Superstars

May 23, 2018
                                                           Superstars and Such

 

              Just as I thought we might be making some progress on agreeing as to what is a Superstar, Ken Rosenthal or someone being quoted by Ken Rosenthal described Matt Chapman as a Superstar.   I don’t know what to say about that.  If you identify Matt Chapman as a Superstar, Jose Iglesias can’t be far behind. There really are no standards.

              This article is written more for my own benefit than for yours; I am mostly just documenting what I have done so that the next time I get back to this subject, or someone else does, we can avoid re-capturing the same ground.  I have made a few adjustments to the method.  The adjusted method clearly does work better than the system did as I reported it a few days ago, so I wanted to put the changes on record. 

              After posting the article So Who Is a Superstar, I made nine adjustments to the system.   I’ll list the nine adjustments here and then at the end I’ll explain the whole system so that nobody in the future would have to piece it together.   The nine adjustments are:

              1)  I added 2 points to the Adjusted Win Shares of the batting champion each year.

              2)  I added 1 point to the Adjusted Win Shares of any player who hit .300 with 500 or more plate appearances. 

              3)  I added 1 point to the Adjusted Win Shares of any player who drove in 100 runs.

              The logic of points 1-3 is that certain accomplishments have more impact on a player’s star perception than on his actual value.   Win Shares seeks to give each player the credit that he deserves for his performance in each area—his actual value.  But when we are trying to document star recognition rather than true value, we need to increase the weight given to things that artificially increase a player’s star recognition. 

              4)  I added 3 points to each PITCHER who led the league in strikeouts.

              5)  I added 1 point to any pitcher up to the year 2000 who had at least four more wins than losses.   After 2000 I didn’t add those points, because won-lost records are no longer as central to star perception for a pitcher as they once were.

              6)  I gave a pitcher one-third of a point for each (a) World Series Game Appearance, (b) World Series Start, (c) World Series Win and (d) World Series Save. 

              7)  I increased the points given for winning the Cy Young Award or the MVP Award from 8 to 10. 

              The logic of points 4-7 is similar to that of points 1-3, but also I was trying to increase the relative values for pitchers, since many or most of the deserving Superstars who failed to register as Superstars before were pitchers. . ..Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, Steve Carlton, etc.   Pitchers were being slighted or under-valued somehow, so I adjusted for that.    I had initially credited a player who won an MVP or Cy Young Award with 10 points, changed it to 8 at the last moment (before) out of concern that this might create "false positives"; that is, players who weren’t Superstars but show up as Superstars because they won an MVP Award.   After studying the issue in more depth I concluded that this was not an actual problem, so I reverted to 10 points, which helps star pitchers more than it does position players, thus helps pitchers relative to position players. 

              8)  I changed the "Carry Forward" multiplier from .65 to .62. . . I’ll explain better later.

              9)  I explained before that I had put in place a "batting average adjustment", which is this.   Batting averages, historically, have been over-valued.   Players who hit for very high averages have tended to become stars and superstars, even if their overall performance did not justify that, while players who had lower batting averages but very high secondary averages, like Charlie Keller, Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Ken Singleton and Gene Tenace, have been undervalued.  

              Secondary bases are extra bases on hits (Total Bases minus hits), walks, and stolen bases.   The rule I used before was that if a player had 20% more secondary bases than hits, then I would reduce his adjusted Win Shares by 5%.   If he had 20% FEWER secondary bases than hits, then I would increase his adjusted Win Shares by 5%--counter-adjusting for the bias.  

              I changed that here in two ways.   First, in figuring secondary bases, I divided stolen bases by two, since speed does play a role in star perception.   Second, I increased the 5% adjustment to 6%.  

              Some of you commented earlier that I should give credit for All-Star game performance, which I agree that I should.   However, I don’t have All Star Game appearances in the spreadsheet that I use for these calculations and it would take me several days of boring data entry to add them to the spreadsheet, so we’re going to have to let that go for now.  I could also do something with Gold Gloves or other awards, but I have not done that yet. 

              Anyway, there is no question that these adjustments do substantially improve the system.   Regarding for the question of who are the "transcendent stars" who will be recognized as Superstars as long as they are active players, the system now gives us a top-12 candidates list of Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Joe Morgan, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner,  and Ted Williams.   I will use that list as it is, except that I am removing Rogers Hornsby, for reasons explained before, and substituting Hank Aaron and Cy Young.  

              That already is progress; I am having to do less "arbitrary shuffling" to get the list that I want now than I did before.    The other progress that the system makes with these adjustments can be seen in this paragraph:

 

The eighteen players who I think were Superstars but who the system fails to recognize as Superstars were, chronologically, Frankie Frisch, Dizzy Dean, Hank Greenberg, Bob Feller, Roy Campanella, Warren Spahn, Denny McLain, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Clayton Kershaw. 

              The system now, with these adjustments, "naturally recognizes" more of these players as Superstars, without my having to force them up to Superstar Status.    The system now recognizes as Superstars Dizzy Dean, Hank Greenberg, Roy Campanella, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones and Clayton Kershaw.   In every case these players now EASILY qualify as Superstars, and better yet, the adjustments made do not create a large number of questionable additions to the superstar list, although they do create three or four.   The system still fails to recognize as superstars Frankie Frisch, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Denny McLain, Willie Stargell, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki.  

              I also added a rule to the system, based on the earlier discussion, that no player is recognized as a Superstar DURING his rookie season.   That makes almost no difference; I think the only players who otherwise would become superstars as rookies are Ted Williams and Dick Allen, but I just changed the notation to state that they become superstars at the conclusion of their rookie seasons, rather than as rookies.   

              Other than the nine players listed before who (a) were clearly Superstars, but (b) weren’t previously recognized by the system, but (c) now are recognized by the system on its own, there are four categories of changes in the outcomes of the process.   Those four categories are (A) other players added to the Superstar Register (12), (B) players who drop off the Superstar Register (1), (C) Modest but meaningful changes to the years when players are recognized as Superstars (9) and (D) Trivial changes to the dates when players are recognized as Superstars (19).

A.  New Players added to the Superstar Register (12).

              Rube Waddell is now listed as a Superstar from 1902 to 1908.

              Cy Seymour is now listed as a Superstar in 1905-1906.    

              Addie Joss is now listed as a Superstar in 1907 and 1908. 

              Goose Goslin is now listed as a Superstar from 1924 to 1936. 

              Chuck Klein is now listed as a Superstar in 1932-1933.   Klein hit .356 with 145 RBI in 1929 and .386 with 170 RBI (!!) in 1930, so it seems odd to exclude those seasons from his Superstar period.  It’s just the way the numbers work out; not saying it is right or wrong.  The Phillies played in such an absurdly high-run context in 1929-1931 that Klein’s "true" value is very, very low, compared to the value that you would ASSUME a player would have hitting .386 with 170 RBI and a huge number of outfield assists.  This anomaly was well understood by sportswriters of his time.   Klein, despite his monstrous numbers, received almost no support in Hall of Fame voting in his first ten years on the ballot, and was only selected to the Hall of Fame after he had been dead for a couple of decades and his contemporaries were mostly gone.  

