Two Brave and Powerful Men

December 30, 2020
                       Two Brave and Powerful Men

(But One of them Horribly Overrated)

 

            Dick McAuliffe and Bobby Richardson shared a position (second base), a league (American), a time period (1960s) and part of a name, Richard.   Richard comes from an Old German word, ricard, meaning Brave or Powerful, although nowadays the term "dick" has other meanings and other connotations. 

            Before I get into this, I see now that there is an obvious solution to the Steve Garvey problem that I discussed yesterday.   The process outlined before to figure the player’s Hall of Fame Equivalency score (under certain conditions) was to multiply his highest vote percentage in the BBWAA voting by 150, and add that to 150.   This created problems, which I discussed in yesterday’s article and won’t repeat here.  But the obvious solution is, I need to multiply it not by 150, but by 200.   If we multiply it by 200, then a player who gets to 74% in the BBWAA vote would score at 298 in the Hall of Fame equivalency score, and would step naturally over the 300 line if he gets to 75%.  This eliminates the "Dead Zone" discussed yesterday, and thus eliminates one-half of the problem, and reduces the other half of it.   Regarding Garvey, this adjustment changes his Overrated/Underrated Score from 190-37 to 190-32 (.856).   Regarding Cey, it does not change his score. 

            OK, Richard McAuliffe and Bobby Dickson.   McAuliffe earned 241 Win Shares in his career, and 37.6 WAR.  Richardson had 120 Win Shares in his career, and 8.1 WAR.  Despite this, Richardson played in eight All Star Games, whereas McAuliffe played in only 3, and Richardson did better both in MVP voting, while he was active, and in Hall of Fame voting, after he retired.  It thus is apparent that the two men were not being judged on an even scale:

DICK McAULIFFE

 

BOBBY RICHARDSON

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

 

Rule

Covers

Over

Under

1

RBI

1

11

 

1

RBI

0

9

2

B Avg

1

13

 

2

B Avg

25

0

3

Walks

0

16

 

3

Walks

23

0

4

More WS than MVP

0

0

 

4

More WS than MVP

0

0

5

Deserved MVP

0

0

 

5

Deserved MVP

0

0

6-7

Parks and Era

2

11

 

6-7

Parks and Era

0

10

8

At Bats in Season

0

5

 

8

At Bats in Season

12

2

9

All Star Teams

3

11

 

9

All Star Teams

28

0

10

World Series Opportunity

0

0

 

10

World Series Opportunity

20

0

11

Rookie of the Year?

0

0

 

11

Rookie of the Year?

0

0

12

Hall of Fame Equiv

0

22

 

12

Hall of Fame Equiv Score

7

0

13

Position Adjustment

0

4

 

13

Position Adjustment

0

0

Sum

1 to 13

7

93

 

Sum

1 to 13

115

21

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

14

Superstar Correction

0

0

 

Over/Under Total

7

93

 

 

Over/Under Total

115

21

 

Percentage

 

.070

 

 

Percentage

 

.846

 

            McAuliffe has an Overrated/Underrated score of 7-93, for a Perception Deficit Score of .070, while Richardson has an Over/Under of 115-21, for a Perception Deficit Score of .846.  

            Actually, Richardson’s score would be worse than it is except for a couple of obscure codicils in the rules for this.  For one thing, Richardson was named to the All Star team in 1957 when he had only four—FOUR—Win Shares and 0.2 WAR.  This would count as a 16-point overrated entry, except that he didn’t actually play in the game, and I only count the overrated points if the player actually PLAYS in the All Star game, rather than simply being named to the team.

            Something that I never realized until about two months ago is that Casey Stengel in the second half of the 1950s would load up the All Star team with a bunch of obviously undeserving Yankees.  I remember Lasorda doing that when he had the chance, which was one of the reasons that they took that responsibility away from the managers, but Stengel was terrible about it.  He would add to the All Star team three or four players every year who were not even regulars, hardly even semi-regulars, from his team, guys like Richardson, Billy Martin, Norm Siebern,  Elston Howard,  Moose Skowron.  Skowron and Howard were very good players, but they weren’t actually regulars with the Yankees at that time; they each made several All Star teams before they broke into the Yankee lineup.   Elston Howard in 1957 hit .253 with 8 homers, 44 RBI as a backup outfielder, but made the All Star team.  In 1959 he played in 107 games and hit .245 with 6 homers, 45 RBI, but made the All Star team. 

            So anyway, the fact that he didn’t actually play in the game saved Richardson 16 overrated points for 1957.  Also, Richardson played in 36 World Series games, against an expectation of 6.  He would be +30 there, except that I limited that category so that no player would be more than +20.   These quibbles saved Richardson 26 points, without which he would score at 141-21, or .870. 

            In 1968 Dick McAuliffe led the league in Runs Scored (95) and was among the league leaders in Walks (82), and Triples (10), and also became the first American League player ever to go through the season, as a regular, without grounding into a double play.   He had 28 Win Shares, a near-MVP number; 36 players in history have won the Most Valuable Player Award with 28 Win Shares or fewer—28, not counting 2020; I guess it would be 30 now.   But McAuliffe, with 28 Win Shares, did not make the All Star team.  The two second basemen on the team were Rod Carew, with 13 Win Shares, and Davey Johnson, with 16.  This was before Carew had ever hit .300; he hit .273 that year, with 1 homer and 42 RBI.  McAuliffe had almost as many Win Shares as the two All-Star second basemen combined. 

            And Dick McAuliffe’s 7-93 score would actually be 4-93, except for a little quirk there, too.  In 1965 McAuliffe played in the All Star game although he had only 17 Win Shares.  McAuliffe was having his ordinary season, on target for 22-25 Win Shares, until he broke his hand on August 20, and missed the rest of the season.  He thus had fewer Win Shares (17) than an All-Star should have (20), and is charged with 3 overrated points for that.

