Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best Tigers Third Baseman Ever?

Today, we'll continue the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) series using Sean Smith's WAR database to rank Tigers third basemen. Other parts of the series including an explanation of WAR can be found in theWAR folder.

Looking at the third base WAR rankings in Table 1, I can already tell this is going to be the most controversial list so far. Third base is the weakest position in the history of the franchise with no one outstanding star player. The leader is Travis Fryman with 26.5 WAR. Some will be surprised that Fryman nosed out George Kell (21.2). Some of Fryman's advantage is longevity (1,056 more plate appearances than Kell) and some is extra defensive points for his time at the more demanding shortstop position. If we take longevity out of the equation and look at WAR per 600 PA (WAR600) in Table 2, then Kell takes a narrow lead 3.48 to 3.37. Overall, it's pretty close between the two

The second item to raise eyebrows is Brandon Inge finishing third with 16.2. Why is that a controversy? Well, because everything involving Inge turns out to be a controversy. Inge's rank is primarily due to his defense. He has the fourth highest fielding runs above average in franchise history behind Al Kaline, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Inge did not make the list of WAR600 leaders.

The third surprise to many readers will be the fact that fan favorites Aurelio Rodriguez and Dean Palmer failed to make the cut. Rodriguez was a very strong defender but it was not enough to offset his putrid offense. He finished with 5.2 WAR. Palmer had a couple of years where he hit 38 and 29 homers for the Tigers but his terrible defense (16 fielding runs below average in each of his two full seasons) and last three years dragged him down. His final WAR was 1.4 so, by this measure, he was barely above replacement for his career.

Table 1: Top Ten Tigers Third Basemen by WAR

Player

PA

WAR

Travis Fryman

4,718

26.5

George Kell

3,656

21.2

Brandon Inge

4,150

16.2

Ray Boone

2,817

15.6

Ossie Vitt

3,096

11.8

Marty McManus

2,574

11.1

Don Wert

4,215

9.3

Tom Brookens

3,813

9.2

George Moriarty

2,879

8.8

Fred Haney

1,560

7.4



Table 2: Top Five Tigers third Basemen by WAR600

Player

PA

WAR600

George Kell

3,656

3.48

Travis Fryman

4,718

3.37

Eddie Yost

1,298

3.33

Ray Boone

2,817

3.32

Fred Haney

1,560

2.85

1 comment:

  1. This is a great series, Lee. Thanks for the top notch statistical analysis, as always.

    ReplyDelete

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