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top WAR seasons for catchers

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  • #16
    Originally posted by DJC View Post
    Hey, it's what Brett asked for. I expanded the list just now to the top 100, and there seems to be a greater frequency of pre-'50s seasons. If a perceived dearth of pre-'50s catchers in these lists is indicative of a genuine problem (and just not a small sample size or simply because there were fewer players before the expansion era), it may be just a matter of adjusting the formula for WAA/WAR to account for runs created/saved by catchers that haven't yet been accounted for. No need to pooh-pooh the whole concept.

    For what it's worth, here's a list by WAA instead of WAR. I've come to prefer comparing players to the average rather than to replacement.

    Code:
     Rk  Player            Year  Tm    WAA
      1  Mike Piazza       1997  LAD  6.79
      2  Johnny Bench      1972  CIN  6.61
      3  Gary Carter       1982  MON  6.36
      4  Joe Mauer         2009  MIN  5.76
      5  Johnny Bench      1974  CIN  5.71
      6  Buster Posey      2012  SFG  5.54
      7  Darrell Porter    1979  KCR  5.42
      8  Carlton Fisk      1972  BOS  5.28
      8  Javy Lopez        2003  ATL  5.28
     10  Thurman Munson    1973  NYY  5.26
     11  Yadier Molina     2012  STL  5.24
     12  Mike Piazza       1993  LAD  5.22
     13  Johnny Bench      1970  CIN  5.19
     14  Darren Daulton    1992  PHI  5.15
     14  Gary Carter       1984  MON  5.15
     16  Rick Wilkins      1993  CHC  5.11
     17  Gary Carter       1983  MON  5.03
     18  Chris Hoiles      1993  BAL  4.99
     19  Roy Campanella    1953  BRO  4.87
     20  Carlton Fisk      1977  BOS  4.82
     21  Mike Piazza       1995  LAD  4.78
     22  Gary Carter       1985  NYM  4.73
     23  Bill Freehan      1968  DET  4.69
     23  Johnny Bench      1975  CIN  4.69
     25  Yogi Berra        1956  NYY  4.53
     26  Roy Campanella    1951  BRO  4.48
     27  Gary Carter       1980  MON  4.36
     28  Mickey Cochrane   1933  PHA  4.34
     29  Mike Piazza       1998  3TM  4.32
     30  Thurman Munson    1975  NYY  4.31
     31  Ivan Rodriguez    1998  TEX  4.26
     31  Ivan Rodriguez    1997  TEX  4.26
     33  Art Wilson        1914  CHF  4.24
     34  Ivan Rodriguez    1999  TEX  4.22
     35  Gary Carter       1979  MON  4.16
     36  Bill Dickey       1937  NYY  4.15
     37  Joe Torre         1966  ATL  4.13
     38  Johnny Bench      1969  CIN  4.07
     39  Gene Tenace       1979  SDP  4.05
     40  Bill Freehan      1967  DET  4.02
     41  Tim McCarver      1967  STL  4.00
     42  Mike Napoli       2011  TEX  3.95
     43  Roger Bresnahan   1908  NYG  3.90
     44  Tony Pena         1984  PIT  3.88
     45  Gary Carter       1978  MON  3.86
     46  Jorge Posada      2003  NYY  3.85
     46  Ivan Rodriguez    1996  TEX  3.85
     48  Johnny Bench      1979  CIN  3.82
     48  Elston Howard     1961  NYY  3.82
     50  Ernie Lombardi    1938  CIN  3.80
     51  Brian McCann      2008  ATL  3.75
     52  Joe Mauer         2010  MIN  3.74
     53  Russell Martin    2007  LAD  3.72
     54  Joe Mauer         2006  MIN  3.71
     55  Yogi Berra        1952  NYY  3.70
     56  Jason Kendall     1998  PIT  3.69
     56  Elston Howard     1964  NYY  3.69
     58  Carlton Fisk      1978  BOS  3.68
     59  Yogi Berra        1950  NYY  3.62
     59  Thurman Munson    1970  NYY  3.62
     59  Gabby Hartnett    1930  CHC  3.62
     62  Rich Gedman       1985  BOS  3.60
     63  Brian Downing     1979  CAL  3.58
     63  Elston Howard     1963  NYY  3.58
     63  Bill Dickey       1936  NYY  3.58
     66  Mickey Cochrane   1931  PHA  3.57
     67  Ted Simmons       1978  STL  3.56
     67  Mike Scioscia     1985  LAD  3.56
     69  Bill Freehan      1964  DET  3.55
     69  Gene Tenace       1978  SDP  3.55
     71  Mickey Tettleton  1991  DET  3.54
     72  Gary Carter       1977  MON  3.51
     72  Gabby Hartnett    1935  CHC  3.51
     74  Mike Piazza       1996  LAD  3.47
     74  Mike Piazza       2000  NYM  3.47
     76  John Stearns      1978  NYM  3.46
     77  Charlie Bennett   1883  DTN  3.45
     78  Buck Ewing        1884  NYG  3.44
     78  Gabby Hartnett    1937  CHC  3.44
     80  Jack Clements     1895  PHI  3.43
     81  Ivan Rodriguez    2000  TEX  3.42
     82  Charles Johnson   2000  2TM  3.40
     83  Mickey Cochrane   1930  PHA  3.39
     83  Ray Fosse         1970  CLE  3.39
     85  Art Wilson        1915  CHF  3.38
     86  Joe Mauer         2008  MIN  3.37
     86  Jorge Posada      2000  NYY  3.37
     88  Lance Parrish     1982  DET  3.36
     89  Mickey Cochrane   1932  PHA  3.35
     89  Bill Dickey       1938  NYY  3.35
     89  Ivan Rodriguez    2001  TEX  3.35
     89  Buck Ewing        1883  NYG  3.35
     93  Ted Simmons       1973  STL  3.31
     93  Ted Simmons       1977  STL  3.31
     95  Jim Sundberg      1978  TEX  3.30
     96  Yogi Berra        1954  NYY  3.29
     96  Bubbles Hargrave  1923  CIN  3.29
     98  Roy Campanella    1955  BRO  3.28
     99  Jorge Posada      2007  NYY  3.27
    100  Joe Torre         1970  STL  3.26
    that's what I was going to suggest: looking at wins above average, because when players produce in a more concentrated fashion their WAA will go up, and also we know what average was. In fact, if a player plays an average amount of playing time for his position, then WAA might be a valid method of evaluation.

    Comment


    • #17
      here is an example of what I am talking about with regard to extra positional value for catchers, but instead in terms of pitchers. If a pitcher pitches 200 innings and we rate the replacement level as being 32% winning percentage (winning rate) for those innings, he is picking up 18% of a "win" per 9 innings by being above replacement, but what if a player pitched 350 innings? Or 80 innings. Are we to assume that a team would get the same 32% winning percentage for the 80, 200, and 350 innings if each of those pitchers had to be replaced?

      For the same reason, the "next" replacement level game for a team at catcher might be at a 32% winning percentage, but if you have to replace a guy who caught 120 games, by the time you are replacing games 80-120 for example, you may be getting only an 18% level.

      Another question I have about the calculations is this. If a catcher puts up say 3 WAA in 120 games, plus 1.5 (15 runs) above replacement then he is getting 4.5 war. If he had played at an average level for the other 40 games he would have picked up another .5 war or gotten 5.0. He didn't though, but somebody else did. If the average #1 catcher is catching 120 games, then the first 40 games caught by someone else on average is actually contributing to the AVERAGE level for catchers so its not really replacement level.
      Last edited by brett; 01-04-2013, 08:11 AM.

      Comment


      • #18
        Brett, I like your idea of redistributing more wins from non-catchers to catchers because the latter play a more physically demanding position and thus allow other players to not suffer from having to catch. This would be in addition to the positional adjustment catchers already get, and would place catchers on a more even scale with other players. The trick is how to quantify the catcher bonus without being arbitrary about it. Have you mentioned your idea to Sean Smith or Forman?
        *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

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        • #19
          These are just my observations, as an interested observer who sees himself as unqualified [sabermetrically, meaning acceptable level of statistical regression options to fit universally accepted models that inform the structure of WAR.

          1. Why should any position carry an automatic +/- value simply for being THAT particular position? Why can't defensive evaluations be based on individual player performance as measured against a unique position-defined template? In other words, each position would start out neutral as far as +/- runs are concerned, with player performance "earning" individual ratings that may be +, - or neutral against the position model.

          The position limitations would be position-experience unique; and template value would be governed by these limitations without making the position value a negative from the start.

          2. Purely from the perspective of budgets, it seems to me that WAR is better suited to finacial planning and asset allocation than to player evaluation performance. Behind the plate, I can cite many examples illustrating that back up catchers were far above Replacement level in actual performance. Replacement is a concept universally applied, when the reality of roster management has many instances of utility men who were more nearly "average" than Replacement when put into lineups.

          3. I see mixed metaphors in the various claims for what WAR can do. Is it that a concept is being universally applied when it should not be? I realize it makes for more work; but why not measure each roster player/position/activity against seasonal average in category and let player "value" stand on that?

          Perhaps, specific to catchers, a regressed model of playing time could be developed that constitutes a "season" for catchers only. Just for the sake of an example, if that model came to 140 games then that would constitute a "season" behind the plate. Beyond that amount of playing time, a catcher would have no extra credits. However, the "other" 10, 15, 20 or whatever number of games might be applied at "replacement" formula.

          Just thinking out loud here and trying to be as unbiased as possible.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
            These are just my observations, as an interested observer who sees himself as unqualified [sabermetrically, meaning acceptable level of statistical regression options to fit universally accepted models that inform the structure of WAR.

            1. Why should any position carry an automatic +/- value simply for being THAT particular position? Why can't defensive evaluations be based on individual player performance as measured against a unique position-defined template? In other words, each position would start out neutral as far as +/- runs are concerned, with player performance "earning" individual ratings that may be +, - or neutral against the position model.
            The problem here is that an average fielding SS and an average fielding first baseman who both hit the same, (lets say league average) are not equally valuable to a team. The shortstop is giving his team about 10 runs compared to an average SS, and the first baseman is losing his team about 10 runs compared to an average hitting first baseman. While the defensive positions have unique defensive needs, they also have unique offensive needs (you need more offense from first base than SS all else being equal AND one of the reasons SSs don't hit as well may be that they stay a little smaller, and quicker to field their position).

