Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Am Ozzie, Hear Me Roar

There's been a lot of interesting things happening in baseball lately. The Reds finally called up Jay Bruce to fill the center field spot, just in time for them to realize that this season is pretty much done. Thanks to Dusty Baker and Wayne Krivsky for screwing up what could have been a Wild Card contender. One of them is fired, and the other should be.
  • The Mariners' situation is just awful. They're 21-39, 15.5 games out of the AL West, dead last and well behind the 3rd-place Rangers. The prevailing optimism about the 2008 Mariners was something I never agreed with. Their performance last year was largely a fluke, and I didn't expect them to do more than finish a distant 2nd. It turns out that even I may have been too optimistic about the team. There's always the chance that they'll turn things around, but my goodness, they just suck. Of their five main starting pitchers, the only one who's played above replacement level has been Felix Hernandez, whose 15.8 VORP is tops among Seattle pitchers and second on the team only to Ichiro (16.3). (That's above replacement level -- not above average. Four of the Mariners' starters are pitching about as well as Rob Bell or Mark Redman for 10-15 times the salary.) King Felix has a 3.29 ERA along with 69 K in 82 innings. After that, the rotation (the very expensive rotation) is a horrific disaster. Erik Bedard has only made 10 starts, but his 4.47 ERA and 26:49 BB:K ratio aren't in line with the ace reputation he brought over from Baltimore.
    But that's the good news. The other three starters in the rotation are among the worst in the league. Carlos Silva has a 5.96 ERA and has struck out just 28 batters in 77 innings. That ERA will probably come down, but not by much; Silva is a pretty average starter and a risky proposition when he's at his best; the Mariners are seeing what his worst looks like, and it ain't going to get much prettier for the remainder of the contract. 37-year-old Miguel Batista has a 5.90 ERA in 12 starts, with a sad 38:39 BB:K ratio. The bad news is that he may not get much better. If he finishes with an ERA below 4.75, I'll be very surprised. Jarrod Washburn has an ERA of 6.56, but he's likely to get some better, even if he's never above average. And for the record -- Felix Hernandez is getting paid $540,000 this year. The other four are getting about $33 million combined -- and they're all much older.
    Their offense is only slightly better. They rank 10th in the AL in Equivalent Average, which takes into account their pitcher-friendly ballpark. But while the offense is better, there's not as much room for improvement as there is with the pitchers. They're getting about all that could be expected out of most of their players. The only guys that are significantly underperforming are Ichiro (288/350/388), Kenji Johjima (221/262/302) and rookie Wladimir Balentien (207/277/380). Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro are about as bad as you'd expect (only the Mariners are surprised there); Adrian Beltre Raul Ibanez are about where you'd expect; and the middle infield combo of Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt might actually be over-performing at the plate, even if their defense still sucks (-10 FRAA for Betancourt, -8 for Lopez).
  • But the worst part of this whole tragedy is in the management's response. Manager John McLaren chewed the team out yesterday, and team president Chuck Armstrong tore into the coaching staff (Armstrong refused to specify his comments for the record). McLaren's outburst is understandable, especially since the team's disappointment puts his ass on the line.
    But the most despicable of all was General Manager Bill Bavasi, who ordered the players to sit in front of their l0ckers and take responsibility for the team's poor play. Here's how the espn.com report describes it:

    "Before McLaren went off, Bavasi ordered each of the 25 Mariners players to sit at his locker immediately after the game to take full responsibility publicly for having the worst record in the major leagues despite a $117 million payroll that is just below the richest in baseball."

