Families of Players--1

January 19, 2021
                                   Families of Players---1

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                                  BOB SKINNER

Species:                       &​nbsp;                                 Left-handed Batting Corner Player

Number  of members of that species within the study:              996

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Above-average power and mid-range strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         146

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Good batting averages and fairly long careers

Number of members of that family:                             20

Best player in that family:                             &​nbsp;      David Justice

Skinner contemporaries in that family:                      

Wally Moon, Bill White, Jerry Lynch

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Above average speed and mid-range walks

Other players in the sub-family group:                        (1)  Ival Goodman

Individualizing characteristics:                           Tall, played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:     None

 

 

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                          &nb​sp;       JOHN VANDER WAL

Species:                                      &nbs​p;                  Left-handed Batting Corner Player

Number  of members of that species within the study:              996

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Above-average power and high strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         262

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Fairly long careers with mid-range batting average

Number of members of that family:                             33

Best player in that family:                                    Darryl Strawberry

Vander Wal  contemporaries in that family:             

Michael Tucker, David Dellucci, Todd Hollandsworth, Bobby Higginson, Jeremy Burnitz, Scott Hatteberg, Paul Sorrento, John Mabry

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Average Speed and Above-average walk rate.

Other players in the sub-family group:                       

(4)  Oscar Gamble, Bobby Higginson, Jeremy Burnitz and John Lowenstein

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Average height and played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:     All four listed above

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                                  JIM SUNDBERG

Species:                                   &nb​sp;                     Right-handed Hitting Catchers

Number  of members of that species within the study:              635

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Mid-range Power and Strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         98

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Long career with fairly low batting averages

Number of members of that family:                             3

Other members of the family:                            Eddie Ainsmith and Randy Hundley

Sundberg contemporaries in that family:      

Hundley’s career overlaps with Sundberg

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:            Slow, mid-range walks

Other players in the sub-family group:                        None

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Mid-Range Height, played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:     None

 

            Notes:  Many of you will wonder why Jim Hegan isn’t in this group, or Rick Dempsey, or Jerry Grote or Bob Boone or Brad Ausmus or any number of good-field, no-hit catchers.   Of course, you have the same right to place players in families as I do, but to explain my system. . . .

            If I were grouping players by subjective judgment, I certainly would put Jim Sundberg and Jim Hegan in the same group.   In the analytical structure that I have created, they fail to match in five of the ten categories:  Power, Strikeout Rate, Speed, era, and Body type (height).   None of these distinctions are very large. Hegan homered once every 52 at bats; Sundberg, once every 63 at bats.  Hegan averaged 1.51 bases per hit in his career; Sundberg, 1.40.  I drew the line between the groups at 1.50, which put them in different groups. 

            Strikeouts are a more clear distinction, in that the strikeout rate is compared to the era.  Hegan struck out a little more often per at bat than Sundberg did, but Hegan struck out 48% more often than the league average, whereas Sundberg struck out only 9% more often than the league average in his era—a pretty large difference.  

            The speed difference is larger than you might guess.  Hegan hit about one triple per 100 at bats; Sundberg, about one per 165 at bats—and I think there were more triples in Sundberg’s era than in Hegan’s.  Hegan grounded into fewer double plays and had a "better" stolen base percentage; actually a less terrible stolen base percentage.   Hegan was taller, and played in the radio age rather than the television age. 

            Having said all that, again, if I were doing this subjectively, I certainly would put Hegan and Sundberg in the same family, probably with Bob Boone and Jerry Grote to the Max and others.  On the other hand, if I were doing this subjectively, it would take me two years to outline each player’s family, rather than the 4 or 5 days it has taken me.  I would certainly hope that I could do it better in two years than I could in a week, but I don’t have two years to spend on every project.  Probably the best approach is to define the families of players by objective methods, and then make subjective adjustments as appropriate.    More on this later in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                                  RYNE SANDBERG

Species:                                     &n​bsp;       Right-Handed Hitting Player/Defensive Trident

Number  of members of that species within the study:              1203

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Good Power with Mid-Range Strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                            87

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Long careers with high batting averages (as opposed to VERY high batting averages, which is a separate category)

Number of members of that family:                                         10

Best player in that family:                          &nb​sp;                     Alex Rodriguez

