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Article: Johan Santana’s Cooperstown Case: The Puckett Clause

johan santana kirby puckett joe mauer dennis martinez sandy koufax
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#41 jimmer

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:53 PM

I used bWAR in part because I think their modelling makes more sense for evaluating a pitcher's season (Rany explains it better than me: https://www.theringe...ll-james-debate ) The defense does explain some of it, but Morris also pitched behind excellent defenders, trammel & whitaker most notably, for basically his entire career...and according to fWAR some years he got bailed out by his defense and some years he didn't. considering how we're still trying to evaluate defensive value, I don't love the way fWAR uses FIP to calculate WAR, especially when you consider cases like Nolan Ryan as Rany presented in the link above.

I'm not saying Stieb is a HoF pitcher, but you're sort of making my case for me: Stieb and Morris are interesting comps for each other in the 80's and ain't no one talking about Dave Stieb for the Hall, yet people act like it's this great injustice that Jack isn't in. (fWAR has them as basically the exact same pitcher in the time frame you highlight; bWAR would tell you to take Stieb every time and that was basically Stieb's career.) I can't say I love the argument that Jack should be in the Hall and not Dave because Jack stayed healthier for a few years longer and some people are pretty sure Dave pitched in front of better defenses.

I am exactly opposite. I much prefer the FIP based WAR (which is fWAR) then bWAR cause I dont think we should take into account the defense behind the pitcher.

Edited by jimmer, 30 November 2017 - 12:54 PM.


#42 gunnarthor

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 01:06 PM

 

I used bWAR in part because I think their modelling makes more sense for evaluating a pitcher's season (Rany explains it better than me: https://www.theringe...ll-james-debate ) The defense does explain some of it, but Morris also pitched behind excellent defenders, trammel & whitaker most notably, for basically his entire career...and according to fWAR some years he got bailed out by his defense and some years he didn't. considering how we're still trying to evaluate defensive value, I don't love the way fWAR uses FIP to calculate WAR, especially when you consider cases like Nolan Ryan as Rany presented in the link above.

 

I'm not saying Stieb is a HoF pitcher, but you're sort of making my case for me: Stieb and Morris are interesting comps for each other in the 80's and ain't no one talking about Dave Stieb for the Hall, yet people act like it's this great injustice that Jack isn't in. (fWAR has them as basically the exact same pitcher in the time frame you highlight; bWAR would tell you to take Stieb every time and that was basically Stieb's career.) I can't say I love the argument that Jack should be in the Hall and not Dave because Jack stayed healthier for a few years longer and some people are pretty sure Dave pitched in front of better defenses.

I don't think Morris is a slam dunk guy. I think he's borderline but he is comparable to HOFers, his numbers when he retired were pretty good and he has his own unique story (as Poz would put it) that I would push him in. Stieb isn't anywhere close to that. I think Santana is a borderline candidate as well with a totally different story. They just don't seem comparable to me.


#43 alexlegge

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 08:25 PM

Let's say, just for fun, that Johan wasn't injured at the end of 2010, and instead ended up playing 11 more years, staying relatively healthy but pitching substantially worse overall. Let's say he doubled his career innings, averaging the following stats over that stretch: 9-8 record, ERA of 4.00 and an ERA+ of 110 (approximate midpoint of Patrick Corbin's and Chris Archer's ERA+ from this year, since they both had ERAs just barely over 4).

 

Then, overall, Santana's career numbers would look like this:

238-166 (.589), 3.60 ERA, 123 ERA+

 

Even if he never won a World Series, those numbers look Hall-of-Fame worthy to me.

 

By comparison, Mike Mussina's career numbers are:

270-153 (.638), 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+

 

Also: Don Drysdale's career ERA+ was 121, John Smoltz's was 125. You get the idea.

 

...

