Friday, November 9, 2012

Position Players by WAR: Free Agency

These articles were originally posted on FanGraphs a year ago. I am just posting them here for posterity.

The Expansion Era saw the Major Leagues spread west and go from 16 teams to 24 26 by 1977:

The pitching mound had been lowered, the designated hitter added, and baseball was looking like the modern game save for one thing: Free Agency. In the 19th century, players started getting paid more than the average worker. In order to control salaries, baseball created the Reserve Clause in 1879 which said that even if a player’s contract expired, the team that contract was with still retained rights to their services. Players were given one-year contracts, and if they refused to sign, they couldn’t sign with another team.

The Federal League was formed in 1914 to compete with the Major Leagues, but only lasted two seasons. After 1915, the Major Leagues bought out most of the owners of the Federal Leagues, giving them ownership in Major League teams, or other considerations. The owner of one of those teams, the Baltimore Terrapins, refused to be bought out and brought suit against the National League under the Sherman Anti-trust Act. That came to a head in 1922 in Federal Baseball Club vs. National League which created the MLB Anti-Trust exemption. Apparently because baseball was an amusement, it didn’t fall under the same rules for interstate commerce.

That all changed in 1975 when an arbitrator struck down the reserve clause and granted Free Agency to two pitchers: Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. From 1976, Free Agency was born, and players were no longer bound by the Reserve Clause.

A quick synopsis: in 1969, Curt Flood fought against being traded. He gave up his career in baseball. He believed that the Reserve Clause was cause for collective bargaining, and the first collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association was reached by Marvin Miller in 1970. That started the ball rolling for Free Agency to be granted by the arbitrator in 1975.

Here are the players who came out of that era:

And the second half:

Who jumps out to you?

Player list (career WAR in parentheses):

Rickey Henderson (114.1) Mike Schmidt (110.5)
Cal Ripken (99.7) Wade Boggs (94.8)
George Brett (91.6) Eddie Murray (78.8)
Rafael Palmeiro (75.5) Paul Molitor (75.2)
Carlton Fisk (74.4) Lou Whitaker (74.3)
Bobby Grich (74.1) Robin Yount (74.1)
Gary Carter (72.5) Dwight Evans (71.4)
Tim Raines (71) Mark McGwire (70.6)
Ozzie Smith (70.3) Barry Larkin (69.8)
Alan Trammell (69.5) Tony Gwynn (67.9)
Willie Randolph (67.9) Darrell Evans (67.8)
Dave Winfield (67.7) Buddy Bell (66.6)
Ryne Sandberg (62.6) Andre Dawson (62.3)
Keith Hernandez (61.8) Fred McGriff (61.3)
Ron Cey (59.4) Chet Lemon (56.9)
Jim Rice (56.1) Jose Cruz (55.2)
Will Clark (54.4) Brian Downing (54.1)
Jack Clark (53.9) Fred Lynn (53.8)
Tony Phillips (51.5) Toby Harrah (50.9)
George Foster (50.8) Ken Singleton (50.2)
Kirby Puckett (49.4) Julio Franco (48.6)
Lance Parrish (48) Tony Fernandez (47.7)
Matt Williams (47.4) Dale Murphy (47.3)
Brett Butler (46.3) Davey Lopes (46.1)
Devon White (46) Jose Canseco (45.9)
Don Mattingly (45.8) Dave Parker (45.7)
Harold Baines (45.3) Dave Concepcion (44.8)
Doug DeCinces (44.3) Gary Gaetti (44.3)
Albert Belle (44.2) Paul O’Neill (43.8)
Willie Wilson (43.5) Darrell Porter (43.4)
Darryl Strawberry (43.2) Andy Van Slyke (43.1)
Jesse Barfield (42.6) Dusty Baker (42.6)
Steve Garvey (42.5) Kent Hrbek (42)
Chili Davis (41.7) Lenny Dykstra (41.4)
Jim Sundberg (41.4) Tim Wallach (40.6)
Wally Joyner (40.4) Jay Bell (40.3)
Kirk Gibson (39.5) Carney Lansford (39.1)
Cecil Cooper (38.6) Greg Luzinski (38.1)
Bill Madlock (38.1) Pedro Guerrero (37.9)
Bob Boone (37.1) Lonnie Smith (37)
Eric Davis (36.8) Ken Griffey (36.8)
Bob Watson (36.6) Don Money (36.5)
Frank White (36.2) Dwayne Murphy (35.7)
Bobby Bonilla (35.6) Andres Galarraga (35.4)
Ron Gant (35.3) Don Baylor (34.9)
Gary Matthews (34.6) Mike Hargrove (34.5)
Travis Fryman (33.7) Hal McRae (33.6)


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Position Players by WAR: Liveball Era

These articles were originally posted on FanGraphs a year ago. I am just posting them here for posterity.

