Campaneris and Aparicio

January 9, 2021
               Campaneris and Aparicio

 

            I have done an underrated/overrated comparison of Luis Aparicio and Bert Campaneris.  The on-field skills of Campaneris and Aparicio are essentially identical; in fact, there are no other players in major league history whose skill sets are so nearly identical as Campaneris and Aparicio.  If you put a string of seasons by Campaneris and Aparicio in a chart and don’t include the fluke season when Campaneris hit 22 homers, you literally cannot tell whether those are Luis’ or Campy’s.  The only "tell" is that, because Campaneris came along eight years later in a time when strikeout rates were accelerating rapidly, Campaneris’ struck out about 10 more times in an average season, but their runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, homers, walks, stolen bases, caught stealing. . .they’re the same.   No other two players are so much the same. 

            Another difference between them is early-career defense.   Aparicio’s father was a star shortstop in Venezuela, and Aparicio had been playing shortstop against high-level competition, in Venezuela, since he was about 16 years old.   Defense at many positions peaks at an earlier age than offense does, I believe.   When Aparicio came to the major leagues at age 22, his defensive skills were mind-blowing, like Ozzie Smith’s.   Roy McMillan, the Mark Belanger of his time, was the reigning king of defensive shortstops, but by 1958, Aparicio’s third year in the league, He had moved to the top of the list.

            I believe this is fair and valid; I believe that Aparicio was not merely believed to be the best shortstop of his time, but actually was.   Campaneris, on the other hand, came to the majors without a position.   Campy was the same age when he reached the majors as Aparicio was, but due in part to the dislocations of the Cuban revolution he had not played nearly as much high-level baseball as Aparicio, and much of his playing time was in the outfield.  He didn’t settle in as a shortstop until late in his second season in the majors.  Whereas Aparicio never played an inning at any position other than shortstop, Campaneris played about 1200 innings in the outfield and at third and second base. 

            Once Campaneris learned to play the position, in my view there was no difference between them as defensive players, just as there was no difference between them as offensive players.  From age 28 on, Campaneris was as good a shortstop as Aparicio, but in those early years—ages 22 to 27—there was a difference, and a large difference, in their defensive value. 

            In their careers, Aparicio is credited with 293 Win Shares and 55.9 WAR, Campaneris with 280 Win Shares and 53.1 WAR.   Adjusted for playing time, Campaneris is actually significantly ahead, more than 10% ahead.  Aparicio has 5% more Win Shares and 5% more WAR, but with 17% more career playing time (Plate Appearances and Defensive Innings.) 

            In spite of this, it was always my impression that Aparicio was a much, much bigger star than Campaneris.   Aparicio won 9 Gold Gloves; Campaneris won none.  Aparicio was elected to the Hall of Fame in his sixth year of eligibility; Campaneris dropped off the ballot after receiving three percent in his first year of eligibility.   The Gold Gloves are not used as an element in the overrated/underrated analysis; the system simply assumes that whoever won the Gold Glove deserved to do so.  Of course, some players DO win Gold Gloves based on reputation, but I am not comfortable enough with the defensive statistics of that era, of most of baseball history, to start second-guessing those awards, thus saying that so-and-so is overrated because he won the Gold Glove and he didn’t deserve it. 

            So anyway, I thought Aparicio and Campaneris would be a good workup because they’re going to score as almost identical on many elements of the chart, but nonetheless I always believed that one of them was overrated, and the other under.  Will the system work in that situation?  Here is the chart:

 

BERT CAMPANERIS

 

LUIS APARICIO

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

 

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

1

RBI

0

25

 

1

RBI

1

25

2

B Avg

10

1

 

2

B Avg

21

0

3

Walks

22

1

 

3

Walks

34

0

4

More WS than MVP

0

0

 

4

More WS than MVP

0

0

5

Deserved MVP

0

0

 

5

Deserved MVP

0

0

6-7

Parks and Era

0

29

 

6-7

Parks and Era

1

24

8

At Bats in Season

5

0

 

8

At Bats in Season

6

3

9

All Star Teams

8

12

 

9

All Star Teams

26

5

10

World Series Opportunity

10

0

 

10

World Series Opportunity

0

0

11

Rookie of the Year?

0

0

 

11

Rookie of the Year?