 

And now compared to Jack Morris:

254-186 (.577), 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+

 

 

3 points to be made of all of this:

 

1) Johan's candidacy is in a different league than Morris. Morris is really only relying on slightly above-average pitching, win totals, and 2 great postseasons (leaving aside the crappy postseasons he had). As a Twins fan, I'd find emotional satisfaction in Morris getting elected, but he's well below the admittedly-subjective 'standards' for the hall. Let's also not forget that most of Morris' wins came before the steroid era. Santana, by comparison, could have had 11 more years of mediocrity and his career numbers would still far exceed those of Morris.

 

2) If Johan doesn't get elected (which he won't) and perhaps even falls off the ballot (a distinct possibility), then he will basically have been penalized for not having 11 years of middle-of-the-rotation caliber pitching. Is that really what we want the Hall of Fame to be about?? In my personal opinion, a player that has a 4-5 year stretch of awesomeness (like Johan) is just as solid of a candidate as someone who was steadily above average for a long time (like Mussina), and both of those players are very worthy selections.

 

3) The saddest part, I believe, is that Johan's candidacy is being reduced due to market sizes. He was arguably better than peak Sandy Koufax from 2003-2007 with the Twins, but there was slightly less national attention paid to that because it happened in Minnesota. Then he went to the biggest media market in the US and had 1 great season. Hence, the lasting image from the NYC market perspective is more focused on the guy whose Mets career sadly faded due to injuries than the guy who was a monster for 5 years in Minnesota. Unfortunately, that's the perspective of most HoF voters too :(

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#44 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 08:42 PM

Let's say, just for fun, that Johan wasn't injured at the end of 2010, and instead ended up playing 11 more years, staying relatively healthy but pitching substantially worse overall. Let's say he doubled his career innings, averaging the following stats over that stretch: 9-8 record, ERA of 4.00 and an ERA+ of 110 (approximate midpoint of Patrick Corbin's and Chris Archer's ERA+ from this year, since they both had ERAs just barely over 4).

Then, overall, Santana's career numbers would look like this:
238-166 (.589), 3.60 ERA, 123 ERA+

Even if he never won a World Series, those numbers look Hall-of-Fame worthy to me.

By comparison, Mike Mussina's career numbers are:
270-153 (.638), 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+

Also: Don Drysdale's career ERA+ was 121, John Smoltz's was 125. You get the idea.

...

And now compared to Jack Morris:
254-186 (.577), 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+


3 points to be made of all of this:

1) Johan's candidacy is in a different league than Morris. Morris is really only relying on slightly above-average pitching, win totals, and 2 great postseasons (leaving aside the crappy postseasons he had). As a Twins fan, I'd find emotional satisfaction in Morris getting elected, but he's well below the admittedly-subjective 'standards' for the hall. Let's also not forget that most of Morris' wins came before the steroid era. Santana, by comparison, could have had 11 more years of mediocrity and his career numbers would still far exceed those of Morris.

2) If Johan doesn't get elected (which he won't) and perhaps even falls off the ballot (a distinct possibility), then he will basically have been penalized for not having 11 years of middle-of-the-rotation caliber pitching. Is that really what we want the Hall of Fame to be about?? In my personal opinion, a player that has a 4-5 year stretch of awesomeness (like Johan) is just as solid of a candidate as someone who was steadily above average for a long time (like Mussina), and both of those players are very worthy selections.

3) The saddest part, I believe, is that Johan's candidacy is being reduced due to market sizes. He was arguably better than peak Sandy Koufax from 2003-2007 with the Twins, but there was slightly less national attention paid to that because it happened in Minnesota. Then he went to the biggest media market in the US and had 1 great season. Hence, the lasting image from the NYC market perspective is more focused on the guy whose Mets career sadly faded due to injuries than the guy who was a monster for 5 years in Minnesota. Unfortunately, that's the perspective of most HoF voters too :(


What's the argument that peak Johan was better than peak Koufax?
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#45 alexlegge

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:22 PM

Just that some of his regular season numbers are better than Koufax after adjustments for ballpark & league-wide offense during the era. It's a popular comparison. I personally wouldn't make that argument, but it's waaaay closer than most people think, especially based only on regular season performance. So yeah, *arguably* better in the sense that you could make a reasonable argument if you had to

#46 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 07:56 AM

 

I am exactly opposite. I much prefer the FIP based WAR (which is fWAR) then bWAR cause I dont think we should take into account the defense behind the pitcher.

