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39+ Games As DH With WPA >= .15

Posted by Steve Lombardi on January 10, 2011

So, who are the leaders in terms of most games as a Designated Hitter where their WPA in that contest was .15 or better?

Here's the list:

Rk Player #Matching   PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1 David Ortiz 183 Ind. Games 841 673 375 86 3 143 405 157 96 .557 .640 1.331 1.971 0 5 26 6 7
2 Edgar Martinez 183 Ind. Games 856 683 387 98 1 112 360 156 70 .567 .650 1.205 1.855 0 4 19 13 12
3 Harold Baines 162 Ind. Games 707 604 352 71 6 86 344 100 55 .583 .639 1.147 1.787 0 3 13 0 4
4 Hal McRae 141 Ind. Games 637 550 305 86 19 52 259 72 42 .555 .610 1.064 1.674 1 3 9 11 4
5 Don Baylor 141 Ind. Games 634 539 270 48 2 93 285 64 53 .501 .565 1.115 1.680 0 7 5 24 5
6 Frank Thomas 131 Ind. Games 599 480 251 57 1 103 300 100 53 .523 .600 1.290 1.890 0 10 9 8 3
7 Chili Davis 119 Ind. Games 530 453 244 47 0 77 262 69 61 .539 .596 1.152 1.749 0 5 13 3 5
8 Paul Molitor 110 Ind. Games 527 469 261 53 18 43 199 52 38 .557 .597 1.021 1.618 0 4 6 1 4
9 Travis Hafner 97 Ind. Games 449 361 199 53 5 59 205 72 50 .551 .624 1.216 1.840 0 7 7 9 5
10 Brian Downing 97 Ind. Games 444 360 190 40 2 48 150 72 27 .528 .614 1.050 1.664 1 1 5 10 3
11 Jose Canseco 89 Ind. Games 423 361 197 45 2 68 211 49 58 .546 .598 1.247 1.845 0 6 4 7 3
12 Jim Thome 85 Ind. Games 375 299 154 29 1 72 181 73 58 .515 .608 1.341 1.949 0 2 8 1 2
13 Andre Thornton 79 Ind. Games 360 302 158 27 0 58 184 53 32 .523 .589 1.189 1.778 2 3 5 0 5
14 Cliff Johnson 73 Ind. Games 313 263 129 14 1 51 152 44 29 .490 .569 1.133 1.702 0 1 3 5 5
15 Willie Horton 73 Ind. Games 319 288 145 26 3 42 150 26 35 .503 .544 1.052 1.596 1 2 4 2 3
16 Rico Carty 65 Ind. Games 284 253 148 31 2 35 124 28 13 .585 .627 1.138 1.765 0 1 4 2 4
17 Reggie Jackson 63 Ind. Games 280 237 114 12 2 48 138 40 42 .481 .561 1.156 1.717 0 0 5 3 4
18 Jim Rice 59 Ind. Games 274 242 131 16 6 43 121 31 34 .541 .595 1.190 1.785 0 0 5 1 3
19 Jason Giambi 59 Ind. Games 273 229 109 25 0 44 124 40 33 .476 .560 1.162 1.722 0 0 4 4 0
20 Greg Luzinski 57 Ind. Games 255 224 120 21 3 37 119 25 23 .536 .580 1.152 1.732 0 3 1 3 2
21 Mike Sweeney 55 Ind. Games 259 222 123 31 0 27 112 34 24 .554 .614 1.059 1.672 0 1 6 2 2
22 Eddie Murray 55 Ind. Games 246 216 118 17 1 34 105 27 18 .546 .589 1.106 1.696 0 3 2 0 2
23 Oscar Gamble 51 Ind. Games 209 167 94 15 2 31 89 37 7 .563 .651 1.234 1.884 0 0 7 5 1
24 Cecil Fielder 51 Ind. Games 226 189 90 19 0 39 106 34 27 .476 .558 1.196 1.753 0 1 5 2 5
25 Rusty Staub 50 Ind. Games 229 201 97 29 4 23 101 27 7 .483 .544 1.010 1.554 1 0 1 0 7
26 Tommy Davis 49 Ind. Games 216 203 108 12 1 15 74 9 11 .532 .544 .823 1.367 1 3 4 0 4
27 Rafael Palmeiro 48 Ind. Games 216 183 93 19 1 40 112 28 17 .508 .574 1.279 1.853 0 2 4 3 2
28 George Brett 46 Ind. Games 209 186 113 31 3 22 78 19 8 .608 .641 1.161 1.802 0 2 3 2 5
29 Danny Tartabull 45 Ind. Games 202 173 81 18 0 31 88 28 36 .468 .545 1.110 1.654 0 0 1 1 2
30 Juan Gonzalez 45 Ind. Games 207 184 106 23 3 39 121 20 22 .576 .618 1.370 1.988 0 1 5 2 2
31 Manny Ramirez 44 Ind. Games 203 164 93 16 1 40 102 36 32 .567 .650 1.409 2.059 0 0 10 3 0
32 Dave Parker 44 Ind. Games 196 180 84 17 1 25 86 12 24 .467 .495 .989 1.484 0 3 6 1 2
33 Vladimir Guerrero 44 Ind. Games 197 180 99 15 3 32 103 11 15 .550 .574 1.200 1.774 0 3 2 3 4
34 Julio Franco 44 Ind. Games 200 171 91 12 3 19 78 26 23 .532 .588 .971 1.559 1 2 0 0 1
35 Richie Zisk 43 Ind. Games 176 164 86 13 1 30 75 10 23 .524 .551 1.165 1.716 0 1 2 1 2
36 Lee May 42 Ind. Games 178 157 75 10 2 22 86 16 16 .478 .531 .987 1.518 1 1 1 3 1
37 Ken Singleton 41 Ind. Games 179 151 82 16 0 17 75 28 14 .543 .615 .987 1.601 0 0 5 0 6
38 Matt Stairs 40 Ind. Games 168 138 73 16 0 27 86 28 15 .529 .601 1.232 1.833 0 2 1 0 2
39 Aubrey Huff 40 Ind. Games 178 159 82 17 1 26 77 18 13 .516 .567 1.126 1.693 0 0 5 1 1
40 Ruben Sierra 39 Ind. Games 169 151 84 15 0 24 95 16 21 .556 .592 1.132 1.724 0 2 1 0 1
41 Hideki Matsui 39 Ind. Games 171 144 75 17 0 25 86 23 14 .521 .585 1.160 1.745 0 2 0 2 1
42 Jack Clark 39 Ind. Games 183 138 69 11 1 27 76 44 35 .500 .623 1.181 1.804 0 0 1 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/10/2011.

