World Series MVPs and LVPs

The last time the Braves won the World Series, I had just begun a job at Blockbuster Video making $4.25 an hour. The night of Game 6 I was scheduled to work from 5-close which was usually around 1am. I had set the VCR to record the game and hoped to avoid hearing the news until I got home, but one of my coworkers let it slip that the Braves had won. So for $34 before taxes, I missed what I had been hoping my whole life to see. Granted I was one day shy of turning 18, so the wait was minimal compared to some of you, but I had lived and died with every at bat from Glenn Hubbard and Ken Oberkfell, and every pitch from Zane Smith and Rick Mahler, right up to the miracle and the heartbreak of ‘91 and the subsequent agonies of ‘92 and ‘93. Times have certainly changed and I got to watch every bit of this one. Here are your World Series MVPs and LVPs for the 2021 Atlanta Braves:

1) Jorge Soler (0.48 WPA, +23.1% cWPA) – This one wasn’t even close. Soler hit 3 go-ahead HRs in the series and Atlanta won each of those games. Soler had nothing but quality at bats all series and all of that culminated in one of the longest HR’s you will ever see. That 3-run HR off Garcia turned out to be all the Braves needed to clinch the series.

2) Austin Riley (0.28 WPA, +9.8% cWPA) – Actually didn’t have a fantastic series, but made his hits count driving in key runs in Games 3 and 4. Only 4 Braves hitters had positive cWPA for the series, so it was key to get those timely hits in a 2-0 and 3-2 game.

3) Ian Anderson (0.30 WPA, +10.3% cWPA) – The next few slots will go to pitchers and it’s really splitting hairs to rank them. Anderson gave his best performance of the postseason when it was needed most. Five hitless innings in what was at the time a 1-0 game, really put Atlanta in charge of the series. Anderson is clearly a big game pitcher.

4) Will Smith (0.28 WPA, +9.7% cWPA) – Was asked to close out all 4 wins and did so in the drama-free fashion we have come to expect from Will. Gave up zero runs the entire postseason. Just a remarkable turn around and Snit’s faith in Will was rewarded big time.

5) Max Fried (-0.09 WPA, +3.5 cWPA) – Diverging from cWPA a bit here. His dismal Game 2 pulls the numbers down, but Max delivered his best performance of the year (at least by xwOBA) in the biggest game of the year. He left the Astros feeling hopeless even at just 3-0, even when they had just come back from 4-0 the game before.

6) Tyler Matzek (0.21 WPA, +8.0% cWPA) – It’s really hard to separate the members of the Night Shift as they all were excellent. Even if the Astors thought they had a glimmer of hope when Fried came out of Game 6, Matzek was quick to remind them how unhittable he has been this entire postseason.

7) Luke Jackson (0.30 WPA, +10.3% cWPA) – Hard to put him this low, as you could argue for as high as 2nd, but he didn’t see the field after Game 4. 3.2 innings of 1 hit ball to help the Braves to a commanding 3-1 lead shouldn’t be overlooked though.

8) Dansby Swanson (0.10 WPA, +6.2% cWPA) – Was really in a funk this whole postseason, but hit 2 key homers in the series, one to tie Game 4 and one to put the game out of reach in Game 6.

9) Kyle Wright (0.13 WPA, +5.2 cWPA) – We may not be celebrating, were it not for the performance turned in by Kyle in Game 4. He kept Atlanta close enough for the late comeback and probably earned the inside track to the 5th starter spot in 2022.

10) Freddie Freeman (0.04 WPA, +1.4 cWPA) – Had a really good series, just did most of his damage in losing efforts or when the game was already out of reach. Intangibly, probably helped motivate the entire team to rally around Freddie and help him win a championship.

Honorable Mentions:

Brian Snitker – Currently reading “One Shot at Forever” on the recommendation of ValD Brave and it is excellent. His life really needs to be turned into a movie someday. Pushed most of the right buttons, never panicked and always trusted his guys, which has had an enormous impact on their success.

Charlie Morton – (0.11 WPA, +3.8% cWPA) – Braves probably win in 5 without Morton’s leg being broken. Actually, they may have won Game 5 if he pitched on the broken leg given how he pitched after the injury. Looked really solid early in Game 1 and allowed Atlanta to get the series lead.

Chris Martin – (0.12 WPA, +4.1% cWPA) – Wasn’t used a ton but was effective in 2.1 innings. Allowed no runs.

The LVPs

1) Joc Pederson- (-0.16 WPA, -5.9% cWPA) – Joctober actually must’ve ended on the 19th because after that Joc was just 2-25. Had a rough series, but not sure they make out of the NLDS without him.

2) Tucker Davidson – (-0.15 WPA, -3.5% cWPA) – I was a bit surprised cWPA wasn’t lower as he took a 4-0 lead and gave it back to Houston. Tough spot to be in and probably shouldn’t have seen the 3rd inning (Dansby’s error didn’t help either) but the results are what they are.

3) Travis d’Arnaud – (-0.10 WPA, -7.1% cWPA) – Not a horrible series but had the worst cWPA on the team. Went 7-24 with 2 solo homers, one of which added a nice insurance run for Game 3. Called a great series as well, just had several key opportunities and didn’t deliver.

4) Dylan Lee – (-0.11 WPA, -4.2% cWPA) – Again, he was put in a rough spot and the umps tight zone made things worse, but he dug a big hole that luckily Wright bailed him out of. May still have a future as a Grant Dayton type, but as he said post game “Now I know that I am a reliever.”