              Al Rosen is now listed as a Superstar from 1952 to 1954, which I think is a good addition; Rosen was a huge star for a few years. 

              Ferguson Jenkins is now listed as a Superstar from 1971 to 1974.   That’s certainly a reasonable opinion. 

              Catfish Hunter is now listed as a Superstar from 1972 to 1975. 

              Eddie Murray is now listed as a Superstar from 1982 to 1990. 

              Don Mattingly is now listed as a Superstar from 1984 to 1989. 

              Tony Gwynn is now listed as a Superstar from 1984 to 1997. 

              Jeff Kent is now listed as a Superstar from 2000 to 2005.   Not thrilled about that, but he was a good player. 

              It’s not too bad. . .we add Waddell, Rosen, Jenkins, Catfish, Eddie Murray, Mattingly and Gwynn, all of whom I think are legitimate Superstars and probably should be on the list, and we add three players that I would say I am neutral about (Joss, Goslin and Klein), while picking up only two players that I would probably have preferred not to list (Cy Seymour and Jeff Kent).   Not bad.  

 

B.  Players Who Drop off the Superstar Register with these Changes (1).

              Keith Hernandez. 

 

C.  Modest but Meaningful Changes to the Years when players are listed as Superstars (9) 

              With more credit being given to a high batting average, Richie Ashburn’s Superstar designation reaches from 1955 to 1958, rather than just in 1958 as it was before. 

              Ernie Banks is now listed as a Superstar from 1955 to 1961, whereas before he was only listed in the years 1958 to 1960. 

              In the study before, Ken Griffey Jr. did not "naturally" attain Superstar status until 1997, forcing me to intervene in the chart to back-date his Superstar status to 1991.   With this revision he attains the status naturally in 1991.  

              Randy Johnson’s years as a Superstar, which before were listed at 1999 to 2002, are changed to 1995 to 2004.   This clearly is more accurate.  Johnson was a huge star before 1999.  

              In the listing before, Clayton Kerhaw’s Superstar status ended in 2014.  In this revision it extends to the present time, through 2017, making four Superstars active in 2017, rather than three. 

              Mel Ott is now listed as a Superstar from 1929 to 1945, whereas before we had him as a Superstar from 1932 to 1944. 

              Duke Snider’s Superstar designation now begins in 1950, rather than in 1953. 

              Joe Torre’s period as a Superstar now begins in 1964, rather than in 1971 as it did before. 

              Carl Yastrzemski’s years as a Superstar are now listed as 1963-1971, whereas before the years listed were 1967-1971.  

              The change for Torre is probably not helpful or not correct.   Torre hit .321 with 109 RBI in 1964, a hell of a season for a catcher in the hitting-starved 1960s, but I don’t actually think he was a Superstar in those years.   The changes for Griffey and the Big Unit are obviously correct; the others are like, you can see it that way or you can see it the other; it doesn’t really make much difference.  Yastrzemski—a highly acclaimed rookie prospect before he came to the majors—won his first batting title in 1963.   When we give him credit for that it pushes him over the Superstar line earlier in his career.  

 

D.  Trivial changes in the dates when players are recognized as Superstars (19)

              These don’t really mean anything, but I will document them in the interests of thoroughness:

              Henry Aaron becomes a Superstar in 1955, rather than 1956 as in the previous method. 

              Dick Allen becomes a Superstar at the end of the 1964 season, rather than "in" 1964. 

              Johnny Bench loses the Superstar designation after the 1975 season, rather than 1976. 

              Yogi Berra’s Superstar Years change from 1950-1959 to 1950-1957. 

              Jesse Burkett changes from 1900-1905 to 1900-1904. 

              Rod Carew becomes a Superstar in 1973, rather than in 1974 (which makes sense, if you look up his record.) 

              Eddie Collins remains a Superstar through 1925, rather than 1924 as in the previous method.

              Charlie Gehringer becomes a Superstar in 1933, rather than 1934 (1933-1939 rather than 1934-1939).  

              Heine Groh registers as a Superstar beginning in 1917, rather than 1915 as he did before. 

              Lefty Grove achieves Superstar Status in 1928, rather than in 1930. 

              Harry Heilmann becomes a Superstar in 1921, rather than in 1923. 

              Frank Howard retains the Superstar tag in 1971, rather than losing it after 1970 as he did before. 

              Carl Hubbell remains a Superstar through 1938, rather than through 1937. 

              Andrew McCutchen’s years of Superstar designation become 2012-2015, rather than 2012-2016. 

              Tim Raines qualifies as a Superstar in 1984, rather than in 1985. 

              Al Simmons adds 1935-1936 to his period of Superstardom, which previously we had terminated in 1934. 

              George Sisler changes from 1916-1923 to 1917-1924.

              Sammy Sosa loses the Superstar designation for the 2003 season,

              Ted Williams becomes a Superstar at the end of the 1939 season, rather than in 1941. 

 

 

 

 

Explaining the Process

 

              1)  Start with a year-by-year record of the player’s Win Shares.

              2)  Figure (for each season) the player’s ratio of hits to secondary bases, by this formula:

             

                             (TB – H) + W + SB/2

                             --------------------------

                            &n​bsp;              Hits

 

              If this figure is less than .80, increase the player’s Win shares by 6%.   If this figure is greater than 1.20, decrease his Win Shares by 6%.   We will call this new figure "Adjusted Win Shares".

              3)  Add 10 points to the Adjusted Win Shares if the player won the MVP or Cy Young Award.

              4)  Add 2 points if the player was the batting champion.

              5)  Add 1 (additional) point if the player hit .300 or better with 500 or more plate appearances. 

              6)  Add 1 point if the player drove in 100 runs.

              7)   Add 3 points if the player, as a pitcher, led the league in strikeouts.

              8)  Up through the year 2000, add 1 point if the pitcher had at least four more wins than losses. 

              This complete the process of creating Adjusted Win Shares.   Once we have adjusted Win Shares, we move on to the player’s Running Score. 

              9)  The running score is 4 times the player’s Adjusted Win Shares, plus 2 times his Adjusted Win Shares in the previous season, plus his Adjusted Win Shares in the season previous to that, plus 62% of the player’s Running Score from the previous season. 

              10)  If the player’s Running Score reaches a peak of 530.00 or higher, then the player qualifies as a Superstar by this process.   If it does not, he does not.   He may still have been a Superstar, but this system does not recognize him as one.

