Sunday, May 10, 2020

MLB Hall of Fame, Omar Vizquel's .688 OPS was still better than Brandon Phillips .740 OPS, here's why.

There have been a lot of great, slick fielding shortstops who could not hit above .230 so their career was based on being a bench player. Yes, Vizquel's hitting .272 versus .230 is significant. 
But beyond that, Viquel’s walks to strikeouts RATIO is excellent and he was base stealing threat whether he stole a base or not, the pitcher had to keep an eye on him.                                     
So the final complaint is Vizquel's .688 OPS. But in Vizquel's case, this is a bogus stat because moving a runner over matters. If we added up every runner Omar Vizquel moved over while making an out while still maintaining a .272 batting average, he probably moved 600 runners over in his career, way beyond what anyone else has done. 
Viquel owns the modern day record with 350 combo sac flies and sac hits. But, this means even if he Vizquel had a sac hit with the bases loaded and moved up all three runners, he only got one sacrifice. If Vizquel purposely hit the ball to the first baseman so the runner on first reached second, he got nothing in the stat sheet but an out. Getting on base from his hustle that caused an error, no credit. You add it all up and if Vizquel was just given a fraction of a hit every time he moved a runner over, his effective OPS would have been .725, which would have been very acceptable to go along with his 11 Gold Gloves.
And finally, the statistic that has been used to reduce the bunt to an alleged negative stat is flawed. You can’t directly compare 100 at bats with a runner at first, no outs, and the hitter hitting away, with another stat of one out and a runner at second base by way of the bunt. A direct comparison can’t be done for one simple reason, the purpose of the bunt is to take a potentially bad at bat based on statistical match up with the pitcher, and convert it into something positive, especially if the player on deck has a good history with the same pitcher. 
Whereas a power hitter who has trouble with a pitcher may try to get a walk, but otherwise would whiff and not advance the runner at all. And even with a walk if the pitcher is pitching a good game, and the next hitter hits into a double play, it may in part be caused by the slower runner at first. 
The conclusion is, to punish a player now, for being able to move a runner over back in the day, is unfair. What if Vizquel had never bunted and instead hit .250 in all of his bunt attempt and "move the runner over" attempts? He probably has at least 600 to 1,000 "move the runner over" attempts in his career. If Vizquel had never bunted he probably gets another 250 hits, reaches 3,000 hits and Vizquel in the Hall of Fame would not even be a discussion. 
A player to compare Vizquel to is Brandon Phillips. Phillips chose having a poor walks to strikeouts ratio and no desire to move a runner over, and his OWAR is not that good as a direct result. Yet people mistakenly think Phillips was the better hitter than Vizquel. Through age 39, Vizquel had an Offensive War of 35.1, Phillips through age 37, had an offensive war of 26.5. Phillips was considered a mild power, extra base hitter who had a lower Offensive War than Vizquel because Phillips tried to muscle through as many RBI's as possible while striking out way more than walking.
If Phillips had played an equivalent amount of games to Vizquel through age 39, I am estimating Phillips would have reached around a 30 to 31 O War, still well below Vizquel’s 35.1 OWAR. Yet people see that Phillips had over a hundred more home runs than Vizquel and their mind goes blank.
Study for yourself. How can a .688 OPS produce a superior OWAR to another player with a .740 OPS.
Baseball reference has two interesting stats to study. Omar played 11 year in Cleveland, Phillips played 11 years in Cincinnati. Omar still had a higher OWAR than Phillips even though Phillips arrived in Cincinnati in his prime and played 11 full seasons whereas Vizquel had 2 seasons with under 70 games played.

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