Is Joe Morgan a product of batting in the middle of the Big Red Machine?

Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭
edited July 6, 2019 4:55PM in Sports Talk

There has been historically a backlash against Joe Morgan's sabermetric numbers that many fans don't quite seem to take in good faith. We all know the history, he was good in Houston, but went to the Big Red Machine and just put up sabermetric numbers that are off the charts amazing for the era.

Nobody knows for sure if lineup protection exists, but most believe it does in some form.

We do know it is beneficial to be batting with runners all over the bases though.

Many believe that it is much more difficult to hit with garbage around you in the lineup, as opposed to hitting with elite hitters around you in the lineup, and I would agree with that as well.

When Joe Morgan got to the Big Red Machine, was he partly the creation of batting in position that no other player of his era had the luxury of doing.....coming up to the plate with tons of runners AND having tons of bona fide protection behind him?

We have discussed how that was the best team in history, and due primarily to its lineup. There is no sugar coating it. Morgan had the best combination of batters ahead of him and batters behind him, than probably anyone in their era did ever(relative to the hitting environment of their era).

He was good before he got put into that situation, but off the charts amazing once in there.

Joe Morgan the six full years before the Big Red Machine, 1965-1971, aged 21-27: .264 BA, .376 OB%, .399 SLG%, and 122 OPS+.

His OPS+ at age 21 was 131, so he wasn't low due to an early learning curve.

Then he went to the Reds, and from 1972-1977, aged 28-33, .301 BA, .429 OB%, .495 SLG%, and 159 OPS+

The 1972 Reds had this:

Leadoff hitter .307 AVG, .384 OB% 10 SB, 40 doubles, 11 triples
Joe Morgan batting second
Third place hitter .286 BA, 9 HR, 89 RBI, .392 SLG
Fourth place hitter .266 BA, 42 HR, 139 RBI. 545 SLG
Fifth place hitter .280 BA, 21 HR, 94 RBI, .469 SLG

The 1973 Reds had this:
Leadoff hitter.335 BA, .397 OB%, 11 SB, 37 doubles, 8 triples
Morgan batting second
Third place hitter .264 AVG, 13 HR 100RBI, .382 SLG
Fourth place hitter .278 BA, 26 HR, 109 RBI, .448 SLG
Fifth place hitter .296 BA, 27 HR, 93 RBI, .490 SLG

The 1974 Reds had this:

Leadoff hitter .282 BA, .376 OB%, 6 SB, 42 doubles, 8 triples
Joe Morgan batting second
Third place hitter .282 BA, 32 HR, 132 RBI, .501 SLG%
Fourth place hitter .244 BA, 26 HR 106 RBI, .414 SLG%

The 1975 Reds had this:

Leadoff hitter .322 BA, .409 OB%, 2 SB, 50 doubles, 4 triples
2nd Place hitter .319 BA, .400 OB%, 38 SB, 28 doubles, 7 triples
Joe Morgan batted third
4th place hitter .281 BA, 28 HR, 141 RBI, .490 SLG%
5th place hitter .288 BA, 28 HR, 124 RBI, .472 SLG%

The 1976 Reds had this:

Leadoff hitter .321 BA and .421 OB%, 10 SB, 45 doubles, six triples
2nd place hitter .323 BA and .394 OB%, 47 SB, 35 doubles, 12 triples
Joe Morgan batting third
4th place hitter .241 BA, 26HR, 120 RBI, .411 SLG....Perez had slump to drop SLG, but the reputation retained for this premise.
5th place hitter .285 BA 29 HR, 137 RBI, .512 SLG

1977 Reds had this: .

Leadoff hitter 317 BA, .379 OB%, 16 SB, 40 doubles, 7 triples
2nd Place hitter .285 BA, .343 OB%, 21 SB, 36 doubles, 8 triples
Joe Morgan batting third
4th place hitter, 40HR, 134 RBI, .302 AVG, .554 SLG %
5th Place hitter, 34 HR, 134 RBI, .299 AVG, .544 SLG%

Starting in 1978 Morgan showed a sharp decline in both ability and health, and running speed...and he began his old man years.

