Baseball - General / Reds History

Going to WAR

Baseball-reference.com has another nifty little feature this week. On each team’s franchise encyclopedia page, it now includes the season’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) leader. In this way, you can check out the best players for any team ever in a particular season, and it just so happens that the best teams usually have high totals for a leader and the worst teams typically have low totals for the leader.

Perhaps it’s the “80/20 rule” where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people? At least, that always seems to be true, so it’s probably true in baseball too.

For those who don’t accept these kinds of measurements, you’re not alone and not unappreciated. That’s why I continue to list Triple Crown stats in my comments, too. Anyway, Bobby Abreu doesn’t know what WAR is either and he seems to have had a pretty decent major league career. In fact, he’s 121st on the all-time WAR list, ahead of such luminaries as Will Clark, Willie Stargell, Darrell Evans, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, and Hank Greenberg.

Meanwhile, here’ the 10 highest WAR-rated Reds single seasons, along with the team’s finish:

1. Will White, Pitcher, 12.5 WAR, 1882 season, 55-25 Reds season record, .688 percentage, 1st of 6
2. Joe Morgan, 2B, 12.0, 1975, 108-54, .667, 1st of 6
3. Mike (Elmer) Smith, P, 11.4, 1887, 81-54, .600, 2nd of 8
4. Will White, P, 11.0, 1883, 61-37, .622, 3rd of 8
5. Dolf Luque, P, 10.1, 1923, 91-53, .591, 2nd of 8
6. Joe Morgan, 2b, 10.0, 1972, 95-59, .617, 1st of 6
7. Joe Morgan, 2b, 10.0, 1976, 102-60, .630, 1st of 6
8. Joe Morgan, 2b, 9.9, 1973, 99-63, .611, 1st of 6
9. Jesse Duryea, P, 9.8, 1889, 76-63, .547, 4th of 8
10. Billy Rhines, P, 9.4, 1890, 77-55, .583, 4th of 8

Well, we have Joe Morgan and a flock of early pitchers. Morgan must have been pretty good. Let’s go 11-20:

11. Bucky Walters, Pitcher, 9.3 WAR, 1939 season, 97-57 Reds season record, .630 percent, 1st of 8
12. Jose Rijo, P, 9.3, 1993, 73-89, .451, 5th of 7
13. Joe Morgan, 2b, 9.1, 1974, 98-64, .605, 2nd of 6
14. Jim Maloney, P, 8.7, 1965, 89-73, .549, 4th of 10
15. Frank Robinson, OF, 8.5, 1962, 98-64, .605, 3rd of 10
16. Cy Seymour, OF, 8.4, 1905, 79-74, .516, 5th of 8
17. George Foster, OF, 8.2, 1977, 88-74, .543, 2nd of 6
18. Ted Kluszewski, 1b, 8.1, 1954, 74-80, .481, 5th of 8
19. Eric Davis, OF, 8.0, 1987, 84-78, .519, 2nd of 6
20. Noodles Hahn, P, 7.7, 1902, 70-70, .500, 4th of 8

Next 10: Tony Mullane P 1886, Ewell Blackwell P 1947, Frank Robinson OF 1961, Frank Robinson OF 1964, Will White P 1884, Barry Larkin SS 1996, Don Newcombe P 1959, Mario Soto P 1982, Fred Dwyer P 1896, Ted Breitenstein P 1897.

Of the top 30 finishers, only five played on losing teams, with Soto’s 1982 being the far worst.

Here’s the bottom 10:

129. Chick Hafey, OF, 2.9 WAR, 1933, 58-94 Reds season record, .382 percentage, 8th of 8
128. Paul Derringer, P, 3.1 WAR, 1935, 68-85, .444, 6th of 8
127. Jeff Shaw, P, 3.3, 1997, 76-86, .469, 3rd of 5
126. Joe Beggs, P, 3.4, 1946, 67-87, .435, 6th of 8
125. Joe Tinker, SS, 3.4, 1913, 64-89, .418, 7th of 8
124. Bucky Walters, P, 3.6, 1945, 61-93, .396, 7th of 8
123. Elmer Dessens, P, 3.7, 2001, 66-96, .407, 5th of 6
122. Lou Grissom, P, 3.7, 1937, 56-98, .364, 8th of 8
121. Ray Kolp, P, 3.7, 1928, 78-74, .513, 5th of 8
120. Barry Larkin, SS, 3.8, 1989, 75-87. .463, 5th of 6

11-20: Harry Heilman OF 1930, Jose Guillen OF 2003, Ewell Blackwell P 1951, George Foster OF 1980, Kiki Cuyler OF 1936, Benny Frey P, 1934, Austin Kearns OF 2004, Kevin Mitchell OF 1994, Dolf Luque P 1921, Frank Dwyer P 1894

Of these groups, only one of the bottom of 10 were on teams with winning records. Three of the bottom 20 were on winning teams.

