Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tenace, Anyone

Bill Madden of The New York Daily News points out today that Jorge Posada is fourth all-time among catchers in career OPS. Big cheer to Madden and the News for using OPS, though the citation was prefaced with the the slightly snarky "for what it's worth" (hey, traditional media, you don't need to be embarrassed about using stats that are more accurate than batting average). Plus, it would have been helpful and more accurate to have the minimum number of games, seasons or PAs that Madden used to get his top four. And finally, Posada gets a big lift in Madden's list by playing in the current lively ball era. It's probably better when doing cross-era comparisons use a stat that reflects adjustment for different historical run environments, such as baseball-reference's OPS+. Posada is tied for 10th in OPS+ among hitters (min. 4000 PAs) who played a majority of their games at catcher:

Piazza 142
Tenace 136
Cochrane 128
Dickey 127
Bench/Hartnett/Bresnahan 126
Berra/Lombardi 125
Posada/Campanella 124

Gene Tenace is surely one of the most underrated players in baseball history, aside from one spectacular World Series in 1972. He played in a relatively low scoring era, in low scoring home parks, with a very unusual portion of his value in his ability to get walks, a talent that was even more undervalued at the time he played than it is now and an ability that is probably even more overlooked in a catcher/first baseman because it is an unexpected ability (his batting eye probably would have been better understood by fans as a valuble ability if he's been a shortstop or center fielder). He had almost every attribute that leads a batter to be underrated: his batting average and home run numbers look low but his real offensive contribution to his team's record was quite impressive.

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