Joe Morgan was excellent, and when he was at the top of his game from age 21-27, he put up a very nice 122 OPS+, but then when he went to Cincinnati, he went crazy in both the traditional and sabermetric measurements. Could it have been due to an increase in ability? Sure, I'm sure that played a part....

....but when you look what he had in front of him...BA, OB%, and doubles and triples in hordes...plus at lease one guy with elite speed ahead of him.

Then look what he had behind him, elite power, above average batting average, and strong hitting or feared reputations of the clutch variety as well.

That lineup support can't do anything but help a hitter. We don't know how much....

....but, has anyone jumped from the 122 OPS+ range that has been established for six full MLB seasons, and then all of a sudden assault the league to a tune of a 159 OPS+ for that many sustained years and into his mid 30's? Thats a big sustained jump on both ends.

Or, the three years prior to joining the Reds(age 25-27) his OPS+ was 113, then he went to the Big Red Machine and it averaged 159 for six years.

So, a second question, has there ever been a HOF hitter with a career OPS+ in the 130-160 range that had an OPS+ of just 113 at aged 25-27?? Morgan was at 159 after the 113 years!!! True elite hitting HOFers are ALL off and running from age 25-27, and not muddling at just 113 above league average. Maybe not as good as their prime years, but that far off?? I can't find any.

Comments

  • Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭

    Barry Bonds from age 25-27 had a 177 OPS+
    In his very best four year average following that, Barry Bonds from age 36-39 had an 256 OPS+

    An increase of 44%. However, his age 25-27 years, each of those OPS+ led the league...so the era change may also have had a role in addition to the steroids.

    Joe Morgan from age 25-27 had a 113 OPS+
    In his very best four year average following that, Joe Morgan, age 29-32 had an OPS+ of 166.

    An increase of 46%.

    I'm giving this debate to the old school fans...J159 OPS+ Joe Morgan WAS a product of his lineup and environment.

  • DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 19,343 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Skin2 said:
    Barry Bonds from age 25-27 had a 177 OPS+
    In his very best four year average following that, Barry Bonds from age 36-39 had an 256 OPS+

    An increase of 44%. However, his age 25-27 years, each of those OPS+ led the league...so the era change may also have had a role in addition to the steroids.

    Joe Morgan from age 25-27 had a 113 OPS+
    In his very best four year average following that, Joe Morgan, age 29-32 had an OPS+ of 166.

    An increase of 46%.

    I'm giving this debate to the old school fans...J159 OPS+ Joe Morgan WAS a product of his lineup and environment.

    Joe was a very good hitter and always said there wasn't anybody he couldn't pull! Love the Big Red Machine!


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  • dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 2,480 ✭✭✭

    Morgan's numbers certainly are interesting, and I suspect the jump from "young" to "peak" years is well above the norm, but I do think it's important to remember that a jump from a player's younger years, to a peak somewhere around age 30 is so common that it is the norm. Morgan jumped from 122 in his younger years to 159 in his peak years, Carew jumped from 122 to 151, Yaz from 125 to 153, Dwight Evans from 112 to 136, Brett from 131 to 160, and I'm sure I could find many more if I kept looking. Morgan's jump is larger than the others, but when you draw attention to a 30% jump, a less-informed reader might infer that the "expected" jump is 0%. Just looking at the 1970's and only at people with an OPS+ similar to Morgan's, I quickly found four players who jumped an average of 22%.

    But your thesis may very well explain all or part of why Morgan jumped 30% rather than the "expected" 20% or so. In other words, I think most of Morgan's increase needs no explanation - it's normal. If he'd jumped from 122 to 151 - exactly the same as Carew - I don't think there'd be anything to discuss. But the delta from 151 to 159 is interesting, as also the more rapid than normal (for a superstar) decline after age 33.

    Joe Morgan is one of my favorite players, so I hate when you do this, but good stuff, and worth pondering.

    And in response to your question, I can't find anyone either but your restriction of "age 25-27" seems designed to catch only Morgan. There have been some HOF hitters who had very slow starts to their careers before breaking out. Roberto Clemente ended his career with a 130 OPS+, but his OPS+ at ages 23-25 (he was playing full seasons since age 20) was only 104.

    dallasactuary

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  • DarinDarin Posts: 3,341 ✭✭✭✭

    Actually Clemente has him beat. Roberto was at 94 OPS+ after 6 full seasons, then the next twelve seasons
    his OPS+ was 147, so his last dozen years he was basically Willie Stargell at the plate only with gold glove defensive skills.

