Parker, Rice and Foster

May 23, 2018
                                              Parker, Rice and Foster
 

              The question of Dave Parker vs. Jim Rice and George Foster is simply an issue of close comparison between similar players who have similar values at the same time.   This chart compares their Win Shares year by year:

 

 

Parker

Rice

Foster

1969

   

0

1970

   

1

1971

   

12

1972

   

1

1973

4

 

2

1974

6

1

9

1975

26

20

21

1976

23

17

25

1977

33

26

32

1978

37

36

30

1979

31

28

22

1980

17

16

23

1981

6

15

24

1982

7

21

12

1983

12

24

14

1984

17

17

18

1985

29

14

17

1986

20

28

6

1987

13

8

 

1988

10

9

 

1989

15

2

 

1990

15

 

 

1991

6

 

 

Totals

327

282

269

 

              While the players are of similar value—Rice and Parker were Most Valuable Players in 1978, Foster in 1977—but while the players are of similar value, Parker has more career value (327 vs. 282 and 269), more value in a five-year peak period (150 vs. 127 and 132) and more value in a three-year peak period (101 vs. 90 and 87).   Parker and Rice’s three-year and five-year peaks are in the same seasons, and Parker is credited with more Win Shares every season.

              While this may not be a definitive answer, I will note that Baseball Reference-WAR reaches essentially the same conclusion with regard to the peak seasons, although a different conclusion with regard to the career total.   These are the Baseball-Reference WAR for the three players:

 

 

Parker

Rice

Foster

1969

 

 

0

1970

 

 

0.1

1971

 

 

1.8

1972

 

 

-0.6

1973

1.1

 

0.6

1974

0.3

0

1

1975

6.3

3

4.8

1976

3.7

2.4

5.9

1977

7.4

5.2

8.4

1978

7

7.6

4.9

1979

6.7

6.4

5.1

1980

1.6

2

4.1

1981

0.1

2.5

3.7

1982

0.6

3

-0.6

1983

0.2

5.7

0.8

1984

1

2.5

2.3

1985

4.7

1.9

1.7

1986

0.3

5.6

0.2

1987

-1.2

0.2

 

1988

0.2

0.5

 

1989

0.3

-0.7

 

1990

1.1

 

 

1991

-1

 

 

Totals

40.4

47.8

44.2

 

              WAR shows Parker as weaker than Rice or Foster because of the weaknesses of his off-peak seasons, but agrees that Parker was stronger than the other two when they were at their peak.  Parker has a five-year peak of 31.1, Foster of 29.1, Rice of 24.6, all of them in the same years.   Parker has a three-year peak of 21.1 WAR, while Foster and Rice both have three-year peaks of 19.2.  

              "Superstardom" rests on peak seasons, of course, so at this point you should have a complete understanding of why Parker shows up as a Superstar and the other two do not.   I’ll finish the math just because I’m the kind of guy who finishes the math, but at this point you should have it.   When we move from Win Shares to Adjusted Win Shares, the ratios between them don’t really change:

 

 

Parker

 

Rice

 

Foster

1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0.0

1970

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0.9

1971

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

12.0

1972

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1.1

1973

4

4.2

 

 

 

 

2

1.9

1974

6

6.4

 

1

1.1

 

9

9.0

1975

26

28.0

 

20

23.2

 

21

22.0

1976

23

25.4

 

17

17.0

 

25

27.0

1977

33

36.0

 

26

28.0

 

32

42.1

1978

37

51.0

 

36

48.0

 

30

29.2

1979

31

32.0

 

28

30.0

 

22

21.7

1980

17

18.0

 

16

16.0

 

23

21.6

1981

6

6.0

 

15

15.9

 

24

24.0

1982

7

7.0

 

21

22.0

 

12

12.0

1983

12

12.7

 

24

26.0

 

14

14.0

1984

17

18.0

 

17

18.0

 

18

18.0

1985

29

31.0

 

14

15.0

 

