Friday, November 20, 2009

All-time Top Ten Tigers Catchers by WAR

If you are looking for information on the four minor league players just added to the Tigers 40 man roster, Billfer has all the details on Scott Sizemore, Ryan Strieby, Brennan Boesch and Audy Ciriaco.

I'm going to live in the past and continue my historical Wins Above Replacement (WAR) series using Sean Smith's WAR database. Other parts of the series including an explanation of WAR can be found in the WAR folder.

Today, I'll look at the top Tigers catchers of all-time based on WAR. FanGraphs has not yet added catcher defense to their WAR statistic but Sean Smith has evaluated catchers based on handedness of pitchers, stolen bases, caught stealing, pickoffs passed balls, wild pitches and errors for years where those statistics are available. That doesn't describe all of catcher defense but it's a start. In this analysis, I included all players whose primary position was catcher. That is, the position at which they played the most games as a Tiger.

You can see in Table 1 that Bill Freehan is the run away leader at catcher with 43.3 WAR. He is followed by Lance Parrish (27.5), Johnny Bassler (16.7) and Mickey Tettleton (14.9). You'll also notice that the Tigers are not deep in the catching position which is why short Tigers career players like Matt Nokes and Mike Heath made the top ten.

Table 1: Tigers Top Ten Catchers by WAR

Player

PA

WAR

Bill Freehan

6,397

43.3

Lance Parrish

4,674

27.5

Johnny Bassler

2,763

16.7

Mickey Tettleton

1,706

14.9

Ivan Rodriguez

2,523

14.2

Mickey Cochrane

1,350

12.2

Brad Ausmus

1,392

7.2

John Wockenfuss

2,101

5.7

Matt Nokes

1,248

5.5

Mike Heath

1,467

5.1



Some people might find it odd that Mickey Cochrane only finished sixth among Tigers catchers. That is because longevity carries a lot of weight in WAR and Cochrane had only 1,350 career plate appearances as a Tiger. In order to get a rough idea of which players contributed the most wins per year, I calculated WAR per 600 plate appearances (WAR600). Table 2 shows that Cochrane was the clear winner with 5.52 WAR per 600 PA.

Table 2: Top Five Tigers Catchers by WAR600

Player

PA

WAR600

Mickey Cochrane

1,350

5.52

Mickey Tettleton

1,706

3.84

Bill Freehan

6,397

3.81

Johnny Bassler

2,763

3.75

Lance Parrish

4,674

3.57

3 comments:

  1. You have a great sports blog here. This is my first time visiting but I'm liking it! I have two sports blogs myself. We need to stick together. I'd like us to exchange links to help spread some traffic around to each other.

    Let me know if this is possible.

    Jason
    SportsSoundOff.net
    SPORTSMONARCH.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lee, Thankyou for your Historical Tigers series on WAR. I have always been interested in the Tigers players and the history of the team.
    Most readers will wonder who Johnny Bassler was. A quality catcher in the 1920's, a team mate of Cobb, Heilmann, and the under-rated leftfielder Bobby Veach.
    Bassler had a career obp over .400 he had minimal power (1 career homerun), but also rarely struck out. Blake at spotstarters has him ranked in the Tigers Top 100 players all time.
    Bill Freehan playing in the offensively challenging 1960's was a bull behind the plate. and here's hoping he will eventually get a call to the HOF from the veterans committee. I wonder how he ranks by WAR with catchers in his era and with catchers all time.
    Ron KalineCountry

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ron, Freehan ranks in the top 15 all-time:

    Bench 71.3
    Fisk 67.3
    Rodriguez 66.5
    Carter 63.3
    Berra 61.9
    Piazza 59.1
    Dickey 54.4
    Cochrane 51.2
    Simmons50.4
    Hartnett 50.3
    Tenace 48.7
    Walker 45.3
    Schang 43.8
    Munson 43.4
    Freehan 43.3

    ReplyDelete

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