Thursday, November 05, 2009

All-Time Top Twenty Tigers Hitters by WAR

Earlier in the week, I listed the all-time top seven Tigers hitters by the WAR statistic. However, that also included playing time with other teams which confused a couple of readers. So, I purchased Sean Smith's WAR database and pulled player statistics only for their time with the Tigers. The top 20 are included in Table 1.

There are no surprises at the top of the list with Ty Cobb way out in front followed by Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Harry Heilmann and Sam Crawford. The biggest surprise on the list for some readers may be 12th ranked Donie Bush who played mostly shortstop for the Tigers from 1908-1923. He wasn't a great hitter, just 15 runs above average lifetime. He was also 39 fielding runs below average according to the adjusted range factor statistic used prior to 1956. He made the list largely because he was a shortstop (119 position runs) who played for a long time (261 replacement runs).

I'll be doing a lot more with this database for the Tigers and other teams throughout the off-season.

Table 1: Top Twenty Tigers Position Players by WAR

Rank

Player

WAR

1

Ty Cobb

153.7

2

Al Kaline

91.0

3

Charlie Gehringer

80.9

4

Lou Whitaker

69.7

5

Alan Trammell

66.9

6

Harry Heilmann

65.7

7

Sam Crawford

64.8

8

Hank Greenberg

53.7

9

Norm Cash

52.5

10

Bill Freehan

43.3

11

Bobby Veach

42.2

12

Donie Bush

36.7

13

Dick McAuliffe

35.3

14

Chet Lemon

27.6

15

Lance Parrish

27.5

16

Rudy York

26.6

17

Travis Fryman

26.5

18

Kirk Gibson

25.6

19

Willie Horton

25.0

20

Tony Phillips

24.6

13 comments:

  1. Where do you think Miggy will end up on that list?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It will depend on his longevity. He won't get a lot of fielding points as a first baseman so he'll have to be an elite hitter for a really long time to get a lot of wins. If he hits the way he did this year for the remainder of his contract, he'll be in Freehan/Veach territory by 2015. If he remains a Tiger for the rest of his career (doubtful the way players move around now) and plays until about 38, he could reach the top 5.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How'd you do this, Lee?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mike, I did it in SAS. I do SAS for a living so this kind of thing is fairly easy for me. I can send you an excel file with career WAR for just the Tigers if you want.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  5. SAS is a database program, right? Like SQL? Interesting. Is SAS a free program? If not, how much does it cost and how easy is it for someone with no database experience to get an understanding of?

    I kind of would like to do it on my own, but I haven't found any motivation to use MySQL and learn it (plus my free trial of SQLyog has ended).

    I'll mull it over, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mike, SAS is a statistical package that also works well with databases. It's very expensive and I would never buy it myself (thankfully, the school where I work pays for it).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gibson being so high is the only surprise. Glad to see Lou so high because I think he's undervalued. Naturally he and Tram are side by side.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ahh, gotcha Lee. Interesting. I feel like I'm interested enough to want to learn a database program (it would help with PITCHf/x stuff, too), but not quite interested enough into forcing myself how to learn it.

    Good list though, Lee.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Greenberg isn't higher. Sure, the 30's were great for hitters but his numbers were outrageous.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Surprised Greenberg isn't higher that is

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm a little disappointed to see my all-time favorite ranking 19th behind such ersatz luminaries as Donie Bush and Travis Freaking Fryman. He's still my favorite all-time player, though.

    Interesting how Mickey Cochrane shows up nowhere on the list. I know he clocked only two full seasons worth of at bats for the team over four years, but his legend looms so far over the team's history, it's a little jarring to see him not show up on a top 20 list of this type.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Longevity counts for a lot with the WAR statistic. That's why a hitter like Greenberg doesn't rank higher. I wish they also had WAR per 600 PA or something like that. it's a little tricky because you are also adding in fielding runs which are based on innings rather than PA. I'll try to come up with something crude when I get a chance.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just looked at war per 600 PA and the new order is:

    Cobb
    Greenberg
    Cochrane
    Heilmann
    gehringer
    Kaline
    Phillips
    crawford
    cullenbine
    Granderson (through 2008)
    Trammell
    Whitaker

    ReplyDelete

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