Sandberg  contemporaries in that family:                  

Andre Dawson, Craig Biggio, Ellis Burks.  Career overlaps with Cesar Cedeno, Amos Otis and Jeff Kent

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Plus speed but below-average walk rate

Other players in the sub-family group:                       

(2)  Andre Dawson and Cesar Cedeno

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Average height and played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:     None

 

            Note:  I sorted players into "position groups" as follows:        

            (Group 1)  Corner outfielders, Corner Infielders and Designated Hitters

            (Group 2)  Shortstops, Second Basemen and Center Fielders (the Defensive Trident),

            (Group 3) Catchers

 

            Obviously there are problems with doing it that way; I would much prefer not to have second basemen in "families" with center fielders, and it is particularly bothersome to have third basemen mixed in with designated hitters.  I will explain later why it has to be done that way, or, at least, what the problems are with doing it some other way.

 

 

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                                  CLIFF FLOYD

Species:                                &n​bsp;                        Left-handed Batting Corner Player

Number  of members of that species within the study:              996

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Above-average power and mid-range strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         146

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Good batting averages and fairly long careers

Number of members of that family:                             20

Best player in that family:                                    David Justice

Cliff Floyd contemporaries in that family:                  

J. D. Drew, David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Andre Ethier

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Average speed and mid-range walks

Other players in the sub-family group:                       

            (2) Bill White and Andre Ethier

Individualizing characteristics:   Tall, played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:         None

 

 

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                             ​;     BOBBY MURCER

Species:                                         &nb​sp;               LH Batter, Defensive Trident

Number  of members of that species within the study:              464

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Above-average power and high strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         76

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Long careers (as opposed to fairly long careers) with fairly high batting averages

Number of members of that family:                                         8

            The eight members of that family are Duke Snider, Johnny Damon, Chase Utley, Vada Pinson, Lou Whitaker, Jim Edmonds, Bobby Murcer and Cy Williams.

Best player in that family:                            &​nbsp;       Duke Snider

Murcer  contemporaries in that family:                      

            Vada Pinson.  Johnny Callison could/should be in this family as well.

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Average Speed and Above-average walk rate.

Other players in the sub-family group:                       

(2) Lou Whitaker and Jim Edmonds

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Average height and played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:

            (2) Whitaker and Edmonds

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                                  CHONE FIGGINS

Species:                        &​nbsp;                        &​nbsp;       Switch Hitter, Defensive Trident

Number  of members of that species within the study:              285

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Little Power,  Mid-range strikeouts

Number of members in Large family Group:                         49

Additional characteristics defining family:     

Fairly long career with good batting average

Number of members of that family:                             2

Other members of the family:                           

            The only other member of this family is Wally Backman

Figgins contemporaries in that family:                         None

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Fast runner, mid-range walks

Other players in the sub-family group:                        Wally Backman

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Short, played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:                Wally Backman

 

            Notes:  Figgins played 25 or more games at every position on the field except first base and catcher.  He played all over the field.   Technically, he might be a "corner" player, because he played more games at third base than any other position, but it seems obviously better to classify him as part of the defensive trident than to classify him as a corner player. 

 

 

 

Randomly Selected Player:                            ​;      REGGIE JACKSON

Species:                              ​;                           Left-Handed Corner Outfielder

Number  of members of that species within the study:              996

Additional Characteristics defining Large Family Group:

            Good Power and High Strikeout Rate

            Great power, obviously, but we don’t have a class for that

Number of members in Large family Group:                           321

Additional characteristics defining family:     

            Long career with mid-range batting average

Number of members of that family:                                            2

Best player in that family:                           ​;                    

            It’s a close call.  They’re about the same.

Reggie’s  contemporaries in that family:                    

None.  The other guy in the category was Eddie Mathews

Additional characteristics defining sub-family group:        

Mid-range speed and High Walk Rate

Other players in the sub-family group:   Mathews

            Reggie was much faster than Mathews, but not actually fast.  He stole a few bases, but led the league in caught stealing, hit only 49 career triples and played a LONG time after his speed was gone.  Mathews walked more than Reggie did, but Reggie’s walk rates were still well above the league norms.

Individualizing characteristics:                          

Average height and played in television era

Other players matching all characteristics:     None.  

 
 
 
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