Revisiting the Top 100

About a year ago at this time, I decided to rank the 100 players listed on the The Top 100 Greatest Indians Roster. But after listing the bottom 10, I started to question my methodology. I had originally used OPS+ and ERA+ for the hitters and pitchers, respectively. Unfortunately, this left off defensive accomplishments, leaving defensive specialists like Jim Hegan and Omar Vizquel underrated. And so I stopped the list because I felt the ranking system was flawed.

Now I’m starting to rank the players again, and this time I’ve come across a ranking system that appears to be fair to all types of players. During my research, I’ve seen two measures that allows someone to compare both hitters and pitchers from different periods: Bill James’ Win Shares, and Baseball Prospectus’ WARP3. The former most of you have heard of, and it’s slowly becoming a mainstream statistic. The latter you probably don’t know about, so here’s a brief introduction. WARP is short for “Wins Above Replacement Player.” Essentially, it measures the marginal wins a player is responsible for over a replacement player (one that is easily obtainable). What sets WARP apart over other statistics is that it combines defense, hitting, and pitching, so that you can compare a hitter with a pitcher.

So why WARP3? Well, WARP1 only adjusts within a season, which is fine when comparing MVP or Cy Young candidates, but not too useful when comparing players from different eras. WARP2 adds league difficulty into the statistic, and WARP3 accounts for differences in season length. Because WARP is not a “rate” statistic, adjusting for the length of season is necessary to accurately compare players from the 154-game schedule and the 162-game schedule. As I said before, WARP takes into account both defense, pitching, and offense. That combined with its adjustments to league difficulty and season length makes it one of the better ranking systems for what I’m trying to do.

To further subdivide, I’m also going to rank position players by BRAR (Batting Runs Above Replacement) and FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement), so you can see who was the better hitter or fielder at their position, as well as who was the better player overall.

Another question that popped up in my mind is whether there are players who belong on this list that weren’t selected. As much as we all remember Joe Charboneau, I can think of better players than him. And obviously since the list was released in 2001, there have been a couple players that may be eventually wind up replacing some players on the list. After I rank the players listed, I’ll start to look for players who deserve to be included. Obviously I can’t rank every player who’s played for the franchise, so your help would be appreciated in nominating overlooked players.

The methodolgy is pretty simple for this attempt; I’ll add up the WARP3 each player accumulated while playing for the Indians, along with their BRAR, FRAR, and PRAR (Pitching Runs Above Replacement) totals. I should post the results for the catchers tomorrow.

Oh yeah…all is quiet on the Millwood front, but I’ll be sure to cover it when anything happens.

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