0

0

12

Hall of Fame Equiv

0

31

 

12

Hall of Fame Equiv Score

14

0

13

Position Adjustment

0

18

 

13

Position Adjustment

0

19

Sum

1 to 13

55

117

 

Sum

1 to 13

103

76

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

Over/Under Total

55

117

 

 

Over/Under Total

103

76

 

Percentage

 

.320

 

 

Percentage

 

.575

 

            The system seems to work, although I see how it could be made to work better.  On the seven items below, the system shows them as being consistently similar, both underrated, but with Campaneris significantly MORE underrated due to small differences going consistently in Aparicio’s favor:

1)     Overall offense vs. RBI,

2)     Overall offense vs. Batting Average,

3)     Walk Rate,

4)     Performance in MVP voting,

5)     At Bat distribution,

6)     Rookie of the Year voting, and

7)     Positional Adjustment

Aparicio won the Rookie of the Year Award, but that’s not evidence that he was overrated, because he deserved the Award.  Campaneris is overrated by 9 points based on batting average, Aparicio by 21 points.  Aparicio has small advantages almost everywhere.   The total of these seven items is 37-74 for Campaneris (.333) and 63-71 for Aparicio (.470).  Campaneris gets 10 points back because he had more World Series exposure than Aparicio, so that makes Campaneris 47-74 rather than 37-74.

But then on All Star recognition and Hall of Fame recognition, Campaneris shows as underrated by a total of 8-43, whereas Aparicio is overrated 40-5.   This shows Aparicio and Campaneris as being similar in terms of performance profile, but vastly different in terms of star recognition, thus shows Campaneris as very underrated and Aparicio as somewhat overrated.   I think that is an accurate summary, so I think the system works. 

There is, however, a pretty obvious way that it could have worked much better.   Luis Aparicio did not actually WIN the MVP Award in 1959, which would have made his overrated score much higher, but he finished second in the voting.  He had 19 Win Shares, which was sixth on his own team and tied for 21st in the American League, but he was second in MVP voting.   That’s obviously an indication of an overrated player, but the system does not pick it up.  Aparicio in his career had a total of 1.24 MVP vote shares, while Campaneris, with essentially the same career, had 0.42.   The system scores them even in MVP voting overrated/underrated performance, both at 0-0, since neither man was ever actually better than the elected MVP.   Obviously the system could be improved with some reconsideration of that element of the evaluation.

Thanks for reading.  And thanks for not rioting and trying to take over the government; we all appreciate your good judgment there.  Keep reading; stop rioting.   Thanks. 

 

 

 
 

COMMENTS (18 Comments, most recent shown first)

mauimike
With my exception.
10:47 PM Jan 13th
 
mauimike
Well isn't that special. All the comments moved the discussion along, adding clarifications and insights. Good job.

11:30 AM Jan 13th
 
evanecurb
Thanks for the Buford clarifications, guys. It's interesting that Little Louie was involved in four offseason trades involving the White Sox, each of which resulted in both sides receiving significant value. The first three are listed in my initial posts. In the fourth, Aparicio went to the Red Sox for Mike Andrews in the 1970-71 offseason. Andrews had his best season in 1971, .400 OBP and 136 OPS+ in 148 games. Unfortunately, the White Sox weren't able to immediately find a decent shortstop to replace Aparicio, so the deal actually worked better for Boston. Aparicio played three seasons in Boston and made two all-star teams. The move allowed Boston to move Petrocelli to third and install Doug Griffin at second, which improved their infield defense at three positions.
3:58 PM Jan 11th
 
LesLein
When taking over the Orioles in 1968 Earl Weaver’s first move was to make Buford his regular left fielder and lead off hitter.
1:44 PM Jan 11th
 
337
Bruce--Buford had played OF for the White Sox in the 66 and 67 seasons--not much, but he'd played out there before coming to the O's.
8:53 PM Jan 10th
 
Manushfan
I have a certain fondness for Campy, especially that .322 year of his in 83 after missing a season. He's as viable a HoF as Concepcion or Aparicio, sure.

Was watching highlights of the 1966 WS on You Tube-Aparicio had great range out there, cutting off some grounders up the middle and doing the Ozzie thing. His reputation with the glove was a real, deserved thing.
5:18 PM Jan 10th
 
evanecurb
In the 1962-63 offseason, when Aparicio was probably near the peak of his perceived value (age 29), the Sox traded him and Al Smith to the Orioles for Wilhelm, Pete Ward, Ron Hansen, and Dave Nicholson. Nicholson had one good season in '63, and Ward, Hansen, and Wilhelm were excellent players Chicago, including playing key roles on the 1964 and '65 teams that won 98 and 95 games.
10:54 AM Jan 10th
 
