HwAr - Htown Wheelhouse Declares wAr on Sabermetrics
Mightiest Warriors of the Middle Infield - 2B
By Htown Wheelhouse
Since this is a second article in my new series HwAr as a simpler way to evaluate players I will not go into how I came up with this or why. I would simply refer you to the first article I wrote to get the foundation as to why I am engaging in a statistical measurement that I created. This gives us a way to evaluate players from the same club who played in different eras. We turn to Second Base. The Houston Astros have had plenty of good, all-star and elite players who have taken the field as one of the good guys. When you think of 2B, you think of players that have skilled hands, a good bat. Sometimes power is a part of their game. Most of the time, it's the contact they make at the plate. Both 2B and SS positions have the potential to turn a game in favor of their team as well their pitcher. Pitchers that have a reliable infield definitely have helped many pitchers achieve career success, sometimes leading to the Hall of Fame.
So let's not delay in our search for the leading HwAr 2nd baseman in Astros History. While the list may not be very long there are very notable names who have played the 4 spot as a Houston Astro. Joe Morgan, Craig Biggio, Jose Altuve, Bill Doran, Casey Candelle, many want to put Jeff Kent here but since he only played 2 years, he would not qualify for HwAr. He does, however, belong in the Hall of Fame, in my humble opinion.
Craig Biggio - All-Star Catcher and 2B Gold Glove, Silver Slugger (Hall of Fame)
We will start with Craig Biggio. This kid came into the Astros organization as a catcher. I recall very clearly his early years making a splash in the big leagues as the Astros starting backstop. His 3rd and 4th season collecting 153, and 161 hits this was right before his transition to 2B. So why was he moved to 2B? He was an All Star the year before at catcher.
Here is what was said in the aforementioned article in the Chronicle back in 2014:
Not wanting the catching workload to rob Biggio of his speed, Garner and Astros coach Matt Galante were adamant that the move to second would be better for the team and Biggio in the long run. They were right.
So let's look at his time at 2B and does he have the highest HwAr?
2005 -2.1 (worst year)
Hwar 25.6 Rank #1
Avg career war is 3.7
Biggio will be tough to beat in this category, but we have a few others to examine. One thing that can't be taken away from Mr. 3,000 is the fact that most people thought his transition from catcher to 2B would be a disaster since he had never played there before and, well, it ended up being a massive boost to his career.
Jose Altuve - All-Star, MVP and Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger recipient
Jose Altuve has captured the heart of Astros fans, baseball fans and others around the world. A man that is often described by his stature but his character and hard work measure more like a 6'9" linebacker in the NFL. Jose Altuve was discovered and signed originally for $15,000. They rated his glove as avg. and there was much talk about whether he could make it to the Major leagues. That was easily seen as an incorrect assessment as he rose fast through the minor leagues. He has a total of 7 seasons in the minors, but it was only 4 years before making it to the Big Leagues. In 2011, he played 52 games in A+ Lancaster, 32 games at Corpus for the Hooks, then was promoted to the Astros on July 20, 2011, where he played 57 games.
He is the OG on the current team and the Houston 2B version of LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan is Jose Altuve vs. Craig Biggio. So let's look at what is HwAr is.
2013 1.1 (Worst WaR year)
HwAr 25.1 Rank #2
Avg. career WaR is 4.7
Although Jose Altuve has an HwAr slightly under Craig Biggio's, his career wAr 11 years into his major league career is a full point higher. Staying true to the metric I set up, Craig Biggio takes him out by a small margin. I would have to evaluate his HwAr at the end of Altuve's career, where I believe he would ultimately overtake Biggio in this area. No matter if Altuve gets to 3,000 hits or not, it isn't the measurement here I am looking at, rather the entire body of work. If you look at Fld% Biggio had.984 where Altuve sits at .985. These two are about as close to each other as it comes. Many will argue for both players equally. I have my heart set on Jose Altuve ultimately winning this when it is all said and done. For now, Biggio edges him out for the top spot.
Joe Morgan - All Star and ROY runner up with the Astros (Hall of Fame)
Joe Morgan started his career with the Houston Astros and had a wonderful career overall, and anyone who has followed baseball for a longtime know that his career with the Cincinnati Reds was even more decorated than his time with the Astros. As a part of the Big Red machine that won the World Series in his two MVP seasons 1975,1976. We have to remember that HwAr is comparing players with their specific club in this series. So even if Joe Morgan doesn't garner the title of highest HwAr it doesn't diminish his accomplishments as a Hall of Fame 2nd baseman.
We will stay focused on the task set before us and find out what Joe Morgan's HwAr is.
1970 3.4 Worst War year
hWaR 22.1 Rank #3
Avg.Career WaR 6.1
As you can see Morgan is a few points below both Biggio and Altuve. Again I must make the point this is strictly looking at their time with the Houston Astros. Joe Morgan is one of the best to ever play second base and his 2 MVP's put him in elite company for sure. At the end of the day he ranks a very respectable 3rd place all time in HwAr.
As one of my favorite players as a kid, Bill Doran doesn't have the eye popping stats that the others do. He doesn't have the awards, the All Star appearances but what he does have is longevity with the club. In 1985 I was 10 years old Bill Doran had one of his best offensive years, with a slash line of .287/.363/.434/.797 colleting 166 hits with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases. He only struck out 600 times in his 12 year career. That is a total of 11.6% of his at bats that ended in a strikeout. That puts him second place all time for this group of second baseman, So where does this Astros unsung hero and under the radar legend rank in HwAr?
1989 1.4 (Worst WaR season w/ Astros)
hWaR 20.3 Rank #4
avg. Career WaR 3.7
Now I will admit these are falling exactly where I thought they would, even though I believe Jose Altuve over his career when it is all said and done will have no issues claiming the top hWaR spot All-Time for the Houston Astros. Bill Doran despite being 4th out of has very respectable numbers while playing for the Houston Astros. His Fld% was .982 a very good mark for a young infielder playing on the Astros turf 81 games out of the year.
Here is the final list for top hWaR 2B Rankings.
The 2nd baseman in Houston Astros history who currently holds the title of hWaR Champion is Craig Biggio. Jose Altuve still has a chance to over take him, and the other two in this category put up a great fight. Our next stop will be the Shortstop position and third base.
As you see in this post, Htown Wheelhouse has his own metric to measure ultimate Astros greatness. To make sure your favorite is included in future articles, drop a post in the Forums here, and Htown will consider them for his position by position HwAr champions.
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