This assumes an infallibility of FIP that I'm not willing to accept.

 

At some point, maybe 700-1000 IP, measurable on-field performance needs to be a major factor. Did this pitcher allow runs or not?

 

As we all know, there are some pitchers who change teams, leagues, and defenses yet still over/underperform their FIP. That leads me to believe FIP is missing something that leads some pitchers to be better or worse than their expected numbers over 1000 or more innings.

 

So we either have to accept that either FIP or ERA isn't an accurate indication of some pitchers' ability. And I haven't really seen the argument that ERA is the truly flawed stat over large sample sizes. But I'd be interested in seeing it made and how it draws its conclusions.


#47 JLease

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 11:11 AM

 

I don't think Morris is a slam dunk guy. I think he's borderline but he is comparable to HOFers, his numbers when he retired were pretty good and he has his own unique story (as Poz would put it) that I would push him in. Stieb isn't anywhere close to that. I think Santana is a borderline candidate as well with a totally different story. They just don't seem comparable to me.

 

Personally, I prefer a guy who pitched at the absolute peak but got cut a little short on the years over the guy who never really dominated the same way but had the full length and health of a typical HoF guy. Johan was a comet and while that's always going to make you a little borderline, I think he deserves it. Johan wasn't just a "maybe" guy for best pitcher in baseball; for five years straight if you didn't bring him up in that conversation you were an idiot. That says a lot.

 

Stieb doesn't have the story, and played basically his entire career in canada, but the most significant difference between him and Morris is Jack stayed healthier for a few years longer. (which basically accounts for their difference in fWAR; bWAR is another tale) The other difference is Jack played in more post-seasons; Jack was great in 2 of them, bad in two of them. Stieb was good in 1, bad in 1. I'm not advocating for Stieb for the Hall, but Morris and Stieb overlapped almost their entire careers and ended up as not unreasonable comps for each other. I just don't think 2-3 additional seasons of ok pitching is enough to get you into the Hall.

 

 


#48 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 11:39 AM

Just that some of his regular season numbers are better than Koufax after adjustments for ballpark & league-wide offense during the era. It's a popular comparison. I personally wouldn't make that argument, but it's waaaay closer than most people think, especially based only on regular season performance. So yeah, *arguably* better in the sense that you could make a reasonable argument if you had to


Ok, I was going off memory. But, I looked, and you're right, their ERA+ during their peaks are closer than I thought.

#49 nicksaviking

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 12:08 PM

 

As much as I would like to see Santana get in eventually, I think him and Puckett are different stories.

 

Santana's shoulder slowly gave out on him until it got to the point he couldn't pitch anymore.That is his body wearing out.Similar to if he was great for 5 years and then just couldn't pitch well anymore because he was aging and/or wear and tear over the years wore him down.Happens to lots of great players.Their bodies can't holdup to the rigors of a long MLB career.

 

Puckett on the other hand was hit in the face by a fastball.He went from All-Star player to practically blind in one eye basically over night.His body was probably good to go for another 3-4 years, but fastballs to the face can change that. 

 

So Santana is a guy that could have become an all-time great if he stayed healthy long enough.Puckett was on the verge of becoming one already and tragically had his career end abruptly at the tail-end when he basically just needed to be ok for few years to reach HOF miles stones (3000 hits, etc).

 

Basically what I am trying to say is I put body giving out in similar category as skills diminishing.While getting smoked in the face is put in a different grouping all together.

 

I don't know that Santana's shoulder slowly gave out though. He missed 2011 but in 2012 he had an excellent 2.38 ERA and he was back to striking out over a batter an inning until the Mets let him throw 134 pitches to get that No Hitter on June 1st. That was 25% more pitches than he'd thrown any other time since his initial surgery. It was all downhill after that game.

