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Measuring Defense and the case of Ozzie Smith

Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭

Measuring a baseball players defense has been very difficult to determine to a high degree of validity, unlike hitting measurements where it is conducive to isolating the performance of the batter and coming up with a precise measurement result.

Defense presents the challenge of isolating the contribution of the player from that of luck/environment/pitching staff/difficulty of each batted ball.

One shortstop may get 600 assists in a season, and he may look great compared to another defender who only amassed 500 assists. However, how much of that 100 extra assists are a credit to his defensive ability, and how much are simply a result of 102 extra balls being hit toward him?

Knowing that the average MLB fielder fields cleanly appx 98% of the balls hit to him, converting those 100 extra balls isn’t a reflection of ability over the other player.

Some defensive studies try to isolate to see how many balls are hit to each player. However, those are eye judgements, and really the only angle one can judge properly is from directly behind the fielder. Also, those same judgements do not properly differentiate between the difficulty of each ball. Not all ground balls are created equal.

Regardless, that still doesn’t solve the fact that some guys just get more balls hit to them because of luck/environment/pitching staff/ or more easier balls.

So how does one solve this defensive dilemma? First, I don’t know if it can ever be solved. Second, one should NOT put defensiveve measurements on the same validity scale as offensive measurements(as does the measurement of WAR, which often creates voodoo type of results because of this and the position adjustment they give to the offense).

Lets take the case of Ozzie Smith. He is hailed as not only the BEST defensive SS ever, but one of the top two defenders of any position of ALL TIME! This exact reputation is what got him in as a first ballot HOFer.

Ozzie was excellent with the glove, light years better than myself or any non major leaguer. However, the defensive measurements show that he is also much better than the average MLB shortstop. Is he? How much? How does one know?

There is no perfect way to measure defense, partly because all MLB SS play on different fields, behind different pitching staffs, and all receive varied levels of good luck/bad luck.

The closest way to put MLB SS on even ground when measuring them, is when you measure the guys who play on the same team, and in the same position. This isn’t perfect, but is better. One problem though, is that typically one guy plays most of the innings. However, throughout the years, there are enough innings played from other guys on the team that can help paint a picture and give some more evidence to the fielding question of ‘how much better is the best’.

Ozzie Smith played on two teams, and played for a very long time. He amassed amazing assist and double play totals…the two most primary stats used to measure the defensive range and ability of a shortstop. Oh, and errors too.

Ozzie gets a lot of credit for having extremely high assist totals, enough credit that it says that he is the best defensive SS ever…the guy who can get to the most balls and convert them into outs. Certainly a good attribute for a SS! ☺

I was curious as to how the other Shortstops on Ozzie’s team did, because I wanted to see if Ozzie may have been the beneficiary of being in an environment where he simply had more balls hit to him than other leaguemate shortstops did.

Since Ozzie is viewed as the best defensive SS ever, I would expect that ANY replacement from the bench would fare far, far worse than Ozzie. After all, we are comparing the best EVER to a guy not good enough to start…a pretty big divide!

Was the divide we would expect as big in the results?

Below are the totals of all the guys who played SS in the years that Ozzie was on the same team playing SS. Only the stats counted during the exact years they played with Ozzie. If they moved to another team, they did not count. If Ozzie was not playing that year, they did not count. This way, it put them into the same environment.

The numbers are expressed Per year(a year being 1,350 innings at SS, a typical amount for a starting SS).

Name………..Innings…….Assists/per year……DP/per yr……E/per yr
Reserves……..4,578………..505……………………..97…………….27
Ozzie……..….21,779………..519……………………..98…………….17


Keep in mind, the guys that comprise these reserve totals are such luminaries as Chuck Baker, Barry Evans, Aurelio Rodriguez, Mario Ramirez, Mike Ramsey, Kelly Paris, Jose Oquendo, Timmy Jones, Trip Cromer.

So Ozzie Smith, the greatest SS ever, with the greatest range, was only able to outshine his reserves for an extra 14 assists per year? Turn one more double play per year? Ten less errors is the only significant there.

These are reserve players, and they played defense to the tune of 505 assists per year. For comparison sake, Omar Vizquel never got 500 assists in ANY of his seasons! His best marks were 477 and 444.

So what was at work here? Sure, Ozzie was excellent, but elements were present to help RESERVE players have HOF range, and no doubt those elements also helped Ozzie...which he should not be getting credit for the elements.

Ozzie Smith has 621 assists one year, and seven other years over 500!

If Ozzie Smith’s bench players could play at a rate of 500 assists per year, then what would happen if a better than average Shortstops also got a chance to play in Ozzie’s environment where a lot of balls were hit to him? They would get a lot more assists is what would happen.

The concern is that Ozzie was elected to the Hall primarily on him being the best defensive SS ever, and that reputation is largely attained due to his high amount of plays he made…his range.

However, his replacements were extremely close in exhibiting the same range, and when you add those ten more errors they made to the assist total, that means they only got to FOUR less balls per year than Ozzie did. So how magnificent can Ozzie’s range be if he only got to four more balls per year than his bench replacements?