              11)  If a player is a Superstar—this is, if his running score reaches 530 at some point in his career—then we recognize him as a Superstar beginning in the first season in which his Adjusted Win Shares are 31 or higher, and extending through the last season in which his Adjusted Win Shares are 23 or higher, unless he is one of the 13 "transcendent stars" discussed earlier, in which case he remains a Superstar until the end of his career. 

 

 

Illustrating the Process with Real-Life Examples

 

              There were a cluster of stars and Superstars born in the years 1934-1935; let’s use some of them to illustrate the process.    Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, Norm Cash, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson were all born in 1934 or 1935.  We start with their Win Shares Each Season:

YEAR

Aaron

Cash

Clemente

Gibson

Kaline

Koufax

Maris

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1954

13

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

1955

29

 

7

 

31

3

 

 

1956

30

 

14

 

26

1

 

26

1957

35

 

5

 

20

6

13

27

1958

32

0

16

 

23

7

17

20

1959

38

4

10

5

27

9

17

25

1960

35

16

20

0

17

9

31

23

1961

35

42

26

18

29

20

36

34

1962

34

23

20

21

19

15

25

41

1963

41

23

22

17

25

32

17

23

1964

33

18

30

24

24

24

25

33

1965

31

24

27

26

20

33

6

26

1966

27

27

29

26

31

35

8

41

1967

34

21

35

12

30

 

17

30

1968

32

18

25

36

18

 

11

24

1969

38

21

28

33

17

 

 

32

1970

25

16

23

28

19

 

 

26

1971

33

24

24

17

22

 

 

23

1972

21

18

16

29

14

 

 

14

1973

20

15

 

12

8

 

 

26

1974

13

5

 

12

15

 

 

18

1975

9

 

 

1

 

 

 

6

1976

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

              Why don’t I highlight the two best players in the group each year, pointing out that they all have their moments.  In 1961 Frank Robinson won the MVP Award, but still ranks (by this approach) as the fourth-best player in the group:

YEAR

Aaron

Cash

Clemente

Gibson

Kaline

Koufax

Maris

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1954

13

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

1955

29

 

7

 

31

3

 

 

1956

30

 

14

 

26

1

 

26

1957

35

 

5

 

20

6

13

27

1958

32

0

16

 

23

7

17

20

1959

38

4

10

5

27

9

17

25

1960

35

16

20

0

17

9

31

23

1961

35

42

26

18

29

20

36

34

1962

34

23

20

21

19

15

25

41

1963

41

23

22

17

25

32

17

23

1964

33

18

30

24

24

24

25

33

1965

31

24

27

26

20

33

6

26

1966

27

27

29

26

31

35

8

41

1967

34

21

35

12

30

 

17

30

1968

32

18

25

36

18

 

11

24

1969

38

21

28

33

17

 

 

32

1970

25

16

23

28

19

 

 

26

1971

33

24

24

17

22

 

 

23

1972

21

18

16

29

14

 

 

14

1973

20

15

 

12

8

 

 

26

1974

13

5

 

12

15

 

 

18

1975

9

 

 

1

 

 

 

6

1976

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

              Now we move from Win Shares to Adjusted Win Shares.   Frank Robinson in 1961, aided by the MVP Award, moves to second in the group, almost first; Maris was also the MVP that season, of course.   Koufax moves up in ’63, from second behind Aaron to first in the group.   Cash, who previously had two seasons as one of the stars of the group, no longer lists as 1 or 2 in any season.  

 

YEAR

Aaron

Cash

Clemente

Gibson

Kaline

Koufax

Maris

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

1.1

 

 

 

1954

13.8

 

 

 

7.4

 

 

 

1955

31.0

 

7.4

 

35.0

3.0

 

 

1956

33.0

 

15.8

 

28.0

1.0

 

24.4

1957

47.0

 

5.3

 

20.0

6.0

12.2

28.0

1958

33.0

0.0

17.0

 

24.0

7.0

17.0

18.8

1959

42.0

3.8

10.6

5.0

28.0

10.0

17.0

25.5

1960

33.9

15.0

22.2

0.0

17.0

9.0

40.1

21.6

1961

37.0

43.5

30.6

18.0

30.0

24.0

44.8

44.0

1962

34.0

21.6

22.2

21.0

17.9

16.0

24.5

43.0

1963

40.5

21.6

24.3

18.0

27.0

58.0

16.0

21.6

1964

34.0

16.9

34.8

27.7

24.0

25.0

25.0

32.0

1965

32.0

22.6

31.6

27.0

18.8

49.7

5.6

25.4

1966

26.4

27.0

41.0

27.0

29.1

49.7

8.0

52.5

1967

34.0

19.7

41.1

16.0

29.2

 

17.0

29.2

1968

32.0

18.0

25.0

62.7

18.0

 

11.7

22.6

1969

36.7

21.0

29.0

34.0

17.0

 

 

32.1

1970

24.5

15.0

23.0

39.0

19.0

 

 

27.0

1971

33.0

22.6

26.4

17.0

20.7

 

 

21.6

1972

19.7

18.0

17.0

30.0

14.0

 

 

13.2

1973

18.8

14.1

 

12.0

8.0

 

 

24.4

1974

12.2

4.7

 

12.0

15.0

 

 

16.9

1975

9.0

 

 

1.0

 

 

 

5.6

1976

5.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.9

 

              After we have Adjusted Win Shares, we can figure the Running Score, which is based on combining Adjusted Win Shares for a series of seasons.  These are the Running Scores, or "Superstar Scores" for these eight players:

 

YEAR

Aaron

Cash

Clemente

Gibson

Kaline

Koufax

Maris

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

4.2

 

 

 

1954

55.1

 

 

 

34.4

 

 

 

1955

185.7

 

29.7

 

177.2

12.0

 

 

1956

322.9

 

96.6

 

299.3

17.4

 

97.8

1957

485.2

 

120.2

 

356.6

39.8

48.9

221.5

1958

559.8

0.0

168.8

 

385.1

65.7

122.7

293.0

1959

628.1

15.0

186.3

20.0

418.7

100.7

190.3

349.2

1960

642.0

77.0

242.5

22.4

407.6

125.4

329.6

372.8

1961

655.9

255.5

327.6

90.9

434.7

201.8

481.0

475.7

1962

650.4

346.9

375.2

176.4

418.0

246.1

526.0

576.5

1963

670.3

388.3

404.9

241.3

432.9

440.6

483.9

573.9

1964

666.6

373.3

461.1

317.3

436.2

505.2

456.5

570.1

1965

649.9

377.1

506.3

378.1

420.7

619.9

371.6

540.9

1966

606.4

403.9

575.9

424.1

439.0

707.3

298.6

628.4

1967

596.6

405.9

635.1

407.9

466.0

 

274.8

636.9

1968

592.2

390.1

617.0

562.6

448.5

 

259.0

596.1

1969

612.0

381.6

589.6

626.1

411.3

 

 

572.2

1970

582.9

356.8

540.6

674.9

383.0

 

 