evanecurb
The White Sox made a gutsy move that paid off in the 1955-56 offseason when they traded Carrasquel and installed 22 year old Aparicio as their everyday shortstop. Chico Carrasquel was 29 at the time of the trade and was a four time all-star. According to his similarity scores, his closest comp at ages 28 and 29 was Pee Wee Reese. In exchange for Carrasquel and Jim Busby, they acquired Larry Doby, who still had a few good years left. The move allowed them to put two Hall of Famers (Aparicio and Doby) into their lineup.
10:43 AM Jan 10th
 
evanecurb
Considering Aparicio's defensive prowess, it's amazing the Orioles were willing to trade him and install Belanger as their everyday shortstop. The move worked out, obviously, as it allowed them to put both Belanger and Buford into the lineup, but it took some guts to show that much faith in an unproven player. And moving off the subject of Belanger altogether, moving Buford to the outfield (another gutsy move; he was stricltly an infielder to that point) enabled them to trade Blefary for Cuellar. One good move begets another...
10:34 AM Jan 10th
 
wdr1946
Aparicio is more famous and is in the HofF because he basically revived base stealing in the 1950s, after this largely disappeared for 35 years or so. He paved the way for Maury Wills, Lou Brock, and everyone else who came later. According to their sites on Baseball Reference, Aparicio's "Hall of Fame Monitor"- the likelihood that he will be elected- is 150, with "likely" HofFamers at 100; Campaneris's rating is 76. I looked up Aparicio's entry on wikipedia- it quotes Ted Williams as having said that Aparicio was "the best shortstop he had ever seen." If this is accurate, it is interesting, as Teddy of course played with or against Appling, Cronin, Boudreau, and Rizzuto, among others.
12:29 AM Jan 10th
 
Rallymonkey5
I don’t know if they had more identical skill sets than Alex Gonzalez and Sea Bass Gonzalez.
11:51 PM Jan 9th
 
TheRicemanCometh
What fascinates me is how teammates can be viewed so differently. Aparicio has forever been paired with Nellie Fox, his double-play partner. And even though Fox was clearly the better offensive player and just as good defensively, and won a deserving MVP Award, he had to wait decades for posthumous Hall of Fame induction, while Luis got in relatively quickly. Shortstops seem to be, generally, more highly regarded. Why?
10:10 PM Jan 9th
 
FrankD
Campy could throw a bat further and more accurately that Aparicio. I assume Campy's teams won more often than Apracio's, and of couple, won 3 WS in a row. That brings on a question: take the same player, same statistics, and put this player on a poor team, average team and on a championship team. Would the players be over/under rated the same?
9:32 PM Jan 9th
 
Mjh821
One other interesting fact dealing with the two is that neither of the two ever scored 100+ runs in any season despite 16 SB titles and playing on pennant winning clubs.
8:03 PM Jan 9th
 
shthar
Dave Concepcion would be pretty hard to pick out of this crowd too.

He's just a skoosh better offensively.


7:02 PM Jan 9th
 
shthar
is this about whether we consider them over/under appreciated NOW, or when they were playing?

Can they be one now and the other back then, or are you always over/under appreciated?


6:07 PM Jan 9th
 
bjames

Aparicio led the AL in steals for TEN STRAIGHT SEASONS, 1955-1964. Campaneris led four straight, 1965-68, and six total (1970, 1972). One or the other led the league fourteen consecutive seasons and sixteen of eighteen.


Right. . .that's actually another little thing that helped Aparicio reputation. Campaneris actually stole about 30% more bases than Aparicio, but people remember Aparicio more because there was less competition to lead the league in the 1956-1963 era.
2:07 PM Jan 9th
 
evanecurb
Fascinating, and I concur with your initial hypothesis regarding the relative merits and public perceptions of the two players. On those great 1970s A's teams, Campaneris was usually referred to as a "key member of the team" or "a sparkplug" instead of as a star. I'd say he was probably ranked as the A's sixth best player on those teams by the consensus of the time, behind Jackson, Bando, Hunter, Blue, and Rudi - tied with Holtzman and Fingers for sixth in my estimation.

Another similarity - Aparicio led the league in stolen bases every year for a bunch of years, until Campaneris came along, after which Campaneris led in that category. I'll go ahead and look it up -

Aparicio led the AL in steals for TEN STRAIGHT SEASONS, 1955-1964. Campaneris led four straight, 1965-68, and six total (1970, 1972). One or the other led the league fourteen consecutive seasons and sixteen of eighteen.
1:34 PM Jan 9th
 
 
©2021 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy