The Penguin and Mr. Clean

December 29, 2020
                                The Penguin and Mr. Clean

 

            I picked Ron Cey as the first player to evaluate in response to a request because I (apparently erroneously) thought that was the first request.  For some reason, posts which did not appear when I first looked later showed up with earlier posting times, so. . . I don’t know why that happened.  Anyway, we’re doing Ron Cey.

            For a contrast with Ron Cey, let’s do Steve Garvey at the same time.  (The major time-killer in this process is figuring the Runs Scored context, points 6 and 7.  Since these are mostly the same for Cey and Garvey, it is time-efficient to do them both.)    So here is the chart:

 

RON CEY

 

STEVE GARVEY

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

 

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

1

RBI

15

3

 

1

RBI

22

1

2

B Avg

0

16

 

2

B Avg

24

0

3

Walks

0

23

 

3

Walks

32

0

4

More WS than MVP

0

1

 

4

More WS than MVP

29

1

5

Deserved MVP

0

0

 

5

Deserved MVP

25

0

6-7

Parks and Era

1

15

 

6-7

Parks and Era

0

18

8

At Bats in Season

0

1

 

8

At Bats in Season

20

1

9

All Star Teams

0

4

 

9

All Star Teams

8

0

10

World Series Opportunity

15

0

 

10

World Series Opportunity

19

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

0

16

13

Position Adjustment

0

0

 

13

Position Adjustment

11

0

Sum

1 to 13

31

94

 

Sum

1 to 13

190

37

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

Over/Under Total

31

94

 

 

Over/Under Total

190

37

 

Percentage

 

.248

 

 

Percentage

 

.837

 

            As we would probably all anticipate, the chart method shows Ron Cey to have been substantially underrated, and Steve Garvey to have been tremendously overrated.

            These I would believe to be accurate conclusions, but this also reveals a flaw in the method of which I was previously unaware.  Ron Cey earned 280 Win Shares in his career; Garvey, 279.   But when we run the Hall of Fame Equivalent Score, the system works OK for Cey, but doesn’t work quite right for Garvey.  Ron Cey got 1.9% in the voting; 1.9% of 150 is 3, add 150, that makes 153; he is shorted by 127 points, divide by 4, we give him 31 underrated points there. 

            But Garvey got up to 42.6% in the vote; multiply that by 150 is 64, add 150 is 214, subtract 214 from 279, he is "shorted" by 65.  The system concludes, on this point, that Garvey is underrated by 16 because he got to only 42.6% in the vote. 

            But this is obviously problematic since, if Garvey had gotten to 75% in the vote, his score (by the system outlined) would vault to 350.  In essence, the system is saying that unless a player of this quality is elected to the Hall of Fame, he is underrated by the voters.  That doesn’t seem like a true statement, and also, it creates a "dead zone" where no player can land.  If you have 262 to 349 Win Shares, then you are underrated if you reach 74% in the voting, but overrated if you reach 75%.  This doesn’t seem right.

            I can’t, at this moment, see how to fix that; there must be some way to fix it, but I don’t see what it is.  I would ask you for your input, except that I know from experience that this would trigger people to propose 50 different solutions, all of which obviously don’t work if you look at them from some other angle, and I would either have to just ignore you or try to explain patiently why this obviously doesn’t work.   So. . .feel free to suggest a fix if you have one in mind, but be aware that I’ll probably just ignore you, because there is a 99% chance that the suggestions you offer obviously won’t work if you look at them from some other angle.   Sorry.  Sounds harsh. 

            I appreciate your suggestions, and I’ll work on the list.   For some reason, a lot of people are suggesting third basemen—Cey, Santo, Wallach, Stan Hack.  Also, I don’t know that anybody so far has suggested a probably overrated player other than possibly Harmon Killebrew, and this will get boring real fast if I start checking these out and find "Yeah, he’s underrated.  He’s underrated.  He’s underrated; here’s his score.  He’s underrated, here’s the numbers."  The process needs some suspense in order to make good reading.   Thanks for reading.  

 
 

COMMENTS (9 Comments, most recent shown first)

CHIP72
WDR1946 - I suspect, as Bill has written many times over the last 25+ years, that most 3rd basemen are underrated, particularly if they don't lead the league in a significant category (i.e. such as Bill Madlock winning four batting titles). Some of the categories Bill has identified and 3rd base's half and half nature (want guys who are good offensively AND defensively) lend themselves to that belief.

I'd guess the majority of 3rd basemen in MLB history have been underrated, and that has probably been particularly true since about 1960. My guess is that was likely very true in the 1970s and 1980s when there were a slew of 3rd basemen who were very good to great hitters/good fielders (guys like Ron Cey and probably Darrell Evans), good hitters/great fielders (two guys who played with the Indians but largely starred elsewhere, Graig Nettles and Buddy Bell, are obvious examples), or merely good but above average hitters and fielders (guys like Doug DeCinces) who ended up being overshadowed by even greater 3rd basemen, particularly Mike Schmidt (legitimately great both offensively and defensively) and George Brett (really great offensive and good defensively).
3:43 PM Dec 31st
 
TJNawrocki
Here's a matched set for you: Bill Madlock and Darrell Evans, contemporary NL third basemen and teammates on the 1977-79 San Francisco Giants. I'm sure Evans will come out as underrated and Madlock as overrated, but I also think the cognoscenti now overrates Evans and underrates Madlock.

For one thing, over those three seasons (and including Madlock's time with the Pirates in 1979), Madlock had more WAR than Evans, 8.1 to 7.8.
6:54 PM Dec 30th
 
Zeth
How about Ernie Lombardi? I'd be fascinated to see what the system makes of him.

Rafael Palmeiro?

Jay Bell?
5:03 PM Dec 30th
 
evanecurb
I’ll name a guy who I honestly don’t know how the system will rate him: Bert Campaneris.
11:55 AM Dec 30th
 
willibphx
After a little thought perhaps a contrarian view. Yeah there is a ~22 point difference when moving from 74% to 75% across all levels, it is just more apparent from 260 to 350 as it flips from under to over rated and that does not feel right.

From a "so what?" view.

1. How many players does this actually effect? and does it change the perceived accuracy of the analysis? Is 22 points a lot in the scale of the analaysis?
2. What if you left this calculation out of the analysis? Does it change the perceived accuracy of the analysis? To the Cey/Garvey analysis if it was left out. Garvey is still over rated and Cey under rated.
3. Is the step of 22 points really ok. I could argue that there is a step function view of being in the HOF. Being in the HOF is a really big deal in how we historically view players. While at the time of voting the difference in how we perceive a 74% vs. 75% vote is minimal, 30 years later there is a huge difference in how he is viewed as the majority of fans will likely have never seen them play.

Thanks for the analysis and your thoughts.
10:49 AM Dec 30th
 
abiggoof
I would like to see Madlock, Oliver, and Hodges, who I constantly hear touted as Hall-worthy, Bernie Williams vs. Puckett (essentially the same offensive numbers prior to Bernie hitting his decline phase), Jeter, Abreu, and Trammell vs. Whitaker.
10:19 AM Dec 30th
 
willibphx
Interesting conundrum and worth some thought. A couple of players I thought would be interesting. Perhaps dustoff the old Roy White, Jim Rice comparison. Another interesting one to me would be Kirk Gibson who seemed to have a large image without hitting many of the counting stats due to many shortened seasons.
9:50 AM Dec 30th
 
wdr1946
Why not start with a list of players who you think are overrated or underrated, and see what they have in common. An underrated player is Bob Elliott, the third baseman for the Boston Braves who was the NL MVP in 1947. My guess is that one-third of your readers have never heard of him and few can say offhand anything about him. Why was this? Why did he slip into the cracks? This may have more to do where and when he played than anything else. Harlond Clift is another prime example.
11:37 PM Dec 29th
 
Gfletch
You may have already written about this - I read the first article, enjoyed it, but, well, I scan when I read. Bad habit, but it means I often miss a detail or two, even when I'm liking what I'm reading.

Anyway, it seems to me that with the growth of sabermetrics, we have a group of players who were underrated or overrated while they were actively playing, but who are now overrated or underrated 10-20 or more years later. I'm thinking especially of players who were primarily active 1970 to 1990 or thereabouts. Or maybe 1970 to 2000.
8:28 PM Dec 29th
 
 
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