Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Enjoy a Bracing Shot of Nightmare Fuel for New Years

Courtesy of Fangraphs - image links back to source data
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:

Courtesy of Fangraphs

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


  1. "Jim Rice scared the bejesus out of out of fickle reporters for a couple extra seasons."


  2. Let's hope Wells puts up a 1.5 this year so the graph will be identical up to season 12.

    I mean, there's no hope for contention, might as well aim for graph-based satisfaction.

  3. I sure love those graphs. I'm not sure what to make of them though.

    I saw one the other day comparing Whitaker to Alomar and Morgan (I think), by nth best season of WAR. The author was trying to that Whitaker belonged in the Hall next to those other 2Bmen. I thought it showed he was a cut below the others. HE was consistently below them in his best seasons, but had a few more 3 wAR seasons compared to 2 WAR seasons for Alomar and Morgan. (Actually, I think it was Sandberg, now that I think of it.)

    Anyway, sometimes these graphs are more pretty than proof.

  4. I read something on Tom Tango's blog regarding UZR. He was mentioning adding another component regarding other factors, such as who was pitching. I believe he called the stat WOWY.

    It's no lie that Wells' WAR is declining due to his constant -ve UZR.

    As a season ticket holder in right field, I get to see a lot of balls hit out to CF and no one gets a jump on them like Vernon does. Not even Dewayne Wise was coming close, or any opposing CFer, for that matter.

    It just seemed to me that Vernon never got anything hit in his direction when he was out there, IMO.

    I'm wondering if things change in a couple of years and this supposed WOWY ends up replacing UZR's and TZR's included in the WAR stats.


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