Sunday, February 26, 2006

Doubting Thomas

Kenny Williams lost his mind today, spazzing out at comments made by former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas about the way he was let go this off-season. I have no content to add this story, only opinion. And my opinion is this: I automatically side with anybody who criticizes Jerry Reinsdorf. Granted, Frank Thomas has been a royal pain in the ass his whole career, but Hall of Famers often are. See Barry Bonds and Ty Cobb. Furthermore, Reinsdorf has made a name for himself mistreating and manipulating the athletes and coaches who win him championships. See Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson. I suppose it looks hypocritical to allow for Thomas' piss-poor attitude while criticizing Reinsdorf's. The difference is, at least in my admittedly twisted mind, is that I don't turn on the tv, and fans in Chicago don't buy tickets, to watch Jerry Reinsdorf.

As for the ESPN story calling Thomas the "greatest hitter in White Sox history," I think apologists of Shoeless Joe Jackson might beg to differ.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

Well, Fisk is up there, but obviously not a match head-to-head for Thomas or Jackson; and Appling was an excellent player in his day, but powerless (45 homers in 20 years of play).

The curmudgeon in me points out that saying a player is the best Sox hitter ever isn't saying much: virtually every Sox Hall of Famer is a pitcher or infielder.

Thomas is a guy I never liked (although I'll be rooting for him this season), but his numbers are indisputable. He's 14th all-time on the career OPS+ list (at 161)and third among active players. Even last year, when he only managed 127 PAs he turned in a 131 OPS+.

On the surface, however, you're right: Shoeless Joe's 170 career OPS+ is solidly better.

But Jackson was forced out of the game at age 30, after 13 seasons. Thomas played on long after that, and stayed good when most players decline.

If you only look at Thomas's seasons to age 30, his OPS+ is about 175: significantly better than Jackson's to that age.

Also comparing only to age 30, Thomas was consistently the better peak performer. He twice led the league for OPS+ (Jackson never did), four times for OPS (Jackson: once), four times for OBP (Jackson: once), once for SLG (Jackson: once), and three times for Runs Created (Jackson: once).

So on an apples-to-apples basis, there's a solid case that Thomas is the better slugger. And on a career basis, Thomas's longevity piled up some impressive totals (top 30 for homers, top 50 for RBIs, top 20 for Hits and BBs).

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Yes, but I did note that it was "apologists" who would differ, and apologists would say that Jackson got screwed. Actually, am I just crazy, or did someone actually do a projection of Jackson's stats if he had kept playing? I am having deja vu all over again.

Personally, I think Fisk's numbers stink.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Is there a more dislikable manager(coach)/GM duo in sports than Guillen/Williams? I can't think of one. I'm praying for a 70 win season for the Sox only because I want to hear what Kenny and Ozzie have to say to explain it. Many metrics suggest that the Sox season last year was pretty fortunate. Hopefully regression is a bitch (although I, like many, think that their team is better on paper this year).

At 2:00 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Agreed on Williams and Guillen. I also hope they return to Shitsville. Can you provide the articles with said metrics? They will make my heart jump with glee.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

There aren't any specific articles I'm thinking about, just noting some things like the fact that the Sox beat their Pythag record by 8 games and their pitching was 40 runs better than you would have expected given their performance. BPro had their second order record which is based on equivalent runs scored and allowed (computed from the components of runs) at 87-75. Essentially, we're talking about a team that relied on getting timely hits, getting timely outs and winning one run games. If you're like me, you don't think of this as a skill but rather chance and therefore the Sox benefitted from some luck. It was like a perfect sabrmetric storm, which is funny, given that the Sox are anything but sabrmetric faves.

When you consider that a lot of their guys (specifically pitchers) outperformed their historic performance, I think that they're ripe for regression. I really hope so because Guillen and Williams are loathsome, and the sooner they disappear, the better.


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