5) Drew Smyly – (-0.09 WPA, -2.8% cWPA) – Smyly did eat some valuable innings in Game 5 and saved the bullpen a bit so that is not nothing, but he never looked comfortable against Houston. 4IP, 3R though 1 run shouldn’t have scored as Altuve, just like Posey before him, was out.

I’m stopping the list at 5 instead of 10 as we just won the World Series, hard to dwell on the negative and anyone I list had key moments to help win the series. Albies (-4.4% cWPA) scored the winning run in Game 6 and looked much better in the 7th spot, Minter (-5.5% cWPA) saved the Braves bacon in Game 1 filling in for the injured Morton and though Rosario (-2.0% cWPA) came back to earth a bit, he had a key walk ahead of Soler’s homer in Game 6 and had a tremendous catch in Game 4 to help preserve the one run lead.

Next up I will take a look at the MVPs and LVPs for the postseason as a whole.

97 thoughts on “World Series MVPs and LVPs”

  1. How refreshing it is for our intrepid Journallers to bask in the glow of ultimate post season success

    In fitting with the MVP of the World Series, here’s his tune. It’s by no means original, but I’ll get to those when I provide some more

  2. Probably just a coincidence…maybe.

    Also I believe that winning the game in which Acuna got hurt brought the Braves record to 44-44. And in the playoffs Joc used one of Anthony Rizzo’s bats (who wore #44 with the Cubs).

    And a couple close calls (just for thoroughness’ sake):
    – There were 44 total runs scored in the WS until Freddie concluded the scoring with his game 6 homer
    – This was Snitker’s 45th year (I believe) in the org.

    #AngelInTheOutfield

  3. Actually, Dusty, could you quickly just list the Astros MVPs and LVPs? They basically lost the series because while their rickety starting pitching struggled as expected and their bullpen was quite solid, their juggernaut offense more or less folded.

  4. Great, Dusty. Particularly great since I was thinking of doing the same thing and now I don’t have to. I have a similar but slightly different postmortem (that’s the wrong term because WE AIN’T MORT!!!) in the works.

  5. @ 4,

    The offensive fold was mostly the result of superior pitching. Advance scouts had good plans for Houston hitters and the pitchers were able to execute those. Matzek is the best / most effective pitcher I have seen since peak Johnny Venters. Matzek truly destroys everybody.

    Fried was masterful in Game 6. Will Smith was a little out of his head, but was absolutely nails.

    I think part of that was the related to Houston’s high walk rate. The old Glavine adage “don’t give in.”
    If it took 3 or 4 plate appearances to get a run, there was a high chance of a double play ball or pop up killing the thing. Then, once the walks didn’t turn into runs, the Houston batters expanded their respective strike zones and they were like turkey on Thanksgiving.

  6. Good question AAR. Here are the Astros just ranked by cWPA.

    MVPs
    1) Greinke 9.6% (note doesn’t count -1.1% for his batting)
    2) Maton 7.2%
    3) Stanek 5.1%
    4) Maldonado 4.9%
    5) Y. Garcia 4.3%
    6) M. Gonzalez 4.1%
    7) Urquidy 3.1%
    8) Pressley 2.6%
    9) Siri 1.8%
    10) Diaz 1.6%

    LVPs

    1) Valdez -19.0%
    2) Javier -16.9%
    3) Alvarez -13.6%
    4) Tucker -8.8%
    5) L. Garcia -7.5%
    6) Brantley -6.9% (surprising as the only hitters with a higher OPS were Freddie and Soler)
    7) Bregman -5.7%
    8) Altuve -4.6%
    9) Castro -4.2%
    10) Gurriel -4.0%

  7. Fun Police, how would you grade the rebuild? Is it pass/fail? Like if you ever at any point win a World Series after rebuilding, it’s an A, and if not, it’s a F? Or is there a sliding scale? Like if you rebuild and won at least one World Series within a certain timeframe, then depending on how long it took, then it’s an A, B, C, D, etc.?

    I had not thought about whether or not the rebuild was necessary in the last couple years, but thinking about it now, I’m just really surprised to hear that you think the rebuild went so incredibly well – A+? — that even wondering if it was all worth it is wrong. Sounds like it’s a “pass/fail” scenario in your mind.

  8. Duvall declined his part of the mutual option, which I believe saves Atlanta the buyout. This means he is arb eligible at a projected $9.1 million or you could non tender.

  9. Note: MLBTR says in their write up that Duvall will get the $3 million buyout, but that makes no sense to me. I could be mistaken, but it seems if there is a mutual option and the club has to buy you out to decline their option (how it usually works), then you shouldn’t be able to, as the player, opt out and still get the buyout right? Of course the Marlins wrote the contract so who knows.

  10. @8, I’m not sure that using World Series wins is the best way to grade the success of the rebuild, since there’s so much chance involved. I think the stronger argument in favor of the rebuild is that only a few years after it started, the Braves began a run of 4 straight division titles. We can still take into consideration how much of that run was due to the rebuild and how much was due to the other factors Alex mentioned like international signings, AA’s post-rebuild wonderfulness, etc.

  11. 12 – Yeah I noted that in 10. I’m really confused by that but they probably know better than I. To their point, at the time of his signing, it does say he gets $5 million guaranteed ($2m in ’21, $7m mutual option w/ $3m buyout). It just makes no sense to me that a player declining their option could trigger a buyout clause, but I’m probably just too stuck in thinking about the way it normally works. I don’t know of any other example of a mutual option with a buyout.

  12. @55 from last thread about ESPN ranking us 7th for next year, I’m just surprised that they have us as the top team in the division. If others have similar rankings, that would be the first time in this run that some other team or teams aren’t expected to finish ahead of us. I imagine it’ll change after the Mets or Phillies buy a free agent or two.

