Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Jeter and the Hall

I responded to some of Ezzie's comments on my post below here. However I thought of two better counter arguments that rebut Ezzie's argument that I feel are post-worthy.

Ezzie is arguing that Jeter's defense is so bad that he should be compared with other position players and not other SS. And although Ezzie has never explicitly concluded that Jeter shouldn't make the Hall, he's implying that compared to other position players Jeter wouldn't stack up. I have two responses:

1) Ezzie is penalizing Jeter twice for being a bad fielder. BP puts Jeter at -128 for his career, so basically his bad fielding is very much taken into consideration. Jeter gets a boost because he's a SS, but his bad fielding at the position definitely hurts him.

If we compare Jeter to other players we cannot automatically take his -128 runs defensively into account. If Jeter played a different position, we can safely assume he wouldn't be that bad defensively. How would he do? There's no way to know. But let's assume Jeter had played CF his whole career and was an average CF. That would leave Jeter with 411 runs above average for his career. He's 33 and should probably play another solid 6-7 years.

Let's assume he averages 15 runs above average for the rest of his career (a reasonable assumption considering just last season he was 53 runs above average offensively). That'll leave him with around 500 runs above average. That would put Jeter ahead of all the CF I mentioned on Noyam's Bernie post plus Duke Snider and a whole bunch of other nondescript HOFers.

Even if Jeter played LF, a position he would surely be at least average at, he would be ahead of Joe Medwick, Lou Brock, Ralph Kiner (although his career was cut short), Al Simmons, and would compare favorably with Willie Stargell and Dave Winfield. If I assume Jeter would have added 10 runs defensively a year and adds 10 runs offensively a year until he retires after 20 seasons, he'd end up with close to 700 runs above average. At any position, that's a HOF.

2) Instead of using Batting and Fielding Runs Above Average, I'll instead look at Batting and Fielding Runs Above Replacement, BRAR and FRAR. The difference is FRAA only takes into account the player's peers at his position. FRAR instead starts a player at a different amount of runs based on position. So for example, a SS will start with 33 runs automatically, while a 1B will only start with 10. That makes the positional difference 23 runs, which seems about right.

This allows us to compare players at different positions. Jeter right now is 908 runs above replacement. Let's assume he plays another 6 years. If we discount his first season, where he played 15 games and was actually a subpar performer, he's played 12 seasons. He's averaging 21.6 FRAR and 54 BRAR, so he's 75.6 runs above a replacement player. If he keeps that rate, for 6 more seasons, he'll end up with 453 more runs, which will leave him with 1360 runs above replacement. Let's say he drops off a little and only averages 60 runs above replacement. That's 360 runs so it's about 1260 runs above bench for his career.

Of course all of this assumes he stays at SS. If he moves to LF, he'll lose 19 runs a season based on positional value, but he'll probably be a better LF than SS, so I'm assuming he'll get a decent amount of that back.

So let's see how he compares with some HOFers.

1) Kirby Puckett finished with 842 runs above bench.
2) Harmon Killerbrew ended up with 889 runs above bench.

Jeter is already ahead of two clear-cut, well-known, HOFers.

What about someone like Eddie Murray? He finished with 1238, below Jeter's projected finish. How about a great hitter like Wade Boggs? 1347, right around Jeter's lower projected finish. How about the great Tony Gwynn? 1107. Brooks Robinson was an amazing defensive 3B. Where did he end up? 1066.

The list goes on and on. I'm not picking random, lower tier HOFers. These guys are all well-known and at least a number of them were first ballot picks, including Gwynn just last year. I'll pick another very famous player who just recently made into the Hall. Paul Molitor. Received 431 of 508 votes in 2004 or 84.8%. What did he finish with? 1189, below Jeter's projections.

There just aren't any serious arguments against Jeter's future Hall induction.

Update: Since I've been using BP's stats primarily, I decided to look at the HardBall Times' numbers to see where Jeter should rank. Unlike BP, THT does not have a lot of free stats on current players and nothing on past players. THT basically has the stats of the players' last four seasons and career numbers.

Here's Jeter. At the bottom there's a stat called Win Shares. Win Shares is a Bill James creation (for those of you who have never heard of Bill James, you should get to know his work). Unlike BP's WARP3, which looks at a player's numbers and calculates how many wins above a replacement player those numbers should added up to, Win Shares takes a team's total victories, multiplies them by 3, and then divides the total among the player's on the team.

Some would argue that Win Shares are not as fair a metric simply because players on winning teams are going to get more Shares due to the contributions of their teammates. That's not a bad argument, and I wouldn't only use Win Shares when evaluating a player. THT has also come up with Win Shares above Bench, a stat that compares a player's Win Shares with the amount an replacement player would have received at that position. WSAB might be a better stat, but THT doesn't have career win shares on it site, so I don't have access to it.

Ok, on to Jeter. Jeter has 300 Win Shares. He has played 12 full seasons so that comes out to a clean 25 WS a season. Assuming he plays another 6-8 years at that average and he'll end up with between 450-500 WS. That's a reasonable estimate given his past performance.

Luckily Dave Studeman ranked the top 80 players ever before 2007 based on WSAB and also included their WS total. We can go down the list and look at some of the best players of all-time.

The first 20 or so guys are clearly out of Jeter's league. After that, the WS totals begin to drop. Sam Crawford and Reggie Jackson both have around 440 WS for their career. Willie McCovey has 408. George Brett has 432. Arky Vaughan only had 356. Tony Gwynn? 398. There is no doubt in my mind that Jeter can easily reach 400 WS for his career.

This is just another stat that confirms what we already know: Jeter is a HOFer.

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