One lesson to be learned is that this study is not conclusive, and neither are the other defensive measurements, so when using a measurement like WAR that puts the same validity of the defensive measurement as it does the offensive measurement, you are going to get many skewed and inaccurate results.

Second, for the guys that achieve their results primarily from their offensive contributions, they are far more likely to be accurately defined in how good or valuable they are/were, compared to the guys who achieved their value from high defensive status(because they may have simply been in the right place at the right time).




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Comments

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    I've played on astro turf, and it gives a more consistent bounce then grass and dirt. Not sure how much this plays into Ozzie's totals.
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    1985fan1985fan Posts: 1,952 ✭✭
    This is no slight to Ozzie Smith in the slightest (or his fans), but one could argue he's the least qualified Hall of Fame member ever. A one trick pony, who played his position quite well, but didn't hit a lick. I am certain his HoF candidacy was buoyed significantly as being the first 'showy' defensive player to be covered endlessly on baseball highlight shows, and his backflips were certainly a way to get that additional exposure.
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    markj111markj111 Posts: 2,921 ✭✭✭


    << <i>This is no slight to Ozzie Smith in the slightest (or his fans), but one could argue he's the least qualified Hall of Fame member ever. A one trick pony, who played his position quite well, but didn't hit a lick. I am certain his HoF candidacy was buoyed significantly as being the first 'showy' defensive player to be covered endlessly on baseball highlight shows, and his backflips were certainly a way to get that additional exposure. >>




    One could make the argument, but one would be wrong. His defensive WAR is #1 all-time, and his overall WAR among postition players is 43rd all time. Sounds like a HOFer to me. Your standards might be different.

    Chick Hafey comes in at 502; High Pockets Kelly at 641.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>This is no slight to Ozzie Smith in the slightest (or his fans), but one could argue he's the least qualified Hall of Fame member ever. A one trick pony, who played his position quite well, but didn't hit a lick. I am certain his HoF candidacy was buoyed significantly as being the first 'showy' defensive player to be covered endlessly on baseball highlight shows, and his backflips were certainly a way to get that additional exposure. >>




    One could make the argument, but one would be wrong. His defensive WAR is #1 all-time, and his overall WAR among postition players is 43rd all time. Sounds like a HOFer to me. Your standards might be different.

    Chick Hafey comes in at 502; High Pockets Kelly at 641. >>



    Mark,

    His defensive WAR may be #1, but when you recognize that the stat is extremely faulty, it really doesn't carry much weight. After all, isn't it odd that the supposed #1 defender of all time could only outdistance his reserves by such a small margin?

    The reality is, he simply got more balls hit to him than most, hence more plays, hence a higher WAR.
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    << <i>So Ozzie Smith, the greatest SS ever, with the greatest range, was only able to outshine his reserves for an extra 14 assists per year? Turn one more double play per year? Ten less errors is the only significant there.
    >>



    So that's 25 extra outs Ozzie helped his team maker per year, if we accept this as an accurate reflection. Take away 25 outs from his batting totals and add 25 extra times he reached base and he ends up with a .309 batting average, .373 obp, .374 slugging percentage and 100 OPS+

    That is certainly very good seeing as what other short stops in the league were doing those years, but obviously not Hall-of-Fame level. But that assumes this analysis is better than any other possible way to look at his fielding.

    The problem I see with this analysis is that from 1978 through 1989 Smith played in over 91% of his teams innings. Most of the innings he is being compared to come from age 35 and older. If we only look at his best years, we are comparing them to a mere 9% from the backups, or barely more than one full 162 game season. That is too small a sample size to come to any definitive conclusion
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>So Ozzie Smith, the greatest SS ever, with the greatest range, was only able to outshine his reserves for an extra 14 assists per year? Turn one more double play per year? Ten less errors is the only significant there.
    >>



    So that's 25 extra outs Ozzie helped his team maker per year, if we accept this as an accurate reflection. Take away 25 outs from his batting totals and add 25 extra times he reached base and he ends up with a .309 batting average, .373 obp, .374 slugging percentage and 100 OPS+

    That is certainly very good seeing as what other short stops in the league were doing those years, but obviously not Hall-of-Fame level. But that assumes this analysis is better than any other possible way to look at his fielding.

    The problem I see with this analysis is that from 1978 through 1989 Smith played in over 91% of his teams innings. Most of the innings he is being compared to come from age 35 and older. If we only look at his best years, we are comparing them to a mere 9% from the backups, or barely more than one full 162 game season. That is too small a sample size to come to any definitive conclusion >>




    Actually, in his San Diego years, his replacements had more assists per.

    In total, 4,500 Innings is still quite a bit. THrowing out his last year or two...I will check and see.

    As for the extra 25 outs, that doesn't equate to OPS+

    OPS+ measures vs League Average.