549.5

1971

579.2

362.5

515.9

598.4

375.2

 

 

513.2

1972

528.6

356.9

463.6

564.0

349.0

 

 

441.1

1973

475.4

336.3

 

474.7

297.0

 

 

419.2

1974

401.0

273.5

 

396.3

274.2

 

 

389.6

1975

327.9

 

 

285.7

 

 

 

322.4

1976

253.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

231.8

 

              Let’s mark the peak for each player:

 

YEAR

Aaron

Cash

Clemente

Gibson

Kaline

Koufax

Maris

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

4.2

 

 

 

1954

55.1

 

 

 

34.4

 

 

 

1955

185.7

 

29.7

 

177.2

12.0

 

 

1956

322.9

 

96.6

 

299.3

17.4

 

97.8

1957

485.2

 

120.2

 

356.6

39.8

48.9

221.5

1958

559.8

0.0

168.8

 

385.1

65.7

122.7

293.0

1959

628.1

15.0

186.3

20.0

418.7

100.7

190.3

349.2

1960

642.0

77.0

242.5

22.4

407.6

125.4

329.6

372.8

1961

655.9

255.5

327.6

90.9

434.7

201.8

481.0

475.7

1962

650.4

346.9

375.2

176.4

418.0

246.1

526.0

576.5

1963

670.3

388.3

404.9

241.3

432.9

440.6

483.9

573.9

1964

666.6

373.3

461.1

317.3

436.2

505.2

456.5

570.1

1965

649.9

377.1

506.3

378.1

420.7

619.9

371.6

540.9

1966

606.4

403.9

575.9

424.1

439.0

707.3

298.6

628.4

1967

596.6

405.9

635.1

407.9

466.0

 

274.8

636.9

1968

592.2

390.1

617.0

562.6

448.5

 

259.0

596.1

1969

612.0

381.6

589.6

626.1

411.3

 

 

572.2

1970

582.9

356.8

540.6

674.9

383.0

 

 

549.5

1971

579.2

362.5

515.9

598.4

375.2

 

 

513.2

1972

528.6

356.9

463.6

564.0

349.0

 

 

441.1

1973

475.4

336.3

 

474.7

297.0

 

 

419.2

1974

401.0

273.5

 

396.3

274.2

 

 

389.6

1975

327.9

 

 

285.7

 

 

 

322.4

1976

253.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

231.8

 

              The key is that to qualify as a Superstar, a player must have a Running Score peaking at 530 or higher.    For Aaron, that’s easy; he reaches 559.8 at the age of 24, and is still going up for several years. 

 

YEAR

Aaron

1954

55.1

1955

185.7

1956

322.9

1957

485.2

1958

559.8

1959

628.1

1960

642.0

1961

655.9

1962

650.4

1963

670.3

1964

666.6

1965

649.9

1966

606.4

1967

596.6

1968

592.2

1969

612.0

1970

582.9

1971

579.2

1972

528.6

1973

475.4

1974

401.0

1975

327.9

1976

253.5

 

              Norm Cash, although a fine player who had one monster year, never comes close to the Superstar Standard of 530:

YEAR

Cash

1958

0.0

1959

15.0

1960

77.0

1961

255.5

1962

346.9

1963

388.3

1964

373.3

1965

377.1

1966

403.9

1967

405.9

1968

390.1

1969

381.6

1970

356.8

1971

362.5

1972

356.9

1973

336.3

1974

273.5

 

              Roberto Clemente is above 530 for several years:

 

YEAR

Clemente

1955

29.7

1956

96.6

1957

120.2

1958

168.8

1959

186.3

1960

242.5

1961

327.6

1962

375.2

1963

404.9

1964

461.1

1965

506.3

1966

575.9

1967

635.1

1968

617.0

1969

589.6

1970

540.6

1971

515.9

1972

463.6

 

              Bob Gibson is above that standard from 1968 to 1972:

             

YEAR

Gibson

1959

20.0

1960

22.4

1961

90.9

1962

176.4

1963

241.3

1964

317.3

1965

378.1

1966

424.1

1967

407.9

1968

562.6

1969

626.1

1970

674.9

1971

598.4

1972

564.0

1973

474.7

1974

396.3

1975

285.7

 

              Al Kaline, while he started brilliantly and had a long and productive career, never really came close to the explosion of great seasons that makes a player a Superstar:

 

YEAR

Kaline

1953

4.2

1954

34.4

1955

177.2

1956

299.3

1957

356.6

1958

385.1

1959

418.7

1960

407.6

1961

434.7

1962

418.0

1963

432.9

1964

436.2

1965

420.7

1966

439.0

1967

466.0

1968

448.5

1969

411.3

1970

383.0

1971

375.2

1972

349.0

1973

297.0

1974

274.2

 

              Kaline ran parallel to Aaron in 1954-56, but just never got that beyond that point.  I shouldn’t say he didn’t get "close" to the Superstar Level; he got reasonably close.   He just needed an MVP or near-MVP season to reach the summit.   Koufax got there with his brilliant series of seasons from 1963 to 1966:

YEAR

Koufax

1955

12.0

1956

17.4

1957

39.8

1958

65.7

1959

100.7

1960

125.4

1961

201.8

1962

246.1

1963

440.6

1964

505.2

1965

619.9

1966

707.3

 

              Roger Maris, on the other hand, DID get very, very close to the standard that we recognize as Superstar, and would have reached that level had he had been healthy and completed another strong season in 1963.   He just narrowly missed, reaching 526 when he needed to reach 530. 

 

YEAR

Maris

1957

48.9

1958

122.7

1959

190.3

1960

329.6

1961

481.0

1962

526.0

1963

483.9

1964

456.5

1965

371.6

1966

298.6

1967

274.8

1968

259.0

 

              You may remember the Arnold Hano article about Superstars that I have referenced several times in this series.   In that article, Hano said that Maris was a Superstar from 1960 to 1962—briefly a Superstar.   I don’t strongly disagree; I am just using a fractionally higher standard.  And Frank Robinson, although not quite Henry Aaron, is comfortably above the Superstar Standard for several years:

YEAR

Robinson

1956

97.8

1957

221.5

1958

293.0

1959

349.2

1960

372.8

1961

475.7

1962

576.5

1963

573.9

1964

570.1

1965

540.9

1966

628.4

1967

636.9

1968

596.1

1969

572.2

1970

549.5

1971

513.2

1972

441.1

1973

419.2

1974

389.6

1975

322.4

1976

231.8

 

              OK, so at this point we have decided that Aaron, Clemente, Gibson, Koufax and Frank Robinson do meet the Superstar Standard, but that Cash, Kaline and Maris do not.   We can leave them out of the charts now.  Now, having established that the other five do meet the Superstar Standard, we face the question of when did they become Superstars, and how long did they remain Superstars?

