Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Enjoy a Bracing Shot of Nightmare Fuel for New Years
WARgraphs are sweeping the internet away today. Hopefully they function as the starting point, not the finishing stroke to many Hall of Fame debates. The most strident nerds among us will use these as crutch instead of an opportunity. In other words, let's not get carried away.
Conversely, dear God the image above makes my skin crawl! That's Vernon Wells career WAR and George Bell's career WAR holding hands and skipping stones in lockstep through history.
I'm not exactly sure how I should take this. Does this make me feel better about George Bell or worse about Vernon Wells? I 'm working on a post praising the sneaky-good nature of Wells in 2010 but this has me reconsidering.
Want to reconsider some more? Consider the guy who was Jose Bautista before Jose Bautista turned into Jose Bautista:
Jesse Barfield was my favorite player when I was a kid. Quite obviously, I knew what was up. If you take this graph a step further, you see Jesse and Hall of Fame lightning rod Jim Rice with basically the identical career until age 31. Barfield played only one more below replacement season while Rice scared the bejesus out of fickle reporters for a couple extra seasons.
There are sizable holes we could shoot through WAR numbers pre and post UZR, but the fact of the matter is even with a positional advantage, Vernon Wells doesn't hold up well to the glory-soaked outfield of the 80s. Which surprises me.
Vernon Wells will finish his career as the Blue Jays franchise leader in a significant number of offensive categories. I don't begrudge him his place in Jays lore nor do I lament his current contract status. Vernon Wells is, in far too many ways, the perfect modern Blue Jay.
Not only does he toil in relative obscurity, he's probably not as good as we think he is. I think it's pretty clear he isn't nearly as good as we need him to be. Which is too bad. Let's do our best not to hold it against him.
Images courtesy of Fangraphs