    Collecting: Patrick Mahomes rookie cards, the next great NFL quarterback.
  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    My only question for Joe Morgan is why did he go 3 for 24 and hit only .125 against
    the Oakland A's pitching staff during the 1972 world series.

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Skin2 said:

    Many believe that it is much more difficult to hit with garbage around you in the lineup, as opposed to hitting with elite hitters around you in the lineup, and I would agree with that as well.

    As would George Brett,
    and Ted Williams for that matter.

  • keetskeets Posts: 21,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 7, 2019 4:37AM

    MLB is interesting because of things like this. I feel there is a degree of truth in the OP's assertion, just how much truth is for each of us to decide and then debate. I know this much: it isn't unusual for a player to get out of one "environment" and into another for him to really develop as a hitter, it isn't unusual for a player to be matched with the right Coach for something special to happen and it isn't unusual for Team chemistry to bring out the best in a player(s). most likely all three of those things happened at once in Cincinnati and not just for Joe Morgan.

    it's like the old saying about the sum of the Team being greater than the sum of the individual players. if those Reds had been scattered around the National League it is an almost certainty that their individual numbers would have been less than they were as that group.

    some of what the OP mentions about "protection" may seem like a myth to some members but it is Historically accurate and Managers employ the tactic everyday when they shuffle their line-up. getting the right player ahead of or behind certain guys really changes games and Teams.


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  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @keets said:

    some of what the OP mentions about "protection" may seem like a myth to some members but it is Historically accurate and Managers employ the tactic everyday when they shuffle their line-up. getting the right player ahead of or behind certain guys really changes games and Teams.

    The only players in the batting order who benefit from being in a certain spot is the person hitting 8th in the national league (may draw more walks due to pitcher coming up 9th), or someone hitting in front of a Hall of fame hitter batting 3rd or 4th.

    I can't think of any other scenario where "pitching around" or "pitching to" applies.

    Especially today where many pitchers can command their off speed stuff better than their
    fastball.

  • keetskeets Posts: 21,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    and you are entitled to your opinion. perhaps you should apply for the next open Managerial position. good luck, please report back and tell us how that goes.


    --- George Carlin RIP, he'd have a lot of fresh material if he was alive today!!
  • Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭
    edited July 7, 2019 7:23AM

    Clemente age 25-27 OPS+ was 129. His best later four year peak was 163. Morgan was 113 and 166. And Clemente did have early sturggles and a clear learning curve he went through. Clemente didn't figure it out until he was 25. Morgan had it figured out after two years where he had cups of coffee and struggled.

    And that is the point, no HOF hitter was muddling that low during his age 25-27 prime years....and then shot all the way up to a 166 level. Morgan went from 113 to 166.

    Dallasactuary, none of those guys you mentioned had established themselves as one level of hitters for SIX years(not including any cups of coffee and early first year struggles) and including their prime years of age 25-27 like Morgan did. Then went on to have another established level of prime for several years that exceeded what they had established.

    George Brett had an established MLB baseline from ager 22-27 with an OPS+ of 146...so I'm not sure your examples are showing what I am saying.

    Yaz from age 22-27 had a 146 OPS+, including two league leading ones.

    Dwight Evans was 114 from age 22-27......then his best peak later on was 139. Morgan 122 to 159 same range.

    Morgan went from 113 age 25-27 where he was clearly an established MLB hitter with no learning curves or early struggles muddling his numbers, then jumped to 166. Huge difference, and those aren't just one year blips. Those are several established consecutive years.

    Those are unparalleled jumps Morgan made, and there is a clear lineup difference. It is the best lineup in MLB history that he went to.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 5,331 ✭✭✭✭

    My .02 is that you have found the "perfect storm" here.

    Player with a ton of talent. Young, (has it figured out, but not quite in his prime) plays in a tough hitters park (really tough?) with a (below?) average bunch of guys then goes to an easier stadium, with better players, hits his physical prime, stays healthy. BOOM.

