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The Reds Et Al Hall
2002-07-25 21:20
by Mike Carminati

The Reds Et Al Hall of Fame

Dave Concepcion was a good ballplayer and very good defensive shortstop, but I don't remember anyone saying that he was a Hall-of-Famer while he was playing. Joe Morgan in a sidebar to a story on the AL West race, has to bloviate on his favorite soapbox subject, Dave Concepcion for the Hall of Fame. He goes on to say, "While I'm happy for Ozzie's Hall of Fame induction, I'm disappointed at the same time because his enshrinement hurts Dave Concepcion's chances," though he never explains why this is the case. With Morgan, Bench, Perez, and Anderson already in and Rose waiting to be exonerated so that he can enter, how many Big Red Machine alumni do we need in the Hall? Are Ed Armbrister and Ron Oester next? Concepcion was a 9-time All-star and a 4-time Gold Glove winner, but he was only a top-10 MVP candidate twice (4th in '81 and 9th in '79) and never came close to leading the league in any offensive category. Here are his Hall of Fame comparisons from Baseball Reference:

Gray Ink: Batting - 25 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 29.1 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 107.0 (Likely HOFer > 100)
His HOF Monitor total is only so high because of the awards that he won; otherwise he doesn't come close to qualifying. I submit that Dave Concepcion is no more a Hall of Famer than Onix Concepcion.

Let's compare the top defensive shortstops in history using the most accurate tool that I have found for this, Bill James' Fielding Win Shares:

 Name                FWS   Hall?
Ozzie Smith        139.8   Y
Bill Dahlen        128.0   
Rabbit Maranville  123.2   Y
Luis Aparicio      122.8   Y
Dave Concepcion    116.9
Honus Wagner       116.9   Y
Cal Ripken         115.2   Not Yet
Tommy Corcoran     114.6   
Joe Tinker         112.2   Y
Pee Wee Resse      107.3   Y
Roger Peckinpaugh  106.6   
Luke Appling       105.3   Y
Dave Bancroft      102.9   Y
Mark Belanger      102.8
Herman Long        101.9
Germany Smith      100.5
Roy McMillan       100.1
Mickey Doolan       99.2
Everett Scott       99.0
Bert Campanris      98.6

Also, Ozzie Smith won 13 Gold Gloves, and played in 15 All-Star games. He was a top-10 MVP candidate only once (2nd in 1987) and his Hall of Fame comparisons are not a whole lot better than Concepcion's, but he had been in the top 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, runs, hits, doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases. Smith beats Concepcion in Batting Win Shares 187 to 147. Ozzie Smith is tied for number 120 in Total Win Shares all-time. Concepcion is tied with Dave Bancroft and 3 other non-Hall-of-Famers at #243.

Ozzie Smith is demonstrably the best defensive player of all-time at arguably the most important defensive position in the game. He could also hit effectively. He wasn't the greatest shortstop of all-time-that would be Honus Wagner- nor probably greatest of his era-probably Cal Ripken-, but the Hall has space for the greatest defensive shortstop. I wouldn't even call Concepcion the greatest defensive shortstop of his era (I would go with Belanger who beats Concepcion in Defensive Win Shares per 1000 Innings, 6.72 to 6.37, though I wouldn't put Belanger in the Hall either). He wasn't any better a hitter than Smith. He should not be in the Hall.

Also, Joe goes on to promulgate one of the greatest fallacies in player comparisons:

In fact, with today's emphasis on offense, you may never see another player reach Cooperstown strictly for his defense. Ozzie's chances would be hurt if he played today. Just like Ozzie's arrival moved Concepcion out of the picture, today's power-hitting shortstops would overshadow Ozzie. He would be viewed much like Omar Vizquel is. And if you were starting a team, would you take Alex Rodriguez or Vizquel? A-Rod.

Just because Ozzie Smith and shortstops in general were not known for power in the '70s and '80s doesn't mean that they wouldn't have learned to hit for power had they grown up in the game in the late '90s. Ozzie Smith's Park-adjusted OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) was 87% the league average in his day, Concepcion's was 88%, Vizquel's is 82%. Is there a current shortstop whose adjusted OPS is 87% of the league average? Yes, Edgar Renteria, who has hit 16 home runs in a season. A player cannot be taken out of context and be compared with another blindly. How did Smith compare with the players of his era? He was an historically superior shortstop who could get on base and steal a base for a team that played small ball and won.

The comparison of Vizquel to Alex Rodriguez is laughable. A-Rod is a shortstop whose offensive statistics are bordering on historic (his adj. OPS vs. league average is 142%, Wagners was 150%. Ripken 112%, Banks 122%, Yount 115%, and George Davis 121%). Also, Vizquel is not the that great a defensive shortstop. His Defensive Win Shares per 1000 Innings (5.10) is behind contemporaries Alfredo Griffin (5.19), Ozzie Guillen (5.56), Barry Larkin (6.01), Greg Gagne (6.26), Nomar Garciaparra (5.16), Neifi Perez (6.69), Jose Vizcaino (5.18), and Tony Fernandez (6.22) to name a few. Besides A-Rod is not far behind (4.77) and more than makes up the difference with the bat.

Besides I just heard a quote attributed to Vizquel on SportsCenter, something like "I'm glad Ozzie Smith is going into the Hall because it opens the door for players like me." Get over yourself, Omar. You've re-read your autobiography so much you're beginning to believe it.

One more thing: Morgan says that there was "only one Brooks Robinson at third base. [And along with Smith and Mazerowski] No one dominated their positions defensively like they did."I submit that Mike Schmidt was a better third basemen than Robinson, Clete Boyer was a better third baseman than Robinson, and Graig Nettles and Darrell Evans were about as good as Robinson. Mike Schmidt had 4.51 Fielding Win Shares per 1000 Innings, Robinson had 4.24 (although Robinson has more Fielding Win Shares in total due to over 6000 more innings at third). Boyer had 4.97, Nettles 4.40, and Evans 4.37. Perception does not always hold true.

. . .

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