17

17.0

1986

20

21.0

 

28

31.7

 

6

6.0

1987

13

13.0

 

8

8.0

 

 

 

1988

10

10.0

 

9

9.0

 

 

 

1989

15

15.0

 

2

2.1

 

 

 

1990

15

15.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

1991

6

6.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

327

357

0

282

311

 

269

279

 

              And when you combine the Adjusted Win Shares into the Multi-Year Totals, the Running Score, Parker of course comes out ahead:

 

 

Parker

 

Rice

 

Foster

1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0.0

0.0

1970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

0.9

3.8

1971

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

12.0

52.2

1972

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1.1

61.6

1973

4

4.2

17.0

 

 

 

 

 

2

1.9

59.8

1974

6

6.4

44.4

 

1

1.1

4.2

 

9

9.0

77.9

1975

26

28.0

156.5

 

20

23.2

97.5

 

21

22.0

156.2

1976

23

25.4

260.9

 

17

17.0

175.9

 

25

27.0

257.8

1977

33

36.0

384.5

 

26

28.0

278.3

 

32

42.1

404.2

1978

37

51.0

539.8

 

36

48.0

437.5

 

30

29.2

478.5

1979

31

32.0

600.7

 

28

30.0

515.3

 

22

21.7

483.9

1980

17

18.0

559.5

 

16

16.0

491.5

 

23

21.6

459.1

1981

6

6.0

438.9

 

15

15.9

430.3

 

24

24.0

445.5

1982

7

7.0

330.2

 

21

22.0

402.6

 

12

12.0

393.9

1983

12

12.7

275.6

 

24

26.0

413.5

 

14

14.0

348.2

1984

17

18.0

275.4

 

17

18.0

402.4

 

18

18.0

327.9

1985

29

31.0

343.5

 

14

15.0

371.5

 

17

17.0

321.3

1986

20

21.0

377.0

 

28

31.7

405.0

 

6

6.0

275.2

1987

13

13.0

358.7

 

8

8.0

361.5

 

 

 

 

1988

10

10.0

309.4

 

9

9.0

307.8

 

 

 

 

1989

15

15.0

284.8

 

2

2.1

225.3

 

 

 

 

1990

15

15.9

280.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1991

6

6.4

246.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              All three players reach their peak Running Score at the same time, at the end of their peak periods in 1979.   We consider 530.00 to be a Superstar Level.   Parker reaches a Peak of 600, while Rice Rises to 515, and Foster Festers at 484.  

              I used 530 as the cutoff for "what is a Superstar?", but of course there is nothing inevitable about this; you can describe Matt Chapman as a Superstar if you insist on it.   It is not at all unreasonable to say that we should use a somewhat more tolerant cutoff for Superstardom, and Rice would be considered a Superstar if we did.  I just set it where I set it because I was trying to set "Superstar Seasons" at about 11-12% of "Star Seasons".   

 
 

COMMENTS (19 Comments, most recent shown first)

trn6229
Parker's career got waylaid by coke use. Too bad. He was an awesome player in 1977, 1978 and 1979. I think Fenway Park added a 600 club or something and it may have cut down the wind. In 1977 Fenway was a hitter's paradise, by 1982 it was not. That 600 club was added around 1982. I also remember Jim Rice playing with his contact lenses, it seemed he always had dirt in his eyes. The Red Sox were stupid in this time period, losing Fisk, Lynn and Burleson for not much in return. It may have hurt Rice not having the bats of Fisk and Lynn with him in the lineup. Foster came up with the Giants when they already had a stocked outfield. The Reds finally let him play in 1975 when they dumped good field no hit John Vuckovich. The team was scuffling along at 20-20. The they moved Pete Rose from outfield to 3B and inserted Foster in left. The team took off from that point.

Take Care,
Tom Nahigian
2:20 PM Jun 14th
 
jstodola
Most comments to the Superstar series have a subjective factor to it. I really like how Bill is going through an objective, statistical analysis of being a Superstar.
1:05 PM Jun 2nd
 
jemanji
Yes indeed. Enjoying your series a lot.