    In this case, Ozzie is being measured vs replacement type players.
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    << <i>
    The reality is, he simply got more balls hit to him than most, hence more plays, hence a higher WAR. >>



    Both baseballreference.com and fangraphs.com use zone ratings. It does not matter how many balls are hit to a player, only how often he turns them into outs compared to an average player
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>
    The reality is, he simply got more balls hit to him than most, hence more plays, hence a higher WAR. >>



    Both baseballreference.com and fangraphs.com use zone ratings. It does not matter how many balls are hit to a player, only how often he turns them into outs compared to an average player >>



    So you are saying if one guy got 3 balls hit to him and he fielded 2 that he would have the same rating then as another guy who got 300 hit to him and he fielded 200?


    The measurement in WAR converts those into runs saved. If what you are saying is true, then the above example would give both guys equal runs saved...but that isn't the case. They both saved the same percentage...but the guy who got 300 hit to him will be given more credit in the number of runs he saved.
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    << <i>
    Actually, in his San Diego years, his replacements had more assists per. >>



    Over only about six weeks worth of games. For any defensive stat it takes about three years worth. . .



    << <i>In total, 4,500 Innings is still quite a bit. THrowing out his last year or two...I will check and see. >>



    It is a very good starting point, but skewed so far to his late 30s and on, with very little coming from his 20s



    << <i>As for the extra 25 outs, that doesn't equate to OPS+

    OPS+ measures vs League Average. >>



    A .747 ops in the years and parks Smith played in would be an OPS+ of 99 or 100 (depending on rounding)



    << <i>In this case, Ozzie is being measured vs replacement type players. >>



    Replacement level defense is always either near league average or better than league average. A team will always be able to find a place for a good hitter who is poor defensively. A good fielder who is a poor hitter is usually a bench player or in the minors. Of just the few names you mentioned, Aurelio Rodriguez and Jose Oquendo were both regarded as very good fielders and had very good defensive stats throughout their careers
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    Also, the runs saved are over a league average player. What I had above is vs league replacement type player.

    In Sean's Total Zone data on Baseballreference, he has to estimate where each ball was hit and determine who's 'zone' it was in. Even if you watch a play like that, it is still a judgement call, adn even more of a judgement call when they determine if "that is a ball that rates an easy attempt, or a medium attempt, or a hard attempt." Unless they are behind the SS fielding the ball, their judgement from the sidelines is not going to be anymore than a guess.

    For most of the years, he simply has to rely on the play by play data where it just says, "single to LF". Then he has to make a guess on if the ball was hit closer to 3B or SS. Then he has really no idea what type of ball it was. Was it a top spin in between hop? A sunday hop? How exactly close was it to the SS? 3 feet? 8 feet? No way of knowing.

    Even if that is witnessed, a guy sitting down the left field side will have a different opinion than the guy sitting down the right field side, who will have a different opinion from the guy sitting in the press box. None of them will have the proper view to judge the speed of the ball, or the type of bounces...or if the ball was 'knuckling'

    Yet, with all that guesswork, they assign a value to the defense, and put it on equal footing as the value assigned to the higher valid hitting measurements.

    Looking at Ozzie above vs his replacements, he was about 9 runs above league replacements. In the WAR ratings, he averaged about 12 runs over LEAGUE AVERAGE.
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    << <i>So you are saying if one guy got 3 balls hit to him and he fielded 2 that he would have the same rating then as another guy who got 300 hit to him and he fielded 200?


    The measurement in WAR converts those into runs saved. If what you are saying is true, then the above example would give both guys equal runs saved...but that isn't the case. They both saved the same percentage...but the guy who got 300 hit to him will be given more credit in the number of runs he saved. >>



    We can only answer that if we compare what they saved and what they gave up compared to league average

    If the league average was two out of three, both players would have a zone rating of zero. If the league average was less than two out of three, the guy who fielded 200 would be higher. If the league average was more than two out of three, the guy who only missed one would be higher than the guy who missed 100

    In Ozzie Smith's worst year, he had a much higher zone rating than Derek Jeter has for his entire career despite having only a small fraction of the total balls hit to him
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    Right, so getting more chances helps you(unless you are below the curve).
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    Yes. Isn't that the same with hitting?
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    Yes.

    But fielding is different, because all MLB will field routine ground balls at a high 90's% clip...so any fielder that is given more of those hit to them, they have an advantage.

    Whereas in hitting, just giving any guy an extra 150 at bats doesn't mean anything. If he can't hit, he still won't hit...because it is his skill that is being tested/measured.

    In the fielding example, the extra balls can be a result of things completely out of the realm of the players skill.


    The fielding measurements are better than the eyeball tests for sure. They aren't as good as the hitting validity...hence the need to proceed with caution when a player's value is so highly derived from a defensive metric.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    NV,

    I'm going to bed...but I enjoy your posts. Another day.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    NV,

    If Ozzie's last two seasons are taken out, here is what the figures look like:

    NAME.........Ass/YR........DP/YR.........E/YT
    Reserves......521.............96..............30
    Ozzie...........520.............98..............17


    The gap actually closes more.


    Ozzie is suppose to have the most range in MLB history, but when you see that the reserves and Ozzie basically got to the same amount of balls, and the only difference being that the reserves made errors on 10 or so of those...it is difficult to claim that Ozzie has the most range in MLB history and saved the most runs, and then use that statement and put it on par with players who achieved their value with the more valid offensive measurements.

