By Htown Wheelhouse
Here at LarryTheGM.com, I have selected a few key people to be a counterbalance to the flood of numbers I (LarryTheGM) pound you with.
ClintTheScout tell you what he SEES with a scouting eye that few have.
JoshuaTheAT gives you the critical training/ sports medicine perspective you need and no one else has.
Now batting cleanup, we are thrilled to announce the man I think captures the HEART of this fan base better than just about anyone is joining us too. Htown Wheelhouse is here to give you his heart and what he thinks. I am thrilled he has agreed to write here. This powerhouse team is going to be huge for you all in the year ahead. Out of the box, Htown compiles his best Astros team with his own LarryTheGM approved metric. I think you will find this fascinating and therapeutic in these lockout times.
We live in an amazing era of sports history, namely baseball history. Everything you thought you knew about the game of baseball has been all but swept under the rug of Bill James, analytics, moneyball, sabermetrics, launch angle, War, WoBacon (which is delicious), ERA+, UZR, O.P.P. and B.B.D. (My ode to 90's hip hop). All this talk can be nauseating to the average fan, and to a guy who clearly has always struggled with comprehending basic text at times, I have become numb to it all. Maybe it is all the baseball sevants who feel its their prerogative in life to brow beat everyone who has the "Wrong opinion", or their ideas aren't based on the right metric, or the metric used isn't properly evaluated. It really isn't the comments I get on Locked on Astros when someone comments "I can't believe you even talk about batting avg. and ERA, what is this 1985?" Well I'm done with all that, and there's a new sheriff in town. I have created my own metric, and it measures what I believe is one of the best ways to compare players of the same team from different era's.
INTRODUCTION: HwAr Formula (A players top 4 WarR years (peak years) and their lowest war year (even if negative) = HwAr
The baseline stat that I went with was WAR this metric gives us a defensive element with the offensive component. It stands for a players value in the area of Wins above Replacement.
For Example: Player X from 2000 - 2004 had War scores of
4.5, 6.6, 4.3, 4.1 and their lowest year was -1.4 = 18.1 would be his HwAr.)
My Philosophy behind HwAr.
I want to start by saying I think it is incredibly tough to compare players of different eras. It is really apples and oranges, different opponents, at times different ballparks, rules changing, philosophies changing in how players attack the game in the box or on the field. Training offered by the team, the players team, was their team great, bad or mediocre. I know you are probably saying, yes but look at Mike Trout he's still the best all around player in MLB. Yes that is true but that can't be said about most MLB players. There are exceptions to every rule, even so, even if we chose Trout to look at it still is fair to compare him playing in one era vs. another.
I wanted to create a metric that I understood and I want you to understand why I made this.
Why? THE 4 BEST War YEARS and the Worst War year...
The MLBPA estimates that the avg. career of a major league player after they come up from the minors is 4-5 years. This is why I went with the number 4, and in some cases there may not be 4 years of service. That player would not qualify for HwAr. These players no matter how old typically have at least 4 years of service where they are at peak performance. The age of the player doesn't matter either. Look at players like Yuli Gurriel, Ichirio Suzuki, and others who came up well into their years and performed at high levels. I know that's a small sample size but this is still the introduction.
Now for the worst year, or as I call it the floor. Why on earth would Wheelhouse want to include a negative stat? Well we call it the Htown Factor year. This allows us to balance out the numbers. Every player is mortal believe it or not, even the Mightiest of the mighty, Tedd Williams, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Albert Puljos, Jeff Bagwell, and Nolan Ryan had their years where they weren't the best. So I figured you take their lowest War year (no less than a 140 gms played min.) and you wither add that or subtract that if it's a negative number.
I would be remissed if I didn't give credit to Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, Baseball Sevant, and all the other websites that help us measure modern day baseball success, and this is not created to diminish or disrespect those well established websites. This rather was a way for me to personalize and quantify a players value that I think most fans can understand. Now if you're a stat head and reading this rolling your eyes, I get it, I do understand. This world wouldn't turn if we all thought the same. I hope you like looking at this new metric I have created and appreciate the spirit in which it was created.