              You can’t use the Running Score—which represents multi-year performance--to draw a line between seasons, because very often that would include a weaker season and exclude a stronger one.   To determine when exactly a player became a Superstar, we revert to the Adjusted Win Shares chart.  

              A player who is a Superstar becomes a Superstar in his first season with 31.0 or more Adjusted Win Shares.   31.0 Adjusted Win Shares means that you’re an MVP candidate.   What we are really saying is that a player who is a Superstar becomes a Superstar when he has an MVP-type season.  For Henry Aaron, who was a Transcendent Star, once he becomes a Superstar, he remains a Superstar for the rest of his career:

 

YEAR

Aaron

Clemente

Gibson

Koufax

Robinson

1954

13.8

 

 

 

 

1955

31.0

7.4

 

3.0

 

1956

33.0

15.8

 

1.0

24.4

1957

47.0

5.3

 

6.0

28.0

1958

33.0

17.0

 

7.0

18.8

1959

42.0

10.6

5.0

10.0

25.5

1960

33.9

22.2

0.0

9.0

21.6

1961

37.0

30.6

18.0

24.0

44.0

1962

34.0

22.2

21.0

16.0

43.0

1963

40.5

24.3

18.0

58.0

21.6

1964

34.0

34.8

27.7

25.0

32.0

1965

32.0

31.6

27.0

49.7

25.4

1966

26.4

41.0

27.0

49.7

52.5

1967

34.0

41.1

16.0

 

29.2

1968

32.0

25.0

62.7

 

22.6

1969

36.7

29.0

34.0

 

32.1

1970

24.5

23.0

39.0

 

27.0

1971

33.0

26.4

17.0

 

21.6

1972

19.7

17.0

30.0

 

13.2

1973

18.8

 

12.0

 

24.4

1974

12.2

 

12.0

 

16.9

1975

9.0

 

1.0

 

5.6

1976

5.0

 

 

 

0.9

 

              The other players become Superstars when they have their first MVP-type season, and lose the Superstar Designation with their last season of 23.0 or more Adjusted Win Shares.   23 Adjusted Win Shares is basically an All-Star level.   20-25 Win Shares, you make the All Star team.   When you’re no longer a star, then you’re no longer a Superstar:

 

YEAR

Aaron

Clemente

Gibson

Koufax

Robinson

1953

 

 

 

 

 

1954

13.8

 

 

 

 

1955

31.0

7.4

 

3.0

 

1956

33.0

15.8

 

1.0

24.4

1957

47.0

5.3

 

6.0

28.0

1958

33.0

17.0

 

7.0

18.8

1959

42.0

10.6

5.0

10.0

25.5

1960

33.9

22.2

0.0

9.0

21.6

1961

37.0

30.6

18.0

24.0

44.0

1962

34.0

22.2

21.0

16.0

43.0

1963

40.5

24.3

18.0

58.0

21.6

1964

34.0

34.8

27.7

25.0

32.0

1965

32.0

31.6

27.0

49.7

25.4

1966

26.4

41.0

27.0

49.7

52.5

1967

34.0

41.1

16.0

 

29.2

1968

32.0

25.0

62.7

 

22.6

1969

36.7

29.0

34.0

 

32.1

1970

24.5

23.0

39.0

 

27.0

1971

33.0

26.4

17.0

 

21.6

1972

19.7

17.0

30.0

 

13.2

1973

18.8

 

12.0

 

24.4

1974

12.2

 

12.0

 

16.9

1975

9.0

 

1.0

 

5.6

1976

5.0

 

 

 

0.9

 

              The Superstar dates for Koufax are obviously correct; for Frank Robinson, they would be difficult to argue with, although you could cut him off after 1970.  

              For Gibson and Clemente, I’m not thrilled with the start dates.   The system shows Clemente emerging as a Superstar in 1964, when he won his second batting title.  I would be happier if we showed him reaching Superstar Status in 1961, when he hit .351 with 23 homers and finished fifth in the MVP voting.  He has to reach 31.0 to achieve Superstar Status; he reached 30.4.  

              Gibson is sort of the same.   The system shows Gibson as becoming a Superstar in 1968.  Gibson was the World Series MVP in 1964 and again 1967, won 20 games in 1965 and again in 1966.  Maybe it is not clear that he is a Superstar until 1968, but you can certainly make an argument that he should have been.

              Thanks for reading. 

 
 

COMMENTS (36 Comments, most recent shown first)

Brock Hanke
I'm not happy with what I wrote as point #2 just below here. I was trying to say two things. First, Stan Musial was elected to the All-Star Game, and played, every year including his last, 1963. People just wanted to see Stan play baseball, and in the days before universal TVs and all-home-games TV contracts, The ASG was the only chance many of these people ever had in the year.

The second thing was trying to say was the Stan's Fan Approval Superstardom was so great that, in 1957, when Cincy stuffed the ballots, Stan was the only non-Red to get elected. They voted Gus Bell ahead of Willie Mays. They voted Wally Post over Hank Aaron. They voted Roy McMillan over Ernie Banks. They voted Don Hoak over Eddie Mathews. The achievement numbers are not close. Johnny Temple was voted in over Don Blasingame. Don was having a career year for him, and Bill Mazeroski was close to Temple, and probably would have been elected. They did have two legitimate starters: Ed Bailey at catcher, and Frank Robinson in Left Field. But, when you're snubbing Mays, Aaron, Mathews, and Banks, that's high-powered snubbing. Stan Musial was such a megastar that he, and only he, was able to break on through. That kind of thing has a part to play in any rankings of superduperstardom.
8:55 AM Jun 1st
 
Brock Hanke
1) Jimmy Piersall had a movie made about him, but that's not really relevant to superstardom.

2) Another point the might get factored in is how many All-Star games did this guy START (meaning he was elected by the people who think in terms of superstars) when his performance in that year would not have qualified him for the ASG at all. Stan Musial is who I have in mind. He got elected to the ASG year after year, including his decline phase. In 1957, when the Cincy newspaper stuffed the ballots, the only Cincy starter who was NOT elected was George Crowe, 1B. Musial won that one. Everyone in Cincy voted for Crowe, but everyone everywhere else voted for Musial. People just wanted to see Stan Musial in the ASG, especially people who never saw him any other time. That's a superduperstar. This doesn't change anything about Musial, but there may be other players who just missed the superstar cut who had that kind of reputation and fan appeal.
4:18 AM Jun 1st
 
klamb819
Very well put, BobGill. I'm pretty sure Bill's system uses more of a performance-based definition of Superstar than that of the general public, or even the general sports fan.

I think the intent of his system is to players who not only performed at a star level, but did so at a level that was so high, or with a characteristic so spectacular, that their brightness pierced through the ambient starlight.

It means to distinguish the supernovas from the (relative) multitude of stars.
12:02 PM May 28th
 
shthar
I suppose if you must use statistics, then rank the players by $ earned by endorsements.


