Effectively Wild Episode 1892: Keeping it 100

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about the impending premiere of Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, the projection-system verdict on the Braves’ extension of Michael Harris II, the White Sox signing Elvis Andrus, the possibly underrated, could’ve-been-Hall-of-Fame career of José Abreu, and the sophomore improvement of Ha-Seong Kim, then (25:06) answer listener emails about Albert Pujols and the 100-WAR threshold, big leaguers who’ve lost more games in their lives than they’ve won, and at which level a team would be unable to win even one game in a season were it promoted to the majors, followed by a Meet a Major Leaguer segment (51:08) on the Rockies’ Wynton Bernard, the Mariners’ Brennan Bernardino, and the Diamondbacks’ Stone Garrett, Stat Blasts (1:08:49) about the most first-round picks in a team game (and a starting lineup), streaks of team games with identical scores, and the highest WAR by a player with a negative WPA, plus a Past Blast (1:25:20) from 1892 (including a surprising Ed Delahanty comp) and (1:31:51) multiple Taylor Ward broadcaster mistakes.

Audio intro: Biz Markie, “The Dragon
Audio outro: The Baseball Project, “The Death of Big Ed Delahanty

Link to Dan S. on the Harris extension
Link to Dan on the Albies extension
Link to Craig Edwards on Albies
Link to MLBTR on the Sox signing Andrus
Link to Ben Clemens on the Abreu deal
Link to Abreu’s pre-MLB stats
Link to Dan S. on Kim’s projection
Link to Grant on Little League
Link to replacement level explainer
Link to Clay’s league strength post
Link to B-Ref’s new debuts page
Link to MLB.com on Bernard
Link to Bernard call-up video
Link to MLB.com on Garrett
Link to Garrett call-up video
Link to Bernardino announcement
Link to story on Bernardino and Rossman
Link to story on Bernardino’s debut
Link to Stathead
Link to Stathead addition post
Link to Ryan Nelson on Twitter
Link to first-rounders-in-game data
Link to first-rounders-in-lineup data
Link to high WARs with negative WPA
Link to Beltré’s pivotal 2010 plays
Link to Delahanty comp article
Link to Phillies LF article
Link to Delahanty’s SABR bio
Link to RIP Baseball on Delahanty
Link to article on 1900 Phillies
Link to Richard Hershberger’s Strike Four
Link to 1892 story source 1
Link to 1892 story source 2
Link to Harry Stevens article
Link to Wade/Ward EW wiki page

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1 year ago

Hey, hey!! Ben joins me on the Jose Abreu train! There’s plenty of room for others. Come join us. This is a borderline HOF at worst. Enjoy him while you can.

1 year ago
Reply to  tomerafan

From last month, just to spur discussion:

I’m a bit surprised to not see Jose Abreu on here. I believe he is a HOF’er right now based on his lifetime body of work, but getting to 250 homers and 1,500 hits in the US on top of his prior accomplishments makes for a very interesting argument (halfway to 500/3000 despite debuting at age 27). He’s currently around 240 homers and 1350 hits at age 35.

Production through his age-40 season is unlikely but possible for a 1B… and he’s been better at ages 33-35 than he was at ages 30-32. It would be really interesting to see what ZIPS projects for his future, but I believe his performance this year only helps his case.

Imagine what Eric Longenhagen’s chats would look like today if there was a 23-year-old non-US player getting posted who slashed .453 / .597 / .986 (yes, that’s .986 SLG, not .986 OPS). His team finished in first place in the regular season, and the 2nd best batter was a 19-year-old Yasiel Puig with a 1.011 OPS…. behind, again, Abreu’s 1.583 (!!) OPS. Abreu missed almost 30% of the season with a shoulder injury…. and still set the league single-season home run record.

Over a four-year stretch, he put up something around a 1.400 OPS and no one else was over 1.200. Again, inflation in the stats compared to the US, and I wish we had an OPS+ or something like that for the Serie Nacional to show just how outsized his performance was. But the simple leaderboards over that period show just how dominant he was compared to the rest of the league.

I wonder how many folks realize just how much better than his league he was. I think some people see him as a good-not-great mid-30’s 1B… despite an MVP award and multiple Silver Slugger awards in MLB… and don’t realize the totality of his career.

I think some folks forget just how good Jose Abreu was in the Serie Nacional. His stat lines from age 20 to age 25 are stat-porn, and he was the 1st or 2nd best hitter in Cuba for the duration of that run depending on whose opinion you seek. No, you can’t translate the plate success directly to MLB numbers, but you can look at his performance relative to other hitters in Cuba for that time-frame to see how dominant he was for his league.

Then he missed a full year (what would have been his age 26 season) and still put up a .317 / .383 / .581 triple slash even with the rust on him as an MLB rookie.
WAR continues to be very problematic in evaluating 1B. The defensive penalty makes sense when trying to compare the “value” of players across positions and eras. It doesn’t make as much sense when evaluating HOF candidacy, IMHO.

Either way, 300 US homers and 500 professional homers are within reach with three more seasons of performance (no small feat) and 2500 pro hits seems a lock if he’s healthy for the next 18 months. And while, again, I understand that Cuban stats don’t translate correctly, there are far less PA per season in Cuba (350-400 PA/season, max) which weights back some of the “inflation” of the counting stats against competition.

…[F]or me, I just don’t think WAR is the only way to look at HOF worthiness. I’m a guy who thinks Gary Sheffield belongs no matter how bad his defense grades out because he was such a threat with the bat. I’m not comping Abreu to Shef, but saying that determining relative value between players is not, to me, the same as determining HOF worthiness. It’s an input but not an exclusive data point. (I’m not a big hall guy, but I think Keith Hernandez belongs in for being a good bat but the best defensive 1B of the last 50 years and, perhaps, ever.)

I do feel like there’s a lot of anchoring bias in this thread. Abreu’s a guy to look at in the context of “who has helped their HOF case.” Some folks on this thread are acting as though I suggested Casey Kotchman (a solid/great, potential “team hall of gf fame” guy) instead of Jose Abreu. I’ll admit that surprises me.

300 MLB HR – if he gets there (sitting on 239) – despite starting at age 27 and missing a whole year in his defection makes it, to me, a case worth looking at given the totality of his work. (I also like the fact that he’s the rare 1B/DH that made himself into a better defender in his 30’s in order to stay on the field.)

(And no, I’m not a White Sox homer… I’m a Mets fan.)