    In the case above, the reserves got to 551 balls(521 assists+30 errors). Ozzie got to 537 balls. So how on earth is Ozzie considered the man with the greatest range when reserves players actually got to MORE balls. Ozzie showed the more solid glove in making less errors...but there are plenty of MLB players with the solid glove that given the same amount of balls would have no problem doing what ozzie did...especially considering how good the reserves did in his stead.


    Knowing this, and looking at the year Ozzie had 621 assists in a season, does anyone really think he was that much better than ANY other SS in MLB...or was it a matter that he simply had a chitload of balls hit to him.


    Knowing that Ozzie is the ALL-Time leader with 239 Runs saved above league average and that someone like Dave Concepcion is only 48...then considering how well replacements did compared to Ozzie in his stead(getting to the same amount of balls), and knowing the nature of defensive measurements in general, I don't have any confidence at all in concluding that Ozzie was indeed that much better than someone like Concepcion.

    I would have no problem believing that given the same amount of balls hit in his direction, that Concepcion would do just as well as Ozzie.

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    << <i>
    The fielding measurements are better than the eyeball tests for sure. They aren't as good as the hitting validity...hence the need to proceed with caution when a player's value is so highly derived from a defensive metric. >>



    This is definitely true. But trying to discredit the validity of fielding stats with more fielding stats is a tough way to solve the problem

    It is interesting to see the stats you've come up here, but comparing over 20 000 innings from Smith to 2 600 from his backups is as weak as the ones that you're trying to say are nothing more than voodoo

    Someone has to be the best defensive short stop. Some people will say we cannot reach a definitive conclusion and leave it at that. The people who instead try to look at all the information we have available will always end up with a better answer. I will give a lot of credit for looking at the problem this way, I just see it as revealing only a small piece, not some sort of smoking gun disproving other ways people have taken to this problem
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>
    The fielding measurements are better than the eyeball tests for sure. They aren't as good as the hitting validity...hence the need to proceed with caution when a player's value is so highly derived from a defensive metric. >>



    This is definitely true. But trying to discredit the validity of fielding stats with more fielding stats is a tough way to solve the problem

    It is interesting to see the stats you've come up here, but comparing over 20 000 innings from Smith to 2 600 from his backups is as weak as the ones that you're trying to say are nothing more than voodoo >>



    Very true, and a good point.

    I admire the work the guys have done with the fielding stats, and it is far better than what it used to be...but the inherent defensive measurement problems will probably always persist.


    Baseball, hey. Haven't seen or heard from you in a while.
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    If the Cards would have had Ozzie this year, they would have won the series. Your analysis is thorough, but the bottom line for me is the sheer intangibility of his play. Describing someone so far and away better than anyone ever seen before or since is difficult. He robbed many.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭


    << <i>If the Cards would have had Ozzie this year, they would have won the series. Your analysis is thorough, but the bottom line for me is the sheer intangibility of his play. Describing someone so far and away better than anyone ever seen before or since is difficult. He robbed many. >>



    That is the dilemma, he has that reputation, his range, his robbing plays...but his replacements got to just as many balls as he did. These are reserve players and he is known as the all-time best. Wouldn't you expect a greater divide?

    I know, it is only a few seasons worth of innings from the reserves...but they are spread across his career, and when you look at it on a yearly basis, the reserves and Ozzie are consistently close each year. It isn't like their closeness all comes from one gigantic season from the reserves that skews the numbers.

    It is also from a good mix of players too, so it is varied.

    The study isn't conclusive, just as the initial defensive measurement of Ozzie isn't either. But you gotta scratch your head a little!
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    1985fan1985fan Posts: 1,952 ✭✭
    People naturally remember the hits, the great plays, they don't remember the misses, and they sure don't remember who his replacements were. Plain and simple expectancy bias at play. We want to remember greatness, we want to be able to say we saw something great happen, so naturally we lean towards that expected result.
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    CNoteCNote Posts: 2,070
    He does NOT belong in the HOF.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    edited August 26, 2017 3:45PM

    Bump. In the last year or so I've been promoting that advanced defensive measures(such as WAR) should be given less weight, as compared to the more valid offensive measures.

    So when you see a player is deriving his value primarily from defensive measurements and positional adjustments, as compared to players who derive their values primarily from valid offensive measurements, you know to take the defensive players with more grains of salt, because inside their value is also a high level of value of the pitching staff and just plain luck(simply having more balls hit their way).

    I still find it amazing that Ozzie Smith was only able to get to 14 more balls per year than reserve players on his same team. Keep in mind, the guys that comprise these reserve totals are such luminaries as Chuck Baker, Barry Evans, Aurelio Rodriguez, Mario Ramirez, Mike Ramsey, Kelly Paris, Jose Oquendo, Timmy Jones, Trip Cromer.

    For a player to be hailed as the greatest ever, with the greatest range, to only get to 14 more balls per year than mere reserve players, shows that there are other prevailing factors that falsely bump a players defensive value measurement.

    If we are going to ignore this and continue to put players like Ozzie Smith into tiers that he doesn't truly belong, then we need to start hailing Chuck Baker and Barry Evans a little more.

