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ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  Former St. Louis Card...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

For whatever reason, I’ve never gotten into Hall of Fame debates… but I think that will change as more and more players that I grew up watching become eligible. Lately, my interest in Hall of Fame stuff has been peaked by Adam Darowski‘s wWAR ranking system. Basically, it awards players with extra credit for seasons in which they accumulated WAR greater than 3 (termed Wins Above Excellence – WAE) and WAR greater than 6 (termed Wins Above MVP – WAM). You can read Adam’s full description here, but he explains:

We’ll count WAR above 3.0 twice and WAR above 6.0 three times. Let’s call it Weighted WAR (wWAR). The formula is simply WAR+WAE+WAM.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Saint Louis Cardinals’ career leaders in wWAR to see how they rank against each other and those already enshrined in Cooperstown. To start, I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index to generate a list of career leaders in WAR. Since this only displayed each player’s WAR accumulated while playing for the Cardinals, I then calculated their wWAR from player pages and included their entire careers. You’ll notice I added a few players of personal interest (McGwire, Walker, and McGee). After the graph, I’ll comment on my favorite observations.

  • My favorite observation? Ray Lankford (49.4 wWAR) ranks favorably to Lou Brock (47.8 wWAR). Fun fact: Lankford’s career wOBA is twenty points better than Brock’s (.366 to .346). Brock lost quite a bit of value from poor defense (minus ~4 wins) and harsher position adjustment. Amazingly, even without the wWAR system, Lankford is within one WAR of Brock. However, FanGraphs does not agree with this assessment as it has Lankford’s career WAR being roughly ten wins worse than Brock’s. With that said, I think it’s safe to conclude that Lankford is pretty under-appreciated while Brock is probably overrated.
  • The whole “Retire 51″ campaign was probably a little silly, wasn’t it? McGee will always be a fan favorite, but he’s clearly one of the weaker players in the graph above.
  • Scott Rolen’s career 98.6 wWAR puts him on par with Brooks Robinson. If he retired today, his wWAR would be good for sixth best 3B in the HOF. If healthy (always a big “if” with Rolen), his past three seasons of 3+ WAR indicate that he should easily pass Robinson in 2011.
  • Jim Edmonds’ candidacy for the HOF is eagerly anticipated around these parts. The wWAR system only fortifies an argument for his induction. Out of the seventeen center-fielders currently enshrined in Cooperstown, Edmonds would rank eighth in this system (short of Bill Hamilton by one-tenth of a point). I’ll leave it at that. Rumor has it that Mr. Darowski will be gracing us with a guest post on this very topic. Be sure to check back often. You won’t want to miss that.
  • Of the thirteen backstops already in the HOF, Ted Simmons would rank 7th. Refer to our previous roundtable for more on Simmons.
  • No, Albert Pujols isn’t “The Man” just yet, but he’s well on his way, already surpassing 150 wWAR (161.6 to be exact) in just his tenth season. Stan accumulated 207.5 wWAR in twenty-two seasons. As you can see, Pujols’ WAE is more than the WAR total of many of Saint Louis’ all-time greats. He already has more WAM (24) than Stan (20.8). Wow. He’s going to make a lot of money.

What did I miss? Anything else worth mentioning?

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Andy Beard

Proud STL resident. Baseball enthusiast. Music lover. Theology thinker/reader. MA in Clinical Psych. Never met a pizza I didn't like.

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6 Responses to “Cardinals and wWAR”

  1. He doesn’t look too impressive mixed in with some of these other greats, but go ahead and take a peek at where Boyer would fit in among Hall of Fame third basemen. Pretty impressive.

    • Good point, Adam. Boyer is better than three guys already in the Hall of Fame. How have there only been ten third basemen ever inducted?

      • It’s ridiculous and needs to be corrected. I’ve got a half dozen guys I’d nominate. :)

        One of the easiest would be to change John McGraw’s designation from manager to third baseman. He deserves it as a player, too.

  2. I think it’s interesting that the the big three each have a higher WAE+WAM than A LOT of the others have WAR

  3. If Kirby Puckett is in the Hall, for the love of God, put Jimmy Ballgame in Cooperstown.

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