 

Forty-five ER in his final 49 innings, an 8.27 ERA. Fourty-nine innings seems like a pretty abrupt end to me and it's hard to believe the 134 pitch outing wasn't the primary culprit considering he was back to elite form prior to that start; he looked like he had a lot left in the tank.

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#50 jimmer

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 12:53 PM

 

This assumes an infallibility of FIP that I'm not willing to accept.

 

 

It doesn't assume an infallibility in FIP at all, it assumes FIP tells a BETTER story about how a pitcher pitched than ERA or RAA does. Not a PERFECT story, just a better story.DRS and UZR aren't infallible either, but they are better than errors and fielding %.WAR isn't perfect either, but I like it better than, say, looking at BA, HR, RBI, Stolen bases and errors/fielding % stats.

 

I'm not going to hold on to old stats until the mythical PERFECT stats replace them.  

 

Now, what I have noticed is that for a lot of starters with long careers, the FIP and ERA stats come very close to each other.That's why I don't mind looking at, say, ERA (well, really ERA+) when comparing pitchers who have finished their career. That and because it keeps the FIP haters at bay :-)

 

 

Edited by jimmer, 01 December 2017 - 01:03 PM.


#51 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:05 PM

 

Now, what I have noticed is that for a lot of starters with long careers, the FIP and ERA stats come very close to each other.  That's why I don't mind looking at, say, ERA (well, really ERA+) when comparing pitchers who have finished their career. That and because it keeps the FIP haters at bay :-)

Absolutely. I'm not really bashing FIP, as I think it's very useful.

 

But there are pitchers who seem to defy FIP predictions to varying degrees. Like Santana to a small extent. His FIP/ERA split is .22 runs. Now, that's not a lot and well within a margin of error IMO but the guy has 2400 career IP. If my math is correct, FIP and ERA disagree on ~60 runs over the course of his career. That ain't nothin'.

 

And then you have guys like Nolasco, whose FIP is about .6 runs lower than his ERA. The guy has just shy of 1900 career IP. He has played for multiple teams in multiple leagues so that discrepancy simply should not exist to that degree. Again, if my math is correct, FIP and ERA disagree over a whopping ~115 runs in his case.

 

And that's my point about FIP. I think it's a pretty good indicator of future performance (and often a good indicator of past performance) but there are guys out there that are doing something FIP cannot measure.

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#52 jimmer

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:10 PM

 

Absolutely. I'm not really bashing FIP, as I think it's very useful.

 

But there are pitchers who seem to defy FIP predictions to varying degrees. Like Santana to a small extent. His FIP/ERA split is .22 runs. Now, that's not a lot and well within a margin of error IMO but the guy has 2400 career IP.

 

And then you have guys like Nolasco, whose FIP is about .6 runs lower than his ERA. The guy has just shy of 1900 career IP. He has played for multiple teams in multiple leagues so that discrepancy simply should not exist to that degree.

 

And that's my point about FIP. I think it's a pretty good indicator of future performance (and often a good indicator of past performance) but there are guys out there that are doing something FIP cannot measure.

But again, that belief assumes ERA is the true indicator of performance, right?We get phrases like 'pitchers out-perform' or pitcher 'under-perform' their FIP.ERA is too dependent on things out of the pitcher's control to be the indicator of performance.


#53 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:13 PM

 

But again, that belief assumes ERA is the true indicator of performance, right?We get phrases like 'pitchers out-perform' or pitcher 'under-perform' their FIP.ERA is too dependent on things out of the pitcher's control to be the indicator of performance.

True, but it measures actual runs allowed and all pitchers play under the same rules regarding ERA. The run scores or it doesn't. You get the out or you don't. Factors can influence those things over the short term (defense, bullpen) but in the long run, it should balance out in time.

 

Now, in the olden days when a pitcher would play most or all of his career for the same team and (mostly) in front of the same defense, I can see more wiggle room to debate the validity of ERA.