11:43 AM May 28th
 
shthar
Superstar IS a meaningless baseball term.

A player is a SUPERstar, because the general public BELIEVES he's a superstar.

Statistics mean nothing for that.


11:37 AM May 28th
 
BobGill
But if you let the magazine covers or talk-show appearances define the term, you've made it pretty near meaningless in actual baseball terms -- or football terms, or basketball terms, or whatever the sport. In football, for instance, you'd have Refrigerator Perry and Colin Kaepernick as superstars, ranking above dozens or hundreds of better players. I mean, I guess there's some justification for that, but I think Bill was trying to find a way to give the term some meaning in terms of analysis, and magazine covers won't do that. Maybe they could be included as a minor ingredient in the formula, like 10 percent or so, but beyond that, I don't see the point.
1:52 PM May 27th
 
shthar
To me the magazine covers mean more than the stats.

If we're talking SUPER-stars, we're talking about players that would be considered stars even by people who don't follow baseball.



10:44 AM May 27th
 
klamb819
First, I should say that Kaline is one of my favorite players of all time. He was a five-tool player at a high level that he sustained for most of his career. Kaline and Stan Musial are probably the nicest people in the Hall of Fame (although I'm probably leaving someone out).

But if one were to rate a person's star level on a 1-100 scale, and his superstar level on the same scale, Kaline would have one of the highest star/superstar scores. Above a certain level of stardom, they are different qualities. While stars do things that help teams win, superstars also do things that get individuals noticed. Kaline did lots of the former and little of the latter. He was not spectacular at any one thing that stood out from the pack, and none of his many great seasons were truly spectacular. As an example, he hit 25 home runs eight times but never hit 30.

Black ink and gray ink aren't perfect proxies for what I'm talking about, but I'll try to illustrate it by comparing Kaline to Reggie Jackson, who was close to Kaline in value but not quite as good. These are their rankings, so lower numbers have higher values:
.....................Black Ink......Gray Ink................Gray/Black
Kaline................209................28.........................0.13
Jackson...............46................60.........................1.30
2:28 PM May 26th
 
phorton01
@those - point taken. I think I must have been thinking top 5 in the American League, which I think the MVP voting supports, or nearly does. But that is obviously a much lower standard.

I was just struck by how consistently high he placed every year in MVP voting, despite there often being multiple other players with flashier numbers.
9:00 AM May 26th
 
those
phorton01 makes a good case for Al Kaline, but I can't see him being "recognized as one of the top 5 players in baseball for more than a decade."

Granted, that's a tough standard, but you've got Mays, Mantle, Aaron, and Frank Robinson overlapping all or most of that period -- all of whom were clearly better than Kaline. From 1955-57 you've got Musial and Williams as clearly better. Yogi Berra won the MVP in 1955 and finished second in 1956. Then you've got Ernie Banks winning back-to-back MVPs in the late 50s. Then throw in Eddie Mathews. Starting in 1963, Koufax was obviously one of the top players in baseball, so he's going to take one of those 5 spots.

Then you also have to consider players in that period like Clemente, Killebrew, Ford, and Spahn, who you could argue one way or the other vs. Kaline. Depending on the years, you could make a good case for Marichal, Gibson, Bunning, etc.

This is not even considering the guys who were better in a single season, like in 1961, when the Tigers won 101 games but Kaline finished 9th in the MVP voting because he had the third or fourth-best season of anyone on the team.

Again, it's an extremely tough standard, but I just don't see any reason to believe that Kaline was a top-5 player in MLB from 1955-67.
7:58 AM May 26th
 
wdr1946
Presumably everyone elected to the Hall of Fame on the first or second ballots was regarded as a Superstar- rightly or wrongly.

9:16 PM May 25th
 
phorton01
I think there should be some adjustment that would lead to Al Kaline being included. My recommendation would be something that took into account not just MVP wins, but MVP shares.

I remember Bill had a comment, probably in one of the Historical Abstracts, that you had to take into account what people of the time thought of the person. MVP voting is a pretty good proxy for that, but is of course heavily influenced by whether the team won. Kaline was a great player on poor teams for a long time yet he consistently scored high in MVP voting.

From 1955 (when he was 20!) through 1967 (13 seasons), Kaline was in the top 10 in MVP voting 9 times, and in the top 5 four times. This despite the Tigers finishing 4th or worse almost every year. Example: in 1959 he was 6th in MVP voting for a Tigers team with a losing record. He finished behind 3 White Sox and 2 Indians.

Anyway, I think he was Carl Yastrzemski or Ken Griffey, Jr. - a great fielding, great hitter recognized as one of the top 5 players in baseball for more than a decade, but stuck on poor teams until late in his career.
5:52 PM May 25th
 
klamb819
I just noticed Cy Seymour was one of the players singled out with Jeff Kent in the last article as ones Bill didn't want to elevate. At least these adjustments didn't make a superstar out of Dixie Walker!

It's easy to see how 1905 could make Seymour a very brief superstar. He led the NL in doubles, triples, slugging percentage, and had a kind of Deadball Triple Crown by leading in average, RBIs and extra-base hits (if only someone had been counting RBIs in 1905).

In all seriousness, thank you very much, Bill, for letting us peek inside your process. This has been an excellent tutorial on how to quantify an elusive quality and how to honestly revise results, step by step.
3:13 PM May 25th
 
FrankD
Love this followup paper. This is how science should be done. Publish the research. Review comments and critiques. Adjust the paper/analysis as appropriate.

Any thoughts on superstar managers? McGraw, Stengel, McCarthy?
11:47 AM May 25th
 
robneyer
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED COVERS

Brock: 3 solo
Kaline: 2 solo, 2 co-covers

There! Project completed!
9:39 AM May 25th
 
bjames
A little more than 1,600 votes in the Twitter poll so far; 59% say that Brock WAS a superstar.
9:09 AM May 25th
 
klamb819
Bill, didn't you talk somewhere about using some kind of multiplier that would make the third or fourth repetition of an award or milestone much more valuable than the first or second... and the fifth and sixth more valuable still? I'm thinking that could be a big help to Ryan, Spahn and Feller. (You might have been talking about All-Star Games, but it could also apply to MVP awards, or batting titles, or years leading in pitchers' strikeouts. For example, instead of 3 points for each time a pitcher leads in strikeouts, increase it to 5 for the third consecutive season, or 6 for the fifth season overall — that kind of thing.)

. . . . . . .

I see Brock and Kaline as completely different cases — opposites, really. Kaline was prototypically steady and great, with multiple strong skills, but unlike Spahn (for example) he had neither the high enough peaks above his plateaus, nor the ridiculously long repetition of a big milestone or keystone accomplishment. I even almost suggested some term the "Kaline Correction" under the previous article but was afraid it sounded like the name of a Columbo episode.