    Also thought it was interesting that ESPN has 3 AL teams as the top 3 and the Brewers as the top NL team. The AL did clean the NL’s clock in interleague play this year (pre-World Series, anyway), 167-133, but the leagues were even in 2020 and the NL was ahead in 2019, so I’m not sure if that’s conclusive evidence about relative league strength. Also surprised to see the Dodgers as 6th.

  13. I found this on ESPN from 5 years ago regarding mutual options:

    “We’ve kept a bit of information from you so far. There are four ways a mutual option can work: (1) No buyout at all. This is rare. (2) A buyout regardless of who declines the option. (3) A buyout only if the club declines the option. (4) Each side’s option is at a different price. So the club might have an option to pay the player $10 million, while the player might have an option to play at $8 million.

    Nobody could give a definitive answer, but based on our review of public information about the 100 mutual options, it appears that the second type — a buyout regardless, such as in Bautista’s new deal — is the most common. But the third and fourth types do exist, and in those cases, there is a narrow sliver of salary where both sides can make a rational decision even if they disagree about what the player is worth.”

    So it seems MLBTR is using the assumption that unless it is reported otherwise, the mutual option is type #2, but I don’t know that you can say that for sure.

  14. @ 8, Rob,

    Judging the rebuild should be based on the front end, not the back end. Too much random stuff happens.

    You basically have 4 outcomes (each to be subjectively judged).
    1.No rebuild, end up good.
    2. No rebuild, end up bad.
    3. Rebuild, end up good.
    4. Rebuild, end up bad.

    I was in favor of the rebuild (the concept, not necessarily all elements of it). You can say “our team ought to spend more money” but if you know they won’t, you are waiting for a frog to come down from a jump without bumping his ass. And all you have to show for that is a long time of watching frog asses.

    Another way to improve (which all of us were looking for rebuild or not) is to develop a new process (Cleveland with pitching) that levels the money field. After the A’s of the early 00’s, this is becoming increasingly difficult and unlikely to succeed.

    So, one way you can get better is to trade current WAR for future WAR. And we got by trades related to the “tear down”: Austin Riley’s WAR, Max Fried’s WAR. Dansby Swanson’s WAR.

    Functionally, I would rather have more bad baseball than extended Laodicean baseball. As long as the bad baseball is generated by a campaign to produce future WAR that seems plausibly executed, then tear it down rather than go 85-77.

    But, many of you say, we won it all with 88 wins. It is just “make the postseason and hope the chaos goes your way.” No, you need to be good enough to win a division if you don’t have mass injuries and tragedies. But the difference in going to all out “superteam” is probably not worth as much as extending a window of “we are pretty damn good.”

  15. And, for all of you, the biggest difference between the first 9 or so Braves streak years (the 90’s) and this team was bullpen. Peak Wohlers and Rocker were not as good as Matzek peak. And consistency of Smith makes him better. And upside of Jackson and Minter probably make them at least as good. By the time the first really good bullpen team came around (2001? Remlinger first time), the starting pitching core was fraying and the position players were not as good.

  16. Riley was more valuable than Freeman this series even though Riley’s slash line was .320/.320/.440 while Freeman’s was .318/.360/.636, because Riley’s hits were at higher-leverage moments than most of Freeman’s. (Riley played very good defense too, but that’s beside my point.)

    This is sort of like saying in MVP discussions that Harper was more valuable than Soto during the regular season despite slightly less impressive production because Harper’s hits were for a team in the playoff hunt and so had higher cWPA, though the difference is that Soto didn’t even have the opportunity to hit in high-season-leverage situations.

    I expect it’ll come up in the postseason MVP/LVP article, but Freeman wound up with surprisingly consistent (and good) numbers in each series – his OPSs were 1.086, 1.063, and .996. That despite swings within each series – in games 1-3 of each series, he hit .226/.342/.226, while in games 4-6 he hit .400/.516/1.120.

  17. Yes, excellent point James. Timing is everything when using WPA and the results can seem fluky based on overall series statistics. That said, I still think it is the best way to objectively look at what actually happened in a short series. WPA is by no means predictive, it is historic only and has it’s limitations (baserunning and defense not to mention positional adjustments).

  18. I think we should non-tender Duvall again and let the the Orioles have him for the first part of the year. Then we could make a trade for him at the deadline – since he won’t play against us and hit half his homers in 6 games, he’ll be much cheaper. Just kidding, … sort of.

  19. I agree on non-tendering Duvall, assuming we can sign at least one or possibly both of Rosario and Soler.

  20. @18, if you mean the biggest advantage this team has over the 90s teams is the bullpen, sure. Wohlers & Rocker were basically end-of-game only, while Snit had better relievers he could (and would) use from the 5th inning to the end of the game if necessary.

    If you mean the biggest difference between the two teams, I’d still say it’s the 90s teams’ starting pitching. At least so far in their careers, Fried and Anderson and Soroka (combined career total bWAR of 22 so far) look more likely to wind up closer to Kevin Millwood and Steve Avery and Denny Neagle (combined total 66) than like any of Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz (combined 256.3).

  21. IMO, Duvall is your sure thing. If you can get him at $9MM, do it. He’s great 5th-6th place hitter that’ll likely grab 2-3 fWAR. Also, it’s a 1 year deal. Too easy if you ask me.

    Also, buyouts will be attached to this year’s salary which is a good thing for next year.