To find out more about these players, click on the team franchise link above and it will take you to the page with links to the specific players. I’m always fascinated to see how the players from different eras mix. For a review, read the tag lines below.

Oh, let’s get career, too, but we’ll limit to top 10 for positional players and pitchers. These will take into consideration career length with the Reds. First positional players (cumulative totals):

1. Pete Rose, IF-OF 74.7
2. Johnny Bench, C, 71.3
3. Barry Larkin, SS, 68.9
4. Frank Robinson, OF, 61.5
5. Joe Morgan, 2b, 61.3
6. Bid McPhee, 2b, 57.9
7. Vada Pinson, OF, 45.1
8. Tony Perez, CI, 43.8
9. Edd Roush, OF, 41.1
10. Heinie Groh, 3b, 38.7

Consistency with high peaks seems to have paid off in that list. Now the pitchers:

1. Noodles Hahn, 39.6
2. Tony Mullane, 39.3
3. Eppa Rixey, 37.0
4. Jim Maloney, 35.1
5. Dolf Luque 35.0
6. Jose Rijo, 33.7
7. Will White, 33.5
8. Frank Dwyer, 31.9
9. Paul Derringer, 31.2
9. Bucky Walters, 31.2

I wonder if folks today know how good Jose Rijo actually was?

15 thoughts on “Going to WAR

    • WAR, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.(That comment was ol’ school in more than one fashion)

      Nice!😆

  1. Until he got hurt, he was the best I ever saw in a Reds uniform. I was young and vaguely remember Tom Seaver. The only other pitcher even close since then for me is Mario Soto, but Rijo was better. Browning was pretty good too, but I still give the nod to Jose.

  2. Just out of curiosity, how much did Wally Pipp’s WAR change between 1924 and 1925?

  3. for fun here are the Reds top WAR totals by position all-time

    all-time
    1B: 48.3 T Perez (HOF)
    2B: 61.3 J Morgan (HOF)
    3B: 38.7 H Groh
    SS: 68.9 B Larkin
    LF: 38.1 G Foster
    CF: 45.1 V Pinson
    RF: 23.7 K Griffey Sr
    OF: 61.5 F Robinson (HOF)
    C: 71.3 J Bench (HOF)
    honorable mention: 74.6 Pete Rose

    starters
    39.6 N Hahn
    39.3 T Mullane
    37.0 E Rixey (HOF)
    35.1 J Maloney
    35.0 D Luque
    33.7 J Rijo

    relievers
    13.5 J Franco
    12.0 C Carroll
    9.3 R Dibble

  4. can it not be said that joe morgan was the greatest second baseman of all time? the only person that is really be considered better than he was was eddie collins.
    collins had the better career OPS+ at 141 vs. morgan’s 132, but morgan had a season at 186 in ’76 where collins’ best was 176 in 1914. collins had an average WAR of 5.1 per year and morgan isn’t far behind with 4.7.
    however, morgan beats him out in fielding with .981 career v. .970.
    i think you can make the argument that morgan was btter than collins.

  5. Morgan’s peak is better. Morgan from 1972 to 1977 was one of the greatest players ever. Just look at that WAR list. Unbelievable. Collins’ career was longer and more consistent.

  6. Go compare Jose Rijo’s stats from the early 90s with those of Greg Maddux. The only difference that really matters in innings. Rijo is a great example of someone who would have ended up with a strong HoF case if he could have stayed healthy.

  7. Speaking of WAR, with the Cardinals’ acquisition of Pedro Feliz, they acquired, based on WAR, the worse positional player in baseball this year😆

  8. Let me see if I have this right….

    Wins Above Replacement essentially means how many more wins a team has when they play one player over the other, right? So the comparison is based on winning percentage when player in question is in the game?
    Sounds like comparison of diminishing returns.
    1990 Reds secondbasemen:
    Compare Mariano Duncan to Ron Oester
    Compare Ron Oester to…Billy Bates?

    Or does it mean comparing the player in question with ANY hypothetical player? Is it position to position? Can you do the same with batting order? As in, they played better when Chris Sabo hit lead off than Billy Hatcher?
    And what, if anything, does it mean if say, they played better with Eric Davis in left and Hatcher in center, but they usually played Davis in center and Hatcher in left? (In ’90, Davis and Hatcher each played about the same number of games at either position)

    • So the comparison is based on winning percentage when player in question is in the game?

      not at all
      it’s based on turning player performance into Runs Create, adjusting it for league, stadium and position (including hitting, defense, base running etc) and then turning Runs Created (and Runs Prevented) into wins.
      The wins is based on wins above a replacement player.

      it is absolutely not based on winning percentage in any way
      http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_to_calculate_war/

  9. @mike:
    It really does sound like fantasy league stuff. Seriously. When I used to do fantsy leagues, this is more or less how the stats were kept.

    Disregard stat

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