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I'm guessing that Big Papi will be the king of this list some time during this coming season.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 4:36 pm and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

22 Responses to “39+ Games As DH With WPA >= .15”

  1. It's strange to me that Edgar Martinez's career dWAR is 0.3.

  2. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's because oWAR and dWAR are not split up correctly. The positional adjustment (which includes the "penalty" for being a DH) is included in oWAR. It should be with dWAR. Sean disagrees.

  3. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Ortiz: 183 matching games out of 1,272 games played at DH. Martinez: 183 matching games out of 1,412 games played at DH.

  4. wait... there's a WAR 'penalty' for playing DH?

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's not a penalty, but some describe it as such.

    It's a comparison of the inherent value in playing different positions. A DH has no defensive value. A catcher has a lot. WAR estimates the difference between them being worth about 25 runs over a full season.

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kevin bryant, Baseball Reference. Baseball Reference said: B-R Blog: 39+ Games As DH With WPA >= .15 http://bit.ly/f2YsR6 [...]

  7. Its more of a "positional scarcity" as I see it. Its the "Rpos" column in the WAR tables. That column is negative for the "bat" positions (3-7-9-D), but Johnny is right, you could think of it as a positional adjustment to the offensive replacement level contribution ("Rrep"). I could be wrong, but I believe Rrep + Rpos is always positive.