  22. Our MVP was correctly picked by whoever votes for the actual World Series MVP award (I assume there’s some sort of ballot of press members at the game and then MLB brass gets to yay-or-nay…or something). Jorge Soler is it. It wasn’t a series-long obliteration of the competition like Rosario undertook in the NLCS, but two game-winning home runs and a leadoff home run to put the team ahead for good in another game is pretty decisive. He actually wound up being the best hitter in the series for us anyway, at least if you go by OPS. On the pitching side, Luke Jackson wound up with the highest-leverage innings I think, but his performance was not exactly Matzek-in-the-NLCS level. Matzek himself had a so-so outing in Game 1. Ian Anderson and Max Fried both have points for them, but also points against (five total innings and Game 2, respectively). It’s gotta be Soler.

    LVP of the whole series has to Framber Valdez, with a hat tip to Christian Javier. At least Javier had a good outing early in the series. If I’m going with one for the Braves, I guess it’d be either Joc or Tucker Davidson.

    Someone with better knowledge of cWPA than me, I’d love to know how Travis wound up with the worst on the team in this series. He certainly wasn’t good overall, but he hit a couple homers, including one that improved our chances of winning a game that we wound up winning. Was it the two errors maybe? I don’t know…bit confused about that.

  23. Travis had several at-bats with runners in scoring position and failed to deliver (in all of them, I think). cWPA probably accounts for that.

  24. Everyone knows I dig the long ball but IMO if you can sign a guy that can/will hit 40 HR and lead the league in RBI for 9M, you do it yesterday.

    We have a glut of OF options and will probably have to say goodbye to some of them. IMO, most likely Pederson for sure.

    A lot easier to say goodbye to guys on the heels of hoisting the trophy, doe.

  25. #31, for the team sure, but it’s got to be tough for a player to contribute to a championship, have the parade, and realize soon after that the team doesn’t particularly want you back the next year. I believe that Atlanta United even told the captain of its MLS-winning team that it wouldn’t be exercising its option on him the day of the parade (that day may have been a deadline or something). For Joc it might soften the blow if they say, “With Acuna coming back, we don’t have room for you to start,” as it’s hard for a player to object to the team preferring Acuna.

  26. On Duvall, what does everybody think about his fielding? One article today said his 2021 DRS was 17. Most of that could be leftfield for Marlins, but damn even in left 17 is good (that is essentially 1.7 WAR).

    My watching Duvall in center says he is around a 40 to 50 percentile fielder there. Obviously, if he is less than that, it throws that off. But, if he is a slightly above average hitter with slightly below average fielding, with a significant positional adjustment, then that is a 2.5 to 3 WAR player that you can get for 9 million. And if he looks like crap in spring training you can cut him and pay 2.25.

    And, right now, that eliminates having to either (a) find a centerfielder or (b) having to turn one of Pache or Waters into a centerfielder by April of 2022.

  27. I would take Adam Duvall at $9M if he was OD CF and Pache insurance, but I feel like his value plummets if you’re asking him to be a corner outfielder or to obviously to just be on the bench for $9M.

    But I really liked what I saw from him in CF, and you have Acuna in RF. He’d be great value at $9M out there. The reason why the Dodgers can put Bellinger in CF is because Mookie is in RF. That’s one problem with Pache: you’d rather have a bat out there if you have Acuna in RF.

  28. I thought Riley would never be a for real major league third baseman.

    I still have occasional doubts whether Swanson will be more than adequate.

    At this point in time I see neither Pache nor Waters being more than replacement level.

    My record speaks for itself. My opinion is not worth a lot. You can have it at no cost.

    This is truth. My Atlanta Braves are World Champions.
    Not my opinion. Fact.

  29. I think my priority for resigning would be:

    Soler
    Duvall
    Rosario
    Pederson

    Duvall is only slightly above Rosario due to his defensive flexibility in center. I think we’ll need him there with Acuna recovering. It is still hard for me to believe Duvall is 33. He plays like he is 28 in both good and bad ways. You just expect him to figure things out a little more and start hitting for a higher average, but at this point it is probably too much to expect.

  30. I’d pay $ for someone to splice Skip Caray’s voice over the 2021 final out.

    Also, I have a hot take:

    Had AA signed Morton when he left Houston for TB, the Braves win the Series in 2020 and 2021.

  31. Someone asked me if Buster Posey was a Hall of Famer. I had to think the question was stupid. And then I thought, is he not a first ballot Hall of Famer? What do you guys think? I would think so.

  32. It’s not Ingram’s fault at all, but the hiccup is definitely distracting. I’m glad someone cleaned it up. That sounds great. Love it.

  33. I dunno. I got Mauer over Posey and Posey over Molina, and they’re all maybes for me. For what it’s worth, Posey and McCann have almost the same career WAR.

  34. Part of the calculus on OFs has to be the DH. Also Acuna will not be ready at the beginning of the year and, as we found out this year, depth is good thing. Trading for Duvall is almost like admitting you never should have let him get away. Shouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

    So I think about it another way. Assuming Ozuna doesn’t come back, we get only one OF added automatically – Acuna. So we can leave back one of the four – Pederson. If you want to make space for Pache or Waters then you can let Heredia go. With the DH added, we will absolutely need all of Soler, Rosario, and Duvall. Maybe Pache or Waters (whichever is better in the Spring) can handle CF until Acuna returns. Someone that can field as well as Duvall is needed. Rosario and Soler can trade between OF and DH.

    Also, we can hold off on dealing with Duvall until the DH (and CBA) is determined since he is arb eligible. Soler and Rosario need to be signed before they’re picked up by someone else (I expect one or both to be AA’s annual early offseason re-sign).