    He also missed a little to a lot of games from 1966-68 where his totals should have been higher.

    Looking at Joe's hits, he hit a lot of triples in Houston, less in Cincinnati, and more home runs as a Red. He hit 27-28 doubles in Hou and a few more in Cin. but not a huge increase. Walked a bit more in Cin, but '65-67 walked about 100 times per 162 games, so he walked a lot early.

    What looks like it took the biggest jump for him was runs scored and especially RBI, better guys around him and a "hitters"(?) park?

    Confidence had to be higher playing with that bunch in Cin.

    How many HRs would Killebrew have hit if the Red Sox had signed him? They looked at him before the Senators and actually got a call from Harmon giving them the chance to match/beat Washington's offer. Another 5-10 per year? He certainly would have been in the mid 600's.

    Fun stuff!

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  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    Still waiting for an answer as to why Joe hit .125 against the A's when it counted the most.

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    Why did the little red machine hit .200 against the A's pitching staff in the 1972 world series ?

    Did little red riding hood hit clean up ?

  • DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 19,343 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1970s said:
    Still waiting for an answer as to why Joe hit .125 against the A's when it counted the most.

    Must have had an off series. Don't make too much of it. ;)


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  • DarinDarin Posts: 3,341 ✭✭✭✭

    For some strange reason skin disregards Morgan's first full 3 seasons when his OPS+ was 131, 130 and 132 and
    focuses for some reason on his age 25-27 seasons when his OPS+ numbers dropped.
    I guess to make it seem like Morgan improved much more than he actually did.

    So here are the real numbers. Morgan in his 6 years at Houston had a OPS+ of 122, finished his career at 132.
    Clemente's first 6 years OPS+ of 94, finished at 130.

    Now tell me, who improved more? And I dont care what their OPS+ numbers were between age
    23 years, 141 days and 26 years, 235 days. That doesn't matter.
    Clemente improved a lot more, case closed.

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  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Darin said:

    , case closed.

    The case was always closed. Except that some rumbling, stumbling, idiot decided to infuse some of his fake news to try to confuse things.

  • DarinDarin Posts: 3,341 ✭✭✭✭

    @1970s said:
    Still waiting for an answer as to why Joe hit .125 against the A's when it counted the most.

    Is it because he crapped the bed in the post season like Mike Schmidt? Morgan with a .182 post season batting avg.

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  • DarinDarin Posts: 3,341 ✭✭✭✭

    @1970s said:

    @Darin said:

    , case closed.

    The case was always closed. Except that some rumbling, stumbling, idiot decided to infuse some of his fake news to try to confuse things.

    Even our self proclaimed expert,
    the out of work actuary said it was bizarre that skin focused only on Morgan's age 25-27 seasons',
    Maybe the first good point the Dallas dummy has ever made.

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  • dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 2,480 ✭✭✭

    skin - I didn't mention but probably should have that I didn't strictly adhere to the exact ages that apply to Morgan in calculating my numbers. And since there's nothing magical about "27" as opposed to "26" or "28", I think the way I split up different players careers was fine. The key is "early" vs. "peak", and whether that peak starts at 26, 27 or 28 the comparison shouldn't be affected.

    The part of it that I'm not sure can be really solved is that Morgan changed from the deadest hitters park ever to a solid hitter's park at the same time that he was moving from "early" to "peak". Two variables, one equation. Was Morgan taking advantage of Riverfront and the Machine more than the park factor indicates, or was his offense suppressed by the Dome more than the park factor would indicate? Or some of both? If one is possible, so is the other.

    dallasactuary

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  • Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭
    edited July 9, 2019 8:04AM

    @dallasactuary said:
    skin - I didn't mention but probably should have that I didn't strictly adhere to the exact ages that apply to Morgan in calculating my numbers. And since there's nothing magical about "27" as opposed to "26" or "28", I think the way I split up different players careers was fine. The key is "early" vs. "peak", and whether that peak starts at 26, 27 or 28 the comparison shouldn't be affected.

    The part of it that I'm not sure can be really solved is that Morgan changed from the deadest hitters park ever to a solid hitter's park at the same time that he was moving from "early" to "peak". Two variables, one equation. Was Morgan taking advantage of Riverfront and the Machine more than the park factor indicates, or was his offense suppressed by the Dome more than the park factor would indicate? Or some of both? If one is possible, so is the other.