    Its possible that defense is not involved at all in the calculation of "Rpos"... that's what the phrase "positional scarcity" implies. Its not that catchers provide more defense, its that replacement-level catchers are worse hitters than replacement-level DH's.

    During the season, there was talk of having some "Nuts and Bolts of WAR Calcuation" articles during the offseason. I don't know if there is still time for that, but those would be very informative.

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I guess it's somewhat semantics, David. Yes, catchers are worse hitters than DHs (etc), but the reason is because catcher, SS, etc require more defense. Fewer people are capable of playing the harder positions (plus, to an extent, the positions are more wearing), so fewer big bats play them.

    One does not necessarily have to involve actual defensive performance in calculating the difference between positions, but I think B-R WAR does. I think it looks at the difference in performance between all the players who appear at multiple positions.

    To me, one's defensive value is dependent on the position they play (the "rPos") and how well they play it ("rField"). That's why I think those should both be included in dWAR. No matter how poor a fielder you think Derek Jeter has been, it's absurd to think Edgar Martinez was worth 14 more wins than him defensively. But that's what dWAR as currently presented says.

  9. Yeah... the baseline for dWAR is "average" while the baseline for oWAR is "positionally-adjusted replacement". There's a descrepancy there. dWAR is really dWAA. Rpos and Rrep have to go somewhere, though. I suppose you could split it into three by splitting split Rpos + Rrep out. Then you would have oWAA, dWAA and some sort of positional durability number.

    Also you could make a case that Derek Jeter did cost indeed his teams more runs defensively over who they could have been playing at SS than Edgar Martinez cost his teams defensively over who they could be playing at DH-1B-3B. Its not saying that Edgar Martinez could jump in and play SS better than Derek Jeter, that's is indeed absurd. Its just saying that there is no shortage of average-fielding SS's in AAA and that Jeter's positional value is that he can hit.

    I think that's also why there's so many defensive leaderboards. It doesn't make sense to compare Total Zone Runs between different positions. That's exactly what's being done when you compare dWAR between two different positions. I believe dWAR is just TZR/RunsPerWin.

    You're argument of putting the positional adjustment in the defense side has merits too, I'm just making the case for the other side.

  10. @Johnny, #2:

    The positional difference should be offensive. Take Mike Piazza for example.

    His value as a catcher had nothing to do with his defensive abilities, but because of the offensive value he provided given the scarcity of production from that position.

    He's going to be a first ballot HOFer. If he put up those same numbers as a 1B, he most likely wouldn't make it.

    Or, if you prefer, it's the difference between having Eric Karros and a AAA catcher in your lineup.

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    But "the offensive value he provided given the scarcity of production from that position" is combining offense and defense. Well, that's what WAR already does. If you are going to break WAR down into its components, offense and defense should be separated, not leaking into each other. Piazza's value as a hitter had nothing to do with his defensive abilities or his defensive position either. His value as a *player* did. He didn't bat as a catcher. If his batting numbers were those of a decent 1B, that's how he was pitched. He wasn't any more dangerous at the plate just because he was so much better than other catchers. His value as a catcher was in his ability to play catcher (whether or not he played it well). Carlos Delgado didn't have the ability to play catcher, so he was moved to 1B. Piazza did. Even if he couldn't throw anyone out, that's defensive value.

    Tango recently wrote about this: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/reader_mail_of_the_day/

  12. I have the best solution to this entire problem: eliminate the DH

  13. The position adjustment does not come from offense and sould not be measured by offense. For some years in '50's CF's (Willie, Mickey and the Duke), hit better than RF. But it would have been absurd to give a better Rpos to RF. Very few of the RF could have played acceptable CF. All of the CF's would have been good in right. Suppose you took 1000 players who could at least field well enough to play 1B. Maybe 100 of them could field well enough to play SS. The SS would be better fielders at first than the IBmen, and the IB's would be much worse at SS. We measure the defensive difference to get Rpos. Because there are 1000 choices in the 1B group and only 100 of those in the SS group, we expect the 1B group to hit better, at the top and on average. That is positional scarcity. In practice the difference in offense, measured in runs, should be about the same as the difference in defense, so it can be used as an approximation, but the difference in defense is what matters. One would expect them to be close, otherwise the market is inefficient and GM's are making lousy decisions.

