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HoF debate: Kirby Puckett

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Postby joshheines » Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:03 pm

looptid wrote:
joshheines wrote:His career OPS+ is +124. Which means his OPS was 24% higher than the average player of his time. His career RC/27 was 6.34 over about 7800 plate appearances. Mattingly had a career OPS+ of 127 and 6.29 RC/27 of 7700 career plate appearances. They both played about the same defense over their careers too.

I don't think he's in either, but don't compare the defensive contributions of a center fielder to a first baseman. Being a great defensive first baseman is like being the prettiest girl at fat camp.


According to Baseball Prospectus, when Mattingly is compared to 1b of his time and when Kirby is compared to other CF of his time, the two's defensive prowess is equal and BP calculates that each saved their teams comparable runs with said defense.
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Postby CircleMeBert » Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:28 am

The reason Puckett got in is the same reason Jeter will get in, they were both the face of the game for their respective eras.
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Postby ukrneal » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:39 am

I think a few things are being missed:

1) For those that lived through it, don't you remember the irrepressible joy you had watching this guy play?!?!? I remember watching replay after replay of his various exploits with my mouth hanging open. And despite the personal-life problems we would later discover about him, at the time there was no one who could pump you up about the game like Kirby. He brought a joy to the game that was inspiring.

2) Hits: This guy was a hitting machine. Someone mentioned quickest to 2000 hits and then someone else said it's a slippery slope since what about 1750, 1500, or 1000? Well, he was the second fastest to 1000 until Ichiro came along, but the analogy is not quite the same.

3) Stats: His lifetime batting average of .318 was the highest of any right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. (from Wikpedia). Rarefied air...

4) Charity work and community involvement.

5) More stats: Hit .300 8 times, and over .290 3 times (in fact, .296 and .298), had an OBP+ of 132 in his injury-ended season - showing he probably could have gone on for several more years, led total bases twice despite averaging about 20HR per year.
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Postby joshheines » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:00 pm

ukrneal wrote:I think a few things are being missed:

1) For those that lived through it, don't you remember the irrepressible joy you had watching this guy play?!?!? I remember watching replay after replay of his various exploits with my mouth hanging open. And despite the personal-life problems we would later discover about him, at the time there was no one who could pump you up about the game like Kirby. He brought a joy to the game that was inspiring. .


I never thought of Kirby as the face of baseball. I was about 10 when Kirby started playing and was a pure baseball fan. Maybe it's my east coast bias but I always thought Mattingly, Boggs, Strawberry and Ripken were the faces of baseball. I'd even say Gwynn was more of the face of baseball than Puckett was. However, that's all a completely subjective argument that can be made for or against any HOFer or borderline HOFer because you have to be phenomenal to even be considered a borderline HOFer.

ukrneal wrote:2) Hits: This guy was a hitting machine. Someone mentioned quickest to 2000 hits and then someone else said it's a slippery slope since what about 1750, 1500, or 1000? Well, he was the second fastest to 1000 until Ichiro came along, but the analogy is not quite the same.


That's not the point of a slippery slope argument. The point of the slippery slope argument is that we have always considered 3000 hits the magical benchmark, right? So why would it matter how fast one individual got to 2000 hits? If Puckett was the fastest person to 1000 hits, but then just trolled along for the next 15 years as a journeyman and managed to get 2000 hits does he get extra points because he was the fastest guy to 1000 hits? No way. Hypothetically say that Player X comes along and gets 250 hits in each of his first four season and is the fastest player by a mile to 1000 hits. However, he suffers a career ending injury in the off-season when he tragically loses his legs to a great white shark while surfing off the coast of Maui on his honeymoon. Is Player X a HOFer because he was the fastest ever to 1000 hits? I think not.

ukrneal wrote:3) Stats: His lifetime batting average of .318 was the highest of any right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. (from Wikpedia). Rarefied air...


To what extent was this because Puckett was able to retire in his prime instead of playing three, four or even five years past his prime? Let's say Kirby played three years past his prime and average .280 per year past his prime. He averaged about 600 ABs per year. Given those static numbers, if Puckett played three years past his prime his career average would be .310. Nice. Four years past prime? .308. Five years past his prime? .306. That's a mighty big difference. Coincidently, it would have taken Puckett about four or five more years to get to 3000 hits.

ukrneal wrote:4) Charity work and community involvement.


Does that mean Al Leiter is a HOFer? There might not be a better charity and community guy that ever existed in baseball than Lieter. No? Go figure.

ukrneal wrote:5) More stats: Hit .300 8 times, and over .290 3 times (in fact, .296 and .298), had an OBP+ of 132 in his injury-ended season - showing he probably could have gone on for several more years, led total bases twice despite averaging about 20HR per year.


More stats, I won't argue the AVG because that's what Puckett had going for him. I won't argue the 132+ OPs because, in part, I already have. Yes, he got cut down in his prime or at least toward the end of his prime. However, it's the Hall of Fame not the Hall of Could Have Been. The Hall is for actual achievements not potential achievements.

