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HoF debate: Kirby Puckett

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Postby joshheines » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:14 am

ukrneal wrote:I can't put this to bed either, because I see everything pointing to a HOF career.

Stats will only get you so far. You can make them say whatever you want in the end in some cases. In the case of Puckett, you have one of the best hitters of his generation. If he had had the longevity of Boggs or Gwynn, he would have easily hit the 3000 hits mark. There's no guarentee he would have lasted quite that long, but there is nothing to show he would not.


What about the most comparable player, Donnie Baseball? The career numbers are strikingly similar and Donnie had a higher peak than Puckett did. The fact of the matter is that neither Mattingly or Puckett did have the longevity. Your giving Puckett credit for things he didn't accomplish. Lot's a players have been great for a short period of time, but it is greatness and longevity that get you in the HOF. Puckett was missing one of those ingredients.

ukrneal wrote:As to career ending injuries or death, I think that should be taken into consideration. Let's assume that Pujols continues his current production for 2 more years,giving him 8 years of MLB service, and then cannot play for some reason. Would you leave him out? I would vote him in even though he didn't quite get as much time as some voters would like. So Munson, when you look at his career, should have his premature death taken into account. Each voter will have to decided this for himself or herself.


Pujols is a different beast than Puckett all together. Pujols is on pace to go down in the pantheon of the greatest players of all-time. Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Mays, Williams, Bonds and Pujols. I'm sure I'm leaving some off, but you get the gist. There is the "inner circle" of the HOF and Pujols is on track to get there. Now, if Pujols retires for some reason in two years, he does probably get in the HOF, but not in the inner circle. You just can't compare Pujols and Puckett, but I will.

Puckett, again, wsa great early. Puckett only finished in the top 5 in MVP voting three times in his career and never won an MVP. In the five years Pujols has played, he's finished in the top 5 all 5 times. Including the NL MVP last year. It would be ridiculous to think he wouldn't finish in the top 5 this year too. If the Cards hang on to win the Central, Pujols probably wins another MVP. If they don't make the playoffs he easily finishes in the top 5. So let's just say he gets in the top 5 6 times in his first 6 years.

Pujols career adjusted OPS is 169. Puckett's adjusted OPS is 124. Puckett cracked an adjusted OPS of 150 just once and of 140 an additional time. So far Pujols "worst" season was better than Puckett's best season.

The career trajectory is just not comparable. It's telling that Pujols' most similar player by age is Joe DiMaggio. Puckett's most comparable players are guys like Don Mattingly, Mike Greenwell and Al Oliver.

ukrneal wrote:As to the teams he was on, of course he wasn't the only decent hitter. What I am saying is that if you take him away, you have a team that probably doesn't go to the series, because you can't replace his offense, defense, and leadership. In many other teams that won two or more series in a short period, you can take away a player and they still have a dominant team. The Twins relied much more on Kirby.


You think the Twins would have made the playoffs let alone the World Series without Hrbek? Or Gaetti? Or Brunansky? Or Viola? Or Morris? Or Blyleven? No way. You take one cog out of that machine and it doesn't work as well. In 1987, the Twins only finished 2 games ahead of the Royals and 4 games ahead of the A's.
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Postby ukrneal » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:34 am

I wouldn't compare Puckett to Mattingly. Mattingly had only a few good years, while Puckett had about 9-10. Mattingly would have been a shoe in if he could have produced well for 10 years. But he didn't.

Mike Greenwell - another great hitter who had only a few good years. But Boggs and Gwynn are the more similar if Puckett doesn't get hurt.

If you won't give Puckett the benefit of the doubt with his injury we will never see eye to eye on this one. I definitely take that into account. He would have eneded at 3000 hits or so if nature had taken its course. Some will talk about a slippery slope, but I will just say that it is a case by case approach.

Would they have made the playoffs without one of the others? Maybe not, but I look at it this way, without Puckett 0% chance. With Puckett - at least a 50% chance.

Let's take career adjusted OPS+ for a second. Tim Salmon and Moises Alou both have better career OPS+ than Puckett. Are you telling me you would take those two over Puckett? You see, OPS+ isn't enough for me. His fielding was up to 60% better than the average. He was one of the best defensive CF of all time. I would think that would compensate for any shortcomings.

A great hitter + a great fielder + a career cut short + a true team leader = HOF. And it just doesn't seem close to me.

Can you at least agree with me that Dave Kingman was the worst Mets player ever? Or at least the most frustrating?
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Postby joshheines » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:42 am

looptid wrote:
joshheines wrote:
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.

Josh, you can't have it both ways. In the same paragraph you directly compare the offensive statistics of Puckett and Mattingly and then compare the two defensively relative to their position. Compare the two offensively relative to their positions if you are going to do so with their glovework. First basemen aren't expected to be able to man center, and center fielders aren't expected to hit like first baseman.


To quote my forefathers (and mothers), "Oy Gevault!" Or something like that. Yes, I did say that Puckett and Mattingly have similar career stats and yes I did say that Puckett saved X number of runs per season over the average CF and Mattingly also saved the number of X of runs per season over the average 1B.