    Yes. Good analysis. :). Dallas, always a pleasure discussing topics with someone who has an understanding of it. I like to throw some old school mind set topics out there once in a while...and its funny how the guys who scoff at sabermetric givens(such as OPS+), all of a sudden use a sabermetric mindset when other old school axioms are brought up.

    Dallas, you nailed it with your explanations...a far more advanced understanding than the other responses(banzi and keets also gave interesting thoughts).

    Darin, as for why Joe Morgan hit poorly in that post season series...perhaps its the same reason George Brett couldn't catch a ball in the field in multiple post seasons, costing his team several opportunities to advance to the WS.

    As quoted in the Kansas City Star, "Game two, Yankee Stadium: Yankees win 6-2

    The big blow was a two-run error made by Brett."

    That is still one of the best examples of foolishness, when 1970s uses post season performance and fielding percentage as benchmarks of his argument....and then when George Brett's horrible post season fielding percentage is brought up...suddenly those benchmarks change. Classic.

    Or when Darin uses RBI as the benchmark of his measurement, and then when pointed out that it actually went against him, he gets lost...tooo funny.

    Fellas, you should take notes when Dallas explains topics such as these. He is on a higher plane than you.

  • garnettstylegarnettstyle Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭
    edited July 10, 2019 4:06AM

    I dont always agree with 1970's and Darin, but they both often bring up some good points...as do Dallas.

    IT CAN'T BE A TRUE PLAYOFF UNLESS THE BIG TEN CHAMPIONS ARE INCLUDED

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Skin2 said:

    Fellas, you should take notes when Dallas explains topics such as these. He is on a higher plane than you.

    The only reason dallas is higher than us is because his cannabis is better.

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @Skin2 said:

    As quoted in the Kansas City Star, "Game two, Yankee Stadium: Yankees win 6-2

    The big blow was a two-run error made by Brett."

    Do you really want me to take the time to point out all the big game hits and contributions George Brett made to help his team advance in the postseason ? Please tell me you don't want me to go there.

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    When the Royals won the World Series in 1985, guess which player from the Royals had the highest batting average in the ALCS against the Blue Jays, and the World Series against the Cardinals ? Go ahead, make my day, and take a guess. LOL+

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    Now after you guessed at that. Guess which player had the highest on base percentage for the Kansas City Royals in both those series ? LOL+

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    Then, after you've done all your research, guess which player had the highest OPS ? LOL+

    But you want to bring up one game ? One game ? Mr. "Small sample size". LOL+

    We all know your infatuation with "small sample size", is because the chicks dig your small sample size.

  • 1970s1970s Posts: 2,652 ✭✭✭✭

    @1970s said:
    Then, after you've done all your research, guess which player had the highest OPS ? LOL+

    But you want to bring up one game ? One game ? Mr. "Small sample size". LOL+

    We all know your infatuation with "small sample size", is because the chicks dig your small sample size.

    Should I continue to allow the data to make you look even more foolish, or should I stop here ?

    Should I even ask you the question of whether George Brett's lifetime batting average and OPS were better in the 1st half of the season or 2nd half ?

    And, if you want to get into a clutch stats discussion, then I'll be your daddy for that too.

  • daltexdaltex Posts: 357 ✭✭✭

    Sigh. For some reason @1970s wants to think postseason play is most important in evaluating a player. I went and researched CwPA, that is the percentage of championships (World Series titles) a player has contributed to. This includes both regular season and postseason, but obviously a grand slam with two out down three in the bottom of the 9th in game seven of the World Series counts more than a grand slam leading 10-0 in the 4th inning in April. Anyway, Brett is at .753 and Schmidt is at .520. If that were all that mattered, you'd have to conclude that Brett was the greatest 3B of all time. Of course it isn't. In fact, I believe CwPA actually undervalues Brett since I think he's better than 67th all time at any position. FWIW, Brett is the 3rd 3B on the list behind Matthews and David Freese. I doubt even Freese's mother thinks he's the second best 3B of all time.

    Just to stay on topic, Morgan is .858, one place behind Freese.

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