ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  Former St. Louis Card...
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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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Tom Tango has toyed with the idea of player win-loss records for a while, and this past week he laid out a method on how to convert WPA into individual win-loss records. Tango challenged us to play around with this new toy with some of our favorite teams; the 2004 club popped to mind. The normal WPA caveats apply: there’s no accounting of fielding of defense or position, but this does perfectly add up to the team’s 105-57 record.

Offense W L
Albert Pujols 11 -1
Jim Edmonds 10 -1
Scott Rolen 9 0
Reggie Sanders 5 2
Ray Lankford 2 1
Larry Walker 2 1
Edgar Renteria 3 5
Mike Matheny 1 4
Tony Womack 4 3
The Rest 5 15

And the pitchers:

Pitching/Defense W L
Chris Carpenter 7 3
Jeff Suppan 7 4
Jason Marquis 6 5
Woody Williams 6 5
Matt Morris 5 6
Jason Isringhausen 6 0
Ray King 4 -1
Julian Tavarez 3 1
The Rest 8 5

If you’re wondering about the negative values, Tango explains:

There are negative wins and negative losses.  That happens when a pitcher pitches so poorly or so well, that he “breaks” the “sum of the parts equals the” theory we are constraining ourselves to.  The reality is that trying to represent players in this way is a fudge to the way we really should be thinking it (WPA).

Naturally, Albert broke the system. This was a year when Jason Isringhausen was mostly just Izzy and not Baron Von Isringhausen. All hail the MV3.

The split between hitting/pitching+defense is pretty even 53-52. Anyway, next up I’ll probably look into the 1987 team, or maybe just last year’s team. Hopefully this proves to be semi-interesting. I like how it assigns a true W-L record for everyone that adds perfectly up to the team’s real W-L record, instead of just looking at a bunch of numbers and decimal points.

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