Here's Puckett's VORP's for his career:

VORP (Value over replacement player) (rank overall in parenthesis)
1986 - 65.4 (4)
1987 -55.1 (14)
1988 - 75.1 (2)
1989 - 59 (6)
1990 - 29.8 (54) [Bo Jackson was 55 that year]
1991 - 40.8 (30)
1992 - 56.2 (12)
1993 - 36.4 (47)
1994 - 31.4 (37)
1995 - 40.5 (28)

Here's Mattingly:
1984 - 64.5 (4)
1985 - 69.1 (5)
1986 - 85.8 (1)
1987 - 50.4 (22)
1988 - 39.6 (34)
1989 - 40.9 (22)
The only other notable years Mattingly had were:
1992 - 22.3 (76)
1993 - 22.6 (87)

Mattingly was the games best from 1984-86. He was still an all-star from 1987-89. Then in 1992-93 he was still an above average player. The rest of his career is garbage. Over the 8 good years Mattingly's VORP averaged out to be the 31st highest VORP. That is comparable to what I think I said Kirby's was, which was 34th? Or something like that. Granted Kirby had 2 years on Mattingly.

What is VORP? It is an acronym for Value Over Replacement Player. The general concept? "So if a first baseman and a shortstop have identical offensive statistics and equal defensive abilities relative to their positions, who's the better player? The shortstop, because the offensive-productivity bar for shortstops is notably lower than it is for first baseman, since it's far easier to find a good-hitting first baseman than it is a good-hitting shortstop." Baseball Prospectus.

A replacement level player is defined as one who hits as far below the league positional average as the league backups do relative to league average, who plays average defense for the position, and is a breakeven base-stealer and baserunner.

VORP is the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement level player would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances.
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Postby joshheines » Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:01 am

ukrneal wrote:I wouldn't compare Puckett to Mattingly. Mattingly had only a few good years, while Puckett had about 9-10. Mattingly would have been a shoe in if he could have produced well for 10 years. But he didn't.

Mattingly produced well for 8 non-consecutive years. Puckett produced well for 10 consecutive years.

ukrneal wrote:Mike Greenwell - another great hitter who had only a few good years. But Boggs and Gwynn are the more similar if Puckett doesn't get hurt.


Mike Greenwell wasn't my comparison, it was baseball-references. I looked at Mattingly and Oliver's numbers and they are very consistent.

ukrneal wrote:If you won't give Puckett the benefit of the doubt with his injury we will never see eye to eye on this one. I definitely take that into account. He would have eneded at 3000 hits or so if nature had taken its course. Some will talk about a slippery slope, but I will just say that it is a case by case approach.


Again, your putting Puckett down a slippery slope. You want to give Puckett the benefit of the doubt that without injury he gets the numbers to get to the HOF. Are you willing to give Mattingly, or similarly spectacular players who had a career cut short by injury the benefit of the doubt? I'm sure your argument will be, "Well Puckett played 10 great years and Mattingly only played 8. So if Mattingly played 2 more great years, he's in." So what happens when player Y comes along with a similar career to Puck and Mattingly and plays 9.5 years (career ending injury half-way through his last season). Does he get in? If he gets in, what about the guy who plays 9 years? Then what about the guy who plays 8.5 years? Then what about Mattingly. You get no benefit of the doubt for things you didn't accomplish.

You seem like a guy who's probably in his late 20s to late 30s who may have a wife. Go ask your wife if you get the benefit of the doubt for cleaning the kitchen or whatever because you thought about doing it, even though you had done it the last five times with no problems. It doesn't count unless it gets done.

ukrneal wrote:Let's take career adjusted OPS+ for a second. Tim Salmon and Moises Alou both have better career OPS+ than Puckett. Are you telling me you would take those two over Puckett? You see, OPS+ isn't enough for me. His fielding was up to 60% better than the average. He was one of the best defensive CF of all time. I would think that would compensate for any shortcomings.


Nope. Then again, Salmon and Alou didn't play Gold Glove caliber defense, ever. Although, offensively, Alou had at least 4 seasons I'd take before most of Puckett's.

ukrneal wrote:Can you at least agree with me that Dave Kingman was the worst Mets player ever? Or at least the most frustrating?


I was a little too young for Kingman. I guess I was four or five or so when he left the Mets for the As in 1984. Although, looking at his careers numbers he looks like garbage. I have no room on my team for a guy with a .280 OBP. I don't care how many mammoth HR you hit. You detriment your team when you only get on base 28% of the time.
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Postby ukrneal » Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:51 am

I would give Mattingly 6 good years (although I can see why you might say 8). On the other hand, he had clearly peaked by age 28, while Puckett was still going strong at 35.

Gotcha on Greenwell. I wasn't referring to the site at the time.

You seem to want to identify a list of criteria by which a player should either get in or not. I would not. 3000 hits for one player may be more meaningful than for another. I would not set arbitrary limits. So when a player with 9.5 years comes along, I'll take a look at his stats and his hard data and then I will add my subjective opinion to it. And if a guy ends with 9.0 years, I'll take a look at that too. I don't have a problem with this. I like that the two are mixed to determine the nominees.

