here are one or two exceptions, however. It’s no secret that I favor Batting Runs, which are essentially a player’s Linear Weights value over a league average player, when evaluating players from different eras. The biggest problem in my reliance on Batting Runs occurs in my evaluations of catchers and shortstops. Players who man these positions often have negative values for batting runs while still contributing, since Batting Runs compares a player to the league average rather than the league average at a certain position. In other words, a shortstop may hit below the league’s average, but still be above average offensively for a shortstop.
The best example for how this can muddle things is the case of Joe Tinker versus Ozzie Smith. I rate the two shortstops about the same defensively (an incendiary comment that will no doubt require a separate article soon, I know). Offensively, Joe Tinker has -68 Batting Runs while the Wizard amassed -143. A cursory appreciation of these statistics leads one to interpret that Ozzie was twice as detrimental to his team with the stick than was Tinker.