10:31 PM May 27th
 
raincheck
Really enjoying this series. My only question comes on the “fame” part, which I think is part of the essence of being a superstar. So I have to give this the most accurate and precise measure I have at my disposal. I hand the list to my wife and ask, which of these guys have you heard of? It results in a few cuts (some of which are clearly unfair, most of which I expected) and a handful of “what about this guy? Where is he?” additions.

So, sorry Joe Mauer. You are off the list. But Nolan Ryan, you are the most clear addition.
12:38 PM May 26th
 
mikeclaw
Several years ago I used to spend a lot of time comparing Rice, Parker, Dawson and Dale Murphy as Hall of Fame candidates. All MVPs, three of the four Gold Glovers. The more I looked, the more I felt like they were all at more or less the same level as far as Hall of Fame candidacy would go - it would be hard for me to vote for one of them over the others. Ultimately, if I had a vote (which I don't), I realized I would have to either vote for all of them or none of them, and given that choice I would have voted for none of them. Four very very good ballplayers, but I would not have put them in Cooperstown.

11:47 AM May 26th
 
danfeinstein
BarryBondsFan -- I'm sure it happens a bunch, but from my childhood, I remember two. The April 10, 1978 cover had Carew and Parker. And not quite the same, but the July 18, 1977 had Carew with Ted Williams.​
11:30 AM May 26th
 
BarryBondsFan25
Interestingly, while I was going through archived SI covers yesterday I came across an April/1979 SI that had both Jim Rice and Dave Parker on the cover. That is the only SI that I have come across that had two players from two different teams on the cover. I wouldn't be surprised if there are others but that's the only one I have seen so far.
9:16 AM May 26th
 
SkeptiSys
Follow up on fidrych, whom bill dismissed as never being called a superstar by anyone absolutely. I only saw 1 article from his playing days online, the may 1977 rolling Stone story. Rolling Stone described fidrych as "clearly the biggest star baseball has known since mantle retired". The story then states why he is the biggest star, based on personality.

I think if you want to know what a superstar is, you need to first research who is considered so. My guess is the answer has to do with whom the biggest media/marketing agencies believe the public will give attention. ESPN made tebow a star and he was a poor athlete with no personality.
8:56 AM May 25th
 
Manushfan
Oh I know, but still-'77 Rice was Awesome.
6:54 AM May 25th
 
CharlesSaeger
Manushfan: Win Shares sees Fenway Park pervading Rice's 1977. And other seasons.
8:31 PM May 24th
 
Steven Goldleaf
I ran one of those tables that Bill likes to present from time to time, of a composite of the eight best consecutive seasons that Jim "Cobra" Foster had, and while I can't reproduce the whole table here, the 24-year totals give you a lot of respect for Hank Aaron (and Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds): counting 1976-83 for Foster, 1977-8 for Rice, and 1983-1990 for Parker, they totaled 669 HRs and 2452 RBI. (Parker was a little weird in that his two most productive four-year periods were separated by an unproductive four-year period.) Those seasons do bear a good deal of resemblance to each other--I don't think I could pick who was who if I gave them a good jumble.
3:00 PM May 24th
 
Manushfan
Ahhh and that reader comment would have been mine own. Thank you for doing this Bill. Yes I see the peak and career for both. Few things:

*Boys did Parker have a crater about 80-83. Owch.

*You forget that Foster came up with the Giants and was a starter, sort of, 71ish.

*Rice is another one that had a sudden drop off and never came back. Always thought he would.