            But I think it has to be that way, and the reason why is:  Joaquin Andujar and JR Richard.  Andujar and JR were teammates with the Astros from 1976 to 1980, five seasons.   Andujar was a very mediocre pitcher at that time, with won- lost records of 9-10, 11-8, 5-7, 12-12 and 3-8, and ERAs of 3.60, 3.69, 3.42, 3.43 and 3.91.  In those years he never struck out more than 77 batters in a season (!), and he walked more than he struck out in three of the five seasons. 

            JR Richard, on the other hand, was one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best, going 20-15, 18-12, 18-11, 18-13 and 10-4 in 1980, his 1980 season—and his career—ending in 1980 less than a week after the All Star game, when he had a stroke on the mound.  He struck out over 200 batters in 1976 and 1977, and over 300 in 1978 and 1979, leading the league both seasons.  He had ERAs of 2.75, 2.97, 3.11, 2.71 and 1.90, also leading the league in ERA in 1979. 

            In spite of the massive difference between them, Andujar made the All Star team in 1977 and 1979, while JR never made an All Star team until just before his stroke in July, 1980.   The reason is, Andujar had a couple of hot starts, while Richard was always a slow starter.  Through July 4, 1977, Andujar was 9-4 with a 3.21 ERA; through July 4, 1979, he was 10-4 with a 2.63 ERA.   Richard in his career was 26-32 in May and June, but 46-20 in August and September.   People overreacted to early-season success, and put Andujar on the All-Star team—twice—when he was obviously NOT the best pitcher on the staff. 

            My point is, I don’t think we want to throw that out the window when evaluating the question of who was overrated and who was underrated.  We use a broad-based system to evaluate who is overrated or under; it can withstand a little garbage in the system.  It is better than throwing away information that is instructive in a case like Andujar and Richard. 

            Those who are skeptical of this approach could/will point out that (a) Richardson’s teams won many more ballgames than McAuliffe’s teams, and (b) Richardson was a Gold Glove second baseman, five years, while McAuliffe was not.  In my view, Richardson’s teams won because of Mantle and Maris and Ford and the catchers, and won more despite Richardson than because of him, and Richardson’s Gold Gloves, for all I know, may have been a result of his having been overrated.  I don’t believe any of that, but I wanted to say anyway that we should leave an opening in our minds for the possibility that that may be true. 

            Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year.

 

 

 
 

COMMENTS (10 Comments, most recent shown first)

hotstatrat
That is true, Rex.
12:34 PM Jan 3rd
 
RexLittle
Note that when Richardson and McAuliffe were both active, McAuliffe was mainly a shortstop, not a second baseman. If I recall correctly (by no means a sure thing at my age), he was never considered one of the top fielders at the position, which would have hurt him when it came to All-Star and MVP consideration.

8:47 AM Jan 3rd
 
hotstatrat
Apologies for being so late with this comment:

There was evidence that McAuliffe possessed those winning qualities that don't obviously show up in stats. I dimly recall articles about his leadership.

A very strong memory is that in August during Detroit's championship 1968 season, McAuliffe punched out a player - it was Tommy John - kneed his shoulder out for the season. That drew a suspension for Dick - the Brave and Poweful McAuliffe. The Tigers proceeded to lose the next four games - winning only the 5th on an Earl Wilson shutout. Yes, even 31 game winner Denny McLain lost his start on a 2-1 pitching dual with Mel Stottlemyre. They lost game 6 of the suspension as well.

When McAullife returned, they won the next 3 in a row and 19 of the next 23 easily clinching the pennant.
11:33 PM Jan 1st
 
evanecurb
Fireball Wenz makes an excellent point about Richardson appearing to be smooth. He LOOKED like a second baseman. McAuliffe looked like a debt collector for a bookie. One of the most famously underrated second basemen of all time, Bobby Grich, had a similar problem. He didn't look the part. He didn't move smoothly in the field, didn't have a smooth swing - herky jerky is the adjective that comes to mind. Bernie Kosar had a similar problem when he was playing in college - he didn't LOOK like an NFL quarterback, so he fell lower in the draft than he should have.
5:36 PM Dec 31st
 
raincheck
“ 36 players in history have won the Most Valuable Player Award with 28 Win Shares or fewer—28, not counting 2020; I guess it would be 30 now.”

Do you mean to say “34 not counting 2020”? This would mean 8 MVP awards in 2020. I know we give medals for participation nowadays but...

Great article in a great series. I am looking forward to more.
3:54 PM Dec 31st
 
Fireball Wenz
One thing that I think may be a minor factor is why Richardson was rated higher than McAuliffe was that Richardson looked "smoother" at everything he did, while McAuliffe was not graceful, had a crazy batting stance, and had bushy eyebrows, where Richardson was graceful in the field, "looked" like a Gold Glover infielder, and was widely admired for his rectitude. Doesn't fit into a formula, but I think it's real.
1:02 PM Dec 31st
 
mauimike
It's good to be a Yankee.
5:43 AM Dec 31st
 
Mjh821
From 1961-65 Richardson was first in “outs made” four times, and second the other year. He was was not helping the team win for the vast majority of his career.
11:04 PM Dec 30th
 
BobGill
I like the (apparent) format of looking at two contemporary players as kind of a matched or unmatched set. It might also work for non-contemporaries who played the same position or had some other similarities ....
10:01 PM Dec 30th
 
shthar
Richardson really only has two good years.

McAuliffe only has two bad ones.


8:59 PM Dec 30th
 
 
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