            And I think that an average fielding ss who hits as well as an average fielding first baseman is a better player. If we give the players defensive value for what they do in the field above a LOWER baseline, we could plausibly do what you are saying. An average shortstop would be making say 40 more plays than a low baseline, while an average first baseman might be making 20 more than the low baseline for first base. If we set a below average baseline for each position, we could eliminate the positional adjustment.

            And by the way, the positional adjustment is generally in line with the OFFENSIVE differences in production by position, but not completely in line (DHs are -14 while first basemen are -10 even though they hit/run better for example.)

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
              Perhaps, specific to catchers, a regressed model of playing time could be developed that constitutes a "season" for catchers only. Just for the sake of an example, if that model came to 140 games then that would constitute a "season" behind the plate. Beyond that amount of playing time, a catcher would have no extra credits. However, the "other" 10, 15, 20 or whatever number of games might be applied at "replacement" formula.

              Just thinking out loud here and trying to be as unbiased as possible.
              I like the idea of an adjusted full season for a catcher. They should get the full value between an average and a replacement player IF they play an average number of games for their position. Though it depends a little on the meaning of the terms average and replacment. If average is actually the league average rates then it would mean that no replacement level player has ever played an inning at the major league level.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by brett View Post
                The problem here is that an average fielding SS and an average fielding first baseman who both hit the same, (lets say league average) are not equally valuable to a team. The shortstop is giving his team about 10 runs compared to an average SS, and the first baseman is losing his team about 10 runs compared to an average hitting first baseman. While the defensive positions have unique defensive needs, they also have unique offensive needs (you need more offense from first base than SS all else being equal AND one of the reasons SSs don't hit as well may be that they stay a little smaller, and quicker to field their position).
                I have no problem at all in recognizing the higher demands defensively at SS over 1B. However, I have a problem with an evaluation model that starts one position off as a positive value and another with a negative value. Both contribute in a positive way to the defense, although the 1B position has limitations of opportunity, challenge and individual play value in run prevention. It see it a bit like two 1939 Ford sport coupes ... one souped up, the other with a governor on the speed control. One can go 110 mph, while the other is held to a maximum of 60 mph. Both move. Both will get you where you're going. The capacity is different.

                :And I think that an average fielding ss who hits as well as an average fielding first baseman is a better player. If we give the players defensive value for what they do in the field above a LOWER baseline, we could plausibly do what you are saying. An average shortstop would be making say 40 more plays than a low baseline, while an average first baseman might be making 20 more than the low baseline for first base. If we set a below average baseline for each position, we could eliminate the positional adjustment.
                I don't believe you can get much lower than the Replacement Level as a ML concept, unless you take a scrawny kid from the stands [always the last one picked chosing sides] and put him in the field. [Slight exaggeration, that!]

                Since we're talking catchers more specifically, I "get" the concept of Replacement; but as applied as a model it gives a distorted sense of value with a very low standard.

                And by the way, the positional adjustment is generally in line with the OFFENSIVE differences in production by position, but not completely in line (DHs are -14 while first basemen are -10 even though they hit/run better for example.)[/QUOTE]

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
                  I have no problem at all in recognizing the higher demands defensively at SS over 1B. However, I have a problem with an evaluation model that starts one position off as a positive value and another with a negative value. Both contribute in a positive way to the defense, although the 1B position has limitations of opportunity, challenge and individual play value in run prevention. It see it a bit like two 1939 Ford sport coupes ... one souped up, the other with a governor on the speed control. One can go 110 mph, while the other is held to a maximum of 60 mph. Both move. Both will get you where you're going. The capacity is different.



                  I don't believe you can get much lower than the Replacement Level as a ML concept, unless you take a scrawny kid from the stands [always the last one picked chosing sides] and put him in the field. [Slight exaggeration, that!]
                  [/QUOTE]

                  The most common WAR methodologies only rate defense relative to "average" at a position. They assume that playing an entire team of replacement level players will produce a team with a 32% winning percentage. They assume that putting a replacement level player at any position in the field will cost an average team about 2 wins overall but do not parse it out over offense or defense (a replacement shortstop will lose a lot of runs on defense, but a replacement first baseman is going to lose a ton on offense).

                  There are WAR methods that set a replacment level for offense and defense separately so that an average fielder would get a positive score.

                  In fact a way to look at it is that a first baseman gets -10 for position, while a shortstop gets +7, but they BOTH get about 22 runs above replacement level with about 25% of the contribution coming from defense and 75% from offense. That would mean theoretically that they BOTH are getting about 5.5 defensive runs above replacement for their positions. Still leaves the first baseman at -4.5 and the shortstop at 12.5 versus a neutral replacement fielder, and it implies that a replacement third baseman or centerfielder is a better fielder than an average fielding first baseman.

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