    Who in the hell does Bill Bavasi think he is to make 25 baseball players take responsibility for his incompetence? Bill, did Carlos Silva force you to sign to him a stupid contract? Did Miguel Batista? Was Mark Lowe or Brad Wilkerson responsible for hiring the obviously overmatched McLaren as interim manager and then keeping him on the job after a dismal 2007 finish?
    The players are responsible for their own actions. McLaren and others accused many of the players of being lazy and not giving their full effort. I'll allow that this may be true, but I must also consider that nearly every manager of a disappointing team says the same thing to cover his ass. And besides, isn't it part of a manager's job to keep players motivated when they start to give up? Think about this: a player is burned at the stake for discussing clubhouse problems in public and told that such problems should be discussed "in house." But it's perfectly acceptable for a manager or GM to literally put their players on the spot and make them say that the team is a bunch of lazy losers instead of trying to solve these problems rationally, without the destructive public rancor and histrionics.
    Whatever happened to being a man? To being able to look people in the eye and admit your own responsibility and your own mistakes, despite the adverse affect this may have on your career? When did blaming your subordinates and staging their public humiliation become an acceptable reponse to failure? And what ever happened to doing what is best for the team and the organization, rather than doing the best for yourself? We hold baseball players to that standard rigidly, perhaps too rigidly. If we're going to force baseball to take responsibility for their own actions, we should force their bosses to do the same. Anything else is hypocritical and ethically corrupt.
    Bill Bavasi is a frightened, pathetic man desperate to hold onto his job, and he's also a spineless son of a bitch for staging a public stunt like this. He's destroying the faith and goodwill of the team in an effort to scapegoat them for problems that are mainly his, McLaren's, and Armstrong's fault. I disagree with someone professionally when they make reckless mistakes in baseball management, as Bavasi has done for years. But I am personally disgusted when someone tries to escape the blame for their mistakes and pin it on someone else. And that never applied to Bill Bavasi until now.
  • Speaking of disgust, Ozzie Guillen went on another wild tirade, saying that if GM Kenny Williams didn't do something about the team, then he would. It's just a matter of the White Sox losing for a long enough time for the team to get rid of this guy. Whatever tactical skills he may have are more than counterbalanced by the fact that he's absolutely bananas. Besides, who goes on a tirade to belittle a first-place team? The White Sox are doing better than anyone really expected, especially considering the scarcity of talent on the South Side. Guillen should be tickled pink, and he should give Carlos Quentin a big, sloppy kiss for carrying the offense.
  • On a side note, it's silly that the Diamondbacks let Quentin get away. He had a rough debut in the majors, but there was every sign that he was going to be a top-notch corner outfielder. The 'Backs just didn't have any room for him after signing Eric Byrnes to a contract extension. They've already got homegrown studs in center and right field with Chris Young and Justin Upton, and they aren't going anywhere. So why didn't they cut Byrnes loose and give themselves one of the best young outfields in recent memory?
    Because Eric Byrnes is one of those guys. He's a kooky guy who's great to have around, is a blast in the clubhouse, appears on TV, and is considered to "know how to win" in ways other than hitting and fielding. All of that's a pile of stinking bullshit, of course, especially since Quentin has such an edge over Byrnes in talent and price. Last year, Byrnes hit 286/353/460. That's about average for a left fielder in a hitter's park in the NL. He also played in 160 games, so bully for him. But he's a career 264/326/447 hitter, is 32 years old, and has a propensity for running into walls. Byrnes this season is hitting 219/285/388. Quentin, age 25, is hitting 295/403/585 with 15 HR. Now, I don't think either man's performance will continue to be this extreme, but it's a sign. The Diamondbacks will probably win the division in spite of Byrnes (as they did last year), but will they win the World Series? And would the difference between a poor left fielder and a great left fielder have been the difference? It's a corner the 'Backs should never have forced themselves into.
There have been a lot of milestones reached recently, which have sparked Hall of Fame debates. We'll start with the most recent milestone: Manny Ramirez's 500th HR.


MANNY RAMIREZ
Manny is a Hall-of-Famer, and I don't really doubt that at all. Manny debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 1993, playing 22 poor games. He had a great 91-game debut in 1994 (269/357/521, 2nd place in Rookie of the Year voting), and then took off in 1995, hitting 308/402/558.
He hasn't stopped since. There have been some minor detours, but in short, Manny Ramirez has been a superior hitter since 1995. He's had some injuries, but even those have been minor and modest. He appeared in just 118 games in 2000 and only 120 in 2002. He has slowed down in recent years, playing 130 and 133 games in the last two seasons, respectively. Still, that's pretty damn good. In the 13 seasons from 1995-2007, he appeared in at least 150 six times and at least 130 games eleven times.
How did he do in those years? He was a consistently excellent hitter. Not just good -- excellent. He's a career 312/408/591 hitter. To illustrate Manny's amazing consistency, consider this: from 1995 through 2007, his lowest batting average was .292 in 2005, his lowest OBP was .377 in 1998, and his lowest SLG was his .493 mark from last year (his second-lowest SLG during the period was .538 in 1997). Manny has slugged in the .580s in ten of the thirteen seasons in question and slugged over .600 six times. So, Manny Ramirez worst (composite) year was 292/377/493. That's an All-Star outfielder right there, and that was Manny at his worst. If you can hit like Manny for 10-12 years, you're a Hall of Famer. If you can do it for 15 (this is Manny's 16th season), then you go in on the first ballot.
What can we hold against Manny? His numbers came in a hitter-friendly era. Check. He spent the last half of his career in Fenway Park, a hitter-friendly place for righties. Check. And, of course, his defense is execrable.

