Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy 80th Birthday To The Greatest All-Around Player In Baseball History

Yes, hard to believe that Willie Mays is 80. But no one knew he was the "Greatest All-Around Player" until last December when I crunched the numbers. Okay, that's a stretch. But here is that post again. It was A Crude Measure Of The Most "All-Around" Players Since 1957.

I started thinking about this when Cooper Nielson in a Baseball Think Factory discussion said:

"I suppose the "best all-around player" argument could go like this (keep in mind this is not my argument and not one I even agree with, but one that could conceivably and logically put Walker #1 in his era): There are five traditional baseball tools: hitting (for average), hitting for power, running, playing defense, and throwing."

See Cooperstowners in Canada: Larry Walker should be the second Canadian player elected to Cooperstown.

So here is how the crude measure works:

Multiply Gold Glove awards times 30. The idea here was to scale a great player in this stat to a great player in HRs or SBs. Brooks Robinson had the most GGs among position players with 16 and 16*30 = 480, close to 500.

Divide non-HR hits by 5. If a player had 2500 non-HR hits, you get 500.

Multiply SB*HR*non-HR*GG (with the above mentioned adjustments being made for GG and non-HR). If player had no GGs, I stopped multiplying so they did not end up at zero.

For Willie Mays it was 42,129,996,480. That is way too high a number to work with. So I raised it to the .25 power. That gave him 453, a more familiar kind of number to baseball fans. But that was divided by PAs and then multiplied by 10 to get the final number. Mays then had .363 (a nice number, close to the highest all-time batting average of .366 belonging to Ty Cobb). Here is the top 25:

1 Willie Mays 0.363
2 Torii Hunter 0.362
3 Barry Bonds 0.357
4 Larry Walker 0.355
5 Ichiro Suzuki 0.352
6 Ryne Sandberg 0.349
7 Eric Davis 0.345
8 Cesar Cedeno 0.345
9 Roberto Alomar 0.337
10 Devon White 0.333
11 Andruw Jones 0.330
12 Andre Dawson 0.327
13 Garry Maddox 0.325
14 Bobby Bonds 0.316
15 Andy Van Slyke 0.313
16 Mike Schmidt 0.311
17 Ken Griffey Jr. 0.309
18 Carlos Beltran 0.302
19 Paul Blair 0.296
20 Joe Morgan 0.295
21 Marquis Grissom 0.293
22 Ivan Rodriguez 0.292
23 Dwayne Murphy 0.291
24 Bill White 0.285
25 Jimmy Rollins 0.284

If I started with his stats from 1957 on, when they started giving out Gold Gloves, Mays gets .378.

If I gave Ty Cobb 10 Gold Gloves, he would get .306. That is partly due to playing mostly in the deadball era, when HRs were hard to come by. Even if a player tried for HRs, he might not have gotten many. If Cobb had 10 GGs and 273 HRs, then he would have .378, what Mays had from 1957 on. Of course, Cobb is helped by the dead ball era because there was alot of stealing going on.

If DiMaggio had 10 GGs, he would get .363. He's hurt by the low SB total (30). It just was not an era when player tried to steal much. He was fast, reaching double figures in triples 8 times, even doing it at age 35. Yankee stadium helped him there with its big outfield. He had 73 triples at home and 58 on the road. But if you double that 58, it is still more than 100. He finished in the top 5 in triples 8 times.

But then playing at Yankees stadium hurts his HR totals since he was a righty. He had 213 on the road. If he had 426 career HRs, he would get .378. But if I give him more HRs, his non-HR hits might need to be reduced, which would lower his rating. Some of the long balls he hit in Yankee Stadium that were not HRs were outs and some were doubles and triples. I sure don't know what that break down would be.

Also, Willie Mays might have had the greatest season in history in 1962. See Indispensable Seasons Go To WAR! (Or Did Willie Mays Have The Greatest Season Since 1950 in 1962?)


JD Mathewson said...

So no bonus for the #3 HR hitter and best total offensive player of all time also being a very, very good pitcher for much of his career? I think that should contribute a bit to all-aroundness.

Cyril Morong said...

Right. Ruth is unique in that accomplishment of great hitting and very good pitching. My guess is that if we came up with some kind of measure of all-aroundness that involved just hitting and pitching, no one would be close to Ruth.

But I was trying to use the commonly mentioned "five tool" idea which does not include pitching. The best proxy for fielding I could come up with that would also be easily explained was Gold Gloves. It is not clear how many Gold Gloves Ruth would have won, if any. As I said, it is a crude measure and mainly for fun.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

JD Mathewson said...

No problem. Perhaps the greatest all-around in the Golden Glove era might be a bit more appropriate though.

Cyril Morong said...

That's why the original post last year said since 1957.