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    JustacommemanJustacommeman Posts: 22,847 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 26, 2017 3:54PM

    Ozzie made all the plays. Just like a lot of other shortstops of that era. You would have an impossible time convincing me he was 1% better then a Omar Vizquel or Alan Trammell.

    m

    Walker Proof Digital Album
    Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pockets you better use them to call a tailor. Stay thirsty my friends......
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    DarinDarin Posts: 6,302 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Justacommeman said:
    Ozzie made all the plays. Just like a lot of other shortstops of that era. You would have an impossible time convincing me he was 1% better then a Omar Vizquel or Alan Trammell.

    m

    I remember earlier this year the MLB network interviewed a HOF voter, and he stated that he couldn't believe
    Ozzie Smith was a first ballot HOF'er and Alan Trammell couldn't even recieve enough votes to stay on the ballot.

    DISCLAIMER FOR BASEBAL21
    In the course of every human endeavor since the dawn of time the risk of human error has always been a factor. Including but not limited to field goals, 4th down attempts, or multiple paragraph ramblings on a sports forum authored by someone who shall remain anonymous.
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    grote15grote15 Posts: 29,521 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Justacommeman said:
    Ozzie made all the plays. Just like a lot of other shortstops of that era. You would have an impossible time convincing me he was 1% better then a Omar Vizquel or Alan Trammell.

    m

    Agreed.



    Collecting 1970s Topps baseball wax, rack and cello packs, as well as PCGS graded Half Cents, Large Cents, Two Cent pieces and Three Cent Silver pieces.
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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    skin - excellent analysis, and I won't try to argue against any of the points you've made. I will add, though, that as with offense, defensive ability can also be viewed over a player's entire career and at that player's peak. I don't recall if there was an injury involved, but Ozzie was not very good in 1990-91, and fairly ordinary for the entire 1989-1996 period overall. At his peak, though, he was phenomenal, and I think it is that peak that gave him the "Wizard" title. A lot of it is based on 1982, a year that the Cardinals won the WS and Ozzie had perhaps the greatest season at SS ever, but the whole period 1978 - 1985 was outstanding. I'll note, too, that over that period, he sat out so rarely on SD that the replacement numbers truly are statistically meaningless, and that his primary replacements on STL - Mike Ramsey and Chris Speier - couldn't hit a lick and were on the roster solely because they were better than average fielders.

    In the end, your main point is the one that matters - there is no definitive way to measure defensive greatness, and ultimately perception plays a significant part. Ozzie was perceived to be the greatest defensive shortstop ever, and for a time he may have been (I think he was). But, like many others, Ozzie kept on winning Gold Gloves long after he probably deserved them, and there is no question that for the entirety of his career, he wasn't as much better than several other shortstops as most people think he was.

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The whole "he had more balls hit to him" is crazy. His range was so much better than anyone else is why he had the higher count. His range was what made him so great. Any ball hit to the left side of the field that the 3rd baseman couldn't get to....he got! Whitey (his manager) was quoted as saying he probably saved the team 2 runs a game. And at the end of his career he could also hit. His being in the HOF is no fluke. He is the best SS of all time. And this come from someone who hates the Cardinals. He is just great!

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    JustacommemanJustacommeman Posts: 22,847 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DIMEMAN said:
    The whole "he had more balls hit to him" is crazy. His range was so much better than anyone else is why he had the higher count. His range was what made him so great. Any ball hit to the left side of the field that the 3rd baseman couldn't get to....he got! Whitey (his manager) was quoted as saying he probably saved the team 2 runs a game. And at the end of his career he could also hit. His being in the HOF is no fluke. He is the best SS of all time. And this come from someone who hates the Cardinals. He is just great!

    I guess you are choosing to ignore that the reserves on the Cardinals got to the same amount of balls.

    mark

    Walker Proof Digital Album
    Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pockets you better use them to call a tailor. Stay thirsty my friends......
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Justacommeman said:

    @DIMEMAN said:
    The whole "he had more balls hit to him" is crazy. His range was so much better than anyone else is why he had the higher count. His range was what made him so great. Any ball hit to the left side of the field that the 3rd baseman couldn't get to....he got! Whitey (his manager) was quoted as saying he probably saved the team 2 runs a game. And at the end of his career he could also hit. His being in the HOF is no fluke. He is the best SS of all time. And this come from someone who hates the Cardinals. He is just great!

    I guess you are choosing to ignore that the reserves on the Cardinals got to the same amount of balls.

    mark

    Actually the number of balls hit to you doesn't matter. It's the ones that get by you that matter....right!

    The Wizard was the hardest SS to get a ball by. This whole thing about counting how many balls are hit to a SS is meaningless. I wish they had a count of how many balls Ozzie got to that other SS's wouldn't have got. He was the BEST at diving for a ball (that should have been a hit) then jumping up and throwing the runner out.

    Nuff said. Not even being a Cardinal fan........Ozzie was the GOAT SS......period!