    AA has to be very careful in signing terms as we have very robust depth in the system at OF and pitching. Smyly has to be a goner as we have so many SP nearly ready. We have decent depth at C and TdA already signed. Where we are lacking in depth is IF – 2nd/3rd/SS. Our best prospects are far from being ready (Grissom/Shewmake) and all we have behind the big three is Arcia and Camargo even if Adrianza is re-signed. If we have a big trade in us, it should be from pitching or OF depth for IF prospects. That’s how we got Arcia. I like to imagine what we could get for pitchers that are better than Sobotka/Weigel. I don’t think signing a bunch of Jason Kipnis’ is going to be good enough.

    Basically, my desired plan (not including signing Freddie, of course) would be to rid ourselves of Smyly and Ozuna and let Heredia (and Pederson) go. Sign Soler, Rosario, and Duvall and bring Adrianza back. Make sure we keep all our eligible pitchers (Morton already signed, too). Start dealing from depth for IF prospects.

  35. @44

    Yeah, I’d say maybe with a slight lean toward yes. The longevity question is real, though, and I’m not inclined to give him automatic access just because his team won three championships.

    And yes, I feel slightly bad about crapping on championships on this, the glorious week of our coronation. I stand by it for Hall of Fame candidacy purposes, though. This championship shouldn’t factor a whole lot into Freeman’s eventual candidacy either IMO. That’s a team accomplishment, the Hall of Fame is an individual accomplishment.

  36. Oh my gosh, that is incredible.

    Man, I’d be bankrupt after that trip. Kudos to him for sticking with it.

  37. @46, You must be looking at fWAR, as bWAR has Posey with 44.9 and McCann with 32. Probably a difference in how they measure catcher defense, and I have no idea which metric is better. Posey was a much better hitter (129 OPS+ to 110) and certainly was more highly regarded by MVP voters; both were All-Stars seven times, but in MVP voting, Posey was 1st, 6th, 9th, 11th, 14th, and 20th in different years, while McCann was 21st and 24th in the only years he received votes.

    Posey’s totals are light, but catchers are compared to each other more than to first base/DH types, and his performance this year (.304/.390/.499 – basically 454 PA of Freddie Freeman) suggests he easily could’ve started for 3 more years, and I doubt many voters will feel that the lack of end-career bulk really changes the player he was. I think he’s in within a couple of years of becoming eligible, though 1st ballot may depend on who else is eligible that year (Pujols?).

    @48, maybe championships shouldn’t matter to HOF candidacies, but in some cases they do, especially if you’re regarded as the best player on the team like Posey or Freddie (but not Bernie Williams). I think this year’s championship will help Freddie since he’s likely to be a borderline candidate unless he ages unusually well.

  38. Nice interview with EY: https://theundefeated.com/features/braves-eric-young-sr-gets-redemption/

    And @51, yup. FG added catcher framing a few years ago and it just made McCann’s stats shoot up insanely. I guess I just have trouble with guys under 60 WAR. I could be convinced, but yeah, it feels light. And I don’t think he gets credit for retiring young – he should be evaluated on the basis of the career that he had. Wonderful career, just a bit light for a Hall of Fame resume, in my book. He wasn’t Gary Carter.

  39. Posey is 8th amongst catchers all-time in fWAR because of his pitch framing. So if you believe that pitch framing can be measured it is as valuable as being grass as it is, then Posey is one of the best catchers in baseball. But there’s only 18 catchers in the Hall of Fame; I think it’s past time we lower the barrier of entry for catchers. There are definitely more than 18 great catchers. We should stop comparing them to other position catchers.

  40. For Mr. Rosario

    Now, I suspect that this clip is very Anglified, but trust me when I say that this is the best track on the best album of the 90’s (no money back if you disagree)

  41. Yeah, I think that’s probably fair, and I know my own standards for catchers are too high.

    On the other hand, pretty soon you have to put Russell Martin in the Hall of Fame. He has basically the same fWAR as McCann and Posey and Molina (and just ahead of Mauer) — and, for that matter, almost equal to Ted Simmons, too, and he was finally just inducted. So, I guess, it sort of depends on what you see when you look at Russell Martin and squint. Do you see a Hall of Famer? Because if you do, then you see about a half-dozen others. It’s probably about time for me to get to that point, but there are a fair number of catchers all bunched between 50-55 WAR.

  42. Oooh, Russell Martin. 55 fWAR. I see your point.

    I guess this is the way I should look at it: just like with any other position, you’ve got to get to a certain amount of WAR or counting stat threshold, etc. But it’s lower than the rest of the position players. If 65 WAR makes you a near shoe-in as another position player, maybe it’s 50-55 for catchers. And of course, you have to make your decision about how you feel about fWAR and pitch framing.

    But then the catcher had to also do something significant. MVPs, Silver Slugger, carry a pennant race. Basically the Keltner List. Buster Posey passes a Keltner pretty well. Martin does not.

  43. Martin actually won a Silver Slugger too :) Honestly, there’s a case to be made that he was one of the most underrated players of his generation. But I used him as a comparison because I think he’s a clear example of someone who doesn’t “feel” like a Hall of Famer.

    Still, broadly, I agree with you — the Keltner List can absolutely tease some of these things out, and I’m totally open to being persuaded that I’m actually outside the norm here, given the sheer number of people like Jay Jaffe who are writing instant reactions that Gerald isn’t just a Hall of Famer, he’s a clear, obvious, non-bubble Hall of Famer, based on the overwhelming quality of his peak (which I don’t deny) and also on the comparison to his peers at the position (which I’m probably being too hard on).