I will argue total bases. Puckett finished 2nd in the league in TB in 1986 with 365. Then he finished 1st in 1988 with 348 and 1st in 1992 with 313. In 1986, Puckett walked only 41 times. In 1988 he walked only 23 times. In 1992 he walked 44 times. The total base number rewards those players who hit the ball as opposed to get on base via the walk. Adding walks to TBs. In 1986 Puckett had 406 bases. In 1988, Puckett had 371 bases. In 1992 he had 357 bases. In 1986 Boggs only had 280 something TBs, but he walked 105 times. So he had 385 bases. Barfield has 398. It's very indicative that he only finished in the top five in times on base once in his career, 1986. Again, in 1988, Boggs had 400 bases to pucks 371. Canseco had nearly 420. Greenwell had 400 on the nose. McGriff had 375. Winfield had 365. That's just in the AL. I don't have time to look at 1992, but TB is indicative of nothing.
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Postby giants! » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:18 pm

joshheines wrote:
To what extent was this because Puckett was able to retire in his prime instead of playing three, four or even five years past his prime? Let's say Kirby played three years past his prime and average .280 per year past his prime. He averaged about 600 ABs per year. Given those static numbers, if Puckett played three years past his prime his career average would be .310. Nice. Four years past prime? .308. Five years past his prime? .306. That's a mighty big difference. Coincidently, it would have taken Puckett about four or five more years to get to 3000 hits.


Not a good argument. Your using the fact that his career was cut short to diminish his achievements but someone will say that since you are bringing his short career into the conversation that if he woudn't have been injured, he would have accumulated the stats to make hima sure fire hall of famer.
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Postby ukrneal » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:59 pm

joshheines wrote:
ukrneal wrote:I think a few things are being missed:

1) For those that lived through it, don't you remember the irrepressible joy you had watching this guy play?!?!? I remember watching replay after replay of his various exploits with my mouth hanging open. And despite the personal-life problems we would later discover about him, at the time there was no one who could pump you up about the game like Kirby. He brought a joy to the game that was inspiring. .


I never thought of Kirby as the face of baseball. I was about 10 when Kirby started playing and was a pure baseball fan. Maybe it's my east coast bias but I always thought Mattingly, Boggs, Strawberry and Ripken were the faces of baseball. I'd even say Gwynn was more of the face of baseball than Puckett was. However, that's all a completely subjective argument that can be made for or against any HOFer or borderline HOFer because you have to be phenomenal to even be considered a borderline HOFer.

ukrneal wrote:2) Hits: This guy was a hitting machine. Someone mentioned quickest to 2000 hits and then someone else said it's a slippery slope since what about 1750, 1500, or 1000? Well, he was the second fastest to 1000 until Ichiro came along, but the analogy is not quite the same.


That's not the point of a slippery slope argument. The point of the slippery slope argument is that we have always considered 3000 hits the magical benchmark, right? So why would it matter how fast one individual got to 2000 hits? If Puckett was the fastest person to 1000 hits, but then just trolled along for the next 15 years as a journeyman and managed to get 2000 hits does he get extra points because he was the fastest guy to 1000 hits? No way. Hypothetically say that Player X comes along and gets 250 hits in each of his first four season and is the fastest player by a mile to 1000 hits. However, he suffers a career ending injury in the off-season when he tragically loses his legs to a great white shark while surfing off the coast of Maui on his honeymoon. Is Player X a HOFer because he was the fastest ever to 1000 hits? I think not.

ukrneal wrote:3) Stats: His lifetime batting average of .318 was the highest of any right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. (from Wikpedia). Rarefied air...


To what extent was this because Puckett was able to retire in his prime instead of playing three, four or even five years past his prime? Let's say Kirby played three years past his prime and average .280 per year past his prime. He averaged about 600 ABs per year. Given those static numbers, if Puckett played three years past his prime his career average would be .310. Nice. Four years past prime? .308. Five years past his prime? .306. That's a mighty big difference. Coincidently, it would have taken Puckett about four or five more years to get to 3000 hits.

ukrneal wrote:4) Charity work and community involvement.


Does that mean Al Leiter is a HOFer? There might not be a better charity and community guy that ever existed in baseball than Lieter. No? Go figure.

ukrneal wrote:5) More stats: Hit .300 8 times, and over .290 3 times (in fact, .296 and .298), had an OBP+ of 132 in his injury-ended season - showing he probably could have gone on for several more years, led total bases twice despite averaging about 20HR per year.


More stats, I won't argue the AVG because that's what Puckett had going for him. I won't argue the 132+ OPs because, in part, I already have. Yes, he got cut down in his prime or at least toward the end of his prime. However, it's the Hall of Fame not the Hall of Could Have Been. The Hall is for actual achievements not potential achievements.