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    JustacommemanJustacommeman Posts: 22,847 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I lived in St Louis for seven years during the Smith era. There was no one better at his position. However, there were others that I contend were very near his prowess. They made all the plays, hit as well or better and had stronger arms.

    m

    Walker Proof Digital Album
    Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pockets you better use them to call a tailor. Stay thirsty my friends......
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Justacommeman said:
    I lived in St Louis for seven years during the Smith era. There was no one better at his position. However, there were others that I contend were very near his prowess. They made all the plays, hit as well or better and had stronger arms.

    m

    Ozzie didn't need a gun (he got to the ball so quick) and did get to be a better hitter late in his career. If you want a SS with power I would go with Banks or the guy from Baltimore that had the record games in a row.

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    TabeTabe Posts: 5,927 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DIMEMAN said:
    Whitey (his manager) was quoted as saying he probably saved the team 2 runs a game.

    This might be the dumbest quote I've ever heard of from a major league manager.

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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Tabe said:

    @DIMEMAN said:
    Whitey (his manager) was quoted as saying he probably saved the team 2 runs a game.

    This might be the dumbest quote I've ever heard of from a major league manager.

    You say that, but how many times did the Wizard rob a guy of a hit with runners in scoring position? ;)

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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    edited August 28, 2017 8:23AM

    Dimeman, saying Ozzie saved two runs per game makes no sense. If that were the case, then all a team had to do was sign Ozzie Smith to play shortstop, then their team ERA would go from 3.50 to 1.50. Stupid.

    Then if the top SS saved two runs per game, then surely the top second baseman saved at least one. So sign Ozzie and the top second baseman, and the team ERA goes from 3.50 to 0.50.

    Then add the top centerfielder.......get the point? Its a hyperbole comment by Herzog. At least I hope it was hyperbole. Jeez.

    If you mean that if he wasn't playing SS, and the spot was left empty, then yes, he saved two runs a game or more.

    However, if he wasn't playing SS and another MLB was playing SS in his stead, then NO, he didn't save two runs a game compared to the other MLB SS.

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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll add one more thing in defense of Ozzie. Another significant aspect of defense by a shortstop is his ability to turn double plays, and Ozzie was excellent at not just getting the assist on out #1, but in getting the ball to the 2B fast enough and in the right place that out #2 could also be made. Can I demonstrate that with statistics? There may be a way, but I won't try. My perception is that he was among the best at that, though.

    As to whether Ozzie deserves to be in the HOF, I have no problem that he is, but I understand the arguments against. This is also, for identical reasons, my position on Bill Mazeroski. I think it is fit and proper that the HOF recognize the greatest ever at things that matter. On offense, that's a no-brainer, and the greatest ever at the 100 things that matter can be honored by inducting Babe Ruth and a handful of others. On defense, it's way more complicated, but the principle is the same - inducting the greatest ever at SS and 2B is something that the HOF ought to do. Are the greatest ever at those positions Smith and Mazeroski? Lots of people have used statistics to demonstrate that they are, and lots more people ignore the statistics but perceive that they are. But it's not like there's a proof that they are, and they may not be. But not knowing for certain who is the greatest doesn't change the principle that the greatest should be in the HOF. HOF voters decided that Smith and Mazeroski were the greatest ever and put them in the HOF. If in some hypothetical world where these things can be proven it turned out that Mark Belanger was better than Smith and Glenn Hubbard was better than Mazeroski, I'd still prefer a HOF with Smith and Mazeroski than a HOF with none of these four players. In other words, not knowing for certain who was the greatest is not a good reason to keep out Smith and Mazeroski; any argument to exclude them, I think, must identify who specifically should replace them.

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    edited August 28, 2017 9:34AM

    Dallas, Mark Belanger may very well be their equals. I don't have a huge problem with Ozzie and Mazeroski being in the Hall. Well, I kind of do for Mazeroski as his career was not lengthy enough, and he wasn't remotely Koufaxian to get him into the Hall with a short peak. Plus his defensive replacements played just as well in his stead too.

    'Flash' or the 'eye test' should not get a defender into the Hall, much like the sweet looking lefty swing should not get a batter in the hall because he looks good, and when it comes to defense, that flash often clouds reality.

    Furthermore, there may also be better defenders than both Ozzie and Mazeroski, but their hitting ability kept them from playing, so we never got to see it. So to say they were the very best at something may not even be true on a few counts.

    Its becoming more clear in MLB that the vast majority of ground balls and fly balls hit near defenders are of the routine variety, and such a very high percentage of them are fielded cleanly by anyone who has shown through the minor leagues and spring training that they are capable of catching said routine balls, that we overblow the true value of those defense measurements to a large degree.

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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭
    edited August 28, 2017 9:34AM

    Also want to talk about a point someone made above, that if a player was able to get to ten more balls on defense that it has the same value like adding ten more hits to their batting average. That isn't true.

    The pitcher is responsible for a lot of that value of a ground ball or flyball out. It doesn't all go to the fielder, and therefore is not like adding a hit to their batting average. How much credit does John Tudor get for so many of Ozzie's assists in 1985? Tudor was the one throwing a lot of weak ground balls, keeping the ball in the park, and commanding the strike zone. As we can see, there are any number of fielders who could catch those same ground balls, and at near identical rates.