*I'm more impressed by Rice's '77 than Win Shares is. That's cool.
1:15 PM May 24th
 
Brian
I'm remembering (perhaps incorrectly) that for several years This Week In Baseball's closing credits led off with Parker's All-Star Game throw that nailed somebody at the plate. Perhaps there should be an adjustment for that: 1 point for having the throw featured at all, and 1 for the video of the throw being in slow motion...
12:15 PM May 24th
 
benhurwitz
I believe, in his heyday, Dave Parker was once asked why he was wearing a star of David necklace. His response, "My name is David, and I'm a star."
9:50 AM May 24th
 
CharlesSaeger
Ah, at long last, a Parker-Rice comparison! Their raw stats look pretty similar if you take out Parker’s last two years; Rice knew when to quit.

With these guys, you have to be at least a little skeptical of the fielding ratings. Total Zone, pre-1988, assigns hits allowed to fielders based on out rate by the batter. To describe, if Cal Ripken made 11% of his career puts in play to left field, the left fielder gets 11% of the blame for each hit Cal Ripken got. The issue is for corner outfielders, out are not pulled, but hits are, so Cal Ripken’s percentage of hits going to left is assuredly higher than his percentage of outs going to left.
9:05 AM May 24th
 
KaiserD2
The Win Shares table provided an excellent opportunity for me to answer a question I've been wondering about for a while here.

As I have said, my book, Baseball Greatness,, which Rob Neyer was kind enough to blurb, began with one of Bill's questions from his Keltner Hall of Fame test: "If this guy were the best player on your team, is it likely that you could win the pennant?" I thought that was a very good question and studied empirically the question of how good such a player--a potential mvp on a pennant winner--had to be. The answer was 4 WAA as I calculated them--the vast majority of pennant winners through 1993 (and a substantial majority of post season teams since) had at least one player that good.)

The question I've been wondering about was, how many win shares is that?

Jim Rice, as it turns out provides a good first cut for answering that question. My method identifies the same best seasons, in pretty much the same order, as Bill did with Win Shares. And it showed him with 4.5 WAA ion 1979, 4 WAA in 1983, and 4.2 WAA in 1986.

Bill's table shows Rice with 28 Win Shares in 1979, 24 in 1983, and 28 in 1986. So it seems that the Win Shares answer to the question, how good does a guy have to be to be the mvp on a pennant winner?, is, about 24 Win Shares.

Bill's table shows Parker exceeding that level (24 win shares) 6 times, Rice 5 times, and Foster 4 times. That would make Parker, not Rice, the deserving Hall of Famer. My method, however, did not rate Parker's 1976 and 1985 seasons nearly as highly, and he topped 4 WAA only four times, compared to 5 for Rice, and just 2 for Foster. (1976-7.)

David K


7:33 AM May 24th
 
robneyer
Bill, I've really been enjoying this series. I don't know, maybe a year or two ago I was thinking about superstars, maybe even talked about it some with Mark Armour. But without a place to write about the issue, I sorta gave up on it. So I'm both grateful and jealous.

While I think the list as it now exists is damn close to being (subjectively) correct, I believe it's still missing a certain Fame Factor (or what I think of as the Magazine Cover Factor). By my definition, Bo Jackson was obviously a superstar. And going back a bit, certainly Lou Brock and perhaps even Maury Wills, as both were quite famous in a way that even Tim Raines was not (thanks a lot, Rickey and Vince).

I know somebody suggested adding All-Star status, and you agreed. Might be enough for Brock, maybe not. I suppose there's just no way to count magazine covers, but what about a bonus for leading league in steals for some consecutive number of seasons? Seems like most guys who do that enough times become famous...
12:57 AM May 24th
 
MarisFan61
Bill: Just a question of which Win Share system you're referencing, and please pardon if this has been addressed and I missed it.

In these last couple of articles, when you cite players' win share numbers (which, I do understand, you've explained as being estimated numbers), are these via the original system (which had only Win Shares), or from the new system, even though you're not referring at all to Loss Shares?

And, whichever the answer is, is that the case in general when you cite Win Share numbers without mention of Loss Shares?
11:57 PM May 23rd
 
OldBackstop
How about the one correlation you can track that shows how the professionals value your talents in your mid to late career?


Hint: you can buy stuff with it.
11:39 PM May 23rd
 
 
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