I will argue total bases. Puckett finished 2nd in the league in TB in 1986 with 365. Then he finished 1st in 1988 with 348 and 1st in 1992 with 313. In 1986, Puckett walked only 41 times. In 1988 he walked only 23 times. In 1992 he walked 44 times. The total base number rewards those players who hit the ball as opposed to get on base via the walk. Adding walks to TBs. In 1986 Puckett had 406 bases. In 1988, Puckett had 371 bases. In 1992 he had 357 bases. In 1986 Boggs only had 280 something TBs, but he walked 105 times. So he had 385 bases. Barfield has 398. It's very indicative that he only finished in the top five in times on base once in his career, 1986. Again, in 1988, Boggs had 400 bases to pucks 371. Canseco had nearly 420. Greenwell had 400 on the nose. McGriff had 375. Winfield had 365. That's just in the AL. I don't have time to look at 1992, but TB is indicative of nothing.


Perhaps you were just too young to remember or pay much attention. I am from the east coast (NY area) and I ALWAYS thought of him as this genuine superstar. He was always on those highlight reals and he was always smiling. How much this really adds to HOF credentials, I'm not sure, but it was something not being mentioned much.

Retiring in his prime probably helped career numbers, but it is not inconceivable that he could have kept that pace up a few more years. He was hitting .314 in that last year. So I really don't see him losing much.

Anyway, I disagree with you and would still vote Kirby in. I'm glad he's in and feel that he is not bordeline. The man was a great hitter and the numbers bear that out. And since the primary role of a hitter is to hit (some would say get on base, but they don't pay players millions for walks even if you don't like it), I think he gets in, just like Gwynn and Boggs.
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Postby Tavish » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:00 pm

joshheines wrote:All that I just checked and Tony Gwynn was younger when he got to 2000. Jeter was younger too. Actually I think a few guys did it younger and faster.


They threw up the same type of stats when Jeter reached 2000 hits and were claiming he was one of the fastest to reach the mark. It took a little bit of digging for me to realize that they were talking about post-expansion and in terms of games played.

Boggs is the only one who fits that category who made it faster than Puckett.

Wade Boggs,1515
Kirby Puckett, 1542
Tony Gwynn, 1560
Rod Carew, 1567
Derek Jeter, 1571
Pete Rose, 1600
Paul Molitor, 1635
Don Mattingly, 1637
George Brett, 1659

Guys like Cobb and LaJoie demolished those numbers.
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Postby mikhayl » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:42 pm

ukrneal wrote:Perhaps you were just too young to remember or pay much attention. I am from the east coast (NY area) and I ALWAYS thought of him as this genuine superstar. He was always on those highlight reals and he was always smiling. How much this really adds to HOF credentials, I'm not sure, but it was something not being mentioned much.


I was 9 years old when he won the 91 WS for the Twins and he was definitely a bonafide superstar at that time. Everybody wanted his baseball cards. I had a friend who dressed up as Puckett for Halloween for godsake...and this was in Maryland. He made highlight reels in out of market cities on the evening news before the explosion of SportsCenter.

I don't think there's any disputing the popularity or charisma of the guy. Further, I don't see a superstar as big Puckett today. Maybe my view is warped because I was an impressionable kid back then and I loved baseball, but I remember Puckett as a baseball god.
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Postby joshheines » Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:05 pm

giants! wrote:
joshheines wrote:
To what extent was this because Puckett was able to retire in his prime instead of playing three, four or even five years past his prime? Let's say Kirby played three years past his prime and average .280 per year past his prime. He averaged about 600 ABs per year. Given those static numbers, if Puckett played three years past his prime his career average would be .310. Nice. Four years past prime? .308. Five years past his prime? .306. That's a mighty big difference. Coincidently, it would have taken Puckett about four or five more years to get to 3000 hits.


Not a good argument. Your using the fact that his career was cut short to diminish his achievements but someone will say that since you are bringing his short career into the conversation that if he woudn't have been injured, he would have accumulated the stats to make hima sure fire hall of famer.


While that's true, doesn't it just bolster my argument that Puckett is not a HOFer because he doesn't have those numbers?

And certainly while his .318 average might rank among the elite, I'm left to wonder how many players of his era bettered his career .360 OBP.
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Postby joshheines » Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:19 pm

ukrneal wrote:The man was a great hitter and the numbers bear that out. And since the primary role of a hitter is to hit (some would say get on base, but they don't pay players millions for walks even if you don't like it), I think he gets in, just like Gwynn and Boggs.


Nope. No way. The primary role of a hitter is to score runs. You can't score runs if you don't get on base.

It's not like Puckett was a power hitter. He was in the top 5 in singles in the AL from 1984-1992, with the exception of 1990. He finished in the top 5 in extra-base hits only three times. Those three times he finished 3rd, 4th and 5th. So, it's not like a walk for Puckett was much different than a single. Sure a walk doesn't drive a guy on first to third or from second to home, but it moves forced runners over just the same. If you want to discount the walk, go ahead, but it gives a team an opportunity to score.

I'll go back to my VORP argument. From 1986-89 the guy was on the HOF track. He was perenially a top 10 player. However, beginning in 1990 he began to trail off. With the exception of 1992 he was never a HOF caliber player again. Even factoring in the 1992 season, from 1990 to his retirement in 1995, he averaged out as being about the 35th best/most valuable player considering position value. That's just not a HOFer too me. There were better guys of the time and Puckett was NEVER a dominant force.
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