The game we watch today is not our fathers game, it is our game. When I sit in the stands I am not sure how many people are talking about, FWar, XFip, WoBacon and WRC+, but they are out there. That is why I think this can grab everyone new and old who loves this great game. We need to stop taking for granted the greatest game ever invented and learn how to make it more valuable to us as individual fans. If you love baseball, it will love you back, but be careful because it will break your heart. Now that I am done, let us look at the first HwAr Astros lineup. I will start with the infield in this article. The series will include OF, RP and SP. Here we go........
Jeffery Robert Bagwell
We begin with the 1B position. The Top 3 are as follows 1B Jeff Bagwell , Glenn Davis, and Yuli Gurriel These are the only 3 players the Astros have had in their history with enough longevity to qualify for HwAr. I know most will say, yeah we know it's Jeffery Robert Bagwell as Milo Hamilton called him, but this article wouldn't be complete if we simply left out obvious All-Time HwAr leaders. I will show you Baggy's top 4 War years and his worst.
2002 3.6 (lowest WaR)
Jeff Bagwell's HWar is 34.4
Impressive that his lowest year was only 3.6 Jeff Bagwell was one of the best to play this position in his day. He only managed 4 All Star nods and while we know the All Star game is the adult version of a high school popularity contest he clearly deserved more nominations at his position.
One of my favorite players growing up, The Big Bopper as we called him was a very good first baseman. He had 6 consecutive seasons with 20+ homeruns, his career OPS+ was 123 with is above league average for the modern 1st baseman. In those 6 seasons where he hit 20 plus home runs his OPS+ avg was 115.3 and his OPS over the same span was 0.825 he lived up to his billing doing so in the Astrodome which makes his numbers even more impressive. HwAr numbers:
1987 1.7 (Lowest WaR)
Glenn Davis HwAr is 17.3
While Glenn Davis HwAr is half of what Bagwell's is you have to look at the obvious factors. A Bagwell is a Hall of Famer, B. Bagwell played 5 more seasons. C. Glenn Davis probably could have benefited from a beefier lineup and again the fact that he averaged 20+ home runs in the Astrodome for 6 seasons impressed me. His defense is slightly lower than Bagwell's as well. Jeff Bagwell had a Career Fld% of .993 where Glenn Davis had a Fld% of .991. While no one in their right mind would ever put Davis above Bagwell, we at least gain a greater respect for what he was able to do in the 8th wonder of the world and in an Astros uniform.
This Cuban star came to the Astros at the age of 32, and when I talk with Astros fans, commentators or even players they all say the same thing. If we could have had him at a younger age, there is no doubt that he would be on a Hall of Fame tract. He finished this past season as the Gold Glove Winner for 1B in the AL, the batting champion of the A.L. and highly regarded royalty in Cuban baseball circles. His father is looked upon like Michael Jordan is in the world when it comes to Cuban baseball. Also while he only has had 3 seasons of 110+ games its a detail I am willing to overlook for the sake of what I see as potential to have been even better than he was in 2021.
(I combinded his first season with 2020 since that would give him almost 100 games.)
Yuli Gurriel HwAr 13.8
Although he has the lowest of the 3 in this category it is fair to consider their length of years in the majors, the age each player entered and opportunities given at their respective positions. Yuli was moved around early on in Houston and settled at 1B. Not only to become an All Star nominee but a star of his own making and known across the major leagues. Again I contend that if Yuli would have come to the United States sooner he would easily out pace Glenn Davis and find himself closer to the king of 1B in the Astros universe. One thing he does have that the other two don't is a World Series title. That to him I am sure means the world to him, as well his family.
To wrap up this portion of the first in my series HwAr: My personal rating for Astros greats I am pleased with this coming to fruition and thanks to Larry for allowing me get back in the seat of writing. I am sure some will like this approach and others may not like it. At the end of the day, I am going to do things the Htown Wheelhouse way. It is my passion for baseball that drives what I do in the area of baseball, and I am excited about this series. My next article will focus on the middle infield 2ndbase and Shortstop. Then we will move on the 3B and catcher. After that outfield and then Relief pitching as well starters which will require a little more prep time as there are far greater options in that area.
Jeff Bagwell is the obvious winner here and we will see how Altuve, Biggio, and Morgan fair, Correa and Everett, Jeff Kent and Alex Bregman and many more.
As you see in his inaugural post Htown Wheelhouse has his own metric to measure ultimate Astros greatness. To make sure your favorite is included drop a post in the Forums here and Htown will consider them for his position by position HwAr champions.
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