Brock's career graph is a series of peaks, whether along a timeline or on a list of skills/aspects of the game. He had three sensational characteristics: stealing bases, performing in World Series and rarely missing games. He was the offensive star of two World Series, including one his team lost. He played 155+ games in seven straight years (and 153+ in ten straight). And in stolen bases, he not only set both season and career records, he also led the league in eight of nine seasons (losing only to former teammate Bobby Tolan after the Cardinals traded him).

But at everything else, Brock was a little better than average, at most. As many bases as he stole, for teams as good as his, missing as few games as he did, he led the NL in runs exactly twice.

Kaline was in baseball history's top 10 percent in BA, OBP and SLG, but a Top 5 Percenter in nothing of consequence. Brock was a top 1 Percenter in stolen bases. Of course Kaline was the better player. It's nowhere close. I've often argued the minority opinion that Kaline was better than Clemente. But Brock was more noticeable, and between two stars, that's what makes the superstar.
3:40 AM May 25th
 
bjames
Let's run a couple of twitter polls about it. . .
11:45 PM May 24th
 
robneyer
Bob, I can only speak from my own experience about Brock, which might well be wildly skewed by my coming of age at almost exactly the same moment when he was breaking Ty Cobb's records. But he seemed to me a superstar, right up there with Rose and Morgan and Bench and a few others. And I know he was on magazine covers, because I've got a few of them! -r
9:12 PM May 24th
 
garywmaloney
Re my Marichal-Jenkins-Hunter piece - Bill writes, "All of these statements without exception are completely inaccurate. These are not the players actual Win SHares; I am not sure what these numbers are, but they are not their Win Shares. Marichal had two seasons with 30 Win Shares; Catfish Hunter had two."

Ouch -- mea maxima culpa. I was using Baseballgauge.com's version of Win Shares.

If their numbers are THAT far off from Official Bill James Win Shares (TM), I shall not use them again. Thank you for the correction.​
8:50 PM May 24th
 
BobGill
A couple of people have mentioned Lou Brock as a superstar who was missed by this system, but to my mind Brock never attained that kind of status. I don't think he ever reached the level of acclaim that Al Kaline did in the early 1960s, and Kaline didn't make the cut either. It seems to me that if Kaline doesn't qualify, that would easily leave Brock out too.

7:40 PM May 24th
 
robneyer
Two Thoughts Regarding Magazine Covers and Nolan Ryan and Lou Brock (etc.) ...

1. I think the magazine project is do-able, if tricky because of the changing media landscape. There were simply a lot MORE covers available in the 1950s and '60s than in the '80s and '90s (let alone now). There's also the issue of regional covers, which began maybe in the late '60s with the Street & Smith annuals? (just a guess)

But yes, it could (and should!) be done, perhaps by creating a "shares" system that would create a potential number of covers appeared on, and then awarding shares based on percentage of those covers. Again: Tricky, but valuable and maybe even sorta fun. Maybe we get Bo Jackson because he appeared on 8% of all the covers that were available to him.

2. Ultimately, I won't quite believe a Superstar metric that doesn't give us Lou Brock and Nolan Ryan, and so I wonder what would happen if the credit for leading league in strikeouts wasn't just additive, but multiplicative. You get more points for the second time than the first, more for the third time than the second, etc. Particularly if these league-leading figures are in consecutive seasons. It seems to me that Ralph Kiner and Nolan Ryan were superstars because they just kept doing what they did, year after year after year.
5:11 PM May 24th
 
benhurwitz
Maybe someone has mentioned... ESPN just put out their third annual "World Fame 100" list, ranking the most famous athletes in sports. Their methodology includes a search score, endorsement dollars, and social media followers. (They may have modified the criteria between seasons.) There are no baseball players on the list for 2018; there were no baseball players on the list for 2017. In 2016 there were 8 players, the highest ranked being #71. That was Bryce Harper.

The 2016 baseball players in the ESPN World Fame 100:
71. Bryce Harper
73. Mike Trout
78. David Ortiz
85. Robinson Cano
88. Miguel Cabrera
89. Masahiro Tanaka
93. Albert Pujols
100. Matt Kemp
4:06 PM May 24th
 
Fireball Wenz
Interestingly, I started looking at the magazine cover issue a few days ago (finding, among other things, that Mark Fidrych is the only baseball player who made the fabled "Cover of the Rolling Stone"), but I sort of threw up my hands when I saw that people like Eddie Stanky and Birdie Tebbetts made the cover of Time magazine as managers. I had assumed a baseball figure on the cover of Time was a rare thing. Neither of them ever even finished as high as second as a manager!

I wonder if a better approach would be some Lexis-Nexis search of "superstar" with certain players, and seeing who got the most mentions.
1:32 PM May 24th
 
ksclacktc
Bill,

Did you give any consideration to using Season Scores? I wonder if the unadjusted stats with perhaps a position adjustment would be useful.

Dave
12:58 PM May 24th
 
bjames
It seems to me that it is not an impossible project, and would actually be a very interesting research project, to create a “Magazine Cover Index” for baseball players. The first thing you would have to do is to limit and define the magazines that you included in the project. I would suggest an initial registry of perhaps ten magazines or quasi-magazines: Sports Illustrated, Sport Magazine, The Sporting News, Baseball Digest, the old Baseball Magazine, perhaps Inside Sports, perhaps ESPN The Magazine, I don’t know. Dell Sports? I loved Dell Sports when I was a kid. You’d probably want to include space for annuals like The Sporting News Guide and Register and Who’s Who in Baseball and perhaps. . .what was that old book they used to do in the 1940s, with the articles about guys like Bill Nicholson and Spud Chandler? I guess my Handbook would be on the list.
Then the second project would be to place values on those covers; obviously a Sports Illustrated Cover is a bigger deal than The Sporting News, since Sports Illustrated had a larger circulation and SI did 15-20 baseball players a year on the cover, rather than 52. You could scale the values by their circulation numbers, and (by that method) increase or decrease the value of the magazine by their circulation. Sport Magazine was a big deal in 1962; by 1980 it wasn’t such a big deal.
Baseball players sometimes land on the covers of non-baseball magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life, Look, TV Guide and others. Obviously making the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1950 was a huge event. My point is that it is not an impossible project as long as you discipline yourself to a reasonable number of sources that you can document. Probably. . . .I don’t know but I am guessing. . .probably there is a web site which has all of the covers from the Saturday Evening Post well documented. Probably baseball players have appeared on the cover of Esquire, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, etc. You can’t really use that stuff unless it is systematically documented.
Baseball players sometimes become the subject of movies. . . how many players have been the subjects of Theatrical-Release movies? Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean, Ty Cobb, Monte Stratton, Jim Morris, Jackie Robinson, Pete Alexander. Moe Berg will be now. I don’t know that Walter Johnson ever had a bio-pic, or Willie Mays or Rogers Hornsby.
Some baseball players marry Movie Stars or famous actresses. . . Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner. Ray Knight married a woman who was more famous than he was, the golfer. There have been baseball players who did Playboy interviews. My point is that, while those are related issues, you can’t wander into them without getting lost. If you start documenting THAT kind of stuff, there is no end to it and you’ll wander lost in the desert forever. But if you limit yourself to documenting magazine covers from a limited set of magazines, then that’s a very interesting research project that, as far as I know, has not been done.


