Buckner went back to the OF, but he suffered out there. Buckner was a good first baseman in many ways, but Dude's right, he had almost no quickness due to his leg problems. He always made the pitchers take the throw at first- it was the way he learned to play, and it saved his legs. Buckner's range definitely was less than Garvey's, but he was still a decent first baseman. He threw well and was basically sound- I'd give him a modest + as a defender- probably a B-.

                              I think that models which show Garvey as a negative defender are incorrect. No proof on my part, just my observations.

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