    For various technical reasons we often measure offense from average, but we could measure it from zero. So that a sum of the individuals would approximate the actual team runs scored. We can say that a good batter adds 100 runs to his teams offense, an average one 80, and a poor hitter 60. We have no way of doing this for defense. (Aside from the question; is it pitching or defense?) A SS fields a lot more balls than a 1B, and most of what a 1B does, catch throws, any other player at that level could do as well. So a SS is clearly worth more on defense than a 1B. Even a very bad SS and a very good 1B. Rpos is our best estimate of the average difference in defensive worth among the positions. (Including DH, another headache, but this post is too long already!)

  14. Defensive war really is useless. I seen a post on her where it had Doug Flynn as a bad defensive player. that is all I need to know about defensive war. I mean I do respect that they are trying to put a number on defense and hopefully somehow they can improve it and make it worth looking at. but as of now it has no relevance.

    Now offensive WAR I love although it too needs to be tinkered with. right now WAR has hitters a little high and Pitchers a little low. take the yankees last year..I love Cano but there is no way he was worth more to the Yanks than Sabathia.

  15. @13
    Good point on Rpos and bunching of talent at positions (e.g. 1950s CF).

    Spot-checking 1950s data, they don't appear to be making the big mistakes that you are worried about. For example, in the 1955 NL, the highest offense position was CF thanks to Mays & Snider (and Ashburn & Bell). But they still give a higher Rpos to CF than they do LF-RF-1B. I don't know if they do that by checking the replacement level (i.e. ignoring the stars) or doing multi-year averages or a sanity check for obvious defensive spectrum ordering or combinations of the above. Anyone know where to find algorithmic details?

  16. If I remember correctly, Rpos is recomputed for each decade. With some players you can see this when their Rpos changes between year xyz9 and the next year. (remember that Rpos, like Rrep depends upon playing time.)

  17. Ah... thanks. I can see significant shifts in rPos for Eddie Collins (2B) between 1919 and 1920 and Stan Hack (3B) between 1939 and 1940. Those two positions were indeed trading places in the defensive spectrum during the few decades but its interesting to see the sharp breaks in the positional adjustment at the end of these particular decades. I don't have the raw data, but at some point they might consider smoothing those transitions.

  18. Johnny Twisto Says:

    David, you misunderstood Kds. I am pretty sure B-R WAR does use defensive performance to set the differences between positions, by looking at the ratings of everyone who plays multiple positions in a season.

  19. Interesting list.

    Guys like Ortiz & Hafner are way up there because they hardly ever played the field.

    Less than 250 games in the field between them. Too bad Thomas & Baines (Over 2,000 games in the field combined) will/are lumped into that DH group when being looked at historically...

  20. @18
    "David, you misunderstood Kds. I am pretty sure B-R WAR does use defensive performance to set the differences between positions, by looking at the ratings of everyone who plays multiple positions in a season."
    --------------------
    I guess I'm still confused then. I thought Rpos was an adjustment based the difference in offensive replacement level due to positional scarcity. As you say, its the extra fielding skill required by the defensive positions that creates that scarcity, but the number itself is obtained by measuring offense, not measuring defense.

    Pitchers have a high value of rPos. Per plate appearance, its enormous. That number is not because of their fielding. Its because they can't hit.

  21. [...] more from the original source: 39+ Games As DH With WPA >= .15 » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog … Posted in General Tags: david, games, kevin-bryant, mentioned-on-twitter, reference, twitter, [...]

  22. Johnny Twisto Says:

    David, I guess I'm confused as well. I thought rPos was derived from measuring fielding differences between positions, but you're right, that would not explain why pitchers have such a high rPos (I had never noticed that before).