Friday, January 18, 2008
Top Ten Offensive Yankee Seasons - CatcherThe offseason gets a little tough for me blog-wise. I do still have my Babe Ruth full-time pitcher project in the works, but Brian Cronin emailed me with a good suggestion, a look at some of the top Yankee seasons of all time by position. I liked the idea, so here we go with the first installment.
Before I get to the list of players and season, I'll describe the methodology I am going to use. Like most of the things I do here, this is meant to be an objective system, so it may not be perfect. Since calculating defense prior to the mid-80s is going to be difficult, I'm not going to factor that in here (Jeter fans rejoice!). I of course welcome feedback and suggestions about this methodology in the comments.
I am using battings runs above average as calculated using linear weights and looking at every season since 1901, when the Yankees were born as the Baltimore Orioles. The players' batting runs are park-adjusted using the Lahman database's park factor and then adjusted for position and era. This puts everyone on roughly the same scale. I am also calculating a position-adjusted version of OPS+ which I'm labeling as psOPS+, which is a quick and easy way to look at how the player in question compared to his peers at the same postion and in the same year using their OBP and SLG. An OPS+ of 100 is exactly average. Greater than 100 is better, etc.,
So with all that out of the way, here are the top ten offensive seasons by a Yankee catcher since 1901.
Bill Dickey - 1936
There's no tangible difference in the overall value between the first three seasons on this list, but on a rate basis, Dickey's season reigns supreme. He missed a fair amount of time this season, but when he played he kicked ass, providing 43 runs above an average 1936 catcher. Dickey was one of the key players on a team that scored 1065 runs and went 102-51, winning the World Series.
Bill Dickey - 1937
Make Dickey a year older and you still get an outstanding performance. He lost 30 points of batting average, but played more and was worth the same 43 runs above average as he was in 1936.
Jorge Posada - 2007
Looking back on it now, it really is amazing how good of a season Jorge Posada had in 2007. He ended up at 43 runs above the average catcher, and in most other years he'd have been a very reasonable MVP candidate. As it was, he put up a historically good season for a Yankee catcher.
Bill Dickey - 1938
Dickey's 1938 was a fair amount less valuable than his 1936 or 1937 seasons, but still quite good.
Yogi Berra - 1950
YOGI! It's funny that Yogi won 3 MVPs, but "only" finished third in what was statistically his best season.
Jorge Posada - 2003
Another MVP-caliber season from a player who I feel doesn't get the credit he deserves. No, he's not a great defensive catcher, and yes, he's a lousy baserunner, but overall he's a very good player for a catcher and has been for his entire career.
Jorge Posada - 2000
See Jorge Posada - 2003.
Bill Dickey - 1939
This would end up being Dickey's last really good full season, although he had a monstrous 1943 in 242 AB. The '39 Yankees are in the discussion for best team of all time, and Dickey was a big part of it. A run differential of over 400? Damn.
Yogi Berra - 1956
Another non-MVP year for Berra which was more valuable than his MVP seasons.
Bill Dickey - 1933
Dickey's last appearance in the top ten, although Mike Stanley's 1993 at number 11 and Elston Howard's 1961 at number 12 are about equal overall.
So we have five seasons by Bill Dickey, three seasons by Jorge Posada, and two seasons by Yogi Berra. The list likely changes once you start factoring in defense,so keep that in mind.
Here's #s 11-20 sans commentary.
This is by no means a definitive list, so feel free to tell me who you think should be moved up/down or on/off and why.
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