Still, if you look at Manny compared to other right fielders (Manny's played more career games in right than left, although that should change soon), his numbers hold up even if you adjust for his era and his defense. Here's a snapshot (all stats shown here are through the 2007 season only; they do not include his 295/372/532 start to this season):

Win Shares:
...
13. Roberto Clemente (377)
14. Rusty Staub (358)
15. Harry Heilmann (356)
16. Manny Ramirez (354)
17. Dwight Evans (347)
If Manny finished the season with 20 more Win Shares (which is a fair guess), then he'll pass Staub, and then every other player in front of him is a Hall-of-Famer (except Pete Rose). Win Shares take defense, ballpark, and era into account.

WARP3
...
T-11. Tony Gwynn & Reggie Jackson (124.1)
13. Dwight Evans (117.4)
14. Sam Crawford (116.8)
15. Manny Ramirez (114.4)
16. King Kelly (113)
Again, Manny ranks favorably. WARP3 is a Baseball Prospectus stat that, like Win Shares, attempts to take as many factors into account as possible. A score of over 100 generally indicates a Hall-of-Famer. And here again, after this season Manny is likely to pass Dwight Evans, and then everyone in front of him is a Hall-of-Famer (except Rose). And if he plays for one or two more seasons, he could crack the top 10 right fielders of all time.

EQA
1. Babe Ruth (.368)
2. Manny Ramirez (.331)
3. Mel Ott (.329)
4. Hank Aaron (.326)
5. Frank Robinson (.324)
This statistic is what we call "eye-popping." EQA is a number that attempts to take a hitter's total offensive contribution and put it into a number roughly resembling batting average. So, according to EQA, the only right fielder in history who could hit better than Manny was Babe Ruth. To be fair, it should be said that Manny's EQA will likely drop as he gets older and his skills fade, leaving him most likely behind Mel Ott and Hank Aaron. And, too, EQA includes a steep bias in favor of modern hitters, based on the theory that the quality of play in baseball has improved over time. Even still, this is a great review of Manny's hitting ability.

What else can we hold against Manny? He's got two World Series rings. He's moody and fickle, but there's a whole room full of those guys already in Cooperstown. He hasn't won an MVP, and that sticks in the minds of some voters. That is actually a somewhat valid point to be made; while Manny has been consistently excellent, he's never had a year where he's stepped beyond his established levels and been a superstar. But I really don't see how we can hold that against him. A lot of Hall-of-Famers had similar careers, where they were consistently great without any one year that was good enough to net them the MVP. I don't think we should blame Manny for his consistent excellent and reward someone who is alternately excellent and average. There's no one year where you can point out Manny Ramirez as the best hitter in baseball, but when you step back and look at his era, he was one of the top 5 players in the game, bar none. And that's more than good enough for induction.