  44. I think you kinda hinted at your answer, but I’d love to hear your conclusion. Do you think Russell Martin is so undervalued that he’s also a Hall of Famer, or are people just really overestimating Buster Posey? The thing about Buster is that he was basically the most popular catcher of his generation, he was very influential in a key rule change in the sport (perhaps the biggest of the last decade), and while it shouldn’t matter, he’s a good looking white boy who came from an elite college baseball program and was on multiple World Series winning teams. So the legend of Buster is playing a role in this as well.

  45. The people that are overestimating Posey (IMO) are in the same industry as the people who will eventually vote on his candidacy. So it’s probably a pretty good indication.

    On a related note, if anybody gets into the Hall of Fame and pitch framing as seen as a huge part of their resume, I will be driven up a wall so far that I might as well be King Kong. I think we’ve found the issue on which I would be a curmudgeonly, stick-my-fingers-in-my-ears Hall of Fame voter. If I look at a resume and pitch framing is mentioned a lot, I’m automatically not voting for you no matter how good the rest of your resume is. And I think I’m only half-joking…heh.

  46. My opinion has been demonstrated to be as worthy as recycled toilet paper.

    IMO Posey is HOF worthy based on no metrics but only my eyes. These same eyes see Andruw in the HOF.

  47. I do think the CBA will be a large factor here (not just what it is but WHEN it is.) While all assume the DH in the NL will be a thing, it is not written in stone yet. That uncertainty is sort of what caused the late signing of Ozuna last year (not entirely, but part of that equation.) And on that front (and not wishing to delve into the particulars of the case) I’m not so certain it will be a snap your fingers and be rid of Ozuna unless he’s just released and the Braves eat the rest of his contract.

    To me the order of need (after the obligatory FF is 1st order) is to sign Soler quickly because he is useful both as LF and DH. I’d also like to see AA not make the same mistake and this time bring back Duvall for the full year. After that, we will need a 3rd outfielder with or without the DH because as stated Acuna is likely not back until May at the earliest. If Rosario can be had reasonably, I’d be fine with that but the FA market is already filling up. There are options out there. More, we could give Pache another shot on the cheap for at least a month or two. Pederson is odd man out here and as he’s just turned down his option, it looks like he thinks he can get a good contract after this run. He’s a fun guy, but extraneous in the long term. I’d also like to see how spring training goes because there is usually someone that looks like they are ready (even if they turn out not to be – again see Pache.)

    Assuming the rotation is somewhat set with Morton/Fried/Soroka (at some point, hopefully)/Anderson and some form of Wright/Muller/Touki/someone else, the pen is somewhat set with some of the usual changes and catcher is set, then yes, I agree – the next step is shoring up the infield backups/bench. I’m laughing because infield/3rd base was such a concern last offseason and it turns out we didn’t need Jose Ramirez after all. Lol. Thank you, Austin Riley!

    Side note on the above – how about going after him again with or without the DH? Riley can either move to LF without the DH or both can play with it and still have an eventual outfield of Soler/Acuna/Duvall. Wishcasting there, of course.

    On Posey – Eye test says yes on the HoF. Numbers suggest eventually but not 1st ballot. Of course, I’d say the same thing about McGriff and Murphy.

  48. @47, that story would be literally unbelievable without the pics to prove it. No way I would have the guts to crash that party, and it’s amazing he wasn’t kicked out at some point.

    On Posey, he feels like a HOF’er to me, even though he was out. I agree with @61 though, if you are using pitch framing as a significant factor to justify someone’s inclusion, that’s a bridge too far.

  49. Joc declined his end of the mutual option. He obviously wants more than $10M. I think that probably takes ATL out of the running.

  50. Okay I will make the counter argument to Posey. And I should say I am using bWAR as I don’t trust the enormous adjustments fWAR made a couple of years ago for framing. To me, Posey kind of reminds me of Johan Santana. One of the best in the league for a brief time and didn’t stick around to pad stats. From bWAR – Posey 44.9 WAR (16th all time C), 36.6 WAR7 (10th), JAWS 40.7 (14th), Most similar Batter – Terry Steinbach, Most similar thru age 34 – V Martinez, While I don’t think he should be discounted, I don’t think he is anywhere near the slam dunk he is being assumed to be at this point.

    Johan 51.7 WAR (100th SP), 45.0 WAR7 (62nd), 48.3 (83rd), Most Sim and Most Sim thru 33 – David Price. Gray ink 122 (avg HOF 185) Black ink – 42 (avg HOF 40), HOF montior – 82 (100), HOF Standards 35 (50).

    For reference sake there are 16 C in the HOF and 65 SP. Johan didn’t even get 5%, Buster is being talked about as first ballot.

    For me, Posey was and forever will be out.

  51. @61

    On a related note, if anybody gets into the Hall of Fame and pitch framing as seen as a huge part of their resume, I will be driven up a wall so far that I might as well be King Kong.

    Couple things here:
    1) That’s hilarious. Well done.
    2) If you’re stealing strikes that could be balls, how can that not be one of the most valuable skills ANY position player could have? You are controlling the game in a very real way. You’re consistently turning 2-1 into 1-2, 1-1 into 0-2, 3-0 into another chance for the pitcher instead of a walk. That’s extremely valuable.

    Now, the proof should be in the pudding, and why can’t we normalize Starting Catcher ERA vs. Backup Catcher ERA? The backup catcher is catching literally hundreds of innings per year. You have a large enough sample to compare. Compare the catcher catching 75% of the innings with the same exact staff as the collection of souls catching the other 25%. If you can determine that Tyler Flowers or Buster Posey is saving 50 runs a year or something over the average catcher with the same staff, then put that on paper and give him his credit on run prevention the way we do when Andruw Jones is the topic of conversation.

