erik lundegaard

Opening Day 2011

It's Opening Day, which means the Seattle Mariners are tied for first place! Last place, too. You take what you can get.

So let's ring in the new season with a celebration of the old: the active leaders in various batting and pitching categories. I've added a few new ones this go-round, primarily some of the WARs, which I don't quite get yet, by which I mean I don't know how to calculate them yet. First batting, then pitch. I've included the active leader's all-time ranking in parentheses.

Safeco Field, home of the bottom-dwelling Seattle Mariners

Safeco Field in Seattle. The Nie-haus. Probably won't look this nice until July, by which time it won't be nearly this filled.

Batting:

  • Games: Omar Vizquel, CWS: 2,850 (T-15th)
  • At-Bats: Omar Vizquel, CWS: 10,266 (20th)
  • Runs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 1,757 (20th)
  • Hits: Derek Jeter, NYY: 2,926 (36th)
  • Doubles: Ivan Rodriguez, Wsh.: 565 (21st)
  • Triples: Carl Crawford, Bos.: 105 (140th)
  • Home Runs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 613 (6th)
  • RBIs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 1,831 (17th)
  • Walks: Jim Thome, Min.: 1,679 (9th)
  • Strikeouts: Jim Thome, Min.: 2,395 (2nd)
  • Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre, CWS: 527 (30th)
  • Caught Stealing: Juan Pierre, CWS: 173 (15th)
  • Batting Average: Albert Pujols, Stl: .331 (29th)
  • On-Base Percentage: Albert Pujols, Stl: .425 (12th)
  • Slugging Percentage: Albert Pujols, Stl: .624 (4th)
  • On-Base-Plus Slugging: Albert Pujols, Stl: 1.050 (5th)
  • Offensive WAR: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 105 (16th)
  • Defensive WAR: Andruw Jones, NYY: 23.70 (2nd)
  • WAR for Position Players: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 101.90 (20th)

What's the takeway? Omar Vizquel don't stop, triples don't start, Jim Thome's only 200 strikeouts from toppling Reggie, Jeter's half a season from 3,000; and, in the battle of the superlative Als, Alex leads the cumulative categories (HRs, RBIs, WAR) while Albert leads the percentages (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS).

How about that defensive WAR for Andruw Jones? Second all-time to Brooks Robinson. At the same time ... I don't want to sound like Murray Chass here, or Olaf glad and big, but I don't know how much I'm buying WAR. The three greatest defensive WAR seasons, according to Baseball Prospectus, all occurred within the last 25 years. Any guesses? Nope, not Ozzie. His best season is tied for 16th. Nope, not Junior. His best season is tied for 13th, and he has a negative career defensive WAR. Ready? The greatest defensive season ever (ever, mind you) belongs to Adam Everett, Houston, 2006. Second is Barry Bonds with Pittsburgh in 1989. Third is Jose Cruz, Jr. with San Francisco in 2003.

I think someone needs to work on the formula and get back to me.

Pitching:

  • Games: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 978 (17th)
  • Games Started: Livan Hernandez, Was.: 445 (T-79th) *
  • Complete Games: Roy Halladay, Phi: 58 (T-724th)
  • Shutouts: Roy Halladay, Phi: 19 (T-270th)
  • Innings Pitched: Tim Wakefield, Bos.: 3,071.2 (121st) *
  • Hits Allowed: Livan Hernandez, Was.: 3,242 (97th) *
  • Homeruns Allows: Tim Wakefield, Bos.: 393 (14th) *
  • Walks: Tim Wakefield, Bos: 1,158 (61st)
  • Strikeouts: Javier Vazquez, Fla.: 2,374 (40th) *
  • Wins: Tim Wakefield, Bos.: 193 (T-131st) *
  • Losses: Tim Wakefield, Bos.: 172 (43rd) *
  • Saves: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 559 (2nd)
  • Walks/Hits per 9 innings: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 1.00 (3rd)
  • ERA (5 yrs. minimum): Mariano Rivera, NYY: 2.23 (13th)
  • WAR for Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Phi.: 54.30 (62nd)

* All of these are assuming Jamie Moyer, who underwent Tommy John surgery last December, and is supposedly eyeing a return to MLB in 2012 at the age of 49, is in fact retired for good. Otherwise, if you count Jamie active, he leads in Games Started with 628 (16th), Innings Pitched with 4,020 (40th), Hits with 4,156 (33rd), Homeruns with 511 (1st), Strikeouts with 2,405 (36th), Wins with 267 (36th), and Losses with 204 (42nd).

My favorite active category is always complete games, because we're so far removed from its heyday. Roy Halladay's 58, the best among active pitchers, ties him for 724th all-time, a mere 691 away from Cy Young's record of 749. And Halladay's a machine compared to the rest of the Majors. Livan Hernandez is second to him, with 49 CGs, but next on the list is Tim Wakefield and C.C. Sabathia and then you're out of the 30s. Only 14 Major Leaguers have 20 or more. Will we soon reach the day when the complete games of all active Major League pitchers don't equal Young's 749? Last season there were only 129 complete games in the Majors; and that number keeps dropping.

In the meantime, let's take a moment to appreciate Mariano Rivera. I know, Yankees suck, etc., but you gotta give credit. Mo's only 42 saves from tying Trevor Hoffman for first place all-time in that category. Last season he saved 33 games, the year before 44, so he might do it this year. Oh, and if he duplicates his games from last year (61), he'll move up to 9th place all-time there.

But it's the career ERA that amazes me: 2.23, 13th all-time, just behind Walter Johnson (2.16). More amazing? Every guy in front of him was born in the 19th century. Of the 12 in front of him, in fact, it's Johnson who played most recently: in 1927. There's no one who is close to a contemporary who's close to Rivera. Even if you look at the top 50, there's only one other guy who was born in the 20th century: Hoyt Wilhelm in 45th place (2.52). And even he ended his career (1972) about the time Mo was born (1969). More amazing? Rivera's ERA, which should go up as he gets old, has actually gone down for the last three seasons.

Wow.

Now play ball! And Yankees suck!

How good is Mo? In terms of ERA, he's from another era.


Posted at 07:15 AM on Thu. Mar 31, 2011 in category Baseball  
Tags: ,

COMMENTS

Bob Lundegaard wrote:

Not only that, you can discount a portion of Wilhelm's ERA because knucklers give up lots of passed balls, and the runs that score as a result may not count as earned runs (depending on how many outs there are).

Just asking: wtf is WAR?

Comment posted on Thu. Mar 31, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Bob Lundegaard wrote:

Another thing: I couldn't believe there were 28 players with higher lifetime averages than Pujols' .331. Sure enough, there aren't, even if you include dead-ball era players like Billy Hamilton. He's actually tied for 24th with a couple of others.

Comment posted on Thu. Mar 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Bob Lundegaard wrote:

Actually, another site agrees with you, but that includes, eg, one Tip O'Neill, who hit .485 in the 1880's for the St. Louis Browns of the American Assn. Who knew the Speaker of the House was such a ballplayer?

Since his one-year stat isn't recognized by any baseball record book, as far as I know, I think we can discount the lifetime average as well.

Comment posted on Thu. Mar 31, 2011 at 03:42 PM

Erik wrote:

WAR = Wins About Replacement.

It's supposed to signify how many wins a player was worth against the mean (a replacement player).

I'm not sure how you calculate it. Different statisticians may even have different ways of calculating it. Here's one:
http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_to_calculate_war/

Comment posted on Fri. Apr 01, 2011 at 09:53 AM

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