KEN GRIFFEY, JR.
Junior is sitting on 599 home runs even as I speak. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Junior is a Hall of Famer. He's also being called the best player on the 1990's, which is demonstrably false. Check my blog archives for my entry debunking this mythical claim and restoring the title to its rightful owner: Barry Bonds.
But where does Griffey rank, all-time, among center fielders? Griffey was an excellent and vastly superior player when he was with the Mariners. He struggled upon being traded to Cincinnati, but has actually managed to recover from a freakish series of injuries to play above-average ball the past few years. His ability to stay above-average at the plate and stay in the lineup will keep his counting stats going up and keep inching him up the chart of all-time center fielders.
Let's see how Griffey's career compares to that of other center fielders (all stats are through the 2007 only):
Win Shares:
1. Ty Cobb (722)
2. Willie Mays (642)
3. Tris Speaker (630)
4. Mickey Mantle (565)
5. Joe DiMaggio (387)
6. Ken Griffey, Jr. (387)
7. Duke Snider (352)
8. Max Carey (351)
Well, simply judging from the company he's keeping here, Griffey's not just a Hall-of-Famer, but should get in on the first ballot, no question. Win Shares confirms my impression that there are the four Great Center Fielders: Cobb, Mays, Speaker, Mantle, and then the rest.
Is it is possible that Griffey, had he not suffered such injury trouble in Cincinnati, could have risen higher to join the Great 4 and make it the Great 5? I think that's possible, but not likely. As great as Griffey was, he simply wasn't as historically great as the Great 4.
Okay, so he isn't among the Great 4. Is he the best of the rest? That sounds about right. As good as Duke Snider, Max Carey, Billy Hamilton, and others were, Griffey was simply better. I'll take him above the Duke without any argument. But to put Griffey ahead of Joe DiMaggio is another story. In the scheme of things, there's not much difference between the 5th-best and 6th-best center fielders of all time. But debating the merits of Ken Griffey .vs. Joe DiMaggio is intriguing. Let's look at some other metrics, and see where they weigh in.
WARP3:
1. Willie Mays (207)
2. Ty Cobb (194.3)
3. Tris Speaker (177.1)
4. Mickey Mantle (151.6)
5. Ken Griffey, Jr. (136.4)
6. Joe DiMaggio (120.5)
This is a strikingly similar result. The Great 4 are still intact (just in a different order), except that the divide between them and the other center fielders is smaller. By this metric, Griffey could conceivably pass Mantle before he retires. And again, there he is, ahead of Joe DiMaggio with more baseball yet to play.
EQA:
1. Mickey Mantle (.340)
2. Ty Cobb (.329)
3. Willie Mays (.328)
4. Joe DiMaggio (.327)
5. Tris Speaker (.320)
6. Ken Griffey, Jr. (.313)
Hey, hey, the gang's all here. EQA, along with WARP, includes a steep timeline factor, which is part of what moves Mantle ahead of Cobb. But it's also true that we just forget what a damn good hitter Mickey Mantle was. EQA doesn't penalize someone for a lack of playing time; it's like batting average in that way, so Mickey's shortened career and deteriorating defense aren't reflected.
DiMaggio ranks ahead of Griffey here by a fair margin, which is surprising. This must mean that DiMaggio was a better hitter than Griffey on a per-game basis. But he wasn't a better player overall? How do we explain that?
Well, there's one big factor I haven't mentioned yet: World War II. Joe DiMaggio missed three prime seasons (1943-1945, his age 28, 29, and 30 seasons) to the Big One. DiMaggio played just 1,736 games, whereas Griffey's at 2,434 and counting.
Let's take a look back at Win Shares, but adjust them to a per-season basis. This measure determines how good a player was when he played, regardless of how often he played:
Win Shares/162 Games:
1. Ty Cobb (38.55)
2. Mickey Mantle (38.12)
3. Tris Speaker (36.59)
4. Joe DiMaggio (36.11)
5. Willie Mays (34.76)
6. Billy Hamilton (34.31)
...
17. Carlos Beltran (27.00)
18. Hack Wilson (26.91)
19. Duke Snider (26.6)
20. Ken Griffey, Jr. (26.36)
WOW! That's a lot different than anything else we've looked at? What does it mean? It means -- if you trust Win Shares -- that Ken Griffey really wasn't that excellent -- he was just excellent for a lot longer than most other guys. This also confirms our suspicions that DiMaggio would rank better than Griffey if he hadn't missed three prime seasons to WW2; the other numbers aren't saying that Griffey was better, just that he was around longer to accumulate more value. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Is Ken Griffey, Jr. really the 20th-best center fielder ever on a per-game basis. I find that hard to believe. But one of the main reasons may be that Griffey's defense just wasn't as great as people remember. He's a lot like Torii Hunter; people love him for the flashy plays, but he's not really as good as his highlights would suggest. That would seem to be reflected in his low number of Win Shares -- the upper tier of the Hall of Fame is not populated by people with less than 400 Win Shares; hell, Craig Biggio finished his career with 431 and Gary Sheffield had 420 going into this season. To look at another statistic, Baseball Prospectus' Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) has Griffey at -71 for his career. That's actually pretty poor. Looking at his record, the numbers suggest that Griffey was a decent and sometimes good defender in Seattle, but his years roaming center in Cincinnati cost his team a lot. In 2001, Griffey managed -20 FRAA despite playing in 111 games. In other words, the Reds would have gained 2 extra wins in '01 if they'd replaced Griffey with a league-average defender in center field. Griffey didn't become a full-time right fielder until just last season, but the numbers suggest that he should have been moved out of center right after his injury trouble started in 2001. So Griffey roamed center field for 6 seasons killing his career defensive numbers. The Reds were really negligent in not moving him earlier, especially since playing center field can only have exacerbated his injury problems. But the list of the stupid things the Reds did from 2001-2006 is a long one, so let's not dwell on that.
DiMaggio, on the other hand, finished his career with 46 FRAA. That's not as great as his defensive reputation would suggest (and it's possible that FRAA is short-changing him), but it's pretty darn good, especially if you add in the three prime seasons lost to WW2.
And so, I must come to the conclusion that, all in all, Joe DiMaggio was a better player than Ken Griffey, Jr. (And I'm starting to reconsider Duke Snider). Now if Griffey had stayed healthy, he may very well have passed DiMaggio, even if we give him credit for his missing war years. But he did not. The idea that Ken Griffey, Jr. would have been as good as Willie Mays if not for injuries is just not viable. He probably would have broken Hank Aaron's record, but I don't think Griffey was ever destined to break into the Great 4 center fielder of all time. But even so, he's a Hall-of-Famer. No doubt.
OMAR VIZQUEL
Omar Vizquel recently broke Luis Aparicio's record of most games played at shortstop. Vizquel got a great deal of praise for that, and deservedly so. Other than catcher, shortstop is the most demanding positions to play on the diamond, and Vizquel's feat is extremely impressive.
The milestone also got more people talking about Omar Vizquel as a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer. This, I thought, was a stretch. Omar's been perceived as a Hall-of-Famer by most mainstream commentators for a few years now. The sabermetric community, myself included, has been a lot more skeptical. Yes, he's been a good defensive shortstop. And yes, he's been around a long time. But is that enough to make it into the Hall?
It was for Luis Aparicio, who also had some gaudy stolen base numbers. But Aparicio doesn't belong in the Hall, as I've argued before. So we're going to need more than that.
Vizquel's Hall-of-Fame argument basically boils down to three points:
1. "Vizquel was as good as Ozzie Smith/Luis Aparicio/etc., and they're in the Hall of Fame.
We can dismiss such reasoning out of hand. If we go down that road, then everyone who's better than the worst Hall-of-Famer automatically gets in, and then we've got 500 inductions (or more) to make. The lowest common denominator should not be the standard.
2. "Vizquel was a good hitter for his position."
It's very tough for decent hitter with a great glove to get into the Hall; it happens rarely. Bill Mazeroski is an example, and he wasn't even a decent hitter. But determining how good Vizquel's offense really was is central to getting him into the Hall. Having golden hands and nothing else doesn't cut it, or else Mark Belanger would be in.
3. "Vizquel was one of the best defensive shortstops of all time."
That's another assertion that we can seek to verify with facts. Reason #2 or #3 alone won't get him into the Hall. But if he was a pretty good hitter and a great defender for such a long time, then he would probably deserve induction.
Let's start by checking on Omar's offense. Here are his career numbers:
274/339/356
That's not good. Not in any context. The league average (park-adjusted) during Omar's career was 269/339/425. Omar's career OPS+ (OPS adjusted for park effects) is 84. That's not even decent. That's well below average.
This is the problem with comparing Omar to Ozzie Smith (as people often do). Ozzie hit 262/337/328 in his career. Worse than Omar, right? Wrong. The league average (park-adjusted) during Ozzie's career was 262/328/390. That's a big notch lower than Omar's era, where hitters were kings. So, adjusted for park, how good was Omar compared to Ozzie.
Omar's OPS+ was 84. Ozzie's? 87.
So not only was Omar a below-average hitter, he was worse than Ozzie Smith. Which means that Omar's going to have to make up the difference on defense if he's really as good as Ozzie. Yeah, that's right: we have to try and prove that Omar Vizquel was a better defender than Ozzie Smith.