  52. I sometimes think we get too hung up on “the numbers” when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Not we as in us here, but just the general “we.” I wonder if there has not been an over correction for some egregious entrants from the past. I mean, you can read case after case that Koufax is one of the least deserving members by the full numbers when we would all consider him a definite Hall of Famer (may not all, but most I’d assume.)

    Again, many of us like Andruw, McGriff, Murphy, etc for the Hall. We all probably know some Yankees fan that still thinks Mattingly got robbed. (I don’t, but I’m not a Yankees fan and his numbers really don’t add up – but his was the most popular baseball card when I was in middle school.) It’s called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Numbers or Stats.

    Bill James obviously had a lot to do with this, and not for the wrong. But we do seem to hinge on the numbers more than the eye test these days but that eye test (all star and play off runs) and overall popularity should still count for something. Of course, we’re still living in a world in which Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are NOT Hall of Famers…somehow. Oh wait…there’s that other thing. ::rolls eyes::

    No, I don’t think Posey is 1st ballot. That, to me, suggests inner circle (which DiMaggio didn’t even get.) Posey is not an inner circle Hall of Fame catcher. But he might belong in the full thing and I’d have no issue with it. Then again, I’m a large Hall guy.

  53. Site’s been okay for me today fwiw.

    By the way, I’d totally forgotten that we nearly signed Soler out of Cuba:

    I bet we have some scouts with long memories of him as a very young man. As I’ve said before, many of our deadline outfielders are reasonably duplicative of one another so I think we should just let cost dictate what happens next. Joc definitely earned himself some money this October and he has every right to go get it. Duvall is probably close to a no-brainer, given the delta between his buyout and his option, but he’s just not an everyday starting player with a sub-.300 OBP.

  54. I’ve never actually read anyone say that Koufax is one of the “least deserving members.” As Bill James points out, virtually all of the worst members of the Hall of Fame are crappy players from the 1930s who the Veterans Committee inducted in droves — Jesse Haines, Rube Marquard, High Pockets Kelly, Freddie Lindstrom, etc. Posey is obviously better than they are, but we also generally agree that the worst Hall of Famers do not exhibit what we think of as a Hall of Fame caliber of performance. So the best way of answering the question is to ask whether Posey is better than a reasonable number of current Hall of Fame catchers.

    At the end of the day, as I look at it, his numbers compare favorably to guys like Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane, whose careers also ended around the age that his did. Guys who stayed behind the dish into their 40s like Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Pudge Rodriguez are in the distinct minority and are not a fair benchmark. So I’m basically talking myself into Posey’s candidacy, given that he clearly passes the eye test.

    At the end of the day, Posey winds up at the very bottom of the modern tier of catchers. He’s above guys from baseball’s early days like Ray Schalk, Ernie Lombardi, and Rick Ferrell, all Veterans Committee selections. He’s roughly in line with Cochrane, Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, and recent Veterans inductee Ted Simmons. The Hall of Fame certainly is not cheapened by the inclusion of Posey. But I do believe that letting him in — and, for that matter, inducting Simmons — requires reevaluating the criteria for catchers and having more of a Big-Hall approach in general. If you induct Posey, you really do have to take a long, serious look at not only Molina and Mauer but also Martin and McCann, and maybe even Munson.

    I don’t have a serious problem with that kind of evaluation. But as I wrote at Fangraphs 10 years ago, if you vote for him, you have to think about voting for a lot of other guys, too.

  55. @68

    I have less of a problem with that, because that incorporates pitch calling and blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out baserunners and all that. Something like that would be OK with me, honestly.

    My issue with isolating pitch framing is that, in my opinion, it’s something akin to saying “this guy is really good at legally cheating.” It would be like using a player’s prowess at stealing signs (the traditional analog way, not the Astros way) and adding it to their Hall of Fame resume IMO. I’m guessing some people would say that it should be part of his resume if you could quantify a number of extra wins that it gave his team, but I’m just not a big fan. I also get that a lot of folks don’t see old-fashioned sign-stealing and pitch framing as remotely similar, but I kinda do.

    End of the day, if their prowess at it gets Posey and Molina into the Hall of Fame because they played in the Decade of Pitch Framing (allowing for the fact that they may deserve to be in anyway), I guess I’m OK with that if we could just go to an electronic strike zone and get rid of that and crappy umpire strike zones in one fell swoop.

  56. Probably should have used Dizzy Dean as the example, but the point remains. Maybe doesn’t have the overall numbers but famous enough that Tennessee Williams used him as a name check in a play from 1944. Also gets extra points surely for his broadcasting career. The man was famous even if his numbers don’t match Walter Johnson or Randy Johnson, for that matter.

  57. I’m a Luddite. Advancing technology and I are old familiar foes.

    That said, having and not using technology that obviates the sins and virtues of pitch framing is, well, stupid.

  58. I see that the conversation has moved on, but here’s why I’d give the rebuild an A or A+ or whatever:

    #1 Our success to date: as rebuilds go, it didn’t take us long to get back into the crapshoot, and once we sat down at the table, we haven’t left. We’ve gotten to the playoffs in more than half the seasons since the rebuild started, we’ve made two deep runs, and won a championship. Despite other organizational constraints and difficulties.

    #2 Our success tomorrow: as Rob points out, next season looks promising too. The whole premise of the rebuild was sustained success. And here we are.