Last week we covered the position players of the Deadball Era. Our next stop is the Liveball Era. Although the names of the era make it obvious – the Deadball Era was characterized by low run scoring – the Liveball Era saw rise to the home run, Babe Ruth, and an offensive explosion that changed the way the game was played:

The Liveball Era players are ones I am much more familiar with. One fifth of the players in the Hall of Fame are from the Liveball era. There should be a good reason for that. The Hall of Fame was originally established in 1936. The first players inducted were people from the Liveball Era. A special committee of experts was created to select the best players on the 19th century for induction, but the whole process was botched. Initially, the voters averaged about 10 players per ballot, but the Hall of Fame folks only wanted to vote in five players. So they counted each vote as half a vote.

If you need 75% for induction, and each vote only counts for half, there isn’t much of a chance anyone will actually get inducted. So instead of getting five people in the Hall from the 19th century, none of them got in. As a result, the backlog of players that needed to be inducted made things slower in future elections. Instead of inducting a lot of the Liveball Era greats, the 19th century players took up space on the ballot, and diluted the voting. The Veterans’ Committee picked up the slack, resulting in 48 total players from this era being inducted to the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the Hall of Merit thinks only 33 of those players were actually worthy.

The end of the Liveball Era was the start of WWII. Over 500 MLB players fought in the war, and the talent level dropped from 1941-1945, as did scoring.

Here is the first half of the Liveball Era:

And here’s the second half:

When I updated the methodology behind the ordering, I remade the graphs. The previous versions are available here and here

If we had to do it all over again, who would we elect from this time period? If you had a ballot, who would you vote for?

Player list (career WAR in parentheses):

Babe Ruth (177.7) Rogers Hornsby (134.9)
Lou Gehrig (125.9) Mel Ott (116.1)
Jimmie Foxx (112.3) Joe DiMaggio (92)
Charlie Gehringer (88.1) Luke Appling (84.7)
Paul Waner (79.2) Frankie Frisch (78.8)
Al Simmons (78.5) Harry Heilmann (78.1)
Joe Cronin (75.4) Arky Vaughan (74.3)
Goose Goslin (71.9) Johnny Mize (71.8)
Lou Boudreau (69.8) Hank Greenberg (68.2)
Joe Gordon (67.2) Bob Johnson (66.4)
Bill Dickey (63.8) George Sisler (62.8)
Bill Terry (61.1) Stan Hack (59)
Sam Rice (58.4) Billy Herman (56.9)
Tony Lazzeri (56.7) Joe Medwick (56.3)
Kiki Cuyler (56.2) Gabby Hartnett (56.1)
Mickey Cochrane (55.9) Earl Averill (55)
Edd Roush (54.7) Joe Sewell (54.3)
Dave Bancroft (53.8) Joe Judge (52.9)
Buddy Myer (51.4) Charlie Keller (50.4)
Ben Chapman (50.1) Travis Jackson (49.6)
Heinie Manush (49.4) Dixie Walker (48.5)
Harlond Clift (47.1) Chuck Klein (46.5)
Earle Combs (46.3) Babe Herman (46.2)
Augie Galan (46.1) Dick Bartell (45.7)
Hack Wilson (45.6) Bill Nicholson (45.5)
Ken Williams (45.5) Dolph Camilli (45.4)
Rudy York (44.7) Tommy Henrich (44.6)
Jack Fournier (44.4) Wally Berger (44.3)
Ernie Lombardi (43.8) Jeff Heath (43.8)
Jimmie Dykes (42.8) Jim Bottomley (42.5)
Max Bishop (42.3) Pie Traynor (42.2)
Ken Keltner (41.8) Lonny Frey (41.2)
Cy Williams (41) Wally Moses (40.9)
Phil Cavarretta (38.9) Wally Pipp (38.8)
Hal Trosky (38.6) George Grantham (38.4)
George Burns (38.1) Ross Youngs (38)
Lu Blue (38) Joe Kuhel (37.4)
Willie Kamm (37.4) Roy Cullenbine (36.7)
Riggs Stephenson (36.7) Pinky Higgins (36.5)
Frank McCormick (36.4) Frankie Crosetti (35.8)
Chick Hafey (35.4) Cecil Travis (34.5)
Marty Marion (34.4) Freddie Lindstrom (34.4)
Sam West (34.3) Marty McManus (34.2)
Rick Ferrell (34.1) Tony Cuccinello (33.8)
Bob Meusel (33.7)