Which takes us to Reason #3. Was Omar one of the best defensive shortstops of his time? Ozzie Smith accumulated 287 FRAA in his career, the best among all shortstops with at least 200 Win Shares.
Omar accumulated 119 FRAA. That's quite good; it ties him with Dick Bartell f0r 10th among players with 200 Win Shares or more.
Wait -- Dick Bartell? He's not in the Hall of Fame. He was just as good, defensively, as Omar Vizquel. And not only that, he was a better hitter. By a good margin. Bartell hit 284/355/391 in his career for an OPS+ of 96. He even won three pennants and hit 294/360/426 in three World Series (Omar won two pennants and hit 208/288/283 in the World Series; 250/327/316 in the postseason altogether). Omar's played 2,608 career games, an amazing number. But Bartell isn't far behind; he played 2,016 career games and would have played more if he hadn't missed all of 1944 and 1945 to the war (Bartell doesn't have as many career games at shortstop, as he also filled in at third and second).
So at first we were trying to argue that Omar Vizquel was a better player than Ozzie Smith, and we failed. Now we're having a tough time proving that he was a better player than Dick Bartell?!
Let's take a look at the modern stats to give us a sense of their overall career:
Win Shares:
...
T-26th: Herman Long & Vern Stephens (265)
T-28th: Jim Fregosi & Jack Glasscock (261)
30. Omar Vizquel (259)
31. Joe Tinker (258)
32. Maury Wills (253)
33. Dick Bartell (252)
Naturally, fate brings Vizquel and Bartell close together. And if not for Win Shares' allowance for the increased quality of play over time (Bartell played from 1927-1946), Bartell would likely win.
Wow. Omar's the 30th-best shortstop according to Win Shares. He might move up toward the #25 spot, but considering that he's 41 years old and hitting 197/275/239 this year, I wouldn't count on many more Win Shares before he retires.
Just to note, there are ten -- count 'em -- ten players ahead of Vizquel on this list who aren't in the Hall of Fame. Bill Dahlen has 393 Win Shares and isn't it. Shouldn't the line for eligible shortstops start somewhere behind him and Alan Trammell?
Okay, let's play the devil's advocate. Remember what see Griffey and DiMaggio apart? Quality of play, rather than quantity. Maybe Omar is really better than these stats would indicate on a per-game basis.
WS/162 Games:
I'll make this short: 51 shortstops throughout history have achieved at least 200 Win Shares. Listed by WS/162 Games, Vizquel ranks 50th ... out of 51. Which probably means that there are a lot of guys with less than 200 Win Shares who were better than Vizquel on a per-game basis.
This means that Vizquel is even worse -- much worse -- than we thought before (For the record, Dick Bartell managed 20.25 WS/162 G).
Let's give Omar one more chance. Win Shares aren't perfect. Let's see if we can't get at least one measure to indicate that Vizquel is a Hall-of-Famer.
WARP3:
...
14. Lou Boudreau (109.6)
15. Dave Concepcion (108.4)
16. Omar Vizquel (106.9)
17. Jack Glasscock (105.9)
T-18. Tony Fernandez & Pee Wee Reese (105.5)
20. Dick Bartell (103.6)
There's that Dick again. But finally -- finally, we've found one measure that puts Vizquel at least in the top 20 shortstops of all time.
But I'm sorry Omar, WARP3 alone can't outweigh everything else we've seen. And even there, your most impressive showing, you're still not the best shortstop not in the Hall. With the exception of guys who aren't eligible yet (Alex Rodriguez and Barry Larkin), Bill Dahlen, Alan Trammell, and Dave Concepcion are still in line ahead of you waiting to get into the Hall. And Dahlen (134.8 WARP3) again looks like the best shortstop not in the Hall. Even WARP3, the friendliest measure, puts Omar just on the wrong side of the border, only 4.8 wins ahead of Dick Bartell.
(I also must say, with the caveat that Win Shares have biased me, that WARP3 seems to do a poor job of ranking shortstops, at least compared to other measures. They list Ozzie as the 4th-best of all time, which is a real stretch for me, and indicates that WARP really likes defense from their shortstops, offense be damned.)
So by the friendliest available measure, Omar Vizquel is a borderline Hall-of-Famer, but by every other measure he's far behind Ozzie Smith and somewhere next to Dick Bartell, Jack Glasscock, and a bunch of other guys who won't be getting into the Hall anytime soon. Sportswriters and announcers will try to wow you into supporting Omar's candidacy, either by mentioning one isolated, linear statistic (hits, runs, fielding percentage) or by making broad, unsupported claims of "great defense," "good hitting" or "leadership."
You can make up your own mind, but the way I look at it, the facts don't leave any room for argument: Omar Vizquel doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame any more than Dick Bartell does.
I'll be back soon (hopefully) with more reviews on the state of baseball, division-by-division.

1 comment:

Branan said...

Bavasi deserves every bit. I hope you're not the only one taking him to task for that stunt.