Let's get volunteers to organize the project. Anybody in?

12:38 PM May 24th
 
bjames
Ryan doesn't get close at all, at all. He's not in the ballpark. I basically added the 3 points to try to help Nolan Ryan, assuming that he would be close and that he would pop up on the list once I added the three points. That's not exactly true; I was also aware that other pitchers who should have higher scores--Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton and others--would benefit from this rule. Anyway, I thought Ryan would show as a Superstar with this help, but (even with this adjustment) his score peaks at 380, which is nowhere near Superstar territory. There are always hard cases; I guess he is just a hard case.
11:48 AM May 24th
 
Robinsong
I like the improvements, including regarding rookies. With the credit for leading in strikeouts, I would have thought Ryan would make it. How close does he get?
10:26 AM May 24th
 
bjames
All of these statements without exception are completely inaccurate. These are not the players actual Win SHares; I am not sure what these numbers are, but they are not their Win Shares. Marichal had two seasons with 30 Win Shares; Catfish Hunter had two.




garywmaloney
Excellent article and series - Bill writes them for himself, and we get to enjoy them.

I return to Marichal, and the numbers are quite clear - he did not achieve the peak of a Gibson, Carlton, etc. But two late additions to the Superstars -- Jenkins and Hunter -- are a mite troubling.

Jenkins peaked higher in WS (35.2 in 1971, vs. Juan's 32.2 in 1966), but his next three years total lower than Manito's -- 21.2, 15.9, 26.7 in 1972-74, vs. JM's 13.6, 24.1, 28.8 in 1967-69.

Marichal's PREVIOUS three years also outpace Jenkins's -- 26.6, 24.7, 28.2 in 1963-65, vs. FJ's 23.2, 25.1, 25.8 in 1968-70.

Is Marichal penalized more because of his 1967 offyear? Jenkins had one too (1973), smack in the middle of his 1971-74 Superstar period. Puzzling. Adjustments favor Jenkins only for his K title (1969) and 1971 Cy Young -- that must be it.

But Catfish Hunter's WS totals are a joke compared to Marichal -- 1972-75 "Superstar" totals of 23.1, 15.8 (!), 26.4, 28.7. Lower peaks, and for his peak & career only four 20-WS seasons (vs. six for Juan). Juan rated high in Ks but never led; Hunter's best was 5th pl in 1976, usually placing 7th-10th in his best years.

Ah -- but Hunter's TEAMS in his Superstar period went three times to the Series, notching 4 wins in 5 starts, plus the 1974 Cy Young. So Hunter makes it, almost entirely it seems, from Adjustments . . . and his five consecutive 20-win seasons, whereas Marichal's six 20-win seasons were interrupted by 1967's 14-10 (albeit an All-Star and 10th in NL ERA).
10:03 AM May 24th
 
bjames
Jimmie Foxx and Mike Piazza were both listed as Superstars. Not sure how you missed them.
9:54 AM May 24th
 
pgaskill
Also, it seems like it might help to weight World Series MVPs, (a) a certain number, like 2, in a row and (b) a certain number in a certain number of years, like 3 in 5 years. Those seem like they'd be worth proportionally more in the public's perception than just one, or two with a bunch of years between.​
9:27 AM May 24th
 
ksclacktc
This is an improvement. Not there yet, but moving in the right direction. Good progress! All Star Games and or MVP shares might help.
8:33 AM May 24th
 
jstodola
I really like the adjustments, but concluding Derek Jeter is not a superstar seems to me that more adjustments will have to be made.
7:45 AM May 24th
 
DavidTodd
I am surprised that Jimmie Foxx doesn't make superstar status when Hank Greenberg does make it.
No Ralph Kiner, no Nolan Ryan.
And how does Mike Piazza not make it?
I guess I will have to reread my "win shares" book
1:05 AM May 24th
 
garywmaloney
Excellent article and series - Bill writes them for himself, and we get to enjoy them.

I return to Marichal, and the numbers are quite clear - he did not achieve the peak of a Gibson, Carlton, etc. But two late additions to the Superstars -- Jenkins and Hunter -- are a mite troubling.

Jenkins peaked higher in WS (35.2 in 1971, vs. Juan's 32.2 in 1966), but his next three years total lower than Manito's -- 21.2, 15.9, 26.7 in 1972-74, vs. JM's 13.6, 24.1, 28.8 in 1967-69.

Marichal's PREVIOUS three years also outpace Jenkins's -- 26.6, 24.7, 28.2 in 1963-65, vs. FJ's 23.2, 25.1, 25.8 in 1968-70.

Is Marichal penalized more because of his 1967 offyear? Jenkins had one too (1973), smack in the middle of his 1971-74 Superstar period. Puzzling. Adjustments favor Jenkins only for his K title (1969) and 1971 Cy Young -- that must be it.

But Catfish Hunter's WS totals are a joke compared to Marichal -- 1972-75 "Superstar" totals of 23.1, 15.8 (!), 26.4, 28.7. Lower peaks, and for his peak & career only four 20-WS seasons (vs. six for Juan). Juan rated high in Ks but never led; Hunter's best was 5th pl in 1976, usually placing 7th-10th in his best years.

Ah -- but Hunter's TEAMS in his Superstar period went three times to the Series, notching 4 wins in 5 starts, plus the 1974 Cy Young. So Hunter makes it, almost entirely it seems, from Adjustments . . . and his five consecutive 20-win seasons, whereas Marichal's six 20-win seasons were interrupted by 1967's 14-10 (albeit an All-Star and 10th in NL ERA).

Under Bill's system, for pitchers in particular, an off-year (or finishing short of the WS) can unmake or disqualify a seeming Superstar. Or at least, in Marichal's case, for 1963-69.




10:53 PM May 23rd
 
Manushfan
One thing we always have liked about Bill is that he's willing to change his rankings or thinking or conclusions if the evidence requires that. I'm pleased to see the result. Yes it was odd to think of Big Unit as NOT being a 'Superstar' in 1995, boys he was Something, at the least, mid-90's.

I'm curious about Jim Rice in the last half of the 70's, he and Foster. Maybe their respective peaks just weren't as impressive as I thought they were? My namesake-well, you have what, 3 years or so that would be in there-maximum, 1928 being the obvious. But he's not someone I seriously take to be in the same league, if you will, as say Simmons or Ruth or Hornsby. He's Kiki Cuyler or Edd Roush. Anyways. This article is very good.
9:17 PM May 23rd
 
 
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