    The pitcher is responsible for the lions share of value on defense.

    In MLB fielding most ground balls and fly balls are almost as routine as extra points in the NFL.

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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Skin2 said:
    Dallas, Mark Belanger may very well be their equals. I don't have a huge problem with Ozzie and Mazeroski being in the Hall. Well, I kind of do for Mazeroski as his career was not lengthy enough, and he wasn't remotely Koufaxian to get him into the Hall with a short peak. Plus his defensive replacements played just as well in his stead too.

    As big a fan as I am of Ozzie, I mentioned Belanger because I think he may actually have just as good a claim to the best ever title as Ozzie. If Belanger were in the HOF and Ozzie were not, I would be just as content. My point was really that the HOF ought to include the person that is believed to be the greatest shortstop. As it happens, that person is Ozzie Smith, and I'm fine with that because I think Ozzie's claim is at least as good as anyone else's. Ditto for Mazeroski. As with many others in the HOF we can debate whether they chose the right player to induct, but I'm glad they took their best shot and inducted someone rather than admitting nobody because they weren't 100% certain. But, as I said, I do understand the other POV, and people who would exclude Smith, Mazeroski, Belanger, Hubbard, etc. are certainly not wrong.

    Your point about groundballs and Tudor is an excellent one, and one that is missed by people who ought to know better, It is fashionable in statistical circles nowadays to break down batting events between those that are in the pitcher's control and those that are not, and to adjust the pitcher's ERA and call it "fielding independent pitching", or FIP on baseball-reference. But the events that are said to be in the pitcher's control are limited to SO, BB, HBP and HR only. By implication, the theory behind FIP is that whether or not a hitter gets a triple off the wall in center or a weak ground ball to short is entirely outside the pitcher's control. That's utter nonsense, and it results in pitchers like Tudor - who had tremendous ability to induce ground balls - having an FIP a full half run higher than their ERA.

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think you guys are still missing the point on ground balls and Ozzie saving runs. It's not a matter of how many ground balls are hit or number of assets as much as it is how many ground balls did Ozzie get to and got the out when other SS's would not been able to make the play. There is probably no way to figure this, but I personally saw it happen many many many times.

    The Wizard was special to watch and should be considered the GOAT SS.

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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DIMEMAN said:
    I think you guys are still missing the point on ground balls and Ozzie saving runs. It's not a matter of how many ground balls are hit or number of assets as much as it is how many ground balls did Ozzie get to and got the out when other SS's would not been able to make the play. There is probably no way to figure this, but I personally saw it happen many many many times.

    The Wizard was special to watch and should be considered the GOAT SS.

    I happen to agree that Ozzie has the best claim to GOAT SS, but I will admit that there are a number of contenders and Ozzie's claim, while greater than anyone else's, is still very far from proven. In fact, I think his claim is greater than Belanger's claim by a very thin margin.

    But I also see that you are missing the point about the ground balls. Imagine that there is a team where every single batted ball is a grounder to the SS. Now, that SS, even if it was me, would set records for assists and a bunch of other things. That SS would have the greatest range factor ever, by an incredibly wide margin. And that's the point. Defensive statistics just count things; how many plays did a player make, how many were errors, how many were putouts, etc. What they do not do is take into account whether one SS got a lot more chances than other shortstops. (Technically, Win Shares - which rates Ozzie as GOAT - tries to do this, but it takes a step in that direction, it does not completely succeed.) What you're left with is what you just said - you saw it happen. And I'm sure you did, because I saw it, too. But while you and I saw Ozzie do what he did, neither one of us watched every other SS, let alone took sufficient notes to compare them all. What we have, then, is what I said we have - our perceptions; and by definition our perceptions don't extend beyond the shortstops we actually saw play. What is your perception of Peewee Reese's defensive ability? How about Honus Wagner's? Obviously, you didn't see them do the things you saw Ozzie do, because you never saw them do anything.

    Skin's point is perfectly valid - how Ozzie's stats compare to other shortstops on his teams is relevant. It is one piece of the puzzle in identifying whether Ozzie got more assists because he was great, or because he had more balls hit to him. I think the answer is probably some of both. As I mentioned, the quality of the other shortstops on Ozzie's teams is also relevant, and trying to figure that out gets us into an infinite loop as we compare their stats to Ozzie's. My perception is that Ozzie's backups, at least in his prime, were themselves excellent shortstops, but my perception isn't proof of anything. What we have, in most any defensive analysis, is a lot of data, a lot of perceptions, and no known way to combine them all to get a "correct" answer.

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You are still putting to much on the ground ball count. And what in the world does other SS's on Ozzie's team have to do with anything. He was probably at SS 99.999% of the time. I will agree that there were other very good SS's. But I'll take the OZ. As far as those guys from the past......come on man! Athlete's today would run circle's around them. Which brings up the old Ruth vs. Mays or Mantle argument. Mays and Mantle were much better than Ruth even though no one wants to admit it.....because of Ruth's legend, which is over rated.