 

But when a modern player plays for four teams in both leagues in front of an ever-changing defense every season, the measurement that tracks actual runs allowed has more validity in my eyes.*

 

*in no way am I defending the use of aberrant ERA numbers year-over-year, I'm speaking only in terms of player career


#54 jimmer

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:16 PM

 

True, but it measures actual runs allowed and all pitchers play under the same rules regarding ERA.

 

 

Do they play with the same defense behind them? :-)

 

I enjoy debating you, BTW, you are respectful at all times even when you disagree and are truly open to many trains of thought.


#55 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 01:24 PM

 

Do they play with the same defense behind them? :-)

 

I enjoy debating you, BTW, you are respectful at all times even when you disagree and are truly open to many trains of thought.

Thanks, you as well.

 

The defense thing was an edit. Over time, those things will balance in the modern game. Given how we're talking almost exclusively about pitchers with 1000+ IP, it's likely they not only changed teams but that the defenses behind them rotated several players as well.

 

It's not as if Nolasco's 2006 season with the Marlins had much in common with his Twins stint in front of bad OF defenses or his Angels time with Trout roaming center.

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#56 Doomtints

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 02:12 PM

 

I am exactly opposite. I much prefer the FIP based WAR (which is fWAR) then bWAR cause I dont think we should take into account the defense behind the pitcher.

 

bWAR isn't *really* including defense, It takes the average defense for the team and checks to see if the pitcher had better or worse defense behind him than what is usual for that team. It's not granular defense in that pitchers are penalized/awarded for defense, it's an attempt to level the playing field for pitchers.


#57 Hawkeye12

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 03:12 PM

https://onedrive.liv...AAAsz3uDsmqy_Vw

 

Of the 12 public ballots already released, Johan and Johnny Damon are the only two guys still shutout.Clemens and Vlad are 12/12. Bonds is 10/12 but lost a vote from someone that voted for him last year, which is kind of odd.

Edited by Hawkeye12, 01 December 2017 - 03:13 PM.


#58 ashburyjohn

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 03:26 PM

FIP is mis-named. It's not fielding-independent, otherwise the formula would contain an element that distinguishes, e.g., whether you have someone like Byron Buxton playing CF behind you.

 

It's a number constructed from plate appearances decided by not putting the ball in the reach of fielders - HR, SO, BB+HPB. That would lead to a less catchy name; I don't have a better name to propose - "What Might Have Happened If The Ball Had Never Been Put In Play".

 

Pointing to the convergence of FIP and ERA in the long-run is circular logic - FIP is constructed as a linear regression (of the above-named factors) to actual earned runs, and contains a seasonally-adjusted additive factor to line them up more or less exactly for a given season.

 

It seems to have some small predictive power for future ERA, versus just ERA itself. But as a method to determine pitchers' actual seasonal results with defense factored out, it's pretty far from the mark. I wouldn't use it for a HoF argument.

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#59 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 December 2017 - 08:08 PM

FIP is mis-named. It's not fielding-independent, otherwise the formula would contain an element that distinguishes, e.g., whether you have someone like Byron Buxton playing CF behind you.

It's a number constructed from plate appearances decided by not putting the ball in the reach of fielders - HR, SO, BB+HPB. That would lead to a less catchy name; I don't have a better name to propose - "What Might Have Happened If The Ball Had Never Been Put In Play".

Pointing to the convergence of FIP and ERA in the long-run is circular logic - FIP is constructed as a linear regression (of the above-named factors) to actual earned runs, and contains a seasonally-adjusted additive factor to line them up more or less exactly for a given season.

It seems to have some small predictive power for future ERA, versus just ERA itself. But as a method to determine pitchers' actual seasonal results with defense factored out, it's pretty far from the mark. I wouldn't use it for a HoF argument.

Great post.

#60 jkcarew

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 01:19 PM

Is there an argument for Santana in the Hall?Yes.But it's silly to compare him to Kirby Puckett (or Sandy Koufax).Postseason and championships matter...and they should.Especially when you are the undisputed star/leader of the championship team...more than once.As the very first poster mentions, the much more realistic (non-pitcher) comparison would be Tony Oliva.

 

Would I put Santana in?No.




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