I'm guessing you don't think Ralph Kiner should be in either? There's your 9.5 seasons!

My point about the OBP+ is that there are limitations to the stats. I'm not saying it is useless, but that they are sometimes showing something different than what we think. I agree that Alou and Salmon aren't as good, and yet their OBP+ is better than Puckett's OBP+.

The cleaning the kitchen analogy was a little strange. Isn't that what kids and dogs are for! :) In any case, with Puckett, there will always be this 'what if' about his injury and how his career would have ended. With MAttingly, there isn't much of a 'what if'. His injuries just never allowed him to perform at the same level (or maybe it was just age). The problem for Mattingly is that his career simply trends like any other player. Puckett's simply ends abruptly.

I'm glad we could possibly agree on Kingman. He epitimized what I hated about the Mets from that time.
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Postby Big Cat » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:50 am

joshheines wrote:Frank Viola won the 1987 WS MVP.

Jack Morris won the 1991 WS MVP.

Despite heroics and memorable players, at the time it doesn't appear as if MLB thought Puck put the Twins on his shoulders to win the game.


For your information, both of those pitchers threw 3 games in the WS and got 2 wins each. Morris could've gotten all 3 but the bullpen blew his lead.

Not to mention that Morris refused to be pulled by manager Tom Kelly and went on to throw a 10 inning, complete game, shutout win.
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Postby DK » Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:12 pm

Big Cat wrote:
joshheines wrote:Frank Viola won the 1987 WS MVP.

Jack Morris won the 1991 WS MVP.

Despite heroics and memorable players, at the time it doesn't appear as if MLB thought Puck put the Twins on his shoulders to win the game.


For your information, both of those pitchers threw 3 games in the WS and got 2 wins each. Morris could've gotten all 3 but the bullpen blew his lead.

Not to mention that Morris refused to be pulled by manager Tom Kelly and went on to throw a 10 inning, complete game, shutout win.


The funny thing about Morris is that although he played nearly all of his career in Detroit, and only has one year in Minnesota, I will forever think of him as a Twin for that one WS game alone.
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Postby Mookie4ever » Thu Aug 17, 2006 2:39 pm

Does anyone think that MLB missed an opportunity by not having Sir Mix-A-Lot host the Puckett induction ceremony?

anybody?
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Postby joshheines » Thu Aug 17, 2006 5:54 pm

I'm glad you used Kiner as a reference. Kiner was on the Pujols track. Kiner led baseball in HR seven times . . . IN A ROW! From 1948-1953 Kiner led or finished second in baseabll in walks. He finshed 1st in adjusted OPS 3 times and finished 4th two times. He was top 5 in times on base 5 times and top 5 in extra base hits 5 times.

Kiner was better than Puckett. No doubt about it. Kiner retired in 1955 and didn't get into the HOF until 1975. I'm sure Kiner received credit for being the announcer for the MEts from their inaugral 1962 season until 1975(and continues to do so until today). Kiner must have received credit for his broadcasts because in 1984 he was inducted in the Mets HOF without ever playing a game for the Mets.

His first five years Kiner averaged about 110 runs, 47 HR, 123 RBI .285 AVG, .415 OBP, and probably a .615 SLG.

You just can't compare Puckett and Kiner. If you accept the premise that Kiner is miles ahead of Puckett. Then you have to accept the premise that Puckett should not have been a first ballot HOF.

Kiner's first eligible year, 1960, he received 3 votes of the 269 cast. In 1962 he received 5 of 160. In 1964 he received 3 of 201. In 1966, he received 74 of 302. In 1970 he finally cracked 50% of the total votes when he received 167 of 300. It took him untul 1973 to crack 60% of the votes. Then he got 235 of 280. Then he got elected in 1975. It took Kiner 15 solid years to get into the Hall. If Kiner, is considered a questionable HOF (I think a good definition of questionable HOF is any guy who takes 15 years to get into the HOF) and Kiner is better than Puckett than Puckett shouldn't be a HOF. And while Kiner's career was cut short, he still was getting credit for his lengthy (23 years at the time of election) broadcasting career. Puckett's short career ended abruptly and that was it.
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Postby looptid » Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:24 pm

joshheines wrote:What is VORP? It is an acronym for Value Over Replacement Player. The general concept? "So if a first baseman and a shortstop have identical offensive statistics and equal defensive abilities relative to their positions, who's the better player? The shortstop, because the offensive-productivity bar for shortstops is notably lower than it is for first baseman, since it's far easier to find a good-hitting first baseman than it is a good-hitting shortstop." Baseball Prospectus.

I'm well aware what VORP is. Nice you handpick different seasons for the two players. If Puckett gets no credit for what might have been if his career wasn't cut short, then Mattingly gets no credit for what might have been if he too could have stayed healthy.

Career WARP-2
Puckett - 91.1
Mattingly - 83.2

Career WARP-3
Puckett - 93.5
Mattingly - 85.0

Puckett was the superior offensive player over the length of both their careers. Say what you want about Mattingly's peak, but Puckett had a .304 EQA the year Dennis Martinez drilled him in the head ending his career. Puckett wasn't done producing and his production wasn't in late-career decline.
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