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Wade Boggs – HOF if he didn’t play for Boston?

Posted by Andy on October 13, 2008

Over on my 88 Topps Cards blog (on the Brook Jacoby card for some odd reason) a reader postulated that if Wade Boggs hadn't played for the Red Sox, he wouldn't have been a HOFer. My initial reaction was extreme incredulity, but let's look a bit into the numbers.

Taking a quick first swing, let's look at Boggs' career home/road splits:

 I Split          G   GS    PA    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  IBB  SO  HBP  SH  SF ROE GDP  SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  BAbip tOPS+ Split
+-+------------+----+----+-----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+---+----+---+---+---+---+---+----+---+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+------------+
   Home         1242 1193  5415  4590  849 1623 362  29  70  532  757  97  387  13  12  43  60 119   11  17  .354  .443  .491  .934  .372   118 Home
   Away         1197 1131  5325  4590  664 1387 216  32  48  481  655  83  358  10  17  53  71 117   13  18  .302  .387  .395  .781  .316    82 Away

Wowsers, right away the case is looking pretty bad for Boggs. His batting average was more than 50 points higher at home, as was his OBP. His OPS+ split is 118 at home, pretty darn good, and 82 on the road, not all that good. Interesting that he was right at 100 for his career.

But those splits include his years with the Yankees and (then) Devil Rays. Let's look at his home/road splits during just his years with Boston, 1982-1992.

First home:
 I    Year        G   GS    PA    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  IBB  SO  HBP  SH  SF ROE GDP  SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  BAbip tOPS+ Year
+-+-------+---------+----+-----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+---+----+---+---+---+---+---+----+---+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+
      1982        55   45   207   180   34   64  12   1   4   30   21   3   12   0   2   4   2   5    1   0  .356  .415  .500  .915  .357   116 1982
      1983        80   80   356   302   53  120  34   3   2   37   53   1   18   0   1   0   5   6    1   2  .397  .487  .550 1.037  .418   123 1983
      1984        79   78   371   318   58  112  17   3   5   27   48   4   22   0   4   1   7   6    1   1  .352  .436  .472  .908  .366   121 1984
      1985        80   80   367   311   60  130  24   2   6   39   51   2   38   3   1   1   6  10    1   1  .418  .503  .566 1.069  .463   130 1985
      1986        73   73   331   277   53   99  29   0   3   36   51   6   24   0   2   1   4   6    0   0  .357  .456  .495  .951  .382   102 1986
      1987        75   75   339   282   60  116  28   3  10   50   53  12   24   0   1   3   2   6    1   1  .411  .500  .638 1.138  .422   117 1987
      1988        79   79   367   285   74  109  29   3   4   35   76  11   18   3   0   3   5  12    0   2  .382  .512  .547 1.060  .395   119 1988
      1989        78   78   366   300   62  113  37   4   2   27   57   8   21   4   0   5   5  11    1   4  .377  .475  .547 1.022  .394   132 1989
      1990        80   80   363   309   51  111  30   1   3   32   52  10   42   0   0   2   3   7    0   0  .359  .449  .492  .941  .406   134 1990
      1991        69   66   301   252   50   98  28   2   6   32   47  15   12   0   0   2   3   8    0   1  .389  .482  .587 1.069  .390   142 1991
      1992        75   71   306   251   39   61  13   3   4   26   48  12   12   3   0   4   2   4    1   2  .243  .366  .367  .733  .238   106 1992


That's 823 games with 1133 hits in 3067 AB (.369 BA.)

Now his away:


 I    Year        G   GS    PA    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  IBB  SO  HBP  SH  SF ROE GDP  SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  BAbip tOPS+ Year
+-+-------+---------+----+-----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+---+----+---+---+---+---+---+----+---+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+
      1982        49   38   174   158   17   54   2   0   1   14   14   1    9   0   2   0   0   4    0   0  .342  .395  .373  .769  .358    82 1982
      1983        73   73   329   280   47   90  10   4   3   36   39   1   18   1   2   7   4   9    2   1  .321  .398  .418  .815  .327    76 1983
      1984        79   79   355   307   51   91  14   1   1   28   41   2   22   0   4   3   2   7    2   1  .296  .376  .358  .734  .314    78 1984
      1985        81   80   391   342   47  110  18   1   2   39   45   3   23   1   2   1   6  10    1   0  .322  .401  .398  .799  .340    72 1985
      1986        76   75   362   303   54  108  18   2   5   35   54   8   20   0   2   3   6   5    0   4  .356  .450  .479  .929  .367    98 1986
      1987        72   71   328   269   48   84  12   3  14   39   52   7   24   2   0   5   0   7    0   2  .312  .421  .535  .956  .297    82 1987
      1988        76   75   352   299   54  105  16   3   1   23   49   7   16   0   0   4   3  11    2   1  .351  .438  .435  .872  .364    81 1988
      1989        78   77   376   321   51   92  14   3   1   27   50  11   30   3   0   2   9   8    1   2  .287  .386  .358  .744  .312    70 1989
      1990        75   75   350   310   38   76  14   4   3   31   35   9   26   1   0   4   4   7    0   0  .245  .320  .345  .665  .256    65 1990
      1991        75   74   340   294   43   83  14   0   2   19   42  10   20   0   0   4   8   8    1   1  .282  .368  .350  .718  .293    64 1991
      1992        68   64   292   263   23   72   9   1   3   24   26   7   19   1   0   2   5   6    0   1  .274  .339  .350  .689  .284    94 1992


That's 802 games with 965 hits in 3146 AB (.307 BA.)

Certainly Boggs was no slouch on the road, although he was primarily a singles hitter away from Fenway, as the differential between his road SLG and road BA is much smaller than the differential between his home SLG and home BA.

Let's do a quick back-of-the envelope calculation. If we apply Boggs' road BA to his home ABs, he would have had 940 hits instead of 1133, a loss of 193. That takes him down to 2817 hits in his career, and if he had a career SLG under .400 like his road numbers, he probably would not have made the HOF.

But, if we click the "neutralize stats" link on his page, he moves up to 3092 career hits, although his batting average is mainly unchanged.

It's tough to say what would have happened to Boggs if he hadn't played for Boston. There's no doubting that he was an excellent hitter, and I'm sure he would have tailored his game to wherever his home park was.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 13th, 2008 at 3:53 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Wade Boggs – HOF if he didn’t play for Boston?”

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth: "I’m sure he would have tailored his game to wherever his home park was." He did prove in 1994 that he could do well at home. As a Yankee he hit .359 at home, .324 away (and only .167 at Fenway that year). Also, let's not forget he won two gold gloves, and they were post-Red Sox.

    How does Boggs compare, by the way, to other thirdbasemen of his era? Gaetti? HoJo? Can you compare Boggs' away stats with their overall stats?

  2. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Hold on. You are misinterpreting the numbers and misrepresenting Boggs. His career OPS+ is 130, not 100. The tOPS+ numbers are a comparison to the player himself, not to the league. If you take Boggs's career as the baseline, _then_ his road OPS+ is "only" 82. His road OPS is still over 100 if compared to the rest of the league.

    Furthermore, it is never fair to simply look at a player's road stats and assume that is his true talent. 1st, all players in general perform worse on the road. 2nd, that denies Boggs any games at all in Fenway, which especially early in his career was a great hitter's park. 3rd, Fenway is such a unique park that I think many Red Sox players have more extreme home/road splits than is typical. As you acknowledge, Boggs was probably able to tailor his swing to take advantage of Fenway, but this may have cost him a bit on the road.

    The guy was as good as anyone on a very good '94 Yankees team -- when he was 36 years old and supposedly over the hill. I have no doubt Boggs's greatness would have been evident on most teams in most eras of baseball history.

  3. Ah, thanks for pointing out my mistake with the tOPS+. The rest of your arguments are also valid, although I didn't mean to say that he wasn't a great player both at home and on the road. I'm just wondering out loud if he would have made the HOF.

    As for most players hitting better at home than the road, that's certainly true, but let's look at a couple of Boggs' comps. Tony Gwynn hit .343/.393/.466 at home and .334/.384/.451 on the road. That's a much smaller disparity than Boggs had. We can attribute a fair amount of that to the fact that Jack Murphy Stadium was much closer to neutral than Fenway Park. However I don't think that alone explains why Gwynn was so much more consistent.

    Kirby Puckett, however, looks a lot more like Boggs. Home .344/.388/.521 and away .291/.331/.430. If I recall correctly, the Metrodome was a favorable place for hitters in the 80s and 90s.

    The guy Boggs is most similar to is Rod Carew. Home .333/.401/.434 and away .323/.385/.425, playing mostly in the Metrodome like Puckett.

    And when I applied Boggs' road average to replace his home performance, I said right up front that was back-of-the-envelope.

  4. Carew played mostly at Metropolitan Stadium (832 games), and only a handful at the Metrodome (24). ;)