    #3 I like Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis as much as the next guy, but it’s hard to imagine any alternative strategy contributing more to #1 and #2 than the rebuild did. It could be that my counterfactual simulator is running low on batteries, though. Feel free to take me down to the paradise city where we did better than four straight division titles, coming within a game of a WS berth, winning a WS, and having the chance for more next year–if only we NEVER rebuilt.

  59. Conspicuous in his absence from the festivities thus far is Charlie Morton. Wherever he is, I hope he’s feeling like a champion.

  60. @76 – He’s there. Saw him in one of the cars.

    As regards the rebuild, we can say it worked because there is a Championship. Without it, there would still be plenty lamenting the Simmons and Kimbrel trades. Might still do. A massive what if that matters not in the moment.

  61. @77, Thank you, warms my heart.

    Also, I nearly forgot to shout out the guy whose garbage pitching in garbage innings helped keep the rest of the staff fresh enough when it mattered most…all while getting dumped on by fans, too. Hey, it’s part of the job description. To be great is to be misunderstood. You’re a champion too, Josh Tomlin :)

  62. It was covered with some humor yesterday on 680 The Fan, but yeah…Tomlin gets a ring. Kevan Smith gets a ring. Panda gets a ring. Carl Edwards, Jr. gets a ring. Shock, horror, but Marcel Ozuna gets a ring.

  63. I hesitate to say it for so many that have shit on the man all year, but Kranitz gets a ring. And I’ve wanted to add this for months (and times have changed) but I never piled on because Maddux himself name checked the man in his Hall of Fame speech. Maybe deserved?

  64. I think Posey gets in but not on first ballot.

    Something else to keep in mind: Not sure what his postseason slash numbers are without looking it up, but he was one of the best players on 3 different World Series winners.

  65. I guess the Posey discussion is about played out too, but like most HOF discussions including the one we’ll have about Freddie, this one has lots of not-always-stated assumptions. Some are: whether the Hall should be large or small; the relative importance of peak value versus total career value; and whether or not catcher framing metrics accurately measure the value of that skill. Another is more generally the purpose of the Hall. Most people seem to think of the Fame in Hall of Fame as honoring players who were famous (Yasiel Puig for HOF! or any very good Yankee! Harper before Trout!), but my impression is that the Hall was originally set up to honor players and by doing so, contribute to their fame. That would suggest that whether or not they actually were famous shouldn’t matter much.

    One other thing that may just be me: I think that in borderline cases, being identified with one or at most two teams gives a player a boost compared to a player who bounces around the league. Gary Sheffield is my main example – wonderful hitter, especially later in his career (though apparently PED-aided), but he played for eight teams, never longer than his four full seasons and two partial seasons with the Marlins. As great as he was, that’s lots of teams who had him and decided they could be better without him. The only other player I can think of somewhat like that was Rickey Henderson, but he wasn’t on the HOF borderline and he played a total of 14 seasons with Oakland in four different stints, so he’s not really a good comp. I think Freddie would have a slightly better shot at the Hall as a career-long Brave than he would as a Brave for 12 seasons, Yankee for 4, and Angel for 3 or whatever. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s better to be seen at the end of your career as an icon for one team than just another guy whose career is winding down.

  66. Lofton was a journeyman but he was a hell of a ballplayer and I’d put him in. I wouldn’t necessarily hold that against a guy, but I generally agree that HOF worthiness can be like “value” in context of MVP and certainly can vary in the eye of the beholder.

  67. @84 – I don’t really disagree (except for Puig…he was never that famous in the first place…and I know that was a joke.) The only thing I’d say is that the original Hall was not built to contribute to the fame of its players as much as contribute to the game itself and its reputation. The first five entrants (Cobb, Johnson, Mathewson, Wagner and Ruth) needed no more ammunition to their fame. First circle, no doubters. To add to it is to contribute to the history of the game and while it might seem reward I see it as an historical repository. Who meant what and when…and why? X was the premier first baseman or Y was the most respected catcher of an era. To me it is about the history of the game, a record, and one could say as much about who is left out as much as who is let in. The numbers game is fun, no doubt, because it causes us to look back and compare. I like that side of it, but don’t love it because certain players get left behind because they don’t compare well. Different eras, different players and different voters.

  68. I’m gonna do a 7-part series on what would have happened if we didn’t rebuild. Fun Police is gonna llllllove it.

  69. And Fried and Ozzie also called on the team to resign Freddie! I’d like to think that’s putting a lot of pressure on the front office.

  70. And as did d’Arnaud. And Joc and Will Smith got the m’fers on there. Joe even got Manfred booed. Just out of control in the most amazing way.

  71. It was a wonderful event. Billye Aaron spoke first and to me was the highlight. In discussing Henry she quoted from Romeo and Juliet—at some length and beautifully.

  72. Loved it! Every minute!

    Yes, the resign Freddie moments! The m-fers moments. And indeed. Billye Aaron.

    “Turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”

    How’s that for Braves Journal poetry? ;)

    Also…loved the hats.

  73. @92

    Agreed. The two highlights for me were Billye Aaron and Charlie Morton. I didn’t really expect either to speak and both spoke beautifully.

  74. @85, yeah, it certainly is in the eye of the beholder, which is why I like to think about what assumptions are behind all of our choices. I don’t know that I would hold his late-career moving around against Lofton, who played 9 full years with Cleveland through age 34 plus part of one at the end, contributing 48 bWAR. Sheffield was on his 3rd team at 24 and his 4th team at 29, and he didn’t contribute more than 17 bWAR to any team, which seems different.

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