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    JustacommemanJustacommeman Posts: 22,847 ✭✭✭✭✭

    there are shortstops today who have better range and are more athletic then Ozzie so what's your point again?

    mark

    Walker Proof Digital Album
    Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pockets you better use them to call a tailor. Stay thirsty my friends......
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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DIMEMAN said:
    You are still putting to much on the ground ball count. And what in the world does other SS's on Ozzie's team have to do with anything. He was probably at SS 99.999% of the time. I will agree that there were other very good SS's. But I'll take the OZ. As far as those guys from the past......come on man! Athlete's today would run circle's around them. Which brings up the old Ruth vs. Mays or Mantle argument. Mays and Mantle were much better than Ruth even though no one wants to admit it.....because of Ruth's legend, which is over rated.

    You say I'm putting "too much" on the ground ball count, but you don't say what the correct weight to give it is. If you're saying it makes no difference at all, you're clearly wrong. A SS that gets an extra 100 ground balls hit to the left side of the infield compared to another SS will have more assists. I think that has to be obvious. If you are giving stats any weight at all, then you have to take that into account since all of the stats are mostly just counting assists, etc. If you really are just relying 100% on your own perception, you have to concede that the GOAT is one of the hundreds of SS you never saw play.

    And no, Smith wasn't at SS 99.999% of the time. In SD, it was close - 94% - but in STL from 1981 to 1985 it was 87%. Over his 8 year prime he sat out close to a full season, and his replacements stats (mostly Ramsey and Speier) are statistically significant (to the degree any defensive stats are). As I said, the stats of his replacements don't prove anything, but they are a piece of the puzzle.

    As to your argument that no players in the pre-war era were as good as any players today, I'll just say I disagree. In any event, it is an argument without any evidence to support it and a mountain of evidence against it. The equipment and other circumstances have certainly changed, and can create the appearance that today's players are a lot better than yesteryear's players, but I think we should look deeper than that. The average player today is a lot better than the average player back then, but that fact is virtually unrelated to determining who was the GOAT. I don't think you could find anyone who knows anything about baseball who would name anyone other than Honus Wagner as the greatest SS of all time (including hitting). That is as close to a GOAT fact as exists at any position in any sport. I'm pretty sure you are the only person - ever - who has described either Mays or Mantle as "much better" than Ruth. So since I can't ask anyone else, why do you think it is impossible for the GOAT to have been born before 1930?

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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    grote15grote15 Posts: 29,521 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This ought to be entertaining, lol..



    Collecting 1970s Topps baseball wax, rack and cello packs, as well as PCGS graded Half Cents, Large Cents, Two Cent pieces and Three Cent Silver pieces.
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm pretty sure you are the only person - ever - who has described either Mays or Mantle as "much better" than Ruth. So since I can't ask anyone else, why do you think it is impossible for the GOAT to have been born before 1930?

    It's not the time period. It's the condition of the players and the programs they go through to stay in shape. The only weights that Ruth lifted was a mug of beer. He was a drunken over weight sought. Mays and Mantle were both faster and in much better shape. If Mantle hadn't had knee problems from the injury he sustained because of the poor field he played in he probably would have passed Mays. But as it is Mays was over all better better than Ruth. Plus the fact that the pitching was better against Mays than Ruth. Like you said there is no way to actually prove this on way or another, but if I was building a team I would take Mays and Mantle (plus some more) over Ruth in a heartbeat.

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    DarinDarin Posts: 6,302 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Dimeman- Drunken overweight sot. Sought means to seek something.

    As in, I sought the truth, but could not find it in Dimemans' posts.

    DISCLAIMER FOR BASEBAL21
    In the course of every human endeavor since the dawn of time the risk of human error has always been a factor. Including but not limited to field goals, 4th down attempts, or multiple paragraph ramblings on a sports forum authored by someone who shall remain anonymous.
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    DIMEMANDIMEMAN Posts: 22,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Ruth would be lucky to run the 100M dash under 1 minute.....if he could make it that far.

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    Skin2Skin2 Posts: 1,259 ✭✭✭

    Dallas, I'm enjoying each of your responses. They are all well said. I can't really argue against them.

    The only one I truly disagree with is Mazeroski, as his short career alone excludes him from the HOF in my opinion(and in how voters typically vote for the Hall). Then the fact that his HOF merit is based entirely on his defense...that is another strike against him. If I come up with the third strike...then we make the move to remove him from the Hall :)

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    dallasactuarydallasactuary Posts: 4,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    skin - thanks, and I do understand your position on Mazeroski. But despite his short career, Mazeroski still has more career defensive Win Shares than any other second baseman, not just the most per season. I'm starting from the position that the best defensive second baseman ought to be in the HOF, and Mazeroski appears to me to be as good a candidate as any for that spot. I think you disagree that there ought to be an automatic spot for the best defensive second baseman, but if you did agree, would you object to Mazeroski holding that slot? If so, who would you replace him with? (Completely ignore hitting for purposes of this hypothetical question. I know we'd both rather see Bobby Grich in the HOF than Mazeroski.)

    This is for you @thisistheshow - Jim Rice was actually a pretty good player.
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